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HMS Illustrious and HMS Victorious

HMS Illustrious and HMS Victorious

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Fleet Air Arm Carrier Warfare, Kev Darling. A complete history of the Fleet Air Arm's use of aircraft carriers, from the earliest experiments during the First World War, through the Second World War, where the carriers became the most important capital ships in the navy, the Korean War, which saw the Fleet Air Arm involved from the beginning to the end, the Falklands War, which re-emphasised the important of the carrier and right up to the current 'super-carriers'. [read full review]

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At 1655, all fighter direction frequencies among Task Force 57 were suddenly jammed.

Almost at the same time, radar rooms began to report bodies of aircraft assembling 50 miles to the north.

Then, at 1700, four aircraft appeared out of the clouds at 3000ft, diving towards the fleet. One had chosen HMS Illustrious and made his approach from the ship’s Port quarter.

The carrier immediately turned under full helm.

The kamikaze, committed to its dive, was aiming for the forward lift.

A Judy dives towards the deck of the USS Essex.

It would be just 11 seconds between the initial sighting of the D4Y3 “Judy” and its collision with the carrier. But the close armament managed to fire at it for 7.5 seconds.

An early burst hit the “Judy” in the tail. It was hit again only 500ft from the carrier, shearing off one wing. The kamikaze broke apart in mid air, spilling the pilot and debris from the shattered aircraft onto HMS Illustrious' flight deck.

ILLUSTRIOUS - Kenneth Poolman

The gunners saw him coming, diving towards the forward part of the ship. Perhaps he was following the usual Tokko practice of aiming at the forward lift. Whatever he had in mind the Bofors gunners changed it for him, knocking him about so much that he exploded over the side.

But he left some souvenirs behind.

Pieces of plane and pilot were scattered over the flight deck.
Bob Ellison bent down rather dazedly and picked up two eyeballs and a piece of skull. He was looking stupidly at them when Don Hadman, a wild Kiwi from 1833, dashed up and grabbed the piece of skull from his hand.

“That’s my mascot from now on!” he yelled.

Then he booted the eyeballs over the side, for Don had never heard of the Emperor Meiji and cared even less for the immeasurable blessings of imperial Goodness. Even so, he very soon helped yet another young acolyte towards deification and ‘everlasting honours in the temple’, for Don was carrying his mascot when he took off and stopped the breath of the next Divine Wind to appear over the Fleet.

A gun-camera image of the Judy plunging towards HMS ILLUSTRIOUS on April 6, 1945. It dived out of the clouds on the port bow and from the time it emerged from the clouds until the time it hit the water was only 11 seconds.

The Japanese dingy recovered from HMS Illustrious' flight deck after the April 6 kamikaze attack.


The shattered kamikaze careened through the sky before its wingtip clipped the front of the island - reportedly only 9ft from where Captain Lambe stood. The glancing blow put a gash in a radar dome but did little other damage.

The bulk of the burning wreckage then plunged into the sea some 50ft from the carrier where its bomb load - estimated at being some 1700lbs - detonated on contact.

This cylinder head from the Japanese "Judy" which dived into HMS Illustrious on April 6 was recovered from the carrier's deck.

The blast whipped through the carrier and two Corsairs of the deck park were damaged by the shower of spray and debris.

The kamikaze’s life raft was found tangled in the ship’s outrigger transmission aerials. Part of the pilot’s skull and face were scooped up off the flight deck. A slither of burnt flesh was found affixed to the gunsight of one of the bridge pom pom mounts.

The fleet’s CAP claimed three of the Japanese aircraft destroyed. A screening destroyer also reported shooting one down.

One Seafire of the CAP, however, was destroyed by friendly fire while above the fleet. Three other FAA aircraft were lost.

@navalhistorian A few pics from my grandpa on Illustrious - you can see kamikaze damage on island in one pic. pic.twitter.com/uYJSGAZQ6r

&mdash Willard Foxton (@WillardFoxton) April 1, 2015

Damage assessment

Initially, HMS Illustrious had not appeared to be at all affected by the attack. Her air operations were not disrupted and the ship remained under full control.

However, later, when the fleet worked up speed to take up a new position, Illustrious would report her vibrations had intensified to an almost unsustainable level.

It was suspected her already battered hull had been further compressed and distorted by the near-miss.

As the ship and crew struggled to endure the shaking over the following days, Admiral Rawlings realised Illustrious had to be let go.

HMS Formidable was about to arrive. The vital four flight-deck minimum could be maintained.

Rawlings resolved to send HMS Illustrious back to Sydney, and then Britain, for the extensive refit she so desperately needed.


HMS Illustrious stopped at Leyte Gulf earlier to take on fuel for her trip back to Australia. Her kamikaze damage was assessed by divers from among the Fleet Train and found to be much worse than initially thought.

Almost the whole of her starboard side had been corrugated around the frames from a succession of near misses she had sustained in the Mediterranean. A fresh check of her hull below the waterline revealed some of these plates and frames had now cracked.

Quick repairs were made as she lay moored alongside HMS Unicorn – handing over her unneeded spare parts and aircraft to the replenish the fleet’s stocks.

HMS Illustrious would finally return home to Rosyth on the morning of June 27. The ship was immediately put into dry dock for a four-month overhaul - another rushed job in anticipation of the land invasion of Japan.

Work commenced on removing her rear 4.5in gun mounts to create more accommodation space for the overcrowded ship. However, the war would end before this work was completed.

This allowed the refit to be reassessed, and the veteran would eventually undergo an extended 12 months of deep maintenance and modification which included extending her flight deck and upgrading her radar.

A new five-bladed propeller was fitted to the centreline shaft to address the veteran's violent shaking. But the issue would return after only a few years - this time due to the heavy wear on the outer shafts.

Capt. (E) J. A. Hans Hamilton RN

. The Judy was riddled by the forward Bofors on the island superstructure just in the nick of time when the junior seaman leapt in to the layer’s position and opened fire after the layer had deserted his post. He shot off the port wing resulting in the Judy corkscrewing to port just clipping the glass of the beacon and Plunging over the side to explode there. There was plenty of debris. The PM0 (Mackenzie) had a piece of the pilot’s skull cured and mounted. I have a piece of the main wing frame. The explosion so close to the ship’s side fractured one of the twin oil fuel tanks which we did not discover till later when we next replenished.

