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They called the Langley the “Covered Wagon." And, like her namesake prairie schooner, she would carry a bold breed of pioneers, among them the author, to new horizons. Herewith, then, is the personal story of one ship’s transition from collier to carrier and one man’s pride and pleasure at having been along on so epochal a voyage.
The Langley (CV-1) was unpopular, unlovely, unusual, and ugly—to say the least. Her unpopularity stemmed from her first mission as a collier, when she was named the USS Jupiter (AC-3). In 1917, something happened that was a precursor of things to come. The Jupiter was suddenly pulled away from her coaling duties, loaded with aviation supplies and a contingent of aviation personnel headed by Lieutenant Kenneth Whiting (Naval Aviator No. 16), and sailed for England. This was the first U.S. aviation unit to arrive overseas. The seven officers and 122 enlisted men of the First Aeronautic Detachment were welcomed by a personal note written in longhand by King George V of Great Britain to Lieutenant Whiting.
At the Washington Naval Conference in the early 1920s, the great naval powers haggled over what they would have in the way of ships and tonnages. The big item was the battleship, then the queen of the fleet. After that came the cruiser, and on down the list. The high-ranking officers in the front seats fought for battleship and cruiser power; in the back sat a junior commander named Kenneth Whiting who kept insisting on being heard for something called the airplane carrier. No one cared much, but he finally got authority for an experimental carrier, and when the United States agreed to scrap her new battle cruisers, he held out to get the first two, the Lexington and Saratoga, converted to airplane carriers. What Whiting was asking for was ships that would replace the battleship as the backbone of the fleet and would thus change the whole concept of naval warfare.
The director of naval aviation at that time was a nonaviator, Captain T.T. (“Terrible Tom”) CravenWhiting went to him with his ideas for the authorized experimental carrier. During World War L the Navy had taken over two high-speed passenger liners to use as transports. These ships were built to beat train time between San Diego and Seattle, and they did it. Whiting wanted one for his experimental carrier. These ships were refused, and Craven and the Navy’s General Board (which had the final say) recommended that the collier Jupiter be converted. Congress appropriated the money, and the collier, f*rSt commissioned in 1913, was on her way to becoming the USS Langley.
Men build ships, and the reincarnation of thejup1' ter into the USS Langley was mainly the effort of f°ur men. In addition to Whiting, they were Lieutenant Commander Godfrey De Courcelles (“Chewy 1 Chevalier, Lieutenant A. Melville Pride, and Lieu' tenant Fred William Pennoyer. While in Englanc during World War I, Chevalier (Naval Aviator N°- 7) had observed the British attempts to operate lanc planes from ships and was very impressed with the efforts. He and Whiting had long discussions on tl>e subject of airplane carriers and arranged visits to vat ious ships to observe operations. They determined to establish an operation of this sort when they returne to the States. Whiting was a man far ahead of hlS time in the very conservative Navy of the 1920s. ** had little use for battleships. His junior years—spc(]t mostly in armored cruisers and in the Navy’s earfieSt submarines—built up his lack of awe for the s° called backbone of the fleet.
Whiting and Theodore G. (“Spud”) Ellys011’ (Naval Aviator No. 1) had been roommates at the
conversion to be done. The hull and engines
USS Langley (CV-1)
Naval Academy and were the first to apply for assignment to the new flying service. Ellyson had trained with Glenn Curtiss at San Diego and Whit- ,ng with the Wright brothers at Dayton, Ohio. While at Pensacola, Whiting and Chevalier flew together a great deal and developed a great friendship and admiration for each other. Lieutenant Mel Pride Was a reserve officer who came into naval aviation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at the beginning of World War I. He was a brilliant officer with an engineering mind and one of the most expert pilots of his time. Lieutenant “Horse” Pen- a°yer was a construction engineer. A dedicated offiCer to whom fell all the details of designing the gear handle planes, he worked on the gear of both the Langley and her planes. Like the others, he was a t*aval aviator.
