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~Neither Atlanta (CL-51) nor her 7 sisters, the entire compliment of the class, had catapults. Atlanta is still laying on the bottom of Iron Bottom Sound in the Solomons if you want to see her and check her out. The Atlanta class was upgraded to the Cleveland (CL-55) class. The 27 Clevelands each had two catapults. Nine additional Clevelands were reordered during construction as Independence (CVL-22/CV-22) class light carriers. Maybe after Bismark and Pearl, someone in the Navy Department figured out, as the Japanese already had, that building battleships and cruisers instead of carriers and carrier escort vessels was a little more than futile and stupid? If not, surely Midway must have proven the point. I found a Wikipedia article that said Atlanta carried 3 SC-1 aircraft. Global Security makes the same foolish claim. The Curtis SC-1 Seahawk was a reconnaissance seaplane, the last US observation/scout plane to come on line during the war. The problem with that is Atlanta was sunk on November 13, 1942, after sustaining massive damage during the fiasco of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. The first Seahawk never flew until February, 1944. Therein lies the problem with Wikipedia. It is simply unreliable, inaccurate and cannot be trusted. The confusion may stem from the fact that the Navy often recycles the names of ships. CL-51 is the Atlanta which was the first ship of her series, thus she and the others in the series are "Atlanta Class" light cruisers. Cleveland, CL-55, was the first of the next series of light cruisers, thereby lending her name to the Class. CL-51 having been sunk, the name "Atlanta" was again available. CL-104, the last of the Cleveland series save one, was named "Atlanta". That Atlanta did carry four aircraft and was equipped with two catapults, but she was a Cleveland Class light cruiser, not an Atlanta Class. She saw service through the end of the war, as did Cleveland, and thus could have carried the Seahawk. She was converted to a target ship and sunk off San Clemente Island in 1970, but if you dive the wreck you won't recognize her due to the modifications made during conversion. Many WWII ship types, from destroyers on up, had cats and carried aircraft - generally for reconnaissance and/or rescue. Depending on the catapult system and the plane, some could even be used for air defense and/or attack. There were several types of catapults in use during WWII. Arizona (BB-39) was built in 1914 but was later fitted with two P MK Fort Stewart powder-fired catapults. There were also hydraulic and compressed air catapults and some experimentation with rockets systems was undertaken. Steam didn't come along until the British started working on it after the war. The next generation will undoubtedly use magnets.
No. These were designed as light cruisers, with a main battery of 5" guns. The reason battleships of the era had catapults and aircraft was for their use in spotting and correcting the fall of shot from the battleships' main batteries, which could reach 22-24 miles. Even the US Iowa class was designed in the immediate pre-radar era, and so had catapults and aircraft. They continued to operate the aircraft during the entirety of WWII, even after being fitted with radar. By the way, the catapults were not steam models, like those on aircraft carriers. They used a charge of black powder to propel the aircraft down the rail. It was actually these black powder charges which were detonated on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, causing the neighboring main battery magazines to explode. The bomb that set off this train of events was actually a 15" armor-piercing battleship shell, fitted with fins and dropped by a torpedo bomber from altitude, using a crude bombsite. Someone may have been confusing the Atlanta with the Alaska, CB 1, and her sister ship the Guam. These were battlecruisers, and, frankly, a huge waste of naval construction in wartime. These were 27,000 ton ships with a main battery of 12" guns, and DID embark four aircraft. FDR was fascinated by the Navy and since he had been Assistant Secretary of the Navy during WWI, considered himself competent to judge on naval matters. He wanted battlecruisers, so we got them. It would probably have been much better to put this effort and scarce resources into completing the two Iowas which were unfinished at the end of the war, and were never completed (the Illinois and the Kentucky, BB 65 and BB 66).
Oscar nails it.....both Atlanta and Juneau light or AA cruisers were sunk in the Solomon campaign and the names were reused...Juneau as a follow on light AA cruiser as an Oakland class, and indeed Atlanta as Cleveland, wherein lies the confusion about planes or not.......and Oscars point about Wikipedia is dead on.