Talking with Ronnie Hay, the totally inadequate ventilation and disgraceful disregard of tropical conditions by the naval constructors and ship design team had a deleterious effect to efficiency and flying capability. The resulting decimation of our pilot strength through the resulting accidents was proof of these awful blunders by those responsible for the construction of our ships.

The end [ edit | edit source ]

A U.S. Navy EA-1F making a touch-and-go landing on HMS Victorious in 1963

On 11 November 1967, shortly before re-commissioning after her refit, there was a relatively minor fire, which was rapidly extinguished, in the Chief Petty Officers' mess (resulting in one death and two hospitalisations ⎠] ). Although damage was relatively minor, the fire coincided with a reduction of the defence budget and a manpower shortage for the Royal Navy. Together with the 1966 decision to phase out British fixed-wing naval aviation, it was decided at very short notice not to recommission Victorious. Her captain was told of this just one day before the scheduled recommissioning ceremony. The ceremony was held by the ship's crew anyway as a "wake" for the ship. ⎡] She was paid off in 1968 and subsequently placed on the Disposal List in 1969. She was sold later that year to British Shipbreakers and towed to Faslane Naval Base on 13 July 1969, where she was broken up. Ώ] ⎢]

During her service, HMS Victorious had been deployed in most parts of the world and had given outstanding service in peace and war.


