At the end of the launch bar (catapult strop link) on the F-14 airplane, there is a small wheel. Does anyone know what this is used for?
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Above is a 3D modelling of the nose landing gear (NLG) well looking forward. The tiny wheel during retraction would slide forward to aft on the curved guide rail I circled, so the launch bar can be stowed with its tip near the top of the NLG. Otherwise there would be no space for it with it vertical (as the NLG swings forward for retraction).
Above is a real photo. The declassified F-14 manual shows the wheel, but it is unlabeled and unexplained. The above is my proposal. Other carrier-borne fighters of the USN I checked lack this wheel, such as the F/A-18 (shown below).
Like my proposal, the F/A-18 launch bar also slides aft during retraction (YouTube), but instead of the wheel and rail, perhaps it actuates into position.