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RVAH-3 Sea Dragons RVAH-3 Sea Dragons RVAH-3 Sea Dragons


Thanks go to "Boom" Powell for the second patch.


David Weber

"Boom" Powell

Jim Vaughn

Tom Kloves


Dragons, Radio call “Drake”


15 June 1956 - - - VAH-3 Established

1964 - - - - - - - - VAH-3 re-designated RVAH-3

17 August 1979 - - RVAH-3 Disestablished

Served as Replacement Air Group (RAG) for the Vigilante.

VAH-3/RVAH-3 "Sea Dragons"
Served as Replacement Air Group (RAG) for the Vigilante. Established as VAH-3 June 15, 1956 for A3D-1. Took delivery of first A3J-1 June 16, 1961. Received A-5B and YA-5C in 1963 for training, being only unit to operate these versions. First RA-5C arrived December 10, 1963. Re-designated RVAH-3 in 1964. Disestablished August 17, 1979

Home Ports

15 June 1956 - - - NAS Jacksonville, FL

June 1958- - - - - NAS Sanford, FL

May 1968 - - - - - NAS Albany, G

january 1974 - - - NAS Key West, FL

Air Wings

1956 - CVG-17


Date Type First Received - - - - - - Type of Aircraft:

30 December 1965 - - Douglas A4D-2 (A-4C) Skyhawk *

3 August 1970 - - - -Douglas A4D-5 (A-4E) Skyhawk *

3 August 1970 - - - -Douglas TA-4F Skyhawk


Reconnaissance Attack Wing One (Deployed squadrons under normal CVW)

None for the Skyhawks.

Commanding Officers

No info yet.


No info yet

Awards continued

No additonal info


June 15, 1956: VP-34 was dis-established and VAH-3 was commissioned at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, as an operational A3D-1 squadron.

RVAH-3 was the RA-5C Vigilante RAG and since its transition from the A3D Skywarrior training squadron operated multiple types of aircraft. From the mid-1960’s the roster included RA-5C, TA-3 (for Nav training; bomb bay set up with multiple positions for ASB-1), an ancient R4D/C-47/C-117 for logistics, and A-4/TA-4 (replacing the previous F9F Cougars) for chase, proficiency, instruments, x-country and boondoggles.

On June 15, 1956, VP-34 was disestablished and VAH-3 was commissioned at NAS Jacksonville,
 Florida, as an operational A3D-1 squadron. After completing its carquals aboard the
 USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42), VAH-3 deployed in July, 1957, for its only cruise
 with Skywarriors. In June, 1958, three months after returning from this Mediterranean
cruise, the squadron moved to NAS Sanford, Florida, to be merged with the Atlantic Fleet's
 Heavy Attack Training Unit. In its new role as a RAG Squadron, VAH-3 took over HATULANT's
 Douglas R4D-7s and Grumman F9F-8Ts, and in late 1959 added A3D-2Ts to its mixed complement
 of A3D-1s and A3D-2s.

During 1960, VAH-3 was given the additional duty of training crews for the North American
 Vigilante, and the first A3J-1s were received in June, 1961. Training of A-3 crews then
 became progressively less important, with the last class of Skywarrior pilots and
bombardiers graduating in January, 1964. As the RA-5C RAG squadron, the unit was
redesignated RVAH-3 six months later, moved to NAS Albany, Georgia, in May, 1968,
 and to NAS Key West, Florida, in January, 1974. RVAH-3 continued operating TA-3Bs
 until disestablished in August, 1979.

May 1968: RVAH-3 moved to NAS Albany, GA.

January, 1974: RVAH-3 moved to NAS Key West, Florida

August, 1979: RVAH-3 is disestablished.

