[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail:
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]
Italiano

[Link to a series of help pages]
Help
[Link to the next level up]
Up
[Link to my homepage]
Home
previous:

[image ALT: link to previous section]
Chapter 5

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
The United States Navy

by
Thomas P. Magruder
[Rear Admiral, U. S. N.]


published by
Dorrance and Company
Philadelphia
1928

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

next:

[image ALT: link to next section]
Chapter 7
This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p136  VI

Aircraft Carriers

The aircraft carrier is the most modern and, in many ways, the most important type of warship known today. It was first used in combat at the Battle of Jutland. It was first recognized as a definite and essential unit of the fleets at the Washington Limitation of Armaments Conference. It is a new weapon forged to meet the demands of modern naval warfare.

All great modern warships are, to some degree, aircraft carriers. Battleships and cruisers include, or are prepared to include, airplanes in their equipment, for use in scouting operations and in spotting accuracy of gunfire. Such vessels may carry from two to four planes each, depending upon size and type. Destroyers and submarines will, in the near future, carry airplanes. The two huge dirigibles recently authorized for the United States Navy will each, in all probability, carry from two to four planes.

The airplane carrier of most recent design houses seventy‑two or more scouting, bombing, torpedo and combat planes. It provides for them a mobile, two‑acre landing field. It is equipped  p137 with repair and service facilities that many industrial establishments ashore might envy. It is, in every sense, a floating airport, with gun protection.

Naval officers first recognized the possibilities of the aircraft carrier in warfare on May 31, 1916. During the early afternoon of that date the British Ground fleet and the German High Seas Fleet were approaching each other in the North Sea. Neither knew of the foe's proximity until at 2:20 P.M. light forces, scouting ahead of the main bodies, sighted their opponents and reported "Enemy in sight" to the respective admirals. At 2:47 o'clock, Admiral Beatty, commanding the British Battle Cruiser Fleet, signaled to the converted carrier Engadine: "Send up airplanes to scout N. N. E." This, of course, was for the purpose of reporting on the composition and formation of the enemy capital ships. At three o'clock a plane left the Engadine. At 3:45 o'clock it returned to report that three cruisers and ten destroyers were in sight and that the enemy's course was south. This was most valuable information, and was put to use when the battle began a short time later. It was also an impressive demonstration of the military capabilities of seaplanes sent up from carriers to scout in naval engagements.

Five years later, at Washington, diplomatists, as well as students of naval tactics, recognized the important rôle which aircraft carriers may be expected  p138 to play in warfare of the future, assuming their place along with capital ships, cruisers, destroyers and submarines in the battle fleets. In the treaties there agreed upon, the carrier was defined as "a vessel of war with a displacement in excess of 10,000 tons — 10,160 metric tons — standard displacement, designed for the specific and exclusive purpose of carrying aircraft. It must be so constructed that aircraft can be launched therefrom and landed thereon." The treaties further fixed the carriers' maximum tonnage and armament and the total tonnage allowed to each signatory nation.

In the period between the Battle of Jutland and the signing of the Washington treaties much had happened to make the aircraft carrier an important addition to the fighting fleets. Aviation had developed stronger wings and had introduced new conceptions of strategy. In the period since the Limitation of Armaments Conference development has progressed still further. The Engadine of Beatty's fleet could send up only one small and vulnerable scout. Aircraft carriers of today are prepared to launch planes not only for scouting and observation but also for air battles and for bombing and torpedo attacks. There is a great difference between these various aerial weapons. The scouting plane, for example, is designed to have the greatest possible radius of action and  p139 carries little in the way of offensive armament. The fighting plane is designed to destroy enemy aircraft. It must be swift, capable of quick maneuvering and armed with machine guns. The heavy bombing plane is slow, but sturdy, designed to carry a maximum weight of high-explosive bombs, and the light bomber, a fast two‑seater plane, can deliver diving attacks at very great speed.

Thus armed with the different types of planes, the modern aircraft carrier may be regarded as a scout having a radius of four or five thousand miles at a speed of perhaps twenty knots, and a further scouting radius — by reason of its planes — of 1500 miles at 100 miles an hour. It is a weapon with a range of several hundred miles, firing a projectile which carries 1000 pounds of T. N. T., the most powerful of all explosives. The development of aircraft and, a priori, of the carrier, is such that now a fleet without carriers, opposed to a fleet with carriers, will be at a great disadvantage throughout a naval campaign.

