CSS San Juan (CV-1935)


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First purpose designed and built aircraft carriers for the Confederate States Navy, the three San Juan Class ships design work had started in 1929 and was finalised in 1931 with the name ship of the class being laid down the same year.The design featured all of the best attributes that could be culled from the worlds aircraft carriers to which the CSN designers had access. The testing and trials carried out on the Guantanamo Bay and then the two Wake Island ships helped markedly with the design.

High speed was still a prerequisite of the CSN ships, aircraft carriers included. The San Juans were no different with speeds of 32 knots at full load condition while 33.5 knots was made at standard displacement. The ships armament was much reduced from the previous two classes as one of the doctrines was that the aircraft carriers would always be a part of a 'fleet' and that their own aircraft and guns from the fleet would provide their best defence.

Three full sized elevators were installed to service the two hangar decks. Because of the difference between the converted hull and purpose built hulls the San Juans could carry a similar amount of aircraft to the Wake Island class despite being approx. 25-30 feet shorter. The biggest problem with the San Juans were their light construction. The light construction made them susceptible to light damage that could lead to catastrophic failures leading to the ships destruction. Protection of the vital areas was poor compared to some overseas designs.

The first ship was laid down in 1931 and completed in 1935. The two sister ships were laid down 1933 and 1935 with completion dates of 1937 and 1939. The ships proved excellent in service with their long range and high speed enabling them to be in the right places at the right time to enable interception of Japanese forces.

The quad 1.1" AA system proved an expensive failure with the mountings being installed from 1934 onwards but being discarded from ships from 1937/8 onwards. They were replaced by twin and quadruple 40mm mountings. Space along the flight deck edge were made available to mount packs of single 20mm mountings in small gun tubs and open mountings.

The earliest CSN aircraft never seemed to quite match up with the aircraft of other nations. It was almost as if the CSN were a half generation behind till the 1940-41 series of aircraft came into service which finally gave the CSN par with their potential enemies.


Displacement 26,000 tons std 32,200 tons full load
Length 827 ft
Breadth 87.5 ft
Draught 30 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines 120,000shp
Speed 32 knots
Range 11000 miles at 15 knots (3,800 nm at 26 knots)
Armour 2.5" side, 2" deck 1" FD
Armament 8 x 5.1" (8x1)

16 x 1.1" (4x4)

12 x 20mm (12x1)

Aircraft 90
Complement 2200
Notes CSS San Juan


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