What is the perforated metal plating on the back of the A-6/EA-6 for?

enter image description here
Source: Wikipedia

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You mean on the belly to the aft, under the MAR of MARINES? $\endgroup$
    – RoboKaren
    Aug 12 '14 at 22:41

It is a speed brake, a plate hinged at the forward edge which can be hydraulically extended to increase aerodynamic drag. It had been used on early models, and the speed brakes were mostly replaced by firmly riveted plates later, because flight test revealed handling problems. The wake of the speed brake disturbed the flow around the horizontal tail especially during approach and landing. They were replaced by wing tip brakes, and from the 304th aircraft on were completely omitted.

See here for further details.

Below is a picture of an A-6 with the wing tip speed brakes (circled red) extended:

enter image description here
(Source: navy.mil)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Now I'm curious--are those wingtip speed brakes, or a split aileron such as on an A-10 (cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/photos/6/2/3/1681326.jpg)? $\endgroup$
    – Marius
    May 10 '16 at 2:34
  • $\begingroup$ I never realized those aircraft have (at least) 2 types of speed brakes (the one highlighted in the question and the one on the wingtip) $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Jun 20 '18 at 9:34

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