Service History of 138965
- Delivered: July 15, 1957
- Aug 13, 1957-July 30, 1962 – VAH-4 NAS Whidbey Island, WA, ABD USS Shangri-La, USS Lexington & USS Oriskany
- Aug 31, 1962-Nov 30, 1964 – VAH-10 NAS Whidbey Island, WA, ABD USS Constellation
- Feb 1965 – VAH-4
- May 1965 – VAH-10
- May 17, 1965-June 6, 1968 – AMARC, Tucson, AZ for storage
- June 10, 1968-Sept 10, 1968 – NARF Alameda, CA To KA-3D
- Sept 12, 1968 – VAQ-132 ABD USS Enterprise & USS America
- Dec 1, 1969-July 22, 1970 – VAQ-134 NAS Alameda, CA
- July 22, 1970-July 23, 1971 – VAQ-134 NAS Alameda, CA & NAS Whidbey Island, WA, ABD USS Ranger
- July 23, 1971-Mar 14, 1975 – VAQ-208 NAS Alameda, CA
- July 13, 1975 – AMARC, Tucson, AZ for storage
- Stricken: Jan 1989
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 an attempt to reduce weight to allow operations off of smaller carriers, Douglas never put ejection seats into A-3s, 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. Several A-3’s were retrofitted to carry out the combined roles of tanker and ELINT, this aircraft however 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The A-3 served on carriers until 1988 and were finally withdrawn from service in 1991.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. Arrived at Yanks in 2005.