“Midshipman Kriser Report to the Bridge”
It was a dreary, stormy day in the North Atlantic. Rapidly moving low clouds and isolated snowstorms within sight. I was ready to launch from an Essex class carrier, … my TBM lined up abeam the Island. My two crewmen and I were in "Poopy" suits, one behind me in the turret and the other in the belly.
The carrier was headed into about a forty-knot wind. The deck was pitching so that the bow almost touched the water as sea spray covered the take off area. The shooter gave the go ahead signal as the bow began to dip, figuring that by the time an aircraft reached the bow the carrier would be swinging upward to aid the launch.
I let go the brakes as added full power, and the "Torpecker" moved forward. I lifted the tail. About then I heard the loudest bang I'd ever heard. I thought someone had fired a 5 inch gun. I recall my reaction, "What the hell was that!" Within seconds the BANG sounded again. I instantly recognized that I was losing my engine and that there was no way to get airborne. At best the nose of the bird would dribble off the bow. I made a split second decision to curtail the launch. Thank God for the TBM's huge flaps!
My intent was to slow the Bird and make a 180 loop on the bow. I pulled power and put the tail down, and ever so lightly applied left brake. The Bird started to turn, but jump-skipped forward while turning. I ended up with the starboard wheel on the deck cowling next to the catwalk. All I could see was WATER. The Bird came to rest in about 170 degrees, headed aft.
When I emerged from the cockpit, I heard the Bullhorn announcement, "Midshipman Kriser report to the bridge". The Admiral was furious. I had disrupted the launch. His words were harsher than "What the hell were you doing!" When I explained what had happened, he calmed down and patted my shoulder.
I most likely saved three lives and an airplane with an engine replaced.