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United States' Lexington class aircraft carriers

Photos

CV-2 USS Lexington aircraft carrier, 1927:
United States' CV-2 USS Lexington aircraft carrier, 1927
USN Photo

CV-2 USS Lexington's crew abandoning ship at Battle of Coral Sea:
CV-2 USS Lexington's crew abandoning ship at Battle of Coral Sea
Imperial War Museum, OEM-1566
CV-2 USS Lexington aircraft carrier, 1928:
United States' CV-2 USS Lexington aircraft carrier, 1928
USN Photo
CV-2 USS Lexington aircraft carrier, 1928:
United States' CV-2 USS Lexington aircraft carrier, 1928
USN Photo
CV-2 USS Lexington aircraft carrier, 1930:
United States' CV-2 USS Lexington aircraft carrier, 1930
USN Photo
CV-3 USS Saratoga aircraft carrier, 1928:
United States' CV-3 USS Saratoga aircraft carrier, 1928
USAF Photo

CV-3 USS Saratoga aircraft carrier, 1942:
United States' CV-3 USS Saratoga aircraft carrier, 1942
USN Photo

CV-3 USS Saratoga after being hit by a kamikaze off Iwo Jima on July 13, 1945:
CV-3 USS Saratoga after being hit by a kamikaze off Iwo Jima on July 13, 1945
Imperial War Museum, NYF-74293
CV-3 USS Saratoga aircraft carrier, August 12, 1930:
United States' CV-3 USS Saratoga aircraft carrier, August 12, 1930
USAF Photo

CV-3 USS Saratoga aircraft carrier, 1942:
United States' CV-3 USS Saratoga aircraft carrier, 1942
USN Photo

CV-3 USS Saratoga on May 14, 1942:
CV-3 USS Saratoga on May 14, 1942
USN Photo
CV-3 USS Saratoga aircraft carrier, May 31 1934:
United States' CV-3 USS Saratoga aircraft carrier, May 31 1934
USN Photo

(left to right) HMS Newcastle, HMS Illustrious, USS Saratoga, HMS Valiant, HMS Renown in Trincomalee Harbor on April 11, 1944:
(left to right) HMS Newcastle, HMS Illustrious, USS Saratoga, HMS Valiant, HMS Renown in Trincomalee Harbor on April 11, 1944
Imperial War Museum, A-23475

CV-3 USS Saratoga on May 15, 1945:
CV-3 USS Saratoga on May 15, 1945
USN Photo
CV-3 USS Saratoga aircraft carrier, 1938:
United States' CV-3 USS Saratoga aircraft carrier, 1938
USN Photo

CV-3 USS Saratoga with Admiral Sir James Somerville in Trincomalee Harbor on April 3, 1944:
CV-3 USS Saratoga with Admiral Sir James Somerville in Trincomalee Harbor on April 3, 1944
Imperial War Museum, A-23456

Design

The Lexington and Saratoga started out in 1916 to be battle cruisers but after World War I they were converted into aircraft carriers. This was a result of the Washington Naval Treaty which cancelled all battle cruisers under construction or planned. Part of the treaty allowed for ships up to 33,000 tons to be converted to aircraft carriers.

The Lexington and Saratoga had very large smoke stacks on the starboard side.

Flight Deck

The flight deck was constructed with wood planks on top of steel. There were two elevators (30' x 60', 30' x 36') in the flight deck. To assist in takeoffs there was one 155' catapult.

All 90 aircraft could be arranged on the flight deck and could still take off.

In 1931 eight arresting wires were installed for landings.

Funnel

The funnel was 80' high. This helped keep the smoke from drifting onto the flight deck.

Hangar

The hangar was 450' x 70' x 21'. There was a 105' long maintenance shop. There was a 120' long hold beneath the hangar for aircraft storage.

Largest Carriers

Until the Japanese Shinano was launched in 1944 the Saratoga was the largest carrier afloat.

