CONSTRUCTION to LAUNCHING

and EARLY JET AIRCRAFT DEVELOPMENT

(10 July 1944 to October 1946)

CHAPTER I

 

    “The U.S. Naval construction program of World War II produced a fleet of the finest warships ever to sail in any navy or the world. These included the Iowa class battleships, Essex-class carriers, Baltimore-class heavy cruisers and Fletcher-class destroyers” (Ref. 43).

 

    “Capitalizing on wartime experience, USS Coral Sea (CVB-43) and her sisters, USS Midway (CVB-41) and USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB-42), battle-class carriers, were constructed with the most advanced damage control innovations possible, including an armored flight deck and intensive internal subdivision not found on any carrier or other combatant before or since during World War II” (Ref. 35/43).

 

“A redesignation from CV to CVB was made on 10 June 1942. CV was used to designate multi-role Fleet Carriers” (Ref. 35/43).

 

    “The CVB-41-class ships were to be named for what had been determined to be the three naval turning points of the war in the Pacific: Coral Sea, Midway and Leyte Gulf.

 

“Naval experience produced a pedigree of combatant ships in the latter part of the war; one of those was the large aircraft carrier, USS Coral Sea (CVB-43)” (Ref. 43).

 

SHIP

Contract Awarded

DATE

Reclassified

DATE

Coral Sea (CVB-43), former CV-42

Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Newport News, Virginia

14 June 1943

Reclassified a “Large Aircraft Carrier” with hull classification symbol CVB-43

15 July 1943

The 42nd aircraft carrier of the U.S. Navy, a 45,000-ton Midway-class aircraft carrier, one of three Midway-class Large Fleet carriers built out of the six planned and was one of the last battle-class carriers under construction during World War II.

Originally classified as an aircraft carrier with hull classification symbol CV-42.

 

    “The Coral Sea (CVB-43), former CV-42, the 43rd aircraft carrier of the U.S. Navy by hull no., was originally classified as an aircraft carrier with hull classification symbol CV-42, reclassified as a ‘Large Aircraft Carrier’ (CVB-43) on 15 July 1943, while the contract to build her was awarded 14 June 1943” (Ref.1-Coral Sea, 2-USS Coral Sea “Welcome Aboard” brochure, 34, 35 and 72).

 

SHIP

Reclassified

DATE

LAID DOWN

DATE

Coral Sea (CVB-43), former CV-42

Originally classified as an aircraft carrier with hull classification symbol CV-42. Reclassified a “Large Aircraft Carrier” with hull classification symbol CVB-43

15 July 1943

Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Newport News, Virginia

(NNandSB Hull #440)

10 July 1944

The 42nd aircraft carrier of the U.S. Navy, a 45,000-ton Midway-class aircraft carrier, one of three Midway-class Large Fleet carriers built out of the six planned and was one of the last battle-class carriers under construction during World War II, while the contract to build her was awarded 14 June 1943.

 

    “The Coral Sea (CVB-43), former CV-42, the 43rd aircraft carrier of the U.S. Navy by hull no., keel was laid down on 10 July 1944 at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Newport News, Virginia, originally classified as an aircraft carrier with hull classification symbol CV-42, reclassified as a ‘Large Aircraft Carrier’ (CVB-43) on 15 July 1943, while the contract to build her was awarded on 14 June 1943”  (Ref.1-Coral Sea, 2-USS Coral Sea “Welcome Aboard” brochure, 34, 35 and 72).

 

USS Coral Sea (CVB-43), a 45,000-ton Midway class large aircraft carrier:

 

    “USS Coral Sea (CVB-43) was a 45,000-ton Midway-class aircraft carrier, one of three Midway Class Large Fleet carriers built out of the six planned and was one of the last battle-class carriers under construction during World War II” (Ref. 2-USS Coral Sea “Welcome Aboard” brochure).      

 

    “USS Coral Sea (CVB-43) original length was 968 ft., extreme beam 112 ft., maximum draft 34 ft., and her full load displacement was 60,100 tons. Her 12 Babcock and Wilcox boilers fed four Westinghouse engines that developed a total of 212,000 shaft horsepower for a designed speed of 33 kts. Her original armament consisted of 14 5-in./54cal dual-purpose guns. She was scheduled to receive 3-in./50 cal. AA battery, but they were not ready by commissioning, and she completed her first overseas deployment prior to their instillation” (Ref. 35/43).

