USS Langley (CVL-1919-22 (1910))


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Once the advent of the aircraft carrier type ships came into the navies of the world, the different types of ships that could be used as the basis for ships to carry aircraft were ready to be explored. It was known to the US Navy of the experiments of the Royal Navy with various sized ships being converted, battleships, cruisers, ex-liners and merchant ships. Where the Royal Navy had plenty of ships that could be converted, the US Navy did not have the same quantity of ships under construction they could choose from. Looking through the inventory of available vessels, the two Memphis class cruisers, with the Pacific Fleet, could be used as the US Navies first foray into the world of naval aviation. Sent to Pacific coast yards, the two ships were to be converted to aircraft carriers.

The conversion of the two ships Langley and Missoula was carried out in different phases. First phase was to fit just a flight deck on the ships so that trials with wheeled aircraft could be carried out and shown to be effective to those who counted. Second phase was to strip the ship from bow to stern fit a hangar for storing the aircraft to be carried in. Refitting the flight deck at the new higher level. Fitting the new funnel arrangement with the new bridge superstructure forward of them. Next was the reworking of the bow so that spray would deflect away from the aircraft taking off. The fitting of the armament (which changed regularly over the next 20 years).

Further improvements to the ships were made on a regular basis as new equipment was thought of, designed and built. Arrestor wires, catapults, all were added as they came into service.

Displacement 16,750 tons std 19,100 tons full load
Length 574 ft
Breadth 74 ft
Draught 24 ft
Machinery 2 shaft, steam turbines, 50,000 shp
Speed 26 knots
Range 7000 miles at 12 knots
Armour 6" side, 2" deck
Armament 2 x 5" (2x1)
6 x 0.5" mg (6x1)
Aircraft 20
Complement 790
Notes Langley


Original cruiser drawing of the Memphis class large cruisers.


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