The Langley's conversion to an aircraft carrier took PNce at the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Vir- h’nia. As Whiting looked at her while the coal han- lng gear and the stacks were being stripped off, he ^marked, “Well, they will certainly get their jaioney s worth out of her.” Actually, there was not a
£ernained intact, as did the two 5-inch guns on the ntail. The Navy yard was not particularly invested in rebuilding the ship, because too many fle'v ’fleas were involved. No one was sure what the aVators wanted, except that there was to be a deck C at planes could land on. The flight deck was to j°nsist of several sections, because a solid deck was erned unable to withstand the ship’s hogging and t^gging in a seaway. There would be a catapult on
e forward end of the flight deck and some sort of arrest' 0
nng gear to stop the planes. Small items came
^ r°m time to time, such as side booms for radio
jnfennas, a net aft to catch any planes that might fly
the°f|t^e Stern’ anA exter>sions on the bridge under
fight deck to obtain some additional visibility.
NATIONAL ARCHIVES (U.S. NAVY)
Jack Tate as a lieutenant (junior grade)
Finding pilots for this carrier-to-be was something of a problem. Navy pilots were not trained in land- planes until class 16 at Pensacola, so the original Langley pilots were sent to Carlstrom Field at Fort Myers, Florida, for landplane training. The war was over, and the reservists were going home in droves. In 1922, there were only 314 pilots in the Navy, and few of them were trained to fly landplanes. On the Langley detail, they were here one day and gone or killed the next.
Those of us who were attached to the Navy’s first carrier were not treated to a life of luxury. The flight officers’ quarters were built of wood on top of the wardroom and the old ship’s staterooms. They competed with the uptakes from the boilers for space under the flight deck and constituted one of the best
designing the Langley's landing gear. __
The new carrier’s planes were stationed at the folk Naval Air Station, 25 miles from the navy y°r
which could be turned into the wind. It was set
EDITOR’S NOTE: A few years ago, when Admiral Tate’s Russian-born daughter received special permission to visit the United States, the ensuing national publicity largely ignored the achievements of the admiral’s long career as a professional naval officer. Probably his most abiding commitment during many years of service was to the development and excellence of naval aviation.
Earlier this year, when informed that his article would be appearing in this issue of the Proceedings, Admiral Tate responded: “Inasmuch as Oct is the anniversary of the first U.S. Navy carrier takeoff by Squash Griffin and landing by Chevalier it is an appropriate date for the Langley story as a tribute to Ken Whiting who did most of her design, got building authorization and money and wet nursed her entire conversion. He developed Naval Aviation as we know it today. . . . Also on Oct. 15th I shall celebrate my 80th birthday—if I am here. At present receiving radiation for cancer of the throat. Best wishes and good luck on the October issue.” This past July, within a few hours after finishing the editing of the article, we learned of his death in Florida.
fire hazards the Navy ever built. Whiting and Chevalier were involved in almost continuous daily conferences with the Navy yard officials. Whiting insisted on a large and complete photo lab, because he proposed to take both still and motion pictures of every landing. On the stern, an elaborate pigeonhouse was built with food storage, nesting, training, and trapping areas. (It was later to be rebuilt into the executive officer’s quarters.) The radios of those days were very rudimentary, and most cross-country flights carried crates of homing pigeons in case of emergency. The attempt to train pigeons to return to a ship was a great failure, but provided an excellent supply of squab for the mess. To bring the ship to the desired draft, a 10-foot-deep layer of cement was poured into the holds which once had been filled with coal.
The building of the flight deck progressed slowly. There arose new problems daily, such as where to establish stations for control of the flight deck and arresting gear. To provide refuge for the deck crew during landings, outriggers were installed about 3 feet below the flight deck level. Wire netting was installed for the crew to jump into in order to observe and control the gear.