  • On 12 July 1849, [1] the Austrian Navy ship SMS Vulcano was used for launching incendiary balloons. A number of small Montgolfiere hot air ballons were launched with the intention of dropping bombs on Venice. Although the attempt largely failed due to contrary winds which drove the balloons back over the ship, one bomb did land on the city. [2]
  • The British Admiralty, according to legend, politely refused the Wright brothers' offer to sell them one or more aircraft, by saying that they could see no place for aviation in naval circles. [3][IV]
  • 14 November – First successful launch of an aircraft from a ship, using a temporary wooden platform for a flight deck on the stationary cruiserUSS Birmingham. [3][4]
  • 18 January – First deck landing, using a temporary wooden platform on the at anchor USS Pennsylvania first use of a tailhook-arrested landing system. [3]
  • 10 January – First launch of an aircraft from a British ship, Charles Samson flies off a platform fixed to the front of the stationary battleship HMS Africa. [5]
  • 2 May – First recorded flight from a moving ship, Samson flies off HMS Hibernia, steaming at 10.5 knots. [6] Then in June, Samson flies off HMS London.
  • 28 June – Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand World War I begins.
  • 31 October – First aircraft carrying ship to be sunk in action, (former cruiser) seaplane carrier HMS Hermes sunk by U-27. [7]
  • 25 December – Attack on Cuxhaven, the first attack from the sea upon a land target using aircraft (seaplanes carried to within range to bomb the Zeppelin sheds at Cuxhaven). [6]
  • 12 August – First attack using an air-launched torpedo, from a Short Type 184 seaplane flown by Flight Commander Charles H. K. Edmonds from seaplane carrier HMS Ben-my-Chree. [6][8]
  • 5 November – First catapult launch of an aircraft from a ship, USS North Carolina. [9]
  • 31 May – First use of an aeroplane during a battle at sea, the Battle of Jutland. [10]
  • August – Incomplete Italian linerConte Rosso purchased by the Royal Navy for completion and conversion to an aircraft carrier, HMS Argus. [11]
  • February – Incomplete "large "light cruiser"HMS Furious has its forward gun replaced with a flying-off deck. [12]
  • 2 August – First aircraft landing aboard a moving ship, HMS Furious this ship was subsequently modified with a stern-mounted landing deck in late 1917. [12]
  • 21 August – First air-to-air kill from a ship-launched aircraft, Zeppelin L23 shot down by a Sopwith Pup from cruiser HMS Yarmouth. [10]
  • 2 December – HMS Argus launched. [11]
  • 15 January – HMS Hermeslaid down [13]Hermes was the first ship specifically designed to be built as an aircraft carrier and the first carrier to feature an island superstructure. [6][14]
  • 28 February – Incomplete Chilean battleshipAlmirante Cochrane purchased by the Royal Navy to be completed as the carrier HMS Eagle. [15]
  • 8 June – HMS Eagle launched. [15]
  • 9 July – First strike by aircraft launched from a carrier, the Tondern raid, an attack by British aircraft from Furious against a German airship base in northern Germany. [10]
  • 14 September – HMS Arguscommissioned. [6]
  • 11 November – Armistice signed, signalling the end of WWI.
  • 11 July – USS Jupiter authorised to be converted to a carrier. [16]
  • 11 September – HMS Hermes launched. [13]
  • 16 December – Hōshō laid down, possibly as the tankerHiryu. [17]
  • 24 March – USS Jupiter decommissioned for conversion to a carrier. [16]
  • 21 April – USS Jupiter renamed USS Langley. [16]
  • 1 November – U.S. Navy sinks USS Indiana during an exercise testing aerial bombardment. [16]
  • 6 December – Akagi laid down as battlecruiser. [18]
  • 6 February – Washington Naval Treaty limiting naval forces signed.
  • HMS Furious flush-deck conversion begun. [12]
  • Spanish seaplane carrier Dédalo is commissioned in the Spanish Navy.
  • 20 March – USS Langley commissioned. [16]
  • 1 July – BattlecruisersUSS Lexington and USS Saratoga reclassified to be completed as carriers. [16]
  • 27 December – Hōshō commissioned. [17]
  • July – HMS Hermes commissioned [13]
  • August – Conversion of the French Normandie-class battleshipBéarn to an aircraft carrier started. [19] and Akagi conversions from battlecruiser to aircraft carrier begun. [20]
  • 26 February – HMS Eagle commissioned. [15]
  • June – Light cruiser HMS Courageous carrier conversion started. [21]
  • Light cruiser HMS Glorious carrier conversion started. [21]
  • 7 April – USS Saratoga launched. [16]
  • 22 April – Akagi launched. [18]
  • 1 July – First night deck landing made by F/Lt Boyce flying a Blackburn Dart onto HMS Furious[10]
  • September – HMS Furious re-enters service with flush flight deck. [12]
  • 3 October – USS Lexington launched. [16]
  • 25 March – Akagi commissioned [18]
  • May – Béarn commissioned. [19]
  • 16 November – USS Saratoga commissioned. [16]
  • 14 December – USS Lexington commissioned. [16]
  • 5 May – HMS Courageous commissioned as a carrier [21] first carrier to be fitted with transverse arrestor gear (friction-based). [23]
  • 31 March – Kaga commissioned. [20]
  • 10 March – HMS Glorious recommissioned as an aircraft carrier. [21]
  • March – HMS Argus placed in reserve. [25]
  • 2 January – First carrier fitted with hydraulic arresting gear, HMS Courageous. [6]
  • 2 April – Ryūjō launched. [24]
  • 26 September – USS Ranger laid down. [26]
  • 21 May – USS Yorktown laid down. [16]
  • 4 June – USS Ranger commissioned. [26]
  • 16 July – USS Enterprise laid down. [27]
  • 20 November – Sōryū laid down. [28]
  • 9 September – First landing of a rotary winged aircraft aboard a carrier – a Cierva autogyro onto HMS Furious[10]
  • 16 September – HMS Ark Royal laid down. [29]
  • 21 December – Sōryū launched. [28]
  • 15 January – Japan exits the Washington Naval Treaty.
  • 1 April – USS Wasp laid down. [16]
  • 4 April – USS Yorktown launched. [16]
  • 8 July – Hiryū laid down. [28]
  • 3 October – USS Enterprise launched. [16]
  • 25 October – USS Langley taken in hand for conversion to a seaplane tender. [16]
  • 28 December – Flugzeugträger A (Graf Zeppelin) laid down. [30]
  • 29 January – Sōryū commissioned. [28]
  • 26 February – USS Langley recommissioned as a seaplane tender. [16]
