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North American A-5A/RA-5C Vigilante

North American A-5A/RA-5C Vigilante Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2005 Title North American A-5A/RA-5C Vigilante
Author Steve Ginter Publisher Ginter Books
Published 2005 ISBN 0-942612-64-7
Format 168 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $29.95


Steve Ginter has released a new title in the Naval Fighters series - the North American A-5A - RA-5C Vigilante. This comprehensive work walks through the early development of the long-range carrier-based nuclear strike aircraft that suddenly found itself without a mission. With a little time and work, the aircraft found a new life as a reconnaissance aircraft, raising the bar on tactical reconnaissance to a level that can be met by very few aircraft today. Its size, speed and range, coupled with the variety of sensors that could be carried within the aircraft made this aircraft invaluable to tactical and strategic reconnaissance missions.

While the aircraft was not a Mach 3 plus platform like the SR-71, the RA-5C was easily Mach 2+ and could operate from the carrier deck. There were no fighters in that era that could overtake a scared Vigilante crew! When the records are eventually declassified, it would be interesting to see the camera and sensor fits of the two aircraft in say 1975 to see which aircraft carried the greater payload.

This title goes through the usual Naval Fighter format of walking around the aircraft and through its subsystems using many of the illustrations from flight and maintenance manuals. You'll find the usual excellent mix of diagrams and photography illustrating each feature. This is by far the best cockpit reference for the RA-5C I've seen yet.

Continuing the Naval Fighter format, the author provides a brief operational history and relevant photography for each squadron that operated the Vigilante. The title is rounded out by a quick summary of the kits that have been released of the A-5 and RA-5C, with a mention of the Trumpeter RA-5C kit that had not been released by the time this title headed for the printer.

This is another great addition to the Naval Fighter line and I find myself acquiring every one!