On this day in aviation history, the first flight of the Intruder!
The prototype YA2F-1, otherwise more famously known as the Grumman A-6 Intruder, all-weather attack aircraft, in service with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps between 1963 and 1997. A little known fact about this aircraft is that the original designs and prototype possessed jet nozzles that were designed to swivel downwards for shorter takeoffs and landings. This feature was eventually removed.
The Intruder was also equipped to carry and launch a nuclear weapon, and Navy crews regularly planned for assigned nuclear missions. Due to the A-6 being a low-level attack aircraft, an unusual method was developed for launching an atomic weapon, known as LABS-IP (Low Altitude Bombing System – Inverted Position) it called for a high-speed low-level approach. Nearing the target point, the pilot would pull the aircraft into a steep climb. At a computer-calculated point, the weapon would be released, with momentum carrying it upwards and forwards. The pilot would continue the pull into a half loop that would have it heading back in the direction from which it came.
It would then depart from the area at maximum acceleration. During this time, the bomb would rise to an apex, then begin to arc towards the target. By the time of detonation, the Intruder would be several miles away, traveling at high speed, and thus able to stay ahead of the shock wave from the explosion. This unusual maneuver was known as an "over the shoulder" bomb launch.
The A-6 flew many missions, in many wars, over many years, and carried many names, including; the Double Ugly", "The Mighty Alpha Six", "Iron Tadpole" and the "Drumstick.