 

    “USS Coral Sea (CVB-43) was built so that she could be scuttled in less than hour. Keep in mind that the ship was designed during World War II. If the ship was abandoned, the navy did not want it to fall into enemy hands. There were four layers of outer voids that ran the length of the ship port and starboard and top to bottom. Every outer frame had a valve to let seawater in to the voids for flooding” (Ref. 35).

 

    “The First Coral Sea was an escort carrier, USS Alikula Bay (CVE-57)” (Ref. 2-USS Coral Sea “Welcome Aboard” brochure 43).

 

    “Alikula Bay was assigned the name of one of the many Alaskan bays (Alikula Bay). Originally a auxiliary aircraft carrier (ACV-57), she was laid down 12 December 1942 by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Co., Vancouver, Wa., under a maritime commission contract (MC hull 1094) named Alikula Bay, 22 January 1943; renamed Coral Sea, 3 April 1943, and was launched 1 May 1943. Redesignated CVE-57 and reclassified as a Casablanca-class Escort Carrier 15 July 1943, she was commissioned at Astoria, Or., 27 August 1943. The USS Coral Sea saw combat in World War II, participating in actions at Makin Island, Kwajalein, Emirau Island, New Guinea and Saipan where she sustained minor battle damage. Ultimately, USS Coral Sea was ordered back to the United States for a much needed overhaul. On 15 September 1944, the ship was officially renamed USS Anzio to honor the soldiers who won a fierce and decisive four-month battle at Anzio, Italy in early 1944 and to free the name for the larger aircraft carrier under construction”  (Ref. 2-USS Coral Sea “Welcome Aboard” brochure and 35).    

 

SHIP

LAID DOWN

DATE

NAMED

DATE

Coral Sea (CVB-43), former CV-42

Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Newport News, Virginia

(NN&SB Hull #440)

10 July 1944

Coral Sea

10 October 1944

The 42nd aircraft carrier of the U.S. Navy, a 45,000-ton Midway-class aircraft carrier, one of three Midway-class Large Fleet carriers built out of the six planned and was one of the last battle-class carriers under construction during World War II, while the contract to build her was awarded 14 June 1943

The contract to build Coral Sea was awarded 14 June 1943.

Originally classified as an aircraft carrier with hull classification symbol CV-42. Reclassified a “Large Aircraft Carrier” with hull classification symbol CVB-43 on 15 July 1943.

Hull half-plated 18 May 18 1945; Hull completely framed 14 September  1945; and hull completely plated 22 October 1945.

 

    “While under construction, the unnamed (CV-42) was first named the Coral Sea (CVB-43), former CV-42 on 10 October 1944; keel was laid down on 10 July 1944 at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Newport News, Va., originally classified as an aircraft carrier with hull classification symbol CV-42, and reclassified as a ‘Large Aircraft Carrier’ (CVB-43) on 15 July 1943, while the contract to build her was awarded on 14 June 1943” (Ref.1-Coral Sea, 2-USS Coral Sea “Welcome Aboard” brochure, 34, 35 and 72).

 

    “The USS Coral Sea (CVB-43) was the second ship of the fleet to be named for the famous battle that not only blunted a Japanese thrust toward Port Moresby, but was the first marked successful U.S. naval engagement in the Pacific Ocean and the first naval battle in which two opposing fleets operated with no visual contact during World War II” (Ref. 2-USS Coral Sea “Welcome Aboard” brochure).    

 

    “The Battle of the Coral Sea (4-8 May 1942) proved a serious setback to Japanese movement toward Australia, and the anniversary of the battle is still commemorated ‘down under’” (Ref. 35/43).

 

    “President Frankin D. Roosevelt’s death on 12 April 1945 prompted the reassignment of the name ‘Coral Sea’ for a second time on 8 May 1945 from CV-43 to CVB-43 in the late-chief executive and war leader’s honor, the last unnamed Midway-class carrier”  (Ref. 35/43).

 

Battle of the Coral Sea

 

    “Prior to the battle, Japanese forces had been advancing toward Australia in preparation for an invasion. The Battle of Coral Sea ended the southward Japanese drive and prevented the invasion. For this reason, the anniversary of the battle is still celebrated in Australia” (Ref. 2-USS Coral Sea “Welcome Aboard” brochure).

