Midway was the first of three
ships in this class built for the US
Navy, the others being Franklin D
Roosevelt and Coral Sea. The
hulls of these carriers were modeled on
the cancelled Montana class battleships.
With their slim hull design and large
flight deck, they had a tendency to
plunge forward in heavy seas. Although
built for the Second World War, all three
ships entered service too late to see any
action. A captured German V2 rocket was
launched from Midway’s
flight deck in September 1947, this being
the first time a missile had been fired
from a ship. Midway completed
seven Mediterranean patrols in her first
ten years of service. On these
deployments, she operated a variety of
piston type aircraft.
Midway was returned to her
builders in 1955 to be fitted with an
angled flight deck. After the conversion
had been completed, she re-entered
service in September 1957 with an air
wing of Phantom and Crusader jets.
Midway’s first wartime
deployment was to Vietnam in 1965. Soon
after reaching the battle zone, one of
her jets scored the first confirmed kill
of a North Vietnam Mig. Midway was
returned to America in February 1966 to
undergo a four-year refit. Within two
years of re-entering service, the navy
had her returned to the war in Vietnam.
An agreement to end the Vietnam War in
1973 led to Midway being stationed
at Yokosuka/Japan. The families of her
crew were moved to Japan soon after.
Midway went through another
refit in 1986 to allow her to operate F/A
18 Hornets instead of the aging F/4
Phantoms and A/7 Corsairs. These final
modifications increased her flight deck
width to 257 feet. On
Midway’s next wartime
deployment, she steamed from Yokosuka to
take part in the liberation of Kuwait.
That battle began January 17th 1991 and
lasted for 43 days. Midway’s
aircraft flew over 3,300 combat missions
throughout the war without any losses.
She was the only one of the four US
carriers in the Gulf at that time not to
lose any aircraft.
After 17 years based at Yokosuka,
Midway set out for Pearl Harbor in
1991 to rendezvous with the US carrier
Independence. This Forrestal class
carrier had been assigned to replace her
at Yokosuka. Midway’s
aircraft were transferred to
Independence at Pearl Harbor
before she set out for the North Island
Navel Air Station/San Diego.
Midway was decommissioned on
arrival and handed over to the City of
San Diego to serve as a floating museum.
The US Navy used Franklin D
Roosevelt to carry out the first
tests of jet aircraft being launched from
carriers. These trials began July 21st
1948. After being decommissioned in 1977,
the navy had her scrapped at Kearny/New
Jersey in 1980. Coral Sea was
decommissioned in 1991 after 44 years of
service. Work on her dismantling began at
Baltimore in 1993.