Flight Deck

Flight Deck

Historical Happenings on Hornet's Flight Deck

  1. Bomb Elevator
  2. Gun Sponson
  3. Gun Director
  4. Catapults
  5. Jet Blast Deflector
  6. FLOLS
  7. Cross Deck Pendants
  8. LSO Platform
  9. Landing Centerline
  10. Landing Area

Spaces Currently Open to the Public ( * = docent-led only)

Flight Deck (points of interest):

  • Flight Deck Control Room
  • 5" 38 Gun Mounts: * Mounts 51, 52, and 53 (02 Level)
  • Hydraulic Catapults – used to launch aircraft off the flight deck
  • Jet Blast Deflector – raised to protect personnel from the flame of jet exhaust
  • Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System (FLOLS) – helped a pilot position his aircraft during landing
  • Arresting Gear – metal boxes contained the wires that caught the aircraft’s tailhook to stop the plane
  • Landing Signal Officer (LSO) Platform – where an LSO Officer used paddles to signal the pilots
  • Landing Area – the landing centerline helped to guide pilots

Gallery Deck: *

  • Combat Information Center – status of all friendly nd enemy forces were monitored here
  • Captain's In-Port Cabins – used to entertain higher-ranking officers, presidents, and celebrities
  • Admiral's In-Port CabinsHORNET was often the flagship of a task force
  • Radio Central - sponsored by USS Hornet Amateur Radio Club, NB6GC

For a comprehensive virtual tour, purchase Grey Ghost: The Story of the Aircraft Carrier Hornet.

If Flight Decks Could Speak…
By Bob Fish, Hornet Historian

World War II operations in the Pacific revolved around one giant technological leap – the advent of the aircraft carrier as a key weapon in the Navy’s arsenal. During most major naval engagements, ships from both sides never actually saw each other, much less fired on each other. This is because aircraft could strike the opponent several hundred miles away from their floating “home base.”

The primary operational component of an aircraft carrier vessel is its flight deck. It provides a floating airfield from which various types of combat and support aircraft can be launched and landed while far at sea – fighters, dive bombers, torpedo bombers, etc.

During World War II, the two aircraft carriers that carried the name Hornet —CV-8 and CV-12—were involved in most of the major battles, ranging from the Battle of Midway in 1942 through the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. Their teak flight decks were a key factor in assuring many Allied victories and saw some unusual activity during the war.

For instance, Hornet CV-8 launched the famous Doolittle Tokyo Raid in April, 1942.

Only four months after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, this reprisal air raid was intended to raise morale among Americans while at the same time letting the enemy know that a sleeping giant had been awakened. For the only time in history, fueled and armed twin-engine Army bombers roared down an aircraft carrier flight deck and sortied into combat. That raid was an enormous success and changed the arc of the Pacific War. Unfortunately, while gallantly protecting the US Marines on Guadalcanal during the Battle of Santa Cruz, the Hornet CV-8 flight deck was hammered by bombs and suicide aircraft and the ship was eventually sunk by torpedoes.

In 1944, her successor Hornet CV-12, joined the Pacific fleet. Her flight deck saw intense action, such as the major Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Late in the war, CV-12 was at the center of the invasion fleet during the Battle of Okinawa. A massive typhoon slammed the task force and a giant wave ripped up the front portion of her flight deck.

Because she was the command ship, she had to continue functioning while her responsibilities were being transferred to other vessels. This was the only time in the war an aircraft carrier steamed backwards at high speed, launching aircraft off the fantail of the flight deck.

A quarter century later, Hornet’s flight deck fulfilled an enormous American national initiative, President Kennedy’s objective of landing a man on the moon in that decade. On July 24, 1969, the helicopter that retrieved the first humans to walk on the moon landed on the flight deck, completing an amazing human feat that will be remembered for all time.

President Nixon also landed and later took off from the flight deck, after welcoming the astronauts back to earth – the only time a President visited the recovery carrier after a spacecraft splashdown.

I think you’ll agree – the Hornet flight deck is a national treasure in and of itself! Help future generations walk in the footsteps of heroes—make a donation toward its restoration today.

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