USS Saipan (CVL-1943)

 

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The US Navy quickly caught on to the use of smaller carriers to use for combat air patrol aircraft and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. These could be carriers that as part of a larger fleet would specialise in those areas. Suitable ships for conversion were the Baltimore class cruisers. These ships had the size and speed to be able to carry a useful amount of aircraft to fulfill their role.

The internal aircraft storage would be 40-44 (depending on size and type), with a small deck park of 6-8 aircraft in the ready mode. For the first time on US Navy aircraft carriers there were no larger AA guns of the 3"-5" fitted. Only weapons of 40mm and 20mm size were put aboard. The ships proved extremely useful and more were put into production, with Baltimore hulls being built especially for the conversions.

Eventually 17 of the class were ordered with 12 being completed during the war, 2 completed post-war and 3 cancelled and scrapped.

Displacement 16,400 tons std 21,200 tons full load
Length 673 ft, (690 ft with extended bow)
Breadth 77 ft hull (115ft extreme width over sponsons)
Draught 28 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines 125,000shp
Speed 33 knots
Range 10,000 miles at 15 knots
Armour 3" Belt, 2.5" Deck
Armament

32 x 40mm (3x4 10x2)
10 x 20mm (10x1)

Aircraft 46-52
Complement 1750
Notes USS Saipan
USS Wright
USS Independence
USS Belleau Wood
USS Princeton
USS Cowpens
USS Monterey
USS Cabot
USS Langley
USS Bataan
USS San Jacinto
USS Yale
USS Harvard
USS Iwo Jima
USS Guadalcanal
USS Solomon Islands


The last four were completed to a slightly improved design. Enclosed bow, four funnels replaced with two. The funnels being paired allowed for an enlarged bridge structure post-war, a necessity if they were to be kept by the US Navy. In the end all of the class had been sold or scrapped by 1960.

 

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