|Quoting ebj1248650 (Reply 2):|
I don't know whether the A-3 Skywarrior was difficult to bring aboard but it's size created some issues on the carriers.
|Quoting aeroweanie (Reply 8):|
The Douglas A-3 Skywarrior had a reputation for being a handful:
My first squadron in the US Navy in 1972-74 was VQ
-1 out of NAS
Agana Guam. We had 22 A-3s during my tour - four RA
-3B, one TA
-3B and the rest EA
My first carrier landing was a series of three for night carqual on the Coral Sea. I've also landed on the Midway and Enterprise in an A-3.
I was never unduly concerned with any of the carrier landings in the A-3, however, the pilots I flew with were experienced and I trusted them.
We had one pilot in the squadron who was not allowed to fly onto the USS Midway, because he had made a landing a couple years previously wheels up in an EKA
-3B on the Midway. (I presume his career ended not long after Vietnam when the pilot shortage was no longer an issue.)
Three of the aircraft I flew upon were eventually lost at sea - none in carrier accidents. One on a ferry flight in 1973 - got lost and the crew bailed out over the only destroyer in the JMSDF with an embarked helo, one disappeared after takeoff from the USS Ranger in 1982, one disappeared in 1985 on a flight from Atsugi to Guam at night near Guam.
Just quickly browsing through the A-3 accident list - I see about 25-30 crashes involving carrier landing. Many were after multiple landing attempts. http://a3skywarrior.com/memorial/full_accident_date.html
The A-3 was a very heavy aircraft - many of the EW
versions were 47,000-48,000 lbs with crew and without fuel - so there was little fuel margin for error which increased the pucker factor considerably. Several A-3s were lost when they made less than perfect approaches and the hook or cable failed after the aircraft had been slowed too much to bolter.
There were also 8 or 10 lost on faulty cat shots - either the cat did not attain proper speed or the bridle failed or one of the two fuselage mounted hooks for the bridle failed.
The A-3 was not a friendly aircraft if the single pilot was a bit rattled. The last A-3 carrier crash was on the USS Nimitz in January 1987. The pilot was pretty new, paired with a very experienced navigator. After a bolter on the first pass, and a wave off on the second pass, the pilot was so nervous that he crunched the probe as they tried to refuel the aircraft for a bingo to Souda Bay. Rather than bail out at night - the crew chose to attempt a barricade. The pilot powered up too quickly, caught the top of the barricade with the gear, and slammed down onto the deck, the wreckage sliding off the angle. None of the seven aboard was recovered.
(Ditching the A-3 was not a real option. The cockpit had a tendency to break from the fuselage right behind the plane captain or EW
officer seat, crushing the pilot, nav and plane captain as the rest of the aircraft carried over the cockpit. This occurred several times in early ditchings of A-3s. - Hence the nickname A3D - All 3 Dead)
One problem the A-3 had is that its engines were not especially powerful for its weight. If the plane got a bit low on approach, the engines could not pull it up enough to clear the back of the flight deck. There were several ramp strikes over the years.
|Quoting seachaz (Reply 9):|
The A-3 just doesn't seem like a plane that should be on a carrier period. Finally saw one in person this year on the Midway and just seems out of place on a carrier deck. Pretty amazing these were deployed even on the converted Essex carriers.
The only reason the A-3 existed was to fly off carriers - the carriers in the US Navy in the early-mid 50s. It was the Navy's way to get into the strategic warfare mission. It was designed to fly 6-8,000 lb nukes from carriers to targets only reachable from carriers. It was so underpowered that the only way it could launch the early nukes was a loft maneuver where the bomb was released in a sharp pull-up maneuver, and the pilot winged over and tried to escape the blast wave.
The 72 ft 6 inch wing span was designed as being as large as possible for carrier operations.
By the time the A-3 was completed, the design of nukes had changed - and the plane was never used in that role. The Navy had 280 aircraft on its hands and no real mission. The very large fuselage compartment gave the plane a lot of useful mission configurations.