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7 Comments | Vintage
And before you ask: Yes, both the Pilot and the Catapult Officer survived
I have seen film footage of this somewhere, in a compilation of carrier crash landings I believe. It’s one of the bravest damn things I’ve ever seen, the crewman literally scrambles up on the wing and helps the pilot out, unbelievable.
My dad was stationed on the U.S.S. Enterprise.
Any award for the catapult officer?
More details: https://worldwar2database.com/gallery/wwii1272
No wonder he crashed. Look how bent his propeller is.
My father flew FM2 Wildcats and later F6F Hellcats during the war. He operated from escort carriers, which were quite a bit smaller than the Enterprise. Dad described it as like trying to land on a toothpick bobbing around on the water. He related lots of hairy stories like the one in this photo to me when I was a kid. One of them involved an out-of-control Wildcat that missed the arresting cables, bounced over the cable barrier, and took several planes being secured at the bow, including Dad’s (he had just landed a few minutes prior and was deplaning with assistance of his plane captain), over the bow where the aircraft and several men were quickly run over and killed by the ship.
Dad was lucky. As he stepped out of the cockpit onto his wing, he turned aft and saw, in his words, “a facefull of propeller.” His plane captain dove for the deck. Dad instinctively followed. High-speed still photos from the bridge showed the Wildcat’s horizontal stabilizer missing Dad’s head by inches as he was diving off his wing.
Between enemy action and day-to-day activities, carrier ops in that environment were extremely hazardous. In fact, his first ship, the USS Bismarck Sea, was sunk by a couple of Kamikazes off Iwo Jima with heavy loss of life.