Battlecarrier! The Cold War Hybrid Between Battleships and Aircraft Carriers

Robert Farley

The dream of the battlecarrier did not die in World War II, despite the substandard performance of many of the converted ships, and despite the severe demands that jet aviation would put on modern flight decks.  

Indeed, the possibilities offered by new technologies kept generating proposals for new battlecarrier configurations for nearly as long as the last battleships remained in service. Even after the retirement of the last battleship, the idea of combining surface warships characteristics with aviation capabilities continues to entice major navies. 

Post-War Proposals: 

After the war navies faced the same problem that they had suffered after World War I, a surplus of large battleship hulls. Especially in the U.S. Navy (USN), admirals were reluctant to give up these hulls, despite the evident obsolescence of the battleships. 

In the U.S. and elsewhere, architects studied the idea of converting old battleships, or sometimes unfinished battleship hulls, into aircraft carriers. In France, engineers studied the possibility of converting the incomplete battleship Jean Bart and the battered, refloated Strasbourg into carriers.  The Soviet Navy gave considerable thought to finishing its incomplete battleships and battlecruisers as carriers. The Royal Navy even gave some thought to completing its Lion class battleships as hybrid aircraft carriers, with two 16” gun turrets forward and a flight deck aft. The Director of Naval Gunnery pointedly referred to the idea as an “abortion,” and the idea was not seriously pursued. French and Soviet engineers came to similar conclusions, as the conversions were cost-prohibitive and would have resulted in ships less effective than purpose-built carriers. 

Iowa Class:

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