Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Unarmed and Unafraid" Print Release

Originally designated A3J then renamed A-5, the Vigilante started out as a mach 2, nuclear capable bomber for the US Navy. When ICBM submarines took over the nuclear role the Vigilante became an airplane without a mission. It was soon realized however that it was the perfect platform for a dedicated reconnaissance aircraft and the RA-5C was born.

Used extensively in Vietnam, the Vigilante performed vital reconnaissance missions. These missions usually consisted of a high speed flight over the target area prior to attack and another run after attack. The initial run was usually not too eventful however the second run after the attack was another story. The enemy was usually expecting the second pass and was ready with antiaicraft fire and surface to air missiles.

The Vigilante was usually accompanied by an F-4 Phantom II flying cover however the Vigi would routinely outrun her escort as she flew with a "clean" cofiguration and the Phantom was usually carrying drag indusing underwing stores. Additionally, the Vigilante carried more fuel so she could maintain mach 2 speeds for a lengthier period of time.

My depiction of the RA-5C Vigilante features the airplane making a high speed recon pass. The airplane wears the markings of RVAH-11 as they appeared during the unit's Southeast Asia cruise aboard the USS Constellation in 1971.

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