  • 13 April – HMS Ark Royal launched. [29]
  • 27 April – HMS Illustrious laid down. [31]
  • 4 May – HMS Victorious laid down. [31]
  • 17 June – HMS Formidable laid down. [31]
  • 30 September – USS Yorktown commissioned. [16]
  • 10 November – HMS Indomitable laid down. [31]
  • 16 November – Hiryū launched. [28]
  • 12 December – Shōkaku laid down. [32]
    carrier conversion started. [33]
  • Flugzeugträger B laid down. [34]
  • 12 May – USS Enterprise commissioned. [16]
  • 25 May – Zuikaku laid down. [32]
  • 8 December – Graf Zeppelin launched. [30][34]
  • 16 December – HMS Ark Royal commissioned [29] first carrier with deck armour. [6]
  • 21 February – HMS Implacable laid down. [35]
  • 4 April – USS Wasp launched. [16]
  • 5 April – HMS Illustrious launched. [31]
  • 1 June – Shōkaku launched. [32]
  • 26 June – HMS Unicorn laid down. [36]
  • 5 July – Hiryū commissioned. [28]
  • 17 August – HMS Formidable launched. [31]
  • 1 September – Germany invades Poland, World War II begins.
  • 14 September – HMS Victorious launched. [31]
  • 17 September – HMS Courageous sunk in action. [21]
  • 25 September – USS Hornet laid down. [27]
  • 26 September – First Allied air victory in WWII, a Dornier Do 18 shot down by Blackburn Skua of 803 Squadron from HMS Ark Royal. [6]
  • 27 November – Zuikaku launched. [32]
  • 3 November – HMS Indefatigable laid down. [35]
  • Conversion of Izumo Maru to carrier started, renamed Hiyō. [37]
  • Kashiwara Maru carrier conversion started, renamed Jun'yō. [37]
  • HMS Argus recommissioned as training and transport carrier. [11]
  • 28 February – German Flugzeugträger B cancelled while under construction. [34]
  • 26 March – HMS Indomitable launched. [31]
  • 25 April – USS Wasp commissioned. [16]
  • May – Graf Zeppelin construction temporarily suspended. [30]
  • 25 May – HMS Illustrious commissioned [31] first fully armoured carrier. [6]
  • June – Béarn interned at Martinique. [19]
  • 18 June – HMS Glorious sunk in action. [21]
  • 21 June – Attack on Scharnhorst, first ever torpedo attack by aircraft on a capital ship at sea. [38]
  • 25 June – France falls to Germany.
  • 11 November – Battle of Taranto is the first carrier-based torpedo-bomber attack. [6]
  • 24 November – HMS Formidable commissioned. [31]
  • 14 December – USS Hornet launched. [16]
  • 27 December – conversion of Takasaki completed, commissioned as Zuihō. [33]
  • Submarine tender Tsurugisaki carrier conversion started. [33]
  • Italian passenger liner Roma carrier conversion started, renamed Aquila[39]
  • 28 April – USS Essex laid down. [40]
  • May – Incomplete passenger liners Kasuga Maru, Yawata Maru and Nitta Maru carrier conversions started. [41]
  • 1 May – USS Independence laid down as light cruiser USS Amsterdam. [42]
  • 26 May – German battleship Bismarck disabled by aircraft launched from HMS Ark Royal. Bismarck is later sunk by battleships.
  • 15 May – HMS Victorious commissioned. [31]
  • 24 June – Hiyō launched. [37]
  • 26 June – Junyō launched. [37]
  • 10 July – Taihō laid down. [43]
  • 15 July – USS Cabot laid down. [16]
  • 8 August – Shōkaku commissioned. [32]
  • 2 September – Kasuga Maru carrier conversion completed. [44]
  • 15 September – USS Bunker Hill laid down [40]Kasuga Maru commissioned as Taiyō[41][45]
  • 25 September – Zuikaku commissioned. [32]
  • 10 October – HMS Indomitable commissioned. [31]
  • 20 October – USS Hornet commissioned. [16]
  • 13 November – HMS Ark Royal sunk in action. [29]
  • 20 November – HMS Unicorn launched. [36]
  • 1 December – USS Bon Homme Richard, [16]USS Intrepid[46] laid down.
  • 7 December – Japan attacks Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii and in Philippines as a result United States enters World War II.
  • 20 December – Submarine tender Taigei carrier conversion started. [44]
  • 26 January – Tsurugisaki carrier conversion completed, commissioned as Shōhō. [33]
  • February – SS Scharnhorst carrier conversion started by Japan. [44]
  • 16 February – Light cruisers USS Tallahassee and USS New Haven reclassified for completion as carriers. [16]
  • 27 February – USS Langley sunk in action. [16]
  • 16 March – USS Wilmington laid down as light cruiser. [16]
  • 18 March – USS Oriskany laid down. [16]
  • 27 March – Light cruisers USS Dayton[16] and USS Huntington reclassified for completion as carriers Huntington renamed USS Cowpens. [42]
  • 31 March – USS Tallahassee renamed USS Princeton, [16] USS New Haven renamed USS Belleau Wood, USS Dayton renamed USS Monterey. [16]
  • 9 April – HMS Hermes sunk in action. [13]
  • 11 April – Originally intended as light cruiserUSS Fargo, USS Crown Point laid down. [16]
  • May – Béarn demilitarised [19]Graf Zeppelin construction resumed [30]
  • 4 May – Battle of the Coral Sea commences – first carrier-to-carrier naval engagement in history, and first naval engagement where neither fleet directly fired upon nor came within sight of the other fleet.
  • 5 May – Jun'yō commissioned. [37]
  • 7 May – Shōhō sunk in action. [33]
  • 8 May – USS Lexington sunk in action [16] Battle of the Coral Sea ends.
  • 31 May – Yawata Maru carrier conversion completed, commissioned as Unyō. [45]
  • June – Incomplete Yamato-class battleship Shinano carrier conversion started. [44]
  • 1 June – HMS Colossus laid down, [47] and HMS Edgar laid down. [47]
  • 2 June – USS Wilmington re-designated for completion as carrier. [16]
  • 4 June – Battle of Midway commenced, generally considered to be the most important naval battle in the Pacific during World War II Akagi, [18]Kaga, [20]Sōryū[28] severely damaged in action, [44] with Kaga and Sōryū subsequently scuttled. [44]
  • 5 June – Hiryū sunk in action, [28]Akagi[18] scuttled.
  • 7 June – USS Yorktown sunk in action [16] Battle of Midway ended.
  • 16 June – USS Cabot renamed USS Lexington. [16]
  • 23 June – USS Wilmington renamed USS Cabot. [16]
  • 31 July – Hiyō commissioned [37] USS Essex launched. [46]
  • 1 August – Unryū laid down. [48]
  • 3 August – USS Kearsarge laid down. [16]
  • 11 August – HMS Eagle sunk in action. [15]
  • 22 August – USS Independence launched. [16]
  • 24 August – Ryūjō sunk in action. [24]
  • 27 August – HMS Glory laid down. [47]