 

    “On 7 December 1941, USS Lexington (CV-2) was at sea with Task Force 12 (TF 12), carrying marine aircraft from Pearl Harbor to reinforce Midway when word of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was received. She immediately launched search planes to hunt for the Japanese fleet, and at mid-morning headed south to rendezvous with USS Indianapolis (CA-35) and USS Enterprise (CV-6) task forces to conduct a search southwest of Oahu until returning Pearl Harbor 18 December.

 

    Lexington sailed next day to raid Japanese forces on Jaluit to relieve pressure on Wake; these orders were canceled 20 December, and she was directed to cover the USS Saratoga force in reinforcing Wake. When the island fell 23 December, the two carrier forces were recalled to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 27 December.

 

    Lexington patrolled to block enemy raids in the Oahu-Johnston-Palmyra triangle until 11 January 1942, when she sailed from Pearl Harbor as flagship for Vice Adm. Wilson Brown, commanding TF 11. On 16 February, the force headed for an attack on Rabaul, New Britain, scheduled for 21 February. While approaching the day previous, Lexington was attacked by two waves of enemy aircraft, with nine planes to a wave. The carrier’s own combat air patrol and antiaircraft fire splashed 17 of the attackers. During a single sortie, Lt. E. H ‘Butch’ O’Hare won the Medal of Honor by downing five planes.

 

    Her offensive patrols in the Coral Sea continued until 6 March 1942, when she rendezvoused with Yorktown’s TF 17 for a thoroughly successful surprise attack flown over the Owen Stanley mountains of New Guinea to inflict heavy damage on shipping and installations at Salamaua and Lae 10 March. She now returned to Pearl Harbor, arriving 26 March 1942. Lexington’s task force sortied from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 15 April 1942, rejoining TF 17 on 1 May. As Japanese fleet concentrations threatening the Coral Sea were observed, Lexington and USS Yorktown (CV-5) moved into the sea to search for the enemies force, covering a projected troop movement. The Japanese must now be blocked in their southward expansion, or sea communication with Australia and New Zealand would be cut, and the dominions threatened with invasion. “On 7 May 1942, search planes reported contact with an enemy carrier task force, and Lexington’s air group flew an eminently successful mission against it, sinking light carrier Shoho. Later that day, 12 bombers and 15 torpedo planes from still-unlocated heavy carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku were intercepted by fighter groups from Lexington and Yorktown, which splashed 9 enemy aircraft.

 

    On the morning of the eighth, a Lexington plane located the Shokaku group. A strike was immediately launched from the American carriers, and the Japanese ship was heavily damaged. The enemy penetrated to the American carriers at 1100, and 20 minutes later Lexington was struck by a torpedo to port. Seconds later, a second torpedo hit to port directly abreast the bridge. At the same time, she took three bomb hits from enemy dive bombers, producing a seven degree list to port and several raging fires. By 1300, her skilled damage control parties had brought the fires under control and returned the ship to even keel. Making 25 knots, she was ready to recover her air group. Then suddenly, Lexington was shaken by a tremendous explosion, caused by the ignition of gasoline vapors below, and again fire raged out of control.

 

    At 1558, Capt. Frederick C. Sherman, fearing for the safety of men working below, secured salvage operations, and ordered all hands to the flight deck. At 1707 he ordered, “Abandon ship!”, and the orderly disembarkation began, men going over the side into the warm water, almost immediately to be picked up by nearby cruisers and destroyers. Admiral Fitch and his staff transferred to cruiser USS Minneapolis (CA-36), Capt. Sherman and his executive officer, Cmdr. M. T. Seligman, while ensuring all their men were safe and they were the last to leave the ship.

 

    Lexington blazed on, flames shooting hundreds of feet into the air. The destroyer USS Phelps (DD-360) closed to 1500 yards and fired two torpedoes into her hull. With one last heavy explosion, Lexington sank at 1956 on 8 May 1942 at 15º 20' S., 155º 30' E. She was part of the price that was paid to halt the Japanese overseas empire and safeguard Australia and New Zealand, but perhaps an equally great contribution had been her pioneer role in developing the naval aviators and the techniques, which played so vital a role in ultimate victory in the Pacific. Lexington received two battle stars for World War II service” (Ref. 1-Lexington).

