June 1961 All Hands Magazine
THE BUREAU OF NAVAL PERSONNEL INFORMATION BULLETIN
JUNE 1961 Nav-Pers-O NUMBER 533
FRONT COVER: ALL STEAMED UP—An all-weather F8U-2N jet Crusader stands poised on steam catapult of attack carrier USS Forrestal ICVA 59) prior to launching as Navy pilots test their skill in carrier operation.
VICE ADMIRAL W. R. SMEDBERG III, USN
The Chief of Naval Personnel
REAR ADMIRAL A. E. LOOMIS, USN
The Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel
CAPTAIN F. R. WHITBY, Jr., USN
Assistant Chief for Morale Services
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Special Issue :
- Fifty Years of Naval Aviation
- First CarQuals in 1911
- The Aircraft Carrier: A Thumbnail History
- CarQuals in Jets
- Hawks to Crusaders: Evolution of a Fighter Squadron
- Salute to the Flying Boats
- Corpus Christi Celebrates a Birthday
- Air Control School
- Kitty Hawk: Navy's Missile Carrier
- Incident in History: The First Carrier Battle
- A Naval Aviator: Our First Astronaut
- Next for NASA: Orbital Flight
- Mercy Mission—Rescue by Aircraft
- Books: A Selected List on Naval Aviation
- Utility Squadron
- Servicescope: News of Other Services
- All Navy Champs in Boxing and Volleyball
- Bulletin Board
- Questions Answered for Naval Aviators and Aviation Personnel
- New Movies and TV Films Available
- Second Insurance Dividend to Be Issued
- Directives in Brief
- Letters to the Editor
- Special Supplement: SecNav Report to the Naval Establishment
- Taffrail Talk
The Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin, is published monthly by the Bureau of Naval Personnel for the information and interest of the naval service as a whole. Use of funds for printing of this publication is approved by the Director of the Bureau of the Budget 25 June 1958.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Navy Department. Reference to regulations, orders and directives is for information only and does not by publication herein constitute authority for action. All original material may be reprinted as desired if proper credit is given ALL HANDS. Original articles of general interest may be forwarded to the Editor.
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AT RIGHT: MISSILE MASTERS—An
ordnance team of Fighter Squadron
VF-141 loads a Sparrow 111, air-to-air guided missile, into the wing launcher of an F3H-2 Demon while on cruise aboard USS Oriskany (CVA 341).
64 ALL HANDS
CDR F. C. Huntley, USNR, Editor
John A. Oudine, Managing Editor
G. Vern Blasdell, News
Jerry Wolff, Research
Don Addor, Layout & Art
French Crawford Smith, Reserve
• AT LEFT:
• CREDITS: All photographs published in ALL HANDS are official Department of Defense photos unless otherwise designated.
Photos on pages 32-36 courtesy of NASA.
(ACR 4) in San Francisco Bay.
In February, on the 10th, the Navy Wireless Station at Point Loma, Calif., began experiments in the use of radio communications from airplanes.
On 4 March, $25,000 was appropriated to the Bureau of Navigation (now BuPers) for aviation experimental purposes. These were the Navy's first funds for naval aviation.
CAPT W. I. Chambers, the Navy's "officer in charge of aviation," reported for duty with the Navy's General Board on 1 April. Thirteen days later his "office of naval aviation"—which consisted of him alone—was set up in BuNay. The following month he prepared the previously mentioned requisitions. In July he was ordered to the Naval Academy to help set up an aviation experimental station at nearby Greenbury Point. It was to develop into the Navy's first aviation base.
On 23 Aug 1911 a handful of officers on flight duty at other locations were ordered to the Naval Academy "in connection with the test of gasoline motors and other experimental work in the development of aviation, including instruction at the aviation school."
The next month, on the 7th, LT Ellyson experimented with a launching device on Lake Keuka. He made a successful takeoff from an inclined wire running from the beach down to the water.
The A-1 was again in the news on 25 October. LTs Ellyson and J. H. Towers (Naval Aviator No. 3) attempted a durability flight from Annapolis, Md., to Fort Monroe, Va. After' covering 112 miles in 122 minutes, they were forced down by a leaking radiator somewhat short of their goal.
AVIATION YEAR NO. 1 closed out on
29 December with the aviators at Annapolis being ordered to San Diego, Calif. They were to take their equipment with them and set up an aviation camp on North Island.
Five more planes were added to the Navy's air force in 1912. One of these was the Navy's first flying
n1,1 A SPRING DAY 50 years ago, a
Navy captain in Washington, D.C., wrote requisitions for two items of wood, canvas, bamboo, rubber and metal. In short, for two airplanes.
One was to be equipped for arising from—or alighting on—land or water, to have a metal-tipped wood propeller designed for a speed of at least 45 mph, to have provisions for carrying a passenger alongside the pilot, and to have controls that could be operated by pilot or passenger.
`SAME' SCENE—Navy air pilot brings
The airplane described here took form as the A-1. It was also named Triad, for its triple ability to fly in the air and land on either the ground or the sea. A-1 was delivered to the Navy on 1 Jul 1911, when it was flown by LT T. G. Ellyson, the Navy's first aviator. Lake Keuka, one of New York state's finger lakes, was the location. Twelve days later, the delivery of the A-1 was followed by the A-2 and Naval aviation had gotten off the ground.
The early years of the present
century—that is, from 1900 to 1914 —have long been viewed as a sort of golden 'and tranquil age in our nation's development. For naval aviation, one of those years was a hot one ... so hot and so eventful that the entire year now serves as a base marker for the present Golden, or 50th, Anniversary.
1911's FIRST MONTH, saw, on the
18th, civilian Eugene Ely land a
primitive airplane on a platform
rigged aboard uss Pennsylvania
Fifty Years of Naval Aviation
boat, the C-1. A 75-horsepower job, it had a chain-driven propeller.
