On this day in history: First airplane launched from an American battleship

On March 9, 1919, U.S. Navy’s New York-class battleship became the first American warship to launch an airplane from its deck.

Lieutenant Commander Edward O. McDonnell flew a British-built Sopwith Camel from a fly-off platform constructed atop the No. 2 turret on the USS Texas.

This proved to be a landmark event as later aircraft flights from ships more than doubled the gunfire accuracy because this new reconnaissance method turned out to be more effective than shipboard spotters.

Later, in 1916, USS Texas went on to become the first U.S. battleship to mount anti-aircraft guns.

Built at Newport News, the former USS Texas (BB 35) was commissioned March 12, 1914 and decommissioned April 21, 1948. The battleship saw action in both World War I and World War II.

When she completed her final mission, the state of Texas acquired the ship and turned it into a memorial ship.

Today, battleship Texas is a floating museum and the last remaining U.S. battleship of its kind.