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Re: Catapults

October 14 2009 at 6:25 AM
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Jim Broshot  (Login JimBroshot)
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Response to Catapults


I will certainly defer to Rich on this point, I'm a rank amateur when it comes to US naval aviation in WW2.

However, Friedman's US AIRCRAFT CARRIERS has an appendix dealing with US carrier catapults, where the point is made

"Aboard CVEs catapults made possible the launch of high performance fighter aircraft to resupply the fast carriers and also to supply army forces ashore. In North Africa, for example, the quick appearance of large numbers of P-40 fighters after the paratroopers had secured the airfield was an important factor in the success of the invasion. [not sure that the airfield used by these P-40s was actually secured by paratroopers] In the Gilberts there were no docks left undamaged, bu P-39s coudl still be delivered by catapult. By the end of World War II, all Mustang and Thunderbolt fighters destined for the Pacific were being fitted for catapulting on the assembly line. Even two-engine fighters, Lightnings and Black Widows (P-61s), were modified."

WW2 US carriers were fitted (based on Friedman) with hydraulic catapults

H Mk II - for Yorktown and Wasp class CVs, capacity 5,500 pounds at 65mph in 55 feet (later 7,000 pounds at 70mph)

H Mk II-1 - for CVEs and later installed in Enterprise and Saratoga, capacity 11,000 pounds at 70mph in 73 feet

H Mk IV - for Essex class, various sub-types, 16,000 pounds at 85mph in 96 feet, then 18,0000 pounds at 90mph in 96ft8in, then 28,000 pounds at 90mph in 150 feet

Note that the Yorktown (and Wasp?) classes as well as early Essex class carriers were originally fitted with a hanger deck catapult which could be used to launch aircraft on either side. These were later removed.

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