Naval aviators (who until 22 Mar 1915 were "Navy Air Pilots") engaged in Fleet operations for the first time in January 1913. They took their eight planes to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and set up an aviation camp at Fisherman's Point. The airmen demonstrated the ability of their aircraft in scouting, in detecting submerged submarines and mines, and in aerial photography.
In March 1914 the early aircraft designation system which could give
an aircraft and a submarine the same letter/number was changed to one using two letters and a number. The forerunner of our present system, it was one in which the first letter indicated class; the second letter, type within class. Classes were four: A, heavier than air; B, balloons; D, dirigibles; K, kites. Within the A class, the breakdown was: L, land machines; H, hydro-•aeroplanes; B, boats; X, combination land and water machines; C, convertible airplanes.
When the United States entered World War I, on 6 Apr 1917, the Navy's aviation establishment was quite small. There was only one air station—at Pensacola, Fla. Only 38 qualified aviators and student aviators were on hand. There were 163 men assigned to aviation. And the total count for Navy/Marine Corps aircraft was 54.
BY 11 NOV 1918 the Navy's aviation force in Europe alone numbered 1147 officers and 18,308 enlisted men. During the 19 months of conflict, naval pilots made 22,000 flights, covering three million miles of war patrols and dropping 100 tons of explosives. They sank or damaged 12 U-boats.
Until American airplanes could be built and shipped to Europe, the aviators had to use various foreign-made machines. Later, larger flying boats began to arrive from the U.S.
As the century's teens closed out, a Navy episode made international headlines. The first crossing of the Atlantic by air took place in the spring of 1919. NC-4, a flying boat, departed Trepassey Bay, Newfoundland, and later arrived—via the Azores, Portugal and Spain—at Plymouth, England. Total flying time: 53 hours, 58 minutes. (See ALL HANDS, October 1955, pp. 59-63 for a more complete story.)
In 1919, on 19 August, aircraft insignia were changed back to the pre-war design. Wartime aircraft had a concentric circle design on the wings and a vertical red, white and blue design on the tail. Though the tail design was kept, a blue circle inside a white star inside a red circle reappeared on the wings.
THE YEARS FOLLOWING World War
I were, in many ways, a period
of rapid development in naval aviation. The beginnings of the carrier fleet lie in this period, and some startling aeronautical innovations took place. Among these were folding wings (for aircraft carrier stowage), improved catapults, and an accurate bombsight. The water-cooled, in-line engine gave way to a radial, air-cooled engine.
At this time, the first of the aviation ratings came into being. Aviation Carpenter's Mate, Aviation Machinist's Mate, Aviation Metal-smith and Aviation Rigger commenced 7 Jul 1921. These four were followed, on 13 Mar 1924, by Aviation Pilot and Aerographer. (During World War I, men assigned to aviation were designated specialists after passing their courses and examinations, but they were still expected to keep up with their regular ratings.)
Tactics, too, were changing. Dive bombing was in use even before it had a name. Navy pilots of the twenties worked out techniques in torpedo attack, scouting, gunfire spotting and advance base operations. They turned to on a variety of duties, including polar exploration and photographic survey.
In 1922, Fleet aviation commands—whose titles had previously been changed from "Air Forces" to "Air Squadrons"—were retitled Aircraft Squadrons of the Scouting and Battle Fleets. In October of that year, uss Langley (CV 1) stood out to sea, the Navy's first aircraft carrier.
Most of her earlier work was experimental, but on 22 Nov 1925 she received squadron "Fighting Two" (VF 2). This marked the beginning of her operations as a unit of Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet.
CARRIER AVIATION took a big leap
forward with the commissioning in November and December (1927) of uss Saratoga (CV 3) and Lexington (CV 2) (Perhaps the finest warships of their era, they helped carry naval aviation through the doldrums of the 30s and through the critical days following the Japanese strike at Pearl Harbor.)
In 1928 "Lady Lex" received the first torpedo planes to go aboard a carrier.
Progress in lighter-than-air aviation was keyed by an event of the mid-20s. The rigid airship uss Shenandoah made fast to a mooring mast built on the stern of uss Patoka (AV 6).
The 1930s were years of economic depression. To a large degree this was reflected in the Navy. In brief, the Navy was getting along but it was not humming. Funds were not easy to come by. Yet advances continued to be made. Super-charged power plants, controllable-pitch propellers, more powerful—yet smaller radios, better bombsights, hydraulic arresting gear and catapults—all contributed to the progress of naval aviation.
A major step concerning personnel was taken 15 Apr 1935 when the Naval Cadet Act was passed. By 1938 some 605 NavCads were in training. (Five years earlier, only 30 student pilots were in training.) The Naval Reserve Act of June 1939 provided for a maximum of 6000 Reserve aviation officers.
Representative aircraft of the late 30s were the F3F-2, SBC-3, TBD-1, and PBY-2. The F3F-2, a fighter, had a 260-mph speed and a 720-mile range. It weighed 4550 pounds and had an 850-hp engine. The SBC-3 was a scout bomber with a two-man crew. It could carry a half-ton of bombs.
The TBD-1, first large monoplane designed to operate from carriers, could carry either a 21-inch torpedo or a ton of bombs. A three-seater, it had a 225-mph top speed. Able to carry two torpedoes or two tons of bombs, the PBY-2, a patrol bomber, had a 4000-mile range and a crew of seven.
AS THE 30s MERGED into the 40s ^ the war situation grew more serious. After the fall of France, in June 1939, Congress authorized the immediate purchase, first, of 4500, then 10,000, and finally 15,000
naval aircraft during that year. Passage of the Lend-Lease Act in 1941 brought up the need for patrol aircraft to protect ships after they left East Coast ports. On 6 Aug 1941 Patrol Squadrons 73 and 74 started routine air patrols from Iceland.
