Designed originally as a carrier based, nuclear bomber, the RA-5C Vigilante really came into its own as a reconnaissance aircraft. The Vigilante was a very fast aircraft with top speed in excess of Mach 2.0. During the Vietnam War, the RA-5C performed the role of tactical reconnaissance. Vigilantes would photograph the target before and after a strike. Usually escorted by F-4 Phantom II fighters, the Vigi's only defense was its speed. The escorting fighters sometimes had a hard time keeping pace with a Vigilante on the move.