Aircraft carrier

Attack on carrier USS Franklin, 19 March 1945. The casualties included 724 killed.

Attack on carrier USS Franklin, 19 March 1945. The casualties included 724 killed.

Summary: During World War II, aircraft carrier gradually replaced the battleship in the Navy and became a major force to control sea. When World War II broke out, the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan were equipped with a considerable number of aircraft carriers. As a mobile platform for sea and air combats, carrier created many classic battle examples. During the Battle of the Mediterranean Sea, the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious attacked the Italian naval base located in Taranto, bombers taking off from HMS Illustrious bombed and sunk and damaged many of the main Italian ships in the harbor, resulting that the Italian Navy had to retreat from the port, so the Royal Navy won the control of majority of sea waters nearby. Then Japanese Navy learned Royal Navy’s tactics of using larger aircraft fleet to attack Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and substantially hit the U.S. Pacific Fleet, clearing the way of the sea for the Japanese attack on Southeast Asia. Afterwards, in Coral Sea and Midway sea battles, the two sides carried out a large number of naval aircraft carrier fleets and completely broke the naval dominance of the battleship. Navy aircraft carrier became the core strength of each country’s navy. In the battlefield of the Atlantic, British and American navies widely employed escort carriers in order to cope with German submarines with a great success, and ultimately defeated the German Navy and ensured the smooth flow of the Atlantic routes. To the end of the war, the total number of British and American aircraft carrier achieved more than 100, but at that time because in the war, almost all carriers of the Japanese navy were sunk by Allied aircraft, the navy had no carrier and eventually was completely defeated by the navy of the Allied.

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An aircraft carrier is a warship that can take off and land on the military plane.

All aircraft carriers are currently in use at the core of a carrier battle group. With their help, a nation can trade worldwide military bases without the conflict area to entertain. Modern large aircraft carriers (fleet aircraft carrier) with a displacement of more than 75,000t, are sometimes called “super carriers”.


The Americans Eugene B. Ely succeeded on 14 November 1910 at 15:30 clock from one at the bow of the USS Birmingham mounted platform with a Curtiss -. Biplane the first launch of a ship. Two months later, on 18 January 1911, it succeeded the first landing on a ship. It landed his plane on the USS Pennsylvania, which had been specially equipped to a wooden platform. After a short stay on board it flew back to land.

With the aircraft carriers, it was upgraded to seeflugzeugtragenden ships merchant and warships, then began before the First World War, the development of aircraft-carrying ships, which culminated in the UK at the end of World War I in the first full-fledged aircraft carrier for Radflugzeug, the HMS Argus. The Japanese followed with the Hosho and the U.S. Navy with the converted coal freighter USS Jupiter, after the conversion was named USS Langley and the identification of CV-1.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the technology of the aircraft carrier and its aircraft was constantly evolving. Thus, in 1930, it visited the Royal Navy as HMS Courageous as a first aircraft carrier with a useful safety rope system.

Flight deck of HMS Formidable

Flight deck of HMS Formidable

During World War II aircraft carrier for the first time it played a very important role. So the devastating air attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, was based on a fleet of six aircraft carriers (Kaga, Akagi, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku and Zuikaku), of which dive bombers and torpedo bombers took off. Japanese and Americans sat in the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942 and in the Battle of Midway in June 1942 carrier based aircraft to destroy the opponent’s respective carrier squadron. The aircraft carrier from the beginning was the main weapon for Seebeherrschung the Pacific War. For propagation of the media pool from 1942 onwards cruiser hulls were built to Light aircraft carriers, thus arising nine ships of the Independence class. Two units of the powerful Saipan class could no longer intervene in the war. Some completed shortly before the end of the Japanese submarine I-400 class – they could transport aircraft with folding wings in her hull, they could start by the surfaced submarine – could no longer true.

The war in Africa between the Italian armed forces and the German Afrika Korps on the one side and the British forces on the other side was decisively influenced by British aircraft carrier, which secured the convoys to supply the Mediterranean island of Malta and Malta by air to the defense against the German bombing supplied. Again and again, aircraft carriers were used, transported only fighters that flew from the carriers to the island of Malta, to strengthen the air defense of the island. Malta from the British base of supplies by sea for the German and Italian troops in Africa was hit by the sinking of vital supply ships.

In the Atlantic, the air had a strong monitoring by escort aircraft carrier to the struggle of the German U-boats against the supply of transport to England. The escort aircraft carrier had its share in the victory over the German U-boats.