Earlier in the year, non-aviation personnel began to notice a change in aircraft insignia. The red circle inside the circled star had been dropped while the circled star was appearing on both sides of the fuselage or hull. (Before long, horizontal white bars were to lead from each side of the star.) Colored tail markings were discontinued.
When the U.S. entered World War II, on 7 Dec 1941, it could muster eight aircraft carriers, 5233 aircraft, five patrol wings and a few advance bases. In personnel, the total Navy/Marine Corps count was 5900 pilots and 21,678 enlisted men. By the date of Japan's surrender (2 Sep 1945) naval air power consisted of 437,000 personnel (of whom 61,000 were pilots), 99 aircraft carriers and 41,000 planes.
Navy and Marine aircraft alone destroyed more than 15,000 enemy aircraft in the air and on the ground, 161 Japanese surface warships and 13 submarines, and 447
Japanese merchant ships. In the Atlantic they destroyed 63 submarines.
Of a total of 110 carriers, 11 were lost. Six of these were unarmored escort carriers. The loss of our carrier aircraft in aerial combat stood at 451.
NAVAL AVIATION'S combat role dur-
ing the war included four important missions:
• During their air strikes, planes attached to fast carrier task forces made possible the most powerful demonstration of offensive sea-air power the world had ever known.
• As a part of the Navy's antisubmarine warfare, hunter-killer planes flew from small carriers to search out and destroy enemy submarines.
• Fast and escort carrier aircraft supported amphibious operations by providing close air support.
• Land and tender-based aircraft helped to locate and track enemy forces and observe their movements and attacked enemy shipping and shore installations.
Though naval aviation of World War II will always be best remembered for its fighting record, rapid progress was made along other lines:
• Ever-faster, more rugged, and higher-performance aircraft came off the production lines.
• Night fighters were developed. Radar equipped, they could be launched at night to intercept attacking airplanes, to act as night intruders over enemy positions, and even to bomb at night. They could also do these jobs by day, through a heavy cloud cover.
• JATO or jet assisted takeoff was introduced.
• Helicopters appeared on the scene.
The F4U Corsairs are a good example of aircraft of this period. Within the basic airplane there were many models, the F4U-4 being a fine specimen. This gull-winged, single-place fighter had a 41-foot wing span, a 1500-mile range, a 400-mph (plus) speed and a 2100-hp engine. Four 50-cal. wing-mounted machine guns were its main armament.
PISTON-DRIVEN AIRCRAFT did a top-
notch job during World War II, but as the war closed out, increased attention was given to the jet engine. The first mass operation of jets from a carrier took place in 1948. On 10 Mar, two FJ-1 Furies landed and took off from uss Boxer (CVA 21), off San Diego. Three months later a squadron of FH-1 Phantoms qualified for carrier operations on uss Saipan (CVA 48), off Quonset Point, R. I., to mark the operational debut of jet aircraft in the Fleet.
By this time Navy task forces, each built around one or two carriers, were supporting U.S. policy in the Mediterranean (Sixth Fleet) and the Western Pacific (Seventh Fleet). Thus, uss Valley Forge (CVS 45) was able to launch air strikes shortly after 25 Jun 1950, the date on which Red forces launched their attack against South Korea.
A slight idea of naval aviation's punch during the next three years is shown by these figures. Sorties-275,912; target runs-850,114; bomb-drop tonnage-176,929. At the end of the conflict there were 23,193 pilots, 5664 aviation ground officers and 187,174 enlisted in naval air.
Helicopters truly came into their own during the Korean conflict, demonstrating their ability as the most versatile of all aircraft.
THE END OF A WAR or major con-
flict offers a good reference point for a period of history. Therefore, the period from 1954 to the present may be considered as the most recent of several development periods of naval aviation.
Scientific and technical advances of this period have been proportionately greater than of any other. Aircraft speeds have leaped from subsonic to supersonic. Air-to-air missiles have, to a large degree, replaced guns. More and more aircraft have a nuclear-weapons capability; more and more ships are able to accommodate helicopters.
In size alone, aircraft carriers tell a story. At the beginning of the period, Midway-class carriers (51,000 tons, standard displacement) were the top. Now the big boys are those of the Forrestal class (60,000 tons); while the 75,700-ton, nuclear-powered uss Enterprise, CVA (N) 65, readies herself for her commissioning.
Advances in operational matters were reflected by a reorganization of carrier aviation in March 1948. It created uniform air groups and gave a given group a more permanent assignment to a given ship. The following month Task Group Alfa received its first operation order. An Atlantic Fleet outfit, TG Alfa had been formed to speed up the development of antisubmarine tactics.
Along the same lines, on 1- Apr 1959, Antisubmarine Carrier Groups 53 and 54 were commissioned at San Diego, bringing about a major change in antisub aviation.
The history of naval aviation is one that does not close out. Its past 50 years have seen it grow from nothing at all to a major component of the Navy, a key factor in the nation's defenses.
Many things go into the making of such a history—and in this brief rundown just a small number of the numerous highlights have been touched upon. Naval aviation itself has, fortunately, one of the best documented of all histories. Those who wish to learn more about it will find good books on the subject in their ship or station library.
—Wm. J. Miller, JOCM, USN.
6 ALL HANDS
First CarQuals in 1911
DURING 1961 the Navy will be celebrating the 50th anniversary
of naval aviation and several dates will be specially noted. One of these, 18 January, marked perhaps the most significant event of all.
Although 50 years have gone by since that day there is a man still connected with the Navy who can tell of the event from first-hand experience.