A-4 Skyhawks serving with RVAH-3 per "Boom" Powell:

151084 A-4E (With RVAH as GJ-340 and also served with VF-43

154343 TA-4F (With RVAH as GJ-341 and with VAQ-33 in 1987)

Nov 1969 - July 1970 at NAS Albany

154327 TA-4F (Was also there in March 1975.)

154332 TA-4F

154614 TA-4F

155071 TA-4F Sep 1971

154343 TA-4F Mar 1972- Aug 1973 at NAS Albany

154300 TA-4F

154614 TA-4J

154343 TA-4F/J (With RVAH as GJ-341 and with VAQ-33 in 1987)

Aug 1973 - July 1974 at NAS Key West




153502 (Apr 74)

154616 (May 74)

Some comments from former Heavy 3 Guys: "I served as part of the electronics maintenance crew with RVAH-3 from 1966 to 1969. I think there were four Skyhawks with the squadron for two, maybe three, months before our home-base move from NAS Sanford, FL to NAS Albany, GA., Their stay continued with us briefly after the move. We did carrier quals about the same time, on the America, but I don't think they came with us.
Maintenance personnel were not often told details concerning an aircraft's mission -- its overall mission or its specific sortie mission. However, drop tanks were almost always attached to the planes, leaving the impression that these were not short training missions.
In about the same time-frame, two Phantoms were also attached to RVAH-3, which would lead one to conclude that a series of Vigilante missions, or training missions, were flown that required armed escorts.
Of course, the United States would never have violated the airspace of a sovereign country in the Caribbean in the '60's or '70, so I have no idea why they would have left Sanford and Albany and headed south. I served in Key West for awhile, too. Same thing happened there, as well.
By the way, I agree that the Skyhawk may have been the best aircraft of its era --- maybe, ever. Great plane. The Vigilante, on the other hand, was poorly designed for its original mission, inadequately designed for its assigned mission, and not designed for effective maintenance at all. Big, powerful, and nearly useless. Never-the-less, I was proud of the work I did, and of a great squadron." Rick Small

"About the move RVAH-3 made from NAS Sanford, FL to NAS Albany, GA. I'd be remiss if I indicated that I remember exactly when the move occurred. However, my best guess is that it was in the last 5 months of 1968. I was discharged in Oct. of '69, and I think we'd been in Albany just about a year. Rick Small

"I served as Operations Chief VAH-3, and RVAH-3 1964/66. During that time we had a TF9-?, it was used primarily for pilots to get thier flight hours while waiting to start RAG Pilot Training in the A3D, A5A, and then the RA5C. Back log was at times 2/3 months. Of course it also made a great cross country aircraft, instrument training, and many other sundry things. I am sure the TF9 was replaced by the TA-4F and was used for that very same reason." Don Pierce.

Unit Photos

T Bird with RVAH-3. "Boom" Powell.

1969: Sea Dragons Skyhawk BuNo 155071, GJ-341, parked on the ramp minus the canopy which was inadvertently ejected into the vertical fin. Oops! Photo from "Boom" Powell.

1970: RVAH-3 Sea Dragons TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo 154343, GJ-341, inflight over Georgia (probably) with RA-5C Vigilantes BuNo 147852, GJ-304, and BuNo 150837, GJ-303, NAS Albany circa 1970. Tailstripes were orange. Photo from Boom Powell.

1972: Sea Dragons Skyhawk BuNo 154327, GJ-343, manned and ready for engine start. Unknown Photographer via W. Mutza.

29 July 1972 Sea Dragons Skyhawk BuNo 154343, GJ-341. Gary Verver Collection.

1974:  BuNo 154343, GJ-341 Pic1, Pic2, Pic3. Gary Verver.

RVAH-3 TA-4 Skyhawk BuNo 154327. RVAH-3 TA-4 Skyhawk BuNo 154327, side number GJ-343. Photograph from Michel Klaver, Webmaster of the F-4 Phantom II Website at www.vogue-web.ch/f4/.

07 AUG 1974: BuNo 154343 taxi at Andrews AFB. A few Skyhawks served with RVAH units. Joseph Handleman.

March 1975: BuNo 154327, GJ-343, parked on the ramp. Photographer unknown via Tailhook Association.

Dates unknown BuNo 154327, GJ-343, on the ramp. Pic1, Pic2.  Gary Verver.

