The story which didn't happen ... outside Atlantic Air Combat

Between January and March 1952 USS Cabot (CVL-28) deployed in the Mediterranea.   Besides stopping in Oran (Algeria) and Augusta (Sicily), the ship was also in dry dock in Gibraltar early February and this short visit did pass unoticed with the Spanish Navy.   Since the ship was clearly intended to see the end of its service life soon, Spain sought to purchase it and tried to justify this acquisition by combining this purchases with ASW assets (HSS-1or TBM-3 as operated in her Mediterranean tour of duty).  But again, the ongoing Korean War did not make it possible to cast a deal.  The Spanish Navy was nevertheless delivered with a dozen HSS-1 helicopters for coastal patrols and 17 TBM-3E Avengers.

In 1955 the situation changed completely.  The Korean War was over, and soon US military equipment began to pour toward their allies.  Spain wasn't fogotten and hundreds of F-86F were delivered to the Ejercito del Aire, keeping CASA busy all through that year.

As USS Cabot (CVL-28) was now due to enter the reserve for good, the US accepted to loan the ship to Spain in order to allow them to operate their ASW assets.  Had the US known Bazan was working on rebuilding the USS SANGAMON rather than cutting it into pieces the decision might have been different, but Bazan was not really advertizing about their protracted undertaking.  So, by mid-december 1955 USS Cabot was now sailing in Spanish colors under the name of Dedalo.   When sailing away from Quonset Point, Rhode Island, she also had on board a dozen TBM3W airborne early warning aircrafts, and half a dozen TBM3R to act as carrier on-board delivery aircrafts.

The parallel acquisition of the remaining F6U Pirate aiframes, and naturally the rebuilding of the Sangamon provided Spain with a limited but no-nonsense carrier capable air assets, not at all restirected to ASW operations.   Besides, an military agreement had been reached with Portugal where both countries would use the carriers in face of the expending Soviet Navy and as a response to the USSR lurking toward Portuguese and Spanish possesions in the Atlantic.

Portugal didn't come empty handed in the deal.   True, they hadn't an aircraft carrier on their own to boost the naval setup, but Spain, conscious their own aircraft assets were limited in number, could only welcome their neighbour adding their own carrier-capable aircrafts in the equation.  Like the Spanish TBM-3E Avengers, the Portugese SB2C-5 Helldivers were not in their prime youth, nor were the McDonnel FH-1 Phantoms or FJ Fury, although CASA proved they were pefectly able to handle the situation.

As far as the PA-01 Dedalo is concerned, the wingspan of the FH-1 Phantoms prevented these Portuguese fighters to operate comfortably from her and were restricted to the Sangamon.  But otherwise, the air group composition abord the Dedalo would vary with neccessities and all other Spanish and Portuguese carrier capable assets could operate from her deck. 

The Ship

PA01 Dedalo

With the Dedalo being only on loan to the Spanish Armada, the ship could not be modernized the way Bazan Shipyards were proceeding with the Sangamon.   Then the ship had been handed over in perfect working conditions, with all its armament and electronic equipment.   Actually the USS Cabot had been recently refitted (1950-1951) with her flight and hangar decks being strengthened to operate 20 heavy aircraft and her radar set improved.  Upon Cabot's transfer to Spain, she carried SPS-6, SPS-8, SPS-10, and SPS-40 surface and air search radar suites that were comparable to US destroyer forces. Cabot also had MK-28, MK-29, and Tacan radar systems added.

PA26 Sangamon

Majestic Class

So, only two modifications were carried out : the move of the antenna mast originally located between the exhaust stacks, and the installation of crash net after the 8th arresting cable.  And with a second H-IVC catapult added in 1945, the Spanish Armada considered the Dedalo, however small she was, as potent a carrier as the rebuilt Sangamon soon to be re-commissioned.

