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Aviation History And Aircraft Photography

The Aircraft Carrier Survivors

In the first half of the 20th Century, the major capital ship was the Fleet Battleship. These large gunboats were used to project power and as a symbol of national sovereignty. The designs grew larger and larger as countries competed to built bigger battleships with larger guns. International organizations even sprung up trying to limit the size and number of such ships.

On the morning of December 7, 1941, the US Navy battleship fleet was fully ready to fight World War 1. Unfortunately, that was the morning when WWII started for the United States. By noon, the bulk of the Navy battleship fleet would be sitting on the bottom of Pearl Harbor, put there by aircraft launched from Japanese aircraft carriers. From that day forward, the major capital ship has remained the Fleet Aircraft Carrier. When the US wants to project power, an aircraft carrier is sent to the region. When a new crisis erupts, the first thing the President asks is the current location of the aircraft carriers.

Click Aircraft Carrier Photo Click Aircraft Carrier Photo

Post-war, carriers grew larger and larger as jet aircraft were introduced. The US Navy adopted British innovations such as the angled flight deck and steam catapult, as well as their own innovations such as nuclear power. But unless you were fortunate enough to be a member of Congress or an Astronaut, the carriers were off limits to all but their crew.

The aircraft carrier as a museum is a relatively new concept. The first one opened with the Yorktown in 1975. The Intrepid followed in 1982, and four more since 1992. The USS Midway museum is the newest of the United States carriers to be opened to the public. Since all of the US Navy CVN supercarriers are still active, none are open for tours.

Perhaps the most unusual of the carrier museums is the Minsk. The second of the trouble-prone Kiev class of Soviet carriers, it was retired after less than 20 years at sea when its VSTOL aircraft were withdrawn from service. The Minsk went to Korea for scrapping, but was saved from the cutting torch by the Chinese. The Minsk is now open as a floating museum and casino. Rumor is that the Kiev may join the Minsk as a second Chinese museum and casino. Another former Soviet aircraft carrier, the larger Kuznetsov class Varyag, which was never completed, is under conversion to be a cruise ship.

There was an effort to save the carrier USS Forrestal to be based in Baltimore as a museum. However, the fund raising fell short, and the project was not successful. As of 2010, it looks like the Forrestal will be sunk to become an artificial reef.

US Aircraft Carrier Museums

Hull Number Name City State Location Year Museum Opened
CV-10 Yorktown Charleston SC Patriot's Point 1975
CV-11 Intrepid New York City NY Pier 86 1982
CV-12 Hornet Alameda CA Alameda Point 1998
CV-16 Lexington Corpus Christi TX Museum On The Bay 1992
CVB-41 Midway San Diego CA Navy Pier 2004

Note—click on the Hull Number to see more information on each museum.

US Aircraft Carrier Web Sites

Hull Number Name Web Site
CV-10 Yorktown
CV-11 Intrepid
CV-12 Hornet
CV-16 Lexington
CVB-41 Midway

World Aircraft Carrier Museums

Hull Number Name City Country Location Year Museum Opened
1143.2 Minsk Shenzhen China Minsk Aircraft Carrier World 2000

Note—click on the Hull Number to see more information on each museum.

Some Statistics On These Aircraft Carriers

Hull Number Name Class Date Launched Date Retired Speed (Knots) Crew
CV-10 Yorktown Essex 15 Apr 43 27 Jun 70 32.7 3448
CV-11 Intrepid Essex 16 Aug 43 15 Mar 74 32.7 3448
CV-12 Hornet Essex 29 Nov 43 26 May 70 32.7 3448
CV-16 Lexington Essex 17 Feb 43 8 Nov 91 32.7 3748
CVB-41 Midway Midway 20 Mar 45 11 Apr 92 33 4104
1143.2 Minsk Kiev 30 Sep 75 30 Jun 93 32 1600

Hull Number Name Class Displacement (Tons) Draft (Feet) Length (Feet) Width (Feet) Flight Deck Width (Feet)
CV-10 Yorktown Essex 27,100 28.7 872 93 148
CV-11 Intrepid Essex 27,100 28.7 872 93 148
CV-12 Hornet Essex 27,100 28.7 872 93 148
CV-16 Lexington Essex 27,100 28.7 872 93 192
CVB-41 Midway Midway 45,000 35 968 113 238
1143.2 Minsk Kiev 42,000 31 895 107 174

Note—click on the Hull Number to see more information on each museum.

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Authored by John A. Weeks III, Copyright © 1996—2016, all rights reserved.
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