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Pictures: Aircraft Carriers

Pictures: Aircraft Carriers

Pictures of Aircraft Carriers

Galleries -Tanks -Royal Navy Ships -Japanese Ships -US Navy Ships -German Ships - RAF - USAAF -Maps

Royal Navy - United States Navy - Imperial Japan Navy

Royal Navy

Unidentified Carriers

Grumman Avenger overboard from RN Carrier

British Escort Carrier in Bay of Biscay, 1944

Sea Hurricane slides off flight deck

Fleet Air Arm aircraft cartwheels into sea

Sea Hurricane jumps barrier on carrier flight deck

Named Carriers

HMS Activity from above

HMS Activity from the left

HMS Activity from above

MV Acavus with deck cargo of aircraft

HMS Argus : converted in 1918

HMS Argus off North Africa

HMS Argus from above

HMS Argus from the right

HMS Ark Royal : first carrier with that name, 1914-1934 (when renamed)

Main guns of HMS Ark Royal

Fairey Swordfish I of No.820 Squadron over HMS Ark Royal

Flight of Fairey Swordfish of No.820 Squadron, HMS Ark Royal

Attacker class escort carrier with lifts down

HMS Audacity : escort carrier converted in 1941

HMS Avenger : during Operation Torch

HMS Avenger and HMS Biter

HMS Begum

HMS Biter : during Operation Torch


HMS Campania

Rear Admiral R. H. McGrigor on HMS Campania

Fairey Swordfish on the icy deck of HMS Campania

Last moments of a Ju 88 seen from HMS Campania


HMS Chaser from a Swordfish taking off

Grumman Wildcat on HMS Chaser

HMS Colossus

HMS Eagle : August 1942, just before being sunk guarding a Malta convoy

Flight deck of HMS Emperor

A Russian officer on HMS Fencer

Arctic Convoy seen from HMS Fencer

Seafires and Wildcats on HMS Formidable

HMS Formidable from above

HMS Formidable from the right

HMS Furious : target of the first successful deck landing at sea, August 1917

HMS Furious : off the Norwegian coast at Tronso

HMS Furious swept by giant wave

HMS Furious from above

HMS Furious from the left

HMS Glory

HMS Hunter in the Aegean


HMS Illustrious

HMS Illustrious : on fire on 10 January 1941 after being hit by heavy bombs

Damage to the bridge of HMS Illustrious

The aircraft hanger of HMS Illustrious

HMS Derwent seen from HMS Illustrious

HMS Illustrious and HMS Victorious

Corsairs and Barracudas on HMS Illustrious

Chance Vought Corsair on HMS Illustrious

Fairey Barracuda on HMS Illustrious

Avengers and Corsairs on HMS Illustrious

HMS Warspite and Illustrious class carrier


HMS Implacable

HMS Implacable being launched, 10 December 1942

Newly commissioned HMS Implacable, late 1944

HMS Implacable from the left


HMS Indefatigable

Fairey Firefly on HMS Indefatigable, January 1945

Supermarine Seafire crashes off HMS Indefatigable

Folding the wings of a Fairey Firefly on HMS Indefatigable

HMS Indefatigable with clear decks

HMS Indefatigable being launched

George VI on the deck of HMS Indefatigable

Side view of HMS Indefatigable


HMS Indomitable

HMS Indomitable : Guarding a convoy to Malta, August 1942

Grumman Avenger over HMS Indomitable

Bombing-up an Avenger on HMS Indomitable

Crewmen on HMS Indomitable turning a propeller

HMS Indomitable from the right


HMS Nabob limps home

HMS Nairana escorting an Arctic convoy

HMS Nairana from behind

HMS Ocean leaving Ireland behind, en route to Gib Sunday 16th Dec 1945

HMS Ocean and Hellcat of 892 Squadron, FAA (1 of 2)

HMS Ocean and Hellcat of 892 Squadron, FAA (2 of 2)

Sea Vampire lands on HMS Ocean, 4 December 1945

Fairey Firefly on HMS Ocean, 1946

HMS Ravager from the air

Stern view of HMS Ravager (BACV-24)

Bow view of HMS Ravager (BACV-24)

Sunday Service in HMS Ravager, 1943

Grumman Martlet on HMS Ravager

HMS Searcher : An early escort carrier, seen here with Wildcats on deck

HMS Smiter

Fairey Swordfish on HMS Tracker

HMS Unicorn from the side

HMS Victorious : Guarding a convoy to Malta, August 1942

HMS Victorious : classic side view

Grumman Martlet lands on HMS Victorious

HMS Victorious in heavy seas

HMS Victorious in the Pacific

Barracudas return to HMS Victorious

United States Navy see US Navy Gallery

USS Hornet prior to commissioning

Imperial Japanese Navy

Midway: Akagi under B-17 attack during Battle of Midway

Nakajima B5N1 'Kate' taking off from Akagi

Amagi sunk at Kure

Midway: Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryu burning, morning of 5 June 1942

