Discussions on all aspects of the United States of America during the Inter-War era and Second World War. Hosted by Carl Schwamberger.
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Wiki lists nine - and gives details for each of them http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAM_ship#C ... t_launches
It's not actually that
big a period all told - CAM ships on Russian and North Atlantic convoys were stopped in mid-1942
. Ten of the CAMships were "decommisioned" at that point - and the remaining 16 used in the Med and mid Atlantic only. In total the CAMships sailed 170 voyages - so it's one operational launch per 21 voyages. Desn't look as bad that way!
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On the USN side, we used LSTs to launch recon planes. That would be an interesting "compare and contrast" to the CAM ships?
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The US toyed with the idea of CAM ships in the early 1930's. However, they would go a step further than the British CAMs in that the American ships would have not only the catapult, but a landing decks aft(either 285*60 feet or 300*80 feet). Also, they would also have been equipped with a hanger and elevator. However, this idea was dropped when problems arose in the estimated reconstruction of such ships, and the need for them to retain their centerline superstructure. When these problems arose, the Americans went back to working on normal full deck merchant conversions. The full deck conversions would eventually evolve into the CVEs of World War II
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Although the aircraft were considered expendable, they were often not launched because, one used, they could not be recovered and the folks in charge often chose to retain the aircraft on the possibility that they would be more needed later. A number of launches were made within range of friendly land bases and the pilots made for them they but weather made this a risk.
Hope this is of interest.
Mark E. Horan
Could concern over picking up the pilot have been a factor?
Once a CAM fighter is launched, if he can't make a land base, he's going to have to ditch. And that means a hard choice - either leaving him to drown (which would make other CAM pilots VERY unhappy!), or sending an escort to pick him up. But that means the escort ship having to come to a dead stop in mid-Atlantic - thus making itself an easy target for a prowling U-boat. No captain liked heaving to in the Atlantic for that reason, even a shallow-drafted escort captain.
Obviously no convoy commodore would like to lose a priceless escort on pilot rescue duty. If you fear U-boats more than planes, it seems an easier decision to not launch the CAM fighter at all, so the difficulty and danger of rescuing the pilot doesn't arise.