Ships

CV-2 USS Lexington

  • Manufacturer: Bethlehem, Fore River Ship and Engine Building Bethlehem, G.E.
  • January 8, 1921: Laid down.
  • November 1922: Orders for conversion.
  • October 3, 1925: Launched.
  • December 14, 1927: Completed.
  • 1929 - 1930: Supplied power to Tacoma for a month.
  • Mid 1930s: Catapults removed.
  • 1936: Bow and flight deck widened. 16 0.5" machine guns added.
  • 1940: CXAM radar installed. 1.1" quadruple mounts installed.
  • 1941: Forward flight deck widened.
  • December 7, 1941: Ferrying aircraft to Midway Island.
  • January 1942: Marshall Islands raid.
  • March 1942: Pearl Harbor.
  • April 1942, 1942: 8" guns removed. Five 3" L/50, four 1.1", and 18 20 mm guns added.
  • May 1942: Coral Sea
  • May 8, 1942: Sunk. Hit by two bombs and two torpedoes by aircraft from the Shokaku and Zuikaku.

CV-3 USS Saratoga

  • Manufacturer: New York Shipbuilding, G.E.
  • September 25, 1920: Laid down.
  • October 1922: Orders for conversion.
  • April 7, 1925: Launched.
  • November 16, 1927: Completed.
  • Mid 1930s: Catapults removed.
  • 1936: 16 0.5" machine guns added.
  • 1941: Forward flight deck widened.
  • 1942: Flight deck lengthened to 900'.
  • January 11, 1942: Torpedoed off Hawaii by I-16. Repairs at Puget Sound Navy Yard.
  • January 1942, 1942: 8" guns removed. Anti-torpedo blister added. 8 / 16 5" L/38 Mk 30 guns installed, eight in four turrets replacing the 8" guns, eight more replaced the 12 5" L/25 guns. Stack lowered by 14'. Two Mark 37 5" Directors with Mark 4 radars installed. Four quadruple 40 mm gun replaced 1.1" guns. 0.5" guns replaced by 30 / 32 20 mm guns.
  • June 1942: Ferrying aircraft.
  • August 1942 : Five 40 mm quadruple mounts replaced 1.1" guns. Twenty two more 20 mm guns installed.
  • August 7, 1942: Guadalcanal.
  • August 31, 1942: Torpedoed by the I-68. Three boiler rooms were flooded. Towed to Tonga for temporary repairs. Permanent repairs at Pearl Harbro.
  • December 1943 - January 1944: Fourteen quadruple 40 mm mounts added. Two twin 40 mm guns installed. Thirty six 20 mm guns were removed. SK radar replaced CXAM.
  • 1944: Indian Ocean with British Fleet.
  • 1944: Catapults installed. New 45' x 45' elevator installed. Aft elevator removed and plated over.
  • 1945: 96 40 mm and 16 20 mm guns in total.
  • February 1945: Aft elevator removed and forward elevator made larger.
  • February 21, 1945: Hit by kamikaze off Iwo Jima.
  • Battles: Guadalcanal, Eastern Solomons, Bougainville, Gilbert Islands, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Iwo Jima
  • July 25, 1946: Sunk at Bikini atomic bomb tests.

Usage

December 7, 1941

The USS Lexington was ferrying aircraft to Midway Island on the morning of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The USS Saratoga was in San Diego being refitted. The 8" turrets were removed at this time.

Torpedoed

On January 11, 1942 the Saratoga was torpedoed near Hawaii and required four months of repair work on the west coast.

January 1942, Raids on the Marshalls

The Lexington provided distant cover for a raid in the Marshall Islands.

Coral Sea

During the first carrier vs. carrier battle the Lexington was hit in the port side by two torpedos. After the attack a spark ignighted fuel vapors causing a massive explosion. The Lexington had to be abandoned and destroyers (USS Phelps) delivered the final shots that sunk her. 216 crew lost their lives.

June 1942, Ferrying Aircraft

The Saratoga was ferrying aircraft to the Central Pacific and missed the Battle of Midway.

August 7, 1942, Guadalcanal

Aircraft from the Saratoga were used in the invasion of Guadalcanal. The Ryujo was sunk by aircraft from the Saratoga.

August 31, 1942, Torpedoed

On August 31, 1942, the Saratoga was torpedoed by the I-68. She took six days to limp back to Pearl Harbor where it took six weeks to make repairs.

November 10 - December 10, 1943 Operation Galvanic

The Saratoga took part in Operation Galvanic.

1944, Cooperation with British and Free French

In early 1944 the Saratoga was sent to the East Indies for joint operations with the British and Free French.

