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Jennings Heilig

International Harvester tug aboard Hornet!!

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If you’re a fan of red tractors (and we know that real men drive red tractors...), check this.  It appears to be an International Harvester Farmall A based aircraft tug (note the Farmall A front end, designed by Raymond Loewy) aboard the USS Hornet, which sunk at the Battle of Santa Cruz in October of 1942.  She was recently discovered by the RV Petrel in almost 17,000’ of water.  The tug looks like you could hit the starter and crank it up.  I’ve never seen a photo of this particular aircraft tug on a US carrier. 

 

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Edited by Jennings Heilig

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You can see the cable tie down at the rear. 

 

Man the sign looks to clean i wonder if they rubbed it before taking that picture.

 

Amazing

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That IH tug is actually an I-4.  "I" for industrial.  And it is based on the Farmall H not the A.   Some Farmall A tractors were used as aircraft tugs, but at 13hp their usefulness was limited.  The As would have been too light for towing anything but small single engine types on land at Air Corp facilities.  The I-4 and I-6 models had more weight and hp and lower center of gravity due to their more compact size.  The A and B models are too long, too light and with the offset operator station they would have gotten pushed around dangerously.  That long cast main drive case would have been failure prone.  It was designed for mounting 2 row cultivators between the wheel base, not jerking heavy things around.   Which is why the short low I series was preferred.  We had an I-4 at the A&P school and I was always tasked with operating it.  Something about a farm kid that grew up operating a Farmall clutch. 

 

Man, I'd like to have that tug.  Did I just say that out loud?

 

 

Rick L., proud owner of a '47 Farmall A and a '53 H.

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Yeah, I found that out too.  The sheet metal for the engine cover and radiator grille were pretty much identical to the A/B it appears.

 

I had a 1940 Farmall A sitting in my shed that went up in flames.  It was a mess.

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I’ll tell you what - the condition of that wreck is amazing.   I thought the markings on that tractor were photoshopped.    

 

Richard Branson is charging huge money to get people into space for a few minutes.   I’d rather have time to explore that wreck (and ideally get inside the hanger deck / island).   

 

If if nothing else, I’d hope they could raise one of the aircraft.    

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1 hour ago, Jennings Heilig said:

The Navy won't let anyone touch the wreck.  They're real pissants about stuff like that.

I’m not say to loot the wreck but it would truly be awesome if these guys could develop a miniature RPV that could penetrate the hangar deck and other internal spaces.    I’d love to see what is in there.  

 

With regard to raising one of the aircraft, I still think it could (and should) be done.   The aircraft are empty so there are no war grave issues.  This would be done with Naval approval, the aircraft would then be displayed as is (with appropriate stabilization to prevent any decay) in her existing condition, in a place of honor selected by the USN as a memorial to those servicemen lost during the war.  

 

These aircraft (or one from the Yorktown) are the real deal.  Much more impressive and moving than a plaque, statue or similar memorial.  

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Jennings is right. The Navy is extremely anal when it comes to raising "Navy Property". A while back, a Hellcat was found, and plans were made to retrieve it..... until the USN found out, and put the kibosh on the whole thing.

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..And as I understand it, even if the Navy allowed the raising of an aircraft, they still claim ownership of it and the right to re-claim it at any time. Doesn't give restorers a warm, fuzzy feeling to drop $1 mill on a restoration.

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20 hours ago, LSP_Ray said:

..And as I understand it, even if the Navy allowed the raising of an aircraft, they still claim ownership of it and the right to re-claim it at any time. Doesn't give restorers a warm, fuzzy feeling to drop $1 mill on a restoration.

But again, this aircraft wouldn’t be “restored”.   It would be displayed as is, by the USN as a memorial.   The recovery would be funded by the navy as well.  

 

An aircraft like this is too precious to be turned into a shiny toy for a millionaire.  

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I agree, but many are restored for museums, not flown again or not flyable. But whichever, the Navy is weird to work with; have read that several times.

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11 hours ago, LSP_Ray said:

I agree, but many are restored for museums, not flown again or not flyable. But whichever, the Navy is weird to work with; have read that several times.

Yeah, agree it’s a long shot.  Still makes for a cool pipe-dream.   I’d love to see one of those F4F’s up close. 

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