McDonnell Douglas NA-4M Skyhawk, BuNo 155049, is displayed in the markings of the Strike Aircraft Test Directorate with which it served. Tasked with testing experimental and production fixed wing attack, fighter and other specifically designed aircraft, Strike interfaces more than any other directorate with the carrier battle forces of the fleet.
During its operational lifetime McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II, BuNo 161396 Salty Dog 623, made a total of 746 flights. It was the first full-scale development test aircraft (B1) to support flying qualities, performance and shipboard trials, and it first flew on November 5, 1981.
McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II, BuNo 161396, still displays the logo of the Strike Aircraft Test Directorate, with which it served for seven years.
Testing of the North American A-5 (formerly A-3J) Vigilante started at Patuxent River in the late 1950s and continued through the 1970s. RA-5C, BuNo 156643. was the last Vigilante built. It spent its entire operational life in fleet squadrons, however, during its final years, it was often borrowed and utilised as a Naval Air Test Center automatic carrier landing system certification aircraft. It is seen in the colour scheme adopted by the Flight Test Division up to the mid 1970s.
Vought NA-7A Corsair II. BuNo 152658 Salty Dog 658 spent its entire life involved in test and evaluation work. Following its Navy preliminary evaluation at Ling-Temco-Vought, it arrived at Patuxent River in September 1966 and participated in the early aircraft carrier suitability trials on the USS America. It was subsequently modified and was the Navy's only A-7A with the Allison TF-41-2A engine; it is also configured with the A-7D (Air Force variant) fuel system and tail, and the A-7B/-7E flap system.
Force Squadron is one of four units comprising the Flight Test and Engineering Group and is responsible for the test and evaluation of the US Navy's fixed wing inventory (excluding fighter/attack aircraft). It also leads field activities on airborne early warning. Grumman E-2B Hawkeye. BuNo 152476, was operated by Force to develop AEW systems and tactics.
Sikorsky CH-53A Sea Stallion, BuNo 151686, was the third CH-53A to roll off the production line. Entering service with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 in 1968, it was transferred to the Naval Air Development Center, Warminster, PA, in 1971. There it pioneered advanced technology systems, such as forward looking infra-red and helicopter night vision systems. After being involved in research right up to the Gulf War, this helicopter was retired to the museum.
North American Rockwell T-39D Sabreliner, BuNo 150987, was delivered to the Navy on August 12, 1964, and was operational with the Naval Air Training Command for its first 13 years. It was subsequently used by McDonnell Douglas for F/A-18 radar development tests. The modifications comprised an F/A-18 radome, APG-65 radar system, engineering crew stations and a full instrumentation package.
First flown on October 19, 1956, more Hueys have been produced than any other helicopter, with over 14,000 deliveries to date. This particular aircraft, BuNo 157842, spent its entire life as a trainer at Pensacola, Florida. It amassed almost 7,000 flying hours before being transferred to NAVAIRWARCENACDIV, Patuxent River, Rotary Wing Aircraft Test Directorate, for use in stationary vibration testing trials.
Douglas NF-6A (F4D) Skyray, BuNo 134764, is positioned immediately behind the museum, aside from the other external exhibits and is dedicated to the memory of LCDR Clinton J Farmer USN and Lt Patrick W O’Neil USN of the Naval Test Pilot School (NTPS). The Skyray is displayed in the markings of the NTPS, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in April this year.
Following its arrival at the Naval Air Test Center in February 1967, McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom, BuNo 153071 Salty Dog 100, was one of the primary aircraft used for aircraft carrier suitability testing and automatic carrier landing system development. It last flew in August 1986 and joined the museum in March 1987.