WW2 and History CollectionWeapons and Equipment / Ships / Country UUnited States / USS Langley (CV 1 / AV 3)

May 21st, 2016

United States of America

USS Langley (CV 1 / AV 3)

Technical Details:
Langley-class Aircraft Carrier / Seaplane Tender
United States
U.S. Navy
Conversion CV:
Norfolk Navy Yard
Commissioned CV:
March 20th, 1922
Conversion AV:
Mare Island Navy Yard
Commissioned AV:
April 21st, 1937
Bombed by Japanese aircraft, February 27th, 1942,
Sunk by USS Whipple (DD 217) and USS Edsall (DD 219), February 28th, 1942

The USS Langley was the first Aircraft Carrier of the US Navy and was obtained by converting the fleet collier USS Jupiter (AC 3). The ship was converted to Seaplane Tender with the same name but the pennant number AV 3. On February 27th, 1942 the ship was bombed by Japanese aircraft. The burning hull was sunk by her escortships USS Whipple (DD 217) and USS Edsall (DD 219) on February 28th, 1942

USS Jupiter under conversion to USS Langley

USS Langley and USS Somers (DD 301) near San Diego, 1928

On July 11th, 1919, USS Jupiter was designated to become an aircraft carrier and left for Hampton Roads, Virginia on December 12th, 1919. Here the ship was decommissiones on March 24th, 1920. The conversion took place at the Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia. She was renamed to USS Langley on April 11th, 1920, in honor for Samuel Pierpont Langley, an American astronomer, physicist, aeronautics pioneer and aircraft engineer. On March 20th, 1922, the ship was recommissioned as USS Langley (CV 1).

The first plane to be launched from her flightdeck was a Vought VE-7, piloted by Lieutenant Virgil C. Griffin on October 17th, 1922. The first decklanding was performed on October 26th, 1922 when Lieutenant Commander Godfrey de Courcelles Chevalier landed his Aeromarine 39B on the ship. Commander Kenneth Whiting made the first catapult start on November 18th, 1922.

One special feature in the ships design was the carrier pigeon house on the stern of the ship. Since the First World War, seaplanes used to carry pigeons to send over messages. Trained at the Norfolk Shipyard, the pigeons were used for training purposes on board the ship. At sea it was no problem to make the pigeons return to the ship, but when USS Langley anchored near Norfolk shipyard, the pigeons tend to fly off to the cranes of the shipyard, for there they were trained. Although also on board the USS Lexington (CV 2) and USS Saratoga (CV 3) the pigeons were planned, the navy did not use them anymore. On USS Langley the pigeon house was transformed to the quarters of the Executioner Officer.

After initial training, USS Langley started flight operations in the Caribbean on January 15th, 1923. The ship cruised the Atlantic coast and the Caribbean until late 1924, when she transferred to the Pacific Battle Fleet on November 29th, 1924. In 1927 the ship was stationed at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and later operated along the Californian Coast and Hawaii. In 1929 she participated in the film "The Flying Fleet".

USS Langley sailed into Mare Island Navy Yard, California on October 25th, 1936, to be converted to a seaplane tender. Her conversion was completed on February 26th, 1937. USS Langley was assigend to the Aircraft Scouting Force and received the hull classification number AV 3 on April 11th, 1937. Between February 1st, 1939 and July 10th, 1939, the ship was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. September 24th, 1939 she returned to the Pacific Fleet. When Japanese forces attacked hte Philippines on December 8th, 1941, USS Langley was anchored at Cavite. Evading the Japanese forces, she departed for Balikpapan, Dutch East Indies and later for Darwin, Australia, where the ship arrived on January 1st, 1942. Here the ship was assigned to American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM), performing anti-submarine patrols near Darwin until January 11th, 1942.
The ship then departed for Fremantle to join ms Sea Witch. wjere both ships loaded crates with 32 Curtiss P-40 fighters from 13th Pursuit Squadron (Provisional), Far East Air Force. On February 22nd, 1942, USS Langley and ms Sea Witch departed in Convoy MS 5, together with USAT Willard A. Holbrook (AP 44), mv Duntroon and ss Katoomba, escorted by USS Phoenix (CL 46). On February 27th, 1942, USS Langley and ms Sea Witch left the convoy and met up with escorts USS Whipple (DD 217) and USS Edsall (DD 219).
At 11.40 hrs, the ships sailed at 121 km south of Tjilatjap, when Mitsubishi G4M Betty bombers attacked them. During the third sweep, USS langley was hit by five bombs, killing 16 of her crewmembers. The upper structure burned and the ship soon listed 10 degrees to her portside. At 13.32 hrs, the order was given to abandon ship. The escorts tried to finish the ship off with nine 100 mm shells and two torpedoes to prevent the ship falling in enemy hands. When the escorts left, the ship was still not sunken, but is supposed to have sunk later at approximately 8.51'S - 109.02'E. Most survivors were picked up by the escorts and some were later transferred to the USS Pecos (AO 6). Many of them later were killed when both USS Pecos and USS Edsall also were sunk by Japanese planes.

