USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea - USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) delivered an A-3 aircraft to the Pacific Aviation Museum in Pearl Harbor, Feb. 21, during an overnight stop en route to Japan.
The twin-engine, high-winged aircraft was originally developed as a nuclear bomber operating on U.S. aircraft carriers during the Vietnam War. Later, it became an asset for various aviation warfare operations.
"This wasn't the first time an A-3 worked in conjunction with a ship named Bonhomme Richard," said retired Chief Master Sergeant James Goodall, associate curator of Pacific Aviation Museum. "The A-3s originally used the USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA 31) to fly missions in the 50s and 60s."
The museum-bound A-3 was originally attached to Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island with Heavy Attack Squadron (VAH-123). From there it was used by Hughes Aircraft Company conducting flight tests. Retired Master Chief Air Framer Mike Glenn, who works at Hughes, acted as courier for the aircraft.
"Hughes Aircraft Company adopted this particular airplane in 1968 and used it exclusively as an F-14 radar test plane... Its last flight was in June 2011," said Glenn.
Goodall said plans to make the aircraft ready for presentation are set, and its destination in the museum's Hangar 79 should be anticipated by many.
"We are going to take out the nonstandard tail assembly, specialized ray dome and fairing on the nose. Then, we will convert it back to what it looked like at Whidbey Island," said Goodall.
Along with the compilation of aircraft the Pacific Aviation Museum has to offer from World War II, Vietnam, and the Korean War, the museum is also an historic landmark for an American disaster.
"The first bomb dropped on Dec. 7, 1941 landed no more than 2,000 feet from our hangar. It actually hit the southeast corner of Hangar 6, which is no longer there, but it is visually evident to this day where the bomb hit. Hangar 79 still has the bullet holes in the glass," said Goodall.
USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA 31) was the second United States warship to bear that name; the first being the famous Revolutionary War frigate commanded by Capt. John Paul Jones and the most current being USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6).