Douglas A3D-2P/RA-3B Skywarrior

Last revised October 24, 2001

The A3D-2P was a specialized photographic reconnaissance version of the A3D-2 Skywarrior. 

Like the A3D-2Q, the A3D-2P had its cabin pressurization increased from 3.3 to 7.5 psi. A pressurized compartment was provided in the forward part of the bomb bay for up to 12 camera positions and mounts, with the rear of the bomb bay equipped to carry photo-flash bombs or cartridges. The crew was three--pilot, copilot/photo-navigator, and photo technician/gunner-ECM operator. The forward camera compartment could be accessed in flight by the photo technician so that he could change the film or adjust the cameras. The aircraft could be distinguished externally by the presence of camera fairings on both sides of the forward fuselage and by a circular porthole on each side of the fuselage.

The first A3D-2P (designated YA3D-2P) flew on July 22, 1958. Douglas built a total of 30 A3D-2Ps. All of them were fitted with midair refuelling probes. Initially the A3D-2Ps were all fitted with 20-mm cannon turrets, but most were eventually fitted with the turretless DECM tail cone. However, only the last two had Cambered Leading Edge (CLE) wings.

In September 1962, the A3D-2P was redesignated RA-3B.

As many as six RA-3Bs were modified as NRA-3Bs for use for various test purposes. One of these NRA-3Bs (144834) was again modified to be the sole TNRA-3B as a two-seat training aircraft. However, dual controls were not actually fitted before the aircrat was delivered. 6144843 was bailed to Raytheon and used for tests and evaluation during the Patriot surface-to-air missile program.

Eight RA-3Bs (142668, 144827, 144832, 144838,144841, 144846, 146446, 146447) were modified as ERA-3B "electronic aggressor" aircraft. They were fitted with ECM equipment and chaff dispensers in a modified tail cone, a ventral "canoe" fairing, a cylindrical fairing on top of the vertical fin and extra pods on the wing tips. Two ram-air turbines were fitted on each side of the fuselage to power the ECM equipment. The crew was five--pilot, navigator, and plane captain in the cockpit, plus two ECM evaluators in the pressurized cabin in the bomb bay.

Serials of Douglas A3D-2P/RA-3B Skywarrior

142256			Douglas YA3D-2P Skywarrior 
				c/n 11582.  Later redesignated A3D-2P and changed to RA-3B in 1962.   
142666/142669	Douglas A3D-2P Skywarrior 
				C/n 11729/11732.  Redesignated RA-3B in 1962.
144825/144847	Douglas A3D-2P Skywarrior 
				C/n 12071/12093.  Redesignated RA-3B in 1962.
146446/146447	Douglas A3D-2P Skywarrior 
				c/n 12398/12399. Redesignated RA-3B in 1962.


  1. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920, Vol 1, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1988

  2. American Combat Planes, 3rd Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.