Spanish portable station of naval aeronautics Dédalo
To international standards, this exceptional and little known ship would fall into the seaplane carrier or seaplane tender categories, although she had a number of exceptional characteristics, unfortunately within the limits imposed by an extremely old and slow hull.
She combined a complement of seaplanes, airships and balloons, the latter used for target spotting and reconnaissance. Although not unique in this respect (e.g. USS Wright, USS Patoka), few ships could use both capabilities.
Large size for her day, able to use over 20 seaplanes, which was about the complement of the proper fleet carriers of the day (Hosho, Langley, Eagle, Argus and Hermes). Contemporary seaplane tenders tended to operate about half that amount of aircraft.
For the first time in Europe, a rotary wing aircraft landed and took off from her flight deck, second only to the USS Langley.
For the first time in the word she provided extensive air cover to amphibious operations overseas. The amount of flights, deployed aircraft, bombs dropped, and so on being far greater than those used in Tsing Tao and in the Dardanelles during the first world war.
She had extensive workshops for the maintenance and repair of both airships and aircraft.
A proper lift between the hangar and flight decks, like contemporary fleet carriers.
She had an exceptional wartime operational record in northern Africa from 1922 to 1925, including participation in the Alhucemas landings, reconnaissance, rescue, bombing, and target spotting operations. Aircraft could be refueled and repaired extremely closely to the battle field, thus increasing the number of flight operations and bomb loads.
During her peacetime career she was usually in Barcelona as naval aeronautics base. As such, she provided proper storage for aircraft and parts, repair facilities and accommodation for aircrews. Until the 1930's in Spain there were no permanent seaplane base nor fixed land facilities for handling and storing seaplanes. She was also frequently used as aircraft transport.
In one respect she compares badly with some equivalent foreign ships. She did not have catapults and the situation of the flight deck aft prevented launching aircraft directly from deck. Although it was planned that she could launch Parnall-Panthers, remarkable STOL of the time when anchored stern to wind, this was in practice not done, so that aircrafts had to be lowered to the sea surface by crane prior to take off.
History: built 1901 in Nwecastle (UK) as cargo Neuenfels for the German merchant navy. Interned as "España número 6" in 1914 during first world war. Converted 1921-1922. War operations from 1922 to 1925. From 1929 modified to operate only seaplanes. Planned conversion to repair ship not carried out. Decommissioned 1936. Break up postponed due to Spanish civil war, sank in shallow water due to near misses of aircraft bombs. raised after the war, sank one more in shallow water 1940 and had to be broken up with underwater explosives.
Dimensions: length about 130 m overall; beam:
16.75 m; draught:
7.4 m; displacement:
9900 tons . Flight deck (aft) 60x17 m. Airship
hangar (forward): 42x12.
. Flight deck (aft) 60x17 m. Airship hangar (forward): 42x12.
Armament: 2x105mm, 2x57mm, about 20-25 seaplanes according to size, partly on the flight deck, partly on the hangar deck, partly disassembled, 2x1500 cubic meter airships, 2x1200 cubic meter balloons. 231 thousand liters aircraft fuel, 5 million liters airship hydrogen.
Engines: Reciprocating quadruple expansion steam engine, three boilers, one shaft, about 3000 hp. Speed about 10 knots. Range about 5000 miles.
The ship was basically scratch built by using plasticard. The airship is a conventional fishing cork float. The aircraft are Trumpeter's Supermarine Walrus, at this scale difficult to distinguish from the Supermarine Scarab actually carried. The hull is a shortened and lowered 1/570 Revell Titanic. Some parts were spared from a 1/350 Zvezda Varyag, a 1/350 Revell Emden and a 1/350 Revell Hawaiian Pilot. The hull is water proof and has a small electric engine, but no radio control gear.
The main source I used were photos, plans and factual information in:
BUSQUETS, Camil; CAMPANERA, Albert; COELLO, Juan Luis (1994): Los portaaviones españoles. Aldaba ediciones, Madrid.