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United States' Essex class aircraft carriers

Photos

CV-9 USS Essex aircraft carrier hit by a kamikaze on November 25, 1944 off Leyte:
United States' CV-11 USS Intrepid aircraft carrier at Norfolk Navy Yard, November 25, 1943:
USN Photo, National Archives #80-G-273032

CV-18 USS Wasp, CV-10 USS Yorktown, CV-12 USS Hornet, CV-19 USS Hancock, CV-14 USS Ticonderoga (nearest to furthest). Next row CV-16 USS Lexington. December 1944 at Ulithi:
United States' CV-18 USS Wasp, CV-10 USS Yorktown, CV-12 USS Hornet, CV-19 USS Hancock, CV-14 USS Ticonderoga (nearest to furthest). Next row CV-16 USS Lexington. December 1944 at Ulithi:
USN Photo
CV-11 USS Intrepid aircraft carrier at Norfolk Navy Yard, November 25, 1943:
United States' CV-11 USS Intrepid aircraft carrier at Norfolk Navy Yard, November 25, 1943:
USN Photo
CV-13 USS Franklin, February 19, 1945:
United States' CV-11 USS Intrepid aircraft carrier at Norfolk Navy Yard, November 25, 1943:
USN Photo
CV-17 USS Bunker Hill Off Okinawa on March 18, 1945:
United States' CV-11 USS Intrepid aircraft carrier at Norfolk Navy Yard, November 25, 1943:
USN Photo, National Archives #80-G-373737

Design

Naval Expansion Act of 1938

The initial CV-9 was ordered in the Naval Expansion Act of 1938.5

Specifications

Specifications for an improved Yorktown class aircraft carrier was issued in June 1939.2,5 The Navy wanted to be able to deploy larger and heavier aircraft and add additional protection.5

7,000 tons was added to the class to provide additional armament and aviation fuel.2

Two Ocean Navy Act of June 1940

Three more Essex class carriers (CV-10, CV-11, CV-12)7 were ordered in the Two Ocean Navy Act of June 1940.5

Fall of France

With the Fall of France seven carriers (CV-13, CV-14, CV-15, CV-16, CV-17, CV-18, CV-19)7 were ordered in August 1940.5

Pearl Harbor

After the attack on Pearl Harbor two more Essex class carriers (CV-20, CV-21)7 were ordered.5

In August 1942 ten more Essex class carriers (CV-31, CV-32, CV-33, CV-34, CV-35, CV-36, CV-37, CV-38, CV-39, CV-40)7 were ordered.5

In June 1943 three Essex class carriers (CV-45, CV-46, CV-47)7 were ordered.5

Hangar Deck

The hangar had a second armored deck that was to detonate bombs before they penetrated further into the ship.4,7 The hangar deck was open which allowed for the aircraft to be warmed up before being brought up to the flight deck.5

Flight Deck

Initially there was a single catapult on the flight deck.4,7 There were three elevators on the Essex class.5 One of the elevators was located on the edge of the flight deck and could be folded up to allow for transit through the Panama Canal.9

On either side of the Island were two sets of twin 5" L/38 guns.7

Hull

The hull had a torpedo bulge to help protect it against torpedo explosions.5,9

Short Hull

One type of Essex class ship had a hull of only 872' / 265.8 m in length.5,6

Long Hull

The other type of Essex was the long hull type with a hull of 888' / 270.6 m in length.5,6 This extra length was from the clipper type bow.5

Ships

The Essex was built within 175 / 20 months.2 This was cut down to 145 / 17.5 months during World War II.2

CV-9 Essex

  • Manufacturer: Newport News9, Newport News Shipbuilding4,5,6,7
  • April 28, 1941: Laid down.9
  • July 31, 1942: Launched.4,6,9
  • December 31, 1942: Completed.4,5,7,9
  • May 1943: Pacific.2
  • August 1943: Marcus Island5
  • October 1943: Wake Island5
  • November 1943: Rabaul5, Gilbert Islands5,6
  • December 1943: Kwajalein5,6
  • February 1944: Truk5,6
  • March 1944: Palau5,6
  • April 1944: Second deck catapult added.5 A 40 mm quadruple was removed from bridge.5 SM and SC-2 radars were added and SK radar moved.5 Four 40 mm quadruple guns were added to the hangar deck.5
  • June 1944: Marianas5,6, Philippine Sea5,8
  • October - November 1944: Leyte Gulf5,6 Aircraft damaged Nagato and sank Kaiyo.9
  • November 25, 1944, November 19449: A kamikaze hit the port side causing 15 deaths and injuring 44.2,5,6 Three weeks later the Essex was back in combat.2
  • 1945: SK-2 radar added.5
  • February 1945: Iwo Jima5,6
  • Battles: Bougainville6

