Flight Deck - Modern Innovations - Flexible Decks

Flexible Decks

An idea tested but never put into service was the "flexible" or "rubber deck." In the early jet age it was seen that by eliminating the landing gear for carrier borne aircraft the inflight performance and range would be improved, since the space taken by the landing gear could be used to hold additional fuel tanks instead. This led to the concept of a deck that would absorb the energy of landing. With the introduction of jet aircraft the risk of damaging propellers was no longer an issue, though take off would require some sort of launching cradle. Tests were carried out with a de Havilland Sea Vampire flown by test pilot Eric "Winkle" Brown onto the rubber deck fitted to HMS Warrior, and Supermarine designed its Type 508 for rubber deck landings. The flexible deck idea was found to be technically feasible but was nevertheless abandoned. The Type 508 was subsequently developed into a conventional carrier aircraft, the Supermarine Scimitar.

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