Impressive photo shows RA-5C Vigilante doing successful barricade arrestment aboard USS Constellation

Impressive photo shows RA-5C Vigilante doing successful barricade arrestment aboard USS Constellation

By Dario Leone
Mar 27 2018
Share this article

The RA-5C was damaged by antiaircraft fire during a combat mission over Vietnam

Taken on Aug. 18, 1968 the impressive picture in this post shows an RA-5C Vigilante of Reconnaissance Attack (Heavy) Squadron 5 (RVAH-5) damaged by antiaircraft fire during a combat mission over Vietnam going into the barricade on the flight deck of the carrier USS Constellation (CVA 64).

During the Vietnam War, RVAH-5 completed five combined Western Pacific (WESTPAC) and Vietnam deployments, and two Atlantic / Mediterranean (LANT/MED) deployments on the following carriers:

  • Aug. 5, 1964 – May 6, 1965, USS Ranger, WESTPAC and Vietnam
  • Nov. 30, 1965 – Jul. 10, 1966, USS America, LANT/MED
  • Jan. 10 – 20 Sep. 1967, USS America, LANT/MED
  • May 29 1968 – Jan. 31 1969 USS Constellation, WESTPAC and Vietnam (On Nov. 25, 1968, RA-5C BuNo 149293 was lost in combat. The pilot, CDR Ernest Stamm,   ejected successfully, was captured, but died in captivity 16 Jan. 16, 1969 as a POW in North Vietnam; he was posthumously promoted to CAPT and his remains were returned to the U.S. in March 1974. The navigator, LTJG Richard Thum was killed during the shootdown and his remains were returned to the U.S. in September 1977.)
  • Oct. 14 1969 – Jun. 1 1970, USS Ranger, WESTPAC and Vietnam
  • Jun. 11, 1971 – Feb. 12, 1972, USS Enterprise, WESTPAC and Vietnam
  • Nov. 16, 1972 – Jun. 23, 1973, USS Ranger, WESTPAC and Vietnam

The A-5 Vigilante was a carrier based supersonic bomber designed by North American for the U.S. Navy. Its service in the nuclear strike role (replacing the Douglas A-3 Skywarrior) was very short. However, as the RA-5C, it saw extensive service during the Vietnam War in the tactical strike reconnaissance role.

Starting in August of 1964 hazardous medium-level reconnaissance missions were carried out.

Even though the Vigilante was fast and agile, 18 RA-5Cs were lost in combat during the Vietnam War: 14 to anti-aircraft fire, three to surface-to-air missiles, and one to a MiG-21. Due in part, to these combat losses, 36 additional RA-5C aircraft were built from 1968 to 1970 as attrition replacements. These aircraft were significantly different from previous RA-5Cs. Uprated engines, Leading Edge Extensions over the intakes, revised intake shape, and other modifications made these worthy of being called RA-5Ds – but the previous designation was retained. This last batch of Vigilantes are known as 156 Series aircraft since their BuNo. start with the numbers 156 (some earlier RA-5Cs were rebuilt to the same standard so there are exceptions).

RA-5C Vigilante print
This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. RA-5C Vigilante RVAH-6 Fleurs, AJ601 / 156620 / 1972

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

Artwork courtesy of

Share this article

Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this article

Share this article
Share this article

Always up to date! News and offers delivered directly to you!

Get the best aviation news, stories and features from The Aviation Geek Club in our newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.

Error: Contact form not found.

Share this article
Back to top
My Agile Privacy
This website uses technical and profiling cookies. Clicking on "Accept" authorises all profiling cookies. Clicking on "Refuse" or the X will refuse all profiling cookies. By clicking on "Customise" you can select which profiling cookies to activate. In addition, this site installs Google Analytics in version 4 (GA4) with anonymous data transmission via proxy. By giving your consent, the data will be sent anonymously, thus protecting your privacy. We and our selected ad partners can store and/or access information on your device, such as cookies, unique identifiers, browsing data. You can always choose the specific purposes related to profiling by accessing the advertising preferences panel, and you can always withdraw your consent at any time by clicking on "Manage consent" at the bottom of the page.

List of some possible advertising permissions:

You can consult: our list of advertising partners, the Cookie Policy and the Privacy Policy.
Warning: some page functionalities could not work due to your privacy choices