Target Tugs?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by comiso90, Oct 24, 2007.

  1. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2006
    Messages:
    3,672
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Video and multi-media communications expert
    Location:
    FL
    Target Tugs?

    How dangerous was it for the pilot? I know little about them except for occasional references to obsolete aircraft converted to target tugs...

    What altitude would they fly?
    How long was the tether to the target?
    Did the tugs have extra armor?
    What did the different targets look like?
    Did they simply fly straight level and back and forth or did they use evasive maneuvers?
    Did they fly at night?

    It must have been a harrowing job for the pilots! it would have been a fun way to break the monotony on the open ocean... spraying lead at aerial targets.

    The P-63's in "pinball" mode are interesting:

    "Pinball" operations

    Its main use in American service was the unusual one of a manned flying target for gunnery practice. The aircraft was generally painted bright orange to increase its visibility. All armament and the regular armor was removed from these RP-63 aircraft, and over a ton of armored sheet metal was applied to the aircraft. This was fitted with sensors that would detect hits, and these hits were signalled by illuminating a light in the propeller hub where the cannon would have been. This earned the aircraft the unofficial nickname of Pinball. Special frangible rounds made of a lead/graphite combination were developed that would disintegrate upon impact.


    .

    P-63 Kingcobra - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Bell P-63 Kingcobra - History, Specifications and Pictures - Military and Civilian Aircraft

    .
     

    Attached Files:

  2. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2007
    Messages:
    12,669
    Likes Received:
    96
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    R E T I R E D !!
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, Va.
    I flew in target tugs, in the late 50's, but we towed target sleeves. Most
    of the time we'd be flying for some of the destroyers off the coast. They'd
    be using .50 cal ammo. We would do what ever they requested, and fly
    at the altitude they desired. Most of the time we were between 1,000 and
    1,500 feet, and would fly across them, as a torpedo plane would, or up
    or down whichever side they wanted. We were flying B-26's and A-20's.
    When we were finished we'd drop the sleeve so they could retrieve it.
    It was a kinda "ho-hum" flight.

    Charles
     
  3. Micdrow

    Micdrow “Archive”
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    7,716
    Likes Received:
    424
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Occupation:
    Manufacture Tech
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I will have to do some digging, I remember reading an article about a pilot that was flying a target tug for another aircraft for target practice. Something went wrong and the test gunner accidently put a 50 cal round through the target tug pilot shattering his shoulder.
     
  4. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2006
    Messages:
    3,672
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Video and multi-media communications expert
    Location:
    FL
    I did'nt know they used A-20's ans B-26's as tugs.... makes sense.

    How far from the plane was the target?

    If you were on a "torpedo run", I'd think you'd be flying directly at the ship. Does that mean that the target was dragged below the tug so they could shoot directly at you?

    .
     
  5. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2006
    Messages:
    3,672
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Video and multi-media communications expert
    Location:
    FL
    ouch...

    it seems that there are little tolerance for mistakes when live ammo is used. I'd like to know if accidents were common.
     
  6. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2007
    Messages:
    12,669
    Likes Received:
    96
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    R E T I R E D !!
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, Va.
    Most times, when torpedo planes are attacking a ship, they will divide
    and come in on each side, at an angle. That way no matter which way
    the ship turns to "comb the tracks" they got a better chance of a hit.

    We'd usually come in at an angle, either on the bow or the stern. The
    target sleeve was quite a distance behind us, I would guess 300 yds
    or more. I've heard of the cable being clipped, but never a plane hit.

    We had B-26's and A-20's for towing targets and mock torpedo runs,
    B-25's for VIP transport, two B-17's one for VIP (large party) transport
    the other for SAR, and quite a few other aircraft for other duties.

    I belonged to a "composite squadron" (VC-62). It wasn't a fighter, bomber
    or attack squadron, we performed roles to help ships in their training,
    VIP transport and ferry duties. One good thing about a VC squadron....
    they never deployed !!

    Charles
     
  7. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2006
    Messages:
    3,672
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Video and multi-media communications expert
    Location:
    FL
    Thanks for the info...

    You mentioned .50's... That may have been typical but was there anything larger?

    Do they still use target tugs for Phalanx practice?
     
  8. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2007
    Messages:
    12,669
    Likes Received:
    96
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    R E T I R E D !!
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, Va.
    If the ships wanted AA practice, there was another squadron that used
    drones, that were actually large models. As for Phalanx practice I would
    guess they use drones...... drone aircraft.

    Charles
     
  9. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    6,160
    Likes Received:
    128
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Consellor
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    I believe that its one of those tasks that look and sound dangerous but is pretty safe.
    That said I bet some of the pilots have some stories to tell
     
  10. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Messages:
    41,769
    Likes Received:
    684
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    A&P - Aircraft Technician
    Location:
    USA/Germany
    I honestly dont know but I would guess that today drones are the only that is used now.
     
  11. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2006
    Messages:
    3,672
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Video and multi-media communications expert
    Location:
    FL
    A jet drone makes sense for when your launching missiles at a fast mover but drones seem like a waste for guns and cannons.
     
  12. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2006
    Messages:
    3,672
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Video and multi-media communications expert
    Location:
    FL
  13. ppopsie

    ppopsie Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2006
    Messages:
    461
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    to read and receive
    Location:
    East end
    About ten years ago one of our JMSDF DE shot down a target tug instead of the target by 20mm Phalanx CIWS with just a burst. The airplane was an USN A-6 Intruder. Too bad for the airplane crews but they were all rescued.
     
  14. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2007
    Messages:
    2,729
    Likes Received:
    170
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    I've read (somewhere) that one of the most common phrases from the job is along the lines of;

    "Tow pilot to attacker-we're PULLING the target, not phucking PUSHING it!!"

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    6,160
    Likes Received:
    128
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Consellor
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    Many years ago on HMS Tiger we scored a direct hit on a towed target with the 6in. Must have stirred the crew of the tug.
     
  16. mhuxt

    mhuxt Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2004
    Messages:
    826
    Likes Received:
    72
    Trophy Points:
    28
    My Dad apparently received "a stern dressing down" from a senior NCO (who himself couldn't keep a straight face) for a breach of wireless protocol after just such an incident.

    Rockets came at the towing vessel, not at the target barge - threats of flogging were made and questions of inbreeding were raised, in spite of the pilot's superior rank.
     
Loading...

Share This Page