Side view of carrier Hosho

Ise Class Battleship-Carrier from Above

Ise class battleship-carrier under attack

Ise Class Battleship-Carrier under air attack

Junyo under Netting

Midway: Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga, after her 1936 modernization

Kaiyo from above

Crew Messing Spaces, Katsuragi

Side view of Katsuragi, Kure, October 1945

Top view of Katsuragi, Kure, October 1945

Seaplane Carrier Mizuho

Carrier Ryujo from the left

Shokaku

Nakajima B5N 'Kate' taking off from Shokaku to attack Pearl Harbor

Shokaku under attack at Coral Sea, 8 May 1942

Shokaku at the battle of the Coral Sea

Pearl Harbor: Torpedo plane takes off from Shokaku to attack Pearl Harbor

Plan of Shokaku class carrier

Taiho, Shokaku and Nagato at Singapore


Midway: Soryu under B-17 attack during Battle of Midway

Taiho from the Left

Taiho from Above

Taiho, Shokaku and Nagato at Singapore

Taiyo from above

Plan of Taiyo class carrier

Paint scheme for Unryu, 1944

Zuiho sinking, 25 October 1944

Zuiho at Cape Engano, 25 October 1944

Zuiho from above

Plan of Zuiho

Zuiho after suffering damage at Cape Engano

Admiral Ozawa being transferred from Zuikaku to Oyodo

Throwing explosives off the sinking Zuikaku, Cape Engano


Features: The aircraft carrier continues to be the centerpiece of the forces necessary for forward presence . Whenever there has been a crisis, the first question has been: "Where are the carriers?" Carriers support and operate aircraft that engage in attacks on airborne, afloat, and ashore targets that threaten free use of the sea and engage in sustained operations in support of other forces.

Aircraft carriers are deployed worldwide in support of U.S. interests and commitments. They can respond to global crises in ways ranging from peacetime presence to full-scale war. Together with their on-board air wings, the carriers have vital roles across the full spectrum of conflict.

The Nimitz -class carriers, eight operational and two under construction, are the largest warships in the world. USS Nimitz (CVN 68) was the first to undergo its initial refueling during a 33-month Refueling Complex Overhaul at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., in 1998. The next generation of carrier, CVN 21, the hull number will be CVN 78, is programmed to start construction in 2007 and is slated to be placed in commission in 2014 to replace USS Enterprise (CVN 65) which will be over its 50-year mark.
CVN 79 is programmed to begin construction in 2012 and to be placed in commission in 2018.

General Characteristics, Nimitz Class

General Characteristics, Enterprise

General Characteristics, John F. Kennedy

General Characteristics, Kitty Hawk Class

US NAVY F/A-18 HORNET FIGHTER JET TAKEOFF AND LANDING FROM
AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER - (CAMERA ON PILOT FROM INSTRUMENT PANEL)


Pictures: Aircraft Carriers - History

Escort Carriers, Part 1: Long Island & Bogue classes, BAVGs
Escort Carriers, Part 2: Casablanca class
Escort Carriers, Part 3: Sangamon and Commencement Bay classes

United Kingdom
Master Index of RN Carriers
Developmental & Experimental Carriers
WWII Fleet Carriers
Light Fleet Carriers including VSTOL
Escort Carriers
Merchant Aircraft Carriers

Postwar Attack Carriers, including rebuilt WWII-era ships and CVA01 project.
Helicopter and Assault Ships including helicopter training ships

Japan
Aircraft Carriers
Seaplane Ships
Helicopter Ships (ASW/Assault)
European Nations
France
Germany
Italy
Netherlands
Russia and the Soviet Union
Spain
Sweden
Ukraine
'White Russians'
Yugoslavia
Other Nations
Argentina
Australia
Brazil
Canada
Chile
China
India
Peru
Thailand

Corrections, Comments, Suggestions: Despite our vigorous efforts make this work as error-free as possible, some mistakes are sure to slip through. If you find an error, please send email to Andrew Toppan ([email protected]), being sure to state the exact nature of the error, and the list in which it was found. We'll resolve the error and make any necessary corrections. We also welcome comments, suggestions and additional material, which will be incorporated as time allows. However, please DO NOT send binary files (photographs) without contacting us first, to avoid overflowing mailboxes. Thank you!

