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Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Hellcats were built to take a beating

The Flying Heritage Collection's Hellcat is currently up on jack stands, awaiting a landing gear test. Great care is taken to assure that the plane does not slip from its stands and come down. But that wouldn't hurt the plane one bit. Made to land on the pitching deck of a carrier, the Hellcat's gear and airframe can take a brutal beating.

While testing the plane, the Navy wanted the new fighter to withstand a carrier landing at a rate of 19 feet per second. Grumman engineers crunched the numbers and figured that a straight drop of ten feet was equal to this simulated “rough landing” aboard ship. Hung from the rafters inside a hangar, one of the first airframes was subjected to this drop test. The Hellcat thumped down, bounced, and settled to a stop -- unscathed. In fact, the engineers (who must have been bored or feeling extra destructive) then hoisted the plane to the ceiling -- nearly 20 feet from the ground -- and let the big fighter drop. Even at twice the height of the Navy's specified test, the Hellcat fighter survived, completely undamaged!


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