PHOTOS pg 12
From the collection of
Lynn H.Chapman, PH-3
These photos are from his collection taken during his
time in the Navy as a photographers mate.
These were selected and provided to us
because of course, they feature our A-3 Skywarrior.
Nuclear weapons loading drill.
Well, I am from Ohio, the Buckeye State. When we left port in Japan shortly after I checked
aboard, I heard the call – “Buckeye, Buckeye, Buckeye!" Some of my fun-loving shipmates in
the photo lab had heard me bragging about Ohio and told me that as my first assignment as a
Photo Mate I was to take my camera, go up to “Vulture’s Roost” and photograph this “Buckeye”
I didn’t know that one role of the A3 was as a nuclear weapon-carrying strategic bomber and
that “Buckeye” was a live H-Bomb loading drill. My new buddies were sure that I either
wouldn’t be able to find the “Roost” or that someone would see me carrying a camera and stop
me. However, I got the picture, which shows an A3, a nuclear weapon on a cart, and most of
our Marine Detachment armed with clubs standing around the nuke.
The below incident is described by Lynn Chapman as he observed it while filming launches
as part of his duties. We think the aircraft pictured above is one in the same.
USS Oriskany, 25 May 1965, Off Vietnam
One of VAH-4’s Whales suffered a catapult failure which sheared off the nose gear. The aircraft
had sufficient momentum to slide slowly and ponderously, main gear wheels locked, full length
of the catapult track to the end, where it slowly tipped nose down and plunged into the water.
One of my shipmates said that if I would have sacrificed the camera as a wheel chock it would
have been enough to stop the plane; I’m sorry I didn’t try it.
I was very close to the action. (I nearly joined the “Loyal Order Of The Yellow Skivvies, Enlisted
Branch”.) I had run low on film at that point and only got footage of the instant the catapult
was fired to the point where something large whizzed past in a blur. The last I saw of the
aircraft it was astern of the Oriskany’s port side, with the tail section pointing straight up out of
The pilot, LCDR Walls and bombardier/navigator , LTJG Adams were both rescued; both
suffered broken legs. I was told they still were riding the brakes when the aircraft impacted the
The passenger, a paymaster (?) carrying a satchel of money, was also rescued, along with the
cash. Later that evening several of us in the photo lab participated in money laundering; we ran
the bills through the fresh water photo washer to rinse out the salt and then dried them in the
rotary drum print drier. A vigilant disbursing officer was in attendance. The lost aircraft was
replaced with a tanker model.
About the 3 photos below according to Lynn Chapman...
I believe these were taken by Lt-jg. Rudolph of VFP-63, an RF-8 pilot and friend, His plane was hit by a missile, he ejected and landed safely but was murdered by ground troops in Vietnam.
Lt. Rudolph was unique in that he used his photo recon F-8 like it was a handheld camera. He took unique “pretty” pictures as well as great photo reconnaissance images. I believe he also took the photos on page 1 of the Heavy 4 A3 from Oriskany with a bomb just clearing the bomb bay doors and the one of the VAH-4 plane passing over the Mekong river.If he didn’t take them, then another VFP-63 pilot, Lt. McWhorter, took them. He was also killed during the 1965 deployment. (Recon planes could not take evasive action during a photo run and consequently made easy targets.)
An infrared photo taken directly above the Oriskany. Note the A-3 in its usual parking spot just aft of the island.