Copyrights: The World Aircraft Carrier Lists are Copyright © 1995-2001 by Andrew Toppan. The lists may not be redistributed or published, in whole or in part, for any purpose without prior written permission. The lists are not in the public domain. Please send email to Andrew Toppan if you would like to publish or distribute the lists. Unauthorized republication or distribution of these lists or the data contained herein will not be tolerated.

Acknowledgements: A project of this sort is only possible with the generous assistance of many people. I would like to specifically thank several people who have been especially helpful. Brooks Rowlett has been an invaluable source of photographs, data and opinions, and has proofread many of the lists. Alex Walton supplied many RN photos and related information. Jack Arrowsmith provided invaluable data on RN carrier pennant numbers. Paul Silverstone, Chris Cavas and Paul Yarnall supplied many photos for this project. DANFS entries for the US ships were provided by several members of the DANFS Project Team. In addition, many other people have provided other data and material for this project. Thank you everyone!

Photo Credits: Uncredited photos are, to the best of our knowledge, "official" photos from government sources such as the US Navy, Ministry of Defense, Royal Navy, Imperial Japanese Navy, US National Archives, Fleet Air Arm Museum, or other similar organization around the world. Such photos are in the public domain. All other photos are credited as to source and are used in accordance with applicable copyright laws. If there are any questions regarding photo credits or copyrights, please contact us and we will resolve the matter promptly.

    Official Sites - General
      at the Naval Historical Center from the Naval Historical Center , site with current data, photos and historical information
      , a newsletter covering carrier aviation , part of Robin Lee's State of the Russian Navy Datapages , a site focussing on the WWII-era Imperial Japanese Navy - RN carriers & Fleet Air Arm
      , builders of LHA/LHDs , builders of CVNs
      a group attempting to preserve Midway A group attempting to preserve Forrestal A group attempting to preserve Saratoga , home of Yorktown (CVS 10) , home of Intrepid (CVS 11) , home of Hornet (CVS 12) , home of Lexington (AVT 16)

    To suggest a site, please send email with the URL and a brief site description, and be sure to indicate that the site is to be listed in the "Carrier Links". Thank you!


    22 Amazing Pictures – Aircraft Carriers Battling in the Pacific During WW2

    The war in the Pacific was, for the first time, a war of Aircraft Carriers. They took over the leading role from the battleships which had been the dominated the sea during the previous centuries. For the first time, battles at sea were fought between fleets that were hundreds of miles away from each other.

    We have selected 22 images of the American side of the carrier war for you to enjoy, but also to show the sacrifice of those onboard the ships and planes that fought against the Japanese empire in that Pacific Theatre in World War 2.

    A U.S. Navy Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat fighter of fighting squadron VF-2 being catapulted from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-12) via the hangar catapult, 25 February 1944. USS Enterprise (CV-6) TBM Avenger torpedo bombers warming up on the after flight deck during operations in the Pacific, circa May 1944. An F6F Hellcat fighter is on the midships elevator, in the foreground. The original Kodachrome color transparency was received by the Naval Photographic Science Laboratory on 29 May 1944. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Grumman F6F-3 “Hellcat” fighters of fighter squadron VF-10 Grim Reapers, Carrier Air Group 10 (CVG-10), landing on the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) after strikes on the Japanese base at Truk, 17-18 February 1944. Flight deck crewmen are folding planes’ wings and guiding them forward to the parking area. Japanese Kamikaze plunge that missed and crashed alongside the USS Sangamon (U. S. Navy Photo) View of the commencement of a launch of the Saratoga Air Group on board the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3), 1941. The plane nearest to the camera is a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat of fighting squadron VF-3 (3-F-15), followed by Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless of bombing squadron VB-3. Douglas TBD-1 Devastators are spotted on the aft part of the flight deck (wings folded), followed by SBD-3s, probably of scouting squadron VS-6. Note the overall light gray paint schemes with white lettering and numbering that was carried aboard naval aircraft for a short time during 1941. Grumman F4F-4 “Wildcat” fighter, of Fighting Squadron Six (VF-6) has its six .50 caliber machine guns tested on the flight deck of USS Enterprise (CV-6), 10 April 1942. Note open gun bays in the plane’s wings and markings below the cockpit (𔄞F9” with no dashes between letters and numerals) Yorktown at the moment of impact of a torpedo from a Nakajima B5N of Lieutenant Hashimoto’s 2nd chūtai. Douglas SBD Dauntless scout bomber Takes off from USS Enterprise (CV-6) during operations in the Pacific Ocean, circa early 1944. The original Kodachrome color transparency was received by the Naval Photographic Science Laboratory on 29 May 1944. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. U.S. Navy Grumman FM-2 Wildcat fighter of composite squadron VC-84 launching from the escort carrier USS Makin Island (CVE-93) in the Pacific in 1945.