 

Battle of the Coral Sea

Forces Involved in the Battle

American / Australian

Quantity

Japanese

Quantity

Aircraft Carriers

2

Aircraft Carriers

2

Heavy Cruisers

7

Gunboats

3

Light Cruisers

1

Light Aircraft Carriers

1

Destroyers

13

Heavy Cruisers

6

Oilers

2

Light Cruisers

3

Seaplane Tenders

1

Destroyers

15

Submarines

11

Minelayers

3

Ship Based Aircraft

141

Minesweepers

10

Shore Based Aircraft

482

Oilers

3

 

 

Repair Ships

1

 

 

Seaplane Carriers

1

 

 

Sub Chasers

12

 

 

Submarines

7

 

 

Ship Based Aircraft

152

 

 

Shore Based Aircraft

161

 

 

Transports

12

Allied Battle Forces Lost/Damaged

Lexington

Bombed, Torpedoed, Internal Explosions, Scuttled

May 4, 1942

Forces Involved in the Battle

American / Australian

Quantity

Japanese

Quantity

Neosho

Bombed, Kamikase, Adrift, Scuttled

May 7, 1942

Simms

Bombed, Sunk

May 7, 1942

Yorktown

Bombed, Damaged, Withdrawn

May 8,1942

 

Rejoined Fleet

May 31, 1942 May 4, 1942

Allied Aircraft Lost/Destroyed

May 4

3

May 5

0

May 6

0

May 7

3

May 8

69 (36 sank onboard Lexington)

TOTAL

75

Japanese Battle Forces Lost/Damaged

Barges (4)

Bombed, Sunk

May 4, 1942

Number 1

Bombed, Sunk

May 4, 1942

Number 2

Bombed, Sunk

May 4, 1942

Kikuzuki

Bombed, Beached, Sunk

May 4, 1942

Tama Maru

Torpedoed, Sunk

May 4, 1942

Forces Involved in the Battle

American / Australian

Quantity

Japanese

Quantity

Shoho

Bombed, Torpedoed, Sunk

May 7, 1942

Shokaku

Bombed, Torpedoed, Damaged, Withdrew

May 8, 1942

 

Rejoined Fleet

July 1942

Yuzuki

Strafed, Minor Damage, Repaired

May 4, 1942

Zuikaku

Severe Aircraft Losses, Withdrew

May 8, 1942

Japanese Aircraft Lost/Destroyed

May 4

5

May 5

1

May 6

0

May 7

25 (18 sank onboard Shoho)

May 8

43

TOTAL

74

Ref. 34

 

    “The service history of the Lockheed Shooting Star begins in 1944 when the decision was made to deploy four service test YP-80As to Europe to demonstrate their capabilities to combat crews and to help in the development of tactics to be used against Luftwaffe jet fighters. 44-83026 and 83027 were shipped to England in mid-December 1944, but 44-83026 crashed on its second flight in England, killing its pilot. 44-83027 was turned over to the British government and modified by Rolls-Royce to flight test the Consolidated ‘Liberator’ (B-41) the prototype of the Nene turbojet” (Ref. 41, 180A and 186A).

 

    “As compared to some of its competitors, the Grumman Aircraft Corporation of Bethpage, Long Island was rather late in getting into the design of jet combat aircraft. However, between July 1943 and November 1944, Grumman undertook some preliminary work on several different jet-powered designs, some of which were powered by a mixture of jet and piston engines. The first of these was the G-57, which was to have been powered by an R-2800 piston engine plus a small turbojet. Next was the G-61, which was a development of the F6F Hellcat with a turbojet engine in the tail. However, both of these projects had to be shelved in favor of higher-priority work on the G-58 (XF8F-1 Bearcat), a conventional piston-engined fighter. Later, Grumman began work on projects G-63 and G-71, which were both small single-jet designs. This was soon followed by the G-68, which was a single seat fighter to be powered by a TG-100 turboprop. However, none of these wartime projects attracted very much enthusiasm, and all of them were abandoned almost as soon as they were begun” (Ref. 41, 155D1 and 159A).

 

    “The tenth, eleventh, and twelfth Lockheed YP-80A Shooting Stars were delivered in early 1945 to the 31st Fighter Squadron of the 412th Fighter Group at Bakersfield Municipal Airport in California for service tests. The first production P-80A (F-80A) was accepted by the AAF in February 1945” (Ref. 41 and 180A).

 

    “After the war in Europe was over, Lockheed P-80A (F-80A) Shooting Stars began to replace the North American P-51 Mustang (F-51D image gallery / North American F-51D Mustang) and the few Bell P-59 (Bell P-59 Airacomet) that had served with stateside units” (Ref. 41, 184, 185, 180A and 188).

