Weapons of World War Two
Hornet aircraft carrier
After the Japanese attack against Pearl Harbor, the American public opinion, despite having reacted with indignation, was still shocked. To this contributed the fact that Japan was very far and the average citizen did not see clearly how the blow could be returned to the enemy. Technically speaking, it was indeed not possible, but due to evident reasons of prestige and social psychology it was decided to try anyway. Since there were no aircraft capable of reaching Japan, it was decided to "help" the Mitchell B-25B bombers chosen for the enterprise making them to take off from an aircraft carrier that would approach the target as much as possible. The unit chosen for this mission was a modern aircraft carrier that had recently entered service: the Hornet.
This one was classified as attack aircraft carrier due to her characteristics, which allowed her to carry out long-range war operations transporting a large number of aircraft, from fighters to bombers, having as well a good amount of self-defense artillery. Contrarily, the escort aircraft carriers of which 71 units were built during the war (just in time to take part in operations) could carry no more than 30 aircraft, which were enough only to form an air patrol over the convoy. Besides their antiaircraft armament was reduced.
After transporting the B-25 bombers, the Hornet performed many war deeds, but her operative life was brief: the 26th October 1942, in the crudest moments of the Battle of Guadalcanal, she was hit by torpedoes launched by two Japanese aircraft. Immediately after, in quick succession, fell over her three 250-kilogram bombs and an aircraft, whose pilot had been fatally wounded. The precious vessel had nothing to do: turned into a flaming scrap heap, she was abandoned by the surviving crew. But for sinking her, it was necessary to approach to the agonizing aircraft carrier some surface units to give her the "coup of grace" with some torpedoes.
Length: 252.5 meters
Beam: 34.7 meters
Draught: 8.8 meters
Displacement: 19800 tonnes
Propulsion: Steam turbines Curtis & Parsons fed by nine boilers Babcock & Wilcox Express, for a total power of 120000 horsepower with four propellers
Maximum speed: 33 knots
Operational range: 12500 nautical miles at 15 knots
Armor: 101 millimeters in waterline; 152 millimeters in flight deck; 76 millimeters in hangar and castle
Armament: Eight 127-millimeter 38-caliber cannons (8 x 1); sixteen 28-millimeter cannons (4 x 4); sixteen 20-millimeter cannons (16 x 1), increased to twenty-four (24 x 1) in 1942
Aircraft: From 85 to 100 of the types Wildcat, Dauntless, Avenger and Devastator. During the Doolittle Raid she had onboard twin-engine bombers B-25 Mitchell
Complement: 2919 (in 1942)
Also in Weapons of World War Two: