35 Years Ago: WWII Meets Cold War

A beautiful port bow view of the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CV-41, ex-CVB/CVA-41) “somewhere in the Philipine Sea” as she is underway with Carrier Air Wing 5 (CARAIRWING FIVE) embarked, early January 1987.

Laid down on 27 October 1943 at Newport News as the lead ship in a class designed to carry a whopping 137 aircraft to fight the Empire of Japan, Midway was a week and a day too late for her intended task, commissioned on 10 September 1945.

Much modified with an enclosed bow and an angled flight deck in a three-year conversion in the mid-1950s, she would continue to operate in the jet era, largely with CVW-5 embarked. Midway took CVW-5 to Vietnam twice (April 16, 1971 – November 6, 1971 and September 11, 1973 – October 5, 1973) then continued to operate the wing, forward deployed to Naval Air Facility Atsugi, until August 1991.

Notably, her 1987 deployment was the first for Midway to carry the F/A-18A/B Hornet. VF-151 of CVW-5 had, on 25 March 1986, conducted the final carrier launching of a Navy fleet F-4S Phantom II off the carrier during flight operations in the East China Sea, closing out an era.

She carried three F-18 Hornet squadrons, as she was unable to operate F-14s for an extended amount of time and the F-4 had been retired.

Her Hornet squadrons included VFA-195 (Dambusters,) VFA-151 (Vigilantes) and VFA-192 (Golden Dragons) between 1986 and 1991. NARA DN-ST-93-01289 CVW-5

Decommissioned 11 April 1992– only five years after the above image– Midway is currently the largest naval museum ship in the world, and the only aircraft carrier commissoned after WWII that is preserved and open to the public. With all of the Navy’s conventional flattops now consigned to the scrappers, she will likley hold on to both of those titles.

Meanwhile, CVW-5 is still around and still in Japan, attached to forward-deployed Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5 and flagship USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)— and yes, they still fly Hornets, albeit of the Super type.

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