GRN Harghita (CVE-1929)
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The Harghita was the first major work done in the Constanta Royal Shipyard for the Galician Navy. The Galicians with the size of Galicia had dreams of Major Power status, but lacked the overall resources to match those dreams. The Harghita was a result of those dreams. The other major powers were producing aircraft carriers so Galicia should have one too. The result proved two things, one was the limited ability of the newly created shipyards, and 2 was the ingenuity of the people who designed the systems used on the Harghita.
The Galician Navy obtained a cargo liner from a bankrupt shipping company, the ship being completed as late as 1921, with the idea of converting the ship to a ship to launch and recover wheeled aircraft, later to be popuarly called aircraft carriers. From there is where the ingenuity came in. The designers took the ship and virtually drew a line from stem to stern at the height that the flight deck was to run. Anything above that line was gas axed away to leave the way clear. This left the accomodation deck untouched, with only the ducting to the funnel (which had been moved to the side of the ship) being moved which required a rearrangement of the central and outer cabins. The aircraft handling arrangements were unique with two holes cut into the flight deck to allow access to the fore and aft hangar areas. The steel cut out of the holes was retained with a 'lip' being placed around the edges so that when the access hatch was put back by the crane it fitted flush with locking bars to stop movement. With the access hatches removed the cranes could plumb the opening and lift the aircraft either from or to the flight deck. A ring and harness arrangement being devised to fit each of the aircraft types that were operated from the Harghita. The hangar deck was open with a steel 'curtain' that could be pulled accross the hangar area to enclose the area when required. The cargo holds were converted to avaiation fuel tanks, armouries for the aircraft weapons, bombs and torpedoes. A service area was created at the stern of the ship where aircraft could be worked on under cover. On several occasions the Harghita was supposed to be taken out of service to be rebuilt into a true aircraft carrier as built by other navies. But the funds were never made available and the plans to build a new aircraft carrier ran into the start of WW2 which cancelled the new ship. Harghita never had any opposition in the Black Sea and even with the ships limited number of aircraft proved a winner of battles for Galicia. The Russian forces continually stalked the Aviation Fleet and finally caught it at sea with 3 squadrons of IL-2 and Pe-2 in mid 1943, where the Harghita was hit and sunk while the escorts took damage but remained ships and not submarines.
|Displacement||12,400 tons std, 16,700 tons full load|
|Machinery||1 shaft steam turbines, 8,000shp|
|Range||12000 miles at 12 knots (3000 at 17knots)|
|Armour||nil (some protection around armoury)|
|Armament||2 x 88mm (2x1)
4 x 20mm (4x1)
|Aircraft||12 max (normal 10)|
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