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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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  • $\begingroup$ Can you highlight or circle the part in the picture? $\endgroup$
    – kevin
    Jan 21, 2018 at 3:24

1 Answer 1


enter image description here https://siregar3d.com/category/grumman-f-14-wip/page/3/

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).

enter image description here http://www.primeportal.net/hangar/howard_mason2/f-14d/index.php?Page=3

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.

enter image description here http://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=13836

  • $\begingroup$ So your contention is that the launch bar lowers and folds flat with the tip facing the a/c nose when retracted? I haven’t been able to find footage of an F-14 nose gear swing save from this footage @ 6:11 from the opening scene in Top Gun ( m.youtube.com/watch?v=enhRwnkmToM ). I can’t confirm if that is a real F-14 or a practical SE model, though I suspect the former. Here the launch bar appears to be folded facing aft when retracted. $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2018 at 7:35
  • $\begingroup$ @CarloFelicione - when I wrote the launch bar is ahead of it, I meant its location before retraction, to emphasize how it enters the bay, I'll clarify it. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Jan 21, 2018 at 11:43

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