The actual arresting gear had to be designed as well. The British had used fore-and-aft wires strung about a foot apart, 10 inches off the deck and covering the aft 200 feet. These wires converged at the forward end. Friction on the hooks on the landing gear axles provided the retarding element. It had not been very satisfactory. Whiting and Chevalier fdc there should be a positive and controlled arresting moment. In a previous experiment on a special deck built on the armored cruiser Pennsylvania (ACR-4), Eugene Ely had used cross-deck pennants with sanu bags at each end and a hook on the landing gear o the plane. This was successful. Lieutenant Pride, aided by “Horse” Pennoyer, did most of the work m
For the crew, this involved a trolley ride Portsmouth, the ferry to Norfolk, a long trolley r'' to Hampton Roads, and a bus ride to the air statin0 Pride did most of the testing with a circular platfof11
on the northeast corner of Chambers Field. Vari°u methods were tried out for both plane gear and de ^ gear. Some of these methods would be considered fl diculous today, but we had to learn the hard way- The pilots practiced “precision landings” daily- 60-foot-long cloth strip, representing the stern of1 flight deck, was put on the field at the air stati°n^ The pilots landed over it and attempted to drop o° ‘
soon as possible after passing it. An observer sat by and kept a log on each pilot’s performance. There was no landing signal officer, and each pilot had his own technique. This went on in all types of planes, but the emphasis was in the Aeromarine 39-B (a seaplane with the floats removed and wheels installed), because it had been selected for the first landings and che testing of the gear. Pennoyer and Pride worked closely together on the design and manufacture of the gear to go in the plane.
An early member of the Langley detail was Lieutenant W. B. Haviland, who had been a member °f the original Lafayette Escadrille. The squadron insignia of the Escadrille had been a red, white, and lue slanted cocarde painted on each side of a plane’s uselage. This was adopted for the Langley planes and 0r the ship. It is interesting to note that at that time *t Was common practice for aviators to request leave and a plane to fly home and back. Whiting called all Pilots in one day and announced, “Pilots taking Planes cross country will not take up passengers for lre- A sign had been found in one plane: “Ride W*th me and see the town, $5.00.”
Meanwhile, work on the ship was going very Sl°wly. The Jupiter had the lowest priority in the yard, and Whiting felt too much of the conversion tctoney was going to the navy yard overhead and not
nt° the ship. Finally, the decision was reached to “ttirnission the ex-Jupiter into the USS Langley on 20 £ ch 1923. Her acting commanding officer was ti°nirnancler Whiting, the ship’ s prospective execu- Ve officer Her future commanding officer was to be ^aptain Stafford H.R. (“Stiffy”) Doyle, a nonaviator he ° 00 *^ea wbat the ship was all about, what
Ch IT11SS*on was’ or any °f the ideas Whiting and evalier were working toward. Though stationed
only 25 miles away at Hampton Roads, Doyle did not see fit to attend the commissioning. The ceremony was held on the just-completed flight deck. Whiting ordered Lieutenant Commander Hugh Victor McCabe, the navigator, to set the colors and break the commission pennant on signal at the commissioning. Unfortunately, the hoisting gear had not been installed to raise the masts, so there was no place to break the commission pennant. Whiting said it was McCabe’s problem. At the end of the ceremony, Whiting turned to McCabe and said, “Set the watches, hoist the colors, and break the commission pennant.” McCabe had found a way: when the bugle sounded “colors,” the chief quartermaster and an assistant jumped off the bridge with a commission pennant secured on the end of a swab handle, and nailed it to the edge of the flight deck.
Even after the commissioning, work progressed very slowly. It was almost six months until the Langley was able to leave the yard. Late in the summer came the big day. Following dock trials of the main power plant and the firing of a dead load from her catapult, the new carrier was finally ready to go out for her post-conversion trials. Captain “Stiffy” Doyle took over, and the ship proceeded down to the Hampton Roads Naval Base, where she was assigned dockage at the merchant ship end of the terminal. The masts were in the up position, and a commission pennant now flew proudly from the main, but no one at the base was yet willing to admit that this unusual and ugly apparition was a warship. Planes of various types were brought down from the air station and hoisted aboard for the training of the crew in plane handling. After loading supplies, the Langley finally got under way and proceeded up the Chesapeake Bay to Tangier Sound for tests of the new installations.
Whiting had developed a routine of daily conferences in the wardroom to settle all problems, both major and minor. He had listed a series of tests with smoke pots to examine the flow of air over the flight deck under various conditions of speed and at headings up to 10° off the direction of the wind. Another minor problem was the choice of a bugle call to use for “flight quarters.” Some argument arose when he selected “Boots and Saddles,” the old cavalry call to mount horses. The pigeon quartermaster appeared once to protest vociferously against the test firing of the 5-inch/51-caliber guns situated on either side of the stern; the pigeon house was a wooden structure built between the guns and not more than 20 feet away. The gun firing was deferred more or less permanently.
