|Armament||8 x 5" DP|
plus Light AA
|VTS Rating||1 4 5 (3)|
The previous USS Ranger (CV-4) was America's first aircraft carrier designed as such from the keel up. Though she had a large air complement, she was small, cramped, poorly protected, and had a short endurance. Even during the great carrier shortage in the Pacific after the attrition around Guadalcanal, the Ranger stayed in the Atlantic.
In "Grand Fleet" the "inadequate" Ranger is given up to the Canadian Navy after only a few years in service, and re-named Ottawa. The name Ranger was reserved for a new carrier. A large German passenger liner was chartered to deliver skilled workers to an American company in Central America just prior to the war. She was "caught" at sea when war was declared and holed up due to the British blockade. The liner's crew decided to make a break for it and escaped with their ship to seek asylum in "neutral" United States. The British pressured the US to declare forfeiture of assets for non-delivery and to convert her to an armored carrier for Britain. An armored carrier it became, but for the USN, with the concession that it operate its first year in the Atlantic with the Royal Navy.
This conversion was given a low priority due to the Essex and Independence classes filling the building yards, so Ranger was built in subsidiary yards with leftover materials and recovered scrap. A lot of non-standard materials went into Ranger and even her complement was a nonstandard 64 aircraft. The fighter aircraft slated for her were the novel twin-engined F5U "Flying Pancake" that showed great promise.
On her maiden voyage in the Atlantic she sank a U-boat and put bomb hits in the new German heavy cruiser Moltke (last of the Hipper-class). The somewhat-similarly converted German carrier Europa had escaped from Brest with Moltke to divert Allied attention away from German battleships menacing Murmansk convoys and had been prowling around the Caribbean. Ranger and Europa exchanged airstrikes until attrition had weakened both carriers' power to the point of two and three-plane sorties. Europa was nearly dead in the water as Ranger finally had her within sight. Like two pirate ships in the days of sail, the two huge carriers exchanged fire at point-blank range and steadily approached. Ranger's armor was deflecting most of the Europa's hits, while Ranger's shells crashed into the unarmored, but huge, expanses of Europa's hull. The lightly damaged Ranger actually deliberately rammed Europa and for the first time in many a year the cry of "Stand by to repel boarders" was heard. Chaos reigned within Europa, but she surrendered quickly, surreptitiously setting scuttling charges that blew her bottom out once her crew was transferred to Ranger.
Shipping out to the Pacific a year later, Ranger made decoy "bombing" forays consisting entirely of fighters to knock out island airfields that were staging Japanese planes on the periphery of the main battles. The F5U earned the name of "Grinding Death" because of the sound of the straining, gnashing gears driving the propellors from the buried engines. Japanese dive bombers superficially damaged Ranger after one mission, but alerted a pack of I-400 long-range submarines on their way to attack the Panama canal. With a slight deviation in course, the subs caught Ranger in a cross-fire of torpedoes and she succumbed to subsequent flooding.