North American AJ Savage
The first naval combat aircraft designed to carry an atomic bomb and for a time the world's largest carrier based aircraft, the Savage was developed (as the North American NA-146) to meet a US Navy requirement for a high performance attack bomber capable of carrying a nuclear weapon.
In order to meet the specification's demands a large aircraft was required, this in turn dictating the need far an unusual composite powerplants configuration - a pair of Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radials as the primary engines augmented by an auxiliary Allison J33 turbojet in the lower rear fuselage.
This third engine was intended to provide a high speed 'dash' capability during the attack phase of the aircraft's operation and for extra boost on takeoff when required. Other features included shoulder mounted folding wings, tricycle undercarriage, wing tip fuel tanks and (on the first models) dihedral tail planes.
The Savage was ordered In June 1946, the first of three XAJ-1 prototypes flying on 3 July 1948. These were followed by 55 initial production AJ-1s, the first one flying in May 1949.
Deliveries to US Navy squadron VC-5 began in September 1949 and the first carrier landings were performed aboard USS Constellation in August 1950.
The AJ-2 first flew on 19 February 1953, this upgraded model featuring revised versions of the same powerplants, increased fuel capacity, systems modifications, a taller fin and no tailplane dihedral.
Preceding the AJ-2 bomber was the photo-reconnaissance AJ-2P (first flight 6 March 1952) equipped with 18 cameras for day and night photography at high and low altitudes, photo-flash bombs in the weapons bay, automatic control of most of the cameras, the associated electronics equipment in a modified nose and additional fuel capacity. Four US Navy combat squadrons were still operating the AJ-2 in 1958 and these received AJ-2Ps.
A number of AJ-1s and AJ-2s were converted to flight refuelling tankers with a hose-and-reel unit installed in the weapons bay. The few Savages still in service in September 1962 when all USAF and USN aircraft designations were combined into the existing Air Force system were redesignated A-2A (AJ-1) and A-2B (AJ-2). Specification
ENGINE 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-44W, 1790kW + Allison J33-A-19 auxiliary turboprop, 2087kg
Take-off weight 23973 kg 52852 lb
Wingspan 22.91 m 75 ft 2 in
Length 19.20 m 63 ft 0 in
Max. speed 758 km/h 471 mph