United States navy fleet problems and the development of carrier aviation, 1929-1933
MetadataShow full item record
The U.S. Navy first took official notice of aviation in 1910, but its development of carrier aviation lagged behind Great Britain??s until the 1920s. The first American aircraft carrier, the Langley, commissioned in 1919, provided the Navy with a valuable platform to explore the potential uses of carrier aviation, but was usually limited to scouting and fleet air defense in the U.S. Navy??s annual interwar exercises called fleet problems. This began to change in 1929 with the introduction of the carriers Lexington and Saratoga in Fleet Problem IX. After this exercise, which included a raid by aircraft from the Saratoga that ??destroyed?? the Pacific side of the Panama Canal, the carriers were assigned a wider variety of roles over the next five years of exercises. During this time, the carriers gained their independence from the battle line, which the smaller and slower Langley had been unable to do. Reflecting the advanced capabilities of the new carriers, the fleet problems conducted during Admiral William Veazie Pratt??s tenure as Chief of Naval Operations, 1930-1933, began to test the employment of the new carriers as the centerpiece of one of the opposing fleets within the exercises. The Lexington and Saratoga were used offensively during these exercises, employing their aircraft to sink surface ships, though not battleships, and successfully strike targets ashore. The carriers became successful in spite of the unreliability of early 1930s carrier aircraft, particularly the torpedo bombers, that could carry heavy payloads. Lessons learned from the Lexington and Saratoga Fleet Problems IX through XIV influenced the design of the next generation of American aircraft carriers, the Yorktownclass, which were authorized in 1933. These new carriers were faster and much larger than the carrier Ranger, commissioned in 1934 and designed before the Lexington and Saratoga began participating in the exercises. Features incorporated into the Yorktownclass based on operational experience included the reduced need for large surface batteries because of the use of escort vessels, the emphasis of armoring against shellfire over aerial bombs and torpedoes, and the capability to launch large numbers of aircraft quickly.
Wadle, Ryan David (2005). United States navy fleet problems and the development of carrier aviation, 1929-1933. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from