Built by Grumman Aircraft, the A-6 Intruder is legendary in Naval Aviation circles. Flown by the US Navy and Marine Corps as both a land based and carrier-based deep penetration attack aircraft the A6 could carry more bomb weight than a WW II B-17 bomber!! This book is a companion to the Detail and Scale book on A-6s that was released in 1987. As the title implies, this volume covers colors and markings of the US Navy Intruder carried during its operational lifetime.
In 125 pages of high quality A-6 color photos and text and is printed in a soft cover format on heavy glossy paper. While there are no chapters per say, each Navy squadron that operated the Intruder is covered. The squadrons are broken up by area assigned. It’s an easy task to ascertain what part of the world the squadrons were assigned by reading the tail code found< interestingly enough, on the tails of the aircraft!! Aircraft assigned to east coast squadrons have a tail code that begins with an A, and squadrons on the west coast begin with the letter N.
The A-6 wore three distinct paint schemes during its lifetime. In the early 1960s when the aircraft first took the skies the standard was FS 16440 Gloss Gull Gray on the topsides and FS 17875 Gloss Insignia White on the lower and control surfaces. Following this scheme was an all FS 16440 Gloss Gull Gray scheme that was adopted in 1978. The bright colors seen on the Gray and white scheme were tones down or eliminated during this time. In its final guise, the Intruder was given the Tactical Paint Scheme (TPS) that it retired in. These colors were Dark Gull Gray FS 36321, Dark Ghost Gray FS 36320, and Light Ghost Gray FS 36375. FS35237 Blue Gray was use mainly for National Insignia and stencils. These colors were flat, as the first 3 in the color number suggests. Gone were the gloss and bright colors seen on earlier aircraft. This was done to improve aircraft survivability and was most notably present during the Gulf War era.
Each user squadron is shown in wonderfully clear photos that chronologically depict each squadrons markings through their time operating the Intruder. Atlantic based squadrons are listed first, followed by Pacific based units. Each squadron layout begins with the gray over white scheme and ends with the TPS. It’s interesting to see how each unit evolved its markings to correlate with the latest Naval directive relating to how aircraft will look. There are variations with the TPS and as a standard practice the modeler should check references when deciding to do a particular airframe. Also shown are a few non-standard paint schemes used on Viet Nam era aircraft, most notably what became known as the Southeast Asia scheme with greens and tan.
Sadly, the A-6 is no longer in the inventory as a front line attack aircraft and has been relegated to the boneyard. I was a Marine Airdale and am very familiar with Marine Corps marked Intruders, which means I’ll be on the lookout for the companion book on Marine Corps A-6s. Some of the units shown in the book had a striking look early on, and while the loud colors faded into history, the A-6 still delivered a powerful punch.
I liked this book a great deal and give it my highest recommendation. This book should be in the library of every modeler who likes Naval Aviation subjects in general and the A-6 in particular. The pictures are very high quality and together with the concise text gives the reader a good sense of what each squadron's aircraft looked like as Naval directives evolved. A paint diagram showing the gray over white scheme is a nice feature to show how it all began. I also liked that each squadron section includes a unit patch to highlight the design elements on the airframes. Sometimes that isn’t always apparent when seeing aircraft markings for the first time. The authors are to be commended to putting together all this information in an easy to read formula that will provide valuable information to the modeler.
My thanks to Detail and Scale Publications and IPMS/USA for providing this sample for review.