The North American A3J (later A-5) Vigilante was a supersonic strike aircraft used by the US Navy during the Cold War and Vietnam. Originally, it was designed with one purpose: Nuclear War. The original A3J-1 could only carry one nuke in a unique "stores train" bomb bay, which ran between the engines in the fuselage and ejected the nuke, along with some disposable fuel tanks, out the back of the plane. However, this was problematic, as the fuel tanks would sometimes be jostled loose from rough carrier launches, and fall out the back onto the deck. Also, if deployed, the nuke would follow the plane for an unpredictable distance after being ejected, which made for a short role as a nuclear strike aircraft after the Navy chose SLBMs over bombs. However, this wasn't the end of the "Elephant (named so due to its size and weight, and the noise it made when spooling up its engines)", as the A3J-2 could mount up to 4 hardpoints under the wings, allowing it to carry either two more nukes or up to 5000 lbs of conventional bombs or fuel tanks (although this figure seems really light; data for this things payloads isn't the easiest to find). The A3J-2, also called the A-5B, had a short career, as the Navy had began to invest in lighter, smaller strike aircraft like the A-6 for ground pounding. Vietnam lead to the A-5 becoming its most famous variant, the RA-5C. This flew missions over North Vietnam, both finding targets for other bombers to hit, and analyzing the damage those runs did. Sadly, this also gave the "Viggie" the unfortunate distinction of having the highest loss rate in Vietnam, as those damage assessment missions were extremely dangerous. The Air force showed interest in a modified variant as an interceptor, with an extra engine in place of the stores train, and 6 missiles, but the project was canned. Capable of sustaining Mach 2, it was no slouch, and carried lots of fuel to allow it to use its afterburners for long periods. She was also surprisingly maneuverable, able to give some fighters a run for their money. Roll control was provided by a mix of wing spoilers and differential control of the elevators. Her tail surfaces were all-moving, and she had large, blown flaps. It had a fly-by-wire system, with manual backups. IMO this is one of the best looking aircraft the Navy ever fielded, and deserves a chance to prove its worth in the game as an effective strike aircraft, rather than just a flying camera.
I would give BR 11.0, as its too fast and nimble for the MiG-19 and F-100 to handle, even with missiles, but is unarmed save for its ordnance, a relatively light load. Its the schnellbomber concept taken to another level.
As for where in the tree to put it, I'd say after the B-57B, since its a bomber and all.
© Post "Gaijin Please: North American A-5(A3J) Vigilante" for game War Thunder.
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