|Light aircraft carrier|
|The Spanish Navy's Dédalo, the former USS Cabot (CVL-28), an Independence class light aircraft carrier|
A light aircraft carrier is an aircraft carrier that is smaller than the standard carriers of a navy. The precise definition of the type varies by country; light carriers typically have a complement of aircraft only ½ to ⅔ the size of a full-sized or "fleet" carrier. A light carrier was a similar concept to an escort carrier in most respects, however light carriers were intended for higher speeds to be deployed alongside fleet carriers, while escort carriers usually defended convoys and provided air support during amphibious operations.
In World War II, the United States Navy produced a number of light carriers by converting cruiser hulls. The Independence-class aircraft carriers, converted from Cleveland-class light cruisers, were unsatisfactory ships for aviation with their narrow, short decks and slender, high-sheer hulls; in virtually all respects the escort carriers were superior aviation vessels. The Independence-class ships, however, had the virtue of being available at a time when available carrier decks had been reduced to Enterprise and Saratoga in the Pacific and Ranger in the Atlantic. In addition, unlike escort carriers, they had enough speed to take part in fleet actions with the larger carriers. Late in the war, a follow on design to the Independence-class, the Saipan-class, was designed. Two vessels in this class—Saipan and Wright—were completed after the war's end. After very brief lives as carriers, the Saipans were converted to command and communication ships.
The British 1942 design light fleet carrier was a scaled-down version of their Illustrious-class fleet carrier. The design could be built in a yard with little or no experience of warship construction. Although built to merchant standards, the design incoporated better water-tight subdivision. Expected to have a lifetime of about three years, the last of the design was taken out of service in 2001. In the post-war period, the Royal Navy operated a force of ten Colossus class carriers including the two maintenance carriers. In all, fifteen ships were completed from the 1942 design, of which most of the Colossus class and all the eventually completed Majestics were variously sold to Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, India and The Netherlands.
- United Kingdom
- Minas Gerais (Colossus class)
- INS Vikrant (Majestic class) - Decommissioned and converted to a museum ship in Mumbai
- INS Viraat (Centaur class)
- HNLMS Karel Doorman (Colossus class)
- United Kingdom
- Centaur class
- 1942 Design Light Fleet Carrier
- (Invincible class)
- United States
- Independence class
- Saipan class
- ^ Chesneau (1998), pp. 129-134
- ^ a b Watts(1967)p.49
- ^ a b Brown(1977)pp.21-22
- ^ Watts(1967)pp.54&56
- ^ Brown(1977)pp.26-27
- ^ a b Watts(1967)p.56
- ^ a b Brown(1977)pp.27-28
- Brown, David (1977). Aircraft Carriers. Arco Publishing. ISBN 0-668-04164-1.
- Chesneau, Roger (1998). Aircraft Carriers of the World, 1914 to the Present. An Illustrated Encyclopedia (Rev Ed). London: Brockhampton Press. pp. 288. ISBN 1-86019-875-9.
- Watts, Anthony J. (1967). Japanese Warships of World War II. Doubleday & Company.