On This Day in History - March 20, 1920

On This Day in History - March 20, 1920

On This Day in History - March 20, 1920

The USS Langley during her conversion to an Aircraft Carrier, 1921. Credits: NavSource

On March 20, 1920 the USS Langley was commissioned by the Navy as the United States' very first aircraft carrier. The hull of the USS Langley had seen prior years of service under the name of USS Jupiter, a collier or coal vessel, which was the Navy's very first turbo electrically-propelled ship.

USS Langley with Vought VE-7 aircraft on her deck, 1928. Credits: NavSource

Many changes were required in making the transition of the USS Langley from her collier ship origins. The full-length wood flight deck was fitted to a steel framework, 2 aircraft launch catapults were installed on the flight deck, and six large cargo holds original used for coal storage on the USS Jupiter proved ideal as aircraft hanger decks; providing enough room for approximately 34 aircraft.

Aircraft taking off from the USS Langley.. Credits: NavSource

The USS Langley became the primary test platform for the US Navy's budding aviation program. October 1922 marked the first take-off and landing of an aircraft from an aircraft carrier at sea. For the next 12 years, the ship served with the Navy fleet training aviators, conducting aviation experiments, and taking part in war games. With the arrival of the larger carriers like the Lexington and Saratoga, and the near completion of the Yorktown and Enterprise, the Navy decided that the Langley was no longer needed.

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