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North American 'Retaliator' & NR-349 Interceptor proposals

Pioneer

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Hello gents

I am looking for information, drawings (including 3-views) and specifications for North American Aviation’s ‘Retaliator’ and the NR-349 Interceptor proposals.
These were based on the A-5 Vigilante carrier-based strike-bomber

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SOC

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This bit from A/RA-5 Vigilante In Action (Squadron/Signal, Terry Love, 1995): Retaliator was proposed as an F-106 replacement for ADC. Twin J79-GE-10 engines, and a Rocketdyne XLR46-NA-2 for high altitude performance. There was initial USAF interest, but the project wasn't proceeded with. Around 1972 a second project was proposed. This one fitted a third J79-GE-10 in the former weapons tunnel. Projected capabilities were speeds in excess of Mach 2.5 and altitudes over 80,000 feet. Armament was six AIM-54s carried semi-submerged under the fuselage. No apparent interest in this one.

These additions from Wings Of Fame Volume 19: Retaliator was proposed in 1960. The rocket engine was in the former weapons bay. Retaliator was revived in 1970 as NR349 and redesigned as a bid for the IMI (Improved Manned Interceptor, the F-101, F-102, and F-106 replacement). Bifuricated intakes on the upper surface fed the third engine. There's a cutaway of NR349 and a bit of artwork showing two of them flying underneath what would appear to be an eight-engined E-3.

That's all I found so far around here.
 

Skybolt

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Mmmm, some confusion here. AFAIK, the Retailator was an attack bomber - land based version of the A3J. NAA was proposing it in 1959 to fill the role of light bomber left open in TAC inventory by the cancellation of the XB-68. There was much debate in the USAF on that role in 1958-1959, expecially for the European theatre. The discussion involved the succession to the F-105 as heavy strike aircraft. In 1960 the decision was: leave the purely nuclear role to missiles (and was the MMRBM), develop a new advanced strike aircraft, and this was GOR-183, later TFX, for coventional and minor nuclear roles.
Retailator model here: http://cgi.ebay.com/1959-TOPPING-A3J-1-Vigilante-RETALIATOR-Prototype-Model_W0QQitemZ160051831489QQihZ006QQcategoryZ86954QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

The interceptor versions of the A3J were a quite different story. Already covered in another topic thread here
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=423.msg2813#msg2813

The Retailator concept was developed further by NAA and a derivative with the hunchback of the Aj3-2 (Later A-5B) was looked upon with interest by the RAF during the TSR-2 definition phase. It was proposed to the Aussies too. Our Elmayerle has a lot of info on inner NAA workings, so maybe he can help... Here a model photo of the RAAF Retailator with a couple of Bullpups and a score of iron bombs.
I think the confusion originated in the Aerofax Minigraph 9 by Grove and Miller (even the greatest lapse at times ;) ) when the Retailator line was conflated with another line of A3J-derived proposals for the USAF, i.e. those for the ADC, starting with the 1960 proposal of taking the basic plane and add a rocket to push high-altitude performance. The proposal probably was devised to try and hold the interceptor place for NAA following the F-108 cancellation (the advanced long-range interceptor remained alive for all the 60's decade and beyond).
 

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Archibald

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I don't want to add to the confusion. Just adding this pic of the three-engine vigilante (coming from Prototypes.com)
 

Skybolt

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Thanks Archie ;)
Look at the big radar for the six Phoenixes....
 

Archibald

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Be nice with me... ;D
so the pic would represent.... this one...
Around 1972 a second project was proposed. This one fitted a third J79-GE-10 in the former weapons tunnel. Projected capabilities were speeds in excess of Mach 2.5 and altitudes over 80,000 feet. Armament was six AIM-54s carried semi-submerged under the fuselage. No apparent interest in this one.

::)
 

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...and this definitively NOT the retaliator, which was an attack bomber (to replace the B-68) :D
 

Skybolt

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Actually the Vigilante is a not-so-well covered topic. Different books but no-one seems much improving from the original Aerofax one. I was very disappointed by the much-awaited one by Ginter Books, from an historical point of view at least. Great for modellers, though.
 

