Question about aircraft carriers

I seem to recall reading, perhaps in a work of fiction, about planes oriented athwartships being tethered to a WWII era carrier deck with propellers running in order to aid maneuvering of the ship in high sea states. There was criticism of this technique, as it was hard on the plane’s engines.

Am I just totally making this up or are there actual accounts of something like this being done? Does anyone have any idea what book I might have read?

The title is not familiar, but apparently there’s a reference to this technique being used during docking in The Bridges at Toko-Ri.

I don’t think it’d be any harder on the engines, but I am not sure I am prepared to discuss prop slip and other dynamics right now.

Something about one CV that was stationed at a port in Japan that could not really handle her. In this strange situation, this one CV used aircraft as stated to provide a little extra sideways push. Of course it was heck on the aircraft engines, but wartime imposes these situations.

In a high sea state this does not sound like a good idea. I remember a Victory At Sea where a task force was going through a storm at sea. There was water breaking over the flight deck of the carriers in the task force. If there had been planes on the flight deck with engines running the damage to the planess would have been total. I am not sure but I think this was jusst before Midway.

I’ve heard of this (referred to as “pinwheel”). But only for help in docking and similar low-speed maneuvering (as an assist to/replacement for tugboats), never for high sea states.

I would imagine that there would be a serious risk of overheating the aircraft engines due to lack of airflow.

Whiteknight nailed it. The technique was called “windmilling,” and it was used the same way azipods and side thrusters are used on modern cruise ships.

Very true, and CAG (the carrier’s air group commander) complained vigorously to the admiral that it left some of his pilots vulnerable to engine failure while airborne. The admiral used the occasion to test CAG’s fitness for advancement by pushing back; when CAG caved, the admiral remarked sadly — to himself — that he (CAG) just didn’t seem to have what it takes to get to flag rank.

This scene was depicted in the movie “The Bridges at Toko-Ri” as well.

Here’s a link to the film’s trailer and at the very end of the trailer at about 1:45 you can see a glimpse of the beginning of the docking scene with a good overhead view of the carrier Oriskany with its embarked AD (A-1) Skyraider attack planes lined up forward on the flight deck, ready to help with the docking maneuver as described.

Airplanes were used to augment/replace tugs. When we were mooring at Yokosuka Japan in 1957 my ship USS Lexington (CVA-16) used my squadron of Skyraiders (AD-7’s) to “Pinwheel” the ship when it didn’t have steerageway. Our Able Dogs were secured to the flight deck on the bow and when the Captain ordered, we added full throttle. That’s 12 engines with 14 ft/4 bladed props belching out 2700 hp each. We could actually turn the bow or move the 40,000 ton carrier sideways.

There are a couple of shots of “Operation Pinwheel” from the movie and the movie trailer The Bridges At Toko Ri on the carrier USS Oriskany (CVA-34) — which I also served on from 1970-72. Oriskany is now a “reef” at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico and Lady Lex is a museum at Corpus Christi, TX.

This site has a picture of F4U-4’s doing it on USS Valley Forge in 1952-3. That was one of the ships on which James Michener was an ‘embedded’ correspondent before writing ‘Bridges at Toko Ri’. Air group composition varied among USN CV’s in the Korean War but somewhat typical was 2 fighter squadrons of jets (F9F or F2H), 2 ‘fighter’ squadrons of F4U’s (de facto attack sdns) and one nominal attack squadron of AD’s, besides detachments of specialist a/c.

My dad was on Lexington for the first cruise after she got her angled deck (1956). I’m not sure what he did. During the Korean Conflict, he was Combat Aircrew on an AEW AD-4 Skyraider on Philippine Sea (CV-47). I think he was still doing the same thing on Lexington. I’d have to dig out Lexington’s 1956 Cruise Book to see if that’s the one that shows him in his squadron on the hangar deck, posing in front of a Christmas Tree.

I wish I knew the timing of everything. I’m 99% sure he received his commission in 1956. So it would have been like, make the cruise on Lexington, go to OCS, graduate, then move on to other vessels.

How were the aircraft held in place?

Or maybe the Christmas tree photo was on CV-47. ISTR that he missed his portrait opportunity on one cruise, and it might have been the '56 one on Lex.

Early “carries” were tiny ships with a crude wooden strip over the top - a monster airplane power-plant could easily affect orientation…Another vote for “Never underway”.

They were tethered to aircraft facing the other way.

I hope he knows you’re kidding.
The majority of the deck is covered with a regular grid array of attachment points flush-mounted into the deck. The tiedown points are called padeyes. A chain can be attached to any padeye and connected to the tiedown points on the aircraft wings, tail, landing gear legs, etc. Then cinched tight. So any group of aircraft could be tied down in almost any orientation and density needed; just tow them into position and rig some chains to the nearest padeyes.

There was a now-deceased Doper named Padeye who regaled us with tales of his experiences in WWII carrier operations. That’s where his name came from.

Thanks for adding that. I was going to ask if that’s where his name came from.

Never heard of this - I would think the carrier would be too massive for even dozens of aircraft to make any difference in its movement.

The other aircraft would have to counter rotate.
Thanks, LSLGuy. :slight_smile: