Aircraft You’ve Never Thought Could Fly From An Aircraft Carrier
The flight deck is certainly the most dangerous runway an aircraft could land or take off from. It is cramped with other aircraft, deck crew and equipment. The limited space and the constant movement of the vessel would definitely makes thing more difficult.
While the art of the aircraft carrier has been perfected during World War 2 and made better during the ensuing Korean War, Vietnam War as well as wars in the Middle East, never in a man’s sound mind that bombers, covert spyplane and transport aircraft could be operated from the carrier.
The Imperial Japanese forces had never expected US bombing attack over Japan could be made by US Army Air Corp’s bombers disembarking from a US Navy aircraft carrier. Such thing were never heard of before neither it was repeated later. The raid, better known as the Doolittle Raid, was conducted by 16 North American B-25B Mitchell medium bomber led by none other than Lt Col James Harold “Jimmy” Doolittle (later General).
On April 18, 1942, the Mitchell bombers defy any rules the naval aviation had that day by successfully taking off from USS Hornet off the Sea of Japan. All sixteen were lost after they crash landed everywhere around Japan. Out of 80 airmen that took part of the raid, 7 died due to various reasons.
In 1949, the US Navy had officially inducted into service one of its largest aircraft ever operationally operated from an aircraft carrier. The North American AJ Savage (later A-2 Savage) operation with Navy was unfortunately very brief with just 143 examples being built.
In 1961, the Navy had introduced yet another bomber known as the North American A-5 Vigilante. It’s a big, large supersonic bomber operated by the US Navy from its aircraft carrier. With the introduction of a more capable and compact aircraft that can assume its role, the last of the Vigilante were withdrew from service in early 1980.
1963 marks more milestones in US Naval Aviation history when two significant events occurred in August and October. On August 1963, USAF U-2A spyplane made a historic landing and take off from USS Kitty Hawk. The success of the U-2A led to the development of U-2G. The U-2G was operated from USS Ranger to monitor the French nuclear test in Mururoa Atoll in 1964.
A more capable U-2R was developed and tested on-board USS America in 1969. Three of these never entered service though.
On October 1963, a USMC KC-130F landed and take off from USS Forrestal to evaluate its suitability for carrier operation in replacement of the C-1 Trader. Despite the subsequent success of other tests, the carrier borne C-130 idea never progresses and C-2 Greyhound was introduced into service.