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Carrier Aviation ~ 100 years of USA/USN Traditions; 1922-2022

Stryder50

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Within a decade or two of the Wright Brothers and their Kitty Hawk venture of powered and manned heavier than air flight craft "proof of concept" we find that during the First World War, flat platforms for landing and take-off of aircraft had been built upon the upper levels of warships and first experiments of ship-born aircraft use were in play. Especially during and shortly after WW One.

This thread is intended to focus upon such. While many Nations and their Navies provided early experiments in the concepts of aircraft landing and taking off from a warship; we will focus here, to start with, on the efforts of the United States of America (USA) and it's Navy ~ Unite States Navy ~USN.

While initial posts and focus are on the USN, other nations will be examined and considered as this thread develops.
 
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Stryder50

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Within a few years of the end of World War One the USA/USN had begun to consider the value of ship dedicated to the use of aircraft ~ an "Aircraft Carrier" of sorts. Hence the design and commission of the the first "Aircraft Carrier" or "CV" known as the Langley, a converted coal carrier/collier.
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USS Langley (CV-1, later AV-3)

USS Langley (CV-1) became the U.S. Navy's first aircraft carrier when commissioned in March 1922. She was converted from USS Jupiter (Collier #3), which was the U.S. Navy's first surface ship propelled by electric motors when commissioned in April 1913. Following tests in the Atlantic in 1924, she became the test platform for developing carrier operating techniques and tactics while serving in the Pacific. Reclassified as a seaplane tender, (AV-3), in 1937, Langley remained on station in the Pacific and supported seaplane patrols and provided aircraft transportation services during the early months of World War II. On February 27, 1942, while transporting U.S. Army P-40's to the Netherlands East Indies, Langley was attacked by Japanese aircraft and was scuttled by her escorting destroyers.
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Had the Langley not been lost so early on in WWII~early 1942; it might have been shifted to the Eastern Seaboard-Atlantic and used as a trainer ship and/or convoy escort~aircraft transport vessel.
 

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For anyone interested in U.S. Navy aviation.
I highly recommend taking a trip to Pensacola, Fl. and visiting the National Naval Aviation Museum located on the base of the Naval Air Station Pensacola.
It's an amazing museum starting with the birth if naval aviation up to todays modern jets, and has over 150 aircraft on display both inside and outside the huge museum building. Retired naval aviators and aircraft carrier personal are there to answer your questions and give tours of the facility. .... :cool-45:
 
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Stryder50

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Following the build of the U.S.S. Langley, the USN(USA) went for another set of modifications to prior designs in converting a pair of Batttle Crusiers (BCs) into Aircraft Carriers (CVs) in form of the Lexington (CV-2)

USS Lexington (CV-2)​

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USS Lexington (CV-2), nicknamed "Lady Lex",[1] was the name ship of her class of two aircraft carriers built for the United States Navy during the 1920s. Originally designed as a battlecruiser, she was converted into one of the Navy's first aircraft carriers during construction to comply with the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, which essentially terminated all new battleship and battlecruiser construction. The ship entered service in 1928 and was assigned to the Pacific Fleet for her entire career. Lexington and her sister ship, Saratoga, were used to develop and refine carrier tactics in a series of annual exercises before World War II. On more than one occasion these included successfully staged surprise attacks on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The ship's turbo-electric propulsion system allowed her to supplement the electrical supply of Tacoma, Washington, during a drought in late 1929 to early 1930. She also delivered medical personnel and relief supplies to Managua, Nicaragua, after an earthquake in 1931.
USS Lexington (CV-2) - Wikipedia
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And Saratoga;
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USS Saratoga (CV-3)​

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USS Saratoga (CV-3) was a Lexington-class aircraft carrier built for the United States Navy during the 1920s. Originally designed as a battlecruiser, she was converted into one of the Navy's first aircraft carriers during construction to comply with the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. The ship entered service in 1928 and was assigned to the Pacific Fleet for her entire career. Saratoga and her sister ship, Lexington, were used to develop and refine carrier tactics in a series of annual exercises before World War II. On more than one occasion these exercises included successful surprise attacks on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. She was one of three prewar US fleet aircraft carriers, along with Enterprise and Ranger, to serve throughout World War II.
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Hence by the mid to late 1930s the USN(USA) has three main Aircraft Carriers/CVs in service.
 
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Stryder50

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With due respect for tradition and the object of this thread topic, the vulnerability of aircraft carriers has to be included in the discussion
Will be and later on ....
 

Donald H

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Will be and later on ....
For me it also raises the question of whether or not they would waste the ammunition on an aircraft carrier after the planes had left.
The bigger picture surely would be mostly about destroying civilian infrastructure and the seat of government.
Still, they are one of the means of taking a war to a foreign country.
Supersonic missile technology can do it a lot quicker.

