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RA-5C Vigilante Units in Combat

RA-5C Vigilante Units in Combat Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2004 Title RA-5C Vigilante Units in Combat
Author Robert R. 'Boom' Powell Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2004 ISBN 1-84176-749-2
Format 96 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $19.95


The North American RA-5C Vigilante always looked ahead of its time. With its distinctive shape, it almost looks like a single tailed F-14 Tomcat. Designed as a carrier-based bomber, the original A3J didn't have a bomb bay door under the aircraft. Instead, it had a tube that exited between the engine exhaust nozzles where its bombs would simply decelerate away from the aircraft. When the Navy deleted its nuclear bomber requirements, the Vigilante was pressed into reconnaissance duties.

RA-5C Vigilante Units in Combat

The author walks through the development and operations of the Vigilante from a solid position - he flew the Vigilante in combat. The title covers the operations of the RA-5C primarily in Vietnam, though there are some interesting summaries of other actions seen by the RA-5C including the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1967, the capture of the USS Pueblo in 1969, the EC-121 also shot down in 1969 by the North Koreans, the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Cyprus in 1974, and several other interesting events.

The coverage of Vigilante is broken down as follows:

  • Lineage
  • Combat Development
  • Hot Times
  • From Highway Patrol to Protective Action
  • Linebacker Finale
  • Other Places, Other Missions

In addition to the operational summaries, the book is also has a nice selection of color profiles, color noseart photography, line drawings, as well as loads of color and B&W coverage of the action.

This book is a must have for the modeler and aviation historian interested in naval air operations, especially with the upcoming release of the Trumpeter 1/48 RA-5C Vigilante kit! Recommended!

My sincere thanks to Motorbooks International for this review sample!