 

    “The XP-59A (P-59A) ( Bell XP-59A Airacomet) was the first American jet aircraft. It did not see combat, but it did give the U.S. Army Air Forces (AAF) and the U.S. Navy valuable experience with jet aircraft technology and helped pave the way to more advanced designs” (Ref. 41, 180A and 187).

 

    “The first 17 Lockheed P-80A (F-80A) Shooting Stars off the line were assigned to the 31st Squadron of the 412th Fighter Group, supplementing the YP-80As that the Group had already received” (Ref. 180A).

 

    “In the summer of 1945, more Lockheed P-80A (F-80A) Shooting Stars went to the 29th and the 445th Squadrons of this group. This group was in preparation for deployment to the Pacific when Japan surrendered” (Ref. 41 and 180A).

 

    “In the summer of 1945, approximately 30 Lockheed P-80A (F-80A) Shooting Stars were sent aboard an aircraft carrier to the Philippines in preparation for the final assault on Japan. The planes were to be issued to the 414th Fighter Group based at Florida Blanca. Unfortunately, the planes had been sent without their tip tanks and their aircraft batteries, so they sat aboard the aircraft carrier for 30 days waiting for this equipment. By the time that the batteries and wingtip tanks were delivered, the war in the Pacific had ended, so the P-80 never got a chance to enter combat in the war against Japan” (Ref. 41 and 180A).

 

    “Apart from the four Lockheed P-80A (F-80A) Shooting Stars that had been sent to Europe just prior to V-E Day, the first overseas P-80s were issued to the 55th Fighter Group under Col Horace Hanes, which received 32 Shooting Stars for its 38 th Fighter Squadron based at Gibelstadt in Germany. This unit evolved into the 31st Fighter Group” (Ref. 41 and 180A).

 

    “The initial accident rate for the Lockheed P-80A (F-80A) Shooting Stars was alarmingly high. On 1 July 1945, Lt. Joseph Mandl was killed when his P-80A Shooting Star (44-85017) stalled on takeoff and plowed through a fence and struck a parked A-26” (Ref. 41 and 180A).

 

    “The 412 th Fighter relocated to Santa Maria AAF, California in July 1945” (Ref. 180A).

 

    “On 2 August 1945, Major Ira Jones was killed when his Lockheed P-80A (F-80A) Shooting Stars (44-83029) fell apart in midair in a flight over Kentucky” (Ref. 41 and 180A).

 

    “On 6 August 1945, Major Richard Bong, Medal of Honor holder and leading USAAF fighter ace with 40 victories in the Pacific, was killed when the engine of his P-80A-1-LO Shooting Star (44-85048) exploded shortly after takeoff. By that time, no less than eight YP-80As and P-80A (F-80A) had been destroyed in crashes, seven of which had been severely damaged, and six pilots had been killed. The day after Bong’s fatal crash, the USAAF ordered the Shooting Star grounded until the problems could be corrected” (Ref. 41 and 180A).

 

    “Emerging from World War II as one of the most potent fighting arms on the planet, the U.S. Navy recognized that the day of the piston-engine fighter was drawing to a close, having supplied the fleet with the Grumman F7F Tigercat and Grumman F8F Bearcat” (Ref. 41, 121 and 159A).

 

    “After the war in Europe was over, Lockheed P-80A (F-80A) Shooting Stars began to replace the North American P-51 Mustang (F-51D image gallery / North American F-51D Mustang) and the few Bell P-59 (Bell P-59 Airacomet) that had served with stateside units” (Ref. 41, 184, 185, 180A and 188).

 

    “The XP-59A (P-59A) ( Bell XP-59A Airacomet) was the first American jet aircraft. It did not see combat, but it did give the U.S. Army Air Forces (AAF) and the U.S. Navy valuable experience with jet aircraft technology and helped pave the way to more advanced designs” (Ref. 41, 180A and 187).

 

    “The Grumman F9F (F9F-4) Panther was the first jet-powered aircraft to be built by Grumman, a long-time manufacturer of carrier-based fighter aircraft for the U.S. Navy.

 

    Serious Grumman work on jet-powered fighter aircraft did not get underway until after the war was over. The G-75 was a postwar project begun by Grumman in September 1945 in response to a Navy Request For Proposals for a two-seat radar-equipped jet-powered carrier-based night fighter.

