North American A3J-2/A-5B Vigilante

Last revised November 18, 2001


The A3J-2 (NA-269) was a more advanced version of the Vigilante with more powerful engines, a pair of J79-GE-8 turbojets which allowed for an increase in gross weight to 80,000 pounds. 

Also included in the A3J-2 was a relocation of the boundary air blowing system to the leading edge droop-section. The flaps were increased in area. 

Perhaps the most noticeable change was in the rear fuselage, which was deepened from the cockpit aft to the tail, giving the aircraft a distinctive hump-backed appearance. This deepened rear fuselage incorporated extra fuel tanks which increased the range. The two tanks immediately aft of the rear cockpit were enlarged to hold 945 US gallons as compared to the 695 US gallons in the A3J-1, while an entirely new overwing tank straddling the wing center section was added which held 210 US gallons. 

Two additional underwing pylons were added, making a total of four. The braking capacity was improved and the engine inlet duct area was increased to improve the high altitude performance. The horizontal duct weapons delivery system of the A3J-1 was retained.

A batch of 18 A3J-2s were ordered for use in the heavy attack role. Two were actually delivered in this configuration, but in the meantime a decision had been made that the Vigilante was no longer needed in the nuclear attack role and that the Vigilante would now be a dedicated high-speed reconnaissance platform.  Four aircraft in the batch were converted to YA-5C, which lacked photographic equipment but was similar to the RA-5C. These four planes were used as trainers for RA-5C. The remaining 12 aircraft were held back awaiting conversion. Eventually, all 18 A3J-2s within this batch were converted to RA-5C configuration.

Serials of North American A3J-2/A-5B Vigilante


149300/149317		North American A3J-2 Vigilante 
				c/n NA269-35/52.  Redesignated A-5B in Sept 1962.  All converted to RA-5C configuration.


Sources:


  1. North American Aircraft 1934-1999, Volume 2, Kevin Thompson, Narkiewicz//Thompson, 1999

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

  3. United States Navy Aircraft Since 1911, GordonSwanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Naval Institute Press, 1990.

  4. North American Rockwell A3J (A-5) Vigilante, M. Hill Goodspeed, Wings of Fame, Vol 19, 2001.