Quick Links

The United States is home to an impressive five World War Two era aircraft carrier museums. Unfortunately, after the Navy's decision to scrap the USS Kitty Hawk and USS John F. Kennedy last year, there are not likely to be any new aircraft carrier museums for a very long time (they were also supercarriers and the last American conventionally powered aircraft carriers).

Four of these aircraft carriers are Essex-class aircraft carriers (the United States built 24 of these carriers during the war). The fifth one is a Midway-class carrier built towards the end of the war. They are scattered across the nation in New York, South Carolina, Texas, and California (California has two).



Aircraft Carrier Museum Information

This article was updated to include information about each of the five World War Two era aircraft carrier museums, such as their operating hours, schedules, admission fees, things to do, available attractions, activities, and exhibits.

USS Yorktown CV-10

The USS Yorktown is an Essex Class aircraft carrier built in World War Two. Named after the Battle of Yorktown in the American War of Independence and took the name in honor of the previous aircraft carrier USS Yorktown CV-5. USS Yorktown CV-5 had fought in the Battle of the Coral Sea and then the Battle of Midway, where she met her end.

  • Commissioned: April 1943
  • Campaigns: Pacific War, Korean War, Vietnam War
  • Decommissioned: 1970
  • Displacement: 27,000+ tons (1943) 30,000+ tons (1956)

She was decommissioned soon after the war but reactivated and served in the Korean War. Eventually, she became an anti-submarine carrier and served during the Vietnam War (and earned another five battle stars).

Towards the end of her career, she served as the recovery ship for Apollo 8 space mission and was started in the film Tora! Tora! Tora! and the film The Philadelphia Experiment.

In 1975 she became a museum ship in South Carolina and is a National Historic Landmark.

  • Time for tour: People expect to spend 5 to 6 hours touring the USS Yorktown CV-10 at the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in South Carolina. Some even spend a longer time to see the Vietnam War Experience and the submarine. The USS Yorktown alone has six guided tours at the museum.

The USS Hornet CV-12

The USS Hornet is also an Essex class aircraft carrier that was built for World War Two. She was completed in 1943 and assigned to the Fast Carrier Task Force. She saw action in 1944, attacking Japanese installations in New Guinea, Palau, and Truk, among others. Today one of the greatest attractions for divers today is seeing the sunk Japanese fleet at Truk (Chuuk) Lagoon.

Later she took part in the Mariana and Palau Islands campaign as well as the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot," which was the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

Like other ships, she took part in the Korean War (she had to be pulled out of reserve) and was modernized as an anti-submarine carrier. She played a minor role in the Vietnam War and also took part in the Apollo program.

  • Commissioned: 1943
  • Campaigns: Pacific War, Korean War, Vietnam War
  • Decommissioned: 1970
  • Displacement: 27,000+ tons (1943)

Today it is a museum in Alameda in California (open since 1998) and is also a National Historic Landmark. Admission is $20.00 for adults.

  • Opening times: The USS Hornet Museum opens its doors, from Friday to Monday, and offers many interesting tours, exhibits, community events, group and special tours, and more. It opens from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM with the last entry set at 4:00 PM.
  • Price: While admission tickets are generally USD 20 per person, seniors, military, and students get the ticket for USD 15. Young people aged between 7 and 17 enter with a USD 10 ticket while children aged 6 and under can access the museum for free. The same applies to museum members.

Related: Japan's Truk Lagoon is Home To An Extraordinary Number Of Wartime Wrecks, Still Visible Today

USS Intrepid CV-11

She is another of the four Essex class aircraft carriers to survive today (unfortunately, the massively iconic USS Enterprise was scraped right after the war). She was also commissioned in August 1943 and participated in the Pacific War against Japan - notably the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Like many of the Essex class carriers (there were so many of them after the war that one could have tripped over one) she was decommissioned. But later she was modernized and reactivated and went on to participate in the Vietnam War and was also involved in the space program.

Her back luck earned her the nicknames "Decrepit" and "the Dry I" - she was high by four separate Japanese kamikaze aircraft.

  • Commissioned: 1943
  • Campaigns: Pacific War, Vietnam War
  • Decommissioned: 1974
  • Displacement: 27,000+ tons (1943)

The USS Intrepid is today part of the famous NYC USS Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

  • Museum hours: The NYC USS Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum opens from Monday to Friday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM from June through September. From October through May, the museum opens its doors only on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
  • Things to do: The museum offers a handful of activities, including tours, simulators, education demonstrations, souvenir photos, space shuttle pavilion tour, and more.

USS Lexington CV-16

The fourth surviving Essex class aircraft carrier, she also took part in the Pacific War. She was nicknamed "The Blue Ghost." She was named following the loss of the first American aircraft carrier - the USS Lexington CV-2, at the Battle of the Coral Sea. They are named in honor of the Battle of Lexington.

  • Commissioned: 1943
  • Campaigns: Pacific War
  • Decommissioned: 1991
  • Displacement: 27,000+ tons (1943)

Since 1992 she has been a museum and is docked in Corpus Christi in Texas.

  • Opening times: The USS Lexington Museum opens its doors from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM from Labor Day to Memorial Day, and from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
  • Price: Admission costs USD 18.95 for adults. Seniors aged 60 and over get a discounted ticket for USD 16.95. Military members benefit from a special price of USD 14.95. Parking fees amount to USD 5.
  • Attractions: There are many attractions to enjoy at the USS Lexington Museum, including Escape Rooms, the Flight Deck, Joe Jessel 3D MEGA Theater, Pearl Harbor exhibit, Scale Models, flight simulator, and Virtual Battle Stations. People can enjoy either self-guided or guided tours of the museum.

Related: America's Most Interesting And Historic Naval Museum Ships, And How To Visit Them

USS Midway CV-41

The USS Midway is the only museum aircraft carrier that is not an Essex Class carrier. She was the lead ship of her class and was commissioned just eight days after the end of World War Two.

She remained the largest ship in the world for a decade until 1955. During her time, she saw action in Vietnam and took part in Operation Desert Storm in Iraq but was decommissioned right after it in 1992.

  • Commissioned: 1943
  • Campaigns: Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm
  • Decommissioned: 1992
  • Displacement: 45,000+ tons (1945)

Today she is a museum ship in San Diego, California.

  • Price: Ticket prices at the USS Midway Museum are USD 26 for adults and USD 18 for youth and veterans.
  • Activities: There are many activities to enjoy at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, such as Hangar Deck exhibits, Flight Deck exhibits, Below Deck exhibits, TBD Devastator, Remembrance Wall, Midway stories, Midway Virtual Tour, and more.

Next: How To Get The Most Out Of A Historical Visit To The Pearl Harbor Museum & Memorial