A-12 Avenger II Arrives at Fort Worth Aviation Museum

The Grumman A-12 Avenger II full-scale prototype mockup on its way to the Fort Worth Aviation Museum. The 18 wheeler truck it's mounted on gives an idea of the massive size the production aircraft would have been. (all images via FWAM)
The Grumman A-12 Avenger II full-scale prototype mockup on its way to the Fort Worth Aviation Museum. The 18 wheeler truck it's mounted on gives an idea of the massive size the production aircraft would have been. (all images via FWAM)
The McDonnell Douglas/General Dynamics A-12 Avenger II full-scale prototype mockup on its way to the Fort Worth Aviation Museum. The 18 wheeler truck it’s mounted on gives an idea of the massive size the production aircraft would have been operating from an aircraft carrier. (all images via Fort Worth Aviation Museum)

The original full-scale mockup of the ill-fated McDonnell Douglas/General Dynamics A-12 Avenger II has arrived at its new home, the Fort Worth Aviation Museum. As some of our readers may remember, the A-12 was to have replaced the Grumman A-6 Intruder within the US Navy and Marine Corps by the early 1990s. The US Air Force even considered a variant of the aircraft as well. The aircraft design, which started in the early 1980s, was a radical departure from convention, being a wholly tail-less, flying wing. As with every revolutionary concept, there were many technological hurdles to overcome, especially with the development of its control systems, radar and stealthy exterior. The program was significantly behind, and over-budget by the end of the 1980s, and then-US Defense Secretary, Dick Cheney, axed the promising design amid some controversy in January, 1991. The Navy and Marines ended up with the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Super Hornet instead.

An artist's concept of what an operational A-12 would have looked like. (image via wikipedia)
An artist’s concept of what an operational A-12 would have looked like. (image via wikipedia)

Virtually nothing remains of the A-12, which was shrouded in secrecy due to its highly sensitive technology. However, a full-scale mockup somehow lingered on at the General Dynamics factory in Fort Worth, Texas. It has sat outside for the past twenty years or so, but finally it is joining a museum where its future preservation is more assured. The mockup is actually owned by the City of Fort Worth, but on permanent loan to the Fort Worth Aviation Museum at the historic Meacham Field. The museum has a fascinating collection of nearly two dozen former military aircraft relevant to the region, which has a great history of aircraft production; with Convair/General Dynamics, North American Aviation and Vought all being in residence at times. While they do operate on a shoe string budget, they have achieved a great deal within that scope, and have a great group of more than forty skilled volunteers on hand.

The A-12 Avenger II on the big rig during its ride from its former home at the old General Dynamics plant at the former Carswell Air Force Base, now known as Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth. (Photo via FWAM)
The A-12 Avenger II on the big rig during its ride from its former home at the old General Dynamics plant at the former Carswell Air Force Base, now known as Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth. (Photo via FWAM)
General Dynamics donated the Avenger II mockup to the City of Fort Worth, which has placed the airframe on permanent loan to the Fort Worth Aviation Museum. (photo via FWAM)
General Dynamics donated the Avenger II mockup to the City of Fort Worth, which has placed the airframe on permanent loan to the Fort Worth Aviation Museum. (photo via FWAM)

 

The Avenger II will undergo a period of repair, including a repaint, before reassembly and display. Sadly, like all of the other aircraft at the museum, she will be on outdoor display, although the Fort Worth climate is kinder than most. WarbirdsNews will be following the Fort Worth Aviation Museum’s activities, and hope to do a feature on their collection before too long!

 

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7 Comments

  1. Just a minor correction to “The Navy and Marines ended up with the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Super Hornet instead”, the Marines do not operate the Super Hornet, just the Hornet. The marines did not get Super Hornets due to the A-12 cancellation. The Navy has operated the F-18 models A-D, same with the Marines. The Navy also got the Super Hornet, models E-F. The G, the electronic warfare version nicknamed Growler will be operated by the USN and USMC.

    • You are correct that the USMC did not buy into the Super Hornet program, and consequently they will NOT operate the EA-18G Growler as the Navy does. Just a minor correction to your post.

  2. The caption under the top photograph in the article incorrectly refers to the aircraft as, “The Grumman A-12 Avenger II…” instead of the McDonnell Douglas/General Dynamics A12 Avenger II. Also, did the mock-up include a set of outer wings? If so, will the restoration include attaching them, or at least fabricating a set of “fake” outer wings for the mock-up?

    @Robert Martin – Other than being an aircraft that never went into production, what “traces” of the Boeing JSF do you see in the A-12? Yes, both aircraft designs as well as all other aircraft designs since then (i.e., F-23, F-35) emphasize stealth, but what else? Boeing didn’t merge with McDonnell Douglas (1997) until several years after the A-12 was canceled (January 1991), and the Boeing JSF design was pretty well determined by the time of the merger (Boeing and LM were each awarded their JSF contracts in November 1996). The two aircraft designs don’t share a common engineering heritage, which were independent of each other. Just wondering because I found your comment curious. Actually, to me, the Boeing JSF design looks more like the Vought F-8 Crusader and LTV A-7 Corsair II aircraft designs than the A-12.

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