It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I learned that the early Essex-class carriers had been built with a hangar-level catapult. It was called the HIVA catapult and shot planes out of the starboard forward hangar deck. It was removed during refits in 1944 because it didn’t get a lot of use. The only carrier to keep the hangar catapult through the end of the war was USS Hornet (CV 12).
25 February 1944. HORNET (CV 12) was the only carrier to keep its HIVA hangar deck catapult until the end of the war. Since the aircraft could not benifit from the ship steaming into the wind, these catapults were deemed unpractical, and replaced with a second flight deck catapult.
Here’s a shot of the second USS Yorktown (CV 10) showing a folded ramp so you can see its location on the ship:
USS Yorktown (CV-10) underway 27 April 1943, outside Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Va. She is painted in Measure 21 camouflage. The stowed hangar catapult outrigger can be seen clearly. Five lattice radio masts are fitted to the starboard edge of the flight deck (USN photo).
More photos below.
Aircraft of Air Group Five embarked in USS Yorktown (CV-10) for her spring shakedown cruise off Trinidad, BWI. Operating as a catchall group, CVG-5 consisted of VF-1 (F6F-3 Hellcat), VB-4 and VB-6 (SB2C-1 Helldiver), and VT-5 (TBF-1 Avenger). Shown here are Grumman F6F-3 Hellcats being loaded aboard Yorktown at Norfolk Naval Base, circa May 1943. USN, courtesy Russ Egnor.
USS Essex (CV 9) hangar catapult launch of F6F Hellcat fighter, 1943