Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Savage Feeding a Crusader

AJ-2 BuNo 1340xx refuels an F8U-1 Crusader BuNo 14378x while an F9F Cougar
flies cover.
One of the "forgotten" carrier birds of the post WWII era is one part of today's photo, the North American AJ Savage.

In the days after the end of the War, the Navy felt a bit left out, as they had no aircraft capable of carrying a nuclear weapon. The ability to lift heavy objects - such as atom bombs - was something that the in-development jet-powered aircraft had a lot of promise of, but the finer points of jet power were still several years away.

They Navy tried using JATO-equipped Lockheed P2V Neptunes, but while they could take off from an aircraft carrier, they couldn't land on one, leaving the crews to figure out where to go after they dropped the Bomb. So, in 1946, the Navy contracted with North American to develop the AJ, a composite-powered stop-gap solution. The main power came from two Pratt R2800 radial engines which were boosted by large turbochargers, so that they could maintain power to 42,000 feet. To assist in take-offs and to give a bit of dash speed, a single Allison J33 turbojet engine was embedded in the lower tail. At altitude, the aircraft was quite fast, capable of almost jet-like speeds of 460 mph.

With the advent of the Douglas A3D in 1952, the Savages were relegated to other duties, with some being converted to tankers, their bomb bays being fitted out with the refueling gear. Our photo shows a -2 model, which had a 100-hp power upgrade on the radials and a larger tail, which was operated by VAH-7. This squadron transitioned out of their Savages in November 1958. They had two deployments during this time period, on the USS Randolph (Det. 36) and on the USS Essex (Det. 45), plus their home port at NAS Sandford, Florida.

Meanwhile, the first Atlantic fleet deployments of F8U-1 Crusaders was aboard the USS Saratoga in late 1957 as a part of Carrier Air Wing 3 (tail code AC). On June 6, 1957, while President Dwight Eisenhower was on board the Saratoga for an inspection, two F8Us departed the USS Bon Homme Richard in the Pacific and flew across the country non-stop in 3 hours, 28 minutes, landing on the Saratoga; these would have been refueled in flight by Savages...so there exists the possibility that this photo might show one of those refuelings.

A fascinating series of photos of a Savage with an unretractable hose landing on a carrier can be seen here.

1 comment:

  1. The picture above seems to have caught an F9F-6P or F9F-8P reconnaissance Cougar in the background, too. Thank you for all of your posts.