  • 31 August – USS Bataan laid down [46]Kasuga Maru reclassified as warship [44]
  • 15 September – USS Wasp sunk in action. [16]
  • 26 September – USS Bon Homme Richard renamed USS Yorktown [16] USS Lexington launched. [16]
  • 1 October – Amagi laid down. [48]
  • 18 October – USS Princeton launched. [26]
  • 24 October – HMS Audacious laid down. [49]
  • 26 October – USS Reprisal laid down. [16]
  • 27 October – USS Hornet sunk in action. [16]
  • 8 November – HMS Ocean laid down. [47]
  • 12 November – HMS Vengeance laid down. [50]
  • 13 November – USS Crown Point renamed USS Langley, [16] USS Oriskany renamed USS Wasp. [16]
  • 25 November – Nitta Maru carrier conversion completed, renamed and commissioned as Chūyō. [41][45]
  • 28 November – Taigei carrier conversion completed, renamed and commissioned as Ryūhō. [51]
  • 2 December – HMS Ethalion laid down, subsequently renamed HMS Mars. [14][47]
  • 3 December – HMS Venerable laid down. [47]
  • 6 December – USS Belleau Wood launched. [16]
  • 7 December – USS Franklin laid down, [40] USS Bunker Hill launched. [16]
  • 8 December – Katsuragi laid down [48] HMS Indefatigable launched. [35]
  • 10 December – HMS Implacable launched [35]Argentina Maru carrier conversion started. [44]
  • 12 December – HMS Warrior laid down. [47]
  • 15 December – USS Bennington laid down. [16]
  • 6 January – HMS Theseus laid down. [47]
  • 14 January – USS Independence commissioned. [16]
  • 15 January – USS Shangri-La laid down. [16]
  • 17 January – USS Cowpens launched. [16]
  • 21 January – USS Yorktown launched. [16]
  • 22 January – USS Kearsarge renamed USS Hornet. [40]
  • 26 January – Chitose carrier conversion started [44]USS Ticonderoga laid down. [16]
  • 27 January – HMS Triumph laid down. [47]
  • 30 January – USS Reprisal renamed USS San Jacinto [26]Graf Zeppelin construction stopped and project cancelled. [30]
  • February – SS Scharnhorst acquired to be completed as Shinyo. [44]
  • 1 February – USS Hancock[16] and USS Bon Homme Richard laid down. [40]
  • 17 February – USS Lexington commissioned. [16]
  • 25 February – USS Princeton commissioned. [16]
  • 28 February – USS Monterey launched. [16]
  • March – Chiyoda carrier conversion started. [44]
  • 12 March – HMS Unicorn commissioned. [36]
  • 15 March – USS Antietam[26] and USS Lake Champlain[16] laid down.
  • 31 March – USS Belleau Wood commissioned. [16]
  • 4 April – USS Cabot launched. [16]
  • 7 April – Taihō launched. [43]
  • 14 April – Kasagi laid down. [48]
  • 15 April – HMS Majestic laid down [52] USS Yorktown commissioned. [16]
  • 19 April – HMS Terrible laid down. [53]
  • 26 April – USS Intrepid launched. [16]
  • 1 May – USS Hancock renamed USS Ticonderoga, [16] USS Ticonderoga renamed USS Hancock. [16]
  • 3 May – HMS Ark Royal laid down. [49]
  • 10 May – USS Randolph laid down. [16]
  • 22 May – USS Langley launched. [16]
  • 24 May – USS Bunker Hill commissioned. [16]
  • 28 May – USS Cowpens commissioned. [16]
  • 8 June – Aso laid down. [48]
  • 17 June – USS Monterey commissioned. [16]
  • 30 June – Béarn transferred to the Free French forces. [19]
  • 5 July – Ikoma laid down. [48]
  • 24 July – USS Cabot commissioned. [16]
  • 29 July – HMS Magnificent laid down. [14][54]
  • 1 August – USS Bataan launched. [46]
  • 16 August – USS Intrepid commissioned. [16]
  • 17 August – USS Wasp launched. [16]
  • 30 August – USS Hornet launched. [16]
  • 31 August – USS Langley commissioned. [16]
  • September – Incomplete carrier Aquila taken over by Germany after Italian surrender, but never completed [39]
  • 13 September – USS Boxer laid down. [46]
  • 14 September – USS Valley Forge laid down. [16]
  • 25 September – Unryū launched. [48]
  • 26 September – USS San Jacinto launched. [16]
  • 30 September – HMS Colossus launched. [55]
  • 12 October – HMS Hercules laid down. [55]
  • 14 October – USS Franklin launched. [26]
  • 15 October – Amagi launched. [48]
  • 18 October – HMS Leviathan laid down. [47]
  • 27 October – USS Midway laid down. [16]
  • 31 October – Chiyoda carrier conversion completed, recommissioned. [56]
  • 15 November – ex-SS Scharnhorst commissioned as Shinyo [44] USS San Jacinto commissioned. [16]
  • 17 November – USS Bataan commissioned. [46]
  • 23 November – Argentina Maru carrier conversion completed, commissioned as Kaiyo. [57]
  • 24 November – USS Wasp commissioned. [16]
  • 27 November – HMS Glory launched, [47]HMS Powerful laid down. [14][54]
  • 29 November – USS Hornet commissioned. [16]
  • 1 December – USS Coral Sea laid down. [58]
  • 4 December – Chūyō sunk in action. [45]
  • 30 December – HMS Venerable launched. [47]
  • 1 January – Chitose carrier conversion completed, commissioned. [56]
  • 19 January – Katsuragi launched. [48]
  • 24 January – USS Hancock launched. [16]
  • 31 January – USS Franklin commissioned. [16]
  • 7 February – USS Ticonderoga launched. [16]
  • 21 February – USS Crown Point laid down. [16]
  • 23 February – HMS Vengeance launched. [50]
  • 24 February – USS Shangri-La launched. [16]
  • 26 February – USS Bennington launched. [16]
  • 1 March – USS Tarawa, [16]USS Kearsarge laid down. [40]
  • 7 March – Taihō commissioned. [43]
  • 23 March – HMS Albion laid down. [59][60]
  • 25 March – First deck landing by a twin engined aircraft, a Mosquito on HMS Indefatigable. [6]
  • 26 March – HMS Edgar launched. [47]
  • 15 April – USS Hancock commissioned. [16]
  • 29 April – USS Bon Homme Richard launched. [16]
  • 1 May – USS Oriskany laid down. [16]
  • 3 May – HMS Indefatigable commissioned. [35]
  • 8 May – USS Ticonderoga commissioned. [16]
  • 20 May – HM Ships Mars and Warrior launched. [47]
  • 30 May – HMS Centaur laid down. [59]
  • 19 June – Shōkaku[32] and Taihō[43] sunk in action.
  • 20 June – Hiyō sunk in action. [37]
  • 21 June – HMS Hermes laid down as HMS Elephant (construction suspended at end of WWII). [59]
  • 28 June – USS Randolph launched. [16]
  • 1 July – USS Reprisal laid down.
  • 6 July – HMS Theseus launched. [47]
  • 8 July – HMS Ocean launched [47]
  • 10 July – USS Coral Sea[46] and USS Saipan[16] laid down.
  • 6 August – Unryū commissioned [48] USS Bennington commissioned. [16]
  • 10 August – Amagi commissioned. [48]