The aircraft carrier undoubtedly will wield an important influence upon the future design of the capital ship. No longer will armor be placed only on the sides to protect the vessel from shells. It must be placed also on the weather deck for protection against aerial bombs. Aircraft carriers further probably mean an end to the building of the immense, enormously expensive battle cruisers. This question is of particular interest to the naval  p140 powers, for in 1931 the replacement of the oldest capital ships will be permitted under the provisions of the Washington treaties. In the United States much naval opinion has held that it was will be necessary to build battle cruisers at that time in order to equal the naval strength of other great powers which include such vessels in their fighting fleets, and that these battle cruisers will take the place of battleships then to be declared obsolete.

It will be recalled that when battle cruisers were first designed and built it was strongly urged that because of their speed and armament they could break through any screen of light forces protecting the enemy main body from observation by scouts and thus obtain much necessary information; and that battle cruisers would deny such information to the enemy scouts. It may readily be seen now that aircraft are superior to the battle cruiser for the performance of this important duty. From 10,000 feet in the air, the observing plane, safe from gunfire, can count the enemy ships and report by radio the position, disposition, and character of the forces. If a ship carrying aircraft is called an "aircraft carrier," then a cruiser may be designated as a "gun carrier." The gun carrier will deliver an attack at approximately 20 miles, while the aircraft carrier of the same tonnage can deliver an attack at a distance of two  p141 to three hundred miles with larger charges of explosives (in the form of bombs) and with accuracy as great if not greater than the gun carrier; the aircraft carrier remaining at all times far beyond the range of the enemy guns and having only to protect itself from enemy aircraft, which it can do with the use of protecting fighting planes. Under certain conditions the weather might hamper its operations; yet despite such possible limitations, the scouting airplane, sent from a carrier, will in the future, in my opinion, give the best and most quickly obtainable information of the enemy. For these reasons it is entirely probable that no more battle cruisers will be built and that replacements in capital ships will be huge battleships of 35,000 tons, mounting nine or twelve sixteen-inch guns.

In view of this great value of the aircraft carrier in naval warfare of the future, it is interesting to compare the strength of the three leading naval powers in the new ships. Under the terms of the Washington treaties the aircraft-carrier tonnage of the United States, Great Britain and Japan is limited to 135,000, 135,000 and 81,000 tons, respectively. The number, tonnage and ratio of carriers now built or being built by the three great naval powers are shown in the following table:

 p142  United States Great Britain Japan
Number 3 7 3
Tonnage 78,700 111,500 63,300
Ratio 3.56 5 2.87

These figures emphasize at a glance the urgent need for more aircraft carriers in the United States Navy. The ratio with the other treaty parties, instead of being 5:5:3, is actually 3.56:5:2.87. The United States is at a further disadvantage from the fact that one of its carriers, the Langley, was converted from a 13‑knot, 12,000‑ton collier, and because of its slow speed, is of little use except for experimental and training purposes. The slowest British aircraft carrier can make more than twenty knots and the slowest Japanese carrier has a speed of twenty-three knots. Actually — excluding the Langley — the ratio in modern carriers of the United States, Great Britain and Japan is 3:5:2.87.

The urgent need of the United States for more aircraft carriers was clearly demonstrated by the Navy Department when it submitted to Congress, with the consent of the President, a recommendation for the construction of five carriers. As this is written, the House of Representatives has passed a bill for the increase of the Navy in which there is provision for the construction of only one carrier of about 20,000 tons, at a cost not to exceed $19,000,000. This bill has yet to be acted upon by the Senate, and it is thought that that body  p143 will add to the program so that the United States may in the near future attain the full strength in aircraft carriers permitted by its international agreements.

Progress made in aircraft-carrier development may be visualized by comparing the little Engadine, with its one plane, and the latest carriers — the United States ships Saratoga and Lexington — each carrying seventy‑two planes. The Saratoga, like her sister ship the Lexington, is of 33,000 tons, with thirty-three knots speed, and has a main battery of eight eight-inch guns. With such progress in ten years, what may one not expect in the next quarter century?