USS Saratoga c. 1935

USS Saratoga c. 1935

The first and only German aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin was launched in 1938. However, it was never completed and in 1947 as ‘not useful booty’ sunk by two torpedo shots Soviet warships in the Baltic Sea.

Mid-1950s, the transition from propeller-driven aircraft was completed at jetliner en aircraft carrier, which was accomplished only with a new major technical effort on the carriers because the jets were much heavier and had a higher landing speeds and takeoff speeds.

It had significant difficulties in capturing and for whizzing off the machine.

With the enterprise, the U.S. Navy in 1961, it led the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the world. The Enterprise is at 342 m in length, the longest warship in the world.

The newest carrier of the U.S. Navy leads the identification CVN-78 and was baptized as a type of the ship emerged from the CVN-21 program successors the Nimitz class to the name of USS Gerald R. Ford. With an entry into service it is not expected before 2015. This support is to be the successor of the USS Enterprise.

Soviet and then Russian carrier vessels are always officially designated by the term “flight deck cruiser” since the Treaty of Montreux (1936). The passage of “aircraft carriers” forbids through the Dardanelles. To support yet from the shipyards and ports on the Black Sea coast to the Mediterranean and laid back, it can be used to this term.

Significance and sub-types of aircraft carriers

Aircraft carriers are the largest ships used by the Navy. The support of the U.S. Nimitz-class, which are powered by two nuclear reactors and four steam turbines, up to 6300 crew members, and the last ship of this class cost 6.3 billion dollars. The monthly operating cost of an aircraft carrier of this size will be approximately $ 13 million (excluding staff costs).

Types of aircraft carriers:

•Fleet aircraft carrier

•Lighter aircraft carrier

•Escort aircraft carrier

Flight deck cruiser

Amphibious assault ship

•Helicopter carrier

In addition, aircraft carrier in flush deck carrier, so no aircraft carriers ‘island’ are, and distinction in support of the ‘island-type’. After the Second World War only aircraft carrier of the island-type were built.

Only nine countries have aircraft carriers (see list of aircraft carrier): France, India, Russia, Spain, Brazil, Italy, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Chinese tourism enterprises Chong Lot in 2002 bought the former Soviet, unfinished aircraft carrier Varyag from Ukraine, officially to them to build a floating casino. It was, however, completed in Dalian and was 10 August 2011 first test drive off.

The largest and most aircraft carrier belonging to the U.S. Navy fleet. The support of all other countries are much smaller than the U.S. Navy. Only Great Britain is currently planning the construction of two new, much larger aircraft carriers, the Queen Elizabeth class. France has now shown interest in the project and is considering a stake. A final decision is not yet available.

The strategic importance of the type of ship aircraft carrier, U.S. President Bill Clinton made clear in a speech to the armed forces in 1993

The U.S. Navy also has several amphibious assault ships in service, so-called Amphibious Assault Ships. These smaller, versatile aircraft carriers used to transport about 3,000 crew members of the U.S. Marine Corps, and additional military equipment such as landing craft en. Besides helicopter n can vertical takeoff fighter are stationed on the flight deck. Britain and France also have such vessels.


A specialty was aircraft carrier and Seeflugzeugträger. They wore flying boat or floatplane, which were brought to the descent of the water with a crane on deck. The launch was also from the water, or with an aircraft catapult off the deck. With the development of flight deck equipped with aircraft carriers on which could take off and land and Radflugzeuge, these ships were obsolete. As an example, the Swabia is worth mentioning, which was used in the German Antarctic Expedition 1938/39, to launch Dornier Wal flying boats by catapult and then a crane winch again to take on board.



The fuselage of an aircraft carrier of the U.S. Nimitz class is almost 333 meters long with a draft of up to 12 m, while the British carriers are one-third smaller with up to 210 m in length. It is made of steel with a thickness of several centimeters. Below the waterline the hull is to protect against damage from a double hull. Stability and security can be achieved through the division into Schott (cross) and deck (horizontal). Above the waterline, the hull, in order to take the flight deck, wider and wider, providing more space for hangars and other spaces. Below the flight deck are the interconnected hangars which have three times the amount of normal decks. These are the planes housed and where they can be serviced. You will have up to four elevators that are located on the side or directly in the trunk, put the flight deck. Another three decks below the hangar are the engine rooms.

For maximum clearance for the flight deck available, are the bridge, all antennas and radar systems on the so-called island, the only increase to cover (usually on the starboard side), housed.

