us navy and catapults on carriers

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Capt Spanky, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. Capt Spanky

    Capt Spanky New Member

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    i was reading a lot of old postings on carriers and their usage. one thing that keeps coming up is a prevailing notion that the american carriers were not fitted with catapults untill late in the war.

    while the Langley and ranger were built without catapults. the Lexington class had a seaplane pneumatic one which was removed in 1934. all other carriers were built with 2 deck catapults until the super carriers. the Independence class had one catapult and refitted with a second in 44. the escorts were fitted with one or two catapults.

    what i did find funny in all my reading was us carrier captains shunned the use of catapults. this is evidenced by the forming up of the launches at midway. amazing they were started to be used once the escorts and light carriers started to be used. another factor was the increased availability of aircraft. the shortened flight desk on the smaller carriers meant that there often was not enough deck space to fly off planes. on a carrier that was designed to carry 100 planes has excess capacity or deck space when it has say 72 planes. now increase that air compliment to 100 and you can see that's 10 more rows of planes taking up deck space. once the ships captains, air boss, and admirals realized you can save gas, extend range and more time over the target, catapult launches became the norm. i believe this was late 1943 or so.
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Until angled flight decks were introduced it was faster to launch without catapults. I suspect that's the reason catapults were shunned on most WWII era CVs.

    An angled flight deck changes the rules as you essentially have two runways (bow and side) and both are equipped with catapults. While one runway is launching the other is preparing for launch.
     
  3. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Catapults were deleted during the pre war years because you were also having aircraft entering service with good short field take off ability. Look at the increase in engine development from the time Lexington was built. Additionally I think the main reason why you saw catapults on carriers during this period was to launch seaplanes.
     
  4. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    On most angled deck carriers i've seen the catapults are on the straight deck portion only, both of them. The angle deck is for landings only.

    That way is safer, it keeps landing operations and takeoffs separate, and they can both be operating at the same time.
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    USN CVs from the 1950s Forrestal class onward have 4 catapults. Two on the bow and two on the angled runway.
     
  6. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    I was thinking more of the early generation angle decks, when they had 2 catapults, both were on the straight deck.

    Even on the modern 4 cat. carriers the catapults on the angle deck are pointed straight ahead, not down the angle deck itself.
     
  7. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    I've seen a picture of a US carrier launching a Wildcat (IIRC) from a side HANGER DECK mounted catapult, parallel to the beam of the ship. What about those? Anybody have info on them? Pre-war only?
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Impossible. The F4F didn't enter service until 1940.

    Perhaps it was an earlier model aircraft in the picture.
     
  9. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Well technically that would be pre-war for the US. I'll look for it an post.
     
  10. Capt Spanky

    Capt Spanky New Member

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  11. Capt Spanky

    Capt Spanky New Member

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    great resource on essex carriers and air wings in ww2.
    Home Page USS Ticonderoga
     
  12. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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  13. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I'm reading a book about O'Hare and apparently the Enterprise used their catapults quite a lot.
     
  14. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    USS Enterprise was modified for night operations. Not sure what that entailed but catapults could have been part of the new operational procedures.
     
  15. Capt Spanky

    Capt Spanky New Member

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    most of that was radar and cic
     
  16. Capt Spanky

    Capt Spanky New Member

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  17. model299

    model299 Member

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    Yes and no.

    A look at the deck layout for CVN 76, Ronald Reagan, shows that while the waist catapults don't exactly follow the centerline of the angled portion of the deck, they're not parallel to the #1 and 2 catapults either. One is almost parallel to the angled portion, the other points more forward.

    cvn76.jpg

    In 2004, I had the distinct pleasure of spending a week on this ship while testing a deck scrubbing machine prototype. It had just home ported in San Diego. Been there. Got the mug!! :)

    small mug.JPG
     
  18. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    I've wondered about those different angles on the catapults, some carriers have all the catapults at slightly different angles.

    It might be to keep the second aircraft launched out of the first aircraft's wake turbuience.
     
  19. Capt Spanky

    Capt Spanky New Member

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    the sbc programs for the essex added the angled deck, but not more catapults.
     
  20. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    It appears that none are parallel to the centerline of the ship. I would suspect the design was mainly for deck handling.
     
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