To replace both the KA-3B and EA-3B Skywarrior during the early 1970s, 78 A-6As and 12 A-6Es were converted for use as tanker aircraft, providing aerial refueling support to other strike aircraft. The DIANE system was removed and an internal refueling system was added, sometimes supplemented by a D-704 refueling pod on the centerline pylon. The KA-6D theoretically could be used in the day/visual bombing role, but it apparently never was, with the standard load-out being four fuel tanks. Because it was based on a tactical aircraft platform, the KA-6D provided a capability for mission tanking, the ability to keep up with strike packages and refuel them in the course of a mission. A few KA-6Ds went to sea with each Intruder squadron. Their operation was integrated into the Intruder squadrons, as A-6 crew were trained to operate both aircraft and the NATOPS covered both the A6 and KA-6D. These aircraft were always in short supply, and frequently were "cross decked" from a returning carrier to an outgoing one. Many KA-6 airframes had severe G restrictions, as well as fuselage stretching due to almost continual use and high number of catapults and traps. The retirement of the aircraft left a gap in USN and USMC refueling tanker capability. The USN Lockheed S-3 Viking also had an aerial refueling capability, but its performance and fuel capacity effectively limited it to the role of recovery tanker. The loss of mission tanking capability was only later remedied by the new F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which can act as a mission tanker. Info courtesy Wikipedia.
About this creation
Modification of my A-6E model. Major changes include the addition of the fuselage mounted airbrakes, ventral refueling drogue, a buddy refueling pod on the centerline station, deletion of the FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) turret, the wingtip airbrakes have been locked shut, and the addition of four wing pylon mounter external fuel tanks. The model retains all the functions of my other A-6 variants, including fully functioning accurate landing gear with multiple gear doors, positionable sliding canopy with room for two minifigures, positionable flight control surfaces including flaperons, spoilerons, and all moving tailplanes, positionable tail hook, folding wings, and opening radome with simulated antenna.
Thanks for all the comments! Not sure which airframe I'm going to do next. I have yet to make the A-6B defense suppression "Iron Hand" version of the A-6, I have the F-4B "Great Pumpkin" NADC (Naval Air Development Center) drone aircraft to post. Look for more aircraft soon!