Learn about Life in the 1920s


NO EXISTING BATTLE-SHIP, nor any that it is possible to build within the next ten years, can be kept afloat when attacked by airplanes using gas and highexplosive bombs. At any rate, this is the announcement made by Gen. Amos E. Fries, chief of the chemical warfare service, to the Engineers Club of Baltimore. We should not include aircraft carriers in any plan to limit warship construction, General Fries thinks; but our naval architects should design these carriers to make a speed of fifty to sixty knots, and to accommodate as many bombing planes as possible. There should be several fleets of these speedy and roomy carriers.

Realizing the importance of such vessels, Secretary Denby, on October 12th, list, notified the House Naval Committee that the Navy Department would ask Congress to build aircraft carriers for the Navy. Both England and America have already reconstructed existing ships to save the time required to build. The first British experimental carrier is the Eagle, while our first mother ship is known as the Langley. Regarding the former, Mr. C. G. Grey, editor of The Aeroplane (London), remarks as follows:

HMS EAGLE BRITISH AIRPLANE CARRIER "This ship was in commission in 1920 for experimental work. She was built by Armstrong-Whitworths, as the Chilean Dreadnought Almirante Cochrane, but was taken over by the British Navy. She has a displacement of 26,200 tons and can steam at 24 knots. It was in connection with this ship that the Admiralty distinguished itself by forbidding the visit to her of a number of the leading British aeroplane designers, who had been invited by the Royal Air Force to go on board and study the problems surrounding the alighting of aeroplanes on ships, on the grounds that civilians must not be permitted to see the secrets of the Navy. The funnel and superstructure are on the off, right, far, or starboard side of the ship, leaving a more or less clear run from bow to stern."

In January of this year the work was begun at the Norfolk Navy Yard of remodeling the collier Jupiter and changing her into our first aircraft carrier. In order to do this, her entire coal-handling machinery was removed and her coal bunkers were converted into storage space for planes and their accessories, ammunition, machine and wing repair shops, and various other storerooms. There are two decks—a lower assembling or hangar deck, and an upper, or flying deck. Beneath the latter there are traveling cranes, which hoist the planes from the hold and transfer them to the shop spaces and elevator. This raises them to the flying deck as they are wanted. On this upper deck, which is 65 feet wide amidships and has a length of 525 feet, there are catapults for starting machines and suitable stopping devices. The regular smokestack has been done away with and two short smoke conveyors substituted, one on each side of the deck, adapted to turn upwards or downwards. When placed in a downward position, the smoke is. passed through a water spray. By taking advantage of the two pipes the smoke may always be discharged to leeward. Says Commander Kenneth Whiting in U. S. Air Service (New York):

USS LANGLEY AIRCRAFT CARRIER "The Langley when commissioned will provide our Navy with an experimental' carrier' which, while not ideal, will be sufficiently serviceable to conduct, any experiment required for the design of future 'carriers' and for the development of naval aerial tactics, and for the development of the various types of aircraft mentioned above, for these last are also lacking in our Navy, due to concentrating on anti-submarine work during the War.

"That 'carriers' will be successful, and an absolute necessity to any well-equipped navy in the future, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind. We are asking this Congress for the first properly designed 'carrier.' It will take from three to four years to build it. Will they give it to us?"

Japan is building a carrier, the Hosho, which will soon be ready to join its fleet of battle-ships. The Hosho is said to represent the latest advance in this type of naval construction, and is an indication of what may be expected in future development. Says a writer in Popular Science Monthly (New York):

"Ever since the aircraft carrier was conceived, the tremendous advantage of the landplane over the seaplane has forced improvements to permit the landplane to alight on the tender's decks.

"The top deck of the Hosho is flush from bow to stern. Masts and chart-house telescope into the hull, and the funnels are back of the stern, leaving a flying-deck clear of obstructions.

"A large elevator, capable of carrying a fully assembled plane, connects the three decks on which the planes are handled. A plane can be rolled into the elevator, which rises flush with each deck, as easily as if it were being rolled from a hangar into a field. When the elevator reaches the top deck, the plane can start straight on its flight as smoothly as from the ground."

The following articles in the Five-Power Naval limitation Treaty just adopted at the Washington Conference have an important bearing on this subject:


The total tonnage for aircraft carriers of each of the Contracting Powers shall not exceed in standard displacement, for the United States 135,000 tons (137,160 metric tons); for the British Empire 135,000 tons (137,160 metric tons); for France 60,000 tons (60,960 metric tons); for Italy 60,000 tons (60,960 metric tons); for Japan 81,000 tons (82,296 metric tons).


The replacement of aircraft carriers shall be effected only as prescribed in Chapter II, Part 3, provided, however, that all aircraft carrier tonnage in existence or building on Nov. 12, 1921, shall be considered experimental, and may be replaced, within the total tonnage limit prescribed in Article VII, without regard to its age.


No aircraft carrier exceeding 27,000 tons (27,432 metric tons) standard displacement shall be acquired by or constructed by, for or within the jurisdiction of, any of the Contracting Powers.

However, any of the Contracting Powers may, provided that its total tonnage allowance of aircraft carriers is not thereby exceeded, build not more than two aircraft carriers, each of a tonnage of not more than 33,000 tons (33,528 metric tons) standard displacement, and in order to effect economy any of the Contracting Powers may use for this purpose any two of their ships, whether constructed or in course of construction, which would otherwise be scrapped under the provisions of Article II. The armament of any aircraft carriers exceeding 27,000 tons (27,432 metric tons) standard displacement shall be in accordance with the requirements of Article X, except that the total number of guns to be carried in case any of such guns be of a caliber exceeding 6 inches (152 millimeters), except anti-aircraft guns and guns not exceeding 5 inches (126.7 millimeters), shall not exceed eight.


No aircraft carrier of any of the Contracting Powers shall carry a gun with a caliber in excess of 8 inches (203 millimeters). Without prejudice to the provisions of Article IX, if the armament carried includes guns exceeding 6 inches (152 millimeters) in caliber, the total number of guns carried, except anti-aircraft guns and guns not exceeding 5 inches (126.7 millimeters), shall not exceed ten. If alternatively the armament contains no guns exceeding 6 inches (152 millimeters) in caliber, the number of guns is not limited. In either case the. number of anti-aircraft guns and of guns not exceeding 5 inches (126.7 millimeters) is not limited.

Source: The Literary Digest - February 18, 1922