  • 18 August – Taiyō sunk in action. [45]
  • 19 August – USS Philippine Sea laid down. [16]
  • 20 August – USS Antietam launched. [26]
  • 21 August – USS Wright laid down. [16]
  • 28 August – HMS Implacable commissioned. [35]
  • 7 September – USS Valley Forge (CV-45) laid down. [26]
  • 15 September – USS Shangri-La commissioned [16] HMS Furious decommissioned, placed in reserve. [14][61]
  • 16 September – Unyō sunk in action. [45]
  • 30 September – HMS Terrible launched. [53]
  • 2 October – HMS Triumph launched. [47][62]
  • 8 October – Shinano launched. [63]
  • 9 October – USS Randolph commissioned. [16]
  • 15 October – Katsuragi commissioned. [44]
  • 19 October – Kasagi launched, never completed and broken up after the war. [48]
  • 24 October – USS Princeton sunk in action. [16]
  • 25 October – Chitose, [56]Chiyoda,[56]Zuihō[33] and Zuikaku[32] sunk in action.
  • 1 November – Aso launched, never completed and broken up after the war. [48]
  • 2 November – USS Lake Champlain launched. [16]
  • 16 November – HMS Magnificent launched. [54]
  • 17 November – Ikoma launched, never completed and broken up after the war [48]Shinyo sunk in action. [57]
  • 18 November – USS Valley Forge (CV-45) launched.
  • 19 November – Shinano commissioned. [44]
  • 21 November – USS Valley Forge (CV-37) renamed USS Princeton. [16]
  • 26 November – USS Bon Homme Richard commissioned. [16]
  • 29 November – Shinano sunk in action. [63]
  • December – HMS Argus designated an accommodation ship. [11]
  • 14 December – USS Boxer launched. [46]
  • 16 December – HMS Colossus commissioned. [47]
  • 19 December – Unryū sunk in action. [48]
  • 15 January – HMS Vengeance commissioned. [50]
  • 28 January – USS Antietam commissioned. [26]
  • 8 February – HMS Mars commissioned as HMS Pioneer. [47]
  • 27 February – HMS Powerful launched (construction suspended at end of WWII). [54]
  • 28 February – HMS Majestic launched. [52]
  • 17 January – HMS Venerable commissioned. [47]
  • March – Ryūhō severely damaged by US air attack. [51]
  • 20 March – USS Midway launched. [16]
  • 2 April – HMS Glory commissioned. [47]
  • 9 April – Escort carrier HMS Biter returned to U.S. Navy, immediately transferred to France, recommissioned as Dixmude. [19]
  • 16 April – USS Boxer commissioned. [46]
  • 20 April – Ryūhō placed in reserve. [44]
  • 25 April – Incomplete Graf Zeppelin scuttled by Germany. [64]
  • 29 April – USS Coral Sea launched. [16]
  • 5 May – USS Kearsarge launched. [16]
  • 7 May – Nazi Germany surrenders.
  • 8 May – USS Crown Point renamed USS Leyte, [16] USS Coral Sea renamed USS Franklin D. Roosevelt. [16]
  • 12 May – USS Tarawa launched. [16]
  • 10 May – HMS Bulwark laid down. [65]
  • 3 June – USS Lake Champlain commissioned. [16]
  • 7 June – HMS Leviathan launched (ship never completed). [55]
  • 8 July – USS Princeton and USS Saipan launched. [16]
  • 24 July – Amagi heavily damaged during air raid. [44]
  • 25 July – Kaiyo, having been damaged in action the previous day, is deliberately grounded and later refloated. [44]
  • 28 July – Kaiyo further damaged in action, settles on bottom with 20-degree list to port. [44]
  • 29 July – Attempts to refloat Kaiyo abandoned. [44]
  • 29 July – Amagi capsized. [44]
  • 6 August – U.S. nuclear strike on Hiroshima.
  • 8 August – HMS Ocean commissioned. [47]
  • 9 August – Last of caretaker crew leave Kaiyo [44] U.S. nuclear strike on Nagasaki.
  • 12 August – USS Reprisal canceled. [16]
  • 15 August – Japan surrenders WWII ends.
  • USS Reprisal (incomplete) launched to clear slipway. [16]
  • 8 July – USS Valley Forge (CV-45) launched. [16]
  • 23 August – USS Leyte launched. [16]
  • 1 September – USS Wright launched. [16]
  • 5 September – USS Philippine Sea launched. [16]
  • 10 September – USS Midway commissioned. [16]
  • 22 September – HMS Hercules launched, laid up for possible future use. [55]
  • 13 October – USS Oriskany launched [16]Katsuragi assigned to repatriation duty. [44]
  • 19 October – HMS Edgar renamed and commissioned as HMS Perseus. [47]
  • 27 October – USS Franklin D. Roosevelt commissioned. [16]
  • 18 November – USS Princeton commissioned. [16]
  • 20 November – Kaiyo decommissioned. [44]
  • 30 November – Junyō and Ryūhō decommissioned. [44]
  • 3 December – First landing by a jet-powered aircraft on a carrier, HMS Ocean. [66]
  • 8 December – USS Tarawa commissioned. [16]
  • Ryūhō sold for scrap. [51]
  • HMS Unicorn decommissioned and placed in reserve [36]
  • January – HMS Audacious renamed HMS Eagle. [49]
  • 9 February – HMS Theseus commissioned. [47]
  • March – Graf Zeppelin refloated by the Soviet Union, repaired, and designated "PO-101" (Floating Base Number 101). [34]
  • 2 March – USS Kearsarge commissioned. [16]
  • 14 Mar – HMS Warrior commissioned as HMCS Warrior. [67]
  • 19 March – HMS Eagle launched. [49]
  • April – Katsuragi placed on standby. [44]
  • 2 April – USS Coral Sea launched. [46]
  • 11 April – USS Leyte commissioned. [16]
  • 9 May – HMS Triumph commissioned. [47]
  • 11 May – USS Philippine Sea commissioned. [16]
  • 1 July – USS Independence and USS Saratoga used during a Bikini Atoll atomic test both ships were damaged, but survived the test. [16]
  • 14 July – USS Saipan commissioned. [16]
  • 21 July – FH Phantom became the first purely jet-powered aircraft to operate from an American aircraft carrier.
  • 25 July – USS Saratoga sunk by an underwater atomic bomb test at Bikini Island. [16]
  • 6 August – HMS Colossus renamed Arromanches and loaned to France. [19]
  • 16 August – Hōshō decommissioned. [17]
  • 28 August – USS Independence decommissioned. [16]
  • September – First helicopter landing aboard a naval escort vessel at sea. [10]
  • 1 September – Hulk of Kaiyo sold for scrap. [44]
  • 18 October – USS Ranger decommissioned. [26]
  • 3 November – USS Valley Forge commissioned. [16]
  • 8 November – USS Bennington decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 15 November – Katsuragi decommissioned. [44]
  • December – HMS Indefatigable decommissioned. [14]
  • December – HMS Argus sold for scrap. [11]
  • 19 December – First Indochina War begins.
  • 22 December – Katsuragi sold for scrap. [44]
  • HMS Indomitable[14] and HMS Formidable[31] placed in reserve.
