Robert Them sent me these two pictures of VAQ-130 Det 34 in 1970 and I offer them as an addendum to page 60 of my Whale book. The shot on top is Bob with Tom Ford, who's wearing the Caterpillar hat. They're in Hawaii preparing to launch westbound to join the Oriskany and the war. The picture to the left adds to the profile 18 on page 41; it provides more detail for the crossed out ship name and application of "Da Nang", denoting that the det spent more time working off the beach than on the boat. Thanks Bob.
Here's a selection of shots of A-3s. You're welcome to take a look at my book on Skywarriors as well.
The Navy modified four RA-3Bs during the early 1970s into ERA-3Bs with the aircraft going to VAQ-33. They were used in the electronic adversary role from Norfolk and later, Key West until retired in 1991. GD3 shows the original configuration with a canoe covering the ALT-27 jamming system and ALE-76 Ram Air Turbines along the fuselage. I t also has an ALE-2 bulk chaff dispenser in the tailcone and internal DLQ-3 jammers. It's shown here at Key West in May 1980.
A second batch of four RA-3Bs were pulled from the boneyard in the mid-'80s and modified into ERA-3Bs for a second FEWSG sqaudron, VAQ-34. These aircraft carried an improved jamming system centered on the ALT-40 as well as improved chaff dispensers. VAQ-34 "Flashback" 210 is shown over the Pacific Ocean on 13 Jan 1986. The VAQ-33 ERAs received the modification as well.
The A-3 series worked off U.S. Navy carriers from 1956 through 1989. TA-3B GD24 (144859) works Nimitz (CVN 68) on 14 Aug 1980 off Norfolk while conducting FRS CQ.
The Navy established two Reserve KA-3B squadrons in 1970 at NAS Alameda as VAQ-208 and -308. AF612 is shown here, at Key West in November 1982 after the squadrons had been redesignated as VAK-208. 147657, at Pensacola, November 1982.
AF 612 again, at Key West on 2 Dec 1980. It shows four "Battle E" awards and a Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon. A close look (under the squadron insignia) also reveals the oval scar left from removal of the aircraft's ALQ-92 blisters when it was converted from an EKA-3B back to KA-3B standards.
VAK-308 carried some of the best markings ever applied to the A-3 series, their Sperm Whale being subtle as well as whimsical. KA-3B 147660 was photographed at Key West on 17 Nov 1990.
One of the odd test Whales used out of Pt Mugu; NA-3B 138938 with what appears to be the nose section of a Tomahawk missile projecting out of the nose. Key West 17 Nov 1990.
TA-3B 144857 at Key West, 8 Oct 1990; one of the five TAs modified with VIP interiors, this one was being used out of NAF Washington for the Navy staff.
"The Great White Whale", NWC China Lake's 142630 at Key West on 23 Nov 1981. It was used for testing parachute systems and other gear and was the last straight A-3B left in the Navy at that point.
Raytheon used this RA-3B at Holloman AFB and White Sands Missile Range in the 1970s during tests of the "SAM-D" program , which led to the Patriot SAM. 144843 had a missile body hanging under its right wing and a dummy MK82 under the port wing for balance. It would eventually be marked for the Army as well. 13 Aug 1975.
Close-up of VAQ-33 TA-3B GD24 during CQ in Nimitz (CVN 68) 14 Aug 1980. The TA-3B was the only "Whale" where the 3rd seat faced forwards. The upper hatch remained open during carrier operations for possible emergency egress.
ERA-3B cockpit, VAQ-33 May 1981. The pilot has his right hand on the throttles; the plane captain sits back-to-back with him, as on all "Whales" other than the TA-3Bs.