The hull is designed for speed, so the maximum Völligkeitsgrad (ship hydrodynamics) reached a later part. Due to this design, and the length of the ship hull high speed is reached, which, when combined with a powerful drive a high maximum speed. The stability is thus made from the stern. The comparison of the view of a cargo ship and an aircraft carrier obliquely from the front can be seen how narrow the nose of an aircraft carrier.

Flight Deck

Aircraft carrier comes in two basic configurations: Most have a flat deck as takeoff and landing area for aircraft. A steam catapult accelerates the aircraft that supported its launch with full thrust, in two seconds off speed. In order to land on the carrier, must be a plane, with its hooks accommodate one of a plurality of transverse steel cables ausliegenden above the deck. It is then brought to a stop within 100 meters. In large aircraft carriers, the flight deck is offset; thereby obtain aircraft that did not meet the safety bonds, the possibility durchzustarten, without running the risk of falling into the machine parked on the bow. For this type of special carrier based aircraft flight operations are required, which are designed for such. The principle is known as the Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL).

The second approach of many navies – like the British, Italians, Spaniards, Indians and Russians – is a “jump” at one end of the deck, known as a ski jump, which helps the aircraft at the start. These ships are as STOVL – (Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing) aircraft carrier designated or STOBAR (Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery). The principle was developed in the late 1970s by the British Royal Navy to build a cheaper and smaller type of aircraft carriers. After it had been proven in the Falklands war, other nations began to follow the British example. This works with vertical take-off jets like the British Hawker Siddeley Harrier, which can take off and land with almost no forward motion, but also with other aircraft, which are equipped with correspondingly powerful engines. The launch angle is modified in this case, the aircraft more time after leaving the flight deck to accelerate to a sufficient for the horizontal speed. Catapults longer necessary – in addition Longmuir also retaining cables for landing.

In both cases, the ship runs during takeoff or landing operations at up to 35 knots (64 km / h) against the wind to the required speed of the aircraft on the carrier deck, or the relative “stall speed” reduce. The difference to the true ground speed (English”Ground Speed”) is thus only the additional reduction of the relative movement of the aircraft carrier with respect to the earth’s surface (sea surface).

Example: Single-engine sports equipment, such as the Katana DA20 with a very low stall speed (45 KCAS) could, on an aircraft carrier with 35 kn ride and be around 20 knots headwind, so in total 55 knots true airspeed above deck start as helicopter and land.


The modern U.S. carrier and the French Charles de Gaulle obtain the energy for its steam turbine n of several (usually two) pressurized water reactor, so they have a very wide range and performance. All other aircraft carriers are powered with conventional boilers or gas turbines. With up to four screws they reach a speed of over 30 knots.


Unlike n frigate or destroyer n there are no uniform international code for aircraft carriers.

IDs of the U.S. Navy

The aircraft carriers of the U.S. Navy are traditional reasons identified by CV, followed by a number, for example, CV-6 USS Enterprise for the Second World War, and CVN-65. Still active for the USS Enterprise. The number in this case thus the sixth or 65th commissioned aircraft carrier of the U.S. Navy. The C stands (English: “cruiser”) for cruisers, aircraft carriers were assigned since its beginnings converted cruiser, and furthermore, in a fleet of “Cruiser Scouting Force”. The letter V is derived very likely (English: Aviation) from aviation from (fly) and originally from the French verb voler and hence the English word volplane. V declared in the U.S. Navy in a specific class of vehicles that are heavier than air (English: “heavier-than-air craft”, or “aerodynes”), but may be in that same move on their own (as opposed to vehicles, such as a zeppelin, which is in fact lighter than air and therefore English “lighter-than-air craft”, or “aerostats” is called). This class also includes all fixed-wing aircraft (English: “fixed wing”). Probably for this reason, the U.S. Navy has chosen the term V, also because CA was already taken for heavy cruisers and AC for coal and fuel transporters. An aircraft carrier with the identification CV therefore has the primary task of carrying airplanes. The commonly used names Carrier Vessel or Carrier Vehicle (for U.S. aircraft carriers), however, incorrect, but are used even in military jargon frequently.

