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The A-6 Intruder Attack Aircraft

The Grumman A-6 Intruder is an American, twinjet all-weather attack aircraft built by Grumman Aerospace. In service with the United States Navy and Marine Corps between 1963 and 1997, the Intruder was designed as an all-weather medium attack aircraft to replace the piston-engined Douglas A-1 Skyraider. As the A-6E was scheduled for retirement, its precision strike mission was taken over by the Grumman F-14 Tomcat equipped with a LANTIRN pod. From the A-6, a specialized electronic warfare derivative, the EA-6B Prowler, was developed.

Grumman A-6 Intruder Attack AircraftFollowing the good performance of the propeller-driven Skyraider in the Korean War, the United States Navy issued preliminary requirements in 1955 for an all-weather carrier-based attack aircraft. The U.S. Navy published an operational requirement document for it in October 1956. It released a request for proposals (RFP) in February 1957. Proposals were submitted by Bell, Boeing, Douglas, Grumman, Lockheed, Martin, North American, and Vought. Following evaluation of the bids, the U.S. Navy announced the selection of Grumman on 2 January 1958. The company was awarded a contract for the development of the A2F-1 in February 1958. 

The A-6's design team was led by Lawrence Mead, Jr. He later played a lead role in the design of the Lunar Excursion Module and the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. In the early 60s, it was rare for a fighter-sized aircraft to have sophisticated avionics that used multiple computers. This design experience was taken into consideration by NASA in their November 1962 decision to choose Grumman over other companies like General Dynamics-Convair (the F-111 had computerized avionics capabilities comparable to the A-6, but did not fly until 1964) to build the Lunar Module, which was a small-sized spacecraft with two onboard computers.

The first prototype YA2F-1, lacking radar and the navigational and attack avionics, made the Intruder's first flight on 19 April 1960, with the second prototype flying on 28 July 1960. In general, development flying went well, with the major problem encountered being handling problems associated with the aircraft's air brakes mounted on the rear fuselage. In an attempt to solve this, the third prototype had its horizontal tailplane moved rearwards by 16 inches (41 cm), but this did not completely solve the handling problems, which were resolved by fitting split-hinged speed-brakes on the aircraft's wing-tips. Early production aircraft were fitted with both the fuselage and wingtip air brakes, although the fuselage-mounted items were soon bolted shut, and were removed from later aircraft. More details