Anti-Aircraft Weapons
When delivered, the Dedalo still had its WW2 era defensive armament which consisted into:

2 x 2 20mm Oerlikon twins  
9 x 2 40mm Bofors twins  
2 x 4 40mm Bofors quads  

But for the 20mm guns, all anti-aircraft artillery was radar directed.  The setup might be considered as obsolete against fast moving jet fighters.  However, short of anti-aircraft missiles, 40mm radar directed Bofors still were state of the art technology for the time and the best Spain could hope for


Air Wing

Like the Sangamon, the Dedalo was to operate a mix of jet fighter/attack/recce aircrafts and piston engined ASW platforms and bombers.  As both ships were intended to operate in the mid-Atlantic, between European shores and the Spanish and Portugueses possessions in the Atlantic (Canary Islands, Madeira, the Ašores and to a lesser extent the Cape Verde Islands) the Dedalo air wing could easily be modified even in the middle of a cruise.   The following aircrafts would be operated:

Training Aircrafts

SNJ5C : with both Spain and Portugal operating various iterations of the AT6/SNJ Texan/Harvard, both countries brought several airframes to SNJ5C standards in order to have a carrier capable trainer

Jet Fighers/Attack Aircrafts

F6U2C Pirate : ancient USN aircraft rebuilt and re-engine by Casa.  These aircrafts are either used as combat aircraft to address any air threats or as attack aircraft in an anti-shipping role

F1J1C Fury : ancient USN aircraft rebuilt and re-engine by Hispano Aviacion on behalf of the Portuguese Navy.  These aircrafts are either used as combat aircraft to address any air threats or as attack aircraft in an anti-shipping role

F1H1C Phantom : although the wingspan of the Phantom normally restricts its use to the PA26 Sangamon, the type is exceptionnally operated from the Dedalo, essentially in the attack/anti-shipping role

Photo-Reconnaissance (Recce) Jet Aircrafts

F6U2P Pirate : ancient USN aircraft rebuilt and re-engine by Casa.  Some airframes rebuilt as photo-reconnaissance platforms with 3 nose mounted Vinten cameras.

F1H1P Phantom : ancient USN aircraft rebuilt and re-engine by Hispano Aviacion on behalf of the Portuguese Navy.  Although the wingspan of the Phantom normally restricts its use to the PA26 Sangamon, the type is exceptionnally operated from the Dedalo.  Same Vinten equimement as the F6U2P Spanish counterpart


HSS-1 Seabat : together with TBM Avengers, Spain had received a few ASW helicopters in the late fifties.  Aboard the Dedalo the HSS-1 would essentially play the Pedro role whenever aircrafts were launched or recovered but could actually supplement the Avengers in their ASW mission.  An unarmed HSS-1 would track submarines dipping its sonar in a pure "Hunter" role, while an avenger would treat a target with torpedoes or depth charge in a "Killer" role

Bomber/Attack Aircrafts.
While perfectly conscious that piston engined aircrafts were completely obsolete by the early sixties, restrictions imposed on both Spain and Porgual because of their respective colonial policy and being run by dictators rather than a democratically elected government lead both countries to do the most of what was available to them.   Essentially intended to attack land targets in a combined operation with similar aircrafts operated by the Sangamon, counting on the "mass" effect of up to 30 airplanes attacking at the same time to overhelm any anti-aircraft air defense (but modern interceptors...)

TBM3E Avenger : basically an ASW platform but may be used as conventional bomber

SB2C5 Helldiver : ancient WW2 era "dive" bomber aquired by Portutal - available to act as a conventional bomber

ASW - Anti Submarine Warfare

TBM3E Avenger

AEW - Airborne Early Warning

TBM3W Avenger : although mounted on an obsolete platform the ANPS20F radar was still a capable equipement which, among others, would be used for many more years by the  renown Royal Navy (Gannet and, later, Shakletons)

COD - Carrier Onboard Delivery

TBM3R Avenger

SB2C5 Helldiver : although not a dedicated platform, the Portuguese Navy would simply use their Helldiver bombers to fullfil the role in an ad hoc mode