Douglas Skywarrior

Note: under the original Navy designation scheme, the Skywarrior was designated A3D (i.e., third Attack aircraft from Douglas Aircraft). In September 1962 the new Tri-Services designation system was implemented and the aircraft was redesignated A-3B. Where applicable, pre-1962 designations are listed first, post-1962 designations in parentheses.

XA3D-1: Two prototypes with Westinghouse J40 turbojets, no cannon in tail turret.

YA3D-1 (YA-3A): One pre-production prototype with Pratt & Whitney J57 engines. Later used for tests at the Naval Air Missile Test Center.

A3D-1 (A-3A): 49 initial production versions, serving largely in developmental role in carrier service.

A3D-1P (RA-3A): One A3D-1 converted as a prototype for the A3D-2 with camera pack in the weapon bay.

A3D-1Q (EA-3A): Five A3D-1s converted for the electronic reconnaissance (ELINT) role, with ECM equipment and four operators in weapons bay.

A3D-2 (A-3B): Definitive production bomber version, with stronger airframe, more powerful engines, slightly larger wing area (812 ft² versus 779 ft²), provision for in-flight refueling reel for tanker role. Final 21 built had new AN/ASB-7 bombing system, reshaped nose; deleted tail turret in favor of electronic warfare installation.

A3D-2 Skywarrior.

A3D-2P (RA-3B): 30 photo-reconnaissance aircraft with weapons bay package for up to 12 cameras plus photoflash bombs. Increased pressurization allowed camera operator to enter the bay to check the cameras. Some retained tail guns, but most were later converted to ECM tail of late A-3Bs.

A3D-2C (EA-3B): 24 electronic warfare versions with pressurized compartment in former weapon bay for four ESM operators, various sensors. This was the longest serving version of the "Whale" and the most widely known throughout the fleet. Some early models had tail guns, but these were replaced with the ECM tail. The EA-3B was assigned to fleet reconnaissance squadrons VQ-1 and VQ-2 where they flew alongside the EC-131 and the EP-3E. It served in the fleet for almost 40 years, and was replaced by the inadequate ES-3A Shadow which was so dismal in its performance that the two VQ squadrons that flew it, VQ-5 (NAS North Island) and VQ-6 (NAS Cecil Field) were decommissioned less than 10 years after commissioning.

A3D-2T (TA-3B): 12 bomber-trainer versions. Five later converted as VIP transports (two redesignated UTA-3B).

KA-3B: 85 A-3B bombers refitted in 1967 for the tanker role with probe-and-drogue system in place of bombing equipment.

KA-3B Skywarrior, Bu. 147648.

EKA-3B: 34 KA-3B tankers refitted for dual ECM/tanker role, with electronic warfare equipment and tail fairing in place of rear turret. Most were converted back to KA-3B configuration (with no ECM gear) after 1975.

ERA-3B: Eight RA-3Bs converted as electronic aggressor aircraft (primarily for war-at sea exercises) with ECM in new extended tail cone, ventral "canoe" fairing, cylindrical fairing atop vertical fin, and two detachable ram-air turbine powered ALQ-76 countermeasures pods (one under each wing). Added Chaff (radar countermeasure) dispensers (streaming chaff from the tail cone and two self-protection chaff dispensers on the aft fuselage) and four ram-air turbines (two per side) to power the equipment located in the former weapon bay. Crew increased to four (pilot, navigator, crew chief, Electronic Countermeasures Officer (ECMO), and one generally unused "jumpseat" in the aft crew compartment (formerly the weapon bay)). There was no room for an equipment position for a second Electronic Countermeasures Officer or enlisted crewman in the converted weapon bay. The "jumpseat" was used for qualified instructor ECMOs training new ECMOs, for guest observers on operational flights, or for passengers during operational deployment transits. While the ERA-3B could withstand the stresses of a cable arrested landing, the equipment in the former weapon bay was not stressed to withstand a catapult launch and the ERA-3B was never deployed aboard ship. The ERA-3B served with VAQ-33 and later with VAQ-34.

NRA-3B: Six RA-3Bs converted for various non-combat test purposes.

NRA-3B Skywarrior, Bu. 144825.

VA-3B: One EA-3B converted as a VIP transport.

Wikipedia: A-3 Skywarrior
Michael "MadDog" Kelley (ERA-3B info)