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Thanks gents

Regards
Pioneer
 

elmayerle

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Skybolt said:
Actually the Vigilante is a not-so-well covered topic. Different books but no-one seems much improving from the original Aerofax one. I was very disappointed by the much-awaited one by Ginter Books, from an historical point of view at least. Great for modellers, though.

Well, this modeller was disappointed that the Ginter book didn't have any drawings of the camo patterns tested on selected RA-5C's over Vietnam.

According to my sources, NAA-Columbus did look at replacing the J79s with other engines, but the upper management at NAA vetoed them because they would require a major redesign of the forged frame that carried the spindles for the all-moving tail surfaces. The three-engined one only had a chance because the engine and the bomb/fuel tank assembly were of similar diameters.
 

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If you want a color side profile and some good photos of camo Vigis, then you want the Osprey RA-5C Vigilante Units In Combat book.
 

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The US Navy persued a J-58 powered advanced interceptor version of the A-3J/A-5 Vigilante during the mid/late-1950's.

Does anyone have a drawing/schematic, or a picture of what it was to look like?


K.J. Lesnick
 

dan_inbox

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This was the NR-349.
 

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Skybolt

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Actually the question ought to be: what the hell was the Navy thinking of doing with the J-58 engine they were paying for developing ? There are three typical answers: they were thinking of a J-58 engined version of the Crusader (Crusader IV); they were thinking of a Mach-3 attack seaplane as a successor of the SeaMaster; they were thinking just in case. Anyway, for notorious reasons, the A3J was very difficult to adapt to new engines. Due to the structure of the rear engine box, the plane would have to be re-designed to house new engines. If you look at the NR-349, they had to resort to a three-J79 configuration, that's not the optimum in my opinion. Ditto for the NASA-explored A3J-based VG configuration for a CAP Navy plane (a sort of supersonic Missileer).
And by the way, it was USAF that was interested in adapting the A3J to the interceptor (different from the CAP) role, as the insignia on the art clearly tell.
 

KJ_Lesnick

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Maybe it was a cover for another program. But a J-58 A-3J derivative would probably be one of those advanced derivatives that end up having so many modifications made to them that it ends up becoming an entirely new fighter type.

KJ_Lesnick
 

Skybolt

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There is a rumor that the Navy intended to built an advanced A3J with a max continuous speed of Mach 2.5 and a dash capability of Mach 3. This aircraft would have used the P2 version of the J-58, which was rather different from the P4 used in the A-12 series. But trhat was an attack plane, not an interceptor. BTW, I think it dubious that by the late '50s the Navy operational doctrine included an heavy pure interceptor like a derivative from the A3J. By late '50s the major perspective menace for the Navy carriers were the long-range missile armed Soviet bombers, to counter which the entire Missileer-CAP-F111-F14 and Eagle-Phoenix weapon systems lines were developed.
The CAP idea was derived (at least a version of it) from t a concept like an A3J with VG wings, but it was a different beast, with a long subsonic loiter time, that dictated a turbofan engine, not a J-58.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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There were two Interceptor Vigilante projects - the earlier one ("Retaliator") had rocket boost rather than an additional engine. Both were USAF though.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Source:
Lindsay Peacock, "Vigilante - Eyes of the Fleet", Air International, November 1975
 

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Skybolt

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Let's summarize:
- there could have been an advanced Navy attack A3J version study using two J-58-P2 - probably 1956-7
- there surely was a series of studies for a CAP derivative with various types of VG wings, done in collaboration between NAA, NASA and the Navy, engine unknown, could be turbofans or J-79s - 1959
- there surely were at least two studies for an heavy ADC (USAF) interceptor based on a minimal (airframe structure) changed A3J and A-5, one with a rocket booster in the bomb bay (eraly '60s), the other with 3 J-79s (eraly '70s). This last received an official NAA model number 349.

Part of the problem derives from the fact the NAA didn't assign an NR model number to all projects, so it is difficult to track them down using the known officiial list.
 