February 21, 1945, Iwo Jima

While supporting the landing on Iwo Jima the Saratoga was hit by a kamikaze. After being repaired at Bremerton / Pearl Harbor she was used for training starting in May 1945.

End at Bikini in Operation Crossroads

On July 25, 1946, the Saratoga was sunk at Bikini Atoll during atomic bomb tests.

 

Specifications

  Saratoga class, Lexington class
Crew 1,899, 2,122, 2,791, 3,300
Displacement 33,000 tons, 37,000 tons, 38,500 tons
Displacement - Loaded 43,746 tons, 47,700 tons
Physical Characteristics  
Length 888'
270.66 m, 270.7 m
Length - Water Line 850'
259.08 m
Length - Between Perpendiculars 822'
250.55 m
Beam 104' 7", 105' 0.5", 106'
31.88 m, 32.3 m
Draft / Height 24' 0.5", 24' 1.5", 27' 6", 30' 5"
8.38 m, 9.3 m
Draft / Height - Max Load 32' 6"
9.91 m
Flight Deck 830' x 105' 8"
252.98 m x 32.21 m
Performance  
Speed 33.25 knots, 34 knots
Range at 10 knots 12,000 nautical miles
Range at 15 knots 10,000 nautical miles
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 8" twin, 8" L/55 Mk 14 twin turrets: 4
8", 8" L/55: 8
5" Mk 19, 5: 12
6 pdr: 4
Aircraft 78, 80, 90
Armor  
Belt 5 - 7"
Bulkheads 5 - 7"
Deck 0.75 - 2", 2"
Turrets 0.75"
Engines  
Boilers Water Tube: 16
Shafts 4
Turbines General Electric, Turbo Electric
HP 180,000
Oil 5,400 tons
  CV-2 USS Lexington
Crew 2,122, 2,327, 2,951
Displacement 36,000 tons
Displacement - 1936 37,681 tons
Displacement - Loaded 47,700 tons
Displacement - Loaded - 1936 43,055 tons
Physical Characteristics  
Length 888'
270.66 m
Length - Water Line 850'
259.08 m
Beam 105', 105' 5"
32.12 m
Beam - flight deck 130'
39.62 m
Draft / Height 32', 33' 4"
9.79 m, 10.15 m
Performance  
Speed 33.25 knots, 34 knots
Radius 6,960 nautical miles
Range at 15 knots 10,500 nautical miles
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 8" L/55: 8
5" L/25: 12
0.5" :48
Anti-Aircraft - 1942 5": 8
20 mm: 30
1.1" quadruple: 6
Aircraft 63
Aircraft - 1936 18: Fighters
40: Bombers
5: Utility
Aircraft - 1942 22: Fighters
36: Dive Bombers
21: Torpedo Bombers
Armor  
Belt 6", 5 - 7"
Flight Deck 1", 1.25"
Lower Deck 1 - 3"
Turrets 1.5 - 3"
Engines  
Boilers Yarrow
Shafts 4
Turbines General Electric
HP 180,000, 210,000
Oil 2,400 - 3,600 tons
Gasoline - 1942 137,400 gallons
  CV-3 USS Saratoga
Crew - 1944 2,381
Crew - 1945 3,373
Displacement 36,000 tons
Displacement - Loaded 47,700 tons
Physical Characteristics  
Length 888'
270.66 m
Beam - flight deck 105' 6"
32.2 m
Draft / Height 32'
9.75 m
Performance  
Speed 34 knots
Range at 15 knots - 1942 12,500 nautical miles
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft - 1945 5": 16
5" Twin: 8
5" L/38 Twin: 4
5" L/38: 8
40 mm Bofors quadruple: 24
40 mm quadruple: 25
40 mm twin: 2
40 mm: 96
20 mm: 16
Aircraft - 1945 57: Fighters
18: Torpedo Bombers
Armor  
Belt 6"
Flight Deck 1"
Main Deck 2"
Lower Deck 1 - 3"
Engines  
Boilers White-Forster
HP 210,000

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. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Robert Gardiner, 1987
  6. US Navy Aircraft Carriers 1922-45 Prewar Class, Mark Stille, 2005
  7. The World's Aircraft Carriers 1914 - 1945, Roger Chesneau, 1986
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site