He is Chief Machinist's Mate (Aviation) Clayton W. Gillespie. The chief, although retired from active Navy service, and even retired as a Civil Service employee of the Navy, is still a member of Seabee Reserve Unit 8-13. He attends drill regularly at NAS Corpus Christi, Tex., and makes his active duty training tours.
As a seaman in uss Pennsylvania, he recalls that in preparation the ship went to Mare Island where a wooden deck was rigged above the main deck from stern to superstructure amidships.
Gillespie says that rain fell early in the morning, and there was talk of postponing the trial. However, prior to noon the rain stopped and word was passed to the airfield where Ely was waiting. In a few minutes the aircraft appeared over San Francisco Bay. A short turn to the left pointed the plane up the ship's deck, and in a few seconds the wheels touched down. Murmurs of "He's not going to make it," were
heard on the deck. The specially installed hook caught several of the arresting lines and the plane slowed to a stop just 15 feet short of the stern superstructure.
Crewmen of Pennsylvania, including Seamap Gillespie, picked up the light plane by hand, turned it around and cleared the deck for takeoff. Fifty-seven minutes after landing the aviator was again airborne, having proved the possibility that aircraft could use a ship's deck for an airfield. Naval aviation was on its way.
CHRONICLERS of the rise and de-
velopment of the U. S. aircraft carrier, and of the entirely new concepts of naval warfare which have evolved as a result, have several alternate choices from which to begin such a narrative.
10' George Washington Parke Custiss—A balloon boat of Civil War vintage. Only 122 feet long, its total cost was $150.
10° uss Birmingham—It was from a specially constructed 83-foot wooden platform on the bow of this cruiser that a civilian aviator named Eugene Ely, flying a Curtiss biplane, staged history's first takeoff of a plane from a ship. The date was 14 Nov 1910, and Birmingham was anchored at Hampton Roads, in Chesapeake Bay.
10" uss Pennsylvania—If you prefer, there is another feat by the same Ely just a short time later (18 Jan 1911). The armored cruiser Pennsylvania was anchored in San Francisco Bay. Ely took off from shore, flew out to Pennsylvania, and landed on a 120-foot strip which had been
constructed on her deck. A short time later he took off and returned to shore, completing the first shoreto-ship-to-shore flight.
lor uss Langley—The starting point preferred by most. Langley began her Navy life in 1913 as the collier Jupiter. She commenced conversion to carrier status in 1919, and in March 1922, fitted with a 534-foot by 64-foot flight deck, was commissioned uss Langley (CV 1).
IF YOU ACCEPT Langley's commis. sioning as the birthdate of the U. S. aircraft carrier, you realize with somewhat of a shock that it has taken only about 40 years to progress from her rude planking-over to the 75,000-ton nuclear-powered floating island of potential destruction which is scheduled to go on active duty in 1962 as uss Enterprise, CVA(N) 65. Contained in that relatively short span of years is the story of the development of both the aircraft carrier and of the fast carrier task force concept—a revolution in the art of sea warfare which made America, in World War II, the
world's leading naval power, and keeps it so today.
It's a story of a glorious past, a strong and ready present, and an as yet unlimited future. It would take several volumes to record properly the exploits of the 50-odd attack class and the upwards of 100 escort class carriers which have thus far served the U.S. Navy. We will attempt to hit the high spots.
With Langley's assignment to the Fleet in 1922, the balance of the '20s and '30s became a period of experimentation. In her first years, Langley's role was entirely experimental, as the Navy worked to develop better catapults for use on battleships and cruisers, to improve arresting gear, and to train its pilots in night flying, squadron tactics, etc. LT V. C. Griffin and LCDR G. deC. Chevalier made the first takeoff and landing, respectively, from and on Langley's flight deck in late October 1922.
On 18 Nov 1922 CDR Kenneth Whiting, piloting a PT seaplane, made the gist catapult launching from Langley.
IN MID-FEBRUARY 1923, aircraft hall' dling tests conducted aboard Langley, with Aeromarines operating in groups of three, showed that it required about two minutes to prepare the deck after each landing. In the best time for the day, three planes were landed in seven minutes.
In January 1925, VF 2, the first squadron trained to operate as a squadron from a carrier, began landing practice operations aboard Langley off San Diego.
This marked the end of Langley's employment as an experimental ship, and the beginning of her operations as a unit of the Battle Fleet. Other Langley landmarks—the catapulting of a landplane from her deck on 2 Apr 1925, and first night landings at sea on 8 Apr 1925.
In 1927, carriers No. Two and Three joined the Navy — Lexington (CV 2) and Saratoga (CV 3). They were built on battle cruiser hulls unfinished as a result of the Washington Disarmament Conference of 1922, and, at 33,000 tons, were by far our largest carriers until the advent of the Midway class CVBs (Air-
craft Carriers, Large) in the mid-'40s.
By contrast, Ranger (CV 4), commissioned in 1934 and our first carrier built as a carrier from the keel up, weighed but 14,500 tons. Others which joined the Fleet prior to World War II were Yorktown (CV 5), Enterprise (CV, later CVS 6) and Hornet (CV 8), all at 20,000 tons, and Wasp (CV 7), a 14,- 700-tonner.
WHILE THERE WAS STEADY, if not
always spectacular, progress made in the field of carrier-based aviation in the period between the two World Wars, and backers of the aircraft carrier continued to plug for its continued development, all was not peaches and cream, either. There were many in the Navy, for instance, who were so impressed with the capabilities of the flying boat that they urged that these be adopted as the major naval air arm. Many others continued to feel that aircraft should be catapulted from combatant ships (battleships, cruisers, etc.) at sea, rather than building ships designed exclusively for aircraft operations; that is, aircraft carriers. Still others remained almost exclusively enamored with the potentialities of LTA. There were many who envisioned the role of the airplane, including carrier-based' aircraft, in any future conflict as merely that of scout and spotter for the Battle Fleet.
Thus, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941, the Navy had but seven aircraft carriers (Langley had been shifted to seaplane tender status), only three of them active in the Pacific. There had been a speed-up in shipbuilding since the outbreak of hostilities in Europe in 1939, and 11 carriers were building or on order, including many of the new Essex class 27,000- tonners. Essex (CV 9), namesake of that famed class, was commissioned on 31 Dec 1942.
The sneak Sunday morning attack, which for all practical purposes destroyed our Battle Fleet at Pearl Harbor, fortunately occurred when all three of our Pacific-based carriers were absent from the Islands. Saratoga, just out of overhaul, was moored at San Diego. Lexington was at sea southeast of Midway, toward which she was heading to deliver a Marine Scout Bombing Squadron. Enterprise was 200 miles west of Pearl Harbor, en route from Wake Island. Her Scouting Squadron 6, launched early in the morning and scheduled to land at Ewa airfield, arrived during the attack and engaged enemy aircraft, fighting courageously against overwhelming odds.
THAT ATTACK accomplished several I things, aside from the obvious fact that a majority of our attacking power was sunk or heavily damaged. It demonstrated, conclusively, that the airplane and the aircraft carrier had forever made obsolete the classic concept of naval warfare — that of large battle fleets steaming in formation against the enemy.
Too, it left us with no such battlefleet—in terms of striking power we had nothing left but the few carriers and cruisers. For defense, we had those, plus a handful of valiant submarines.
Forced to the defensive the greater part of the first two years of the war, we were still able to make some potent offensive thrusts through the ingenious use of carriers, operating singly or in pairs, accompanied by a thin shield of cruisers and destroyers (see p. 27).
Those small and patchwork task forces bore little resemblance to the mighty armadas the U. S. was able to muster up in 1944 and 1945. For example, when ADM W. F. Halsey raided Wake Island in February 1942, he had Enterprise, plus two cruisers and seven destroyers. By 1945, a typical fast carrier task force was made up of 12 to 15 carriers (CVs and CVLs), six to eight fast battleships, at least a dozen cruisers,
We paid a price, of course, in those uphill first months of Pacific warfare, when our badly outnumbered forces were spread so thinly over thousands of square miles of ocean. A bitter price, indeed—Lexington in the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942 (when the enemy also lost a carrier); Yorktown at the Battle of Midway, June 1942 (where Japan lost four carriers); Wasp while escorting a troop convoy to Guadalcanal, September 1942; Hornet during the Battle of Santa Cruz, October 1942. Yet at every one of those junctures, planes from those and our other carriers more than held their own in this new and revolutionary form of warfare, in which fleets grappled to death—sometimes for days —without ever sighting each other except from the air. They stopped the enemy's advances toward Australia, Hawaii and the Aleutians, and by early 1943 had sent him onto the defensive — where he stayed.
THE FAST CARRIER TASK FORCE was
designed to meet a definite situation. For the first time the huge Pacific had become a. major battleground. The U. S. Fleet faced the necessity of creating an area of immunity in which our amphibious forces could operate.
The general notion of the naval task force was an old and familiar one—a group of ships assembled to do a specific job, possessed of the fire power, speed and defensive characteristics essential for that job. The chief ingredients of the new type of task force the U. S. built for use against the Japanese in the Pacific were mobility and surprise—important ingredients when the enemy has you outgunned in heavy-gunned ships. The brilliant job turned in by our carrier task forces in World War II amply justified the faith of those far-sighted proponents of the carrier who had, way back in the '20s and '30s, envisioned the shape and scope a future war would encompass, and had planned accordingly.
Sixteen of the 24 Essex class (27,500-ton) CVs were completed in time to take part in World War II Pacific action, as were nine light carriers (CVLs) built on Cleveland-class cruiser hulls. Both of these classes could make in excess of 30 knots, thus the appellation fast carrier task force, to emphasize the speed of the force in contrast to the more numerous, but slower, escort carriers (CVEs.)
THESE THREE TYPES Of carrier—Es-
' sex class CVs, CVLs and CVEs, along with the unsinkable old Enterprise (CV 6) and, at times, Saratoga (CV 3), comprised U. S. carrier strength in the Pacific after 1942.
Essex class CVs were: CVs 9 through 21—Essex; Yorktown, Intrepid (later a CVA); Hornet (later CVS ); Franklin (later AVT 8); Ticonderoga (later CVA); Randolph (later CVA); Lexington (later CVA); Bunker Hill (now AVT 9); Wasp (now CVS ); Hancock (now CVA); Bennington (now CVA); Boxer (now an LPH) —and Bon Homme Richard (CV, now CVA 31); Antietam (CV, now CVS 36); and Shangri La (CV, now CVA 38.)
Light carriers were CVLs 22 through 30 — Independence; Princeton; Belleau Woods; Cowpens (now AVT 1); Monterey (now AVT 2); Langley; Cabot (now AVT 3); Bataan, and San Jacinto (now AVT 5).
More than 100 CVEs of several different sizes, weights and classes were constructed to fill a myriad of needs. Many of them were built on merchant-type hulls (such as the Bogue class); a few from tanker hulls (Sangamon class) and some were built as carriers from the keel up (Casablanca class).
While these small (7000 to 12,000 tons mostly) flattops couldn't compete with the CVs and CVLs in over-all effectiveness and capabilities, and weren't meant to, they racked up a superb record of accomplishment in all of the tasks they were called upon to perform, and exceeded the expectations of even their staunchest admirers.
sarge (CV, now CVA 33); Oriskany (CV, now CVA 34); Princeton (CV 37, now LPH 5); Lake Champlain (CV, now CVS 39); Tarawa (CV, now CVS 40); Valley Forge (CV, now CVS 45), and Philippine Sea (CV 47, now AVT 11) — commissioned in the last days of the war or in the immediate post-war period, are still in active service. In the interim, many of them were laid up in the Reserve Fleet for a spell. All of them have undergone extensive modernization and conversion, so that today their sizes, shapes, weights and capabilities bear little resemblance to the original. A lot of them saw extensive action during the Korean conflict—many of them coming out of mothballs to do it. Many of them have experienced three and four changes of designator.