 

    The G-75 was to be capable of flying at speeds of 500 mph and at altitudes of 40,000 ft. and was supposed to be able to detect the presence of enemy aircraft at ranges as great as 125 miles. The G-75 looked very much like a jet-powered F7F Tigercat and was to be powered by four 3000 lb.s.t. Westinghouse 24C-4B turbojets mounted two each, side-by-side in midwing-mounted nacelles. A radome was to be mounted in the nose, and the armament was to have been four 20-mm cannon” (Ref. 41, 155D1 and 159A).

 

    “The grounding order of the Lockheed  P-80A (F-80A) Shooting Stars was lifted on 7 November 1945, but was soon followed by another grounding, this time caused by problems with the J33-A-9 jet engine. The aircraft was cleared for flight shortly thereafter, but the accident rate still remained high” (Ref. 41 and 180A).

 

    “The 412 th Fighter relocated in November 1945 to March Field, Ca.” (Ref. 180A).

 

    “On 14 November 1945, the Lockheed Shooting Star, which was turned over to the British government and modified by Rolls-Royce to flight test the B-41, the prototype of the Nene turbojet (44-83027), was destroyed in a crash landing after an engine failure. 44-83028 and 83029 were shipped to the Mediterranean. They flew some operational sorties, but they never encountered any enemy aircraft. They were both returned to the United States after the war” (Ref. 180A).

 

    “In 1946, Lockheed YP-80A Shooting Stars were delivered to the 38 th Squadron of the 55 th Fighter Group and the 27 th, 71st, and 94 th of the 1st Group stationed in the United States, the 31st Group (307 th, 308 th, and 309 th Squadrons) based in Germany, and the 18 th Fighter Bomber Wing (12 th, 44 th, and 67 th Squadron) based on Okinawa.

 

    In early 1946, 30 P-80s were sent to the 414 th Fighter Group at Florida Blanca Airbase on Luzon in the Philippine Islands” (Ref. 41 and 180A).

 

    “In spite of its high accident rate, the USAAF was anxious to show off its new jet fighter to the public. On 26 January 1946, three Lockheed P-80A-1-LOs Shooting Stars were equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks in place of the guns and ammunition broke the transcontinental speed record between Long Beach, Ca., and LaGuardia Airport, New York City, N.Y. Carrying standard 165-U.S. gallon wingtip tanks, Capt. Martin Smith's 44-85113 and Capt. John Babel’s 44-85131 completed the trip, respectively, in 4 hours 33 minutes 25 seconds, and 4 hours 23 minutes 54 seconds, which included a refueling stop in Topeka, Ks. The fastest time—4 hours 13 minutes 26 seconds for an average speed of 580.93 mph over 2453.8 miles—was obtained by Col. William Council, who was able to fly nonstop since his aircraft (44-85123) was fitted with special 310-gallon drop tanks” (Ref. 41 and 180A).

 

    “The Republic F-84 Thunderjet, the USAF’s first post-war fighter, made its initial flight on 26 February 1946” (Ref. 41 and 192).  

    “The production version of the Thunderjet the USAF equipped there Fighter Escort Group in the fighter-bomber role was the F-84E Thunderjet” (Ref. 41 and 182).

 

    “In April 1946, Col. Council flew a Lockheed YP-80A Shooting Star from New York to Washington, D.C. in 20 minutes 15 seconds” (Ref. 41 and 180A).

 

    “Grumman Aircraft Corporation of Bethpage, Long Island’s competing proposals for a two-seat, radar-equipped, jet-powered carrier-based night fighter for the U.S. Navy were Curtiss, Douglas, and Fleetwings, who also submitted proposals to the navy in response to the RFP.

 

    On 3 April 1946, the navy deemed the Douglas proposal as being the best of the lot, and ordered three prototypes under the designation XF3D-1. However, on 11 April, a navy contract was issued for the construction of two G-75 prototypes under the designation XF9F-1 as a backup just in case the Douglas design did not live up to expectations” (Ref. 41, 155D1).

