Posted by: Waring Hills | 9 February 2011

Birth of the Yellow Peril! or Ground Loops For All My Friends!

Photo of XN-3N1 (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives)

The XN-3N1 was ordered from the Naval Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia on 09 February 1935. This aircraft is the prototype of the famous “Yellow Peril” flown by fledgling naval aviators until the end of World War II. The nickname, “Yellow Peril”, came from the aircraft’s tendency to “ground loop” on landing if the pilot was sloppy with his technique. The last “Yellow Peril” was retired from the Navy in 1961.

Marine "Yellow Peril" for towing training gliders at Page Field, Parris Island, S.C., in May 1942 (Photo Library of Congress)

Ground loops occurred much more frequently during this era due to the tailwheel (taildragger) aircraft configuration  and narrow landing gear with a heavy engine at the front. If the aircraft began to veer right or left, no rudder correction and too much rudder correction would cause the heavy nose to switch ends with the tail of the aircraft, hence the term ground loop. Many naval aviation cadets learned about this feature the hard way during primary flight training. Ground loops were usually just embarrassing, but sometimes the aircraft could be damaged particularly on the wing tips (dragging the ground).

Watch this ground loop of a T-6 Texan…Yeehaw, ride’em cowboy!

 

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