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“The World Famous Blue Sharks” (1943-1993) PATRON SIX“
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Home Iwakuni Hydraulic System Failure 1958 by Larry Mickelsen

Iwakuni Hydraulic System Failure 1958by Larry Mickelsen

During our 1958 Iwakuni deployment, I was assigned to Crew Four. On one of our "tac" flights, just after takeoff, we had a hydraulic system failure. The pilot aborted our flight, called base, and they launched the wing ready crew. With our tanks full of fuel, we could not land immediately because the aircraft was too heavy. So we flew around for a while we burned off our fuel so we could get down to a safe landing weight. 

To help burn the fuel down more quickly, we started our two "Westinghouse Defuelers" or J-34 jet engines. During our preparation for landing, because of the hydraulic system problem, the pilots couldn't get 30 degrees on the flaps, and the nose gear would not come all the way down. Luckily, The Tin Bender just happened to have a CASE of hydraulic oil on board ("for mamma" as he used to say). He took the hydraulic oil and added to the reservoir forward of the wing beam and as a result, we were able to get the nose gear down. Unfortunately, the nosewheel was turned to the left and it couldn't be straightened because it was hydraulically controlled. 

Just before we landed, the pilot told us he was going to keep the nose up as we had no steering, but he forgot to tell the co-pilot not to push the stick forward on landing. We heard the tires squeak a few times and then they started to howl as the pilot pulled out the emergency brake. We ended up running off of the side of the runway. What made the landing really hairy was that we happened to be carrying a live torpedo and some MK-54 depth bombs. 

When we got back to the squadron area, we were told that we had burned 16 of the 20 plies off of the tires and yet somehow they did not blow.