A-6 Intruder Units 1974-96

Published on
August 17, 2017
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Rick Morgan
Other Publication Information
Illustrator: Jim Laurier, Soft Bound ; 7.3” x 8.1”, 96 pages
Product / Stock #
Combat Aircraft 121
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Front cover

Rick Morgan graduated from the University of Missouri in 1978 and joined the US Navy. His US Navy career included over 2,400 flight hours in the EA-6B Prowler and other naval aircraft with 41 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm. His website claims he achieved 447 and ½ carrier landings. I’m afraid to ask about the ½ carrier landing…. Rick contributed articles to the “The Hook” prolifically, twice being awarded “Contributor of the Year”. He has a deep interest in aviation and trains. Rick has been published by Schiffer and Osprey Publishing. He currently works in the aviation industry somewhere in the Midwest (I’m guessing Missouri). Check out his web page at rickmorganbooks.com

Illustrator Jim Laurier, a native of New England, provides the color profiles. Jim has been drawing since he could hold a pencil and throughout his life he has worked in many mediums creating artwork on a variety of subjects. He has worked on the Osprey Aviation list since 2000, and has been featured in hundreds of aviation books.

This 96 page book’s front cover features a color painting of an A-6 E SWP firing a HARM missile at Um Oasr naval base on the opening night of Operation Desert Storm. I counted 77 color photographs and 7 black and white pictures. Jim Laurier also contributes thirty color profiles.

This book is essentially as sequel to Rick Morgan’s earlier Combat Aircraft book on the A-6 Intruder Units of the Vietnam War (Osprey Combat Aircraft 93). Rick Morgan follows the Intruder from the end of the Vietnam War to its ultimate retirement. The incremental development of the airframe and its electronics are discussed along with first-hand accounts from the aircrew. The ‘Mighty Tadpole’ remained in production for 33 years before the last Grumman A-6 Intruder was built in 1992, an A-6E SWIP. This was just less than a month after its successor, the A-12, was terminated just before Desert Storm. The US Marine and Navy transitioned from the A-6 to the F/A-18 Hornet and F-14 Tomcat for the next several years, but many still lament that the Intruder was retired before its time. The last of the Intruders were flown to the Tucson, Arizona boneyard in March 1997 to end a truly impressive era.

The sections include:

  • Introduction
  • Author’s Notes
  • Return to Normality
    • Underway
    • Action Over Cambodia
    • New Blood
    • More Punch [Page 20]
  • Drive-by Strikes
    • ‘Haze Gray’ and Underway
    • John Lehman and Intruder Growth
    • Urgent Fury
    • Debacle in Lebanon
    • Enter the ‘Bug’
    • Libya 1986
    • Color Plates [Page 35]
    • Praying Mantis [Page 50]
    • Improvements and Dead Ends
  • The Marines
    • Marine Intruders Underway
  • EA-6A
  • Desert War 1990-91
    • Red Sea
    • Persian Gulf [Page 73]
    • The Marine’s War
  • You're Terminated
  • Appendices
    • Appendix A – Intruder Production
    • Appendix B – A-6 Squadrons 1974-97
    • Appendix C – Intruder Unit Strength in Combat 1974-96
    • Appendix D – A-6 Combat Losses 1974-96
    • Appendix E – Intruder Safety
    • Appendix F – Ordnance and External Stores [Page 89]
  • Colour Plates Commentary
  • Index

One of the sections I found fascinating was on Operation Praying Mantis, a response to the Iranian mining of the Persian Gulf in April 1988. The guided missile frigate, USS Samuel B Roberts struck an Iranian mine in the Persian Gulf on April 14, 1988. The US response occurred on April 18, 1988 which became the largest US surface engagement since World War II. The Iranian navy frigate Sahand obliged an Intruder from the USS Enterprise by opening fire, meeting the conditions that would enable the attack. The lead Intruder escaped the IR SAMs fired and wheeled for their first pass where they dropped a 500 pounder that just missed off the port bow of the Sahand. Despite the miss, the ship still suffered some hull damage. The next launch was with a Harpoon missile that took the Sahand amidships. After firing off its last remaining ordinance, two AGM-123 Skiper IIs, the Intruder returned to the USS Enterprise. A Harpoon missile from the USS Joseph Strauss (DDG-16) and another USS Enterprise Intruder delivered the final blows to the Sahand.

Rick Morgan provides a great follow-up to his earlier book on the Intruder during the Vietnam War with previously unpublished photos along with color profiles from Jim Laurier. If you are into US Navy Combat Aircraft of the seventies, eighties, and nineties, this is a great reference book that is also a great read. If you own one of the previous releases in the Combat Aircraft series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!


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