HMS Invincible returns to massive celebrations following the Falklands Conflict in 1982, Portsmouth, England –

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UK carriers operated only vertical take-off and landing Sea Harriers. Fully loaded, they only needed to pick up a little speed before being able to fly vertically. The ramp was to ensure that in large waves, the jets wouldn’t fly into the sea if the deck was pointing down.

The US operates two main types of carriers. The CV aircraft carriers that you normally think of do not carry planes capable of vertical take-off and landing. As a result, they need to achieve much higher speeds by the end of the deck and use a catapult. These carriers are also larger and taller, so do not worry as much about launching planes into the ocean in high seas.

The LHA/LHD assault carriers are roughly equivalent to the British Invincible seen above. They carry helicopters and VTOL Harrier IIs. They lack a ramp as the US Navy preferred more helicopter landing spots and did not want to lose the real estate. As a result, Harrier II pilots have to be very careful on take-off when loaded and spend some distance after making it off the deck just barely skimming the water.

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