Q2. What was one reason why the U.S. Navy was
Q3. Describe the role of Navy destroyers.
Q4. Describe the role of the air forces.
Q5. What was the role of Navy women?
THE NAVY FROM 1920 TO 1950
Learning Objective: When you finish this chapter, you
will be able to
Recognize the roles and responsibilities of the
Navy from 1920 through 1950 to include World
War II and the post-war years.
The world was changing rapidly from the end of
WWI to 1950. During the 1920s, the world economy
boomed, then fell. In the 1930s, there was the Great
Depression. In 1939, World War II began. In this
section, you will learn about some of the developments
made by the U.S. Navy.
1920 TO 1940
Between 1920 and 1940, the U.S. Navy was
developing its aviation arm to include aircraft carriers
and airships and airplanes. Also, it was building up its
Great strides in aviation had been made during
World War I, and the end of the war did not slow the pace
of progress. On May 8, 1919, three Navy Curtiss (NC)
flying boats taxied into the bay of Far Rockaway, New
York, and took off for Europe. Plagued by mechanical
difficulties, two NCs failed to make it. The NC-4,
piloted by Lieutenant Commander Albert C. Read,
became the first airplane to fly the Atlantic. LCDR
Reads message from Lisbon, Portugal, to the President
read, We are safely across the pond. The job is
finished. The NC-4 is now located at the National
Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, Florida.
With transoceanic aircraft a reality, the Navy
continued to research the use of rigid airships in its air
arm. In 1923, Shenandoah was launched. During a
severe squall in 1925, the Shenandoah broke in half and
killed 14 men. At that time, some authorities questioned
the safety of the airship since it was fueled with highly
flammable hydrogen. In spite of some opposition, the
Navy continued to test rigid airships throughout the next
decade. In 1931, USS Akron was launched. The Akron
crashed in 1933 during a thunderstorm, killing the entire
In November 1929 a Ford trimotor aircraft, named
the Floyd Bennett, carried Commander Richard E. Byrd
and his crew on the first flight over the South Pole.
Commander Byrd thereby became the first man to fly
over both poles.
In 1933, Macon was commissioned. Two years later
the Macon also crashed into the sea. The Navy then
abandoned research and construction of rigid airships.
In 1934, the USS Ranger, the first carrier designed
from the keel up, joined the fleet. Also in the 1930s and
prewar 1940s, the large aircraft carriers USS
Enterprise, USS Wasp, USS Hornet, and USS Yorktown
Those carriers played an important role in the
prewar years. They were used in exercises to test the
possibility of launching air attacks from their decks.
During fleet maneuvers, naval aviators received
excellent training in mock attacks on Pearl Harbor.
Flying predawn missions from carriers, flyers
theoretically destroyed the U.S. Fleet and its aircraft
there. Fleet commanders were impressed by the
flexibility of the air arm, but no one else seemed to pay
much attention to the exercises.