Airborne aircraft carrier

Airborne aircraft carrier

Infobox Aviation
name = Airborne aircraft carrier

caption = The Boeing X-43 being dropped from under the wing of a B-52 Stratofortress.

Airborne aircraft carriers are aircraft which can launch other aircraft. These typically are large aircraft that launch fighter-interceptor planes.

List of airborne aircraft carriers

Dirigible aircraft carriers

Several plans were drawn up to outfit Zeppelin-type dirigible airships to launch and recover fighters. These are also the typical airborne aircraft carriers found in fiction.

* R33
* USS Los Angeles (ZR-3), used for prototype testing for the Akron and Macon.
* USS Akron (ZRS-4)
* USS Macon (ZRS-5)

Bomber aircraft carriers

Early days of the jet age had fighter aircraft that could not fly long distances and still match point defence fighters or interceptors in dogfighting. The solution was long range bombers that would carry or tow their escort fighters. This is similar in concept to cruisers that carried escort fighters, or the merchant aircraft carrier.

Several bombers have been used by NASA as launch platforms for experimental aircraft.

* FICON project
* Project Tom-Tom
* B-36 Peacemaker
* B-29 Superfortress
* Zveno project
** Tupolev TB-1
** Tupolev TB-3

Transport aircraft carriers

A few specific aircraft have been built or modified to transport other aircraft; the most famous of these, a pair of modified Boeing 747s known as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) belonging to the United State's National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and are now used only to transport the US Space Shuttle Orbiter vehicle, though one was used by the Space Shuttle Enterprise to actually launch the orbiter for atmospheric approach and landing tests. The Soviet Union created a similar vehicle (the Antonov An-225) to support the "Buran" spacecraft.

More recently, White Knight has been used to launch the Space Ship One privately owned space craft, and is slated to be used for a follow on design.

* Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) - launched flight testing of Enterprise
* White Knight - launched SpaceShipOne
* White Knight Two - designed to launch SpaceShipTwo
* White Knight Three - anticipated to launch SpaceShipThree


ee also

* Zveno project
* submarine aircraft carrier
* land mobile aircraft carrier
* fictional airborne aircraft carriers
* parasite aircraft
* mother ship


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