The Saratoga, now the flagship of the aircraft squadron attached to the battle fleet in the Pacific, is an odd‑looking vessel. In order to have the main deck perfectly clear for storage of planes, a runway from which planes could take off and space upon which they could alight, it was necessary to lead the uptakes from the boilers to an enormous funnel constructed at the side of the ship. Here is what is called the island, and it is this island that gives the Saratoga its unique appearance. In it are the four turrets, a navigation bridge, signal masts, fire-control towers and other essential features. A plane alighting on the deck of the ship is flying at from fifty to fifty-five miles an hour. To stop the momentum of the plane at landing, ingenious arresting devices are provided on the deck. In addition, there are brakes on the  p144 landing gear of the plane. Without these devices the plane could not be stopped within the length of the ship. With them it is stopped in 150 feet — approximately four times its own length.

The carriers Saratoga and Lexington originally were battle cruisers. By the treaty of Washington the United States was permitted to convert them into carriers. They were completed late in 1927 at a cost of about $40,000,000 each and sent to the fleet. Because of their original plans, it was possible to provide underwater compartments that made the ships unusually safe from torpedo attacks. Side armor also gives them excellent protection against other surface vessels, and the aircraft carried on board are more than adequate for protection against air attacks. Apart from eight eight-inch guns placed in four twin turrets, each carrier is armed with twelve five-inch guns that may be used also in a broadside. The anti-aircraft guns are arranged in groups of three, with the maximum possible unobstructed arcs of fire.

The Saratoga is 850 feet long on the water line and 888 feet overall. The beam is 105 feet and the draft 31 feet. It is the largest ship that can go through the Panama Canal, whose locks are 110 feet wide. Recently, when the Saratoga and Lexington went through those locks, there was so little space to spare that each ship had some paint scraped from the sides.

In view of the restrictions to the size of carriers  p145 fixed by the Washington treaties, it is quite probable that these two ships always will be the largest carriers afloat. The maximum speed attainable — thirty-three knots — is, considering the size of the vessels, truly remarkable. It is achieved with the electric-drive system of propulsion. This system has been developed only recently — within the past fifteen years — and since it is now the propulsive system of the latest capital ships in the United States Navy, it deserves more than passing mention. Boilers furnish steam to turbogenerators. These generate electricity that supplies power direct to the propulsion motors connected in pairs directly to the propeller shafts. The Saratoga has sixteen oil‑fired boilers in four separate compartments. These boilers generate about 200,000 horse power. Four 35,200 kilowatt turbogenerators give 118,000 shaft horse power to the driving motors, two on each of four shafts. The principal advantages of the electric drive are that it permits: (1) flexibility in the regulation of speed; (2) application of power at a point nearer the propellers; (3) space saving; (4) elimination of long lines of steam piping; and (5) operation directly from the bridge of the ship. It is of interest to note that the first electric drive was installed in 1912 on the United States collier Jupiter, which later was converted into the carrier Langley.

The most interesting features of the Saratoga, however, are those which adapt it to the duties  p146 of a great mother ship for aircraft. All its planes cannot be carried on the main deck. Many must be dismantled and stowed on the lower decks. When these are needed they are assembled and sent through great hatches by elevators to the main deck, ready to fly. Planes are towed about the deck by small tractors.

Two squadrons of heavy planes have been assigned to both the Saratoga and the Lexington. These combine the functions of scouting, heavy bombing and torpedo-carrying. Two squadrons of the most modern fighting planes are also carried by each. In addition, the Saratoga has twelve observation planes of the record-breaking Vought-Corsair type, and the Lexington six of the same class. The Vought-Corsair holds four world's records: (1) speed for 100 kilometres, load 500 kilos, 147.26 miles per hour; (2) speed for 500 kilometres, load 500 kilos, 136.023 m.p.h.; (3) speed for 1000 kilometres, 130.932 m.p.h.; (4) altitude, load 500 kilos, 22,178 ft. Also, to each ship is assigned a small utility airplane unit for miscellaneous uses.

The two carriers have been made as self-contained as possible, and consequently the usual facilities of shore airports and air stations are provided. Shops completely equipped to overhaul aircraft and overhaul and test all types of aircraft engines, are installed on these two ships. Special aerological equipment makes it possible to  p147 predict meteorological conditions, and radio compass facilities for directional control of planes, as well as the customary apparatus for communication with other ships, shore stations and aircraft, are provided.

Airplanes may leave the vessels by taking off in the customary way from the flying deck or by being launched by catapult. The catapult was originally designed by the United States Navy to launch planes from capital ships and cruisers, and has been steadily improved until a high degree of efficiency has been attained. It permits a plane to take off even in severe weather and while the ship is underway. The vessel must necessarily be so maneuvered that the wind is coming from the side toward which the catapult will be fired.