 

 

"Newport News Shipbuilding, Va.—2 April 1946—The 45,000 ton aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea CVB 43 was Christened by the ship's sponsor Mrs. Thomas C. Kinkaid, as she swung the traditional bottle of Champagne striking the bow. On the left is the matron of honor Mrs. Joseph W. Henderson, Jr., Admiral C.L. Cox is behind Mrs. Kinkaid and on the right is Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid. NS024367 173k. International News Photo by P.N. Breon of INP." Robert M. Cieri

http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/024367.jpg

 

SHIP

NAMED

DATE

Launched

DATE

Coral Sea (CVB-43), former CV-42

Coral Sea

10 October 1944

By Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Newport News, Virginia

2 April 1946

A 45,000-ton Midway-class aircraft carrier, one of three Midway-class Large Fleet carriers built out of the six planned and was one of the last battle-class carriers under construction during World War II, while the contract to build her was awarded 14 June 1943, her keel was laid down on 10 July 1944 at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Newport News, Virginia. (NN&SB Hull #440)

The contract to build Coral Sea was awarded 14 June 1943.

Originally classified as an aircraft carrier with hull classification symbol CV-42. Reclassified a “Large Aircraft Carrier” with hull classification symbol CVB-43 on 15 July 1943.

Hull half-plated 18 May 1945; Hull completely framed 14 September 1945; Hull completely plated 22 October 1945; Flight deck laid 7 March 1946; and Island House erected 13 March 1946.

Sponsored and christened by Mrs. Thomas C. Kincaid, a wife of RADM Thomas Kincaid, who had commanded a cruiser division under RADM Frank Jack Fletcher at Coral Sea, a Coral Sea hero.

 

    “The Coral Sea (CVB-43), former CV-42, the 43rd aircraft carrier of the U.S. Navy by hull no., was launched on 2 April 1946 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Newport News, Va.; sponsored and christened by Mrs. Thomas C. Kincaid, a wife of RADM Thomas Kincaid, who had commanded a cruiser division under RADM Frank Jack Fletcher at Coral Sea, a Coral Sea hero. While under construction the unnamed (CV-42) was first named the Coral Sea, the 43rd aircraft carrier of the U.S. Navy on 10 October 1944; keel was laid down on 10 July 1944 at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Newport News, Va., originally classified as an aircraft carrier with hull classification symbol CV-42, and reclassified as a ‘Large Aircraft Carrier’ (CVB-43) on 15 July 1943, while the contract to build her was awarded on 14 June 1943” (Ref.1-Coral Sea, 2-USS Coral Sea “Welcome Aboard” brochure, 34, 35 and 72).

    “In June 1946, Lt. Henry Johnson set a 1000-km speed record of 426.97 mph in a Lockheed YP-80A Shooting Star” (Ref. 41 and 180A). 

 

    “The Grumman XF9F-1 was appreciably larger and heavier than the XF3D-1. In the summer of 1946, further design studies indicated that the Grumman design was considerably less promising than the Douglas design, and the navy considered canceling the XF9F-1 contract altogether.

 

     Ordinarily, this would have been the end of the line, but Grumman had been fortuitously working on another unrelated project under the company designation of G-79, which had been initiated only a month before the two XF9F-1 night fighter prototypes had been ordered.

 

     As originally conceived, the G-79 was a much smaller single-seat fighter, powered either by a single centrifugal-flow turbojet fed by wing root intakes and exhausting underneath the rear fuselage, by two wing-mounted Westinghouse J34 axial-flow turbojets, or by two Rolls-Royce Derwent centrifugal-flow turbojets mounted in the wing roots. Alternatively, during the early summer of 1946, Grumman proposed the use of a single 5000 lb.s.t. Rolls-Royce Nene centrifugal-flow turbojet, which would be built under license in the USA as the J42. In case the J42 ran into unexpected difficulties, the 4600 lb.s.t. Allison J33 was considered as a possible alternative since it was about the same size as the Nene but was somewhat less powerful” (Ref. 155D1).

 

    “The 412 th Fighter Group was inactivated in July 1946 after completing the operational evaluation of the first two USAAF jet fighters, the XP-59A (P-59A) (Bell XP-59A Airacomet) (Bell P-59 Airacomet) and the Lockheed YP-80A Shooting Stars” (Ref. 41 and 180A).

