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Places on the Flight Deck the "Meatball" the Passive Jet Blast Deflector the Island the Catapults to end of page

Installations on the Flight Deck

Places on the Flight Deck

NumberExplanation / Name
1-4Catapult #1 - #4
5-8Aircraft Elevator #1 - #4
9The Barrier. That's a huge net that is used to land planes if they are not able to accomplish a conventional landing.
10The "Junkyard". That's the area aft of the island where the tractors, fire engines and the crane (the "yellow equipment") are parked.
11The "Hummer Hole". That's the area next to the island where the E-2C and C-2 planes are parked.
12The "Street". That's the space between Catapult #1 and #2.
13 / 14The "Rows". These are the areas right of Catapult#1 and left of Catapult#2 where F/A-18s are parked in rows during landing operations.
15The "Finger". That's the small area aft of Elevator #4 where a single plane can be parked.
16The "Ramp". That's the beginning of the flight deck at the stern of the carrier. If a plane crashes into the carrier's stern during its approach it's called a "Ramp Strike".
17The "Bomb Farm". That's the area between the island an the rail where bombs and missiles are stored during flight operations. From there they are brought to the aircraft.
18The "Crotch". This is the place where the angled deck ends and the port bow begins.
19The "Meatball". See down below to read more about it.
20-23Jet Blast Deflector#1 - #4. See down below to read more about it.
24The "Six Pack". That's the area where the row of planes is parked along the 'foul line'.
25The "Corral". That's the area in front of the island: from the 'foul line' on the left, all the way up to elevator#1.
26The LSO platform. From this platform the Landing Signal Officers control the approaches of the incoming planes.
 ( Thanks to Jacek Zemlo for providing some of the information listed above. )

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The "Meatball"

Location: The "meatball" is situated on the left of the runway, some meters next to catapult #4 on the portside of the carrier.
Function: The "meatball" is an important tool of the LSOs. It is used to guide the pilots during the approach for the last 1000 meters to the landing.
The yellow light in the middle symbolizes the plane and moves vertically. So the pilot can see the plane’s position compared to the flight deck. Now he knows if he is too high or too low. For having a good approach the "meatball" has to be on the horizontal green line.

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The Jet Blast Deflectors

Click here to watch a short clip of a passive jet blast deflector.

(Note: Sometimes this video does not load correctly. In such a case you can save the file by right-clicking on the link and selecting "save target as". This will save the video on your hdd and you can load it from there.)

Location:Each US Navy aircraft carrier possesses four passive jet blast deflectors. Each passive jet blast deflector belongs to a steam catapult and is situated some meters behind the beginning of the catapult.
Function:The passive jet blast deflectors are used to deflect the blast of the launching aircraft and to safe the following aircraft.
During the launch preparations the aircraft is hooked into the catapult, and than the passive jet blast deflector goes up behind the plane's tail.

Inside the passive jet blast deflectors there is concrete because of the high temperatures which could damage metal. The passive jet blast deflector consists of six sections which can be pulled up independently from each other.

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The Island

The Island is the "head" of the carrier and is that part of the ship where the main part of the radar and communication installations can be found.

The different stories:

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The Catapults

Two steam catapults are located forward on the flight deck and two on the angled deck amidships.


  1. Flight deck
  2. Runway (approx. 100 meters or 300 feet)
  3. Towrope
  4. Bring back mechanism for the catapult sledge
  5. Waterbrake cylinder
  6. Arrangement of pistons
  7. Launch valve
  8. Influx for high pressure steam
  9. Hydraulic cylinder for cable bring back control

