Designed to be the US Navy’s long range strategic nuclear bomber, the A-3 was the largest and heaviest aircraft to regularly operate off an aircraft carrier. In order to reduce weight so that it could operate off of smaller carriers, Douglas never put ejection seats into A-3’s, requiring the crew members to bail out through an escape hatch in the belly.

When the Navy decided to put their strategic nuclear weapons in submarines, the A-3 was left without a mission. The size of the A-3 with it’s large bomb bay made it suitable for new jobs, including photo reconnaissance, electronic intelligence gathering (ELINT) and aerial refueling. While several A-3’s were fitted out to combine the roles, like ELINT and tanking, this sample was a dedicated tanker.

The A-3 served on carriers until 1988 and were finally withdrawn from service in 1991. Since they were retired from military service, their size and performance have made them excellent test beds for new radar and weapon systems with several companies.

DISPLAY STATUS COUNTRY OF ORIGIN CURRENT LOCATION
Own United States Restoration
PURPOSE & TYPE MATERIALS ERA & DATE RANGE
Bomber, Fuel Tanker  Steel Early Jets
1945 – 1975
PRODUCTION &
ACQUISITION
SPECIFICATIONS SERVICE HISTORY
MFG: Douglas
First Produced: 1957
Number Built: 262 total; 85 KA-3B models
Armament: None

Wingspan: 72’6”
Wing Area: 661.5 sq ft
Length: 76’4”
Height: 23’6”
Empty Weight: 9,853 lbs
Gross Weight: 37,077 lbs
Powerplant: 12,400 lbs each
Thrust: 
Cruise Speed: 520 mph
Maximum Speed: 630 mph
Range: 2,800 miles
Delivered: July 15, 1957

June 10, 1968 – To KA-3D
Oct 1970 – June 71 – VAQ-134 ABD USS Ranger