One of the finest all-weather attack planes of the US Navy, the Grumman A-6 Intruder is still in front line service, in increasingly up-to-date versions, particularly as regards electronics and armament. In 1957 the Grumman emerged as the winner in competition with eleven other rival designs entered by eight companies. The first prototype flew on April 19, 1960, and the first A-6A of the series went into service on February 1, 1963; 488 of them were built by the end of 1969. The second basic version was designed exclusively for electronic warfare. Named EA-6B (and stemming from an initial sub-series of 27 models), the prototype appeared on May 25, 1968; the fuselage and cabin were modified to accommodate four crew members as well as a highly sophisticated electronics system, so that it was soon recognized as the best carrier-based aircraft for this type of warfare. The final variant of the Intruder was the A-6E, dating from February 1970, even further improved and more powerful.
When it first went into action in Southeast Asia, the Grumman A-6A Intruder was the most modern and sophisticated warplane then operating from the US fleet's aircraft carriers. Thanks to its advanced electronic equipment, it was a plane capable of spotting and attacking an objective, even one as small as a truck or a tank, if necessary in poor light or even at night. As the war spread, Intruders were used in ever greater numbers, often as escorts to A-4 Skyhawks, homing in on the target with greater effectiveness. Other variants of the Grumman A-6 went into production, notably the one specialized in electronic warfare. This type of plane suffered relatively heavy losses, 51 machines being shot down by enemy fighters or anti-aircraft, and eleven as a result of operational accidents. The intruder is still one of the best all-weather attack aircraft in the US Navy.
Aircraft: Grumman A-6A