8
$\begingroup$

So, back in the day a lot of carriers had a "bridle" fitted onto the catapult. This was basically a V-shaped cable that attached to two points on the underside of a plane and would basically secure it to the catapult shuttle as it launched it down the deck. This configuration helps with launching the planes better since it is connected to the center of mass from what I've heard, particularly useful when FAA Phantoms had to launch from the smaller deck of the HMS Ark Royal. However, this system I have only seen on older carrier jets (your F-4s, A-4s, Etendards, etc) and all the modern ones lock the nosewheel to the shuttle, in fact several modern carriers still have this extra lip on the deck where the catapult would continue on after the plane disconnected and stop there so the bridle could be recovered without flinging it out into the sea. What's the reason for its replacement? enter image description here

$\endgroup$
2

1 Answer 1

11
$\begingroup$

Grumman developed the nosewheel launch bar system for the A-6, E-2 and C-2 aircraft back in the 1960s. And they quickly caught on for several reasons:

  1. Greater simplicity. The bridle arrangement has multiple moving parts that attached to the aircraft, and once launched, must be either recovered, or allowed to be jettisoned overboard. Bridles were equipped with bungees to prevent them from going overboard. In addition to the design of the hydraulic holdback bars in the 1970s, it reduce the risk of FOD associated with the frangible holdback (dog bone) design.

  2. Safety. Aircraft carrier flight decks are dangerous places to work even in the best of times. Add into this the problems associated with the launch bridles, and they become even more hazardous. The bridles and the holdback pendants have to be manually installed on the aircraft after it taxis over the catapult by deck personnel. This puts more squishy, pink meat sacks in range of very dangerous things like hot jet blast, jet intakes, propellers, flight control surfaces etc. all while handling heavy steel ropes. Personnel have to remain in place to make sure the bridle remains secured to the aircraft until the catapult can be placed in tension prior to launch. Should a bridle fail during the launch stroke, it can whip free of the catapult shuttle, and go flying off down the deck in an uncontrolled fashion potentially either seriously injuring or killing aircraft handlers and/or causing damage to the ship or aircraft parked nearby. As an aircraft leaves the flight deck just after launch, the free ends of a bridle potentially could strike the aircraft underside, causing damage. Then there’s the problem of having this wire rope, flung over the deck at 150 mph, which then needs to be rested if you want to recover it. If anything goes wrong in that process, it becomes very dangerous to personnel and equipment on the ship.

  3. Ease of operations increase launch tempos. If it’s easier to connect a jet to the catapult, and shoot it, it takes less time to launch it. This increases the launch tempo capabilities of the ship, getting more aircraft out of the sky, quicker than if the airplanes require the use of a launch bridal to shoot.

$\endgroup$
2
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ WAY better answer than mine, thanks! (love "squishy pink meat sacks...") $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ "Hot jet blast" indeed. While it was not jet blast (thankfully) I've been burned on the exhaust of just regular engines. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 22:15

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .