Fat Man bomb and AJ (A-2) Savage

I first found photos of the Savage while wandering on Coronado Island, they were posted in front of a Naval aviator’s house (a very long story of this can be found here Random pics whilst on the Coronado Island). I never saw such a plane before. A medium size carrier-based bomber with 2 turboprops in front and a jet engine below the tail. I read about Don Hubbard, the aviator who lives in that house. Recently, while at NAS Pansacola National Naval Aviation Museum, I actually saw this aircraft and learnt that it was the sole (like in the LAST) survivor. I sent an email to Don Hubbard and he answered me (I feel very priviledged). Here is what he wrote and pictures he included (Don is the one in a flight suit on the right).
“I flew that bird from 1953 to 1956 and had thhree deployment to Japan as one of the “ready” atomic bombers during the Korean war. We were ready to retaliate if the enemy dropped an atomic bomb on us.
Our “bomb” was “Fat Man”, same bomb they used at Nagasaki, and because the Japanese would not allow anything atomic in country, all bombs were on the US Carriers. Our aircraft bhad a landing weight of 33,000 pounds, the bomb weighed 110,300 pounds, and add gas and the whole package weighed 50,000 pounds. The carriers catapult was 250 feet long and it shot us from zero to 95 knots in the short space. Quite kick in the fanny. We dropped from 45,000 feet. The aircraft were painted white to reflect the heat of the bomb.”
Don, thank you for your service!!!


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Very, very neat Vlad. I think there might be a mistake the the weight of the bomb?

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You are right, it weighs 10,300 pounds. Here is the LAST surviving Savage. If anyone goes to USS Midway, a floating aircraft carrier museum in San Diego, find a 95 year old volunteer by the name Don Hubbard and shake his hand for me.

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Wow, cool looking aircraft, I will need to look that one up, thanks!

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Here is more info with Don Hubbard’s career Coronado’s “Avenue Of The Heroes” ... Commander Don Hubbard, USN | Coronado City News | coronadonewsca.com

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Great history lesson, did not know this! Tom from MN

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Vlad,

Great pics, great story, thanks. One little correction: the plane had two Pratt & Whitney R2800 radial engines on the wings and an Allison J33 jet engine in the back of the fuselage, a strange combination. Later, the Navy P-2 also had a combination of two recips and two jets.

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Mel and others, when one of the systems (jet or prop) failed were the aircraft able to keep flying?
I guess nowadays it would be mandatory but how about back then?

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EOD,

Depends. The most critical time in a carrier-based plane is the moment it is catapulted off the deck. The plane’s weight is the highest and the “runway” (carrier deck) is the shortest, a challenging combination. If the air is calm (no headwind), the temperature and humidity high (Summer, Gulf of Tonkin), and the heavy plane has limited power available, the loss of one engine might doom the plane. In cold, dry air with a stiff headwind and lighter weights, the plane might be able to climb away. Maybe.

In my P-3, the loss of one of the four engines was a minor inconvenience, even right at liftoff, unless the engine was on fire. I’ve made probably 20 or so 3-engine landings, having shut the engine down to save it (very expensive), generally from something like a visible oil leak. If the second engine was lost, and it was on the same wing as the first, things would get bad quickly. Never happened to me. Into a typical 12-hour mission, we shut down the #1 engine to save fuel and later, as weight decreased (we were burning fuel and throwing out ordnance), we shut down the #4 engine as well to save more fuel. If one of the remaining two had to be shut down, the one engine left had enough power to allow plenty of time to start the shut-down engines. I mentioned before that at very light weights, the P-3 can climb away on just one engine.

On a typical hot, humid Summer day on Guam, the Philippines, or Da Nang Vietnam, my EC-121K Super Connie could not maintain level flight at max gross weight after losing just one of the four engines. This allows for simple, and quick, decision making, like opening six fuel dump chutes to get rid of as much fuel (weight) as fast as possible. If we had three or four thousand feet of altitude, that was enough.

Now, modern jet airliners, even those with only two engines, can lose one right at takeoff and climb out. Jets flying across the oceans have a set of procedures in place that vary with winds and weather, but at any point along the trip they can lose one engine and proceed to a safe landing. I sleep very well as a passenger on a modern jet.

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Perhaps funny story, flying from NY to AZ one time on a 2-engine prop just from Albany to NJ we lost the starboard engine, was almost like nothing happened as a reaction from the other passengers. Girl sitting next to me asked me about it & i said they are engineered to fly that way landing was a bit awkward but the pilot kept it straight. On the next leg out to AZ (big jet) we hit a major sandstorm just out of Phoenix and the plane did a fall. Lots of gasping & a few screams. Interesting reactions.

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Mel, thanks a lot for the insight!

Been to the Museum many times, both during carrier quals and with my family. Great story. I have two main interests when we go. The aircraft that I worked on for 20 years and one I played on, as a kid.

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If you find Don Hubbard, please take a photo and post here.

USMC69,

What aircraft did you work on for 20 years? C-130? What airplane did you carrier qual in? If I knew when you hit the boat, I wouldn’t have to ask.

Mel

Mel,

  I was an aircraft electrician on A6's, however I spent over half of my career in Maintenance Control.  On the carrier I was a Flight Deck Coordinator.  We qual'd on the USS Lexington and did a cruise on USS Saratoga.

AJ

Interesting story. My Fellow Air Force veterans always criticize my saying this but the Pensacola NAS museum is the best in the nation. The AF Museum in Dayton is nice, but it lacks the character of the one in Pensacola.

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