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United States' Independence class aircraft carriers

Photos

CVL-22 USS Independence light aircraft carrier, 1923:
United States' CVL-22 USS Independence light aircraft carrier, 1943
USN Photo
CVL-23 USS Belleau Wood light aircraft carrier, December 22, 1943:
United States' CVL-23 USS Belleau Wood light aircraft carrier, December 22, 1943
USN Photo
CVL-23 USS Belleau Wood light aircraft carrier, April 18, 1943 near the Philadelphia Navy Yard:
United States' CVL-23 USS Belleau Wood light aircraft carrier, April 18, 1943 near the Philadelphia Navy Yard
USN Photo, #19-N-43702

Design

The Independence class light carriers were converted Cleveland class light cruisers.1,3,4,5,9 This was undertaken as a crash program as it was considered a war emergency to complete the conversions.5,9 President Roosevelt pushed the program as it was less complex than a similar proposal by the Navy.5,6,9 It was initially felt that the Essex class aircraft carriers wouldn't be ready until 1944 and the Independence class was to be used in the meantime.5,6 In January 1942 the first conversion was ordered.5

The hulls of the Cleveland class light cruisers allowed the Independence class light carriers to keep up with the rest of the main fleet ships in the Navy.5

Funnels

There were four funnels that vented out the starboard side.4,9

Hangar

Due to the narrowness of the cruiser hulls the hangar space (320' x 57' 9") was limited.9

Island

The original design called for no island on the deck but prior carrier experience showed that an Island was necessary for operations.5,6

Radar

There was an SK air search radar and a SC-2 radar mounted.5

Flight Deck

There were two elevators and one H2 catapult.5,6,9 There were eight arresting wires.5

Ships

CVL-22 Independence

  • Originally the CL-59 Amsterdam.4,5,6,9
  • Manufacturer: New York Shipbuilding4,6,9, G.E.4
  • May 1, 1941: Laid down.9
  • August 22, 1942: Launched.4,6,9
  • January 1, 19436,9, January 19435: Completed.5,6,9
  • Battles: Palau4, Leyte Gulf4,5
  • August 1943: Gilbert Islands4,5
  • October 1943: Wake Island5
  • November 1943: Rabaul5, Bougainville4, Gilbert Islands5
  • November 20, 1943, November 19439: Damaged by a torpedo during Bougainville / Tarawa9 operations.4,5
  • 1944: Given 19 F6F-5N Hellcat night fighters and eight TBM-1D Avenger bombers for conducting night operations.5
  • January - June 1944: Repairs.9
  • 1945: Two 40 mm quad mounts, ten 40 mm twin mounts, and four 20 mm guns in total.6

CVL-23 Princeton

  • Originally the CL-61 Tallahassee.4,5,6,9
  • Manufacturer: New York Shipbuilding4,6,9, G.E.4
  • June 2, 1941: Laid down.9
  • October 18, 1942: Launched.4,6,9
  • January 19435, February 25, 19436,9: Completed.9
  • Battles: Truk5, Kwajalein4, Eniwetok4, Hollandia4, Palau4, Leyte4,5
  • September 1943: Tarawa5, Gilbert Islands4,5
  • September 1, 1943: Strikes against the Japanese held Marcus Island.2
  • October 1943: Raid on Wake Island.2
  • November 1943: Rabaul5, Bougainville4, Gilbert Islands5
  • June 1944: Marianas4, Philippine Sea7
  • October 24, 1944: Sunk.2,4,6,9 During operations supporting the Battle of Leyte Gulf a D4Y Judy dive-bomber dropped one9 / two 250 lb bombs onto the deck of the Princeton.2,5 They penetrated through three decks and started fires in the hangar.2,5 The Birmingham and Reno were helping the Princeton when a large explosion occurred killed 229 men on the Birmingham and 100 on the Princeton.2,5 The damage was too great and the Reno was ordered to scuttle her.2,9

CVL-24 Belleau Wood

  • Formerly the CL-76 New Haven.4,5,6,9
  • Manufacturer: New York Shipbuilding4,6,9, G.E.4
  • August 11, 1941: Laid down.9
  • December 6, 1942: Launched.4,6,9
  • March 31, 19436,9, March 19435: Completed.5,6,9
  • Battles: Tarawa5, Truk raid4,5, New Guinea4, Marianas4, Palau4, Leyte Gulf4,5
  • October 1943: Wake Island5
  • November 1943: Gilbert Islands4,5
  • December 1943: Kwajalein4,5
  • June 1944: Philippine Sea.7 Helped sink the aircraft carrier Hiyo.5,8,9
  • October 30, 1944, October 19449: Damaged by a kamikaze.4,5,9
  • October - December 1944: Repairs.9
  • 1945: Two 40 mm quad mounts, ten 40 mm twin mounts, and four 20 mm guns in total.6
  • February 1945: Iwo Jima4
  • April - May 1945: Okinawa5

CVL-25 Cowpens

  • Originally the CL-77 Huntington.4,5,6,9
  • Manufacturer: New York Shipbuilding4,6,9, G.E.4
  • December 17, 1941: Laid down.9
  • January 17, 1943: Launched.4,6,9
  • May 28, 19436,9, May 19435: Completed.5,6,9
  • Guinea4, Palau4, Leyte Gulf4, Philippines4
  • October 1943: Wake Island5
  • November 1943: Gilbert Islands4
  • June 1944: Marianas4, Philippine Sea5,7
  • December 1944: Damaged by typhoon.9
  • 1945: Nine 40 mm twin mounts and five 20 mm twin mounts in total.6
  • February 1945: Iwo Jima4,5

CVL-26 Monterey

  • Originally the CL-78 Dayton.4,5,6,9
  • Manufacturer: New York Shipbuilding4,6,9, G.E.4
  • December 29, 1941: Laid down.9
  • February 28, 1943: Launched.4,6,9
  • June 17, 1943: Completed.6,9
  • Battles: Truk raid4,5, New Guinea4, Palau4, Leyte Gulf4
  • November 1943: Gilbert Islands4,5
  • December 1943: Kwajalein4
  • June 1944: Philippine Sea5,7, Marianas4
  • December 1944: Damaged by typhoon.9 Repairs on West Coast.9
  • 1945: Nine 40 mm twin mounts and eight 20 mm twin mounts in total.6

CVL-27 Langley

  • Originally the CL-85 Fargo.4,5,6,9
  • Original name was Crown Point.4,5,6,9
  • Manufacturer: New York Shipbuilding4,6,9, G.E.4
  • April 11, 1942: Laid down.9
  • May 22, 19434,6,9: Launched.9
  • August 31, 19436,9, August 19435: Completed.9
  • Battles: Eniwetok4, Palau4, Leyte Gulf4, Philippines4
  • January 1944: Marshalls5, Kwajalein4,5
  • June 1944: Marianas4, Philippine Sea7
  • 1945: Nine 40 mm twin mounts and five 20 mm twin mounts in total.6
  • February 1945: Iwo Jima4
  • May - November 1945: Refit.9

CVL-28 Cabot

  • Originally the CL-79 Wilmington.4,5,6,9
  • Manufacturer: New York Shipbuilding4,6,9, G.E.4
  • March 13, 1942: Laid down.9
  • April 4, 1943: Launched.4,6,9
  • July 24, 19436,9, July 19435: Comleted.5,6,9
  • Battles: Truk raid4,5, Guam4, Palau4, Leyte Gulf4,5, Philippines4
  • January 1944: Marshalls5, Kwajalein4,5
  • June 1944: Philippine Sea4,5,7
  • November 25, 1944: Damaged by kamikaze off Luzon.4,5
  • 1945: Nine 40 mm twin mounts and five 20 mm twin mounts in total.6
  • February 1945: Iwo Jima4,5
  • April - May 1945: Okinawa5

CLV-29 Bataan

  • Originally the CL-99 Buffalo.4,5,6,9
  • Manufacturer: New York Shipbuilding4,6,9, G.E.4
  • August 31, 1942: Laid down.9
  • August 1, 1943: Launched.4,6,9
  • November 17, 19436,9, November 19435: Completed.9
  • Battles: Hollandia4
  • June 1944: Philippine Sea5,7, Marianas4
  • 1945: Two 40 mm quad mounts, ten 40 mm twin mounts, and four 20 mm guns in total.6
  • April - May 1945: Okinawa5