    U.S. Navy Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless dive bombers and Douglas TBD-1 Devastator torpedo bombers (aft) on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) in early 1942. Aircrewman wounded in strike on Rabaul, on the Aircraft Carrier USS Saratoga, November 5 1943. An aerial view shows the USS Yorktown landing her planes. Most of the footage for the motion picture The Fighting Lady was shot on the USS Yorktown. Photographed by Lt. Comdr. Charles Kerlee, USNR.

    The USS Bunker Hill takes two kamikazes in 30 seconds on May 11, 1945. While operating with a fast carrier task force in the “slot” between Okinawa and Kyushu, these two suicide hits, acting as fuses to the gasoline-filled and bomb-laden planes, set the stage for one of the most heroic battles of the Pacific. Fighting suffocating flame and exploding rockets and bombs, the gallant crew, sacrificed 392 dead or missing and 264 wounded to save their ship. Photographed by a USS Bunker Hill photographer. Ordnance men arming planes on the hangar deck of the USS Yorktown, while in the background men off duty are watching a movie. Photographed by Lt. Comdr. Charles Kerlee, USNR.

    The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) moored at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (USA), circa in June 1945

    The old USS Lexington orders “abandon ship” – Coral Sea, May 1942. The destroyer alongside is taking off the sick and wounded while the able-bodied are sliding down ropes and being picked up by small boats. Not a man was lost in abandoning the ship. The U.S. aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CV-7) burning after receiving three torpedo hits from the Japanese submarine I-19 east of the Solomons, 15 September 1942.

    Takeoff from carrier USS Lexington for the defense of Tarawa. Photographed by Capt. Edward Steichen, USNR. Transfer of wounded from the USS Bunker Hill to the USS Wilkes Barre, sick bays aboard carriers and battleships were actually medium-sized hospitals.

    Hellcat roars off the flight deck of “the blue ghost” – The USS Lexington This photo was taken aboard the USS Lexington and was one of Capt. Steichen’s own. He had a special feeling for takeoff shots, contrasting action with a still background. Photographed by Capt. Edward Steichen. The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) burning after five “Kamikaze” suicide planes hit the forward flight deck off Chi-chi Jima, shortly after 17:00h, 21 February 1945. Another attack at 19:00h scored an additional bomb hit. 123 of her crew were dead or missing as a result of the attacks. By 20:15h, the fires were under control, and the carrier was able to recover aircraft, but she was ordered to Eniwetok and then to the U.S. West Coast for repairs, arriving at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington (USA), on 16 March. On 22 May, Saratoga departed Puget Sound fully repaired, and she resumed training pilots at Pearl Harbor on 3 June.

    Grumman F4F Wildcat and Douglas SBD Dauntless on USS Wasp, 1942.


    Aircraft Carriers / The Air War

    Aircraft Carriers. By Michael and Gladys Green. New York: Friedman/Fairfax Publishers, 2000. Full-color and Black/White photographs, 144 pages. $19.98 Hardcover.

    The Air War. By Bernard C. Nalty. New York: Friedman/Fairfax Publishers, 2000. Photographs, illustrations, index, 128 pages. $14.98 Hardcover.

    Reviewed by Timothy Metcalf, a history major at the University of San Diego and an Active Duty Navy personnel. He has deployed on three cruises onboard two different Aircraft Carriers — the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk and the U.S.S. Carl Vinson — during his Naval career. As a member of a helicopter crew, he was privy to the wondrous sites of the aircraft carrier and her operations while at sea. Before beginning his academic career, sponsored by the United States Navy, he served as a Rescue Swimmer on board SH-60F and HH-60H helicopters for eight years and accumulated over 1800 flight hours.

    The beauty and majesty of an Aircraft Carrier while cutting a wake through the ocean is breathtaking. I am glad to have had the opportunity to witness this awe-inspiring power and now so can readers of Michael and Gladys Green’s Aircraft Carriers. For anyone who has served on one of these majestic ships and loved the experience, the photography in Aircraft Carriers will bring back many memories and for those who have not had the good fortune to take part in the excitement and adventure of aircraft carrier life, this book is as close as it gets. Through an amazing array of pictures, Aircraft Carriers reveals a perspective that rivals actually being embarked upon the ship yourself.

