- June 15, 1956
VP-34 was dis-established and VAH-3 was commissioned at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, as an operational A3D-1 squadron.
RVAH-3 was the RA-5C Vigilante RAG and since its transition from the A3D Skywarrior training squadron operated multiple types of aircraft. From the mid-1960’s the roster included RA-5C, TA-3 (for Nav training; bomb bay set up with multiple positions for ASB-1), an ancient R4D/C-47/C-117 for logistics, and A-4/TA-4 (replacing the previous F9F Cougars) for chase, proficiency, instruments, x-country and boondoggles.
- May 1965
RVAH-3 "Farewell Party" photo courtesy of Mark Johnson.
"I was looking through a family picture album and found a picture entitled "RVAH-3 Farewell Party December 1965. It was clear to me that this was a photograph from a Navy event that my father and mother attended while my father was stationed at NAS Sanford in 1965. My father was Richard Charles Johnson. I believe he flew the Vigalante when he was with RVAH-3. He never liked that aircraft. I believe his favorite was the F-8 Crusader."
- May 1968
RVAH-3 moved to NAS Albany, GA.
- January, 1974
RVAH-3 moved to NAS Key West, Florida
- August, 1979
RVAH-3 is disestablished.
- A-4 Skyhawks serving with RVAH-3:
- 151084 A-4E (With RVAH as GJ-340 and also served with VF-43
- 154343 TA-4F (With RVAH as GJ-341 and with VAQ-33 in 1987)
- Nov 1969 - July 1970 at NAS Albany
- 154327 TA-4F (Was also there in March 1975.)
- 154332 TA-4F
- 154614 TA-4F
- 155071 TA-4F Sep 1971
- 154343 TA-4F Mar 1972- Aug 1973 at NAS Albany
- 154300 TA-4F
- 154614 TA-4J
- 154343 TA-4F/J (With RVAH as GJ-341 and with VAQ-33 in 1987)
- Aug 1973 - July 1974 at NAS Key West
- 153502 (Apr 74)
- 154616 (May 74)
- Source = "Boom" Powell
- Some comments from former Heavy 3 Guys: I served as part of the electronics maintenance crew with RVAH-3 from 1966 to 1969. I think there were four Skyhawks with the squadron for two, maybe three, months before our home-base move from NAS Sanford, FL to NAS Albany, GA., Their stay continued with us briefly after the move. We did carrier quals about the same time, on the America, but I don't think they came with us.
Maintenance personnel were not often told details concerning an aircraft's mission -- its overall mission or its specific sortie mission. However, drop tanks were almost always attached to the planes, leaving the impression that these were not short training missions.
In about the same time-frame, two Phantoms were also attached to RVAH-3, which would lead one to conclude that a series of Vigilante missions, or training missions, were flown that required armed escorts.
Of course, the United States would never have violated the airspace of a sovereign country in the Caribbean in the '60's or '70, so I have no idea why they would have left Sanford and Albany and headed south. I served in Key West for awhile, too. Same thing happened there, as well.
By the way, I agree that the Skyhawk may have been the best aircraft of its era --- maybe, ever. Great plane. The Vigilante, on the other hand, was poorly designed for its original mission, inadequately designed for its assigned mission, and not designed for effective maintenance at all. Big, powerful, and nearly useless. Never-the-less, I was proud of the work I did, and of a great squadron.
About the move RVAH-3 made from NAS Sanford, FL to NAS Albany, GA. I'd be remiss if I indicated that I remember exactly when the move occurred. However, my best guess is that it was in the last 5 months of 1968. I was discharged in Oct. of '69, and I think we'd been in Albany just about a year.
I served as Operations Chief VAH-3, and RVAH-3 1964/66. During that time we had a TF9-?, it was used primarily for pilots to get thier flight hours while waiting to start RAG Pilot Training in the A3D, A5A, and then the RA5C. Back log was at times 2/3 months. Of course it also made a great cross country aircraft, instrument training, and many other sundry things. I am sure the TF9 was replaced by the TA-4F and was used for that very same reason.
T Bird with RVAH-3.
1969: Sea Dragons Skyhawk BuNo 155071, GJ-341, parked on the ramp minus the canopy which was inadvertently ejected into the vertical fin. Oops!
Photo from "Boom" Powell
1972: Sea Dragons Skyhawk BuNo 154327, GJ-343, manned and ready for engine start.
Unknown Photographer via W. Mutza
29 July 1972 Sea Dragons Skyhawk BuNo 154343, GJ-341.
Gary Verver Collection
RVAH-3 TA-4 Skyhawk BuNo 154327.
RVAH-3 TA-4 Skyhawk BuNo 154327, side number GJ-343.
Photograph from Michel Klaver, Webmaster of the F-4 Phantom II Website at http://www.vogue-web.ch/f4/.
07 AUG 1974:
BuNo 154343 taxi at Andrews AFB. A few Skyhawks served with RVAH units.
March 1975 BuNo 154327, GJ-343, parked on the ramp.
Photographer unknown via Tailhook Association.
BuNo 154343 on the ramp.
Dennis Huges via Stephen Miller
June 1978 BuNo 154343, GJ-341, configured with a centerline tank as she taxies by the photographer.
Photo by Michael Grove via Tailhook Association.
1976-79: Sea Dragons Skyhawk BuNo 152614, GJ-307, on formation with Sea Dragons RA-5C Vigilante BuNo 156632, GJ-304.
Photo from "Boom" Powell