Thursday, February 27, 2014

This Day in WWII History: Feb 27, 1942: U.S. aircraft carrier Langley is sunk

File:USS Langley 43-1193M.jpg

On this day, the U.S. Navy's first aircraft carrier, the Langley, is sunk by Japanese warplanes (with a little help from U.S. destroyers), and all of its 32 aircraft are lost.

File:Jupiter. Collier 3. Starboard bow, 10-16-1913 - NARA - 512992.jpg

 File:CV-1 May1921 NorfolkNS NAN12-70.jpg
File:USS Langley (AV-1).jpg

The Langley was launched in 1912 as the naval collier (coal transport ship) Jupiter. After World War I, the Jupiter was converted into the Navy's first aircraft carrier and rechristened the Langley, after aviation pioneer Samuel Pierpoint Langley. It was also the Navy's first electrically propelled ship, capable of speeds of 15 knots.

 File:Samuel Pierpont Langley.jpg

File:Godfrey Chevalier in cockpit.jpg

On October 17, 1922, Lt. Virgil C. Griffin piloted the first plane, a VE-7-SF, launched from the Langley's decks. Although planes had taken off from ships before, it was nevertheless a historic moment.

File:CV-1 Langley insignia.png

After 1937, the Langley lost the forward 40 percent of her flight deck as part of a conversion to seaplane tender, a mobile base for squadrons of patrol bombers.

 1927 - the USS Langley (CV-1) is practicing maneuvers with a smokescreen. Named after American astronomer, physicist, inventor, and aviation pioneer Samuel Langley, it was the US Navy’s first aircraft carrier. 
Photo from the J.M.F. Haase collection.

On December 8, 1941, the Langley was part of the Asiatic Fleet in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked. She immediately set sail for Australia, arriving on New Year's Day, 1942.

On February 22, commanded by Robert P. McConnell, the Langley, carrying 32 Warhawk fighters, left as part of a convoy to aid the Allies in their battle against the Japanese in the Dutch East Indies.


On February 27, the Langley parted company from the convoy and headed straight for the port at Tjilatjap, Java. About 74 miles south of Java, the carrier met up with two U.S. escort destroyers when nine Japanese twin-engine bombers attacked. Although the Langley had requested a fighter escort from Java for cover, none could be spared.

File:AV-3 near miss 27Feb42 NAN5-81.jpg

The first two Japanese bomber runs missed their target, as they were flying too high, but the Langley's luck ran out the third time around and it was hit three times, setting the planes on her flight deck aflame. The carrier began to list. Commander McConnell lost his ability to navigate the ship.

File:USS Langley (AV-3) sinking 1942.jpg

McConnell ordered the Langley abandoned, and the escort destroyers were able to take his crew to safety. Of the 300 crewmen, only 16 were lost. The destroyers then to sank the Langley before the Japanese were able to capture it.

Taken from: [27.02.2013]

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