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Midway Class

Coral Sea

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Photo of Midway Class
U S Navy photo of Midway

Photo of FDR
"FDR" Adapted from U S Navy photo

Displacement Midway,
Coral Sea--
48,000 tons
51,000 tons
Armament 14x1   5" DP
Oodles of 40mm
1x3   16"
11x1   5" DP
Oodles of 40mm
Aircraft 122 62
Speed 33 knots 34.5 knots
VTS Rating(s)   (1)   7   7 (6)   (2)   6   8 (3)

In 1936, with the renewal of the naval arms race, the Soviet Union looked to foreign nations to buy naval armor and armament in great quantities. To speed things along, Stalin himself spoke to American diplomats to try to arrange for designing and building capital ships in America for the Soviet Union. Especially, the Soviet Union wanted to beef up its Pacific fleet against an increasingly belligerent Japan. The world-renowned building conglomerate of Gibbs and Cox offered to design and build a world-class capital ship that combined battleship guns and carrier aircraft. A short carrier deck covered the central citadel, and two forward and one after turrets provided the main gunpower. The design of "Ship X", as it was named by Gibbs himself, caught the eye of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and he arranged to have Gibbs and FDR look at the design over lunch. FDR was intrigued by the design, and seemed to want a "Ship X" built for the United States, too. He authorized construction of "Ship X" for the Soviets in 1939, but when the Soviet Union took its ill-gotten share of Poland and invaded Finland, the deal was off.

In "Grand Fleet", the design is approved earlier, based on the Montana battleship, with the caveat that two other "Ship X"s be built for the US Navy. Building was already well underway when WW II started. Wargame studies indicated that the hybrid battleship would not meet the needs of the US Navy, so the design for the US versions was altered to eliminate the battleship guns both fore and aft, severely reduce side armor, lengthen and re-engine for better speed, and extend the armored carrier deck to the bow and stern to make a powerful, but conventional aircraft carrier. With the success of the Bon Homme Richard's conversion to an angled-deck configuration, the scheme was applied to the two super-carriers being built for the US Navy. The resultant pair, named after the first two carrier battles of the present War, were the most modern, sophisticated, and powerful carriers in the world. The IJN Yonaga, the British Maltas (still building), and the BHR herself were impressive, but dwarfed by the Midways' power.

When Coral Sea (beating class-leader Midway to launch by a month) joined the fleet in mid-1944 she was rushed to the Japanese Home Islands and easily dispatched the two 'decoy' carriers sent against her. Her "Skyraider" attack planes, escorted by twin-engined "Tigercat" fighters, sank the BBV Hyuga and CA Aoba in port. The Midway embarked the first jet fighters to operate from a CV and joined the curious biplane jet "Cuttlefish" torpedo bombers of the Royal Navy for an all-jet flyover of Japan in the waning months of the war.

"Ship X" was taken over and completed for the US Navy after the Polish/Finnish affair. The US Navy wanted "Ship X" converted like her sisters, but Roosevelt wanted it kept to Soviet specifications in case it became politically expedient to re-offer it to them. With US Navy prodding, the Soviets themselves authorized removal of "B" and "X" turrets for extended flight deck and hangar space, so the result looked like a huge Tiburon. When it appeared that it could not be delivered to Vladivostok without being sunk enroute by the Japanese, the US Navy "bought" the ship in exchange for additional Lend/Lease supplies. Completed just after FDR's death, the ship was renamed Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his honor. It's shakedown cruise was a sortie into the Atlantic with ASW aircraft on board, and a stray U-Boat was found and sunk. By the time it returned to the States, however, wiser Navy heads immediately recalled it into port for full carrier conversion like its sisters.

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