World Aircraft Carriers List Photo Gallery
Part IV: Really Wierd Stuff
Most of these oddities are "odd" by accident. But some of them are "odd" for
At first look, this ship appears to be the early carrier HMS
Hermes... and you've just fallen for a
British trick. This ship is really SS Mamari, also known as
Fleet Tender C. This old merchant ship was dressed up as a decoy
Hermes to distract the Luftwaffe. The British made extensive use
of such decoys in both World Wars.
The padding around the island and the "meatballs" on the aircraft
make this ship look like a Japanese carrier of WWII. But the huge radar
at the rear of the island, and the general island configuration, are sure
signs of a US SCB 27A/27C Essex class carrier. The SH-3 helicopter
at right makes it clear this isn't WWII. What's going on here? This ship
is actually USS Yorktown (CVS 10) dressed up as a Japanese carrier
for the movie Tora Tora Tora. Perhaps she should be identified as
At first glance this appears to be a Royal Navy aircraft, perhaps a
cruiser's spotting plane. In fact it is a Japanese aircraft
carried by the disguised German raiding cruiser Orion. The
aircraft is painted to resemble a RN aircraft to avoid tipping off
unsuspected merchant ships. Orion's original aircraft had been
wrecked, requiring its replacement by a Japanese aircraft while the ship
was in the Far East.
Isn't that a bit large?
Over the years several "non-carrier capable" aircraft have ended up on
carrier decks, including the DC-3, C-130, U-2, and the QSRA research
aircraft. Other aircraft, including the Fokker F-27 and Boeing 727, have
been "seen" on carrier decks in promotional materials, but only through
careful photo editing. Still other aircraft have appeared on carrier
decks to poke fun at those who think the F-27, 727, F-16N and
others are really carrier capable.
A USMC KC-130F Hercules aboard USS Forrestal (CVA 59) in
October 1963. This aircraft conducted several landings and takeoffs,
without the use of arresting wires, catapults or RATO/JATO, to test the
possibility of using C-130s as Carried Onboard Delivery (COD) aircraft.
The trials were successful, but the C-130 could not be accommodated in a
carrier's hangar and could not land without disrupting flight operations,
so the concept was abandoned.
A U-2 reconnaissance aircraft aboard the carrier America (CVA
66). After landing and takeoff trials, U-2s were operationally employed
from carrier decks, although on a very limited basis, to conduct recon
flights in areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.
The NASA/Army QSRA Quiet STOL Research Aircraft landing aboard USS
Kitty Hawk (CVA 63). These trials proved that a heavy STOL jet
aircraft could operate from a carrier, but the concept has not progressed
A 737 lands on USS Constellation (CV 64) in a Southwest Airlines
advertisment. This photo, obviously, was faked.
Here Constellation has another odd airwing - a squadron of USAF
B-2 "stealth bombers"! This one was faked as a joke.
We all know the USAF C-17 was designed for a shorter takeoff run, compared
to other airlifters...but short enough to operate from a LHA/LHD, as
shown here? (folks, it's a joke....)
The Tables are Turned
Normally the aircraft lands on the ship. But sometimes the vessel
ends up inside the plane.
This is the rescue submersible Avalon (DSRV 2) being loaded into a
USAF C-5A Galaxy airlifter for a "flyaway" exercise. The Navy's
two rescue subs, based at San Diego, are maintained in a high state of
readiness. They can be anywhere in the world within 24 hours, thanks to
the Galaxy, and can be deployed aboard submarines or salvage/rescue
ships. Thankfully, the DSRVs have never been called out for a real
The submarine backing into this C-5A Galaxy is Sea Cliff
(DSV 5), a near-sister to the more famous Alvin (DSV 2), of
Titanic fame. The Navy's three DSVs were air-transportable in
the C-5, although such deployments are now uncommon.
A patrol boat takes flight - a CH-54 Skycrane lifts a riverine patrol
boat, PBR MkII.
This sleek looking craft is the prototype Special Operations Craft (SOC)
Mk V, a late-1990's replacement for several types of aged "specops" boats
used by Navy SEALs. These craft are also air-transportable in the C-5,
and thus can take part in clandestine operations in distant areas on
relatively short notice.
A Different View
What the heck? No, this isn't a ghost or a faked photo. It's an infrared
(IR) linescan from an F-14 TARPS recon pod. The ship is John F.
Kennedy. Note the hot plume from her stack, and the hot catapults.
Another IR view, this time the Russian Kuznetsov. The ship is
clearly "cold", obviously in port.
This is Carl Vinson in IR. The nuclear carrier shows the
characteristic "hot" catapults, but not the exhaust plume of her
conventionally powered cousin.
This is the QH-50 drone, commonly known as "DASH" (Drone Anti-Submarine
Helicopter). This little beastie, meant for ASW operation from small
escort ships, proved to be a real headache - there were many control and
training problems, resulting in high operational loss rates. The manned
LAMPS helicopters were developed as a replacement.
A "Pioneer" RPV (Remotely Piloted Vehicle) drone "landing" aboard an
Iowa class battleship. These drones were consider a succes in the
gunfire spotting role, despite high loss rates. Best of all, they were
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Copyright © 1998-2003 by Andrew Toppan
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