  • HMS Majestic and HMS Terrible purchased by Australia. [68]
  • Junyō sold for scrap. [37]
  • 9 January – USS Essex, [26] USS Yorktown, [16] USS Bon Homme Richard, [16] USS Bunker Hill, [16] and USS Ticonderoga[16] decommissioned, placed in reserve.
  • 13 January – USS Belleau Wood and USS Cowpens decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 15 January – USS Hornet decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 28 January – USS Ranger sold for scrap. [26]
  • 9 February – USS Wright commissioned. [16]
  • 11 February – USS Cabot, USS Monterey, [16] USS Langley, and USS Bataan decommissioned, placed in reserve. [26]
  • 17 February – USS Lake Champlain, [16] USS Enterprise, [16] USS Franklin, [26] and USS Wasp[16] decommissioned, placed in reserve.
  • 1 March – USS San Jacinto decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 22 March – USS Intrepid decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • April – HMS Venerable decommissioned, placed in reserve. [69]
  • 22 April – HMS Centaur launched. [59]
  • 23 April – USS Lexington decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 30 April – Hōshō sold for scrap. [17]
  • 6 May – HMS Albion launched. [59][60]
  • 9 May – USS Hancock decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 16 August – Graf Zeppelin sunk in target practice by the Soviet Union. [34]
  • 12 August – USS Oriskany construction suspended. [16]
  • 1 October – USS Coral Sea commissioned. [46]
  • 7 November – USS Shangri-La decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • January – HMS Furious sold for scrap. [14][61]
  • 25 February – USS Randolph decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 21 March – HMS Magnificent loaned to Canada and commissioned as HMCS Magnificent. [54]
  • 23 March – HMS Warrior returned to UK. [54]
  • May – HMS Venerable sold to Netherlands. [70]
  • 28 May – HMS Venerable recommissioned as HNLMS Karel Doorman. [70]
  • 20 June – USS Princeton decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 22 June – HMS Bulwark launched. [59]
  • 24 June – Soviet blockade of Berlin increased tensions in what would become the Cold War between NATO-allied nations and the Warsaw Pact.
  • 27 October – USS Cabot recommissioned. [16]
  • November – HMS Warrior recommissioned, fitted with a rubber deck for trials. [47]
  • 16 December – HMS Terrible commissioned as HMAS Sydney. [53]
  • HMS Unicorn recommissioned as transport carrier. [36]
  • Dixmude converted for use as a transport. [16]
  • 18 April – USS United States laid down. [16]
  • 4 April – NATO alliance formed.
  • 23 April – USS United States cancelled. [16]
  • 21 June – USS Antietam decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 30 June – USS Tarawa decommissioned, placed in reserve. [26]
  • 2 August – USS Reprisal (incomplete) sold for scrap. [16]
  • HMS Indomitable recommissioned [14] HMS Indefatigable recommissioned as a training ship. [35]
  • 3 May – HMS Ark Royal launched. [49]
  • 13 May – USS Bataan recommissioned. [26]
  • June – USS Oriskany construction resumed. [16]
  • 16 June – USS Kearsarge decommissioned, taken in hand for modernisation. [16]
  • 25 June – Korean War begins.
  • 28 August – USS Princeton recommissioned. [16]
  • 15 September – USS Monterey recommissioned. [16]
  • 25 September – USS Oriskany commissioned. [16]
  • Aquila sold for scrap [39]
  • Arromanches purchased by France. [19]
  • January – USS Langley loaned to France. [42]
  • 15 January – USS Bon Homme Richard recommissioned. [16]
  • 16 January – USS Essex recommissioned. [26]
  • 17 January – USS Antietam recommissioned. [40]
  • 29 January – USS Independence sunk in weapons tests. [16]
  • 3 February – USS Tarawa recommissioned. [16]
  • 20 March – USS Hornet recommissioned. [16]
  • 10 May – USS Shangri-La recommissioned. [16]
  • 12 May – USS Hornet decommissioned for conversion to CVA. [16]
  • 6 June – USS Langley recommissioned as La Fayette. [19]
  • July – First trials of a steam catapult, on HMS Perseus. [66][71]
  • 31 July – HMS Vidal launched, first small ship designed to carry a helicopter. [10]
  • 10 September – USS Wasp recommissioned as CVA. [16]
  • 1 October – HMS Eagle commissioned. [49]
  • First trial of angled flight deck, on HMS Triumph. [66][71]
  • First trial of mirror landing aid, on HMS Illustrious. [66][72]
  • 9 February – USS Intrepid recommissioned. [16]
  • 15 February – USS Kearsarge recommissioned. [16]
  • 31 January – USS Ticonderoga recommissioned. [16]
  • 4 April – USS Ticonderoga decommissioned for conversion to CVA. [16]
  • 9 April – USS Intrepid decommissioned for conversion to CVA. [16]
  • 23 April – HMS Powerful sold to Canada, work recommenced. [14][54]
  • 14 July – USS Forrestal laid down. [46]
  • 19 September – USS Lake Champlain recommissioned. [16]
  • October – USS Boxer reclassified CVA. [16]
  • 13 November – HMS Vengeance loaned to Australia, recommissioned as HMAS Vengeance [50] USS Bennington recommissioned as CVA. [16]
  • 14 November – USS Shangri-La decommissioned for modernisation. [16]
  • 16 December – USS Saratoga laid down. [16]
  • HMS Formidable sold for scrap. [31]
  • HMS Unicorn decommissioned, placed in reserve. [36]
  • 16 February – HMS Hermes launched. [59]
  • 20 February – USS Yorktown recommissioned. [16]
  • May – HMS Indomitable sold for scrap. [31]
  • 15 May – USS Bon Homme Richard decommissioned, commenced extensive refit. [16]
  • 1 July – USS Randolph recommissioned. [16]
  • 27 July – Korean War fighting ends with the Korean armistice agreement.
  • 1 September – HMS Centaur launched. [59]
  • 5 September – USS Belleau Wood loaned to France. [16]
  • 5 September – USS Belleau Wood recommissioned as Bois Belleau. [19]
  • 11 September – USS Hornet recommissioned. [16]
  • HMS Perseus decommissioned, placed in reserve. [73]
  • Mid-1954 – HMS Implacable and HMS Indefatigable decommissioned. [35]
  • 15 February – USS Hancock recommissioned as CVA. [16]
  • 9 April – USS Bataan decommissioned, placed in reserve. [46]
  • 23 April – USS Franklin D. Roosevelt decommissioned for modernisation. [16]
  • 26 May – HMS Albion commissioned. [59][60]
  • 18 June – USS Intrepid recommissioned in reserve. [16]