    The Greens explain and illustrate production of aircraft carrier at the beginning of the book, a too-often forgotten necessity in books which deal with a specific class of ship, and deal with the complexity of operations onboard in language that lay persons will find meaningful. In addition to giving a history of the vessel, Aircraft Carriers offers great insight into the issues of today’s Navy and the future of these impressive and imposing vessels. The scope of the book is not limited to the United States Aircraft Carriers but covers the allies of the U. S. as well as the adversaries to the carrier and her flight crews. The photographs of other country’s ships alongside the U. S. S. are magnificent and rare. I recommend this book as an addition to any collection, for it will make an excellent book to display as well as a source of knowledge into the complexities of Aircraft Carriers and their operations.

    The Air War, one of four books in the “World War II Chronicles” series, examines the ways in which air power (introduced into the war arena in World War I) forever changed the tactics of armed conflict. Certainly Bernard C. Nalty’s almost forty-year experience as historian for the United States Marine Corps, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Center for Air Force History contributed to his superb decisions in book organization. Nalty does not begin in 1939, but rather returns to the 1910s when tacticians first began to incorporate air strikes into military strategy. Thus, readers learn why air power led to World War II earning distinction as “the defining conflict of the twentieth century.”

    Nalty does not only discuss the United States and her allies but gives insight into the strengths of Axis air power. Several maps help to describe the various air strategies used by Allied and Axis powers, and detail the broad influence of World War II.

    Nalty’s use of photography, however, is what will resonate most with readers of The Air War. From the sands of the Northern African deserts to the cool blue waters of the Pacific, we see it all. Action photographs from the vantage points of both crew and victims of air destruction offer a balanced account of the influences of air power during the first half of the twentieth century.


    The Five Greatest Aircraft Carriers Ever Made in History

    Here’s What You Need to Know: A fighting ship isn’t just a hunk of steel but a symbiosis of crewmen and materiel. The finest aircraft carrier is one that’s both well-suited to its missions and handled with skill and derring-do when and where it matters most.

    Anyone who’s tried to compare one piece of kit—ships, aircraft, weaponry of various types—to another will testify to how hard this chore is. Ranking aircraft carriers is no exception. Consulting the pages of Jane’s Fighting Ships or Combat Fleets of the World sheds some light on the problem. For instance, a flattop whose innards house a nuclear propulsion plant boasts virtually unlimited cruising range, whereas a carrier powered by fossil fuels is tethered to its fuel source. As Alfred Thayer Mahan puts it, a conventional warship bereft of bases or a coterie of logistics ships is a “land bird” unable to fly far from home.

    Or, size matters. The air wing—the complement of interceptors, attack planes, and support aircraft that populate a carrier’s decks—comprise its main battery or primary armament. The bigger the ship, the bigger the hangar and flight decks that accommodate the air wing.

    Nor, as U.S. Navy carrier proponents like to point out, is the relationship between a carrier’s tonnage and number of aircraft it can carry strictly linear. Consider two carriers that dominate headlines in Asia. Liaoning, the Chinese navy’s refitted Soviet flattop, displaces about sixty-five thousand tons and sports twenty-six fixed-wing combat aircraft and twenty-four helicopters. Not bad. USS George Washington, however, tips the scales at around one hundred thousand tons but can operate some eighty-five to ninety aircraft.

    And the disparity involves more than raw numbers of airframes. George Washington‘s warplanes are not just more numerous but generally more capable than their Chinese counterparts. U.S. flattops boast steam catapults to vault larger, heavier-laden aircraft into the wild blue. Less robust carriers use ski jumps to launch aircraft. That limits the size, fuel capacity, and weapons load—and thus the range, flight times and firepower—of their air wings. Larger, more capable carriers, then, can accommodate a larger, more capable, and changing mixes of aircraft with greater ease than their lesser brethren. Aircraft carriers’ main batteries were modular before modular was cool.

    And yet straight-up comparisons can mislead. The real litmus test for any man-of-war is its capacity to fulfill the missions for which it was built. In that sense George Washington, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, may not be “superior” to USS America, the U.S. Navy’s latest amphibious helicopter carrier, or to Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force “helicopter destroyers”—a.k.a. light aircraft carriers—despite a far more lethal air wing and other material attributes. Nor do carriers meant to operate within range of shore-based fire support—tactical aircraft, anti-ship missiles—necessarily need to measure up to a Washington on a one-to-one basis. Land-based implements of sea power can be the great equalizer. Like any weapon system, then, a great carrier does the job for which it was designed superbly.

    And lastly, there’s no separating the weapon from its user. A fighting ship isn’t just a hunk of steel but a symbiosis of crewmen and materiel. The finest aircraft carrier is one that’s both well-suited to its missions and handled with skill and derring-do when and where it matters most. Those three indices—brute material capability, fitness for assigned missions, a zealous crew—are the indices for this utterly objective, completely indisputable list of the Top Five Aircraft Carriers of All Time.