The Second World War led to the following other, but nowadays only rarely used, in terms of the U.S. Navy:

•CVE (cruiser, with heavier-than-air craft, escort) – escort aircraft carrier

•CVL (cruiser, with heavier-than-air craft, light) – Light aircraft carrier

•CVB (cruiser, with heavier-than-air craft, battle) – large aircraft carriers

•CVA (cruiser, with heavier-than-air craft, attack) – Attack Aircraft Carrier

•CVS (cruiser, with heavier-than-air craft, anti-submarine) – antisubmarine carrier (aircraft carrier primarily for aircraft for submarine combat)

•AVT (auxiliary, with heavier-than-air craft, training) – Training Aircraft Carrier

Nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are donated by N for Nuclear. The identification of all currently active U.S. aircraft carrier is due to the nuclear propulsion therefore CVN. Other types of institutions whose primary mission is not the surgery by fixed-wing aircraft is (helicopter carrier, amphibious landing ships), are characterized as follows:

•LPH (amphibious assault helicopter carriers) – amphibious assault carrier for helicopters and Marines (Marines)

•LHD (landing helicopter dock) – helicopter carriers (also suitable for vertical take-off as the AV-8B Harrier)

•LHA (Landing Helicopter Assault) – Same features as LHD, but is designed as an amphibious assault ship (hull or Hull classification of Tarawa – and in future America-class).

Identifiers of the Royal Navy

The aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy carry the identifier R. During the Second World War marked the Royal Navy aircraft carrier stationed in the Atlantic, with D, those in the Pacific with R. In order to standardize the identification, later all aircraft carriers were identified by R, since D was used only for destroyers. The exact meaning of the abbreviation R is no longer just traceable. But it has probably. Originated in ancient identification system of the Royal Navy, whose letters are referred to the home base of the ships (D = Devonport, R =Rosyth)

IDs of other States

Many nations have adopted the code R in the Royal Navy, but there are exceptions:

•Italy marks its only aircraft carrier with numbers.

•Russia currently has only one aircraft carrier, which is classified for reasons of maritime law as heavy flight deck cruiser.

•Brazil identifies its aircraft carrier (Portuguese “navio-Aeródromo”) with the prefix NAe.

In association

Aircraft carrier never operate alone but together with various escort ships that provide protection and care as well as additional offensive potential. These accompanying fleet is usually from cruisers, destroyers together and frigate to protect the association against threats from the air, sea units or other submarines. In addition, submarines are used for reconnaissance and antisubmarine warfare. Supply ships and tankers extend the range of the carrier group several times. In addition, these vessels provide additional offensive capacity, for example, cruise missiles.

Older Soviet aircraft carrier possessed turn over such a strong self-arming that they were not dependent on the protection of other escorts.

Flight operations


The launch takes place either via aircraft catapult, on a ski jump (ski jump) or in a vertical launch.

Catapult launch

With aircraft carriers of the U.S. Navy, the French Navy and the Brazilian Navy aircraft are brought by aircraft catapults to launch speed. In order to protect the crew and waiting or parked aircraft on the flight deck, behind a departing aircraft is a piece of land (“Gasstrahlabweiser”, Eng. “Jetblast Deflector”, JBD) opened so that the gas jets are deflected upwards. The actual start takes only a few seconds in which the airplane is accelerated to takeoff speed.

Hill start

The Russian, British, Indian, Spanish and Italian aircraft carriers, there is no steam catapults. Instead, there is a start deck which is bent up like a ski jump. The Russian navy aircraft are being held by brake pads and protected by the crew Strahlabweiser like the American aircraft carriers. The starting plane leaves the engines with afterburner high, but not moving forward because the brake pads hold the aircraft. Once the brake pads release the aircraft, it accelerates and starts up the ramp from the ship.

Vertical take-off

This variant of the launch is not normally used. VTOL-capable aircraft normally start on a jump and landing capability. This has the advantage that the aircraft can carry more load at startup.


The landing on a carrier is one of the most challenging and dangerous flying operations, particularly if it is to be carried out at night or in bad weather. There are two types of landings, the landing and the vertical wires with fishing landing.

Landing with straps

This type of landing is applied to almost all aircraft carriers. Here on the rear flight deck are usually four (some aircraft carriers, only three) stretched straps, one of which must be the pilot of a “catch” with the catch hook. The ideal touchdown point here is such that the plane begins the third rope.

The basic sequence on an American aircraft carrier is as follows:

•The use of returning plane flying first a classic traffic pattern around the aircraft carrier to lose altitude and speed. The safety bonds will default to the current landing weight of the aircraft in order to curb this effectively.