 

    “The 363rd Reconnaissance Group was activated at Brooks Field, Tx., in July 1946, and received Lockheed YP-80A Shooting Stars. In the first postwar National Air Races held in Cleveland, Oh., in August 1946, Shooting Stars won three trophies: the Bendix Trophy, awarded to Col Leon Gray for flying an Lockheed FP-80A (RF-80A) Shooting Star from Van Nuys, Ca. to Cleveland, Oh. in 4 hours 8 minutes; the Thompson Trophy, a 180-km closed circuit race, won by Colonel Gustav Lundquist in a P-80A (XP-80A); and the Weatherhead Jet Speed Dash Trophy, won by Lieut W. Reilly at a speed of 576.4 mph in a P-80A. By September 1946, no less than 61 Lockheed Shooting Stars were involved in accidents.  Most of these accidents were not the result of any critical flaws in the basic design of the Shooting Star, but were caused primarily by errors on the part of pilots inexperienced with the particular idiosyncrasies of jet aircraft” (Ref. 41 and 180A).

 

    “Enough interest was generated in this list of projects that the navy was persuaded to amend the Grumman XF9F-1 contract rather than cancel it outright. On 9 October 1946, the XF9F-1 contract was amended to provide for the construction of three single-seat prototypes (BuNos 122475/122477), a static test airframe, plus design data for a swept-wing version. By November the navy had narrowed its choice of powerplant options and specified that two of the G-79 prototypes should be completed as XF9F-2, powered by Rolls Royce Nene turbojets and that the third should be powered by an Allison J33 turbojet and be designated XF9F-3. The Rolls-Royce Nene jet engine was to be built under license in the USA by the Taylor Turbine Corporation as the J42-TT-2.

 

    Just in case the adaptation of the Nene to production in the United States turned out to be more difficult than expected, Grumman developed a parallel version of the Panther to be powered by the Allison J33 turbojet.

 

    The J33 engine was somewhat less powerful than the J42, but it was considered to be a safer risk. The J33-powered version was to be designated F9F-3 and was to be manufactured in parallel with the J42-powered F9F-2.

 

    Since the J42 was not going to be ready in time to be installed in the XF9F-2, Taylor Turbine Corporation supplied six imported Rolls-Royce Nene turbojets to Grumman” (Ref. 41 and 155D1).

 

 

CHAPTER I

 USS CORAL SEA (CV 43)

Operations Evening Light and Eagle Claw, A Sailors tale of his Tour of duty in the U.S. Navy (August 1977 to February 1983)

 

A Sailors tale of his Tour of duty in the U.S. Navy - Operation Evening Light And Eagle Claw -

 

Book - ISBN NO.

978-1-4276-0454-5

EBook - ISBN NO.

978-1-329-15473-5

 

Operations Evening Light and Eagle Claw (24 April 1980) Iran and Air Arm History (1941 to Present)

 

Operations Evening Light and Eagle Claw (24 April 1980) Iran and Air Arm History (1941 to Present)

 

Book ISBN NO.

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EBook ISBN NO.

978-1-329-19945-3

 

USS CORAL SEA CV-42, CVB-43, CVA-43 & CV-43 HISTORY, AND THOSE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS OPERATING WITH CORAL SEA  Vol. I (10 July 1944 to 31 December 1975)

 

USS CORAL SEA CV-42, CVB-43, CVA-43 & CV-43 HISTORY, AND THOSE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS OPERATING WITH CORAL SEA Vol. I (10 July 1944 to 31 December 1975) -

 

Book ISBN NO.

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EBook ISBN NO.

978-1-329-54596-0

 

USS CORAL SEA CV-42, CVB-43, CVA-43 & CV-43 HISTORY, AND THOSE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS OPERATING WITH CORAL SEA DURING HER TOUR OF SERVICE Vol. II (1 January 1976 to 25 August 1981)

 

USS CORAL SEA CV-42, CVB-43, CVA-43 & CV-43 HISTORY, AND THOSE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS OPERATING WITH CORAL SEA DURING HER TOUR OF SERVICE Vol. II (1 January 1976 to 25 August 1981) -

 

Book ISBN NO.

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EBook ISBN NO.

978-1-329-54790-2

 

USS CORAL SEA CV-42, CVB-43, CVA-43 & CV-43 HISTORY, AND THOSE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS OPERATING WITH CORAL SEA DURING HER TOUR OF SERVICE Vol. III (20 August 1981 to 26 April 1990)

 

USS CORAL SEA CV-42, CVB-43, CVA-43 & CV-43 HISTORY, AND THOSE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS OPERATING WITH CORAL SEA DURING HER TOUR OF SERVICE Vol. III (20 August 1981 to 26 April 1990) -

 

Book ISBN NO.

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EBook ISBN NO.

978-1-329-55111-4