Where both catapult and flying deck are lacking, planes may be enabled to rise into the air at sea by stopping the vessel and lowering them over with a crane. The new carriers are equipped with such cranes, in addition to their catapults and flying decks, and can lower planes from the upper deck to the surface of the water. This, of course, is sometimes impractical, due to rough seas. Often it is impossible for many types of seaplanes to rise from the sea when it is rough, or even when a heavy ground swell is running.

A recent and significant accomplishment of the Saratoga was its demonstration of ability to aid a huge dirigible at sea. Late last January the  p148 great airship Los Angeles made a landing on the deck of a carrier while the ship was proceeding at a speed of fifteen knots. A hose was led to the dirigible from the Saratoga and fuel, water, supplies and passengers were transferred from one ship to the other. The operation consumed only about an hour and was considered entirely successful, although only comparatively crude equipment was available. The importance of the demonstration lay in the fact that it promised a new and tremendously expanded radius of action to dirigibles co‑operating with aircraft carriers at sea.

Like the battleships, the new aircraft carriers are large and self-contained communities. The Saratoga, as has been pointed out, can produce enough electric current to supply the demands of a city the size of Boston. This power is used not only to drive the vessel but to operate the elevators that lift the airplanes, to hoist ammunition, to steer, to raise and lower anchors, to pump water, to ventilate the ship, to drive machinery in the workshop and to operate the interior communication system, the searchlights, the radio and the kitchen and laundry apparatus. To man and operate the vessel a total complement of about 1815 enlisted men and 219 officers — of whom 115 are commissioned aviators — are required.

The personnel includes craftsmen of many trades. For them there are provided all the comforts  p149 that may be found ashore. Apart from their electrically equipped galleys and diet kitchens, they have a hospital and dispensary, a dental office, butcher, barber, cobbler and printing shops, a laundry, a post office, a photographic laboratory, a refrigerating plant and evaporating and distilling apparatus. Equipment for servicing and repairing the planes includes an optical repair shop, blacksmith and machine shops, a foundry, a wing covering and fuselage repair shop, an electrical shop, a copper and wire shop, a woodworking shop and sheet metal, welding, radio, engine overhaul and instrument repair rooms. In addition to the purely aviation features of the vessels, the usual requirements of first-class fighting ships are met in every respect. The organization is quite similar to that of any man-of‑war, with the addition of an air department, which has supervision over all air matters on the ship. This department has the same status in the ship as do the engineer, gunnery and other departments.

Immediately after the Saratoga and the Lexington had been launched, actual aircraft operations were begun. The first landing was made on board the Lexington by Lieut. A. M. Pride, U. S. N., while the ship was on her way from the building yard at Quincy, Massachusetts, to Boston Navy Yard. The first landing was made on board the Saratoga by Lieut. Commander M. A. Mitscher, U. S. N.,a as soon as the vessel had left the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

 p150  These two ships have cost the Government a very large sum of money. This money, however, was not spent exclusively for the national defense. The experimentation that resulted in the power plants, not only of the ships but of the planes as well, is for the benefit of all industry. The Navy freely gives the benefit of its successes to all industries to which they are of value.

Annually the Navy spends $1,750,000 in aerial research and experimentation. It is spending annually about $12,500,000 for new airplanes and engines. Such expenditures have in part enabled aircraft engine builders to carry on. What this can mean has been explained as follows in a recent article by the Hon. E. P. Warner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Aeronautics:

The best example of this service rendered to commercial aviation by the upkeep of an industry on service orders is afforded by the history of the power plant which carried Lindbergh, Chamberlin, Byrd and Maitland to success, and which drove more than three-quarters of the commercial airplanes entered in the recent national air tour. That engine was first built to suit naval requirements and was first purchased by the Navy, and for several years it was upon naval business that the development work was fostered and the overhead expense carried, while commercial orders were few and far between.

Without the support of the service the process of incubation and of gradual growth into the wonderfully successful product of the present could hardly have taken  p151 place at all; or, if it had been carried on by some means, the cost of the engine to the commercial buyer would have been almost prohibitive. Because there was an assurance of a substantially steady service demand, the price could be kept down and the engine could make its way in a field where economic competition as well as inherent performance had to be considered. So successful has it been in finding a place there that it seems likely, extending forward the tendencies of the last two or three years, that the commercial orders for such power plants will soon bulk larger than those for the government services. When that point is reached it will be the Navy and Army which will in turn reap the benefits of economy from factory production on a scale larger than would be possible if it were only government orders that had to be filled.