From its four catapults, an aircraft carrier can launch an aircraft every 20 seconds. The catapults are about 300 feet long and consist of a large piston underneath the deck. Above the deck, only a small device engages the aircraft's nose gear. The catapult has two rows of slotted, cylindrical piping in the trough beneath the flight deck. When the planes are ready for takeoff, the aircraft handlers on the flight deck guide the plane onto the catapult and hook up the catapult to the plane's nose gear. On each plane's nose gear is a T-bar which pulls the plane down the catapult. This bar on the nosegear of the aircraft attaches to a shuttle protruding from the flight deck and connects to a pair of pistons in the trough. A holdback device installed on the nosegear holds the aircraft in place as tension is applied. After a final check, the pilot increases the aircraft engines to full power. When the engines are steady at full power, the catapult is fired , which accelerates the plane from 0 to 160 knots in under two seconds. On a signal from the catapult safety observer on the flight deck, steam is admitted to the catapult by opening the launching valves assembly. (The length of time the valves remain open is determined by the weight of the aircraft and the wind over the deck.) Steam surges into the cylinders, releasing the holdback and forcing the pistons and shuttle forward while accelerating the aircraft along the 300-foot deck. A 60,000-pound aircraft can reach speeds in excess of 150 mph in less than two seconds. The shuttle is stopped when spears on the pistons plunge into waterbrake cylinders. A cable and pulley assembly then pulls the shuttle back down the catapult for the next launch.

  1. Flight deck
  2. Guidance
  3. Catapult sledge
  4. Catapult shoe
  5. Jam
  6. Guidance wires
  7. Coupling between pistons and catapult sledge
  8. Arrangement of pistons
  9. Guidance bar
  10. Waterbrake cylinder piston
  11. Cylinder

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The Integrated Catapult Control Station (ICCS):

Modern US Navy aircraft carriers use the Integrated Catapult Control Station (ICCS) which was introduced into the fleet in 1975. The station, also known as the "bubble," permits added safety and increased efficiency in carrier launchings. It is the focal point of the catapult control system, which eliminates various remote stations and their required intercommunications during every airplane launch.

The "bubble" can be retracted into the flight deck and is only installed aboard the NIMITZ - class aircraft carriers. One "bubble" is located between Catapult#1 and #2 and the second "bubble" is situated on the port side of the carrier, left of Catapult#4.

The usage of the bubble is not vital for a catapult launch: the NIMITZ - class carriers are also equipped with the "old" remote stations that are used to operate the catapults aboard the older carriers. So if the bubble is not used to launch the plane it is done with the help of these remote stations.

The "Bubble":

The older remote Stations:

Catapult Shooter in Cat Walk

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The different catapults aboard the different carriers:

Currently, the Navy has three types of catapults installed aboard its commissioned aircraft carriers. These are the C-13, the C-13 Mod. 1 and the C-13 Mod. 2 catapults. Only the C-13 Mod. 1 and Mod. 2 catapults are powerful enough to launch a plane without headwind.

The chart below shows the last or current catapults installed aboard the carriers.

CV 41 MidwayTwo C-13
CV 43 Coral SeaThree C-11 Mod. 1
CV 60 SaratogaTwo C-11 and two C-7
CV 61 RangerFour C-7
CV 62 IndependenceFour C-13
CV 63 Kitty HawkFour C-13
CV 64 ConstellationFour C-13
CVN 65 EnterpriseFour C-13 Mod. 1
CV 66 AmericaThree C-13 and one C-13 Mod. 1
CV 67 John F. KennedyThree C-13 and one C-13 Mod. 1
CVN 68 NimitzFour C-13 Mod. 1
CVN 69 Dwight D. EisenhowerFour C-13 Mod. 1
CVN 70 Carl VinsonFour C-13 Mod. 1
CVN 71 Theodore RooseveltFour C-13 Mod. 1
CVN 72 Abraham LincolnFour C-13 Mod. 2
CVN 73 George WashingtonFour C-13 Mod. 2
CVN 74 John C. StennisFour C-13 Mod. 2
CVN 75 Harry S. TrumanFour C-13 Mod. 2

Click here or the image above to view a small clip of a catapult shoe shuttling back to its starting position.

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...more to come.

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