CV-10 Yorktown

  • Original name: Bon Homme Richard4,5,6,9
  • Manufacturer: Newport News Shipbuilding4,5,6,7
  • December 1, 1941: Laid down.9
  • January 21, 1943: Launched.4,6,9
  • April 15, 1943, May 15, 19435: Completed.4,5,7,9
  • August 1943: Marcus Island5
  • October 1943: Wake Island5
  • November 1943: Gilbert Islands5,6
  • December 1943: Kwajalein5,6
  • December 1943: Second deck catapult added.5 Two 40 mm quadruple guns added.5
  • June 1944: Philippine Sea5,8, Marianas5,6
  • August - October 1944: Refit at Puget Sound Navy Yard.9 The bridge was modified.5 A 40 mm quadruple gun was removed and eight added.5
  • February 1945: Iwo Jima5,6
  • April - May 1945: Okinawa5
  • March 1945: Hit by bomb.9
  • April 1945: Helped sink Yamato.9
  • May 1945: SK radar upgraded to a SK-2 and three radio masts removed.5
  • Battles: Truk5,6, Hollandia6

CV-11 Intrepid

  • Manufacturer: Newport News9, Newport News Shipbuilding4,5,6,7
  • December 1, 1941: Laid down.9
  • April 26, 1943: Launched.4,6,9
  • August 16, 1943: Completed.4,5,7,9
  • December 1943: Kwajalein5,6
  • January 1944: Marshalls5, Kwajalein5
  • February 1944: Truk5,6
  • February 17, 1944, February 19449: Hit by aerial torpedoe.5,9
  • March 1944: Palau5,6
  • March - June 1944: Additional 40 mm quadruple mounts added.5 hangar deck catapult removed and second flight deck catapult added.5 The radar configuration was moved around.5
  • October - November 1944: Leyte Gulf6
  • October 30, 1944, October 19449: Received minor kamikaze damage.5,9
  • November 25, 1944, November 19449: Heavily damaged by two kamikazes off Luzon.5,6,9
  • 1945: Additional 40 mm quadruple mount added at stern.5 The configuration of the 20 mm guns was changed to 38 single mounts and 19 twin mounts.5
  • March 1945: Near miss by kamikaze caused minor damage.9
  • April 1945: Okinawa5,6
  • April 16, 1945, April 19459: Damaged by kamikaze off Okinawa.5,6,9
  • May - July 1945: Repairs.9

CV-12 Hornet

  • Original name: Kearsarge4,5,6,9
  • Manufacturer: Newport News9, Newport News Shipbuilding4,5,6,7
  • August 3, 1942: Laid down.9
  • August 30, 1943: Launched.4,6,9
  • November 29, 1943: Completed.4,5,7,9
  • March 1944: Palau5,6
  • June 1944: Philippine Sea5,8, Marianas6
  • October - November 1944: Leyte Gulf5,6
  • February 1945: Iwo Jima6
  • April 1945: Helped sink Yamato.9
  • June 1945: Typhoon caused the forward flight deck to buckle.5,9
  • July - September 1945: Bridge underwent modifications.5 hangar deck catapult removed and a second one installed on the flight deck.5 Eight 40 mm quadruple mounts added.5 SK radar upgraded to the SK-2.5