CVL-30 San Jacinto

  • Originally the CL-100 Newark.5,6,9
  • Original name: Reprisal4,6,9
  • Manufacturer: New York Shipbuilding4,6,9, G.E.4
  • October 16, 1942: Laid down.9
  • September 26, 1943: Launched.4,6,9
  • December 15, 19436,9, December 19435: Completed.5,6,9
  • Battles: Palau4, Leyte Gulf4, Philippines4
  • June 1944: Marianas4, Philippine Sea5,7
  • 1945: 22 20 mm and nine 40 mm twin guns in total.6
  • February 1945: Iwo Jima4

Usage

Fall 1943, Marcus and Wake Islands

In the fall of 1943 the Belleau Wood, Cowpens, and Independence were used in raids against Marcus and Wake Islands.3

November 1943, Rabaul and Buka

In November 1943 Belleau Wood, Cowpens, Independence, and Princeton were used in air raids on Rabaul and Buka.3

November 10 - December 10, 1943 Operation Galvanic

The Belleau Wood, Cowpens, Independence, and Monterey 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

  Independence class
Crew 1,4001, 1,5009, 1,5604, 1,5695,6
Displacement 10,662 tons6,9, 11,000 tons1,4,5
Displacement - Loaded 13,000 tons1, 14,300 tons5, 14,750 tons9, 14,751 tons6
Physical Characteristics  
Length 618'1, 622' 6"4,5,6,9
189.74 m6,9, 189.8 m5, 190 m
Length - Water Line 600'4,5,6,9
182.88 m6,9
Beam 71' 6"1,4,5,6,9
21.79 m6,9, 21.8 m5
Beam - flight deck 109' 0.25"4, 109' 2"6
33.27 m6, 33.3 m
Draft / Height 20'1, 21'9, 26'4,5
6.4 m9, 7.9 m5
Draft / Height - full load 24' 3"6.9
7.39 m6,9
Flight Deck 544' x 73'9
165.81 m x 22.25 m9
Performance  
Speed 21.5 knots, 31 knots5,9, 31.6 knots4,6
Radius at 15 knots 8,325 nautical miles5
Range at 15 knots 13,000 nautical miles6,9
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 5"9: 29
40 mm1,4,9: 161,9, 264
40 mm quadruple mounts: 25,6
40 mm twin: 46, 95
20 mm1,5,6,9: 109, 145, 226, 401
Anti-Aircraft - 1945 40 mm9: 26 - 289
Aircraft 306,9, 332, 451,4
F4F: 245
Dauntless: 125
Avenger: 95
Aircraft - 1942 Fighters: 126
Bombers: 96
Torpedo Bombers: 96
Aircraft - October 1943 F6F: 125
Dauntless: 95
Avenger: 95
Aircraft - November 1943 F6F: 255
Avenger: 95
Aircraft - 1944 33
Armor  
Bulkheads 5"9
Flight deck 2"5,6,9
Sides / Belt 1.5" - 5.5"9, 5"5,6
Engines  
Boilers Babcock & Wilcox5,6,9: 45,6,9
Shafts 44,5,6,9
Turbines Geared4, General Electric5,6,9
HP 100,0004,5,6,9
Oil 2,633 tons6,9
Gasoline 120,000 gallons6, 122,000 gallons5
  USS Princeton
Crew 1,5692
Displacement 11,000 tons2
Displacement - Loaded 14,000 tons5, 14,300 tons2
Physical Characteristics  
Length 622' 6"2
189.74 m2
Beam - flight deck 109' 3"2
33.3" m2
Draft / Height 26'2
7.92 m2
Performance  
Speed 31.5 knots2
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft - 1943 5": 22
40 mm Bofors quadruple: 22
40 mm Bofors twin: 92
20 mm: 122
Aircraft - 1943 24: F4F Wildcat2
9: TBF Avenger2
Armor  
Main deck 3"2
Lower deck 2"2
Belt 1.5 - 5"2
Engines  
HP 100,0002

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. US Warships of World War 2, Paul H. Silverstone, 1965
  5. US Navy Aircraft Carriers 1942-45 WWII-built ships, Mark Stille, 2007
  6. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Robert Gardiner, 1987
  7. New Guinea and the Marianas March 1944 - August 1944, Samuel Eliot Morison, 1953
  8. The Imperial Japanese Navy, A. J. Watts and B. G. Gordon, 1971
  9. The World's Aircraft Carriers 1914 - 1945, Roger Chesneau, 1986
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site