It had never been done before. There were calculations by some faceless engineer, who had calculated it could be done.
So, you're sitting there on deck, revving the engines to peak RPM, the deck is pitching up and down, you take your feet off the brakes...then what? When do you start hauling back on the yoke? Do you close your eyes? Do you pray?
Actually Doolittle had already done it off the coast of Norfolk.
During the mission they had a good wind and with the carrier’s added speed you can see them just about lifting into the air well before reaching the end of the runway.
They at first appear to be barely moving but they are going into something like 80mph winds One made it even tho he forgot to set his flaps.
“When do you start hauling back on the yoke?”
I guess I would wait until the one before me made it up successfully! Hmm - what if the first plane had gone into the drink - would the second one have tried?
Kind of off topic but the whole “never done it before” aspect reminds me of another Aviation on the sea in the military story I heard of. When I was at the Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola they had a C-130 that was a part of an experiment to see if they could land it on a carrier at sea. They had to put the props in reverse prior to touching down but they made it.
They had all practiced short take offs on land, same length. Doolittle took off first, meaning he had the shortest take off roll. I imagine when he made it (just barely, there's video), the rest loosened up a bit.
Actually, they had practiced taking off on a stretch of airfield as long as an aircraft carrier. Of course, the air strip wasn’t pitching....