Thus the peacetime activities of naval aviation, as conducted by the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, mark an important phase in the development of industrial aeronautics, since every advance in aviation practice which increases the efficiency of our naval air force is a direct benefit to commercial aviation. Naval aircraft necessities have evolved practise in design, construction and operation which have made for the safety, the economy and the efficiency of all aircraft. All these essentials furnish a note of progress and success in the commercial and industrial field. The general practice followed by the bureau is to designate the result desired and to leave the solution of the problem with individual concerns.

 p152  The Navy has an aircraft factory at Philadelphia which has given many valuable contributions to aviation. The Bureau of Aeronautics, at the close of the war, realized the necessity of maintaining the private companies then successfully engaged in building and developing aircraft engines, and so gave them contracts to keep their technical organizations active in the construction of new and improved types and to maintain a nucleus of highly skilled mechanics. This policy of maintaining and encouraging the private companies is largely responsible for the present development of aviation. Without such naval support, a number of the companies probably would have gone out of business.

Ten years ago the Liberty airplane engine was of about 350 horse power, developing one horse power for every three and a half pounds. Now the Packard aviation engine of 1250 horse power — twenty-four-cylinder motor — develops one horse power for every eighteen ounces of weight. The Pratt & Whitney Wasp gives one horse power for about every two pounds and the Wright Whirlwind motor — the engine used by Lindbergh, Chamberlin, Byrd and Maitland — of about 200 horse power, weighs only 500 pounds. Not only are the airplane engines of today marvels of ingenuity and lightness, but also they are exceedingly reliable. Travel by air with skilled and licensed pilots is just about as safe as is travel by  p153 rail. Most of the accidents of which one reads today are caused by the inexperience of student aviators or other amateurs and by planes not properly inspected or unfit for flying. Commercial routes have safe planes in charge of competent pilots. The amazing degree of safety achieved is shown in Department of Commerce reports and other statistics on the reliability and security of passenger air transport.

How will those $40,000,000 ships — the Saratoga and the Lexington — be employed in the event, most unhappily, of war? To answer this question gives the imagination a fascinating problem. Truly there is no new thing under the sun. Birds have soared in the air since the world was new. Man in the air is a variation, having all the attraction of novelty. In a large slow plane he may seek an enemy hundreds of miles away, and finding him, may report the position of that enemy, the types of the enemy ships, the formation of the enemy fleet, together with its course and speed.

All this is of the highest importance to the commander of a fleet. The commander, receiving such valuable information, can estimate the best disposition to attack the enemy. In short, he can plan intelligently for battle. What an advantage to the airplane-equipped fleet if the enemy is without similar information! That is a strategic employment of airplanes.

Let us surmise that as a result of information  p154 thus gained the two hostile fleets approach each other. Then comes a time when they are eighteen or twenty miles apart. A plane, high in the air, gives the distance and direction of the enemy by radio to the flagship and the admiral orders: "Open fire!" Mark well, the fleets do not see each other! A battleship fires a salvo of sixteen-inch guns. In thirty seconds the plane reports the salvo was 1000 yards short and five degrees to the right of an enemy ship, or whatever may be the necessary correction. The gun sights are corrected accordingly and immediately a second salvo is fired. The battle is on. Then from the aircraft carriers rise the bombing planes, protected by the fast little one‑seated fighters. Despite the enemy fighting planes, despite the anti-aircraft guns, onward fly the bombers toward their objective — the enemy capital ships. Some may be shot down by enemy planes, some be struck by enemy shell. But by the grace of daring and courage, some let loose their high-explosive bombs on the decks of enemy ships. And then they return to the carrier — if they can.

Light bombing planes carrying light bombs and capable of a speed of approximately 150 miles per hour, can in small groups dive at the enemy fleet, each plane dropping two bombs while traveling at a speed in excess of 250 miles per hour, all planes approaching from different directions. Targets moving at this speed are extremely difficult to hit.  p155 While light bombs such as these machines carry cannot sink a capital ship, a direct hit on the deck would undoubtedly silence the anti-aircraft guns and broadside batteries and would make it extremely dangerous for unprotected personnel on the ship's deck.

The spotting of the fall of salvos and the attacks by bombing planes are tactical employment of planes.