USS Langley (CV 1)
USS Langley, Culebra Island, Puerto Rico, March 18th, 1926

For her service USS Langley was awarded the:

American Defence Service Streamer, with "FLEET" clasp.

Asiatic Pacific Campaign Streamer

World War Two Victory Streamer

USS Langley (AV 3), 1937
USS Langley, French Frigate Shoals, 1937

Commanding Officers:
Commander Kenneth Whiting

March 20th, 1922
(Image: US Navy, Whiting as Captain)
Captain Stafford Henry Rahall Doyle
No image available
June 16th, 1922
Captain Edward Sharpless Jackson
No image available
July 5th, 1924
Captain Frank Robert McCrary

June 10th, 1926
(Image: US Navy)
Commander John Henry Towers

January 4th, 1927
(Image US Navy, Towers as Vice Admiral, 1943)
Commander Robert Rudolf Paunack
No image available
August 26th, 1928
Captain Arthur Byron Cook

October 3rd, 1928
(Image: Helen Cook Laughlin, Cook in 1929)
Captain Rufus Fairchild Zogbaum Jr.

June 30th, 1930
(Image: US Navy)
Captain Aubrey Wray Fitch

July 8th, 1931
(Image: U.S. Navy, Naval Historical Center NH 97275. Fitch as Vice Admiral March 18th, 1946)
Commander Patrick Neison Lynch Bellinger

July 16th, 1932
(Image, US Navy, Bellinger as Lieutenant Commander)
Captain Kenneth Whiting
June 15th, 1933

Captain Warren Gerald Child
No image available
December 13th, 1933
Captain John Howard Hoover

June 15th, 1935
(Image: US Naval War College)
Commander George Dominic Murray

May 30th, 1937
(Image: US Navy, Murray as Vice Admiral)
Captain Arthur Cayley Davis

June 15th, 1939
Captain Frank Dechant Wagner

June 18th, 1940
Commander Robert Perche McConnell
No image available
July 16th, 1941
Commander Felix Budwell Stump
(December 15th, 1894 -
June 13th, 1972)

September 20th, 1941
(Image: US War Department)
Commander Robert Perche McConnell
No image available
January 13th, 1942

Topvieuw of USS Langley

USS Langley, Darwin, February 19th, 1942

During it's service, USS Langley was part of:
November 29th, 1924:

Pacific Battle Fleet
February 26th, 1937:

Aircraft Scouting Force
February 1st, 1939:

Atlantic Fleet
September 24th, 1939:

Pacific Fleet
January 1st, 1942:

American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM)

The sinking USS Langley, February 27th, 1942
The crippled USS Langley, being abandoned by her crew, taken on board by USS Edsall (DD 219), seen from USS Whipple (DD 217)

USS Langley (AV 3) at the moment a torpedo from USS Whipple (DD 217) explodes, February 27th, 1942

USS Langley
United States
Aircraft Carrier / Seaplane Tender
U.S. Navy
12.700 BRT (standard)
13.900 BRT (full load)
Norfolk Navy Yard (CV)
Mare Island Navy Yard (AV)
Length: 165,20 m
Beam: 19,90 m
Draft: 7,30 m
General Electric turbo-electric transmission, 7.200 hp
Shafts: 2
15,5 knots
6.500 km (10 knots)
4 × 127 mm/51 cal guns
36 aircraft

Text: Wilco Vermeer
USS Langley/Wikipedia (Retrieved, January 30th, 2015)
- Naval History and Heritage Command (Retrieved January 30th, 2015)
© WW2 History Collection, Wilco Vermeer, 2014 - 2016