KJ_Lesnick

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It would appear as if the J-58 was designed for an advanced A-3J attack-plane, not an interceptor.

KJ
 

Skybolt

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Yep, an advanced attack plane, but not specifically and only for Vigilante derivative: there is a lot to dig in the post-Seamaster projects area.
 

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A couple of Rockwell NR-349 models from the Columbus shop, both marked "ADC Interceptor".
 

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circle-5

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You're quite welcome! Attached are a couple more photos of the left one, taken by SPF member Chad Slattery.
 

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Pioneer

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Wow Circle-5 great find :p
They are beautiful models!!

Any idea of their scale and $

Thanks for sharing

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Pioneer
 

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Pioneer said:
Any idea of their scale and $

Scale is 1/32, which is typical of proposal models for that period and class of aircraft. Purchase price was unreasonable, as were the other four Vigilante models in the attached photo.

Please note rare USAF NA-247 Retaliator model up front, which is the other topic of this thread.
 

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circle-5

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Here's another NA-247 Retaliator miniature, made by the NAA model shop in Columbus, Ohio. Not exactly a desk model (unless you have a really big desk), this trade show display had detailed cockpits, landing gear with inflated tires and working oleos, etc. It didn't help sales to the USAF, but its Vigilante counterpart was shown at naval bases all over the country, with more success.

The photo shows how the NA-247 airframe is basically an A3J-1 (A-5A) minus the NAGPAW launch tube and other, internal changes.
 

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Stargazer2006

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I'm somewhat confused by the names and designations in this thread...

Wasn't the NA-247 Retaliator the same as the A3J-1 Vigilante? And can we assume that the former name was North American's choice but that the Navy suggested the latter?

Also, was the NR-349 proposal also called the Retaliator, or was that an invention for the color profiles? Did it carry any name at all?

Finally, was the NR-349 a proposal for IMI (Improved Manned Interceptor) or for NAGPAW?

Thanks for clearing up the mess!!
 
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I'm somewhat confused by the names and designations in this thread...

Wasn't the NA-247 Retaliator the same as the A3J-1 Vigilante? And can we assume that the former name was North American's choice but that the Navy suggested the latter?

Also, was the NR-349 proposal also called the Retaliator, or was that an invention for the color profiles? Did it carry any name at all?

Finally, was the NR-349 a proposal for IMI (Improved Manned Interceptor) or for NAGPAW?

Thanks for clearing up the mess!!

NA-247 was based on the A3J, but had a few slight modifications such as increased weight, increased fuel capacity for improved range and mission radius, etc. I don't think any huge mods were made though aside from that. NA-247 was an air force project but the USAF never really supported it. It was quietly trashed as a result. A3J was the result of NAGPAW made to the US Navy so no, the two concepts aren't the same.

The NR-349 wasn't called the Retaliator. It might have been just a simple mix-up as the only Vigilante derivative project to officially carry that name was the NA-247.

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=1127.0

NR-349 was indeed a proposal for IMI. Again, NAGPAW was a navy attack project proposed by NAA.

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=423.0

Aside from this site I got some of the details from Tony Buttler's American Secret Projects: Bombers, Attack, and Anti-Submarine Aircraft 1945 to1974.
 

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Rockwell NR-349 Improved Manned Interceptor factory display model, from different angles. I imagine the performance (and sound pressure level on take off) would have been impressive, with those three J79s.
 

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GTX

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Outstanding! That very clearly shows the intake arrangement. Are there any more pics?
 

Stargazer2006

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Bill Walker said:
I would love to see how four inlets were ducted to three engines.

My assumption is that the two higher (and smaller) intakes were connected centrally to the top engine, while the lower (and wider) intakes were connected to the lower two engines.
 

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Has anyone seen any performance figures of the NR-349? It's obviously higher, speed wise, then the old Vigi, which was fast in it's own right. It would also be interesting to see if the added "bulk" allowed enough internal fuel to have good range with the third range. i.e., did it manage to still have the same range as the Vigi with the third engine?
 
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