Development and progress in aircraft design are leading certainly to larger, faster and more reliable planes — planes that not only may fly but also may sail on the sea. This generation has seen the airplane develop from the little unreliable pusher of the Wrights to the large reliable tractors that carried Lindbergh and Chamberlin across the Atlantic Ocean, the former to France and the latter to Germany. Planes now fly 290 miles an hour and attain an altitude of 39,000 feet. They stay in the air for fifty-eight hours. It is not difficult then to visualize a plane that will, within itself, in the not distant future, have some of the qualities of speed, endurance and altitude now possessed by three individual types. That is to say, a plane that will fly 4000 miles at a speed of 200 miles an hour at an altitude of 30,000 feet above the surface of the earth!

The aircraft carrier, which extends the capabilities of these new weapons of naval warfare, has been in the course of development for a longer period than most persons realize. Fourteen years  p156 ago the United States Navy conducted experiments with such an object in view, when it constructed a runway on the quarter deck of the old cruiser Pennsylvania. In Europe also many trials were made with devices designed to launch planes from the decks of battleships.

In 1914 the British Navy adapted a tramp steamer, later known as the Ark Royal, to aircraft-carrying purposes by fitting it with a flying deck in the bow and two cranes for lifting seaplanes aboard from the water after flight. During the war the ship served in the Eastern Mediterranean as an aircraft depot. It was followed by several more carriers, converted from channel steamers and passenger vessels.

One of the most notable of these was the Campania, fitted up in 1915 with a large flying deck equipped with wheel trolleys for the launching of seaplanes. An Italian cargo and passenger ship was fitted with a flying deck foe and aft and with storage place for planes below, and was named the Argus. Elevators were built to lift planes from the hangar to the flying deck and cranes lifted the seaplanes from the water. The planes on deck were protected with wind-breaking devices which could be raised to a height of fourteen feet.

Early in 1916 the British naval authorities determined to convert the Furious, which had been originally designed as a large light cruiser with  p157 two eighteen-inch guns in single turrets, fore and aft, into an aircraft carrier. The forward turret was removed to make room for a flying deck and hangar. Later the stern turret, too, was replaced with a flying deck. Planes launched from this vessel bombed with great success a number of German airship hangars along the coast. Further alterations to increase the efficiency of the Furious as an airplane carrier were completed in 1925. Several other ships originally designed as cruisers were similarly converted as a result of experiments with this vessel. The Hermes was the first British ship to be designed from the start as an aircraft carrier. It carries about twenty planes, and, like our own more modern ships, has funnels and other uptakes in an island on the side.

The first aircraft carrier built for the United States Navy was the Langley, named in honor of Prof. Samuel Pierpont Langley, famous aeronautical pioneer. Originally the collier Jupiter, it was converted in 1921 at the Norfolk Navy Yard. After the coal-handling gear had been removed a flying deck extending from bow to stern was built about fifty‑six feet above the water line. The deck is about 65 feet wide amidships and about 525 feet in length. Like the later carriers, the Langley is equipped with arresting devices on the flying deck, catapults, cranes and elevators for lifting planes from storage places below. Service and repair facilities include a machine shop, a wing-repairing  p158 shop, a metal shop and storerooms. In the hold is storage for accessories, ammunition and fuel and oil for airplanes. When first put into service the Langley was prepared to carry twelve single-seater pursuit planes, four torpedo planes and six seaplanes. Naval development, however, is never still and such plans are easily changed.b

The Navy is necessary to protect the vital interests of our nation. Particularly it is the guardian of the country's foreign commerce. Without foreign commerce there can be no prosperity. Life without prosperity to an American is scarcely worth living. One‑sixth of all agricultural products and the output of many other industries are dependent upon the world's markets. Raw materials not produced in this country must be imported, else certain industries vanish. A merchant marine and a protective Navy are essential to the prosperous economic life of the nation and to the welfare and happiness of every man, woman and child in the country.

Aircraft carriers are an increasingly important part of an adequately protective Navy. We have only three!


Thayer's Notes:

a Marc Mitscher, one of the Navy's early aviation pioneers, would rise to Admiral and Commander-in‑Chief, U. S. Atlantic Fleet. Details of his Pacific commands during World War II are given in chapters 20‑22 and 24‑26 of A. R. Buchanan, ed., The Navy's Air War.

[decorative delimiter]

b As the admiral predicted, the Langley was retasked, eight years after he wrote (The Navy's Air War, p18) and went on to serve in that capacity in the Pacific in World War II (The Navy's Air War, chapters 20‑22, 24, 26).


[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 24 Sep 14