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PHOENIX PUBLICATIONS AIRMARK 6 DOUGLAS SKY WARRIOR
Airmark Airguide #6
Douglas A-3 Skywarrior
By Andy Evans
The A-3 Skywarrior was a jet-powered, carrier-capable strategic bomber developed and produced by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the United States Navy. The Skywarrior was the heaviest operational aircraft to fly from an aircraft carrier, which contributed to its nickname of the ‘Whale’. Unlike rival designs, which had aimed for a 100,000lb maximum take-off weight, the Skywarrior was developed for a 68,000lb take-off weight, facilitating its use from the Navy’s existing Midway-class aircraft carriers. Initially used in the nuclear-armed bomber role, the emergence of effective ballistic missiles led to this mission being deprioritised by the early 1960s. Throughout the majority of its later service life, the Skywarrior was tasked with various secondary missions, which included use as an electronic warfare platform, tactical reconnaissance aircraft, and high-capacity aerial refuelling tanker. It was among the longest serving carrier-based aircraft in history, having entered service during the mid-1950s and withdrawn from use in 1991.