Princeton (CV 37) , for example, began as a CV, became an attack carrier (CVA), than an antisubmarine warfare support carrier (CVS) before assuming its present role as an amphibious assault ship (LPH).
FIRST STEP—Landing on USS Pennsylvania in 1911 opened way for carriers.
JUNE 1961 11
IN THE BEGINNING, a majority of the
work assigned CVEs involved convoy escort (ASW), aircraft ferrying, and training, both in the Atlantic and Pacific. In time, however, a good many of them were called upon to fulfill missions which had not been contemplated for them at the time of design. Necessity eventually dictated their use in combat operations, for instance, where they demonstrated an ever-increasing ability to provide support and air cover for amphibious landings.
In North Africa, the Aleutians, the Gilberts, Marshalls, Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the little CVEs and the fighting crews which manned them refused to allow either the limitations imposed upon them by lack of size or improvised design, or the kamikaze and submarine attacks loosed upon them by the enemy, to deter them from doing a man-sized job.
By 1944 and after, as we've said, the stream of new construction pouring out of U. S. shipyards made the fast carrier task force a much larger and more potent aggregation than the impromptu forces available in the early years of the war.
The fast carrier task force of those later war years formed, in reality, a powerful surface fleet of its own, although it remained a task force within the Fleet as a whole. It was organized around and took its character from the carriers rather than the heavy gunned ships, which operated chiefly in support roles to the carriers. New battleships (the South
Dakota and later the Iowa classes), the new large cruisers of the Alaska class, and the new destroyers all possessed enough power to enable them to keep up with the CVs and CVLs, even at flank speed. With as many as 15 carriers in the task force, there were as many as 1000 operational aircraft available. Refueling and replenishing at sea, another U. S. innovation born of necessity and perfected under combat condiitions, had reached such a stage of development that the task force could be maintained at sea almost indefinitely.
THUS THE FAST CARRIER TASK FORCE
what in reality was a gigantic air base afloat—able to fling concentrated power at enemy bases and land-based aircraft in the Solomons one week, the Marshalls the next.
Most of the 16 Essex class carriers which saw World War II service, plus the eight others of that class—Leyte (CV 32, now AVT 10) ; Kear-
Franklin, Bunker Hill, Leyte and Philippine Sea, meanwhile, also did stints as CVAs and CVSs, and are now designated auxiliary aircraft transports (AVTs).
Eleven of them — Valley Forge (Hull No. 45), Tarawa (No. 40), Lake Champlain (No. 39), Antietam (No. 36), Kearsarge (No. 33), Bennington, (No. 20), Wasp (No. 18), Randolph (No. 15), Hornet (No. 12), Yorktown (No. 10) and Essex (No. 9), after long service as CVs and CVAs, are now classified as CVSs. And seven—Shangri La (CVA 38), Oriskany (CVA 34), Bon Horn-me Richard (CVA 31), Hancock (CVA 19), Lexington (CVA 16), Ticonderoga (CVA 14) and Intrepid (CVA 11), furnish exactly 50 per cent of our present attack carrier (CVA) strength.
The other World War II carriers, excepting Thetis Bay (ex-CVE 90, now serving as LPH 6) and Boxer, (ex-CV 21, now LPH 4), are no longer active. Of the seven pre-World War II CVs, only three—Saratoga, Ranger and Enterprise—survived the war. Sara was later sunk in the Bikini atom bomb tests of 1946, while Ranger and "the big E" have since been sold for scrap.
As for the CVLs, Princeton (No. 23) was lost in action, and Independence (No. 22) was also sacrificed to the Bikini tests. Seven others are mothballed, now designated as AVTs.
The doughty CVEs, meanwhile,
have met a variety of fates. Many
are in the Reserve Fleets, redesig-
nated as aircraft ferrys (AKVs). A
number have been transferred to
ether countries, and some have been
scrapped. A few have been shifted
to MSTS, which operates them with
THE LESS-THAN-FIVE-YEAR PERIOD
between V-J Day in August 1945 and the outbreak of fighting in Korea in June 1950 is chiefly notable for three items in the aircraft carrier field. First, of course, most of our carrier strength was shelved in mothballs as a result of stringent economy measures which imposed a great reduction in force on all the services. Even so, however, there were two major developments which greatly increased naval air potential. One was the advent of the Midway class CVBs—Midway (now CVA 41); F. D. Roosevelt (now CVA 42), and Coral Sea (now CVA 43). At 45,000 tons they rated as the largest and most powerful carriers ever built up to that time. Begun in late 1942 and early 1943, they were completed soon after war's end.
The year 1946 also witnessed the entrance of jet propulsion into carrier aviation. First jet feasibility trials were conducted aboard FDR in July of that year. Modernization of some of the Essex class carriers was begun to fit them to handle the new aircraft, including such items as the installation of newer, more powerful catapults and arresting gear; strengthening of the flight deck and clearing it of guns; increased elevator and fuel capacity, and the addition of special equipment such as blast deflectors and jet fuel mixers. Oriskany was the first to get this "Project 27A" treatment.
It was during this era, too, that
ON DECK—Cat officer signals pilot of A4D Skyhawk poised for launching.
initial experiments involving guided missiles and helicopters aboard carriers were undertaken.
