The Air Force’s Crazy 747 Aircraft Carrier Concept
A Boeing 747 with an internal hanger loaded with 10 specially designed fighter jets. An on board crew to launch, recover, refuel and rearm the jets while in mid-flight. Sleeping quarters and a crew lounge to ensure that a squadron of 14 fighter pilots and 18 mission specialists stay rested. All of it hurtling forward at Mach 0.85, 35 thousand feet above sea-level. That’s asking a lot from a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet. But a once classified feasible study prepared for the U.S. Air Force details how it could be done.
An Airborne Aircraft Carrying Boeing 747 might have been an overly-ambitious, overly-complex and ham-handed idea from 1970s, but it wasn’t entirely out of left field. The U.S. Military had been experiment with the aerial aircraft carrier concepts for nearly half a century. In the early 1930s, two U.S. Navy airships, the USS Akron and the USS Macon carried up to 5 planes stored inside an internal hangar bay. These airborne aircraft carriers enhanced the Navy’s seaborne scouting ability, and the airships’ onboard planes could be deployed for further scouting or defensive purposes. But both USS Akron and Macon were destroyed in weather related accidents not even 3 years after their introductions, helping to put an end to any future airship-based aircraft carriers. But the experiments continued in the 1940s, this time spurred on by a need to protect long-range intercontinental bombers.