By Jean Boudriot
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These operations became a major feature of the operations of the Harwich Force, led by Reginald Tyrwhitt, and its aircraft carriers during the first two years of the war. They also were seen as temptations to the High Seas Fleet, offered the opportunity to cut off and destroy a weak squadron of the Royal Navy, to come out and be trapped into facing the might of the Grand Fleet. Cuxhaven was the target for the first attempts. The attack plan was for three seaplane carriers, each embarking three seaplanes, to enter the Heligoland Bight escorted by cruisers and destroyers from the Harwich Force.
Transverse wires were added to the original arresting gear in 1926 and completely replaced the original system late in the following year. Although the work of Captain Joseph M. Reeves (promoted to rear-admiral in 1927) as Commander Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet transformed the Langley from an experimental vessel into a fully operational aircraft carrier, al- THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER MATURES though its limited speed severely restricted its utility, especially after more capable ships entered service.
As in all interwar British carriers, the designers paid considerable attention to aerodynamic features in this class. The flight deck incorporated long round downs both fore and aft and streamlining of the island and stack was carried further than in previous designs. 5-inch mountings, but these now were fully enclosed and power operated. Only a single, more powerful catapult was fitted to port on the flight deck, a further concession to topweight limitations. The design was so tightly constrained by treaty tonnage requirements that at one point the designers suggested expanding the number of noncommissioned aircrew and pilots at the expense of commissioned officers so that accommodation demands could be reduced, and the problem of overcrowding only increased as wartime additions and modifications impacted the class.
Bonhomme Richard 1779 by Jean Boudriot
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