While in Tangier Sound, drills were the order of the day. But first it had to be decided what was to be
done and how things were to be done before the crew could drill. Planes in those days had no brakes or tail wheels; shock absorbers for the main gear and tail skeg consisted of rubber bungees. Engines were started by swinging the prop by hand and using a magneto booster. These proved to be problems on a crowded deck. Plane handling crews were established, with one man on each wing and a man on the tail dolly. The plane captain was the director, and signals had to be devised to direct the crew and pilot. There were no radios, so we had to figure out how to tell the planes to land. The solution worked out was to fly a white flag at the aft end of the flight deck as a signal to land, and a red flag as a signal not to land. It was suggested that a steam jet be placed in the bow to assist the officer of the deck in keeping the ship headed into the wind. The chief engineer objected to this waste of steam, and so the jet was operated, when desired, from the bridge. All of this shows that the problems and growing pains on board the Langley were many, but somehow solutions were found.
In September 1922, the Langley established an anchorage in the York River adjacent to the mine depot at Yorktown. A circle of buoyed anchors was posi-
tioned so that the ship could be pulled into the wind using the after winches to the proper anchor. A field was established in a convenient pasture at the mine depot, and the planes were flown up from the Norfolk Naval Air Station. Daily, the ship would be hauled into the wind, and the pilots would make practice approaches. The strict orders were to make oniy approaches and no touchdowns. On one occasion, Pride barely kissed the deck with his wheels. Whiting hit the roof. Another day, an Army bomber came by and started to make approaches. Again,
Whiting blew his top and sent Lieutenant CarR°n Palmer over to Langley Field to protest. He was too late. The bomber had crashed in an attempt to lan on its home field, and the pilot was killed.
Finally, on 17 October, Lieutenant Commander Virgil C. (“Squash”) Griffin was designated y Whiting to make the first carrier takeoff. This was not so simple as it sounds or as it is today. 1° c first place, planes in those days had no brakes, order to allow a plane to turn up to full power an start its deck run, it was necessary to develop a e vice consisting of a bomb release attached to a wire about 5 feet long. The bomb release was hooked to a ring on the landing gear and the end of the wire to hold-down fitting on deck. A cord led from the bomb-release trigger to an operator on deck, 'w*10 could release the plane on signal. Planes at rest sat nose high, and it was necessary to raise the tail 3 t0 feet at the start of the roll. A trough about 4 ee long was built and mounted on saw horses, and t tail skeg was placed in the trough to keep the plafl*j in flight position. The ship was hauled into the win laboriously by the winches to the stern anchors, an a plane’s propeller was started by hand. After all teSts were completed, Griffin turned the Hispano Su‘za engine in the Vought VE-7SF up to its full ^ horsepower and gave the signal to pull the trigger the bomb-release gadget, which had been given 1 name “tension gun.” The released plane rolled do''n the deck and lifted off easily before it reached 1 elevator. Griffin flew back to Norfolk.
More days were devoted to practice approaches- especially using the Aeromarine 39-B. Finally, a sve later, the Langley got under way and proceeded °u into the Chesapeake Bay for the first landing. wa$ a cool Monday morning, 26 October 1922. The sh<P turned into the northeast wind off the “Tail of 1 Shoe” shoal inside Cape Henry. Chevalier flew °u^ from the beach in an Aeromarine 39-B and PaSS£j along the deck. The arresting gear was all set, 311 the white flag was flying at the stern.
The idea of having a landing signal officer was 0 to be thought of until six months later, so Cheva was entirely on his own. His right wing dropPe^ slightly at the end, but he corrected and made landing catching the second wire. The fiddle bn t> crashed down, and were showered down on the a along with the pies. The axle hooks held the Pla down, and the tail hook stopped her in a very s^ run. but a high tail rise let the propeller nick c deck. Overall, it was a good landing, and the cr went wild with joy.
