USS Lexington (CV-1927)


Back to US Navy ship list:

It is surprising how many features were right with the Lexington and Saratoga, when you consider that these were the US Navies first try at full conversions of large ships to aircraft carriers.

The basic beginnings were a large 16" armed battlecruiser. This four ship class was cancelled by the Washington Treaty. Two of the ships, however, could be retained and converted to aircraft carriers. The US Navy had had some experience with the conversion of the two Langley class ships, but a lot of information was able to be accessed on the conversion work undertaken by the Royal Navy. With all the information to hand, what was introduced to the ships and what was not shaped the pair into the best of the converted vessels.

So what made the US duo so good compared to the other conversions of the time? The first obvious feature was the use of the enclosed bow. A feature that was not to return to US aircraft carriers for another thirty years. I have often pondered why that was. 'My' answer (and I am happy to stand corrected) is that all the future classes were built under tonnage restrictions, and that an open bow weighed less allowing that tonnage to be used elsewhere in the designs. Other features, including, a full bridge superstructure for command and control functions was fitted. The 8" guns were fitted in twin turrets compared to the single mountings on the Japanese giants. This allowed, that if these guns proved unsuccessful on an aircraft carrier, that they could be more easily removed and replaced with more large AA weapons (as happened in real life).

As completed:

Length 888 ft (270.7 m)
Beam 106 ft (32.3 m)
Draft 30 ft 5 in (9.3 m) (deep load)
Installed power
Propulsion 4 shafts; 4 sets turbo-electric drive
Speed 33.25 knots (61.58 km/h; 38.26 mph)
Range 10,000 nmi (19,000 km; 12,000 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement 2,791 (including aviation personnel) in 1942
Aircraft carried 78
Aviation facilities Aircraft catapult

Sourced from Wikipaedia

In real life the Lexington was sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea, while the Saratoga served throughout the war being sunk in the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. BUT that is real life, since I have given the Japanese a bit extra with my redraw of the Japanese Navy, I may have to go through and sink these ships all over again. Sigh, life is so tough.

So what if two of the Lexington class had been retained as battlecruisers and made it to WW2? What would a refit of the ships look like?

Back to US Navy ship list: