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The lead ship of the 24-vessel Essex-class, USS Essex (CV-9) (right) entered service on December 31, 1942.  Larger and more powerful than its predecessors, Essex and its sisters became the backbone of the US Navy's carrier fleet during World War II.  After conducting a series of raids and aiding in the invasion of Tarawa, Essex joined RAdm. Marc Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force in early 1944 and saw action during the Battles of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf.  Continuing to strike targets around the Pacific, including the Japanese home islands, Essex provided support for the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  Placed in reserve after the conflict, it was modernized in 1951 and conducted three combat tours during the Korean War.  Again overhauled in 1956, Essex continued to operate around the world until its retirement in 1969.

World War II - American Carriers:

Photograph Courtesy of the US Naval History & Heritage Command

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