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Question about IS Aircraft carriers during WW2


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Quick question… I realize larger bomber planes couldnt take off from an aircraft carriers flight deck because the deck was too short for such a large heavy aircraft to get to a high enough speed to take off but wasn't the steam powered catapult already created? So couldnt they have catapulted a bomber to a high enough speed to give it enough lift to take off?

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Not all carriers had steam catapults, especially carriers built pre-war.  Also, catapults or not, large bomber aircraft took up a lot of space, and usually were too big for elevators, so they had to stay on deck.  During the Doolittle raid, Enterprise’s fighters had to provide air cover for the entire fleet since all of Hornet’s aircraft had to stay in the hanger until the bombers departed.  There were a number of reasons besides take off speed why bombers weren’t on carriers.

Edited by Dave Williams
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  • 11 months later...

Also, catapult launching puts a lot of stress on the airframe. Naval aircraft are designed to handle that stress, larger Army bombers aren’t.  Trying to catapult a fully loaded B-25 (with all that additional mass and inertia) off a carrier could just rip the airplane apart..... 

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On 2/4/2020 at 6:05 PM, Joe Hegedus said:

Pretty sure that the steam cat was a post-war development, like the angle deck. At least for WWII US Ships, the installed catapults were hydraulic. 

You got it!

US and UK references:
 

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July 12, 2014 ... On this day in 1916, the first catapult designed for shipboard use successfully completed calibration launching a Curtiss AB-3 from the deck of the armored cruiser North Carolina making the ship the first to be equipped to carry aircraft. Since then, U.S. Navy aircraft carrier launching technology has evolved, from hydraulics to steam-powered catapult systems, and now, electromagnetics.

https://usnhistory.navylive.dodlive.mil/2014/07/12/u-s-navy-catapult-anniversary-highlights-strides-in-carrier-aviation/

 

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The U.S. Navy began using steam catapults in 1954. Here, an S2F-1 submarine tracker gets the honor of being the first aircraft to be launched by the C-11 catapult, installed on the USS Hancock.

https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/with-test-launch-us-navy-goes-electromagnetic/12/

 

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Prior to the use of steam catapults, aircraft had been propelled into the air using a hydro-pneumatic system which used steel wire ropes to drag a small trolley along the flight deck, with the aircraft towed along behind. This was fine for the relatively small and lightweight aircraft carried by naval vessels in World War II, but with the advent of jet engines, carrier-borne aircraft became heavier and needed to be launched at greater speed. For a while, naval architects just increased the power of the hydrodynamic system, but the heavier aircraft — along with the heavier cables and pulleys — meant that eventually the catapults were growing too large to be installed even on the biggest ships.

Steam, because it shot the shuttle to which the aircraft was attached directly along the flight deck rather than relying on cables, had the advantage of transferring more energy to the aircraft while being both lighter and less complex than the previous system, with fewer moving parts.

 

https://www.theengineer.co.uk/this-month-in-1955-the-steam-catapult/

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