If naval warfare has any future, it's in nuclear weapons on ships built to be capable. something as small as 100 feet in length?
 
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Stryder50

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With due respect for tradition and the object of this thread topic, the vulnerability of aircraft carriers has to be included in the discussion
1) Feel free to do so.
2) Along the way, note the vulnerability of other warship types given conditions and circumstances.*
3) No ship type/design is free from risk of sinking/damage.
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Primary concern with regards to aircraft carrier "CV" types is their full ship length (upper) flight deck construction. Severely damage/destroy the flight deck and the usability of an aircraft carrier/"CV" is greatly compromised ~ made near useless.

* See the RN raid upon Italian port of Taranto, example of which encouraged the IJN attack upon Pearl Harbor, as a case in point that other warships of the "Battle Line" can be damaged and/or sunk and reduced to uselessness.

If you float, you can sink.
 

Donald H

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1) Feel free to do so.
2) Along the way, note the vulnerability of other warship types given conditions and circumstances.*
Quite true.
3) No ship type/design is free from risk of sinking/damage.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Yes, but the loss of a PT type boat is far, far less than an aircraft carrier. One carrier could represent a huge loss as it relates to the size of the overall force. As was the Pearl Harbour loss of ineffective battle ships due to more modern warfare that brought the carriers.
And the question that still burns in some minds on 'why' the carriers were at sea?
Primary concern with regards to aircraft carrier "CV" types is their full ship length (upper) flight deck construction. Severely damage/destroy the flight deck and the usability of an aircraft carrier/"CV" is greatly compromised ~ made near useless.
Yes, quite true. But I'm suggesting that in modern warfare the carrier is redundant after the planes have left.
* See the RN raid upon Italian port of Taranto, example of which encouraged the IJN attack upon Pearl Harbor, as a case in point that other warships of the "Battle Line" can be damaged and/or sunk and reduced to uselessness.

If you float, you can sink.

What's your point? A carrier is easier to sink than a heavily armoured battle ship.
 

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The days of the gigantic Naval battles are over but fat asses in the Pentagon pad their future retirement with bigger and badder ships named after bigger and badder presidents while drones and missiles determine the outcome of the next Armageddon.
 

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1) Feel free to do so.
2) Along the way, note the vulnerability of other warship types given conditions and circumstances.*
3) No ship type/design is free from risk of sinking/damage.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Primary concern with regards to aircraft carrier "CV" types is their full ship length (upper) flight deck construction. Severely damage/destroy the flight deck and the usability of an aircraft carrier/"CV" is greatly compromised ~ made near useless.

* See the RN raid upon Italian port of Taranto, example of which encouraged the IJN attack upon Pearl Harbor, as a case in point that other warships of the "Battle Line" can be damaged and/or sunk and reduced to uselessness.

If you float, you can sink.

True but a Carrier is damn near (not totally) impossible to sink. And there are no weapons available capable of generating enough power to take out or even disable a carrier. The Chinese, so called, carrier killer pretty much needs the carrier to be holding position for quite some time. And, unless it's at port, a Carrier is NEVER idle.
 

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USS Lexington (CV-2), nicknamed "Lady Lex",[1] was the name ship of her class of two aircraft carriers built for the United States Navy during the 1920s. Originally designed as a battlecruiser, she was converted into one of the Navy's first aircraft carriers during construction to comply with the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, which essentially terminated all new battleship and battlecruiser construction.

To be more accurate, the ships were not "converted", as much as repurposed during construction.

The treaty did not actually terminate new construction, as it put caps on how many of each class of ship a nation could have. It placed a moratorium on new construction, but only for 10 years. But it did allow for ships already under construction to be repurposed to other ships, like aircraft carriers. Then once the building moratorium was released it placed limits on what nations could build, as by that time most would want to retire their older ships and replace them with newer ones.

And there were more ships being tested than just "Aircraft Carriers", like the CV class. Even before the war began, nations were playing with "Seaplane Tenders". France, the UK, the US, Japan, Italy, all were playing with this concept. The US was even building new ships of that class during WWII like the Currituck class.

curr1.jpg


Plus the earliest carriers and those ships converted during construction would not count against tonnage limits so long as they were made into carriers. This simply made that class the most effective use when making such changes.

And interestingly enough, this also impacted things in WWII. As nations like the US and Japan were only recently starting to really get serious about carrier design and finally built purpose built carriers from the keel up. However, the US was still hard at work designing lighter carriers as the WNT stated that carriers of 10,000 tons or less did not count against the ship limits that a nation had. The US spent much of the 1930's designing and refining designs of such ships, which came in handy when war broke out in Europe as it could quickly build them and put them to sea.

