View Full Version : The strangest aircraft hook you've ever seen.

05-06-2007, 09:31 AM
This seems like a fun way to land your aircraft: Have the hook on the roof of the plane, and hook it up to a loop attached to a ship!


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"Through rumors and the grapevine, we found we were to secure a group of islands. It developed that they were near Okinawa, wherever that was. About two weeks before we were to leave, we found out we were going to leave a week before the main task force to establish an anchorage. About that same time we were issued two of the craziest looking hooks we had ever seen on any aircraft. Along with the hooks were instructions how and where they were to be mounted on our Cubs. Mystery was the order of the day. We figured we were to hook something, but we did not know what!!

Somehow, word came that we were to operate off an LST ship, of all things. A Navy Commander would arrive on a transport ship to explain how the hooks were to be used. Several days passed, and the transport did arrive. Contact was made with the Commander. He was extremely vague. He was unable to supply a picture, or even sketch how the LST was fitted to hook a Cub, or why it was necessary in the first place. He did say the LST was used at Iwo Jima by the Marines, who had L-5 Stinson aircraft. They were much heavier than our Cubs. They waited on board until an airstrip was secured on shore, which took about two precious days. Then they took off, and never returned.

LST 776, with a Brodie device mounted on its deck, did arrive late on the day before the convoy was to leave. Several of the 77th air section, including Lt. Montgomery and me, went on board. The crew told us how the device worked, and what we were expected to do to get our two Cubs on board without damaging them. Next day the convoy assembled early to move out for the Kerama Retto Islands. They were a small group of rocky mountainous (high hills) islands with no beaches.

The convoy got underway. Our LST was in the convoy. We had no chance to practice landings or takeoffs. Lt. Montgomery and I were expected to get on that ship. The LST could accommodate only two Cubs. Initial observation of those islands was extremely critical. With the convoy underway, we were the show of the day. All eyes and field glasses from nearby ships were on us as we gingerly flew around the LST valiantly trying to hook the 3' by 4' loop. From the curve of the hook to the top of the propeller we had about 20" to "play" with. Lt. Montgomery was the first to hook the loop. I managed in five passes. Thanks be to God that we did not damage our precious planes.

LST 776 was a strange looking craft, but very simple. Forward was a steel pole about 30 ft. high. An arm protruded over the port side about 50' at about the 10:00 o'clock position. There was the same thing aft of the ship with the arm pointing at about the 8:00 o'clock position. The ends of the arms had a cable going from one to the other like a trolley cable. Both ends of the arms on top were sort of a receiving platform for the crew to stand on to manipulate the trolley.

When a plane was to land, a trolley device would roll aft on the cable. A nylon rectangle about 3' wide and 4' long would be dropped from it. The LST would be turned into the wind, and at full speed. The LST had little or no keel. As a result, the ship would roll gently. This meant that those 50' arms over the side would make an arc maybe 30' high. The pilot would approach this loop in sort of a porpoise fashion. It was necessary for the pilot to get the rhythm of the ship as he made his approach, so that when he hooked - or worse yet, missed - the loop, the arm would not come crashing down on him.

Cubs were tail-draggers. When a pilot made a three-point landing, he pulled the "joy-stick" into his belly. It was as natural as pulling on your trousers. Not so when you hooked the loop. You had to remember to jam the stick ahead at the slightest tug indicating that you were hooked to the loop. That kept the nose down so the prop would not go up into the cable, and get all chewed to pieces.

Probably the worst thing that could happen was to think that you were hooked when you were not, and you jammed the stick forward. Diving 30 ft. straight down could make for a big problem. We started doing this without any practice or instructions, and the problem was that things were so close that extreme concentration was required."





05-06-2007, 09:47 AM
I read about the Brodie system a while ago in an issue of Flypast.
Quite a clever system.

05-06-2007, 10:20 AM
It's not as odd as you might think,


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3a/XF9C_1_aircraft_hooking_onto_USS_Akron%2C_May_1932 .jpg/716px-XF9C_1_aircraft_hooking_onto_USS_Akron%2C_May_1932 .jpg



If you still have CFS2 installed, you can download the F9C Sparrowhawks and the USS Akron and Macon and attempt to hook yourself onto them in single missions. It's on Netwings American CFS2 aircraft, page 7.

05-06-2007, 06:35 PM
The first thing I thought of when I saw the title was the Navy's aircraft carrier dirigibles. The Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola has some nice displays dedicated to this experiment.