Floating Fortresses: 40 Fascinating Facts About Aircraft Carriers

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26USS Yorktown

USS Yorktown

During World War 2, the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown was heavily damaged after destroying a Japanese aircraft carrier during the first carrier battle in history. After 48 hours of emergency repairs, it ended up helping destroy two more carriers before being sunk and inadvertently saved the other US carriers.

27. US aircraft carriers are so large they each have their own designated zip code for mail and logistics purposes. Submarines and other surface ships too have their own Fleet Post Office.

28. In 1963, a series of tests proved that the Hercules C-130 transport aircraft could land on and take off from the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal. It was the largest plane to ever successfully land and take off from an aircraft carrier and was nicknamed “Look Ma, No Hook” to brag about how it needed neither an arresting hook nor a catapult assist.

29. During World War 2, the US Navy had two freshwater aircraft carriers on the Great Lakes to train its pilots. During training, aircraft losses were high. As such they often used older aircraft. The floor of the Great Lakes is littered with World War 2 aircrafts and lately, people have been recovering them.

30. Project Habbakuk was a plan by the British during World War 2 to construct an aircraft carrier out of pykrete (a mixture of wood pulp and ice) for use against German U-boats in the mid-Atlantic. They even made a 60 feet prototype that took three years to melt. The project was however shelved due to rising costs, added requirements, and the availability of longer-range aircraft and escort carriers which closed the Mid-Atlantic gap that the project was intended to address.

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31Aircraft Carrier Shinano

Aircraft Carrier Shinano

During World War 2, U.S. submarine Archerfish sank the Japanese aircraft carrier Shinano, but the U.S. Navy did not believe that a submarine could actually sink a carrier until the acting commander drew a picture of the carrier.

32. Germany built one aircraft carrier during World War 2. The wreck of Graf Zeppelin was discovered in 2006 by a Polish survey ship in July 2006, about 260 feet below sea level.

33. All poop generated by the troops aboard US Navy’s newest aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford will be vaporized by plasma.

34. Aircraft carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo of the Argentine navy was originally a British Colossus class Aircraft carrier from World War 2. She was sold to the Netherlands, who then sold it to the Argentine Navy where it ultimately participated in the Falklands war against her original builders, the British.

35. All aircraft carriers in history (save two) have their bridges on the starboard side due to a near-universal tendency of pilots to veer left during an emergency.

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36Somatogravic Illusion

Somatogravic Illusion

Pilots taking off from aircraft carriers must keep their hands off the stick until they are fully launched off the end of the ship and in the air. This is to prevent them from intentionally diving the plane into the water due to a form of disorientation called “somatogravic illusion.”

37. The first-ever US aircraft carrier the USS Langley (CV-1) originally came equipped with a pigeon house for messenger pigeons. Pigeons were still utilized on navy ships of the time and carried aboard seaplanes for message transport, this beginning about the time of World War I. The US Navy pigeons were “trained” at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard at the same time that USS Langley was being converted to CV-1.

38. In 1964, a destroyer strayed in front of Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne. The destroyer was cut in half and 82 personnel were killed. In 1969, US Navy destroyer USS Frank E. Evans strayed in front of her and was again cut in half, killing 74 personnel. Each time, Melbourne captain’s career was ruined by flawed inquiries and each was absolved by later investigations. These incidents, along with several minor collisions, shipboard accidents, and aircraft losses, led to the reputation that HMAS Melbourne was jinxed.

39. Thailand's only aircraft carrier HTMS Chakri Naruebet doesn’t have any accompanying jet fleet since 2006. The ship is the smallest functioning aircraft carrier in the world.

40. Operation Cherry Blossom was a planned biological attack that was to be carried out in California by the Japanese during World War 2. Five submarine aircraft carriers were to launch planes that would then drop plague-infected fleas over southern California in hopes of crippling the civilian population. The operation only existed on paper and was never feasible. By the time the I-400 class submarines were built, the war was nearly over.

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