USS Coral Sea CVA-43 and the P2 Neptune...

Discussion in 'Post-War' started by Lucky13, Jun 27, 2009.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Any ideas why they experimented with rocket equipped P2 Neptunes on USS Coral Sea CVA-43 in the 40's and 50's? I think that in April '48 one took off from her deck assisted with rockets and that on her Med cruise in '50 she had a group of Neptunes onboard....

    What was the idea, wasn't the Neptune way too big for carrier operations??:shock::confused:
     
  2. verner

    verner Member

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    Here tis. One of my favorite aircraft.
     

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  3. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Thanks for the pic mate, she sure look a bot out of place! :shock:
     
  4. wheelsup_cavu

    wheelsup_cavu Well-Known Member

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    IIRC it has something to do with the US Navy wanting a plane capable of carrying a nuclear bomb.
    They didn't want the Air Force to have that market cornered and reduce their relevance in the post war years.
    I don't think they landed the plane on the carrier after the test due to concerns of a crash ending the experiments prematurely.
    Hopefully some of the Navy guys will know more about it and correct me if I am wrong.


    Wheels
     
  5. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Just found out that they did land a P2 Neptune on her sistership, the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt CVA-42....must have been a hairy thing to do!
     
  6. Dilbert

    Dilbert New Member

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    Just joined and came across this post.

    I flew P-2's in the 60's. The story behind the launch is as wheelsup-cavu mentioned above. It was all due to fear from Air Force actions in influencing Congress in the late '40's. At that time all the nuclear weapons were very large and the navy had no carrier aircraft that could accommodate them. The Air Force at the time was arguing that with their long range bombers carrying atomics the navy's carriers were all obsolete. What was called for was to scrap the carriers and spend lots of money on more air force bombers. The navy was rattled and the P-2 stunt was the fast fix.

    The idea was that the navy had this new long range aircraft, the P-2 that was large enough to carry atomics. They would deck launch the P-2 (with JATO assistance) off the deck, the aircraft would fly its mission and then return to the carrier. The plan called for the P-2 to ditch alongside the carrier and the crew would then be rescued. It would have been impossible to land a P-2 on deck- too large, no tailhook and it just was not stressed for carrier ops. Compare the landing gear struts of a current F/A-18 with an F-15 or 16- the navy a/c has huge struts designed for heavy landings. The P-2 would have come apart even on a good day with a steady deck.

    The plan was accepted and it saved the navy for the time. I don't think the return and ditching alongside could have been told to anyone outside the navy as I'm sure had the air force known this they would have ripped the idea to pieces. As it was it was pretty harebrained. The idea of a low and slow Neptune penetrating Soviet airspace and surviving to return is pretty dubious. Of course the air force at the time was unaware of the Soviet's Mig-15's which would have made mincemeat of the B-29's and B-36's of the air force (as they did of the '29's later in Korea).

    What ultimately sealed the rescue of the carriers was Korea. Here was a non-nuclear war that required a lot of ground support that the air force just couldn't respond to as well as the navy parking a couple of flat tops in off the coast of Korea. Later on such aircraft as the Douglas A-3 Skywarrior (the Whale in navy slang) were introduced in the early 50's specifically designed to carrier nukes, then the nukes got more compact as well.

    The idea of ditching an aircraft in the open ocean is pretty desperate. The P-2 did have excellent ditching capabilities (although, thank goodness, I never had to ditch one) but the seas in the North Pacific from where they would have had to be launched are usually pretty rough and stormy and surviving a ditching or bailout there in cold water is not very likely.
     
  7. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Thanks Dilbert, appreciated mate and welcome to the family! :thumbright:
     
  8. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Great post, Dilbert. Thankyou for that.
     
  9. wheelsup_cavu

    wheelsup_cavu Well-Known Member

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    Cool post Dilbert. :thumbright:


    Wheels
     
  10. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Great info Dilbert, thanks!
     
  11. skeeter

    skeeter Member

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    Tks, Dilbert
     
  12. verner

    verner Member

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    Here's another shot:
    Cheers
     

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  13. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    Looking at that pic, it strikes me that the deck would have to be cleared to make a successful combat launch... no doubt that would really please the Air Boss, and makes the idea seem even more half-cocked than it already was...
     
  14. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Nice shot of Coral Sea's sistership, Midway! 8)
     
  15. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    That was pretty hare-brained wasn't it.
     
  16. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    That just looks.....wrong. So very wrong. Such a large airplane on a carrier. And yet...somehow....pretty frikkin cool, all at the same time. Not "practical", just cool.
     
  17. wheelsup_cavu

    wheelsup_cavu Well-Known Member

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  18. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Thanks dilbert. I believe later on, as the a bombs got more compact the AD would have been able to deliver a nuke and trained for that. From a book by a Navy pilot it was also argued by the Navy that the F4U5 could intercept the B36. Thanks be that the Air Force was unable to sink Naval Air and CVs.
     
  19. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    The C-130 is just so impressive doing that.
     
  20. Dilbert

    Dilbert New Member

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    I remember the landing of the 130 on the Forrestal. It was an experiment to see if it could be done just in case some really big cargo needed to be sent to a carrier at sea in an emergency. The 130 was the perfect choice as it is rugged (the Air Force regularly flew them into short, unpaved strips in 'Nam) and had excellent short landing and takeoff characteristics. This was done also aboard the larger carriers of the time with angled decks, unlike the P-2 launch off the older straight decked boat that the Coral Sea was at the time.

    What is really amazing is according to the reports the pilot and copilot had never flown a multi-engine aircraft before. Now that is something considering the size and complexity of a 130. It reminds me of an autobiography of Curtis LeMay I read recently. LeMay was flying B-17's in 1940 when it was decided that a large number of B-24's needed to be ferried to England so the Army ordered B-17 pilots, LeMay among them, to the B-24 training base. Each pilot got to do just one landing in the B-24, then was assigned an aircraft and was told to fly it to England. A few of them got off course and crashed but the majority made it all the way. That's some flying. It was LeMay, by the way, the future head of SAC, who was one of the big champions of scrapping the carriers and building bombers.
     
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