Especially as by the end of the war the US was able to launch an escort carrier in a year (conversions in under 6 months).

And ultimately, while many concentrate on the fleet carriers, I would argue that it was the escort carriers that made the largest difference. There were so many that most convoys could actually have carrier support. And especially in the Pacific allowed the US to dominate in the area.

At the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Japan had 1 fleet carrier, 3 light carriers, and the two Ise class hybrid carrier-battleships. The US on the other hand had 8 fleet carriers, 8 light carriers, and a staggering 18 escort carriers.
 

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The Chinese, so called, carrier killer pretty much needs the carrier to be holding position for quite some time.

In addition to have absolutely no defensive ships anywhere nearby.

Like the 1-2 AEGIS cruisers, and the 2-3 Burke class Missile Destroyers. All of which will have SM-2 and SM-3 ABM missiles on board.
 
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Stryder50

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True but a Carrier is damn near (not totally) impossible to sink. And there are no weapons available capable of generating enough power to take out or even disable a carrier. The Chinese, so called, carrier killer pretty much needs the carrier to be holding position for quite some time. And, unless it's at port, a Carrier is NEVER idle.
This assumes of course, that nuclear weapons are not being used.
And, as pointed out, there is the screening layer(s) of Cruisers, Destroyers, and/or Frigates to intercept such missile weapons before the get to the CV.
 
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Stryder50

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In addition to have absolutely no defensive ships anywhere nearby.

Like the 1-2 AEGIS cruisers, and the 2-3 Burke class Missile Destroyers. All of which will have SM-2 and SM-3 ABM missiles on board.
IIRC, many CV Task Forces also include an SSN prowling the outer defense perimeter.
 

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This assumes of course, that nuclear weapons are not being used.
And, as pointed out, there is the screening layer(s) of Cruisers, Destroyers, and/or Frigates to intercept such missile weapons before the get to the CV.

The range that such a weapon is having to operate at and the speed it must obtain to get around those destroyers, frigates and such means that it is going to have to fly at least a thousand miles at mach 8. That is 12 minutes. And the only country with this missile coming into it's inventory is the United States.

This comes online Sep 2022. This is a stand alone missile that is very smart. It knows it's target even if the target moves. The Buff doesn't have to be the locking or search vehicle either. The difference between this weapon and the Chinese
DFS21D is that the -21D requires constant guidance while the new US version only requires guidance at launch.

So can the DFS21D hit a carrier? Yes but if any part of it's guidance is disrupted it's going to go terminal and splash down in the middle of the Pacific. One of the uses of the new AF Missile is that it can hit the guidance facilities long before the DFS21D can reenter. At that point, the world may have a nuclear warhead in orbit.

BTW, the missile that the AF is getting in September of this year has been tested at Mach 20 as well. I can see why they slowed it down.
 

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And, as pointed out, there is the screening layer(s) of Cruisers, Destroyers, and/or Frigates to intercept such missile weapons before the get to the CV.

Actually, we have not had frigates since the Oliver Hazard Perry class of ships were retired in 2015. The intent was they would be replaced by the "Little Crappy Ship", but as those ships were largely failures and have no surface-to-air capabilities. So those are obviously not part of carrier group. We do have the Constellation class Guided Missile Frigates in the works, but the first one of those will not even start construction until later in the year. With at this time the USS Constellation (FFG-62) not expected to enter service until 2026 at the earliest.

And that will be, so-so at first for an anti-air role, worthless in an ABM role. It will start with the RIM-162 SeaSparrow and RIM-174 extended range missile for air threats, with the SM-2 planned as a future upgrade.
 

Mushroom

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IIRC, many CV Task Forces also include an SSN prowling the outer defense perimeter.

Classified, but expected to be 1 or 2. However, as submarines have absolutely zero surface or subsurface to air capability, that is irrelevant when talking about air threats.
 

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This assumes of course, that nuclear weapons are not being used.

Myself, I almost never bring this type of thing up in a serious military thread.

Nuclear weapons are not military weapons, they are political ones. And the moment one is ever used, all considerations of "war" go completely out the window. Because it is no longer war in the regular sense, it is a thermonuclear war. Where from that moment on odds are not one single member of the military will see an enemy, as it is fought with intercontinental weapons that can destroy cities.
 

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In addition to have absolutely no defensive ships anywhere nearby.

Like the 1-2 AEGIS cruisers, and the 2-3 Burke class Missile Destroyers. All of which will have SM-2 and SM-3 ABM missiles on board.

I don't know if the SM series can intercept a Mach 6+ missile on reentry. But with the AF firing a Mach 8+ missile with over 1000 mile range, I am sure that it will be nuke tipped and be able to strike whatever is being used for terminal guidance for the DFS21D. Keep in mind, that same missile has been tracked at Mach 20.
 

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