The RANGER is a little forgotten in the nomenclature of US aircraft carriers, but it is still the first one built on plans, as an aircraft carrier by the US Navy. He was responding to a request to find a successor to Old Langley and produce a cheaper building better suited than the huge Lexington. Registering as the CV4 (The Langley was the CV1, the Lexington and Saratoga CV2 and 3), it did not pose at the origin of footbridge, which was added after sea trials and the insistence of the pilots.
The Ranger was built at Newport News, Virginia, put on keel on September 26, 1931, launched in February 1933 and completed in Norfolk for inauguration in June 1934. It took advantage of the limitations of the Washington Treaty on Non-Capital Buildings ( battleships) and cruisers, namely 20,000 tons. This limitation would have an impact on its size, its weight, but also its speed, which would reduce its activity thereafter during the war, but also paradoxically, save it.
Launch of USS Ranger at Newport News, February 24, 1933
The USS ranger had six swivel tubes on each edge as fireplaces. Its quadrangular flight deck was relatively narrow, to remain in the allocated tonnage, which at the biplane standard of the time was just sufficient, but proved unsuitable for the following generations of naval aircraft. It had virtually no passive protection, except a reduced belt shield, and a DCA consisting of a few 127mm pieces and machine gun in double carriages of 12.7.
Its endowment originally consisted of 78 aircraft including 36 fighters, 36 torpedo bombers and 4 recce aircraft. But these numbers fell quickly with the new types of devices. In practice during the Second World War, its fleet in operation hardly exceeded 70 aircraft. Unstable in roll, it was considered difficult to land. His attempts were made on the coasts of Virginia and off the coast of Brazil. He was then posted to San Diego, California, with the Pacific Fleet, in 1935. He conducted tests in Alaska, and exercises with the Hawaii fleet.
USS Ranger flight deck, Operation Torch
In 1939, with hostilities in Europe having broken out, he had returned to the Atlantic and joined the Norfolk base. The career of the Ranger during the war began with “neutrality patrols” in the Atlantic, and in December 1941, he returned to operations in Norfolk. He was back in March 1942 to receive a RCA CXAM-1 radar. In April-May, he flew Curtiss P40s to the coast of Africa, landed in Accra, Ghana. He did the same later, escorting the reinforcements of the famous squadron of flying tigers in China.
Then in November, he was the flagship of the protection fleet (with four escorts) covering the landing in North Africa (Operation Torch). For four days his aircraft accumulated 496 sorties and destroyed or damaged 70 aircraft on the ground, 15 in flight, but also installations, coastal batteries, countless vehicles, two submersibles and four destroyers. After a dry dock, the Ranger delivered aircraft to North Africa, then patrolled patrols and formed polites off New England and Nova Scotia, and finally in August won the Home Fleet in the Orkney Islands, to assist the monitoring of North Atlantic waters.
USS Ranger CV-4 in Panama Canal, 1945
Due to its low tonnage, bad weather proved difficult for her. In October 1943 he participated in Operation Leader in Norwegian waters against Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine bases which threatened convoys to Murmansk. After other patrols, he returned to Norfolk and was modified to serve exclusively for training pilots, in January 1944. He still delivered appliances, equipment and personnel to Casablanca.
She then returned to Norfolk for work to add new catapults, a reinforced flight deck, and new radar and electronic equipment. He then returned to the Pacific for training pilots in San Diego until the end of the war. He was the only American PA ever engaged in fire against the Japanese. He will be disarmed in 1946 and demolished the following year.
Characteristics (in 1941):
Displacement: 14570 t, 17,577 T FL
Dimensions: 234 x 33,35 (PE) x 6,8 m
Propulsion: 2 propellers, 2 TE turbines, 6 Babcock & Wilcox boilers
53,500 hp, 29.3 knots max.
Armour: 51 mm at best (deck).
Armament: 8 x127 mm AA, 40 x 12.7 mm AA, 86 aircrafts.