Submersible Aircraft Carriers were predominantly used during the Second World War although most people have never heard about them. The most famous was probably the Japanese I-400 class boat.
Several other countries have experimented with Submersible Aircraft Carriers during WWII and since. Germany was the first country to build one; the U-boat U-12 was a submersible aircraft carrier during World War I and actually used a plane from the submarine to bomb the out skirts of London in 1914. Great Britain also built one, the HMS Submarine E22, which could launch two Sopwith Baby Float planes which were attached to her decks. In both cases the submarines could not submerge while the planes were attached to the decks with losing or destroying the planes.
The French Surcouf which put to sea in 1929 was essentially an underwater cruiser intended to seek and engage in surface combat. It was designed with a hanger built into the back of the conning tower of the submarine to house an observation float plane. Italy in the 1920’s, had the Ettore Fieramosca, a submarine with a waterproof hanger for a small reconnaissance plane.
The Japanese starting with the J3 class, I-8, and I-400 class submarines altogether built 42 submersible aircraft carriers capable of carrying float planes. The I-400 class which could hold three planes and had a launcher built into the front of the ship could surface and launch all three planes armed with bombs within forty minutes. This was by far the for runner and closest to a true submersible carrier as there has ever been.
In the sequel to my first novel “Whisper,” Wiley Randolph’s first command and what he was initially trained for by the United States Navy was to command a ship which would be the best attributes of a conventional ballistic missile submarine and the modern aircraft carrier into one ship. Rather than pick a commander from one group or the other of these distinctly different sub-branches of our modern navy, they trained Wiley to command both and be a qualified naval aviator. Thus creating the perfect commander for their new hybrid ship and having his entire career to exploit the benefits of his specialized training with this special ship.
I have included some artwork of futuristic designs of what some artists have posted on the internet as possible designs for Submersible Aircraft Carriers of the future. When I first came up with the idea for “Leviathan Deterrent,” I didn’t know that the concept had been tried and tested by navies from around the world in the past. It wasn’t until I started doing technical research about submarines and aircraft carriers that I first read about the above examples. I also read that even though Submersible Aircraft Carriers don’t exist they have been an active part in the U.S. Navy war games for over the last twenty years.
I found this picture on Google when looking for pictures to post along with this blog, a flying submarine. I don’t think the world is quite ready for these either, but it might be worth a story in the future. We’ll see what happens when I exhaust the material I want to write.