Design History
The construction of Yorktown and Enterprise, underway by July 1934, and the decision made during their design to adopt for them 20,000 ton designs, left the designers of the follow-on vessel, which was to become Wasp, with but 15,200 tons originally scheduled for her. However, while the two vessels before her would have their full tonnage, Wasp would not. During the construction of Ranger, it had become apparent that an island would be required by that ship, causing the loss of 700 tons from the remaining treaty tonnage. Wasp, thus, had to contend herself with 14,500 tons.

The designers would be hard-pressed, and ultimtively unsuccessful, in providing on that limited displacement the full potential of the larger ships. They were not to reduce CV-5s armament, nor the range which Ranger achieved, but still provide aircraft capacity, speed, and protection in fair measure. It was inevitable that there would be sacrifices on one side or on another, and Wasp soon suffered from them.

In the initial designs that were submitted to the concerned agencies, several designs proposed speeds as low as 25 knots, which constituted the bare minimum for flight operations in 1934. Even then, it appeared that with sufficient protection (on the standards of Yorktown), there would be only about 54 planes. Alternatively, under the sacrifice of protection and planes, 32 knots of speed could be had, a similarly unhappy deal. Most useful of the proposals then submitted was Scheme 1, suggesting a medium aircraft complement of 72, speed of 29.5 knots, and very light armor (splinter armor covering the deck).

It was rather unsurprising that of the agencies concerned, none particularly favored the slow or the fast carrier, and the basic agreement was soon found to be on Scheme 1, which was the best balanced. As with earlier design efforts, a two-flight deck layout was briefly considered, but quickly abandoned. By October 1934, a preliminary design combining the general interior layout of Ranger with the island and smokestack structure of Yorktown, a similar flight deck and armament equal to that of the CV-5 class had been approved by the Secretary of the Navy.

The approved design lacked torpedo bulkheads, possessed only light deck armor, but bore a possibility of fitting an armor belt equal to that of Yorktown later on, when no tonnage restrictions would be existing. Although, throughout the period between the approval of her design and the laying down, there came out minor quibbles from several sides, her designers had definitely taken a good compromise in ship layout. The real problem was that on 14,500 tons, even a good compromise did not produce an adequate ship.

Wasp, in her final form, sported a speed of 29.5 knots, 72 airplanes in her air group, an armament to equal Yorktowns, and several less happy features (of course, 29.5 knots were nothing to be quite happy about, either): she was, without her armor belt, badly top heavy, adversely affecting her handling, she was virtually unprotected, most serious being her lack of underwater defenses such as torpedo bulkheads, and she had only two regular aircraft lifts, with a third unit, a T shaped collapsible girder on the deck edge at the forward port entry to the hangar deck.

Speed was the most critical part of her design faults, seriously impairing her tactical role, and making her operation with fast forces difficult. During the construction process, ideas were tried out to improve her speed, but since all would require considerable delays in her construction, none was adopted. However, fortunately she turned out to be somewhat quicker than imagined, and being estimated at being good for 29.8 knots in common sea state and with the usual bottom fouling, in which condition she would only have made 28.7 knots with her designed power. Laid down on April 1st, 1936, Wasp was commissioned on April 25th, 1940.

Wasp began her wartime service on Neutrality Patrol in the Atlantic. She was detached to the British Home Fleet in March 1942, at times protecting against the outbreak of the German battleship Tirpitz. She then undertook two journeys to supply Malta in the Mediterranean with Spitfire fighters, which she flew off her deck from a position south of the Baleares. When Yorktown was lost in June 1942, Wasp was transfered to the Pacific. She joined the fleet at Pearl Harbor, then went south with it for Operation Watchtower, the invasion of Tulagi and Guadalcanal. She missed out the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, being at a fueling rendezvous at the time, then joined Hornet in patrolling the sea lanes from and to Guadalcanal. Her operations, limited to a narrow sea area, soon attracted attention. On September 15th, the Japanese submarine I-19 found her task force, and fired a six-torpedo spread. Three torpedoes slammed into Wasp, which was just conducting flight operations, and caused a gasoline fire which the carrier was unable to combat successfully.

Ships in class:
CV-7 Wasp

Standard: 14.546 tons
Full: 19.116 tons
Length: 219.46m / 720ft 1/4"
Beam: 33.84m / 111ft 1/2"
Draft (at 17.200 tons): 6.75m / 22ft 2"
Height: ???? / ????
Crew (Officers/Men): 206/1961
Endurance: 12,000nm at 15kn
Speed: 29.5 knots
Belt: 25 - 30 lbs STS / 11,1 - 13,6kg STS per sqf as backing for future belt
Deck: 50lbs STS / 22,6kg STS per sqf
Barbettes: No barbette armor
Gunhouses: No armor
Conning Tower: 60lbs / 27,2kg STS per sqf
Armament and Equipment
(As designed):
Main: 8 x 127mm L/38 in Eight singles, arranged around the deck, four on each side, two each abaft and ahead of the island
Secondary: None
AA: 16 x 28mm L/75 in four quad mounts, 24 x 12.7mm in single mounts
Aviation: 72 Aircraft

(Wasp, August 1942):
Main: 8x 127mm as above
AA: 16 x 28mm L/75 as above, 4 x 40mm in one quad mount, 23 x 20mm L/70 in single mounts
1 x J2F-5 Duck utility plane
CAG72: 1 x TBF-1 Avenger torpedo-bomber
VF-71: 30 x F4F-4 Wildcat fighters
VS-71: 15 x SBD-3 Dauntless dive-bomber
VS-72: 15 x SBD-3 Dauntless dive-bomber
VT-7: 9 x TBF-1 Avenger torpedo-bomber