seachaz From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 216 posts, RR: 9 Posted (11 months 3 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 7718 times:
Not sure if this can really be answered but of the aircraft that have served aboard the active carriers in the world which is the hardest or easiest get on board? Are some more prone to wave offs due to bad approaches vs others that have a propensity to bolter cause of tailhook quirks (like the F-35C is facing)?
ebj1248650 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1932 posts, RR: 2 Reply 2, posted (11 months 3 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 7467 times:
I understand the RA-5C Vigilante had a reputation for being hard to bring aboard the carrier. And Vigi' pilots didn't discourage the reputation at first, though it was later proved that the airplane wasn't as difficult to recover aboard a carrier as the bad rep' made it appear to be. I don't know whether the A-3 Skywarrior was difficult to bring aboard but it's size created some issues on the carriers.
rc135x From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 163 posts, RR: 2 Reply 4, posted (11 months 3 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 7420 times:
The Douglas F4D-1 Skyray was difficult to land for inexperienced pilots because the delta wing necessitated a high AoA which blocked uninterrupted airflow to the vertical stabilizer inducing wallowing and instability.
I would imagine that the North American T-2 Buckeye and T-28 Trojan would be among the easier to land given their long monopoly on naval aviator training.
KC-135A, A(RT), D, E, E(RT), Q, R, EC-135A, C, G, L, RC-135S, U, V, W, X, TC-135S, W
Its a difficult question as from reading books like Roger Ball and Feet Wet there seems to be so many facets to landing (or semi-controlled crashing if you read some accounts ) back on a carrier that different aircraft are better and worse in different aspect. An aircraft might have brilliant approach characteristics but really poor power so that a wave off (say on a pitching deck in weather, so through no fault of the pilot) puts a pilot under real stress.
The F-4 phantom was reportedly excellent on the glide path but landed really hot and fast (upwards of 150kts) so gave a pilot little time for final adjustments etc.
Early accounts of the F-14A lauded its landing characteristics but then engine problems and spin recovery changes (something about a rudder/tail interconnect being removed on the A model to help prevent spin entry IIRC) resulted in a poor enough reputation in later years. I think the B's and D's sorted out most of the issues.
I think the A-6 was pretty good flying wise but was prone to hook skip so had a lot of bolters.
I would imagine that the F-18E/F is probably the easiest as I believe it has a fully functioning auto-land that pilots actually trust as against earlier incarnations IIRC.
aeroweanie From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 1601 posts, RR: 52 Reply 8, posted (11 months 3 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 7115 times:
Vought F4U Corsair failed carrier qualification trials in September 1942 and March 1943 due to numerous shortcomings including poor stall characteristics, landing gear bounce, insufficient directional control at low-speed, high-power conditions and poor cockpit visibility on approach.
The Grumman F7F-1 failed carrier suitability tests due to poor single-engine characteristics (VMC 40 mph above spec). The F7F-3 was developed to address these problems, but also failed carrier suitability tests due to a structural failure. The F7F-4 finally passed carrier qualifications.
The F7U Cutlass had a very bad reputation:
The Douglas A-3 Skywarrior had a reputation for being a handful:
seachaz From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 216 posts, RR: 9 Reply 9, posted (11 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 6719 times:
The A-3 just doesn't seem like a plane that should be on a carrier period. Finally saw one in person this year on the Midway and just seems out of place on a carrier deck. Pretty amazing these were deployed even on the converted Essex carriers.
I was aware of the F4U issues but so far as I know none have served on any of the currently commissioned carriers
Fact that carrier ops go off now with the relative reliability always impresses me especially when you hear pilots talk of carrier landings being the most intense part of their mission.
rfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 6189 posts, RR: 25 Reply 10, posted (11 months 3 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 6608 times:
Quoting ebj1248650 (Reply 2): I don't know whether the A-3 Skywarrior was difficult to bring aboard but it's size created some issues on the carriers.
Quoting aeroweanie (Reply 8): The Douglas A-3 Skywarrior had a reputation for being a handful:
My first squadron in the US Navy in 1972-74 was VQ-1 out of NAS Agana Guam. We had 22 A-3s during my tour - four RA-3B, one TA-3B and the rest EA-3B aircraft.
My first carrier landing was a series of three for night carqual on the Coral Sea. I've also landed on the Midway and Enterprise in an A-3.
I was never unduly concerned with any of the carrier landings in the A-3, however, the pilots I flew with were experienced and I trusted them.
We had one pilot in the squadron who was not allowed to fly onto the USS Midway, because he had made a landing a couple years previously wheels up in an EKA-3B on the Midway. (I presume his career ended not long after Vietnam when the pilot shortage was no longer an issue.)
Three of the aircraft I flew upon were eventually lost at sea - none in carrier accidents. One on a ferry flight in 1973 - got lost and the crew bailed out over the only destroyer in the JMSDF with an embarked helo, one disappeared after takeoff from the USS Ranger in 1982, one disappeared in 1985 on a flight from Atsugi to Guam at night near Guam.
