Douglas Skywarrior
Design and Development:

Early in World War II, the Navy began to explore the concept of a jet-powered aircraft operating from aircraft carriers. Success encouraged further development of the concept, and early in the post war years the Navy began to consider jet power as a possible means of operating from carriers, aircraft that were large enough to provide a strategic bombing capability.

In January 1948, the Chief of Naval Operations issued a requirement to develop a long-range, carrier-based attack plane that could deliver a 10,000-pound (4,500 kg) bomb load or a nuclear weapon. The contract which the Navy awarded to the Douglas Aircraft Company on 29 September 1949 led to the development and production of the A3D Skywarrior. It was designed by Ed Heinemann, also to win fame for the A-4 Skyhawk. The prototype XA3D-1 first flew on 28 October 1952.

Considerable development problems, largely with the original engines, delayed the introduction of the Skywarrior until spring 1956. The A-3 was by far, the largest and heaviest aircraft ever designed for routine use on an aircraft carrier, though ironically it was the smallest proposal among other proposals which could only be deployed on even larger carriers not yet in service. For storage below deck, the A-3's wings folded upward outboard of the engines, lying almost flat and in order to accommodate the tall tail, it was hinged to starboard. Because of its cumbersome size, and less-than-slender profile, it was nicknamed "The Whale" (after it converted to the electronic warfare role, it became "The Electric Whale"). Production ended in 1961.

Technical Description
The Skywarrior had a 36° degree swept wing and two Pratt & Whitney J57 turbojet engines. Although prototypes had used the intended Westinghouse J40, that powerplant proved disastrous, and was subsequently canceled. The turbojets could be supplemented by a provision for 12, 4,500 lbf (20 kN) thrust JATO bottles, allowing takeoff from carriers that did not have catapults. The aircraft had a largely conventional semi-monocoque fuselage, with the engines in underwing nacelles. Flight controls were hydraulic, and both wings and vertical tailfin could fold for carrier stowage. Capacious internal fuel tanks provided long range.

The early A-3 variants had a crew of three: pilot, bombardier/navigator (BN) and gunner. An unusual cockpit configuration was incorporated with the three crew sitting under a framed canopy. In the raised compartment, the pilot and bombardier/navigator sat in a side-by-side arrangement with the pilot's station on port side having full flight controls. On initial variants, a third crew member who acted as a gunner sat behind the duo in an aft-facing seat. Later electronic counter-measures variants could accommodate a crew of seven with flight crew consisting of a pilot, co-pilot and navigator plus four electronic systems operators occupying stations in the sumptuous fuselage.

Efforts to reduce weight had led to the deletion of ejection seats during the design process, based on the assumption that most flights would be at high altitude. A similar arrangement with an escape tunnel had been used on the F3D Skyknight. Aircrews began joking morbidly that "A3D" stood for "All Three Dead" (in 1973 the widow of a Skywarrior crewman killed over Vietnam sued the company for not providing ejection seats). Documented history of mechanical failure showed a rate well above average. While there were magazine articles that conjectured that the safety problem was compounded by assigning weaker pilots to slower jets like the A-3, during their heyday, Skywarrior pilots were often "best-of-the-best" due to its critical nuclear strike role.

The Skywarrior could carry up to 12,000 lb (5,443 kg) of weaponry in the fuselage bomb bay, which in later marks was used for sensor and camera equipment or additional fuel tanks. An AN/ASB-1A bomb-director system was initially installed, later replaced by a revised AN/ASB-7 with a slightly reshaped nose. Defensive armament was two 20mm cannon in a radar-operated tail turret designed by Westinghouse, usually removed in favor of an aerodynanic tail fairing. While some bombing missions would be carried out early in the Vietnam war, most bombing would be carried out by more nimble attack and fighter bombers, and the Skywarrior would serve mostly as a tanker and electronic warfare support aircraft.

Wikipedia: A-3 Skywarrior