The Grumman A-6 Intruder is the jet fighter developed by the Grumman aircraft as their all-weather and a twin-jet attack aircraft. The aircraft was developed to serve both the US Navy the United States Marine Corps from years 1963 to 1997. This aircraft was developed by the Grumman in order to replace the previous piston engine powered Douglas A-1 Skyraider, which was also an all-weather but medium attack fighter plane.
Near the time the Grumman A-6 Intruder reached its retirement, the precision strike missions handed to Grumman A-6 Intruder were transferred to the Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighter jet that was fitted with the LANTIRN pod. In addition to being a very competent attack aircraft, the electronic warfare capabilities of the Grumman A-6 Intruder allowed it to lie down the foundations for the EA-6B Prowler.
For our readers, we have gathered a list of amazing facts about the Grumman A-6 Intruder which are as follows.
The request for a new design of an attack aircraft with twin jet requires was proposed by the US Navy back in 1956. At that time famed aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing, Bell, Lockheed, Grumman, Vought, North American, and MacDonnell Douglas, presented nearly 11 twin jet designs for a subsonic two-seater attack bomber aircraft. The main requirement in this new propose aircraft design was to have the side by side seat feature which would allow the pilots to minimize their workload inside the cockpit. Out of all these propose designs, the model named Grumman A2F-1 was selected. This was the very model that led to the creation of the Grumman A-6 Intruder after the contract was approved and started back in 1958.
The thing about Grumman A-6 Intruder that made it so unique was ironically its ugly design. The Pratt & Whitney engines that were fitted in this aircraft required to have twin intakes on the front side of the aircraft. This caused the sides of the aircraft to be swelled up and give the aircraft an overall bloated appearance. As for the streamlined and the rounded snout made the Grumman A-6 Intruder butt of the joke that the designer actually created this aircraft from backward.
Even with all of these design flaws were not enough, the designers of the aircraft gave it a refueling probe that was sticking out from its nose and was then bent forwards, thus giving it an appearance of an insect’s antenna. Some even called the Grumman A-6 Intruder was the Flying Drumstick.
While the Grumman A-6 Intruder had all these design flaws, the avionic systems incorporated in the aircraft were decades ahead of the time. The aircraft had superior bombing capabilities along with the side by side seating design that was rarely seen in any other aircraft at that time.
Powerplant & other Specs
The Grumman A-6 Intruder was powered by two of the Pratt & Whitney J52-P8B engines that were able to generate a thrust of 9300 pounds each. This much thrust allowed the aircraft to be propelled at a top speed of 648 mph at a ceiling height of 40600 feet for a range of 1077 miles.
The pilot of the aircraft sat on its left side while the bombardier or the navigator sat on its right side. This seating arrangement was liked by both US Marin Corps and US Navy pilots as this allowed them to be in better communication with the navigator for more productivity.
Bombardiers or navigators were tasked with the monitoring of the following tasks.
- Power settings
- Rate of descent
- Rate of altitude
Due to both the pilots and navigator being sitting side by side allowed them to communicate with each other by nodding, pointing or making eye contacts. This increased the effectiveness of the crew many times.
This effectiveness was reached during the training of the Grumman A-6 Intruder when the navigators and pilots were reminded that they need to operate as one brain in the aircraft. The A-6 Intruder was never flown by a single person. If the pilot of the Grumman A-6 Intruder received a medal for his service, the bombardier also received the same medal.
The Grumman A-6 Intruder was built to neb an all-weather attack aircraft but the subsonic speeds allowed the aircraft to be only flown during the night time or in the poor weather conditions. Their counterpart, the Vietnamese MiGs were able to collate the enemy bases in the daylight but the Intruder would remain under the radar of enemy and strike the targets which were either small or moving with great precision.
The avionics systems in Grumman A-6 Intruder were as follows.
- FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared)
- LLLTV (laser targeting, Low Light Level)
- MTI (Moving Target Identification)
- DIANE (Digital Integrated Attack and Navigation Equipment)
The most essential out of all these avionics in Grumman A-6 Intruder was DIANE which was the bomb releasing tool. DIANE was so capable in its functioning that it was able to incorporate its task at any rate of climb, range, speed, Diving angles, altitude or wind conditions. Under all these circumstances, it was able to calculate the most suitable time of releasing the payload.
The vertical display of the DIANE allowed the pilot to have a clear presentation of the sky, its horizon, the terrain down, radar altitude and the attacking angles. This tool was the one that allowed Grumman A-6 Intruder to be a top-class low-level bomber.
Grumman A-6 Intruder had also other roles in addition to its bombing missions. Many developments were made in its design to create a new version like the one which allowed it to be a tanker. The designation of its version started from A-6A to the A-6E. Eventually, it was Grumman A-6 Intruder that laid down the foundation for the electronics warfare and the creation of the EA-6B Prowler.
A-6 Intruder Association
Due to the camaraderie between the pilot’s ad the navigators of the Grumman A-6 Intruder an “A-6 Intruder Association” was formed and it still is active in high capacity. The Intruder Association is a nonprofit fraternity of the pilots and navigators of the Grumman A-6 Intruder to maintain the contact between members of this close community.
The Grumman A-6 Intruder was ultimately retired back in 1997 and its missions were overtaken by another aircraft from Grumman; F-14 Tomcat.