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Friday, February 20, 2015

V-519 The Great White Whale

Artists concept of the the V-519 modified from A-7E 156801. VAHF Archives

     With each of the aircraft that Vought sold the US Navy since the F4U Corsair there has been an offering for a two seat trainer version. The first that nearly achieved production conversion status was the F4U, A mock-up was build from a surplus F4U-1 and money was actually budgeted at one time. Sadly the project was killed by a number of things, the main reason being budget cuts.

Vought also developed "paper planes" of a two seat F6U Pirate and a two seat F7U Cutlass. The F8U came close to having a production conversion line for the F8U-1T, but once again it did not happen. 

With the successful introduction of the A-7 into the fleet, once again Vought proposed a training version of the A-7A the TA-7A without gaining much traction towards a contract. Keeping with the tradition Vought proposed the V-519 two seat version of the A-7E.

Early photo of the White Whale while the test probe was fitted to the nose. VAHF Archive

The Navy and Vought agreed upon a project to take an A-7E and convert it into a two seat configuration.

The aircraft bailed to Vought was A-7E 156801 (VAC No 68). The aircraft was to be fitted with equipment to support the flight test program developed for the program. 

The conversion consisted of adding a 16-inch extension and a second cockpit to the forward fuselage section along with an 18-inch extension between the mid and aft fuselage sections.
The refueling probe and M-61A1 gun system were removed along with the ECM system. The rest of the A-7E avionics suite was retained. The TF41-A-2 engine remained unchanged. 

The last major change was the addition of a single side opening canopy that utilized a "through the glass" ejection system. 

Head on image of 156801 shows the side hinging canopy to advantage. VAHF Archive

The forward cockpit basically stayed the same as the A-7E from which it was derived. The rear cockpit had primary flight controls and a limited set of instruments fitted. Vought bestowed the company designation of V-519 on the modified aircraft.

Taxi shot of the White Whale during the early testing program. VAHF Archive

The first flight was made on August 29, 1972 by John Konrad and the aircraft flew for one hour. The White Whale went on to perform many test and demonstration functions with Vought along with having a number of designation changes during its life. More later.......................

Here is a later image of 156801 after the test probe was removed but the aircraft still retains the gold fin band. This view also shows the large speed brake in the extended position. VAHF Archive

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