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 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.