USS Lexington "Lady Lex" Aircraft Carrier WWI / WWII 11x17 Historical Print
This is a print of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2) leaving San Diego, California (USA), on 14 October 1941. Planes parked on her flight deck include Brewster F2A-1 fighters (parked forward), Douglas SBD scout-bombers (amidships) and Douglas TBD-1 torpedo planes (aft). Note the false bow wave painted on her hull, forward, and badly chalked condition of the hull's camouflage paint.
Name: USS Lexington
Namesake: Battle of Lexington
1916 (as battlecruiser)
1922 (as aircraft carrier)
Builder: Fore River Ship and Engine Building Co., Quincy, Massachusetts
Laid down: 8 January 1921
Launched: 3 October 1925
Christened: Mrs. Theodore Douglas Robinson
Commissioned: 14 December 1927
Reclassified: As aircraft carrier, 1 July 1922
Struck: 24 June 1942
Identification: Hull number: CC-1, then CV-2
Nickname(s): "Lady Lex", "Gray Lady","Blue Ghost".
Fate: Sunk during the Battle of the Coral Sea, 8 May 1942
She was seized by the United States Shipping Board when the United States entered World War I, 6 April 1917. She was turned over to the custody of the U.S. Navy in June 1917, and her German crew was sent to a new internment camp in Hot Springs, NC, where many of the crew later died of a typhoid fever outbreak in summer 1918 as they were about to be transferred to Fort Oglethorpe, GA. She was commissioned in July 1917 as the USS Vaterland, Captain Joseph Wallace Oman in command. On 6 September 1917 she was redesignated SP-1326 and renamed Leviathan by President Woodrow Wilson. The trial cruise to Cuba on 17 November 1917 prompted Captain Oman to order 241 Marines on board to relieve a detachment of Marines to station themselves conspicuously about the upper decks giving the appearance from shore that the great ship was headed overseas to increase American Expeditionary Forces. Upon her return later that month, she reported for duty with the Cruiser and Transport Force. In December she took troops to Liverpool, England, but repairs delayed her return to the U.S. until mid-February 1918. A second trip to Liverpool in March was followed by more repairs. Leviathan leaving for France from the New York Port of Embarkation with 11,000 American troops.At that time she was repainted with the British-type "dazzle" camouflage scheme that she carried for the rest of the war. With the completion of that work, Leviathan began regular passages between the U.S. and Brest, France, delivering up to 14,000 persons on each trip. Once experience in embarking troops was gained 11,000 troops could board the ship in two hours. On 29 September 1918 she left New York for Brest, she was one of the main carriers of troops to France, carrying 2,000 crew, and 9,000 troops. The voyage would prove to have the worst in-transit casualties of the deadly second wave of the Spanish flu. By the time she arrived at Brest on 8 October, 2,000 were sick, and 80 had died. Before the armistice 11 November 1918 the ship transported over 119,000 fighting men. Among the ship's US Navy crew during this period was future film star Humphrey Bogart. After that date Leviathan, repainted grey overall by December 1918, reversed the flow of men as she transported the veterans back to the United States with nine westward crossings ending 8 September 1919. On 29 October 1919, USS Leviathan was decommissioned and turned over to the U.S. Shipping Board and again laid up at Hoboken until plans for her future employment could be determined.
World War II History
Admiral Husband Kimmel, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, ordered Task Force (TF) 12—Lexington, three heavy cruisers and five destroyers—to depart Pearl Harbor on 5 December 1941 to ferry 18 U.S. Marine Corps Vought SB2U Vindicator dive bombers of VMSB-231 to reinforce the base at Midway Island. At this time she embarked 65 of her own aircraft, including 17 Brewster F2A Buffalo fighters. On the morning of 7 December, the Task Force was about 500 nautical miles (930 km; 580 mi) southeast of Midway when it received news of the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor. Several hours later, Rear Admiral John H. Newton, commander of the Task Force, received orders that cancelled the ferry mission and ordered him to search for the Japanese ships while rendezvousing with Vice Admiral Wilson Brown's ships 100 miles (160 km) west of Niihau Island. Captain Frederick Sherman needed to maintain a continuous Combat Air Patrol (CAP) and recover the fuel-starved fighters which were on patrol. With the Marine aircraft aboard, Lexington's flight deck was very congested and he decided to reverse the phase of the ship's electric propulsion motors and steam full speed astern in order to launch a new CAP and then swap back to resume forward motion to recover his current CAP. This unorthodox action allowed him to maintain a continuous CAP and recover his aircraft without the lengthy delay caused by moving the aircraft on the flight deck from the bow to the stern and back to make space available for launch and recovery operations. Lexington launched several scout planes to search for the Japanese that day and remained at sea between Johnston Island and Hawaii, reacting to several false alerts, until she returned to Pearl Harbor on 13 December.
Kimmel had wanted to keep the ships at sea for longer, but difficulties refueling at sea on 11 and 12 December meant that the task force was low on fuel and was forced to return to port.
Lexington in the early morning of 8 May 1942, prior to launching her aircraft during the Battle of the Coral Sea
Re-designated as Task Force 11, and reinforced by four destroyers, Lexington and her consorts steamed from Pearl Harbor the next day to raid the Japanese base on Jaluit in the Marshall Islands to distract the Japanese from the Wake Island relief force led by Saratoga. For this operation, Lexington embarked 21 Buffalos, 32 Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers, and 15 Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo bombers, although not all aircraft were operational. Vice Admiral William S. Pye, acting commander of the Pacific Fleet, canceled the attack on 20 December and ordered the Task Force northwest to cover the relief force. The Japanese, however, captured Wake on 23 December before Saratoga and her consorts could get there. Pye, reluctant to risk any carriers against a Japanese force of unknown strength, ordered both task forces to return to Pearl.
Lexington arrived back at Pearl Harbor on 27 December, but was ordered back to sea two days later. She returned on 3 January, needing repairs to one of her main generators. It was repaired four days later when TF 11 sailed with the carrier as Brown's flagship. The Task Force's mission was to patrol in the direction of Johnston Atoll. It was spotted by the submarine I-18 on 9 January and several other submarines were vectored to intercept the Task Force. Another submarine was spotted on the surface the following morning about 60 nautical miles (110 km; 69 mi) south of the carrier by two Buffalos who reported it without alerting the submarine to their presence. That afternoon it was spotted again, further south, by a different pair of fighters, and two Devastators carrying depth charges were vectored to the submarine's position. They claimed to have damaged it before it could fully submerge, but the incident is not mentioned in Japanese records. The putative victim was most likely I-19, which arrived at Kwajalein Atoll on 15 January. Lexington and her consorts returned to Pearl Harbor on the following day without further incident.
Task Force 11 sailed from Pearl Harbor three days later to conduct patrols northeast of Christmas Island. On 21 January, Admiral Chester Nimitz, the new commander of the Pacific Fleet, ordered Brown to conduct a diversionary raid on Wake Island on 27 January after refueling from the only available tanker, the elderly and slow oiler Neches en route to Brown. The unescorted tanker was torpedoed and sunk by I-71 23 January, forcing the cancellation of the raid. The task force arrived back in Pearl two days later. Brown was ordered back to sea on 31 January to escort the fast oiler Neosho to its rendezvous with Halsey's task force returning from its attack on Japanese bases in the Marshall Islands. He was then supposed to patrol near Canton Island to cover a convoy arriving there on 12 February. The task force was reconfigured with only two heavy cruisers and seven destroyers; the 18 Grumman F4F Wildcats of VF-3, redeployed from the torpedoed Saratoga, replaced VF-2 to allow the latter unit to convert to the Wildcat. One of the Wildcats was severely damaged upon landing on the carrier. Nimitz cancelled the rendezvous on 2 February after it became apparent that Halsey did not need Neosho's fuel and ordered Brown to proceed to Canton Island. On 6 February, Nimitz ordered him to rendezvous with the ANZAC Squadron in the Coral Sea to prevent Japanese advances that might interfere with the sea-lanes connecting Australia and the United States. In addition, he was to protect a troop convoy bound for New Caledonia.
Please contact us if a different size of print or if a print of different vessel is needed for your collection.