    5. USS Midway (CV-41). Now a museum ship on the San Diego waterfront, Midway qualifies for this list less for great feats of arms than for longevity, and for being arguably history’s most versatile warship. In all likelihood she was the most modified. Laid down during World War II, the flattop entered service just after the war. During the Cold War she received an angled flight deck, steam catapults, and other trappings befitting a supercarrier. Indeed, Midway‘s service spanned the entire Cold War, winding down after combat action against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1991. Sheer endurance and flexibility entitles the old warhorse to a spot on this list.

    4. USS Franklin (CV-13). If Midway deserves a place mainly for technical reasons, the Essex-class carrier Franklin earns laurels for the resiliency of her hull and fortitude of her crew in battle. She was damaged in heavy fighting at Leyte Gulf in 1944. After refitting at Puget Sound Navy Yard, the flattop returned to the Western Pacific combat theater. In March 1945, having ventured closer to the Japanese home islands than any carrier to date, she fell under surprise assault by a single enemy dive bomber. Two semi-armor-piercing bombs penetrated her decks. The ensuing conflagration killed 724 and wounded 265, detonated ammunition below decks, and left the ship listing 13 degrees to starboard. One hundred six officers and 604 enlisted men remained on board voluntarily, bringing Franklin safely back to Pearl Harbor and thence to Brooklyn Navy Yard. Her gallantry in surviving such a pounding and returning to harbor merits the fourth position on this list.

    3. Akagi. Admiral Chūichi Nagumo’s flagship serves as proxy for the whole Pearl Harbor strike force, a body composed of all six Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) frontline carriers and their escorts. Nagumo’s was the most formidable such force of its day. Commanders and crewmen, moreover, displayed the audacity to do what appeared unthinkable—strike at the U.S. Pacific Fleet at its moorings thousands of miles away. Extraordinary measures were necessary to pull off such a feat. For example, freshwater tanks were filled with fuel to extend the ships’ range and make a transpacific journey possible—barely.

    The Pearl Harbor expedition exposed logistical problems that plagued the IJN throughout World War II. Indeed, Japan’s navy never fully mastered the art of underway replenishment or built enough logistics ships to sustain operations far from home. As a result, Nagumo’s force had too little time on station off Oahu to wreck the infrastructure the Pacific Fleet needed to wage war. And, admittedly, Akagi was lost at the Battle of Midway, not many months after it scaled the heights of operational excellence. Still, you have to give Akagi and the rest of the IJN task force their due. However deplorable Tokyo’s purposes in the Pacific, her aircraft-carrier force ranks among the greatest of all time for sheer boldness and vision.

    2. HMS Hermes (now the Indian Navy’s Viraat). It’s hard to steam thousands of miles into an enemy’s environs, fight a war on his ground, and win. And yet the Centaur-class flattop Hermes, flagship of a hurriedly assembled Royal Navy task force, pulled it off during the Falklands War of 1982. Like Midway, the British carrier saw repeated modifications, most recently for service as an anti-submarine vessel in the North Atlantic. Slated for decommissioning, her air wing was reconfigured for strike and fleet-air-defense missions when war broke out in the South Atlantic. For flexibility, and for successfully defying the Argentine contested zone, Hermes rates second billing here.

    1. USS Enterprise (CV-6). Having joined the Pacific Fleet in 1939, the Yorktown-class carrier was fortunate to be at sea on December 7, 1941, and thus to evade Nagumo’s bolt from the blue. Enterprise went on to become the most decorated U.S. Navy ship of World War II, taking part in eighteen of twenty major engagements of the Pacific War. She sank, or helped sink, three IJN carriers and a cruiser at the Battle of Midway in 1942 suffered grave damage in the Solomons campaign, yet managed to send her air wing to help win the climatic Naval Battle of Guadalcanal and went on to fight in such engagements as the Philippine Sea, Leyte Gulf, and Okinawa. That’s the stuff of legend. For compiling such a combat record, Enterprise deserves to be known as history’s greatest aircraft carrier.

    James Holmes is Professor of Strategy at the Naval War College and coauthor ofRed Star over the Pacific. The views voiced here are his alone.

    This first appeared in 2014 and is being resposted due to reader interest.


    22 Amazing Pictures – Aircraft Carriers Fighting in the Pacific During WW2

    The war in the Pacific was, for the first time, a war of Aircraft Carriers. They took over the leading role from the battleships which had been the dominated the sea during the previous centuries. For the first time, battles at sea were fought between fleets that were hundreds of miles away from each other.