The following Saturday night, there was a cele ^ tion at the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club, an
catapult from the flight deck. This twin-float sea-
pilots presented Chevalier with a silver cup to commemorate the first landing. No one at the celebra- tlon could predict that in less than two weeks Chevvy” would be killed in a plane crash.
^The Langley's next air operation was the launching a PT-2 seaplane piloted by Commander Whiting
P ane was set on a remarkable carriage mounted on castorSj a device designed by Pennoyer and built by e ship’s force. The carriage was set on deck and fttached to the catapult traveller. The pontoons were c*ed to the carriage by hooks which were released c che end of the catapult run, when they were hit by tr'gger sticking up from the deck. Whiting turned e Liberty engine up to its full 2,000 revolutions Ler minute and gave the signal to fire. The PT-2 ^ent rolling down the deck, but both plane and car- lage became airborne just before they arrived at the ease triggers. The trigger on the port side hit and off ed that pontoon, but the other side had lifted ^ rhe deck high enough to miss the trigger. The aOe went off the deck with one pontoon still at- ched to the car. Whiting righted the plane and °ff with only one pontoon. It was a beautiful thyin8 job. He finally landed in the river alongside crash boat, which towed the wreck to the ship’s fo ne t0 salvaf?ecL Ir was a somewhat unusual start r a'r operations.
th ^°St c^e P'lors lived in Norfolk and flew down ^ ere for weekends. Ironically, it was on one of these ^°meward flights that Chevalier was killed. He was ta VE-7 which had two gas tanks. The forward held 46 gallons and the after one, on which the r sat, held 12. The tanks were separate, with a Plicated system of air valves and gas valves. In
order to shift tanks, the valves needed to be operated in exact sequence. Each tank had its own filler, and there was no gauge for either.
Chevalier came down from Yorktown on a Saturday on the aft tank and used up most of the gas in it. Monday morning before the flight to return to the ship, the station line crewman, who was unfamiliar with VE-7s, lifted the cap on the still-full forward tank and incorrectly reported that the plane was fully gassed. While still at low altitude shortly after takeoff, the plane ran out of gas on the after tank. Chevalier put it down for a forced landing in what looked like a meadow. The land turned out to be swampy, and the plane went over on its back. Two days later, “Chevvy” died. His loss was a terrific setback to the infant carrier aviation, and the load was heavy on Ken Whiting’s shoulders.
“Squash” Griffin moved up into Chevalier’s job, and the Langley returned to the shipyard for the post-trial rework. Two important decisions were made. The first was that the Chesapeake Bay area was too inclement and cold in the winter to do the intensive flying contemplated, so the ship would go to Pensacola. The second decision was that all pilots would qualify in the Aeromarine 39-B at anchor before moving on the more dangerous work under way and before landing the more advanced service types.
In January 1923, the Langley went to Pensacola. The air station there had just inaugurated the first landplane classes and had a small field alongside the hangar for lighter-than-air craft. The trolley line to town passed alongside one side of the field and the approach over the trolley wire was a mental hazard. The Langley transferred most of her planes ashore. Operations commenced with groups of three Aeromarine 39-Bs in the landing circle.
With the new gear, deck time averaged about two minutes, and on several occasions the three planes were landed in eight minutes. One factor that slowed operations was the elevator. When it was necessary to strike a plane below, the slow speed of the elevator and the difficulty of getting the plane off at the bottom meant the operation took about 15 minutes.
Whiting’s notebook rapidly became filled with new ideas, for he was thinking not only of the Langley but also of those two magnificent battle cruiser conversions he had fought so hard for and which Congress had finally approved. Though “Horse” Pennoyer was continuously redesigning the arresting gear, both on the planes and the ship, Whiting was in communication with civilian design engineer Carl L. Norden concerning a new type of gear to be used on board the Lexington (CV-2) and Saratoga (CV-3). There were long discussions about
the needs for these ships. Whiting suggested a ready room for assembly of pilots prior to flight. Doyle said the pilots were already pampered enough and saw no use for it. It was also pointed out that a table and radio key could be installed so that the pilots could practice maintaining their proficiency in code transmission and reception of the 20 words per minute then required of all aviators.
