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  • They were designed to be the best

  • they met enemies face to face,

  • endured tragedies and enjoyed victories

  • they went down in history due to the bravery of their crews

  • they are the ships that deserve to be called

  • Naval Legends!”

  • In this episode:

  • The aviation of Essex-class aircraft carriers:

  • terror of the Pacific Ocean.

  • The outcome of battles in the Pacific Ocean, during World War II,

  • didn't depend on the primary armament of mighty battleships anymore.

  • Often, opposing ships didn't make a single artillery salvo

  • and couldn't even see one another through binoculars.

  • Pearl Harbor,

  • the Bombing of Tokyo,

  • the clash of aircraft carriers in the Coral Sea:

  • the main characters in these operations

  • were the carrier aviation.

  • In the first year of the war, the Japanese army achieved a number of significant victories

  • and captured almost all of South-East Asia,

  • while the Imperial fleet was dominating in the Pacific Ocean.

  • Imagine: a small island country controls a territory 17 times bigger than its own,

  • and with a population 5 times greater!

  • However, it's one thing to conquer, it’s another thing to retain it.

  • In the summer of 1942, the Japanese suffered a crushing defeat in the Battle of Midway.

  • It's after this victory that the Americans started active offensive actions.

  • Japan manufactured 18 aircraft carriers over the course of the war,

  • not counting those commissioned before the war.

  • Meanwhile, the U.S. economy could accommodate the construction of 150 aircraft carriers.

  • Essex-class aircraft carriers became the main striking force of the U.S. Navy

  • and were pivotal in the war in the Pacific.

  • The air group of Essex-class ships consisted of four squadrons.

  • Reconnaissance, bomber, and torpedo bomber squadrons had 18 aircraft each.

  • The fighter squadron was reinforced and had 36 aircraft instead of 18.

  • It was a timely decision:

  • these were the fighters who gradually started to win in the Pacific skies...

  • In the early years of the war, the primary aircraft of the U.S. carrier aviation

  • were the Dauntless dive bombers and the Wildcat fighter planes.

  • They showed good performance, but became obsolete by the beginning of 1943 and needed to be replaced.

  • Modern Avenger torpedo bombers were the first to appear on the flight decks

  • and in the hangars of Essex-class carriers.

  • Grumman TBF/TBM Avenger torpedo bomber:

  • Maximum takeoff weight: 18,268 lbs

  • Engine power: 1,900 brake horsepower

  • Maximum speed: 276 mph

  • Armament:

  • 2 x M2 machine guns, caliber: 0.5 inches

  • 1 x M2 machine gun in the upper turret, caliber: 0.5 inch

  • 1 x M1919 machine gun in the lower turret, caliber: 0.3 inch

  • A torpedo or bomb load up to 2000 lbs,

  • including 8 x 5-inch HVAR rockets

  • It was a very effective airplane and a good demonstration of one of the advantages

  • the U.S. Navy had over our adversary, the Japanese, at that Second World War.

  • Not only could we produce more aircraft carriers, but we could produce more aircraft.

  • And with the design of the folding wings, as you see on the TBM Avenger,

  • we were able to carry more airplanes on each ship because of that.

  • It provided extra space for us to carry more aircraft.

  • And that way we could outnumber our adversaries in combat.

  • I never got to fly one.

  • I always thought it was one of the most beautiful airplanes the Navy ever built.

  • As a youngster I used to make models of all the airplanes that they had

  • and this was one of the prominent models that I have.

  • Avengers took their rightful place on aircraft carriers,

  • while the obsolete Dauntless and Wildcat planes

  • were replaced by the Helldiver dive bombers and the Hellcat fighter planes...

  • Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter plane:

  • Maximum takeoff weight: 15,410 lbs

  • Engine power: 2,250 brake horsepower

  • Maximum speed: 380 mph

  • Armament:

  • 6 x M2 machine guns, caliber: 0.5 inches

  • 2 x 500 lbs bombs and 6 x 5-inch HVAR rockets

  • The Hellcat was the most mass produced fighter plane of the U.S. naval aviation

  • during World War II.

  • U.S. engineers installed a more powerful engine than the one found on the previous model,

  • the Wildcat, thus improving the flight characteristics.

  • The new fighter had greater maneuverability, speed, as well as fuel and ammunition capacity...

  • In the last two years of the war Hellcats shot down more than five thousand Japanese aircraft,

  • contributing to two thirds of all victories of the U.S. carrier aviation in dogfights.

  • The F6F has one of the best ratios of victories to losses in the Pacific

  • 19 to 1, that means that for every Hellcat lost, 19 Japanese aircraft were destroyed.

  • The Helldiver was the most ambiguous plane of the Essex's carrier aviation.

  • Curtiss SB2C Helldiver scout bomber:

  • Maximum takeoff weight: 16,652 lbs

  • Engine power: 1,900 brake horsepower

  • Maximum speed: 295 mph

  • Armament:

  • 2 x Mk.2 cannons, caliber: 0.8 inches

  • Twin mount M1919 machine gun in the upper turret, caliber: 0.3 inch

  • Total bomb load up to 2,002 lbs including 8 x 5-inch HVAR rockets.

  • This aircraft wasn't easy to handle:

  • the landing gear legs of these machines would literally collapse the moment they touched the flight deck,

  • while braking barriers failed to catch them...

  • When a Helldiver was going to land, all personnel were removed from the deck.

  • The explanation is quite simple:

  • this aircraft had quite poor flight characteristics, especially when landing on a moving deck.

  • In addition, it would often lose its ammunition, which didn't add to the reliability.

  • That's why, when the aircraft initially began service,

  • the U.S. sailors nicknamed it "the Big-Tailed Beast"...

  • However, Helldivers had some noteworthy advantages:

  • they were fast for a bomber and were able to sustain serious damage.

  • The shortcomings were fixed in the later versions,

  • but the pilots kept their prejudice against Helldivers until the end of the war.

  • The F4U Corsair fighter bomber: was the last to appear on Essex-class aircraft carriers...

  • Vaught F4U Corsair fighter bomber:

  • Maximum takeoff weight: 14,670 lbs

  • Engine power: 2,100 brake horsepower

  • Maximum speed: 448 mph

  • Armament:

  • 6 x M2 machine guns, caliber: 0.5 inches

  • 2 x 500 lbs bombs and 8 x 5-inch HVAR rockets

  • The enemy nicknamed it "Whistling Death":

  • when the aircraft was diving, it produced a sound that scared Japanese soldiers to death.

  • Thanks to excellent speed characteristics,

  • Corsairs took the initiative in battle and became one of the best combat aircraft of World War II,

  • and the greatest threat to the Japanese army and fleet.

  • The F4U Corsair played a key role in World War II as a fighter aircraft.

  • And its gull wing design that everyone is so familiar

  • with was necessary so it could operate both on carriers and be effective in the air.

  • In fact, it became a cornerstone of the air-to-air combat in World War II and then again in the Korean War.

  • That was its primary era of effectiveness; it was soon replaced by other aircraft in the 1950s.

  • But when it came to World War II and Korea, the Corsair was the main aircraft in the air-to-air combat.

  • See More...

  • Every flight operation had difficulties for U.S. pilots of the carrier aviation.

  • On top of combat against strong adversaries,

  • pilots had to show their skill during takeoff and landing:

  • aircraft could be sent on missions in bad weather or at night.

  • Night time was a kind of a nightmare.

  • It was of course dark, we only had red lights operating on the flight deck,

  • so that our eyes didn’t dilate,

  • and on this ship it required movement of the aircraft, which was rather unusual.

  • As our operations day would begin, they would take half the air group,

  • put them on the flight deck at the rear,

  • fill them all with gasoline, bombs, and rockets, and ammunition,

  • and then they would start them up and taxi forward, and then they would launch them.

  • As soon as they were launched, they would bring up the other half of the air group,

  • position them at the back, fill them with gasoline, bombs, rockets, and ammunition,

  • start their engines, have them taxied forward, and then launch.

  • And usually just as the last one was launching,

  • the original group that went was coming back to land on board.

  • After they landed, it was necessary to taxi forward and park the airplanes

  • along the side of the flight deck, parallel position,

  • and then after everybody had recovered from the launch,

  • then all those airplanes were moved to the rear using tractors.

  • And then they were refueled, got new bombs, and rockets, and so forth.

  • This went on for 12 hours a day and you can imagine what a circus this became on the flight deck.

  • It was very, very dangerous.

  • The people who worked here were very young men, and they did a very dangerous job.

  • And they did a very good job of it too.

  • Air groups of Essex-class carriers had their baptism of fire during the raid on Marcus Island on August 31, 1943.

  • During that time, the U.S. military strategy consisted in a systematic removal

  • of the Japanese from the conquered territories.

  • The Task Force's aircraft were destroying Japanese aviation at airfields,

  • demolishing defensive fortifications on islands,

  • and attacking the enemy fleet when it tried to interfere with the troopslanding.

  • As a result of these local operations, the Japanese army was diminishing by the minute.

  • In the summer of 1944, during two days of battle in the Philippine Sea,

  • U.S. pilots of aircraft carriers from Task Force 58

  • destroyed more than 90% of all Japanese carrier aviation.

  • By the spring of 1945, the U.S. fleet was reinforced with another five new Essex-class ships.

  • The Japanese had nothing that could oppose them.

  • The U.S. carrier aviation sank 5 battleships including both super-battleships:

  • first Musashi

  • and then Yamato

  • They also sank 11 aircraft carriers, 14 cruisers, and many other enemy ships.

  • That's when the Japanese command turned to their last resort,

  • to change the situation in the sky over the Pacific Ocean:

  • "the spirit wind" became the main enemy of the U.S. fleet.

  • Kamikaze is translated from the Japanese as "the spirit wind",

  • meaning the wind that must crush the enemies of Japan.

  • Battles in the Philippine Sea made it obvious that the training of Japanese pilots

  • is much worse than that of their U.S. counterparts.

  • Apart from that, the United States were producing far more aircraft than Japan.

  • Under these circumstances, the Japanese command decided to bring back the "spirit wind" tactics,

  • which could help them prevail over the United States.

  • To this end they recruited conscripts that could barely fly an aircraft.

  • They had a single mission: take off in a plane stuffed with explosives and fly it into an enemy ship.

  • However, not only inexperienced pilots participated in such attacks:

  • rear admiral Arima aimed his plane at the U.S. aircraft carrier Franklin.

  • Essex-class heavy aircraft carriers remained their main targets.

  • Kamikazes could act individually, in pairs, or even in large squadrons.

  • During the last year of the Pacific war, they succeeded in damaging eight Essex-class ships.

  • However, it didn't have a significant influence on the balance of force:

  • not a single aircraft carrier was sunk.

  • Even the seriously damaged USS Franklin CV-13 and USS Bunker Hill CV-17

  • were able to get to the Pearl Harbor base without assistance.

  • No "spirit wind" could save Japan from defeat in World War II.

  • In July and August of 1945, the U.S. carrier aviation delivered mass air strikes on the Japanese territory.

  • The last ships of the once mighty Imperial Japanese Navy were destroyed at the Kure naval base.

  • U.S. historians call Essex-class aircraft carriers "Pacific Champions" and "Masters of the Pacific Ocean".

  • Pilots of the U.S. carrier aviation shot down more than 9,000 enemy aircraft in dogfights,

  • and almost half of them are attributed to planes launched from Essex-class ships.

  • The powerful U.S. economy crushed and broke

  • the aggressive samurai spirit by the end of the war,

  • and the Essex-class shipsair groups made a very important contribution

  • to the victory of the United States in the Pacific Ocean.

They were designed to be the best

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B2 US aircraft essex aviation japanese carrier war

Naval Legends - USS Essex Aircraft

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    噹噹 posted on 2016/02/04
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