There may be no more enigmatic naval aircraft than the North American A-5 Vigilante. Originally designed to be a carrier-based strategic nuclear bomber, it served primarily as an unarmed reconnaissance asset, substituting its nuclear rear-loaded payload for extra fuel tanks and collections gear.
On this episode, former Vigilante pilot Bob Jellison, retired U.S. Navy Captain, joins us to describe the A-5 and his 100+ missions in it over North Vietnam. Our guest co-host Andy King (@andrewkingdrums), not a former guest or military aviator himself but a listener of the show and Vigilante aficionado, helps us further understand the aircraft. Check out his two favorite A-5 books here and here.
During the listener question segment, Andy asks host Jell-O why some navy VFA squadrons are based on the West Coast of the U.S. but deploy with East Coast air wings (and vice versa), whether he would rather fly the F4U Corsair or F6F Hellcat, and if he thinks strategically the US Navy is weaker due to its insistence on using the Hornet platform for multiple roles.
Episode artwork by Janek Krause. Bumper announcements by Clint Bell / opening song by Jaime Lopez, closing song “Skeleton” by Reader (@readerseattle). This episode was produced by our friends at The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.