Made in 1955, this U.S. Navy training film discusses the new "angled deck" aircraft carriers. The angled flight deck was invented by Royal Navy Captain (later Rear Admiral) Dennis Cambell, as an outgrowth of design study initially begun in the winter of 1944-1945 when a committee of senior Royal Navy officers decided that the future of naval aviation was in jets, whose higher speeds required that the carriers be modified to "fit" the needs of jets. With this type of deck — also called a "skewed deck", "canted deck", "waste angle deck", or the "angle" — the aft part of the deck is widened and a separate runway is positioned at an angle from the centerline. The angled flight deck was designed with the higher landing speeds of jet aircraft in mind, which would have required the entire length of a centreline flight deck to stop. The design also allowed for concurrent launch and recovery operations, and allowed aircraft failing to connect with the arrestor cables to abort the landing, accelerate, and relaunch (or "bolter") without risk to other parked or launching aircraft.
The redesign allowed for several other design and operational modifications, including the mounting of a larger island (improving both ship-handling and flight control), drastically simplified aircraft recovery and deck movement (aircraft now launched from the bow and re-embarked on the angle, leaving a large open area amidships for arming and fueling), and damage control. Because of its utility in flight operations, the angled deck is now a defining feature of STOBAR and CATOBAR equipped aircraft carriers.
The angled flight deck was first tested on HMS Triumph by painting angled deck markings onto the centerline of the flight deck for touch and go landings. This was also tested on the USS Midway the same year. Despite the new markings, in both cases the arresting gear and barriers were still aligned with the centerline of the original deck. From September to December 1952, the USS Antietam had a rudimentary sponson installed for true angled deck tests, allowing for full arrested landings, which proved during trials to be superior. In 1953, Antietam trained with both U.S. and British naval units, proving the worth of the angled deck concept. HMS Centaur was modified with overhanging angled flight deck in 1954. The U.S. Navy installed the decks as part of the SCB-125 upgrade for the Essex-class and SCB-110/110A for the Midway-class. In February 1955, HMS Ark Royal became the first carrier to be constructed and launched with an angled deck, rather than having one retrofitted. This was followed in the same year by the lead ships of the British Majestic-class (HMAS Melbourne) and the American Forrestal-class (USS Forrestal).
This film features footage of CV-21 the USS Boxer and CV-36, USS Antietam. USS Antietam (CV/CVA/CVS-36) was one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during and shortly after World War II for the United States Navy. The ship was the second US Navy ship to bear the name, and was named for the American Civil War Battle of Antietam (Maryland). Antietam was commissioned in January 1945, too late to actively serve in World War II. After serving a short time in the Far East, she was decommissioned in 1949. She was soon recommissioned for Korean War service, and in that conflict earned two battle stars. In the early 1950s, she was redesignated an attack carrier (CVA) and then an antisubmarine warfare carrier (CVS). After the Korean War she spent the rest of her career operating in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Mediterranean. From 1957 until her deactivation, she was the Navy's training carrier, operating out of Florida.
Antietam was fitted with a port sponson in 1952 to make her the world's first true angled-deck aircraft carrier. But she received no major modernizations other than this, and thus throughout her career largely retained the classic appearance of a World War II Essex-class ship. She was decommissioned in 1963, and sold for scrap in 1974.