Nov 222011

After publishing our original article on P-80A, Serial No. 1028/Navy Serial 29668, naval aviation historian Tommy Thomason sent us additional photos of the aircraft under test at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland in 1946. According to Tommy, both bridle and pendant configurations were evaluated for catapult launch of the Navy’s P-80A. The bridle cable was attached to a hook on each wing and passed in front of the catapult shuttle. The pendant was shorter and therefore lighter as well as easier for the deck crew to attach: one end was looped around the catapult shuttle and the other to an attach point on the bottom of the forward fuselage.

The bridle was found to cause too much nose up pitch at nominal accelerations and end speeds. At 2.6 g and 75 mph, the tail pipe came within four inches of the deck.

The pendant did not cause a pitch up but was found to ding the aircraft on release; however, this was attributed to the shore-based catapult installation used that had a track sunk below ground level.

In the shipboard trials aboard FDR on 1 November 1946, Marion Carl made four deck runs (starting from virtually the fantail) and two catapult launches at fairly light gross weights. All were satisfactory.

Tommy has posted further information and images concerning this aircraft on his excellent Tailspin Topics modeling site, which I highly encourage you to visit.

To view the photos in high resolution, please click through the gallery above. Thanks again to Mr. Thomason for allowing us to reproduce these photos on the site; please check out Scooter!, his latest book, which is likely the definitive account of the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk.

All images from NARA Archives II, College Park, MD, RG 72

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