WHILE THE KOREAN CONFLICT may
not have covered as much territory as World War II, it kept U. S. Navy carrier pilots mighty busy. In it they collectively flew some 276,000 sorties of all types, or within about 7000 of the total flown in all theaters in the Second World War. This was despite the fact that at no time were more than four large carriers in action at once. In addition they were forced to adapt to combat requirements much different from those encountered in the island-hopping campaigns of WW II.
Aside from the amphibious landings at Inchon, which followed the old familiar pattern, carrier-based air operations were restricted to support of troops—not ships. Naval air flew deep support missions, attacked enemy supply lines, bombed bridges, interdicted highways and railroads, attacked refineries, railroad yards and hydroelectric plants, and escorted land-based bombers on special missions — mostly new experiences for men and machines trained to battle an enemy on and over the sea.
In Korea our carrier-based aircraft settled into month after month of monotonous routine involving sustained application of air power over large masses of terrain. It became a situation where stamina and persistence counted far more than glamor —and carrier-based squadrons reacted magnificently to carry out their assigned missions in overwhelmingly successful fashion.
Valley Forge was the only U. S. carrier in the western Pacific when Korean fighting broke out, and was the first to go into action there. Her first aerial strikes provided combat baptism for the F9F Panther and the AD Skyraider, and also resulted in the initial (but far from the last) "kills" recorded by naval air during the conflict. In all, a total of 11 attack, one light and five escort carriers—many of them, as we've noted, reactivated from the Reserve Fleet rolls—logged, one, two or, in some cases, as many as three tours of duty in the combat zone.
IT SHOULD BE REMEMBERED, YOO,
that while they were contributing the major portion of the air support furnished U. N. troops in Korea, naval—and carrier—aviation was simultaneously occupied on a variety of other fronts.
All during that period, for example, Med-based Sixth Fleet planes helped maintain the balance of power on the other side of the world. This period also saw the first conversion to the angled deck, the first installations of steam catapults, and the switch to the mirror landing system—three innovations which were to have a profound effect upon carrier operations and capabilities.
All three of these items have had thousands of words expended upon them over the years, and have become more or less old hat—it's sufficient to note here that their advent prolonged the seagoing lives of the Essex-class carriers by many useful and productive years, and greatly
DECKED OUT with S2F Trackers and
ASW copters, USS Bennington (CVS
20) now has mission to hunt subs.
facilitated safe and speedy plane handling aboard carriers.
Over a dozen of what used to be the Essex class and the three Midway class carriers have been fitted with the angled deck and steam catapults. They are also standard equipment, of course, on the 60,000-ton Forrestal class carriers which have joined the Navy at almost a one-ayear clip since 1955. uss Forrestal (CVA 59) was commissioned that October. Since then have come Saratoga (CVA 60), Ranger (CVA 61), Independence (CVA 62) and Kitty Hawk (CVA 63). Constellation (CVA 64) is slated for commissioning in late autumn. And next year, the 75,000-ton nuclear-powered En-
HOT SPOT—Flak forms protective covering over World War II carrier to ward off an air attack at Okinawa.
METERS are used to check destruct system during simulated countdown.
Pt. Mugu Navyman Oversees Missile 'Destruct System'
One operation in the behind-thescenes preparations which always precede a missile launching is the tedious, two-week task of checking out the system which destroys the missile should it veer off course during flight.
The destruct system eliminates the possibility of an erratic missile crashing to earth, always a danger to property and unwary people.
At the Pacific Missile Range's Point Arguello Naval Missile Facility, Fred Danico, AE3, sees to it that these destruct systems will work.
Two weeks before a launching, Danico thoroughly checks all the transmitters and receivers which make up the destruct package.
TEST equipment is connected to
telemetry package in Thor booster.
Later, approximately five hours before blast-off, he removes the package from the missile and replaces it with a flash bulb or meter.
He then sends a radio signal to the make-believe demolition unit and determines if the receivers are getting enough voltage. When he's satisfied that an armed unit will work in flight, the destruct package is put back in the missile.
When the count-down nears "fire," Danico can be found behind one of six plotting boards in the flight safety center. Each board is equipped with a chart which reflects the nominal missile trajectory, and a family of destruct curves which are mathematically computed to reflect the area within the predetermined impact limit lines.
After lift-off, an electronic system tracks the missile and supplies data which is fed into a digital computer. Missile position information is then plotted on the charts.
If the trajectory plot parallels any of the destruct contours, the missile is considered to be capable of impacting outside of the designated area, and must be destroyed.
In such a case, the missile "violates safety criteria," as Danico puts it. A coded radio signal is sent to the unit, receivers pick up the signal and pass an electrical impulse to the destruct package.
The resulting blast reduces the missile to bits before it can meander into a danger zone.
terprise, CVA ( N )65, is scheduled to join the Fleet.
TODAY'S CARRIERS boast a lot of
items which make them a far cry from the 40-years-ago model, too—or from the ten-years-ago vintage, for that matter. Among these would be the enclosed hurricane bow, three and four deck-edge elevators, accoustically-constructed islands, air-conditioned quarters, and aluminum-planking flight decks. They've got the latest and most powerful propulsion plants devised; the newest and most powerful electronic equipment; and can land and launch simultaneously any and all of the latest and "hottest" jets.
The first 40 years of the aircraft carrier—U. S. Navy style—have been years of spectacular progress and achievement. And what about the next forty years?
Well, by early 1963 the U. S. Navy's attack carrier ranks will contain the 10 most powerful surface ships in the world. Based on past performance, there's no reason to assume that even newer and better carriers won't be built as the years roll by. But is the manned aircraft, and therefore the aircraft carrier, doomed to near-future obsoleteness and extinction? Not on your tintype, if you can believe the word of a man who should know what he's talking about—the boss, Chief of Naval 'Operations ADM Arleigh Burke.