    We have selected 22 images of the American side of the carrier war for you to enjoy, but also to show the sacrifice of those onboard the ships and planes that fought against the Japanese empire in that Pacific Theatre in World War 2.

    A U.S. Navy Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat fighter of fighting squadron VF-2 being catapulted from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-12) via the hangar catapult, 25 February 1944. USS Enterprise (CV-6) TBM Avenger torpedo bombers warming up on the after flight deck during operations in the Pacific, circa May 1944. An F6F Hellcat fighter is on the midships elevator, in the foreground. The original Kodachrome color transparency was received by the Naval Photographic Science Laboratory on 29 May 1944. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Grumman F6F-3 “Hellcat” fighters of fighter squadron VF-10 Grim Reapers, Carrier Air Group 10 (CVG-10), landing on the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) after strikes on the Japanese base at Truk, 17-18 February 1944. Flight deck crewmen are folding planes’ wings and guiding them forward to the parking area. Japanese Kamikaze plunge that missed and crashed alongside the USS Sangamon (U. S. Navy Photo) View of the commencement of a launch of the Saratoga Air Group on board the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3), 1941. The plane nearest to the camera is a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat of fighting squadron VF-3 (3-F-15), followed by Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless of bombing squadron VB-3. Douglas TBD-1 Devastators are spotted on the aft part of the flight deck (wings folded), followed by SBD-3s, probably of scouting squadron VS-6. Note the overall light gray paint schemes with white lettering and numbering that was carried aboard naval aircraft for a short time during 1941. Grumman F4F-4 “Wildcat” fighter, of Fighting Squadron Six (VF-6) has its six .50 caliber machine guns tested on the flight deck of USS Enterprise (CV-6), 10 April 1942. Note open gun bays in the plane’s wings and markings below the cockpit (𔄞F9” with no dashes between letters and numerals) Yorktown at the moment of impact of a torpedo from a Nakajima B5N of Lieutenant Hashimoto’s 2nd chūtai. Douglas SBD Dauntless scout bomber Takes off from USS Enterprise (CV-6) during operations in the Pacific Ocean, circa early 1944. The original Kodachrome color transparency was received by the Naval Photographic Science Laboratory on 29 May 1944. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. U.S. Navy Grumman FM-2 Wildcat fighter of composite squadron VC-84 launching from the escort carrier USS Makin Island (CVE-93) in the Pacific in 1945.

    U.S. Navy Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless dive bombers and Douglas TBD-1 Devastator torpedo bombers (aft) on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) in early 1942. Aircrewman wounded in strike on Rabaul, on the Aircraft Carrier USS Saratoga, November 5 1943. An aerial view shows the USS Yorktown landing her planes. Most of the footage for the motion picture The Fighting Lady was shot on the USS Yorktown. Photographed by Lt. Comdr. Charles Kerlee, USNR.

    The USS Bunker Hill takes two kamikazes in 30 seconds on May 11, 1945. While operating with a fast carrier task force in the “slot” between Okinawa and Kyushu, these two suicide hits, acting as fuses to the gasoline-filled and bomb-laden planes, set the stage for one of the most heroic battles of the Pacific. Fighting suffocating flame and exploding rockets and bombs, the gallant crew, sacrificed 392 dead or missing and 264 wounded to save their ship. Photographed by a USS Bunker Hill photographer. Ordnance men arming planes on the hangar deck of the USS Yorktown, while in the background men off duty are watching a movie. Photographed by Lt. Comdr. Charles Kerlee, USNR.

    The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) moored at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (USA), circa in June 1945

    The old USS Lexington orders “abandon ship” – Coral Sea, May 1942. The destroyer alongside is taking off the sick and wounded while the able-bodied are sliding down ropes and being picked up by small boats. Not a man was lost in abandoning the ship. The U.S. aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CV-7) burning after receiving three torpedo hits from the Japanese submarine I-19 east of the Solomons, 15 September 1942.

    Takeoff from carrier USS Lexington for the defense of Tarawa. Photographed by Capt. Edward Steichen, USNR. Transfer of wounded from the USS Bunker Hill to the USS Wilkes Barre, sick bays aboard carriers and battleships were actually medium-sized hospitals.

