Sonobuoys were the main way we tracked subs back in the day. I really hate to think how many TONS of those damn things I handled, one at a time, over the years…
Weighing 15 to 39 lbs, we carried 80+ of them on every mission. The ‘fun’ was getting them loaded, especially if the weather wasn’t great. This pic shows the ordie pushing a buoy into the external launch tube. In the rain… What you don’t see is the other folks standing off to the left with the buoy cart, out IN the rain, no hats, no rain gear, water running down the backs of their necks, checking each buoy for all its settings before handing it to him to be shoved into a specific tube. On a good day, this took, give or take, a half hour. On a bad day, it could easily run an hour. THEN you have to hump another 30+ up the stairs on the left into the interior racks. By the time you got in the airplane, you were soaking wet and not in a good mood… Trust me on that… And we did it day after day!
Note that each chute has a specific letter/number combination. Once inside, all of those buoys then had to be typed into the onboard computer so they could be deployed when required. And if you ever made a mistake, there was hell to pay! Trying to find the ‘missing’ buoy was fun… Especially if it wasn’t supposed to be a pinger, and it started pinging on the ‘wrong’ target… 😉
Oh, and this was actually a nice day, compared to some; where we were, we’ve loaded in a monsoon, in snow storms, and in 100+ degree heat.