But I love Ranger. She was probably the first ship whose name I ever learned as my Uncle Jack, gone these 40 years next month, would tell us about his war. There was - as Matt points out - something wonderfully graceful about her, "long and lean as any cruiser". And as well there should have been; she was designed in an era when it was believed the CVs should be scouts the same way the CLs and CAs were. Her initial design was 'island-free', just like Langley, that distinctive island was an afterthought - shown clearly by a picture taken on her birthday, 25 February 1933, that can be seen over at navsource.org.
She was supposed to have had three sisters, but by the time Ranger herself was ready, it was clear tha the Lex/Sara model was the way of the future. Two of those ships got the historical dignity of names, however - Yorktown and Enterprise. I've often wondered what that notional CV-7 would have been called, but I digress.
For all their beauty, however, Ranger's lithe, purposeful lines were her downfall. She had roughly the same level of underwater protection as an Omaha class CL, but when one added the unique dangers of a CV to the mix she was a liability at best against an enemy like Japan, and at worst a flat-out danger. She actually acquitted herself well at North Africa - it was her aircraft that finished off Jean Bart, and a French SS managed to get through the screen and get a spread of four fish off at her. Only the fact that they were set just a bit low saved her. When the Royal Navy ran out of carriers, she was sent to serve with the Home Fleet out of Scapa Flow and landed some good solid punches on the Germans in Norway. They must have hurt; the Germans announced that they'd sank her on at least one occasion.
Matt speaks wisdom as always; she was in the Atlantic patrolling and training until early '45 when she became the night fighter training CV in the Pacific. When the Kamikaze started their reign of terror at Okinawa the damage they did was so serious that there were quiet discussions about putting Ranger into the line there, but in the end it was realized that one good hit would have finished her. Her skippers - and FADM Ernest King - recommended a refit that would have lengthened and reengined her along with better torpedo protection. She would have probably come out looking a lot like Wasp, but in the end BuShips convinced King that the resources were needed elsewhere. She most definitely should have been saved, but she met her end on that desolate stretch of the New Jersey shore whose scrapyards claimed so many of the USN's greatest warships. She came within an inch of a spectacular finish at Bikini - the orders had been cut - but at the last moment some soul decided to send Sara to glory there instead, probably because her size and armor more approximated the enemies we'd face in the future.
Matt, if you ever decide to pull out that old Revell Yorktown, let me know - I've got a full set of blueprints for Ranger in her final rig. I've got the gorgeous (but hideously expensive) Corsair Armada 1/700 kit waiting in the stash someday myself. In the meantime, thank you so very much for remembering this tough little ship that so many others forget.