By Tommy H. Thomason

Saturday, October 3, 2009

It Hurts When I Do That

Because of the relationship of the tail hook and the center of gravity, many (Tom Weinel,  F8U pilot and subject matter expert, says this was actually the norm) arrestments resulted in the airplane briefly wheel-barrowing. As you might imagine, the initial impact could be hard on the nose wheel, which sometimes broke. There wasn't much to be done with the geometry and other changes to the hook installation didn't have much effect, so a stronger nose wheel and shock strut with more stroke was retrofitted.

It could have been much worse. The F8U program began while the Navy was still operating jet airplanes from straight-deck carriers. The proposal shows a retractable Davis-barrier pickup on the belly, which was necessary due to the distance between the nose wheel and the main gear and the likelihood, due to the low ground clearance, that the barrier cable might bounce off the belly and drop back down on the deck. It kept the barrier cable up until the main gear could snag it. The landing crash rate of the F8U was tolerable on an angled-deck carrier; on an axial deck, the F8U might well have suffered the same fate as its sibling, the F7U: a terrible reputation and a quick exit from the inventory.

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