In some recent, off-the-cuff remarks citing the aircraft carrier as the nearest thing to an all-time, all-purpose weapon ever devised, ADM Burke had this to say:
"In time of crisis, the aircraft carrier reinforces the spirit of our friends. For when they need the support of our strength, they know that an American carrier, and its planes, can go to their assistance, and be there on the spot ready to do whatever is required.
"Carrier aircraft can exercise control of the air where we need it, at sea or at an objective or at an objective area. They can provide close air support to our landing forces. They can deliver just the right amount of punch to halt an aggressor. And, should it ever become necessary, carrier aircraft can also deliver nuclear weapons as part of our retaliatory striking forces."
That sums up the role of the carrier—past, present and future.
—Jerry McConnell, JO1 , USN.
14 ALL HANDS
INS AND OUTS of carrier operation are performed by VAP-62 pilots. Below: Flyers are briefed in ready room.
CarQuals in Jets
CARRIER qualifications provide the
opportunity for a Navy pilot to prove his capabilities as a naval aviator. This is particularly true of pilots of the larger jets, such as the 35-ton twin-jet A3D-2P Skywarrior flown by Heavy Photographic Squadron Sixty-Two.
The challenge of placing the tail hook of the aircraft within the 150-foot area of the arresting gear wires, and the exhilaration of accelerating from a standing start to 150 miles per hour on a catapult launch are unforgettable experiences.
This spring, a maintenance crew of 34 men from VAP-62 boarded the large carrier uss Independence (CVA 62) to make the necessary preparations for their covey of A3D2P jets. About ten days later the favorable results of the carrier quals were piped to all hands, and a deserved "well done" was aired as the versatile A3D-2Ps flew back to their home at NAS Jacksonville, Fla.
The operation involved some 60 squadron members from VAP's home port in Jacksonville, and was conducted aboard uss Independence in waters off the Virginia Capes. The squadron's flight crews were qualified in day and night catapult launchings and carrier landings even though some of the pilots had never before flown a jet aircraft aboard a carrier. Of course, not all the pilots were in this category. The CO, for instance, has now landed an A3D on
four different Forrestal-class carriers.
The carqual cruise on Independence brought the aircrews of VAP62 to a polished state of readiness to meet the photographic needs of the Fleet.
OFF THE HOOK—Arresting gear is dropped ending quals. Rt: USS Independence (CVA 62) was the test 'station.'
WHILE RUMMAGING through old copies of ALL HANDS OM
Rummaging Editor came up with this rather strange story which appeared in the May 1947 issue.
It had to do, purportedly, with the experience of one of the pilots in a Carrier Qualification Training Unit toward the end of World War II. The facts were never authenticated.
"Seems this pilot was getting practice in catapult takeoffs," the report said, "and everything went 4.0 up to the point where he signaled the ground crew to fire the catapult.
"As planes will on a catapult takeoff, his flashed forward at an extreme acceleration, got flying speed . . . and stopped in midair.
"Even while the pilot was realizing that something was very unorthodox about this matter, his plane did even worse. It started going backward as fast as it had been going forward.
"According to reports, the pilot said of this moment, 'Acceleration in reverse was very fast. I repassed the catapult crew and the other planes which were standing by. My wing finally struck the fire truck, which spun me around and started me going nose first again, but still in the wrong direction. I finally rolled off the runway and stopped.'
"Investigation showed that the tail hook of the plane had dropped as the plane was launched, caught the tow cable, pulled it out far enough to cock the catapult, and then fired the catapult in the wrong direction.
"The pilot, though, is one aviator who'll never be sure." Now—let's get the whole story. We're waiting for your letters.
* * *
Back in the roaring twenties, as everybody knows from watching TV, people were interested in practically everything except curling up with a good book. Nevertheless, the Navy recognized the importance of reading as a means of growth, and tried to do something about it.
In rummaging through the ALL HANDS attic, we came upon a book list put out by the Bureau of Navigation in 1924. Its preface was written by Admiral W. R. Shoemaker and contained some advice that seems even more to the point in the world of 1961 than it did when it was written.
It emphasized the value of continuous reading and study for both officers and enlisted men as a means of keeping abreast of the technical development of the Navy. However, enthusiasm for furthering your Navy career shouldn't make you intellectually lopsided. Every Navyman should give attention to the large problems of life, to international affairs and to the fundamentals known as culture, for which wide reading is the basis.
The Navy must be prepared to play, the article said, an increasing part in international affairs and relations. Every Navy-man may be called to a foreign station either ashore or afloat; every naval officer is a potential commander in chief. Preparations must be made in advance. It will be impossible to catch up at the time when the need. is keenly realized.
If you have a general familiarity with subjects such as history, literature, sociology, biography and international relations, you will have it made.
The United States Navy
Guardian of our Country
The United States Navy is responsible for maintaining control of the sea and is a ready force on watch at home and overseas, capable of strong action to preserve the peace or of instant offensive action to win in war.
It is upon the maintenance of this control that our country's glorious future depends. The United States Navy exists to make it so.
We Serve with Honor
Tradition, valor and victory are the Navy's heritage from the past. To these may be added dedication, discipline and vigilance as the watchwords of the present and future. At home or on distant stations, we serve with pride, confident in the respect of our country, our shipmates, and our families. Our responsibilities sober us; our adversities strengthen us. Service to God and Country is our special privilege. We serve with honor.
The Future of the Navy
The Navy will always employ new weapons, new techniques and greater power to protect and defend the United States on the sea, under the sea, and in the air.
Now and in the future, control of the sea gives the United States her greatest advantage for the maintenance of peace and for victory in war. Mobility, surprise, dispersal and offensive power are the keynotes of the new Navy. The roots of the Navy lie in a strong belief in the future, in continued dedication to our tasks, and in reflection on our heritage from the past. Never have our opportunities and our responsibilities been greater.