1960s, U-2s could not reach certain remote targets because political
difficulties prevented basing the aircraft in some foreign nations. The CIA and
U.S. Navy, therefore, studied the idea of launching U-2s from aircraft
Whale Tale fitted a few U-2s with arresting hooks like the one on display here.
The hooks would snag cables strung across aircraft carrier decks and “capture”
aircraft, bringing them to a quick stop. The small black plate on the shaft
shows that this hook was used in five landings, and could be used up to 20
rough carrier landings, Project Whale Tale U-2s were given stronger landing
gear, and also wing spoilers to overcome the U-2’s tendency to glide instead of
landing on the carrier deck. Some later U-2s had folding wings to take up less
storage room on the ship.
U-2 takeoff from a carrier took place on Aug. 5, 1963, from the USS Kitty Hawk, off San Diego,
Calif. The first U-2 carrier landing occurred on March 2, 1964, aboard the USS Ranger. Carrier operations
were limited, however, because of the expense and slowness of deploying ships
to areas from which information was urgently needed.
on the U-2’s windshield was an early problem. Pilots could not reach the
windshield wearing bulky pressure suits, and this convenient homemade device, a
wooden stick with a cloth pad, allowed them to wipe the window in flight.
condensation problem was later solved by windshield electrical heating and
small defogging fans, though the Q-tip could also be used to clean the
windshield if oil vapor leaked into the defogging system.
The notch in
the Q-tip handle has used to pull rudder pedals back to their normal position
after pilots had moved them forward for greater comfort when flying long
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Documents
CIA Documents on Project Whale Tale [345 Pages, 62MB]