•In the final approach, the pilot moves the landing gear and the tail hook. The leadership of the jet is now transferred from the control center of the beam to the landing on the flight deck officers. This landing signal officer (LSO), a pilot himself on the aircraft carrier, “says the pilot down” by telling him each to indicate how his attitude differs from the ideal line. The angle of repose is the pilot also indicated by a visual landing aid system (called by the pilots “meatball”), in which a light is displaceable in a line with a steady green light chain, when the slip angle is correct. If the machine flies too shallow, the light is below the string of lights on a steep glide to it is above. If the LSO’s notice an abnormality, they press a button that will trigger the light signal of the oncoming drivers the “wave off” signal. The pilot aborts the landing. The LSOs also assess the approach and give the pilot notes, which are important for his career, as they can have an impact on whether it continues to be trusted with valuable aircraft. “OK 3″ is the best grade.

•If the pilot exceeds the angle of repose, and the speed of the hook catches the third rope and the main landing gear touch the deck. The aircraft is immediately braked. When putting on the main landing gear, the pilot full thrust to (English bolter) if it fails, if for As the hook springs back to be able to run safely. The rope is hydraulic brakes and brings the aircraft within two seconds and almost 50 m to stop. The pilot is forced into the straps. The engines will be switched to idle, the “hook runner” solves the hook from the rope and the hook pulled. Then the plane is moving in the specified parking position.

•A plane has two landings for kerosene in the tank (Nimitz class). After two unsuccessful landing attempts must be refueled in the air. For it starts from U.S. carriers as the first airplane one equipped with a refueling vessel Boeing F-18 E Super Hornet, which then circulates to the aircraft carrier.

•In emergencies, a plane may not be able to fully execute this procedure (for example, because the hook was damaged). In this case, on the flight deck, a network can be clamped, with which the aircraft can be brought to a stop without stopping cables. Usually but this has severe damage to the aircraft’s episode.

•An F-18 can also be ended automatically without pilot. This method is applied but only in an emergency, because in case of war, the electronics can be disrupted by the enemy. Also must be able to make a safe landing.

Vertical landing

This type of landing is currently used only with the Hawker Siddeley Harrier and by their users U.S. Marine Corps, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy (Fleet Air Arm). The Marine Corps operate their aircraft not only from aircraft carriers, but also on the helicopter carrier Tarawa – and Wasp class. The Harrier aircraft will be replaced in the future of the currently present in the test phase, Lockheed Martin F-35. Of this aircraft also Italy has ordered equipment for use on their carriers.


On an aircraft carrier, different types of aircraft s are used, which are categorized as follows:

•Aircraft: jet aircraft, turboprop engines, tilt rotor aircraft,


The jet aircraft may be subdivided into the following categories:

•conventional jet airplanes

•Swing-wing aircraft (eg F-14),

•V / STOL machines (“whiz kid”, for example, Hawker Siddeley Harrier).

The aircraft serve different purposes:

•Combating air targets (other aircraft, missiles),

•Combating surface targets (ships and boats)

•Combating underwater targets (submarines),

•Maritime and air surveillance, early warning,

•Attacks on country destination,

•electronic warfare (ELOKA), disturbance of enemy sensor,

•Aerial reconnaissance,

•Aerial refueling,

•Search and rescue, transport, connecting flights, special operations.

Flight deck crew

On the flight deck crew members work for different purposes. They are respectively based on their colored shirts, work jackets and helmets Helmet Covers differentiated according to their functions on deck.

On aircraft carriers of the U.S. Navy following colors are used:

•come in crashes, injuries and firefighters used


•Doctors and paramedics

•Monitoring of movements

•Land officer

•Control of aircraft oxygen systems

•Briefing of the aircraft

•Release of an aircraft for the catapult

•Control of fishing ropes

•Catapult launch

•Safety cable system

•Refueling of aircraft

•cares about arming

•Refueling of escort ships

•Rescue people in case of accidents

•comes in the second place in accidents and fires are used

•Tractor Driver

•Move and secure the aircraft on deck

•Operation of elevators

•Aircraft maintenance

•Use allocation

Other remarks

In March 1934, the leadership of the German Navy decided after talks with Hitler a shipbuilding program. This called for the construction of eight battleships, three aircraft carriers, 18 cruisers, 48 destroyers and 72 submarines and should be implemented by 1949.

On 16 November 1935, the aircraft carrier A and its sister ship, aircraft carrier B were commissioned.

Its construction was halted in September 1939 to get capacity for submarine construction, none of the two ships was ever completed. The line of the Navy apparently knew not the meaning of aircraft carriers in modern naval warfare.

The Empire of Japan built since 1937 submarines I-400-class, with a unique feature: they carried three aircraft with folding wings with it. Thus, they were submersible aircraft carrier. Two submarines were completed, the aircraft were never used.

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