Nicknamed “The Whale” by its crews the A-3 Skywarrior is the largest and heaviest aircraft ever designed for regular operation from an aircraft carrier. Originally designed as a strategic nuclear bomber the A-3 proved itself to be very adaptable to other uses and remained in service long after the Navy had lost its role in strategic bombing. Design work for the Skywarrior began in 1948 and the first prototype flew in 1952. In addition to the bomber version the Navy used electronic warfare and aerial tanker versions of the Skywarrior into the 1970s and a few remained in test programs as late as the 1990s. A total of six A3D-1 bombers were converted to YA3D-1Q (YEA-3A) electronic counter measures aircraft with a pressurized crew compartment replacing the bomb bay.
Naval Air Testing Center, Patuxent River NAS, 1969
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