An aircraft carrier is a warship whose primary role is to transport aircraft operations, launches and salvages to the area, effectively acting as an airbase capable of moving at sea. Aircraft carriers therefore allow a naval force to project its air power over great distances without having to depend on local land bases for aircraft.
Modern navies operating with aircraft carriers use them as the core of the fleet, a role previously played by battleships. The change began with the growth of air power as a significant part of the war and occurred during World War II. Unescorted aircraft carriers are considered vulnerable to attack from other ships, aircraft, submarines or missiles and therefore travel as part of an aircraft carrier battle group.
With the development of airplanes in the early 20th century, various navies became interested in their potential use for reconnaissance missions for their battleships. Several experimental flights were made to test the idea. Eugene Ely was the first pilot to take off from a stationary ship in November 1910. He took off from a structure installed on the forecastle of the armored cruiser USS Birmingham in Hampton Roads, Virginia and landed at Willoughby Spit after approximately five minutes of flight. On January 18, 1911, he too became the first pilot to land on a stationary ship. It took off from the Tanforan racing track and landed on a temporary structure installed on the stern of the USS Pennsylvania anchored on the San Francisco waterfront - the makeshift sandbag and rope braking system is the ancestor of the hook device. for mounting and stop ropes described below. Frigate Captain Charles Samson became the first pilot to take off from a moving ship on May 2, 1912 by taking off aboard a Short 27 from warship HMS Hibernia while she was traveling at 10.5 knots (19 km / h) during the Magazine of the Royal Fleet in Weymouth.
HMS Ark Royal was not the first aircraft carrier. She was originally designed as a merchant ship, but during construction she was converted to be transformed into a seaplane tender (which is quite different from an aircraft carrier). She launched in 1914, she served in the Dardanelles Campaign and during the First World War.
World War I
The first attack launched by an aircraft carrier against a land target occurred on July 19, 1918. Seven Sopwith Camels took off from HMS Furious the first aircraft carrier, because the aircraft could take off and land on the flight deck located in the bow, attacked the German Zeppelin base of Tondern with two bombs of 25 kg each. Several airships and balloons were destroyed, but as the Furious had no means of safely retrieving them, two pilots made an emergency landing at sea, alongside the Furious, while the rest made their way to neutral Denmark.
Meanwhile, Germany was trying to convert the fast freighter Ausonia (an Italian ship of about 12,000 tons that had been launched at the end of 1914 in Hamburg) into a hybrid aircraft carrier-seaplane carrier, with 20-30 aircraft and 20 knots. of speed. The end of the war put an end to the project, which, moreover, had been given low priority.
Between the two world wars
After the First World War, the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 imposed strict limits on the tonnage of battleships and cruisers on the major naval powers, as well as a limit on the total tonnage of aircraft carriers and a maximum limit of 27,000 tons for each ship. Although some exceptions were made regarding the maximum tonnage of individual ships, the limits on the total tonnage of each type of ship could not be exceeded. Consequently many battleships or cruisers going on like this