The US Navy's 5 fightin'-est flattops

From Langley (CV 1) to Bush (CVN 77), the U.S. Navy has operated 65 aircraft carriers in its 240-year history. From the first time Lt. Ely had the guts to fly a rickety biplane off of the bow through the first airstrikes against targets in Afghanistan after 9-11 carrier air power has changed the face of warfare.

Here are 5 among them that earned their place in history by valiantly fighting the enemy:

1. USS Lexington (CV 2)

USS_Lexington_(CV-2)_burning_8_May_1942

“Lady Lex” was originally designed as a battlecruiser but later modified into an aircraft carrier to comply with the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, which basically halted all new construction on battleships. Lexington was used to develop many of the carrier tactics employed during World War II (and, ironically enough, successfully conducted sneak attacks against Pearl Harbor a couple of times before the Japanese did it for real). On May 7, 1942 aircraft from Lady Lex sank the light aircraft carrier Sh?h? during the Battle of the Coral Sea, but did not encounter the main Japanese force of the carriers Sh?kaku and Zuikaku until the next day. Aircraft from Lexington and Yorktown succeeded in badly damaging Sh?kaku, but the Japanese aircraft crippled Lexington. Vapors from leaking aviation gasoline tanks sparked a series of explosions and fires that could not be controlled, and Lexington had to be scuttled by an American destroyer during the evening of May 8 to prevent her capture. (Source: wikipedia)

2. USS Yorktown (CV 5)

USS_Yorktown_hit-740px

Yorktown air wing aircraft got some payback on the Japanese on behalf of the crew of Lexington during the Battle of Coral Sea, sinking the destroyer Kikuzuki, three minesweepers and four barges. Later, after a quick drydock period to repair damage sustained during Coral Sea, Yorktown was on station for the Battle of Midway. After her scout aircraft spotted the Japanese fleet, attack aircraft were sortied to strike but met with disaster. Of 41 planes launched from three carriers, only six returned. The Japanese followed with a savage attack that the carrier’s Wildcats tried to stop in spite of being outnumbered. The Japanese scored several direct hits on Yorktown using torpedos and bombs, but the crew fought valiantly to keep steaming while air wing aircraft continued to attack the Japanese fleet. After abandoning ship it looked as if she might be salvageable, but as a skeleton crew attempted to save the ship, she was hit by another torpedo and ultimately went down. (Source: wikipedia)

3. USS Enterprise (CV 6)

07_uss_enterprise_cv_6

The “Big E” was the sixth U.S. Navy aircraft carrier and one of only three commissioned before World War II to survive the war. She participated in more major actions of the war against Japan than any other U.S. ship, including the Battle of Midway, the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, the Guadalcanal Campaign, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf. On three separate occasions during the Pacific War, the Japanese announced that she had been sunk in battle, earning her the name “The Grey Ghost.” Enterprise earned 20 battle stars, the most for any U.S. warship in World War II and became the most decorated US ship of World War II.

4. USS Hornet (CV 8)

1247x838xNorth-American-Aviation-B-25B-Mitchell-launches-from-USS-Hornet-CV-8-18-April-1942-21.jpg.pagespeed.ic.tuCGOAigm3

Hornet launched the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo and participated in the Battle of Midway and the Buin-Faisi-Tonolai Raid. In the Solomon Islands campaign she was involved in the capture and defense of Guadalcanal and the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands where she was irreparably damaged and sunk by enemy destroyers. Hornet was in service for a year and six days and was the last US fleet carrier ever sunk by enemy fire. (Source: wikipedia)

5. USS Franklin (CV 13)

(Photo: Life Magazine)

“Big Ben”served in several campaigns in the Pacific War, earning four battle stars. She was badly damaged by a Japanese air attack in March 1945, with the loss of over 800 of her crew, becoming the most heavily damaged United States carrier to survive the war. (Movie footage of the actual attack was included in the 1949 film Task Force starring Gary Cooper.) (Source: wikipedia)

Now: 28 photos from the Navy’s 240-year history >

TOP ARTICLES
SpaceX launching a third top-secret satellite

SpaceX is launching a secretive mission this month. The mission, shrouded in secrecy, has some considering it may be for the CIA or the NSA.

This is how the Air Force will use prop planes on high-tech battlefields

The Air Force is looking toward a light-attack aircraft program, known as OA-X, to produce a plane that meets its needs and gets the job done.

A retired SEAL commander on how to stop thinking and 'get after it' every day

This former Navy commander has some excellent advice on how to jump start your day, and "get some" in order to make it as productive as possible.

Marines return to battle in 'old stomping grounds'

The Marines recall their "old stomping grounds" as they return to Fallujah and the surround areas of Al Anbar Province to battle a new enemy.

How Chinese drones are set to swarm the global market

China has stepped up it's drone game, and even though United States technology can still compete, China's drones are kind of really in demand.

That time two countries' Special Forces squared off in combat

In an area the size of the Falkland Islands, British and Argentine special operators were bound to run into each other at some point – a lot.

5 times pilots got in trouble for having fun in the sky

When pilots decide to do some fancy flying in their high-performance fighters, it can land them in trouble once they're back on the ground.

This is why Nazis dubbed these paratroopers 'devils in baggy pants'

"American paratroopers – devils in baggy pants – are less than 100 meters from my outpost line. I can’t sleep at night," wrote one German commander.

9 ISIS weapon fails that you have to see to believe

Many bad guys just want record themselves laying rounds down range for social media purposes — and we're glad they did. Laugh away, America!

US Army recruitment campaigns, ranked from worst to best

Advertising can really impact recruitment for the military. For better or for worse, here are some of the Army's most memorable slogans...