August 9, 2012

Before the Star Destroyer There was the Flying Carrier

The Star Destroyer is one of the most iconic ships in all of Star Wars.  Lucas wasted no time introducing the audience to the massive ship when it passes overhead in A New Hope.  It takes seemingly forever to fly over the camera.  As it passes, you'll spot the launch bay ready to deploy or capture ships.

In the May 1942 edition of Popular Mechanics, I found the cover story about a "Flying Carrier."  This blimp carried its own air fleet of fighter-bombers.  Like the Star Destroyer, they would be launched from a launch bay underneath the craft.  Also like the Star Destroyer, its crew would survey the world around the from a window-filled flight deck.  The "Rigid Airship" didn't have a tractor beam, but it did have a trapeze to lower and capture its aircraft.

Ultimately, such a craft was never built for the war.  The article is based entirely on conjecture of "experts" who were left guessing when the America made its sudden entrance into the war.  America was in the early stages of rearmament and was largely unprepared for the conflict ahead.  The press was similarly unprepared to satiate their readers desire to know more about the armed forces.  Little did they know in 1942 that rather than build these fire-prone airships, the water-based aircraft carrier would come to dominate the seas during the conflict.

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