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The EA-6B Prowler Was A Giant Step Forward — Hear From The People Who First Flew Her

Through 45 Years Of Service The Family Truckster Was A Uniquely Capable And Valuable Aircraft

Official US Navy Photograph

When Grumman and Aerolog produced the film “The Job of the Prowler” in cooperation with the Navy during 1974, electronic warfare was relatively new and the Grumman EA-6B Prowler had only been flying from carrier decks for about three years. A development of the earlier EA-6A Electric Intruder, the EA-6B was a much more capable aircraft; so much so that it has only recently been retired, replaced by the Boeing EA-18G Growler. This film is a great look at the aircraft and the crews who flew it back in the beginning. Thanks to YouTuber Bob Van Der Linn for uploading it.

Official US Navy Photograph

The Prowler fleet was incrementally upgraded, updated, and improved over the course of 45 years of service. Flown by both Navy and Marine Corps Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadrons, EA-6Bs have been involved in every conflict since Vietnam. When the Air Force decided to retire their similarly equipped General Dynamics-Grumman EF-111A Raven tactical electronic warfare platform in 1998 the Marine Corps and Navy Prowler squadrons took over for them.

Official US Air Force Photograph

One nearly unique aspect of the Prowler is that the canopy glass panels are inlaid with gold to help protect the crews from the electronic radiation emitted by the aircraft. The Prowler was never a glamorous or even aesthetically pleasing aircraft. Nicknamed Double Ugly and The Family Truckster, there is the obvious family resemblance to the A-6 Intruder, itself no glamour puss. The Prowler was stretched and bulged to accommodate a pair of additional crew to operate the large and complicated electronic warfare (EW) equipment. The airframe also sprouted external antennae associated with the EW system.  But ask any pilot whose survival was enhanced by a Prowler and you won’t hear anything but love for the big jets.

Official US Navy Photograph

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Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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