Fly with the VAH-3 Sea Dragons again in this A-3D. Each model is carved from wood and hand painted to provide a unique piece you’ll love!
Heavy Attack Squadron THREE (VAH-3) was commissioned on 15
June 1956, at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida, as an
operational A3D-1 (A-3A) squadron of Heavy Attack Wing ONE.
CDR H. H. MOREHOUSE, USN, was its first Commanding Officer.
The first A-3A “Skywarrior” was received by the Squadron on
8 October 1956, and the Squadron commenced carrier qualifications
aboard the USS FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (CVA-42).
On 9 July 1957, VAH-3 deployed aboard the FDR as a unit of
Carrier Air Group SEVENTEEN (CAG-17). This cruise with the
SIXTH Fleet in the Mediterranean provided the WING with its
first extensive A-3A operations from a MIDWAY class carrier.
Upon return to Mayport, Florida, on 4 March 1958, the Squadron
was ordered to NAS Sanford, Florida, where it was merged
with the Heavy Attack Training Unit (HATULANT) on 10 June 1958.
VAH-3 thus became the Heavy Attack Replacement Training Squadron
(RAG Squadron) for the Atlantic Fleet, and its new mission
included the “Basic Readiness Qualification” of all replacement
flight crews and maintenance support personnel within HATWING
ONE. VAH-3 offered nine crews and thirty “key” enlisted maintenance
personnel each month.
Late in 1959, VAH-3 received the first of six A3D-2T (TA-3B)
aircraft which had been specifically designed and built as a
Bombardier/Navigator airborne trainer. This aircraft replaced
the former training vehicle, the P2V-3B “NEPTUNE.”
The year of 1960 was one of change. A completely revised
curriculum was developed and the squadron’s organizational
structure was adjusted to meet the new challenge. Anticipating
the arrival of the new A3J-1 (A-5A) “VIGILANTE,” the training
facilities were expanded and a total of eighteen courses, totaling
some 14,000 instructional hours, were prepared. With Bureau
approval of the new squadron organization, which was boldly
conceived to execute its training mission, VAH-3 responded successfully
to the challenge imposed by a 50 percent increase in
On 16 June 1961, the first four (A3J-1) A-5A aircraft were
received and replacement flight crew and a maintenance on-thejob
training commenced immediately. VAH-3, in cooperation with
North American Aviation Corporation, introduced the A-5A weapons
system and an innovational concept of the Fleet introduction
of a naval aircraft, including the readiness qualification of
flight crews and support personnel. The Squadron broke the
Wing’s record for monthly flight time logged with a total of
1,082.7 flight hours. In September, VAH-3 assumed responsibi-
lity for carrier qualifying all replacement pilots prior to
their assignment to an operational squadron. Only one minor
A-5A accident marred an otherwise highly successful year in
terms of safety and the additional training requirements of
the A-5A program.
At the beginning of 1962, VAH-3 was assigned the following
aircraft: one R4D-7 (TC-47K), four F9F-8T (TF-9J), six A3D-1
(TA- 3B), twelve A3D-1 (A-3A), and eight A3J-1 (A-5A). A-3A
training continued and A-5A replacement training intensified.
The first flight crews were qualified for assignment to VAH-7,
which became the first operational A-5A squadron on 27 January
1962. In September, VAH-3’s aircraft inventory was reduced to
one TC747K, four TF-9J, six TA-3B, ten A-3A, and four A-3B.
Highlighting the 196 3 scene was the introduction of the
RA-5C weapons system which combined the highly versatile A-5A
attack capability with a new and highly efficient electronic
and photographic reconnaissance system. A limited version of
the A-5A was delivered in June, and five of these A-5C (L) aircraft
were used for transitional training of crews from the
A-5A to the RA-5C aircraft. The first RA-5C aircraft was received
on 10 December. After the remaining A-3A aircraft were
transferred, the Squadron aircraft inventory consisted of A-5A,
RA-5C, TA-3B, TF-9J, and TC-37K.
On 23 January 1964, the graduation of the last class of
A-3B pilots and bombardiers from VAH-3 brought to a close an era
of training and marked the beginning of a new and ‘more advanced
one. From 1 May 1958 through 31 December 1964, 350 Replacement
Pilots (R/P), 450 Bombardier Navigators (B/N), 350 third crewmen,
some 2700 maintenance support personnel, 44 weapons delivery
instructors, and 45 Air Intelligence Specialists successfully
completed the rigid courses of instruction to qualify for
assignment to operational commands. To accomplish this training,
the Squadron logged close to 18,000 sorties, expended
12,000 practice bombs, 335 training SHAPES, and simulated
10,500 (RBS) bomb drops on Radar Bomb Scoring sites. In July,
VAH-3 was redesignated Reconnaissance Attack Squadron THREE
(RVAH-3) with its primary mission being “to indoctrinate and
train pilots, aircrewmen, and maintenance personnel in current
combat aircraft in order to provide a minimum level of air combat
readiness in the attack carrier striking forces.” Providing
instruction and training to assume optimum utilization of both
aircraft and the ground support center of the Integrated Operational
Intelligence System (IOIC), became RVAH-3’s secondary
mission. The IOIC was also established at NAS Sanford in