Each landing was photographed in both slow- motion and normal movies, and after each crash or malfunction these movies were carefully studied, frame by frame. Crashes were not infrequent, and soon a reel of crash movies was developed. Whiting was very cost-conscious and finally ordered that, to save film, only landings that appeared to be potential crashes were to be photographed. The movie cameras were cranked by hand and the sight of the chief photographer cranking away was usually followed by the crash siren.
Most planes were designed to be flown from the back seat, so when the nose came up in a stall it was very difficult to keep sight of the deck. This was solved by putting additional cushions under the pilot. Depending on a pilot’s height, he was rated as a two-, three-, or even four-cushion man. A recommendation went in for adjustable seats.
Up until this time, each pilot was strictly on his own, and various types of landing approaches were employed. Mel Pride, the man who made the most and the best landings, used a slow-turning, flat approach with the nose high and using power. This was finally accepted by all pilots and became standard. After the Aeromarine phase was completed, we then started on the service types—the Vought VE-7SFs and the TS-2 first, then the UO-ls. This required much more work because these planes were much faster and the landing speed much higher (40 miles per hour). During the Aeromarine phase, Whiting made his first landing. Mrs. Whiting and their eight-year-old daughter Eddie came out to watch the landing from the deck-edge nets. The three planes took off and started the landing circle. Each of the first two landed with some minor damage and taxied forward. Whiting came in last and made a perfect landing- When he wasn’t flying, the executive officer watched every landing from the after port corner of the flight deck and mentally made each landing himself. talked each plane in: “He’s too low . . . now O.K. . . . too high” etc., with appropriate motions of his hands. Whiting was surprised when informed that all the pilots had noted his anxiety and actions. They did agree that it was a good idea to place an experienced pilot aft on the port side, so at a later conference the job of landing signal officer was set up. The “cut” and other signals were added later, and from then on the pilot was no longer just “on his
Amidst the roar of the engines and the crashing down of the fiddle bridges, a new series of orders evolved: “Rig the deck,” “Pilots, man your planes, “White flag,” “Stand by to start engines,” and others which were all new to Navy jargon. A new movie reel was put together to show perfect landings with each type of plane and all pilots competed to star in it. But when the crash reel developed into multiple reels, though there was no deliberate competition, all pilot’s names appeared there. Another reel showed material failures. Pennoyer and Pride worked endlessly, redesigning and revamping to correct these deficiencies. In addition, Pennoyer took the flight course at the Pensacola Naval Air Station and became the only Construction Corps pilot in the Navy. He soon joined the circle of landing pilots m addition to doing his other work.
The winter drew to a close, and the Langley heade north again to Norfolk for modification of the ship found necessary by the six months of experience. Be' fore entering the yard, she made a publicity cruise op the coast—much against Whiting’s wishes. Landing* were made at anchor in New York and Boston an were a sensation for the press. Captain Doyle went ashore and attended a few Chamber of Commerce meetings. Some of his speeches revealed his utter ig' norance of the aims of what was being done and so infuriated Whiting that he went to Washington an convinced a few influential political figures to pass a law requiring that all ships directly connected wit aviation be commanded by aviators. Few people then realized how far into the future he was looking-
j °rs; The carrier plodded back to Pensacola for more ^odings Now that the DT-2s were qualified, the ngley could land all current types of landplanes.
CUrig PPar failure wprp rP‘A\^^^*A rlracf-iVal 1\/
Was not until well into World War II that the correctness of his judgment was understood; President °osevelt issued an order which also required that all carrier task forces be commanded by aviators.
In the summer of 1923, while the ship was undergoing a considerable modification, the flight section at the Norfolk Naval Air Station received new Planes, including three new Douglas DT-2 torpedo Planes, a Martin MS-1, and Cox Klemin XS-1 antisubmarine planes. With the last two, “Squash” Grif- n carried on a series of experiments with the submarine S-l. DT-2s had to have arresting hooks deigned for them and installed. This was the only type SJ-*H not qualified. As soon as this was accomplished, e Langley would then have proved that she could °Perate all types of current fighters, observation, and t0rPedo planes. After modification was completed and all the new gear was aboard, the carrier proCeeded to Pensacola for tests of the new gear.