AUG 1976: BuNo 154343 on the ramp. Dennis Huges via Stephen Miller.

June 1978 BuNo 154343, GJ-341, configured with a centerline tank as she taxies by the photographer. Photo by Michael Grove via Tailhook Association.

1976-79: Sea Dragons Skyhawk BuNo 152614, GJ-307, on formation with Sea Dragons RA-5C Vigilante BuNo 156632, GJ-304. Photo from "Boom" Powell.

Date unknown: RVAH-3 TA-3B Skywarrior BuNo 144859, GJ-330, NAS Albany. Photo from Boom Powell.

Off-Duty Photos

May 1965: RVAH-3 "Farewell Party" photo courtesy of Mark Johnson.
"I was looking through a family picture album and found a picture entitled "RVAH-3 Farewell Party December 1965. It was clear to me that this was a photograph from a Navy event that my father and mother attended while my father was stationed at NAS Sanford in 1965. My father was Richard Charles Johnson. I believe he flew the Vigalante when he was with RVAH-3. He never liked that aircraft. I believe his favorite was the F-8 Crusader."

A-4 Skyhawks assigned to this unit:

Skyhawks assigned to this unit:

  • Douglas A4D-2N (A-4C) Skyhawk
    • 145114 c/n 12360
      • 30 Dec 1965 - RVAH-3 - NAS Sanford, CA
      • 02 Apr 1966 - VA-192 - NAS Lemoore, CA
    • 147789 C/N 12553
      • 11 Jan 1968 - RVAH-3 - NAS Albany, GA
      • 19 Feb 1968 - VA-66 - USS Intrepid
  • Douglas A4D-5 (A-4E) Skyhawk
    • 150123 c/n 13176
      • 20 Aug 1970 - RVAH-3 - NAS Albany, GA
      • 30 Jan 1971 - VF-101 - NAS Oceana, VA
    • 151084 c/n 13254
      • 29 Aug 1973 - RVAH-3 - NAS Key West, FL
      • 13 Oct 1973 - NARF - NAS Norfolk, VA
    • 152008 c/n 13396
      • 03 Aug 1970 - RVAH-3 - NAS Albany, GA
      • 01 Feb 1971 - VF-101 - NAS Oceana, VA
  • Douglas TA-4F Skyhawk
    • 153517 c/n 13583
      • 02 Dec 1971 – VMT-203 - Convert to TA-4J
      • 02 Sep 1976 - RVAH-3 - NAS Key West, FL
      • 16 Jan 1977 - MASDC - Davis-Mothan AFB, Tucson, AZ
    • 154300 c/n 13688
      • 03 Feb 1971 - RVAH-3 - NAS Albany, GA
      • 17 Jul 1972 - VA-43 - NAS Oceana, VA
    • 154327 c/n 13715
      • 20 May 1969 - RVAH-3 - NAS Albany, GA
      • 02 Mar 1973 - RVAH-3 - NAS Key West, FL
      • 23 Jul 1973 - RVAH-3 - Convert to TA-4J
      • 02 Oct 1973 - VC-2 - NAS Oceana, VA
    • 154332 c/n 13720
      • 16 May 1969 - RVAH-3 - NAS Albany, GA
      • 16 Jun 1970 - NAF RDT&E - NAF China Lake, CA
    • 154343 c/n 13731
      • 24 Sep 1970 - VF-101 - Convert to TA-4J
      • 03 Feb 1971 - RVAH-3 - NAS Albany, GA
      • 08 Aug 1979 - VA-43 - NAS Oceana, VA
      • 17 Sep 1976 - RVAH-3 - NAS Pensacola, FL
      • 08 Aug 1979 - VF-43 - NAS Oceana, VA
    • 154614 c/n 13732
      • 01 Feb 1969 - RVAH-3 - NAS Albany, GA
      • 06 Sep 1979 - VA-45 - NAS Cecil Field, FL
    • 155071 c/n 13887
      • 11 Jan 1969 - RVAH-3 - NAS Albany, GA
      • 06 Nov 1970 - VA-43 - NAS Oceana, VA

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