    Hellcat roars off the flight deck of “the blue ghost” – The USS Lexington This photo was taken aboard the USS Lexington and was one of Capt. Steichen’s own. He had a special feeling for takeoff shots, contrasting action with a still background. Photographed by Capt. Edward Steichen. The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) burning after five “Kamikaze” suicide planes hit the forward flight deck off Chi-chi Jima, shortly after 17:00h, 21 February 1945. Another attack at 19:00h scored an additional bomb hit. 123 of her crew were dead or missing as a result of the attacks. By 20:15h, the fires were under control, and the carrier was able to recover aircraft, but she was ordered to Eniwetok and then to the U.S. West Coast for repairs, arriving at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington (USA), on 16 March. On 22 May, Saratoga departed Puget Sound fully repaired, and she resumed training pilots at Pearl Harbor on 3 June.

    Grumman F4F Wildcat and Douglas SBD Dauntless on USS Wasp, 1942.


    AIRCRAFT CARRIERS

    The first aircraft carriers were devised soon after the birth of military aviation during the First World War these first types were made from the conversion of other military units and they were poorly efficient. During the Second World War aircraft carriers emerged as the main power in the sea, unseating battleships from this position. In those frantic years it was still common to obtain an aircraft carrier from the conversion of military or civilian units, with more or less success. One of the best achieved of these realizations was the Aquila, obtained from the transformation of the transatlantic Roma.

    The Cold War brought the perfectioning of aircraft carriers with angled decks, nuclear propulsion and dimensions never seen until then in the North American models. The Soviet Navy, until then of discreet characteristics, had to grow to match the power of the new adversary, bringing alternative ways of understanding aircraft carriers, creating the smaller but very efficient cruiser-carriers of the classes Moskva and Kiev, heavily armed antiship and antisubmarine units which could operate autonomously and in which the specialized helicopters had a prominent role. The subsequent Kuznetsov class adopted a conventional aircraft carrier layout but antiship and antisubmarine weapons would still be present, unlike in western designs.


    Charles de Gaulle (R91), France

    The Charles de Gaulle (R91) aircraft carrier, the first French nuclear-powered surface ship, is the largest warship in Western Europe. It is also the only nuclear-powered carrier in service outside of the US Navy.

    The French aircraft carrier underwent a six-month refit, which was concluded at Toulon naval base in July 2013. It can support the operations of 40 fixed wing aircraft and helicopters including Rafale M, Super Étendard, E-2C Hawkeye, SA365 Dauphin, EC725 Caracal and AS532 Cougar.

    The vessel with a full load displacement of 42,000t carries 1,350 ship’s company and 600 air wing. Its power plant comprises of two K15 pressurised water reactors and provides a speed of 27kt.


    USS Midway History

    The USS Midway was the longest-serving aircraft carrier in the 20th century. Named after the climactic Battle of Midway of June 1942, Midway was built in only 17 months, but missed World War II by one week when commissioned on September 10, 1945. Midway was the first in a three-ship class of large carriers that featured an armored flight deck and a powerful air group of 120 planes.

    From the beginning of its service, the Midway played key roles in the Cold War. In 1946 it became the first American carrier to operate in the midwinter sub-Arctic, developing new flight deck procedures. The following year Midway became the only ship to launch a captured German V-2 rocket. The trial’s success became the dawn of naval missile warfare. Just two years after that, Midway sent a large patrol plane aloft to demonstrate that atomic bombs could be delivered by a carrier.

    Midway served with the Atlantic Fleet for ten years, making seven deployments to European waters, patrolling “the soft underbelly” of NATO. A round-the-world cruise took Midway to the west coast in 1955, where it was rebuilt with an angled deck to improve jet operations.

    Midway’s first combat deployment came in 1965 flying strikes against North Vietnam. Midway aircraft shot down three MiGs, including the first air kill of the war. However, 17 Midway aircraft were lost to enemy fire during this cruise. In 1966 Midway was decommissioned for a four-year overhaul.

    Over a chaotic two day period during the fall of Saigon in April 1975, Midway was a floating base for large Air Force helicopters which evacuated more than 3,000 desperate refugees during Operation Frequent Wind.

    As potential threats to the Arabian oil supply grew, and to relieve strain on U. S.-based carriers, Midway transferred to Yokosuka, Japan, making it the first American carrier home ported abroad.

    In 1990 Midway deployed to the Persian Gulf in response to the Iraqi seizure of Kuwait. In the ensuing Operation Desert Storm, Midway served as the flagship for naval air forces in the Gulf and launched more than 3,000 combat missions with no losses. Its final mission was the evacuation of civilian personnel from Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines after the20th century’s largest eruption of nearby Mount Pinatubo.

    On April 11, 1992 the Midway was decommissioned in San Diego and remained in storage in Bremerton, Washington until 2003 when it was donated to the 501(c)3 nonprofit San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum organization. It opened as the USS Midway Museum in June 2004.