The concept went to finding a larger carrier that could support both deck armor and a sufficiently large air group. Unlike the Royal
The concept went to finding a larger carrier that could support both deck armor and a sufficiently large air group. Unlike the Royal Navy's aircraft carriers, for which the armored deck was part of the ship structure, the Midway class retained their "strength deck" at the hangar deck level and the armored flight deck was part of the superstructure. The weight-savings needed to armor the flight deck were achieved by removing the planned cruiser-caliber battery of 8-inch (203 mm) guns and reducing the 5-inch antiaircraft battery from dual to single mounts. They would be the last USN carriers to be so designed; the size of the Forrestal-class supercarriers would require the strength deck to be located at flight deck level. The heavily subdivided arrangement of the machinery spaces was based on that of the Montana-class battleship. While the Essex-class carriers had eight main engineering compartments, the Midway-class had 26, including twelve boiler rooms well off the centerline and four widely separated engine rooms. More extensive use of electric arc-welding than in previous warships reduced the weight by about 10 percent of what would have been required for riveted structural assembly.
The resulting carriers were very large, with the ability to accommodate more planes than any other carrier in the U.S. fleet (30–40 more aircraft than t
The resulting carriers were very large, with the ability to accommodate more planes than any other carrier in the U.S. fleet (30–40 more aircraft than the Essex class). In their original configuration, the Midway-class ships had an airwing of almost 130 aircraft. It was soon realized that the coordination of so many planes was beyond the effective command and control ability of one ship. However, their size did allow these ships to more easily accommodate the rapid growth in aircraft size and weight that took place in the early jet age. The forward flight deck was designed for launching 13-ton aircraft; and the aft flight deck was designed for landing 11-ton aircraft, assuming in-flight expenditure of fuel and ordnance. While Midway and Coral Sea followed the US Navy's policy of naming aircraft carriers after battles (two Casablanca-class escort carriers gave up their names for the larger ships) USS Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated the policy of naming aircraft carriers after former US Presidents that the US Navy generally follows today.
While the resulting ships featured excellent protection and unprecedented airwing size, they also had several undesirable characteristics. Internally, the ships were very cramped and crowded. Freeboard was unusually low for such large carriers; in heavy seas, they shipped large amounts of water (only partially mitigated by the fitting of a hurricane bow during the SCB-110/110A upgrades) and corkscrewed in a manner that hampered landing operations. In addition, in contrast with the earlier Lexington, Yorktown and Essex-classes, the beam (width) of the Midway-class carriers meant that they could not pass through the Panama Canal.
Although they were intended to augment the US Pacific fleet during World War II, the lead ship of the class, Midway, was not commissioned until 10 September 1945, eight days after the Surrender of Japan.
None of the class went on war cruises during the Korean War. As the three ships became essential to the Navy's strategic nuclear weapons role in Europe, they were mainly deployed to the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Until the availability of the Forrestal-class, they were the premier commands sought by senior naval aviators. They were "admiral makers" for many of their commanding officers including future CNOs George Whelan Anderson Jr. and David L. McDonald. During the 1950s, all three ships underwent the SCB-110 modernization program (similar to SCB-125 for the Essex-class carriers), which added angled decks, steam catapults, mirror landing systems, and other modifications that allowed them to operate a new breed of large, heavy naval jets.
All three of the Midway class made combat deployments in the Vietnam War. Coral Sea deployed to the Gulf of Tonkin six times, Midway deployed on three occasions, and Franklin D. Roosevelt made one combat deployment before returning to the Mediterranean.
In the late 1960s, Midway underwent an extensive modernization and reconstruction program, which proved to be controversial and expensive and thus was not repeated on the other ships. While $82 million had been budgeted for the modernization, the actual cost was $202 million, in comparison to $277 mi
In the late 1960s, Midway underwent an extensive modernization and reconstruction program, which proved to be controversial and expensive and thus was not repeated on the other ships. While $82 million had been budgeted for the modernization, the actual cost was $202 million, in comparison to $277 million for simultaneous construction of the brand-new USS John F. Kennedy.
By the 1970s, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Coral Sea were showing their age. All three retained the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II in their air wings, being too small to operate the new Grumman F-14 Tomcat fleet defense fighter or the S-3 Viking anti-submarine jet. In 1977, Franklin D. Roosevelt was decommissioned. On her final deployment, Roosevelt embarked AV-8 Harrier jump jets to test the concept of including VSTOL aircraft in a carrier air wing.