Century Wings CW588783 US Navy Grumman A-6E Intruder Attack Aircraft - NF500, VA-115 "Eagles", Last Flight, 1996 (1:72 Scale)
"Obsolete weapons do not deter."
- British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
The A-6 Intruder is a twin-engine, mid-wing attack aircraft built by Grumman Aerospace. In service between 1963 and 1997, the Intruder was designed as a replacement for the piston-engined A-1 Skyraider. A specialized electronic warfare derivative, the EA-6B Prowler, remains in service as of 2007. As the A-6 was slated for retirement, its precision strike mission was taken over by the now retired F-14 Tomcat equipped with LANTIRN, which has subsequently passed on the role to the F/A-18 Hornet.
The Intruder was developed in response to a U.S. Navy specification for an all-weather carrier-based attack aircraft to serve as a replacement for the piston-powered, World War II-era A-1 Skyraider. Grumman was awarded the contract in 1957, and the resulting A2F-1 made its first flight on April 19th, 1960. The jet nozzles were originally designed to swivel downwards, but this was dropped from production aircraft. The pilot sits in the left seat, while the bombardier/ navigator sits to the right and below. A unique CRT gives a synthetic display of terrain ahead which, with the additional crew member, enabled low-level flying in all weather conditions. The wing is very efficient at subsonic speeds compared to supersonic fighters such as the F-4 Phantom II, which are also limited to subsonic speeds when carrying a paylod of iron bombs. A very similar wing would be put on pivots on Grumman's later supersonic swing-wing F-14 Tomcat, as well as similar landing gear.
The Intruder received a new standardized DOD designation of A-6A in the fall of 1962, and entered squadron service in February 1963. The A-6 became the USN and USMC's principal medium and all-weather/night attack aircraft from the mid-1960s through the 1990s and as an aerial tanker either in the dedicated KA-6D version or by use of a buddy store. This role was served in the USAF by the F-105 Thunderchief and later F-111 which was also later converted to a radar jammer as the EF-111 Raven. The A-6 first saw combat in Vietnam and in later engagements in Lebanon and Libya. The Intruder saw further duty during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, as well as over Bosnia in 1994, but it was phased out of service quickly in the mid-1990s in a Navy move to reduce the Type/Model/Series aircraft in the carrier airwing. It was intended for replacement by the A-12 Avenger II, but that program was canceled. The Intruder was left to soldier on for a few more years before retiring in favor of the LANTIRN equipped F-14 Tomcat, which was in turn replaced by the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Many questioned the shift to a shorter ranged strike force compared to the older generation planes, the availability of USAF tanking assets in all recent conflicts put a lesser premium on self contained range.
The last Intruders were retired February 28th, 1997. A number of retired A-6 airframes were sunk off the coast of St. Johns County, Florida to form a fish haven entitled Intruder Reef. However, contrary to popular belief, surviving aircraft fitted with the new wings were stored at the AMARC storage center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and not sunk as artificial reefs. Although the Intruder could not match the F/A-18's speed or air-combat capability, the A-6's range and load-carrying ability are still unmatched by newer aircraft in the fleet.
This particular A-6E Intruder served with the US Navy's VA-115 "Eagles" which witnessed its last flight in 1996. Limited production run of only 1,000 pieces.
Wingspan: 8.75 inches
Length: 9.25 inches
Release Date: January 2008
Historical Account: "Proud Birds" - Strike Fighter Squadron 115 (VFA-115), also known as the "Eagles", are a United States Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter squadron stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore. Their tail code is NK.
In October 1965, the squadron returned to Southeast Asia with USS Kitty Hawk and Air Wing Eleven (CVW-11). While serving "on the line" for six months in the Gulf of Tonkin, VA-115 flew 2,051 sorties, over 8000 hours and delivered 7 millions pounds of ordnance against enemy targets in Vietnam. In September 1966, VA-115 joined Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5), and was assigned to the Seventh Fleet in January 1967.
In August 1967, the squadron was in an inactive status. This was a transitional period as the squadron awaited the arrival of the A-6 Intruder. In January 1970, the squadron resumed active status and was reassigned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington for transition to the Grumman A-6A Intruder.
As part of CVW-5, on board USS Midway, VA-115 made their first Western Pacific deployment in the Intruder in 1971. In April 1972, the Midway and VA-115 departed NAS Alameda, California for "Yankee Station" off the coast of Vietnam. VA-115 earned a fourth Presidential Unit Citation during this tour. In September 1973, Midway and VA-115 changed homeport to Yokosuka, Japan. Again Midway and VA-115 would serve off the coast of Vietnam and in 1975, participated in Operation Eagle Pull and Operation Frequent Wind, supporting the evacuation of Saigon. In the summer of 1977, VA-115 transitioned to the A-6E. The "Arabs" of VA-115 then became the "Eagles," officially changing the nickname in March 1978.
The "Eagles" deployed again to the Middle East in support of re-flagged Kuwaiti tankers in the Persian Gulf. In October 1990, the "Eagles" deployed to the North Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Shield. On January 17, 1991, "Eagle" Intruders launched from the deck of Midway against Iraqi targets to mark the beginning of Operation Desert Storm. In total, the "Eagles" flew 456 combat sorties, 953 hours and delivered 724,000 pounds of ordnance against enemy targets in Iraq and occupied Kuwait. The squadron also led the wing with the confirmed destruction of 12 Iraqi naval vessels. In 1992, the squadron deployed aboard USS Independence, USS Midway's relief as the Navy's forward deployed aircraft carrier.
VA-115 again deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch enforcing United Nations resolutions against Iraq. The "Eagles" were awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for their superb performance, flying 115 combat missions over Iraq. In 1993, VA-115, with a complete complement of A-6E SWIP aircraft deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch and in 1994, received four aircraft with "night vision" capability.
In 1996, supported contingency operations in the vicinity of Taiwan and still another deployment supporting Operation Southern Watch. In October 1996, the "Eagles" began transition to their fifth aircraft, the F/A-18C Hornet and conducted another homeport change returning to NAS Lemoore, California, as well as, redesignation as Strike Fighter Squadron 115 (VFA-115). The squadron accepted 12 FA-18s in six months and joined CVW-14 on board USS Abraham Lincoln. In June 1998, the "Eagles" deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch.