Midway-class aircraft carrier

The Midway class aircraft carrier was one of the longest-living carrier designs in history. First commissioned in late 1945, the lead ship of the class, USS Midway, was not decommissioned until 1992, shortly after service in Operation Desert Storm in 1991.


Midway-class aircraft carrier
Class Ship
Type Aircraft Carrier
Manufacturer New York Shipbuilding Corporation
Production Period 1943 - 1945
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1945
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
United States of America 1945 1992 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
New York Shipbuilding Corporation 1943 1945 1 View
Newport News Shipbuilding 1943 1946 2 View

Ships in Class

Name Builder Laid Down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Fate
Midway Newport News Shipbuilding and Dockyard Co.,Newport News 27 October 1943 20 March 1945 10 September 1945 11 April 1992 Museum ship at San Diego
Franklin D. Roosevelt
(ex-Coral Sea)
New York Naval Shipyard, New York City 1 December 1943 29 April 1945 27 October 1945 30 September 1977 Broken up at Kearny, 1978
Coral Sea Newport News Shipbuilding and Dockyard Co.,Newport News 10 July 1944 2 April 1946 1 October 1947 26 April 1990 Broken up at Baltimore, 2000

The CVB-41 class vessels (then unnamed) were originally conceived in 1940 as a design study to determine the effect of including an armored flight deck on a carrier the size of the Essex class. The resulting calculations showed that the effect would be a reduction of air group size - the resulting ship would have an air group of 64, compared to 72 for the standard Essex class fleet carriers. The design was also heavily influenced by the wartime experience of the Royal Navy's armored carriers:

As a result of study of damage sustained by various British carriers prior to our entry into the war, two important departures from traditional U.S. Navy carrier design were incorporated in the CVB Class, then still under development. HMS ILLUSTRIOUS in an action off Malta on 1 January 1941 was hit by several bombs, three of which detonated in the hangar space. Large fires swept fore and aft among parked planes thereby demonstrating the desirability of attempting to confine the limits of such explosions and fires by structural sectionalization of the hangar space. On the CVB Class the hangar was therefore divided into five compartments separated by 40 and 50-pound STS division bulkheads extending from the hangar deck to the flight deck, each fitted with a large door suitable for handling aircraft. It is hoped that this sectionalization, in conjunction with sprinkler and fog foam systems, will effectively prevent fires from spreading throughout the hangar spaces, as occurred on FRANKLIN on 30 October and 19 March. The damage experiences of several British carriers, which unlike our own were fitted with armored flight decks, demonstrated the effectiveness of such armor in shielding hangar spaces from GP bombs and vital spaces below the hangar deck from SAP bombs. Accordingly, the CVB Class was designed with an armored flight deck consisting of 3-1/2-inch STS from frames 46 to 175 with a hangar deck consisting of two courses of 40-pound STS between frames 36 and 192. Although none of the CVB Class carriers were completed in time to take part in war operations, the effectiveness of armored flight decks against Kamikaze attacks was demonstrated by various carriers attached to the British Pacific Fleet...

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 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. Unfortunately, it was soon realized that the coordination of so many planes was beyond the effective command and control ability of one ship.

Builders: Newport News Shipbuilding
New York Navy Yard
Operators:  United States Navy
Preceded by: Essex class
Succeeded by: Forrestal class
In commission: 10 September 1945 – 11 April 1992
Planned: 6
Completed: 3
Active: 0
Preserved: USS Midway (CV-41)
General characteristics
Displacement: 45,000 tons
Length: 968 ft (295 m)
Beam: 113 ft (34 m)
Draft: 33 ft (10 m)
Propulsion: Steam turbines
212,000 shp
Speed: 33 knots (61 km/h)
Complement: 4104
Armament: Original armament:
18 × 5 in/54 caliber guns
21 × quad 40 mm Bofors gun
28 × 20 mm Oerlikon cannon
Refit armament:
2 × 8-cell Sea Sparrowlaunchers
2 × Mark 71 mod 0 Phalanx CIWS
Armor: Belt: 7.6 inch
Deck: 3.5 inch
Aircraft carried: Up to 130 (World War II), 45–55 (1980s)

End notes