That Tango Cougar
Way back in the 1950s, back when the Navy was getting into jets in a Big Way, it became evident that a swept-wing jet trainer might be useful for getting aspiring young aviators up to speed (no pun intended, mostly) on the then-new types entering service. Grumman had already begun delivering F9F-6 fighters to the Fleet and their handling characteristics, particularly around the boat, were a far cry from the relatively benign straight-winged types most naval aviators were accustomed to. That in turn led to the requirement for a trainer variant of the Cougar, which resulted in the modification of the F9F-8 fighter into the F9F-8T two-seater. Let's start the day with a few photos of that then-revolutionary trainer.
The Flapping Takeoff
If you meet enough military aviators you'll hear your share of there-I-was stories, some of which probably contain some element of truth. One of my friends in the small Texas town I call home is a former Naval Aviator, an IP with TraCom for the better part of his mid-60s flying career. He swears this is true.
It seems that our Intrepid Young Instructor was taking a student on his first cross country and was returning to NAS Corpus Christi via the Southern route and, is as well-known, the F9F-8T didn't have much in the way of legs, causing several refueling stops to be added to the flight plan. One of those stops was Davis Monthan AFB, a facility with sufficient runway length to accomodate even the most ground-bound of Republic's I'm-Not-Leaving-This-Runway fighters. That runway length, coupled to the natural proclivity of all Naval aviators to stick it to the Air Force whenever such an opportunity presented itself, led to a practical joke of legendary proportions.
Our aforementioned Intrepid Young Instructor and his student and recovered at DM with no problems and topped off the tanks, preparing for the next leg of the flight back to Texas, when an idea was born. Our IYI suspected that the tower at Davis Monthan didn't deal with all that many Navy airplanes; it was entirely possible back in those days for a Navy pilot to talk to an Air Force tower and use terminology that was foreign to said Tower. Our IP saw Opportunity looming, and there's no doubt in my mind that there was a big old pie-eating grin under the oxygen mask as the Cougar lined up on the active that day:
"Tower, this is Navy Two-Niner requesting takeoff from runway fill-in-the-blank".
"Roger, Navy Two-Niner. You're cleared for takeoff."
"Ah, roger, Tower. Permission to do a flapping takeoff, over?"
There can be no doubt the poor airman in the tower had not the slightest idea what a flapping takeoff might be, but no blue-suiter wants to come across as uninormed, particularly where the Navy might be involved, so permission was given:
"Roger, Navy Two-Niner. Proceed with flapping takeoff."
The grin in the front seat of the Cougar's cockpit got bigger as the throttle was advanced to allow a moderate taxi speed (remember that runway length; it's important to the story!) and a mischievious hand reached for the wing-fold control. The wings were cycled three, four, then five times, then locked down as the throttle was pushed forward for launch. We can only imagine what it must have looked like from the tower; it was, by Jingo, a flapping takeoff!
We can only hope it was true...
Some Photo Rhinos
The mighty F-4 Phantom served the Air Forces of the world for years, and in pretty much every role one could possibly imagine. The fighter that was purpose-designed for the defense of the Fleet proved to be much more capable than that, and its speed made it a natural for the photo recon role. Here are a couple of examples of the F-4 in that guise.
Remember the Turkey?
There was a time, and it wasn't all that long ago, when the Grumman F-14 was the best fighter in the world. Time, technology, and an ever-increasing maintenance burden on an aging fleet of aircraft eventually did the Tomcat in, but the airplane was a Class Act from start to finish. We don't do much with the F-14 around here, but these photos make me wonder why that is. Maybe we'll have to do something about it. Meanwhile:
The Relief Tube
When last we met a reader had asked a question regarding roll control on the S2F. Here are some comments regarding that topic from Tommy Thomason:
The S2F roll control consisted of 1) circular arc spoilers in the outboard wing panel located ahead of the flap and 2) small "feel" ailerons out at the wing tips. The spoilers extended upward only, with a maximum extension equal to 8.6% of the wing chord. I haven't found any pictures yet that depict them up but I vaguely remember seeing a bit of extension with the wings folded. I think the system is similar to the one on the P-61.
Tommy kept looking, and sent us a couple of photographs showing those spoilers in the deployed condition:
And regarding the new Kinetic kit: I made offers to help to two different contact points at the company. Got no response. As far as I can tell from pictures of the sprues, there are a few S2F-1 details on the S-2E parts. Nothing major but typical of the difficulty of properly segregating the different configurations of an aircraft that was upgraded over time. Definitely something to remember if you build that kit! Thanks, Tommy!
Contributor/reader Doug Siegfried, who has more than a few hours in the "Stoof", added these comments:
Hi Phil: Nice coverage of my favorite airplane the S-2. A correction on the air to air shot that I took. We were flying off USS Kitty Hawk CV-63. The Princeton at the time was razor blades. Also, both pilots in the burning S-2 survived the ditching. It was fortunate that both pilots were instructors - one was an instructor under training. Helps to have two pros handle an emergency such as this one.
And a pilot's perspective on flying the S2F: In the S2F, C-1 and E-1 you had to use a little muscle to make turns. Once you got used to the controls it was no problem. The S2F-3 (D,E and G) had very easy control and you had to be careful to not over control. You never, never thought about spinning the S-2 or all its variants. Grumman did it once and it did some very strange things so there were no spin recovery methods in the NATOPS. You just did not get into unusual attitudes in the S-2. You could do great angle of bank turns at altitude or down low to the water with no problem. We did have one guy in my first squadron that tried a barrel roll in the S2 and it lost several thousand feet before he got it back to normal flight. He had to wring out his flight suit after that and did not recommend anyone every try it. The most serious emergency in the S-2 was fire in flight - leave it or ditch now. It was great plane to fly and do what it was designed for which was ASW work. Looking forward to the new S-2 model. Cheers, Doug
This issue of Replica in Scale is respectfully dedicated to the memory of Frank Garcia, who loved Naval aviation.
And that's what I know for now. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.