Catapult usage in WWII

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Chunk, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. Chunk

    Chunk Member

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    This topic can tie in with the IL-2 forum, but it centers around a real world question.

    I know that hydraulic and shell fired catapults were used during WWII, but in what capacity and how often?

    Were they used consistently beginning at a certain time, and were they used by all carriers, etc?

    I'm finding very little information via Google, but I figured there'd be more knowledge here anyways. ;)

    There is a new catapult MOD for IL-2, and I'm trying to find out how historically accurate it is.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    The PQ convoys used CAM-ships (Catapult-Aided Merchantmen)
    As I recall, they simply blasted a Hurricane off a steel trestle on a rocket-powered dolly and it flew off and intercepted whatever was coming, usually a Fw200. This needed to be timed right because if the Fw200 saw the Hurricane launch, it would run away and the Hurricane wasn't fast enough to catch it.
    Assuming a successful interception, the Hurricane would then stooge around the convoy until his fuel ran out, at which point he baled or ditched, as there was no way to land the Hurricane back on the launch ship; what fun that must have been in arctic waters...

    They were known as 'Hurricats'; I can probably dig up more accurate info once I get home.
     
  3. Chunk

    Chunk Member

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    Looking for US Navy stuff in particular, but that is very good info, thanks.
     
  4. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    Catapults were also used aboard cruisers for launching observation float planes, I am guessing they would be hydraulic but I must admit it's something I know very little about and there doesn't seem to be much on the net, as you said...
     
  5. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Yep sorry
    answered at work while I thought I had a window of opportunity; I just caught your title and a bit of the message
     
  6. Chunk

    Chunk Member

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    No worries, it still helped, thanks!
     
  7. Sweb

    Sweb Member

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    Well, I do not know of any catapults being used in WWII fleet carriers. They were developed for jets, primarily, because the early jets (Panther, Phantom, Banshee) did not have the rate of acceleration needed to get off the ships with full fuel and ordinance load-out. In WWII the piston engine planes could launch easily from the carrier decks at their max gross (combat) weights because they had terrific rates of acceleration and in a 30-knot headwind they became kites quickly with their (typically) lower wing loadings as contrasted to jets. The 17 B-25's that flew off the Hornet to attack Tokyo in the Pearl Harbor aftermath needed no catapult system.

    The first cats used were hydraulically powered and through a system of cables and pulleys could accelerate the early jets from 0-100mph in a couple seconds. Later the steam cats came along and remain the current technology albeit much more complex and capable. They can launch an FA18 from 0-165mph in a couple seconds.
     
  8. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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    Louis S. Casey (Naval Aircraft) points out that catapults were developed extensively for CVE 'Jeep' carriers (MAC Merchant Aircraft Carrier-ships) which were responsible for aircraft delivery. Army aircraft such as the P-40, Thunderbolt and Mustang were catapulted with quick-attach fittings. Norman Freidman (Carrier Airpower) states that by the end of the War some carriers were making 40% of their launches by catapult, a far cry from the beginning where for example the USS Enterprise made only 55 catapult launches in 1940 and 21 in 1941.

    The mechanics...

    [​IMG]

    You can just make out the catapult bridle on this F6F-5 on the USS Bennington...

    [​IMG]
     
  9. fly boy

    fly boy Member

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    I know the midway and essics class ( how do i spell that) had cats for loaded hellcats and corsairs they also used them for launching ground aircraft such as p-47s and mustangs
     
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