Wasp, U.S. Fleet Carrier

Photograph of U.S.S.

National Archives #80-G-12240


Tonnage 14,700 tons standard displacement
Dimensions 739' by 80'9" by 20'
255.25m by 24.61m by 6.10m
Maximum speed       30 knots
Complement 2167
Aircraft 727' (222 m) flight deck
2 catapults
3 elevators
74 aircraft
Armament 8 5"/38 dual-purpose guns
4x4 1.1" AA guns
16 0.50 machine guns
Protection 1" (25mm) belt
1.6" (41mm) hangar deck
2" (51mm) conning tower
2-shaft Parsons geared turbine (70,000 shp)
6 Yarrow boilers
Bunkerage 2403 tons fuel oil
150,000 gallons (570,000 liters) aviation gasoline
Range 8000 nautical miles (14,800 km) at 20 knots
Munitions 593 tons
Sensors CXAM1 air search radar
1942: 0.50 machine guns replaced by 20 20mm Oerlikon AA guns.  Equipped with a few quadruple 40mm Bofors AA guns and CXAM-1 radar.

Wasp was completed in 1940. She was an attempt to squeeze another carrier within the treaty limitations, but she also introduced some important innovations. She had an asymmetric hull offsetting the weight of the island, and she had the first deck-edge elevator, though it was barely large enough for operational use. Originally a weight-saving measure, the Navy eventually recognized that such elevators were less vulnerable to hangar explosions and more reliable generally. Other improvements included better machinery dispersal and provisions for adding more belt armor (which would have put her over the treaty limit) in time of war. The latter never took place, however, since the Wasp was so desperately needed in the front lines.

Designed at a time when the Navy had become skeptical of the viability of torpedo bombing, Wasp had no torpedo magazines. Her air group thus initially consisted of a squadron of fighters and three squadrons of dive bombers rather than the usual squadron of fighters, squadron of torpedo bombers, and two squadrons of dive bombers. However, she embarked a squadron of torpedo bombers in August 1942, just weeks before she was sunk.

Wasp passed through the Panama Canal into the Pacific on 10 June 1942, after participating in several operations in the Atlantic, including the resupply of fighter aircraft to Malta in the Mediterranean. Her brief combat career was plagued by trouble with her turbine engines. She was torpedoed and sunk on September 14, 1942 by I-19 while escorting reinforcements to Guadalcanal. Three torpedoes struck and ruptured aviation gasoline lines, the fires quickly raged out of control, and she was scuttled with torpedoes from Lansdowne.

Photo Gallery

Wasp low forward quarter view

U.S. Navy

Wasp overhead view

U.S. Navy

Wasp superstructure

U.S. Navy

Wasp sinking

U.S. Navy


Chesneau (1992)


Friedman (1983)

Lundstrom (2006)

Worth (2001)

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