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USN NWEF Grumman A-6 Intruder


Model ID#:












H. Davidson

Model Scale:




historical significance

First Albuquerque Visit:    1964

SKU: Model-0126 Categories: ,

Additional Information:

The Grumman A-6 Intruder is an American twinjet all-weather attack aircraft operated by the U.S. Navy. It replaced the piston-engine Douglas A-1 Skyraider. The Intruder was the first Navy aircraft with an integrated airframe and weapons system. It was operated by two crew members sitting side-by-side. The workload flying the aircraft was divided between the pilot and weapons officer. In addition to conventional munitions, the aircraft could also carry nuclear weapons. The A-6 was in service with the United States Navy between 1963 and 1997 and was deployed during several overseas conflicts including the Vietnam and the Gulf wars.

Albuquerque’s Kirtland Field was designated Kirtland Air Force Base in 1947, and the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project (AFSWP) operated on Sandia Base. When the United States Air Force established the Air Force Special Weapons Command at Kirtland Air Force Base in 1949, the United States Navy formed a detachment to investigate nuclear capabilities for naval aircraft and assist the AFSWP with naval equipment for demonstrations and training. The Naval Weapons Evaluation Facility (NWEF) operated through the Cold War investigating aircraft-weapon interfaces to provide United States Navy aircraft with nuclear weapons delivery capability.

In 1952 this detachment was designated the Naval Air Special Weapons Facility (NASWF) to conduct special weapons tests on the White Sands Missile Range and Tonopah Test Range in coordination with the United States Atomic Energy Commission. In March of 1961, the NASWF was re-designated the Naval Weapons Evaluation Facility (NWEF) and its mission was expanded to include safety studies on nuclear weapons. The aircraft used for NWEF testing were decorated with the NWEF thunderbird symbol and the NWEF detachment became known as the Rio Grande Navy by its sailors and civilians.
In 1992, with the consolidation of many naval activities and the drawdown of the U.S. defense budget, NWEF became part of the large, multisite Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake. In 1993 the NWEF was decommissioned and became the first nuclear-weapons-related facility in the Free World to be shut down. As NWEF closed, it transferred some of its remaining people and functions to the China Lake site.

Grumman A-6, Bu No. 151592, aircraft received nuclear weapons evaluation in 1964 at Kirtland AFB’s Navy Weapons Evaluation Facility. Other A-6 aircraft assigned to the NWEF include Bu No. 155671 and 149485.

Photos of several Intruder planes were assigned or that have landed on Kirtland AFB are shown.