CV-13 Franklin

  • Manufacturer: Newport News9, Newport News Shipbuilding4,5,6,7
  • December 7, 1942: Laid down.9
  • October 14, 1943: Launched.4,6,9
  • January 31, 1944: Completed.4,5,7,9
  • Battles: Guam6, Palau6, Leyte6
  • May 1944: hangar catapult removed.5 Modifications to the bridge made.5
  • June 1944: Philippine Sea5
  • October 1944: Leyte Gulf5
  • October 30, 1944: While supporting the Leyte Gulf landings five kamikazes attacked the Franklin.2,5,6 Of the crew, 56 were killed and 60 injured.2 In addition 33 aircraft were destroyed in the fires.2 The Franklin went back to Bremerton Navy Yard for repairs and returned to the Pacific front lines in February 1945.2
  • December 1944: SK radar moved and SK-2 radar added.5 Nine 40 mm quadruple mounts added.5
  • March 18, 1945, March 19, 19455,6, March 19459: During operations against the Japanese island of Kyushu on two D4Y Judy dive-bombers (250 kg bombs9) hit the Franklin and in the resulting fires toxic smoke was sucked down into the ship through the ventilation system.2,9 724 crew were killed and 265 wounded.2,5 The Franklin returned to New York Navy Yard for repairs but they were not completed before the war ended.2

The Franklin was constructed in 14 months.2

CV-14 Ticonderoga

  • Original name: Hancock4,6,9
  • Manufacturer: Newport News9, Newport News Shipbuilding4,5,6,7
  • February 1, 1943: Laid down.9
  • February 7, 1944: Launched.4,6,9
  • May 8, 1944: Completed.4,5,7,9
  • October 1944: Pacific.9
  • October - November 1944: Leyte5,6
  • 1945: SK-2 radar added.5 Seven 40 mm quadruple mounts added.5
  • January 1945: Formosa5,6
  • January 21, 1945, January 19459: Off Formosa was heavily damaged by two kamikazes.5,6,9 202 crew were wounded and 143 killed.5
  • April 1945: Repairs completed.9
  • Battles: Palau6

CV-15 Randolph

  • Manufacturer: Newport News9, Newport News Shipbuilding4,5,6,7
  • May 10, 1943: Laid down.9
  • June 29, 1944: Launched.4,6,9
  • October 9, 1944: Completed.4,5,7,9
  • January 1945: Seven 40 mm quadruple mounts were added.5
  • February 1945: Iwo Jima5,6
  • March 11, 1945: While anchored at Ulithi the Randolph was hit by a kamikaze.5,9

CV-16 Lexington

  • Original name: Cabot4,5,6,9
  • Manufacturer: Bethlehem9, Fore River Shipyard, Bethlehem Quincy4,5,6,7
  • September 15, 1941: Laid down.9
  • September 26, 1942: Launched.4,6,9
  • February 17, 19434,9, March 17, 19435,7: Completed.4,5,7,9
  • September 1943: Gilbert Islands5,6
  • October 1943: Wake Island5
  • November 1943: Gilbert Islands5
  • December 1943: Kwajalein5
  • December 4, 1943, December 19439: Torpedoed off Kwajalein.5,6,9 Steering damaged.9
  • December 1943, December 1943 - March 19449: Repairs at Puget Sound Navy Yard.9 Second deck catapult installed.5 Seven 40 mm quadruple mount guns were added.5
  • June 1944: Philippine Sea.5,8 Marianas.6,9
  • October - November 1944: Leyte Gulf6
  • November 5, 1944, November 19449: Hit by kamikaze off Luzon.5,6,9 Island damaged.9
  • February 1945: Iwo Jima5,6
  • May 1945: SK-2 radar added and SR radar replaced the SC-2.5 Added three 40 mm quadruple mounts.5 Bridge modified.5
  • Battles: Hollandia6, Palau6

CV-17 Bunker Hill

  • Manufacturer: Bethlehem9, Fore River Shipyard, Bethlehem Quincy4,5,6,7
  • September 15, 1941: Laid down.9
  • December 7, 1942: Launched.4,6,9
  • May 20, 19434, May 24, 19435,7, May 25, 19439: Completed.4,5,7,9
  • September 1943: Gilbert Islands6
  • November 1943: Rabaul5, Bougainville6, Gilbert Islands5
  • December 1943: Kwajalein5,6
  • June 1944: Marianas6, Philippine Sea8
  • October - November 1944: Leyte6
  • 1945: Second deck catapult installed.5 Bridge underwent modification.5
  • February 1945: Iwo Jima6
  • April - May 1945: Okinawa5,6
  • April 11, 1945, May 11, 19455,9: Hit by kamikazes and heavily damaged off Okinawa.5,6,9 346 crewmen died.5
  • May - July 1945: Repairs.9
  • Battles: Rabaul5, Truk6, Hollandia6, Palau6

