By Tommy H. Thomason

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Missed it by That Much V

The wings on the Grumman XF9F-2 Panther were oriented straight up when folded.
The folded configuration—with the fold joint well inboard—utilized all the hangar deck height to maximize the number of airplanes that could be parked on deck and in the hangar.

Unfortunately, the Panther—like all the early carrier-based jets—proved to not have enough endurance, so permanently mounted tip tanks were added to increase the fuel capacity. Since the hangar height limit had already been reached and there were disadvantages to under-slung tanks and folding the wings past vertical, the wing fold angle had to be reduced to provide the requisite clearance.

Tip tanks were added to the McDonnell F2H-2 Banshee for the same reason. In this case there was still overhead clearance available so the wing fold remained the same. However, the wing fold mechanism and structure hadn't been designed for the weight of wing-tip mounted fuel, so the tip tanks had to be empty when the wings were being folded and spread. If tip tank fuel was needed, which it almost always was, the F2Hs had to be spotted for launch with the wings spread, taking up scarce deck space. Although the F9F now took up more deck space when folded than originally planned, it didn't have this constraint so the tip tanks could be fueled when the wings were folded.

No comments: