Category Archives: FA-18

Hornet Gear

By lex, on October 9th, 2009

Occn’l Reader Peter finds a lovely photo of the Super Sh!t Hot, World Famous Golden Dragon CAG jet departing off Cat 3 (click on the pic for higher).

HornetGear

One of the first aircraft systems lectures I gave as a junior officer was on the FA-18 landing gear. The trailing axle lever arm assembly that you see fully extended on the port main landing gear and partly extended on the starboard is actually quite an elegant (albeit complicated) design that allows for compact stowage at low relative weight compared to older carrier designs.

Carrier landings impose tremendous stresses on aircraft landing gear, which is why tactical naval aircraft tend to have such robust landing assemblies compared to their USAF counterparts. The FA-18 axle lever arm allows for a rolling transfer of landing and take-off loads, and requires a somewhat articulated series of trailing and planing links to ensure that the gear extend and lock down properly.

The axle lever arm and planing link (in particular) were initially “under-engineered”, however. The first is milled from a solid block of titanium, and is on its third generation, having demonstrated an unfortunate tendency prior to redesign to shear after a few hundred arrested landings, while a planing link failure (which prevents the main landing tire from aligning with the aircraft’s longitudinal axis) resulted in one of the first Hornet fatalities.

Thanks for the pic, Pete!

 

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On the wire

By lex, on April 11th, 2007

The four-ship typically comes in level at release altitude. For a 45 degree dive bombing pattern that’d be around 5000′ above ground level (AGL). Aligned with the attack heading, the lead will push it up to the planned release airspeed – typically around 450 knots calibrated airspeed – and the savvier wingmen will ensure that their jets are trimmed out in yaw as they attain release speed: Even modern jets get “bent,” and what is trimmed for level flight at 300 knots won’t always work at 450, while uncorrected yaw is a source of bombing inaccuracy. Once over the target, dash one will call, “Lead’s breaking,” on the aux radio, followed by his wingmen every four seconds or so thereafter, 2, 3, 4.

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Icarus

By lex, on September 3rd, 2009

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return. — Leonardo Da Vinci

I was walking across a footbridge from one cube farm to another yesterday with a co-worker and I couldn’t help but notice the towering cumulus clouds billowing over the Cuyamaca mountains east of the county. Hovering like jovial gods in the thermals that gave them birth. Bright faced, but changeable. Concealing an inner darkness that reveals not their truth. Waiting only for an updraft to hurl them through the freezing level and turn their smiling faces to wrathful frowns. Placid valleys and echoing canyons in the skies between them like hallways. Athwart them the hall bullies, edging in. Uncommitted.

Was a time, I remarked to her, when I could put the blowers in, climb up in the vertical and touch their faces. Rolling over on my back over the top all but whooping with delight. Gather speed down the back side to try it again. Play pretend atop a $40 million fighter that the cloud is a mountain and how low can you go?

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Ringside seat

By lex, on October 14th, 2006

The first day of our assessment yesterday and there wasn’t much for your humble scribe to do, straightaway,  the experts had fanned out, and were doing that expert thing. I was left to my own devices.

I went up to the flag bridge, one level below the pilot house to get a workout in. As a space whose tactical importance is much diminished by the video-screen nature of modern naval combat, it functions now as a cardio gym for senior officers. It’s on the O-9 level, or 10 steep-pitched ladders up from where I have parked my slops, so it would be something of a workout just getting there, except that the ship’s XO has been so kind as to lend me a key to the captain’s elevator. We are feeling rather chuffed at our importance, these days.

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Homework, part II

By lex, on June 7th, 2006

Long, repetitive and boring, but the work’s done and maybe one reader may enjoy it.

Or not.

Now give me my “A.”

Abstract: Over the course of the first decade of its lifecycle, the FA-18 Hornet aircraft evolved from a troubled acquisition program designed to fulfill a limited, albeit crucial role on a few aircraft carrier decks into the most successful aircraft program in US Navy history. It did so not by exceeding expectations in any one area, but by being “good enough” in every area, by using modularity in design and by answering cultural and political issues effectively.

homeworkpart2a

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T.I.N.S.

By lex, on March 12th, 2006

I’m feeling vaguely dyspeptic and out of sorts in this blogging thing, for all that I had a wonderful bike ride this afternoon up the coast. Carmel Valley to Del Mar, and up that miserable hill. Then down again, through Solana Beach, which soon gave way to Cardiff and then finally Encinitas. At Swami’s in Encinitas I turned around and came back the way I’d gone, to the tune of 23-odd miles or so of a very pleasant day.

So to put it all away and just write something, I thought it’d be fun to share a mini-sea story with you.

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Wacko

By lex, on June 1st, 2005

I was thinking the other day about how much of the interest in militaria tends to accrue to the gear, rather than the gear-er. For my part, I’ve always thought that it was the people who made the Navy great (and other people, although only occasionally, who can make it miserable). We spend long months far from home in enforced proximity with people whom we might not otherwise choose to associate – surface warfare officers and submariners, for example. But as aviators, especially in the somewhat rarefied air of single-seat strike fighter squadrons, we generally tend to get on pretty famously. You just meet a lot of really great people.

Wacko was one of them.

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