"Pilots, Man Your Planes!"   
                                         WWII U.S. Naval Aviation Collector's Guide                                                                              
 Hellcats  over  PROVENCE  
            VF-74 & VOF-1 IN OPERATION DRAGOON


The pilot of F6F-5 number 16, from VOF-1, holds full power on the P&W R-2800 as he awaits launch (listen below). After taxiing into position and having the catapult harness attached to the aircraft, the Catapult Officer would signal the pilot to lock the tail wheel, lower the wing flaps, and run up the engine to full power. Then, the pilot would remove his left hand from the throttle and grip the lower left part of the instrument panel  to prevent an un-intented reduction of power from the sudden acceleration of the plane which would push his body hard into the seatback. His right hand was to stay in position holding the joy stick, with the right elbow braced into his stomach. This prevented the stick from being pulled back, which would raise the nose, lower acceleration and lead to dire results. Once done, he was to signal the Catapult Officer that he was ready for launch. Underwing armament of six 5" FFARs (Forward Firing Aircraft Rockets) attests to the dual role of observation and ground support carried out by the Navy's Hellcats in this operation.