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Aircraft carrier facts for kids

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Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, flagship of the Russian navy

Aircraft carriers are warships that carry airplanes and other aircraft like helicopters. They are used by navies to allow aircraft to fight along with naval warships. Aircraft carriers are usually very large, carrying hundreds or thousands of sailors and tens or hundreds of aircraft.

The top of an aircraft carrier is called the flight deck and looks like a very small airport. Old aircraft carriers carried airplanes that could takeoff and land in the short distance of the flight deck without help. Similarly, small modern aircraft carriers only carry helicopters or specially designed airplanes such as the Harrier that can take off and land straight up and down or in the short distance of the flight deck.

The flight deck of a large, modern aircraft carrier has a landing area and a take-off area. The landing area is in the back and has a short runway. Airplanes stop by using a hook on the back of the airplane to grab wires stretched across the runway. In the front, the flight deck has a steam-powered catapult that connects to the front wheel of an airplane. The catapult pulls and throws the airplane off the deck, helping it take off quickly. So, aircraft carriers are basically small, floating, mobile airports.

Because they are big ships and need much electric power, big modern aircraft carriers have on-board nuclear power plants. Others are powered by oil-burning engines.

Except for their airplanes, aircraft carriers usually have few weapons, so other warships escort them. Together, the aircraft carrier and these warships form a carrier group.

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