The A-3 was a very heavy aircraft - many of the EW versions were 47,000-48,000 lbs with crew and without fuel - so there was little fuel margin for error which increased the pucker factor considerably. Several A-3s were lost when they made less than perfect approaches and the hook or cable failed after the aircraft had been slowed too much to bolter.
There were also 8 or 10 lost on faulty cat shots - either the cat did not attain proper speed or the bridle failed or one of the two fuselage mounted hooks for the bridle failed.
The A-3 was not a friendly aircraft if the single pilot was a bit rattled. The last A-3 carrier crash was on the USS Nimitz in January 1987. The pilot was pretty new, paired with a very experienced navigator. After a bolter on the first pass, and a wave off on the second pass, the pilot was so nervous that he crunched the probe as they tried to refuel the aircraft for a bingo to Souda Bay. Rather than bail out at night - the crew chose to attempt a barricade. The pilot powered up too quickly, caught the top of the barricade with the gear, and slammed down onto the deck, the wreckage sliding off the angle. None of the seven aboard was recovered.
(Ditching the A-3 was not a real option. The cockpit had a tendency to break from the fuselage right behind the plane captain or EW officer seat, crushing the pilot, nav and plane captain as the rest of the aircraft carried over the cockpit. This occurred several times in early ditchings of A-3s. - Hence the nickname A3D - All 3 Dead)
One problem the A-3 had is that its engines were not especially powerful for its weight. If the plane got a bit low on approach, the engines could not pull it up enough to clear the back of the flight deck. There were several ramp strikes over the years.
Quoting seachaz (Reply 9): The A-3 just doesn't seem like a plane that should be on a carrier period. Finally saw one in person this year on the Midway and just seems out of place on a carrier deck. Pretty amazing these were deployed even on the converted Essex carriers.
The only reason the A-3 existed was to fly off carriers - the carriers in the US Navy in the early-mid 50s. It was the Navy's way to get into the strategic warfare mission. It was designed to fly 6-8,000 lb nukes from carriers to targets only reachable from carriers. It was so underpowered that the only way it could launch the early nukes was a loft maneuver where the bomb was released in a sharp pull-up maneuver, and the pilot winged over and tried to escape the blast wave.
The 72 ft 6 inch wing span was designed as being as large as possible for carrier operations.
By the time the A-3 was completed, the design of nukes had changed - and the plane was never used in that role. The Navy had 280 aircraft on its hands and no real mission. The very large fuselage compartment gave the plane a lot of useful mission configurations.
In 2005, I had the chance to go 'behind the scenes' at the Museum Of Flight in Seattle. (Lovely city).
While we enjoyed crawling in the nooks and crannies of the DH Comet 4, I was stuck by their F7U Cutlass, a rare bird which one staffer told me was known as 'The Ensign Eliminator!'
But the USN, even with converted Essex Class were lucky, it wasn't just increasing the UK content of the F-4K that resulted in all those mods from the USN versions, it was making it viable to operate on even the largest carriers the Royal Navy had at the time, which in the case of Ark Royal meant a major refit for it too.
(The Buccaneer was similar in size/weight to the F-4 but was designed from the start to be operable from smaller decks, they even squeezed up to 7 of them - along with a dozen or so Sea Vixens, plus 4 Gannet AEW and choppers, on to the 30,000 ton HMS Hermes . And operated them successfully).
Yes was well aware it was designed from the outset for carrier ops - just it was a huge jump in size for the time and there hasn't been anything like it since - granted ballistic missile subs eliminated the need for carrier based strategic bombers. Now carrier decks seem rather bland compared to the variety in the past. With the Prowlers on their way out their going to get more boring in the coming years. Anyways thanks for the great post!
AAR90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 3410 posts, RR: 50 Reply 13, posted (11 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 6105 times:
"Hardest" is a very subjective term. IMHO, USN's "hardest" is currently the E2/C2. Large, slow, straight high lift winged propeller driven and unstable airframe with no aerodynamic drag devices trying to fly like a heavy, swept-winged jet. Any jet is relatively easy to fly, the hard part is employing the weapon system tactically. The Hummer is simply difficult to fly, especially in the tight confines and unforgiving environment around "the boat."
*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
rfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 6189 posts, RR: 25 Reply 14, posted (11 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 6100 times:
We once (1973) sent the TA-3B from Guam out into the northern Pacific to a carrier battle group for an emergency medical evacuation. The carrier group was far enough from land that the embarked C-1 couldn't make the trip. C-2s were few and normally operated from a land base VRC squadron to a carrier and back rather then embark back then.
The TA-3B had enough room to place a modified stretcher sideways at the back of the cabin to minimize the takeoff load during the cat shot.
Our flight surgeon and two corpsmen went on the trip and Doc had to open the fellow's abdomen during the flight to control some bleeding. The plane was a mess when they got back to Guam, but the sailor lived - which he probably would not have done had any other aircraft been used.
This was the same plane which was lost in 1983 with the VQ-1 squadron commander flying from Atsugi to Guam.