Aircraft Carriers are one of the most important modern warships. These are massive military machines equipped with highly advanced weapons and communication systems. An Aircraft Carrier plays a major role in any Navy. It is a huge movable platform, which displays the strength of the Navy. It acts like a portable runway for Aircraft. Aircraft Carrier advantages the Navy by allowing the Fighter Aircrafts to surprise the enemies. It provides a shorter runway to the aircraft. As a result, high precision and accuracy are expected.
An Aircraft Carrier is used to carry the fighter and transport aircraft so that these can take off from different locations. But have you ever thought about the idea to make a flying aircraft carrier! I know it is an insane one. However, the United States actually had this in their mind. They imagined a weapon-carrying platform that will fly in the sky. Just like some Science-fiction movies, a perfect military weapon that will give nightmares to the enemies.
Attempts In History To Make Flying Aircraft Carrier Possible
In the late 1920s, U.S. Navy began the construction of two airships that could play the role of a flying aircraft carrier. USS Macon and USS Akron were two large airships, which were proposed to play a suitable role. However, these did not have any runway but instead, each carried five lightweight Curtis F9-C Sparrowhawk biplane fighters. The plan was to launch them from a hook system. The aircraft then could be recovered back again into the same system.
However, these ships were quite good and had many advantages. They could fly twice as fast as any other ships of that time and that too over land and sea. But, there were several problems. Controlling the airship was not easy in bad weather conditions. In April 1933, USS Akron crashed into the Atlantic ocean. Unfortunately, 73 people lost their lives. Also, USS Macon faced an accident where it crashed two years later. These incidents made the United States Navy reconsider their ideas. As a result, the program did not gain much momentum.
United States Air Force proposed another idea during the cold war where they would use a Republic F-84 Parasite Fighter. It was planned to be launched from B-36 Peacemaker Nuclear Bomber. It was to be used for reconnaissance missions.
One more idea was waiting for its turn. This was more advanced and demanded greater challenges. Boeing 747 could be modified in such a way that it could hold around 10-12 small fighter jets. It was literally a flying hanger in the sky.
Idea Of Flying Carriers Remained Just An Idea
However, all of these plans never really got much attention and these remained just a bunch of ideas. There were several reasons for that. United States forces never really felt its need and there was no reason to construct such a big machine. It could be the wastage of resources and money as there was not any problem to be solved. In addition to that, drones are more useful for reconnaissance as they are small and not very expensive. They can also be launched from an aircraft.
Problems in the way of making such a large warship
Despite of the fact that flying aircraft is theoretically possible, it does not seems much practical. Maintaining such a large machine would cost millions of dollars which no country can afford. There is another reason as well. Flying Aircraft Carrier can be an easy target for other countries due to its large size. It would be very difficult to protect it in the sky from a missile. In the sea, other small warfare ships protect the aircraft carriers. But, in the sky, it will be again, very costly, if protected by other planes.
So, for now, flying Aircraft Carrier remains only in movies and imaginations! Hopefully, in the future, if we have any suitable reason to construct such an advanced machine, everyone will love to see that. The flying carrier is a big challenge for the human mind and technology.