Grumman A-6E Intruder Arrives at Hickory Aviation Museum

Now safely parked, the Intruder basks in the autumn sun at the Hickory Aviation Museum in Hickory, North Carolina after a long journey down the coastal highways from Rhode Island. (photo via Hickory Aviation Museum)
Aircorps Art Dec 2019

The Hickory Aviation Museum in Hickory, North Carolina took delivery of a Grumman A-6E Intruder (BuNo.155629) on October 1st. A team of their volunteers had ventured up to Rhode Island over the previous week to disassemble the aircraft for transport via low-loader to its new home.

The Intruder in Rhode Island before disassembly for the journey south. (photo via Hickory Aviation Museum)

The video clips below show the Intruder’s fuselage arriving at its new home.

This aircraft had been a part of the now-moribund Quonset Air Museum since December 7th, 1994, having flown there into retirement from NAS Oceana while serving with VA-34 Blue Blasters. (Sadly the Quonset Air Museum had to close its doors permanently in 2016; its impressive collection of airframes has slowly moved on to other museums in the interim, although at least one, SP-2E Neptune BuNo.131427, ended up scrapped in May, 2018.)

The aircraft is on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. She started life as an A-6A variant, but was modified into an A-6B for Wild Weasel missions to take out enemy fire-control radars/missile sites. She is known to have served with VA-165 Boomers aboard USS America (CVA 66) during their combat cruise off the coast of Vietnam in 1969/70. She also served with VA-52 Knightriders aboard USS Kittyhawk (CVA 63) during their combat cruises in 1970 and 1972. The museum is presently in contact with a pilot from that squadron who flew seven missions over Vietnam in BuNo.155629. Interestingly, the aircraft is also known to have spent some time as a test airframe on detachment with Air Development Squadron FIVE (VX-5) at NAS Oceana in August, 1971. At some point, likely during the late 1970s, the BuNo.155629 underwent conversion into an A-6E variant, which featured a marked avionics upgrade from the type’s previous incarnations. The aircraft’s last assignment was with VA-34 at NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia, as mentioned earlier.

Now that the Intruder is in Hickory, the museum will pause for a little to catch their breath from all that was involved with getting the aircraft on site. As one of the museum personnel noted in a recent e-mail: “We’ve not begun to start work on it yet. We’re all volunteer staffed with “real jobs” and our crews used up a lot of vacation time to get the jet, so we probably won’t be doing anything with it for awhile.”

While the aircraft’s paint is a little weathered, the airframe itself is in great shape apart from the nose radome, but the museum does have a replacement for that once they have the time to begin working on the rebuild. The aircraft is also remarkably complete, with a fully-intact cockpit and engines. She will make a great exhibit once reassembled and tidied up. We wish the Hickory Aviation Museum great success with their endeavors and look forwards to reporting more once further news becomes available.

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