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Douglas A-3B 'Skywarrior'
Courtesy the National Museum of Naval Aviation
The "Skywarrior" was designed as a strategic bomber to operate from an aircraft carrier. The test vesion, XA3D-1, first flew in October, 1952 and in March, 1956, the A3D-1 entered service with the U.S. Navy. One year later, the main production variant, the A3D-2 (later to be redesignated as A-3B) was delivered. For many years, it was the largest and heaviest carrier-based aircraft earning it the unofficial nickname, “The Whale.”
The A-3 was initially used as a bomber, but the aircraft proved to be very adaptable and its roles evolved to include photographic and electronic reconnaissance, electronic warfare, air refueling tanker, high speed transport and trainer. It proved very valuable in the Vietnam War as the EKA-3B in providing intelligence and jamming of enemy radar systems and communications networks, and as the KA-3B for in-flight refueling of attack aircraft. The Skywarrior was retired from service in 1991.
While the Navy was the primary user of the aircraft, a derivative, the B-66 “Destroyer,” also served with the U.S. Air Force as a tactical bomber, electronic warfare and reconnaissance aircraft until the early 1970’s.
This plane was flown to the Museum from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, MD, by Navy Commander Joel H. Graham.