Lexington-class Aircraft Carrier
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
This article refers to the entire Lexington-class; it is not about an individual vessel.
ww2dbaseLexington-class aircraft carriers were the first operational aircraft carriers of the United States Navy, despite the fact that their hulls were originally laid down as battlecruisers. In 1922, when the Washington Naval Treaty was signed, limiting the total tonnage of warships, four of the six incomplete hulls were canceled, while two furthest along in the construction of them were selected for conversion. Given they were converted from hulls originally designed for a different purposes, they ended up heavier than the engineers wished (exceeding the Washington Naval Treaty limit of 34,000 metric tons in displacement, in fact), but they did gain benefits such as heavier armor and ample room for large hangar decks. The two carriers, Lexington and Saratoga, both launched in 1925, were both still in active service when the United States entered the war in Dec 1941. Lexington would be sunk by Japanese aircraft during the Battle of the Coral Sea, while Saratoga would survive the war, though only to become a target for atomic weapons testing during Operation Crossroads in 1946. They would remain the largest carriers in US Navy inventory until the introduction of Midway-class carriers after the war.
Last Major Revision: Apr 2013
Lexington-class Aircraft Carrier Interactive Map
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Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan 1943
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