CUS Thomas Jefferson (CV-1932)


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With three aircraft carriers in commission and the two Rhode Island type just completed and joining the trials groups, the CUA bureau of design had to finalise their design for the CUA Navies first purpose built aircraft carriers. Having been able to evaluate the British Hermes and Japanese Hosho, it was decided that both those two designs were too small. Both were cruiser sized vessels that were not large enough to carry a useable amount of aircraft. Waves of aircraft were neccessary to sink ships at sea with room to maneuver. The BuDes looked at various designs from 750 feet through to 1000 feet. It was felt that a hull with perpindiculars of approximately 750 feet with enclosed bow and overhanging stern would give an overall length of approximately 800 feet. A bluff hull with a propulsion unit to give 30 knots was the specification. The bluff hull type was to give the maximum amount of space to the hangar for aircraft carrying capacity. The BuDes then compromised this by mounting the ships boats in indents along the side of the ship. The gun armament got rid of the 6"-8" offensive weapons carried by some early aircraft carriers in preference to defensive armaments only. This trend carried on through the rest of the CUA carriers.

Various new ideas were trialled in this type. One was that the forward part of the hangar was 18 foot high to take any aircraft type then in service with the CUA, but the aft half of the hangar was 28 foot in height and allowed for fighters to be hung on 'meathooks' above the aircraft on the floor of the hangar. This did increase the number of aircraft carried but it did slow down aircraft handling times in that section of the hangar. Heavy weather was also a problem where keeping the 'hung' aircraft from taking swing damage was a continual problem. This style was eventually removed by raising the aft hangar to the same height as the forward part and utilising the created space for extra accomodation and storage which was badly needed by the late 1930's.

This was the first class to ship the new quad 1.1" AA mounting, which in peace time and with out any pressure worked well. The CUA was lucky to have had some destroyers with the mounting acting close in at the Spanish Civil War. The mounting only needed to take a couple of machine gun bullets anywhere for the mounting to fail. A report generated from several of these actions read "This weapon was rushed into production as soon as it had passed its proving ground tests and was widely used on US warships before and during the Spanish War. During early service use, it was found to be unreliable, prone to jamming and ineffective as an AA weapon". All I can say is that it was just as well that there was a company called Bofors.


Displacement 26,800 tons std 32,400 tons full load
Length 795 ft
Breadth 88 ft (hull)
Draught 25 ft
Machinery 2 shaft steam turbines 60,000shp
Speed 30 knots
Range 10,000 miles at 15 knots
Armour 3" side armour, 1.5" deck armour
Armament As built

8 x 4" (8x1)

24 x 1.1" AA (6x4)

14 x 0.5" mg (14x1)


8 x 4" (8x1)

32 x 40mm (16x2)

18 x 20mm (18x1)

Aircraft 84 70-72
Torpedoes nil
Complement 2120
Notes CUS Thomas Jefferson


Note 'butchers hooks' hanging from hangar roof in picture one. Wildcats being raised for duty circa 1940.


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