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pemcg

Hellcat and other photographs from HMS Emperor

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Hi

 

I happened to noticed that over the past few years some people have been asking for photographs of Royal Naval F6F Hellcats. My father was radar officer aboard HMS Emperor from Sept '43 until Jan '45, and he kept a small collection of photographs from his Naval career. I've scanned and cleaned most of the HMS Emperor ones, which are here if anyone is interested:

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/167119724@N05/albums/72157707228517651

 

Hope this helps somebody.

 

Cheers,

pemcg

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Thanks Peter, that's very kind of you, there's some great photos there.

 

Interesting to see the Wildcat in the picture of King George's visit.

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Thanks. The visit of the King was after the Tirpitz attacks I believe.

 

I'm amazed at the guys lying down beside the wheels waiting to pull the chocks away in this picture: 

Hellcat waiting to take off.

 

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Here is some dramatic moment displeyed:

47120453644_d613c0986a_b.jpg

Why the tail has so strange position and what drops from airplane?

Thank you for sharing!

Cheers

J-W

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11 hours ago, JWM said:

Here is some dramatic moment displeyed:

47120453644_d613c0986a_b.jpg

Why the tail has so strange position and what drops from airplane?

Thank you for sharing!

Cheers

J-W

My bet is on the aircraft having got too low on approach, hit the round down at the end of the flight deck with the aft fuselage so distorting the tail and knocking off part of the underside, and bouncing back into the air, at which point the photo got taken. Probably ended in a broken heap in the barrier.

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I had always assumed that this was battle damage, although I have no way of confirming. The Hellcats were used quite extensively in a ground attack fighter-bomber role especially during Operation "DRAGOON" in southern France, and used to pick up quite a bit of flak/AA damage.

 

I recall my father saying that the Hellcats were very popular with pilots because of their ability to absorb quite a bit of damage and still make it back, and also their relative ease/straightforwardness of landing. Just cut the power at the appropriate time and "bang" you're down he used to say. Apparently one of the least popular FAA fighters was the Seafire which was notoriously difficult to land with its narrow undercarriage, and also its tendency to glide over the deck and not catch the wire.

 

Cheers

pemcg

Edited by pemcg

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Whatever happened, that pilot is having a very, very bad day!  Wow.

 

I think what we may be looking at is the RH elevator falling off.  

Edited by Jordi

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I wonder if it is the remains of the belly fuel tank we are seeing after striking the ramp.

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Here are a couple of gun camera pictures showing how low they used to get:

 

 

Gun Camera 2

 

Gun Camera 1

 

Brave young men!

 

Cheers,

pemcg

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1 hour ago, Jordi said:

Whatever happened, that pilot is having a very, very bad day!  Wow.

 

I think what we may be looking at is the RH elevator falling off.  

I think you might be right, it does look like its missing. It's difficult to judge the perspective but it looks like the aircraft is just above the 'V' on the deck just aft of the rear elevator (see the aerial photo of the ship), in which case I'd give the poor guy a fighting chance of making it at least into the barriers as I can't see a tail hook. My bet is still on battle damage as I don't think they used to "bounce" quite that well.

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4 hours ago, Nachtwulf said:

I wonder if it is the remains of the belly fuel tank we are seeing after striking the ramp.

 

Doesn't look like it.  The structure of whatever it is is see-through, which is what makes me think, along with the position of the RH horizontal stabilizer (on its way to being detached from the airplane), that it's the elevator we're seeing.

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11 hours ago, EwenS said:

My bet is on the aircraft having got too low on approach, hit the round down at the end of the flight deck with the aft fuselage so distorting the tail and knocking off part of the underside, and bouncing back into the air, at which point the photo got taken. Probably ended in a broken heap in the barrier.

I'm with you on that analysis Ewen

5 hours ago, Nachtwulf said:

I wonder if it is the remains of the belly fuel tank we are seeing after striking the ramp. 

The belly fuel tank is directly between the undercarriage legs, as they are intact, it can't be the drop tank.

46 minutes ago, Jordi said:

Doesn't look like it.  The structure of whatever it is is see-through, which is what makes me think, along with the position of the RH horizontal stabilizer (on its way to being detached from the airplane), that it's the elevator we're seeing.

Pretty much the whole of the starboard tailplane and elevator is in view, complete and attached to the rear fuselage.

Note also the angle of the top of the fin visible just above the starboard wing root, this is canted to starboard but the aircraft is banked to port.

It looks  to me as though the fuselage has hit the round down midway between the wing and tailplane and the aircraft has bounced on the main undercarriage. The aircraft has broken it's back at the impact point and the tail section is rotating to starboard, bending down at the rear, and twisting to port.

The debris below the aircraft looks like sections of torn off belly skinning and internal fittings dropping out of the fuselage.

With the angles of the tail surfaces as in the photo, controlled flight would not be possible; the damage occurred just before the photo was taken, and the crash occurred immediately afterwards.

 

Big thanks to @pemcg for sharing, and to his father for taking or collecting the photo's.

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While I think a bounce is certainly possible, it was probably accompanied by a hefty dose of throttle after the pilot realised he had cocked up the approach and tried to power his way out of it.

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From an aircraft detail point of view it's interesting to see the slight differences in F6F-3 variants - some have the gun fairings and lower cowling flaps from the early production F6F-3s.

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