Staff Writer (Updated: 1/10/2016):
The Intrepid was a result of the Fiscal Year 1940 program to which a total of five of these Essex-class carriers emerged (beginning with the USS Essex itself). The Intrepid became the third Essex-class ship in the family and was joined by six more of this initial group in 1941. A total of 27 Essex-class carriers would eventually be built with many available for the final death blow on Japan by mid-1945. The Intrepid herself would finish construction in April of 1943 and be pushed off for her sea trials and "shake down" voyage on April 26th. With the pressures of war, the Intrepid would only have to wait a short few months before official commissioning.
Design followed standard fare, with the island located to the starboard side and the flightdeck to the port running from stern to bow. A total of three wood-planked elevators serviced the flight deck (one port-side deck-edge and two centerline, port and aft of the island superstructure). The port-side elevator was actually pioneered in the Wasp design and was liked so much that senior officers began requesting its presence in all future carrier designs. Two vertically-oriented launch catapults were provided at the bow of the ship (a third - somewhat useless - horizontally-oriented catapult was removed early on). Total aircraft assortment varied between 90 to 100 depending on type. Some 240,000 gallons (US) of aviation fuel was carried along with an extensive amount of ammunition and ordnance for the air group.
Armament consisted of self-defense weaponry in the form of 8 x 5" cannons (4 in single mountings and 4 in dual-mountings), 8 x 40mm cannons in quadruple mountings and no fewer than 46 20mm cannons in single mountings (later up to 52 such cannons) scattered about the ship. As a whole, the Essex-class of carriers were well-built and well-protected, being able to sustain heavy damage and continually stay in action and have that damage repaired rather quickly in turn. Armor was adequate for the most part, reaching some 4 inches at its thickest. In a testament to its design and abilities, none of the Essex-class carriers were lost in all of World War 2.
The island superstructure sat on the starboard side and directed all all operational functions. The island was defended by eight of the 40mm cannons for anti-aircraft defense. Additionally, the island was home to the search radar and radar directors for the 5-in cannon. Radio communications were handled via two lattice masts joined by wiring connecting the two structures which were fitted off to the right of the forward portion of the flight deck. This position was aptly-protected by a collection of 40mm and 20mm cannon.