The G force acting suddenly upon the release mechanism (however sturdy) which sends a jet hurtling down the carrier runway would soon wear out a purely mechanical device. I heard or read somewhere that a sacrificial metal rod was fastened between two chucks before each launch (one chuck attached to the ship’s structure, the other to the catapult sled), jet attached, steam powered up until the tension tore the rod apart, sending the jet on its way - mechanism intact, ready for the next rod. Any truth to this? If so, is this standard procedure to this day?
It’s called a “holdback bolt”, and they’re still in use. It’s simple, it’s straight-forward, and it works.