CV-18 Wasp

  • Original name: Oriskany4,6,9
  • Manufacturer: Fore River Shipyard, Bethlehem Quincy4,5,6,7
  • March 18, 1942: Laid down.9
  • November 13, 1942: Named Wasp.9
  • August 17, 1943: Launched.4,6,9
  • November 24, 1943: Completed.4,5,7,9
  • June 1944: Marianas6, Philippine Sea8
  • October - November 1944: Leyte6
  • February 1945: Iwo Jima6
  • March 19, 1945: Damaged by a bomb off Kyushu.5,6
  • June 1945: Second deck catapult installed.5 Two radio masts removed.5
  • August 1945: Forward flight deck was damaged in a Typhoon.5
  • Battles: Hollandia5, New Guinea6, Palau6

CV-19 Hancock

  • Original name: Ticonderoga4,6,9
  • Manufacturer: Bethlehem9, Fore River Shipyard, Bethlehem Quincy4,5,6,7
  • January 26, 1943: Laid down.9
  • August 17, 19434, January 24, 19446,9 : Launched.4,6,9
  • April 15, 1944: Completed.4,5,7,9
  • October - November 1944: Leyte Gulf5, Philippines5,6
  • January 21, 1945, January 19459: Damaged by an aviation gas explosion.5,6,9
  • February 1945: Iwo Jima5,6
  • April 7, 1945, April 19459: Hit by a kamikaze.5,6,9
  • June 1945: Seven 40 mm quadruple mounts added.5

CV-20 Bennington

  • Manufacturer: Brooklyn Naval Yard, Newport News4,9, New York Naval Yard5,6,7
  • December 15, 1942: Laid down.9
  • February 26, 1944: Launched.4,6.9
  • August 6, 1944: Completed.4,5,7.9
  • Length: 872'4,6 / 265.78 m4
  • February 1945: Iwo Jima5,6
  • April 7, 19459, April 1945: Helped sink the Yamoto.5,9
  • June 1945: Flight deck was damaged in a Typhoon.5,9

CV-21 Boxer

  • Manufacturer: Newport News9, Newport News Shipbuilding4,6,7
  • September 13, 1943: Laid down.9
  • December 14, 1944: Launched.4,6,9
  • April 16, 1945: Completed.4,7,9

CV-31 Bon Homme Richard

  • Manufacturer: Brooklyn Naval Yard, New York9, New York Naval Yard4,5,6,7
  • February 1, 1943: Laid down.9
  • April 29, 1944: Launched.4,6,9
  • November 26, 1944: Completed.4,5,7,9
  • 1945: Seven 40 mm quadruple gun mounts were added on the way to the front.5
  • Battles: Japan Island raids5,6

CV-32 Leyte

  • Original name: Crown Point4,6
  • Manufacturer: Newport News9, Newport News Shipbuilding4,6,7
  • February 21, 1944: Laid down.9
  • August 23, 1945: Launched.4,6,9
  • April 11, 1946: Completed.4,7,9

CV-33 Kearsarge

  • Manufacturer: New York9, Brooklyn Naval Yard, New York Naval Yard4,6,7
  • March 1, 1944: Laid down.9
  • May 5, 1945: Launched.4,6.9
  • March 2, 1946: Completed.4,7,9

CV-34 Oriskany

  • Manufacturer: New York9, Brooklyn Naval Yard, New York Naval Yard4,6,7
  • May 1, 1944: Laid down.9
  • October 13, 1945: Launched.4,6,9
  • September 9, 19504, September 25, 19507,9: Completed.4,7,9

CV-35 Reprisal

  • Manufacturer: Brooklyn Naval Yard, New York Naval Yard4,6,7,9
  • July 1, 1944: Laid down.9
  • August 11, 1945 (52.3% complete)6, August 12, 19454: Cancelled.4,6
  • Hull was sunk as a target.6,9

CV-36 Antietam

  • Manufacturer: Philadelphia9, Philadelphia Naval Yard4,6,7
  • March 13, 1943: Laid down.9
  • August 20, 1944: Launched.4,6,9
  • January 28, 1945: Completed.4,7,9