In January 1924, the Battle Fleet in the Pacific a°d the Scouting Fleet from the Atlantic proceeded to Panama to engage in Fleet Problem II, which was t° c°nsist of an attack on the Panama Canal. Al- °ugh not attached to either fleet, the Langley also ^°ceeded to Panama to observe and determine how e niight be used. She sailed directly from Pensacola 0 Chiriqui Lagoon in Panama and anchored about A miles north of the canal just prior to the start of C e problem. The Battle Fleet was in the Pacific approaching Panama. To demonstrate that carrier P anes could bomb in the Carribean, Whiting sent t^° DT-2 planes across the isthmus with cameras and °tographers. [The incident is covered in some de- ta‘l on pages 76-77 of this month’s Proceedings. Ed.] After the Scouting Fleet entered Colon-Cristobal, e Langley demonstrated how a fleet might be at- acked when in port by a carrier at sea. The two DT-2 Seaplanes were dropped with a 40-foot motor launch a tender with gas in Porto Bello harbor and di- ^ecfed to make torpedo attacks on the battleships and ^°mbing runs on a spillway at dawn and dusk. The ngley stood out to sea and launched similar attacks ^'th the Vought VE-7SF; UO-ls and the TS-2 from the sub C' ^eck' ^he a good war and Whiting
mitted a paper on the use of aircraft in the prob- tJri- At the critique later, no mention was made of 1q6 Langley's effort except to express annoyance at t stunting” airplanes and that it was impossible k° drop torpedoes from a plane in shallow water har- g gear failures were reduced drastically. en spring approached, the ship went back to
Norfolk and to operations in the Chesapeake. Whiting, Pride, and Pennoyer made frequent trips to Washington with ideas for the slow development of the battle cruiser hulls Saratoga and Lexington. They had notebooks full of many controversial ideas, advocating such things as heavier arresting gear, land- plane catapults, space available on board for aircraft overhaul, and so forth. The major item in Whiting’s mind was the tactical use of aircraft. But that was an idea whose time was still a few years away.
Landings, landings, landings . . . landings under way, landings at anchor. Then, suddenly, Whiting, Griffin, Pride and Pennoyer were detached to Washington and finally to the prospective crew of the Saratoga. Commander Warren G. Child took over as exec. He was Naval Aviator No. 29, and a nice person, but not much of a pilot; he possessed none of Whiting’s fire, vision, or ideas about carriers. Lieutenant Commander Charles Perry Mason took over as air officer from “Squash” Griffin. Mason, whose career had been with F-5L patrol flying- boats, was soon transferred to landplanes and carriers.
As fall approached, the Langley headed for the West Coast, and on 17 November 1924 joined the Battle Fleet. She abandoned her status as “experimental” and became the first operational carrier in the U.S. Navy. She was also assigned as flagship of Commander Aircraft Squadrons Battle Fleet for Captain Stanford E. Moses. But the Langley was a proud old/new gal. She and those of her kind to follow would show those battleships. From the wrong side of the tracks, and built for a menial job, she was now a flagship in the Battle Fleet. Perhaps she was flagship of a small and—to most of the senior officers— inconsequential force, but the “Covered Wagon” had pioneered one of the greatest innovations in naval warfare.
Admiral Tate enlisted in the Naval Reserve in April \ 1917, right after the United States entered World
War I. He was subsequently commissioned as an officer in the Naval Reserve and later in the regular Navy. He spent most of his 33-year active naval career in aviation, particularly fighter planes. He served in the USS Langley (CV-1), Saratoga (CV-3), Lexington (CV-2), Ranger (CV-4), and commanded the USS Altamaha (ACV-18) and Randolph (CV-15). He served in VF-1, VF-2, and VF-5, commanding the latter and an earlier enlisted pilot torpedo squadron. Admiral Tate served ashore as an experimental and test pilot, envoy with the special military mission to the U.S.S.R., and commanding officer of advanced training, night flying, and fighters at Pensacola. After retiring from active duty in 1950, he worked for several different of companies. Admiral Tate died on 19 July of this year.