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Question about the forward bow of the aircraft carrier.

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posted on Feb, 27 2006 @ 10:55 AM

I know it has something to do with the catapults. In the first pic, it has two. Second pic is has only one on one side while the other does not. And last, the Nimitz class carriers don't have it, why? Back then the catapults were meant to fly all the way to the end of the edge of the bow, but now it does not require to have the catapults to go all the way to the end of it?

posted on Feb, 27 2006 @ 11:01 AM
Diffrent ideas, militaries and navies are trying all kinds of new types of ship technology and its still hit or miss.

posted on Feb, 27 2006 @ 11:40 AM
I'm glad you asked this question.
I've asked about the bow extensions in a couple of other places and never got an answer.

Note the difference in angle between the first two photos.

I'm wondering as well why only one in the second photo.

It does look like the entire front of the deck in the last photo is slanted down.

posted on Feb, 27 2006 @ 01:25 PM
THe bow sections you see on some carriers and not on others has to do with the type of launch system used in the day those carriers were built.

THis bow extension is being removed on carriers coming in for overhauls as the launch system now uses a shoe moving down the catapult length. A piece built in the front nose wheel attachs to the shoe and as the catapult goes down the track on launch it drags the plane with it by the front wheel. YOu can see this system in operation in movies on the discovery channel or the movie Top Gun.

The olde way planes were launched was from a cable extending from win to wing under the plane . This cable was called a bridle. when the plane launched the cable slid overboard on the extension piece you see at the bow. This was used in planes like the F8 Crusader , the A4 Skyhawk and the F4 Phantoms. You can see this bridle system in operation in launch pictures of the older airplanes in Vietnam air strikes from carriers. This system is being rapidly phased out today and replaced with the technique described in the first paragraph.

That is the reason for the bow extensions ..different launch systems.


posted on Feb, 27 2006 @ 01:34 PM
Hey all,
theese extensions are called Bridle catchers,

The older carriers used a cable and pulley type of catapult a cable ran under the flight deck to a large pulley at the forward part of the catapult . A cable, with the bridle attached above deck, ran back down the deck to the launch position.
when a plane was launched the bridle was thrown forward, and so to stop damage from repeated strikes to the ships bow and to stop damaging the bridle itself theese extensions were added, and called (unorigonally bridle extensions :lol
theese bridles would often also strike the rear of a an aircraft on launch .


like here on HMAS Melbourne,she recieved extensions and improved catapults in the 70's when the Aussies bought A4's for her.

Nowadays carriers use a nose tow arrangement like below" target="_blank" class="postlink" rel="nofollow">http...://
(picture from and for more on tow nose gear)

I believe that im right in saying that USS Enterprise was the first carrier to use this arrangement, and was the last to have bridle extensions(tow nose was trialled on her)

As to why they are still on the Carriers in your pictures , i am stumped, maybe they were taken shortly after the Phantoms were retired,the Phantom being a bridle launch type vs F/a18 nose tow launch.
*although now orangetom mentions it they are/were probably just awaiting removal at a refit as they are noe quite unnessecary
I hope this helps you out Delta boy

damn orangetom beat me to the post

[edit on 27-2-2006 by buckaroo]

posted on Feb, 27 2006 @ 01:55 PM
Many thanks for the answers.

Bridles were one thing I hadn't thought about.

One more of those little questions answered . . . about nine million to go....

posted on Feb, 27 2006 @ 02:14 PM
Having worked, as a Shipfitter apprentice, on carriers in my 'younger' days after getting out of the Air Force as a PJ, all three aircraft carriers displayed in your three photos have two distinctive and defined forward aircraft catapult systems or CATs.

In response to the question: The photos simply show an evolution: an evolution from needed catapult bow extensions to not requiring them. One reason is because the steam CAT systems have improved to the point that bow extensions were no longer necessary. Another reason, as indicated by orangetom1999 and buckaroo, is that the bow extensions were becoming more of a hinderance than a benefit, again, thus removed.


posted on Feb, 27 2006 @ 02:24 PM
The USS Abraham Lincoln (according to the captain) had it added on, so that she would be four feet longer than the others.

posted on Feb, 28 2006 @ 12:00 AM
Where did you serve your shipfitter apprenticeship at. What yard??

Intresting that you were a PJ. I served with some of them in Keflavik, Iceland. USAF also. Navigation Radar.


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