CV-37 Princeton

  • Original name: Valley Forge4,6
  • Manufacturer: Philadelphia9, Philadelphia Naval Yard4,6,7
  • September 14, 1943: Laid down.9
  • July 8, 1945: Launched.4,6,9
  • November 18, 1945: Completed.4,7,9

CV-38 Shangri-La

  • Manufacturer: Norfolk9, Norfolk Naval Yard4,5,6,7
  • January 15, 1943: Laid down.9
  • February 24, 1944: Launched.4,6,9
  • September 15, 1944: Comleted.4,5,7,9

CV-39 Lake Champlain

  • Manufacturer: Norfolk9, Norfolk Naval Yard4,6,7
  • March 15, 1943: Laid down.9
  • November 2, 1944: Launched.4,6,9
  • June 3, 1945: Completed.4,7,9

CV-40 Tarawa

  • Manufacturer: Norfolk9, Norfolk Naval Yard4,6,7
  • March 1, 1943: Laid down.9
  • May 12, 1945: Launched.4,6,9
  • December 8, 1945: Completed.4,7,9

CV-45 Valley Forge

  • Manufacturer: Philadelphia9, Philadelphia Naval Yard4,6,7
  • September 7, 1944: Laid down.9
  • November 18, 1945: Launched.4,6,9
  • November 3, 1946: Completed.4,7

CV-46 Iwo Jima

  • Manufacturer: Newport News Shipbuilding6,7, Philadelphia Naval Yard4,9
  • January 29, 1945: Laid down.9
  • August 12, 1945: Cancelled.4,6

CV-47 Philippine Sea

  • Original name: Wright4,6
  • Manufacturer: Bethlehem9, Fore River Shipyard, Bethlehem Quincy4,6,7
  • August 19, 1944: Laid down.9
  • September 5, 1945: Launched.4,6,9
  • May 11, 1946: Completed.4,7,9

CV-50, CV-51, CV-52, CV-53, CV-54, CV-55

  • Cancelled: March 27, 19456

Usage

Fall 1943, Marcus and Wake Islands

In the fall of 1943 the Essex, Lexington, and Yorktown were used in raids on Marcus and Wake Islands.3

November 1943, Rabaul and Buka

In November 1943 the Essex, Lexington, and Yorktown were used in air raids on Rabaul and Buka.3

November 10 - December 10, 1943 Operation Galvanic

The Bunker Hill, Essex, Lexington, and Yorktown took part in Operation Galvanic.

December 4 - 8, 1943 Kwajalein and Nauru

Aircraft available December 1, 19433:

At Kwajalein the Asakaze Maru (6,500 tons) was sunk and the light cruiser Isuzu was damaged.3

At Nauru three Marus (10,375 tons total) were sunk and the light cruiser Nagara was damaged.3

