U.S.S. Midway, July 21, 2012

July 27th, 2012 | Posted by Steve in Memorials | Museums | Ocean | War Birds

From Pt. Loma we drove the few miles to the U.S.S. Midway in San Diego Harbor.  The Midway was an aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy.  It was commissioned Sep. 10, 1945, just missing WWII.  It was decommissioned April 11, 1992 having an active service life of about 46 ½ years.

The ship was named for the June, 1942 naval battle which in turn took its name from the small island nearest to the action.  The Battle of Midway accomplished two very important things.  First, it so crippled the Japanese Navy that victory was ultimately guaranteed for U.S. forces in the Pacific.  Second, it established the aircraft carrier as the major projector of force at sea supplanting the big gunned battleship that had until then reigned supreme in naval thought.  Some combat historians have labeled the Battle of Midway as one of the most important battles ever.

The U.S.S. Midway was conventionally or oil powered.  Nuclear powered aircraft carriers not enter the Navy until the U.S.S. Enterprise and later with the Nimitz class of carriers.   As originally designed the Midway was 972 feet long, 113 feet wide of beam, 136 feet wide of flight deck, and 45,000 tons displacement.  At decommissioning and after many modernizations the ship was 238 feet wide at the flight deck and 74,000 tons displacement.  As large as the Midway is, modern nuclear powered aircraft carriers are about 25% larger.

The Midway outlasted two other carriers of her class, the Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the Coral Sea, both of which have been scrapped.  At some point plans had begun to make the Midway a floating museum and she opened to the public on June 7, 2004.

Driving to see the Midway we passed the Star of India, an old 3 masted sailing ship.  I got a couple of photos for Francie as we passed.


We found parking nearby and began to walk to the ship.  This is a view of the port side.  One of the elevators is in the down position and people seem to be dining on it.

From near the stern this view is seen.  The ship wrapped in white in the distance is a Nimitz class carrier undergoing overhaul or modernization at the Coronado Navy Base.

This is a close up of the stern of the Midway.  People are dining on the deck just above the name.


This is a starboard view of the Midway.  We are walking up to pier to the museum entrance.

Once inside the ship we walked down to one of the engine rooms.  This is the control board for one of the boilers.

In case you think getting around in such a large ship is easy, it is not.  Despite its size space is at a premium everywhere and the stairways are steep.  You watch your head and hold tightly to the rail as you go up or down.

Back on the hanger deck there are a few planes on display.  This one is contemporary to the Midway when she first saw service.  It is a TBM Avenger torpedo bomber.  President George H.W. Bush flew one of these in combat in 1945.

The wings of these aircraft folded to allow more of them to be stored on the hanger deck.

This is an SNJ Pilot Trainer.  The SNJ was nicknamed the Texan.

Up on the flight deck there are lots of old war birds on display.  Here are two views of an A-4 Skyhawk.

Here is a very old jet fighter, an F9F Panther.  Its like having a restored 1950 Ford or Chevy in your driveway, except more expensive.

This is an A-1 Skyraider in color and black & white.  This particular airplane shot down 3 other airplanes including a MIG!

This is Aaron shooting a close-up of an A-6 Intruder.  Part of the Midway superstructure is in the background.  Two of the radar units were moving that day.  Lindbergh Field is very close by so I suppose they could have been offering support.  We never got into the bridge so I don’t know if they were spinning just for show or not.

This is what interested Aaron so much.  Ordinance ultimately has a purpose.  This timer would facilitate that.

This is an H-34 Seabeat helicopter.  It was used for anti-submarine warfare.  Despite the paint job it looks well used.

This is an SH-3 Sea King helicopter.  This particular one is somewhat historic.  It participated in 5 Apollo missions, #8, 10, 11, 12, & 13!

Here is a UH-1 Huey Gunship and one of its two rapid fire guns.

The superstructure is the nerve center of the ship.  The bridge, combat, and navigation are there.  It also has a commanding view of the flight deck.

An aircraft carrier isn’t just supposed to fight an enemy.  It also acts as a centralized platform to collect information in a forward area.  The E-2 Hawkeye, shown here, was an all weather tactical early warning aircraft.  It could be launched from an aircraft carrier and fly over 1000 miles before needing fuel, sending information back to its floating base any time.  The original Hawkeye design is apparently so good that it has been updated with newer models, but not replaced.

This is one of my favorite combat jets, the F-8 Crusader.  It was operational from the mid 1950’s to late 1999.

From the bow this is a view of the superstructure with part of the San Diego skyline in the background.

Nearing the end of our visit we went below the hanger deck into officer country.  Mounted on one wall were 3 maps of the 2003 assault on Iraq.  These are a Baghdad Area Map, a Persian Gulf Battle Map, and a Persian Gulf Deployment map.

Nearby was what I guessed was a lot of electronic gear, probably for communication.  None of it was hot that I could see.

Finally here is a shot of the Senior Officer’s Mess.  The Junior Officer’s Mess nearby was pretty drab and didn’t get a photo.

My next post will probably be sometime after August 10.  I will be in Alaska from the 4th to the 25th.  With two weekends there I hope to get up to the Artic Circle.  We’ll see how thing work out.

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