BAV Tachira (CV-1942-43)


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The Tachira class, like most ships was a compromise between what the Venezuelan Navy would like and what they could afford. Previous work with aircraft carriers was limited to the conversion of a battleship hull to the Zulia. The other two light carriers (CVL) were also conversions this time of two of the Caracas class cruisers. While the Venezuelan Navy had learnt from these conversions they were not ready to build the huge ships being built by the major powers. 1939 and the first Tachira class is laid down before the start of WW2. Two more are authorised and laid down in 1940. The Tachira being completed in 1942 and its sisters in 1943.

Being in 'Favoured Nation' status with the United States made access to plans for the large carriers that had so far been built and under construction much easier. In 1939 the US Navy had just commissioned the Wasp and had the Yorktown class under construction. Neither of which really suited the Venezuelan Navy. They were just too big. It would cost an arm and a leg of the Navy's budget just to keep the required number of aircraft aboard and also the number of crew required would put a strain on the people resources of the Navy.

Having been turned down for the big boys toys (the US would love Venezuela to build a couple of large carriers) the US BuShips showed the Venezuelans the future plans for the war that was coming. The Essex, Saipan and Bogue types were all there ready to go in detailed plans. The Venezuelans pointed at the Saipan type Light carrier and said "that is what we are looking for". And that is what they built with changes made for their requirements. The hull for the Tachira class were that of a heavy cruiser (Baltimore class) that the US had just laid down. Those ships had a 76 foot beam. Either the ship would need to be fitted with bulges to offset the extra topweight or the hull could be widened from the start. The Venezuelans took the second option and increased the breadth to 90 feet which had the other effect of slowing the ship from 33 knots to 30 knots.

The armament had a mixture of 3.9" twins, 40mm in quad and twin mountings, and a lot of 20mm.

Displacement 20,500 tons std 24,400 tons full load
Length 690 ft
Breadth 90 ft hull
Draught 26 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines, 120,000shp
Speed 30 knots
Range 8000 miles at 16 knots
Armour 3" belt, 3" deck.
Armament 6 x 3.9" (3x2)

24 x 40mm (1x4, 10x2)

18 x 20mm (18x1)

Aircraft 45-50 depending on size and type
Complement 2100
Notes BAV Tachira

Biggest problem I seem to have had a dozen years ago was putting to modern a set of parts on what is otherwise a not bad drawing. Colour also seems to be a problem.


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