55 Japanese aircraft were destroyed and the Americans lost five.3

Specifications

  Essex class
Crew 2,6829, 2,9001, 3,5006
Displacement 27,100 tons1,6 , 27,200 tons9, 27,500 tons7
Displacement - Loaded 33,000 tons1, 34,880 tons9, 34,881 tons4, 36,380 tons7
Physical Characteristics  
Length - short hull (Bennington, Bon Homme Richard, Bunker Hill, Essex, Franklin, Hornet, Intrepid, Lexington, Yorktown, Wasp) 871' 9", 872'4,6,7,9, 874'1
265.7 m, 265.78 m4, 265. 79 m9
Length - long hull (Antietam, Boxer, Hancock, Kearsarge, Lake Champlain, Leyte, Oriskany, Philippine Sea, Princeton, Randolph, Shangri-La, Tarawa, Ticonderoga, Valley Forge) 888'4,6,9, 888' 5"7
Length - Water Line 820'4,6,7,9
249.93 m4, 249.94 m9
Beam - Water Line 93'1,4,6,7,9, 96'
28.34 m4, 28.35 m9, 29.2 m
Beam - Max 147' 6"4,6,7
44.95 m4
Draft / Height 23'9, 27' 6"4, 28' 6"6 29'1, 30' 10"7
7.01 m9, 8.38 m4
Draft / Height - Loaded 27' 6"9
8.38 m9
Flight deck - short hull 846' x 108'7, 860' x 96'9
262.13 m x 29.26 m9
Flight deck - long hull 862' x 108'7
Performance  
Speed 32.7 knots4,7, 33 knots1,6,7
Range 17,250 nautical miles5
Range at 15 knots 15,000 nautical miles4,9, 20,000 nautical miles7
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 5" guns6, 5" L/38 guns1,4,9: 121,4,6,9
40 mm1,4,6: 324, 446, 686, 721
40 mm quad mounts9: 89
20 mm quadruple: 52
20 mm4,9: 464,9
Aircraft 821, 914,9, 1006
Aircraft - 1942 Fighters: 364,9
Dive Bombers: 374,9
Torpedo Bombers: 184,9
Aircraft - 1943 Fighters: 365
Dive Bombers: 365
Torpedo Bombers: 185
Aircraft - July 1944 Fighters: 505
Night Fighters: 45
Dive Bombers: 245
Torpedo Bombers: 185
Aircraft - December 1944 Fighters: 735
Night Fighters: 45
Dive Bombers: 155
Torpedo Bombers: 155
Armor  
Bulkheads 2" - 3"9
Deck - Flight 1.5"1,4
Deck - Hangar 1.5"7, 2.5"4, 3"9
Deck - Main 1.5"9
Deck - Upper 1.5"1
Sides 2 - 3"1, 2.5 - 4"4,7,9
Engines  
Boilers 87
Babcock & Wilcox1,4,9: 81,4,9
Shafts 44,6,9
Turbines Westinghouse geared4,9
HP 150,0001,2,4,6,7,9
Oil 4,758 - 6,330 tons4, 6,161 - 6,331 tons5, 6,330 tons9
Gasoline 240,000 gallons4,9
  CV-9 USS Essex
Crew 3,2402
Displacement 27,1002, 27,208 tons4
Displacement - Loaded 33,000 tons2
Physical Characteristics  
Length 872'4, 876'2
265.78 m4, 267.21 m2
Beam - flight deck 147' 8"2
45 m2
Draft / Height 27' 6", 28' 6"2, 29'1
8.3 m, 8.69 m2
Performance  
Speed 32.7 knots, 33 knots2
Range - at 20 knots 17,000 miles2
27,360 km2
Armament 5" guns: 122,7
Anti-Aircraft 40 mm Bofors quadruple: 112
40 mm: 327
20 mm: 442
20 mm Oerlikon: 447
Aircraft 6: fighters2
36: dive-bombers2
18: torpedo-bombers2
Aircraft - 1943 822
Aircraft - 1945 1082
Armor  
Flight deck 1.5,2
Main deck 1.5"2
hangar deck 3"2
Belt 2.5 - 4"2
Turrets 1.5"2
Engines  
HP 150,0002
  CV-13 USS Franklin
Crew 3,2402
Displacement 27,100 tons2
Displacement - Loaded 36,500 tons2
Physical Characteristics  
Length 867' 8"2, 872'4
265.78 m4
Beam - flight deck 147' 8"2
45 m2
Draft / Height 30' 10"2
9.4 m2
Performance  
Speed 33 knots2
Armament  
Aircraft - 1945 74: fighters2
15: dive-bombers2
30: torpedo-bombers2
Armor  
Flight deck 1.5"2
Main deck 1.5"2
Hangar deck 3"2
Belt 2.5 - 3"2
Turrets 1.5"2
Engines  
HP 150,0002

Sources:

  1. Janes' Fighting Ships of World War II, 1989
  2. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  3. Aleutians, Gilberts and Marshalls June 1942 - April 1944, Samuel Eliot Morison, 1951
  4. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Robert Gardiner, 1987
  5. US Navy Aircraft Carriers 1942-45 WWII-built ships, Mark Stille, 2007
  6. US Warships of World War 2, Paul H. Silverstone, 1965
  7. Essex-Class Carriers, Alan Raven, 1988
  8. New Guinea and the Marianas March 1944 - August 1944, Samuel Eliot Morison, 1953
  9. The World's Aircraft Carriers 1914 - 1945, Roger Chesneau, 1986
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site