By Tommy H. Thomason

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Single-Seat A-6

The Navy's VA(L) was to be a single-seat, single-engine attack airplane with an overload mission of 12 Mk 82 (500-lb) Snakeye bombs delivered at a radius of 600 nautical miles. Another key requirement was that it be "a modification of an airplane currently in the Navy inventory." The payload/range favored the use of the Navy's new TF30 engine.

Grumman considered proposing either a TF30-powered F11F or a single-seat modification of its A-6 Intruder with a single seat but the existing engines. The latter's size enabled it to easily exceed the payload/range requirement even though it did not have the fuel-efficient turbofan engine. (Although the A-6's size was a drawback from the spot factor standpoint, it could be mitigated by folding the horizontal tail; see Grumman decided to offer the A-6 derivative believing that the low development cost and commonality with an existing airplane in the air group would trump the somewhat higher unit cost.

It didn't.

Douglas proposed a supersized version of its A4D.

North American did the same with its FJ-4.

Vought won the VA(L) competition with an F8U Crusader derivative with an even more creative interpretation of the "modification" requirement than Douglas or North American proposed.

For a last minute change in the Vought proposal, see


SpaceRanger said...

I didn't think the A-6 could be made to look any uglier, but there's proof it could!

Mark Corbin said...

Yeah, uuummmm MK 81 bombs were only 250 pounds, MK 82s however, are 500 pounds.

Tailspin said...

Mark - thanks, I changed the text