USS Wasp

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USS Wasp, considered roughly to be a modified USS Ranger with design ideas of the Yorktown Class.  USS Wasp  was built by Bethlehem, Quincy and laid down on the 1st April 1936, launched 4th April 1939 and completed 25th April 1940. USS Wasp could carry 76 aircraft and this was made up in 1942 with 27 fighters, 37 bombers and 12 torpedo Planes.  In April 1942 she participated in the Relief of Malta by carrying Spitfires for the islands defense.   But later that same year on 15th September 1942 USS Wasp was sunk.

Displacement: 14,700 tons, and full load 18,450 tons.  Speed 29.5 knots. Range 12,500 miles at 15 knots, Compliment 2167   Armament: Eight 5 inch guns, Sixteen 1.1 inch (4x4)  and twenty Four .5 inch.  76 aircraft.

The besieged island of Malta, the tiny fortress island so vital to Allied strategy in the Mediterranean, was in April 1942, the most heavily bombed place on earth.  With some 600 fighters and bombers based in Sicily, the Axis air forces were intent on neutralising the island, to gain total air and sea supremacy in the region.  Against this continual aerial onslaught, by early April the RAF could muster just 6 serviceable fighters.  The vital naval dockyards and airfields were in danger of annihilation.  Following an urgent cable from Winston Churchill to President Roosevelt, the carrier USS Wasp embarked 52 Mk Vc Spitfires of 601 and 603 Squadrons and, under Captain J W Reeves Jr, USN, sailed from Glasgow on 14 April.  In the early hours of 19 April, escorted by the cruiser Renown and four British and two American destroyers, the heavily laden carrier slipped through the Straits of Gibraltar in darkness.  "Operation Calendar" began early the following day, when Wasp launched 11 of her F4F Wildcat fighters to provide air cover while the Spitfires started taking off.  With the sun already up, by 0645 all 47 serviceable fighters were despatched.  Monitoring all this activity, Luftwaffe Me109s lay in wait, attacking as the Spitfires made landfall.  All but one landed safely, and from their arrival the Spitfires began to dominate the sky above the beleaguered island, and Malta was saved.