  • 1 August – First Indochina War ends.
  • 2 August – USS Ranger laid down. [16]
  • September – HMS Pioneer decommissioned and sold for scrap [14][47]
  • 11 September – USS Ticonderoga recommissioned after modernisation. [16]
  • 15 October – USS Intrepid returned to full commission. [16]
  • 4 November – HMS Bulwark commissioned. [59]
  • December – HMS Illustrious decommissioned. [14][31]
  • 11 December – USS Forrestal launched. [46]
  • 10 January – USS Shangri-La recommissioned. [16]
  • 21 January – USS Cabot decommissioned, placed in reserve. [26]
  • 25 February – HMS Ark Royal (R09) commissioned, incorporating an angled flight deck, two steam catapults, and a mirror landing system. [49]
  • 6 April – USS Franklin D. Roosevelt recommissioned with angled flight deck, steam catapult and hurricane bow. [16]
  • 14 May – Warsaw Pact formed.
  • July – USS Midway decommissioned for modernisation. [26]
  • 1 July – USS Independence laid down. [46]
  • 13 August – HMS Vengeance returned to UK. [14][47]
  • 15 August – USS Lexington recommissioned as CVA. [16]
  • 6 September – USS Bon Homme Richard recommissioned. [16]
  • 29 September – USS Forrestal commissioned. [46]
  • 8 October – USS Saratoga launched. [16]
  • 25 October – HMAS Vengeance decommissioned. [50]
  • 26 October – HMS Majestic christened as HMAS Majestic. [74]
  • 28 October – HMAS Majestic renamed and commissioned as HMAS Melbourne [75] HMS Vengeance recommissioned in reserve. [50]
  • November – HMS Implacable sold for scrap. [35]
  • 1 November – Clemenceau (France) laid down. [19]
  • 15 November – USS Boxer reclassified as CVS. [16]
  • HMS Indefatigable sold for scrap. [35]
  • HMS Glory decommissioned, placed in reserve. [14][47]
  • 16 January – USS Monterey decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 15 March – USS Wright decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 13 April – USS Hancock decommissioned. [16]
  • 14 April – USS Saratoga commissioned. [16]
  • 26 September – USS Ranger launched. [16]
  • 29 October – Suez Crisis begins.
  • 3 November – HMS Illustrious sold for scrap. [31]
  • 15 November – USS Hancock recommissioned. [16]
  • HMS Theseus decommissioned, placed in reserve. [47]
  • January – HMS Hercules sold to India, construction restarted. [77]
  • 2 January – USS Oriskany decommissioned, started modernisation. [16]
  • 17 January – HMS Powerful commissioned as HMCS Bonaventure. [54]
  • 15 February – Foch (France) laid down. [78]
  • 24 May – USS Coral Sea decommissioned for modernisation. [16]
  • 14 June – HMCS Magnificent returned to UK and placed in reserve as HMS Magnificent. [54]
  • 10 August – USS Ranger commissioned. [16]
  • 14 September – USS Constellation laid down. [76]
  • 30 September – USS Midway recommissioned. [16]
  • 3 October – USS Saipan decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 5 December – HMS Ocean decommissioned, placed in reserve. [14][47]
  • 21 December – Clemenceau launched. [19][79]
  • HMS Perseus and HMS Ocean sold for scrap. [47]
  • February – HMS Warrior decommissioned. [80]
  • 4 February – USS Enterprise laid down. [81]
  • 30 May – HMAS Sydney decommissioned, held in reserve. [53]
  • 6 June – USS Independence launched. [16]
  • 1 July – USS Enterprise (Yorktown class) sold for scrap. [16]
  • 4 November – Ex-HMS Warrior sold to Argentina. [80]
  • 28 December – USS Philippine Sea decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 10 January – USS Independence commissioned. [16]
  • 26 January – Ex-HMS Warrior commissioned as ARA Independencia. [82]
  • 30 January – USS Boxer reclassified LPH. [26]
  • 2 March – USS Princeton reclassified LPH. [16]
  • 7 March – USS Oriskany recommissioned. [16]
  • 15 May – USS Leyte decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • June – HMS Unicorn sold for scrap. [14][36]
  • 1 November – USS Cowpens sold for scrap. [26]
  • 18 November – HMS Hermes commissioned. [59]
  • Dixmude hulked as an accommodation ship. [83]
  • HMS Ocean and HMS Theseus sold for scrap. [47]
  • 25 January – USS Coral Sea recommissioned. [16]
  • May – USS Tarawa decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 21 May – USS Kitty Hawk launched. [76]
  • 28 July – Foch launched. [78][84]
  • September – Bois Belleau (USS Belleau Wood) returned to US Navy. [19]
  • 24 September – USS Enterprise launched. [81]
  • 1 October – Bois Belleau struck. [16]
  • 8 October – USS Constellation launched. [76]
  • 21 November – USS Belleau Wood sold for scrap. [16]
  • 6 December – Ex-HMS Vengeance recommissioned as NAeL Minas Gerais. [50][67]
  • 9 January – USS America laid down. [46]
  • 4 March – HMS Hercules commissioned as INS Vikrant. [77]
  • 29 April – USS Kitty Hawk commissioned. [76]
  • May – USS Bataan sold for scrap. [26]
  • 1 July – USS Valley Forge reclassified LPH. [16]
  • 27 October – USS Constellation commissioned. [76]
  • 22 November – Clemenceau commissioned. [19][79]
  • 25 November – USS Enterprise commissioned [81] first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. [85]
  • 7 March – HMAS Sydney recommissioned as fast troop carrier. [53]
  • 15 March – USS Wright conversion to command and control ship started. [16]
  • Mid 1962 – HMS Albion designated as commando carrier. [59]
  • August – Indonesia plans invasion of West New Guinea war plans include sinking of Dutch carrier Karel Doorman using Soviet-supplied bombers with anti-ship missiles, but ceasefire ended the threat.
  • 7 January – USS Antietam decommissioned, placed in reserve. [26]
  • 8 February – Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) test aircraft and pre-Harrier prototype Hawker P.1127 first operates from HMS Ark Royal. [66]
  • 15 July – Foch commissioned. [78][84]
  • March – La Fayette (USS Langley) returned to USN. [19]
  • March – USS Saipan conversion to communications command ship started. [16]
  • 11 May – USS Wright recommissioned as command and control ship. [16]
  • 19 February – USS Langley sold for scrap. [26]
  • 1 February – USS America launched. [46]
  • 2 August – Gulf of Tonkin Incident led U.S. to greatly increase its overt role in the Vietnam War.
  • 1 September – USS Saipan reclassified as Major Communications Relay Ship (AGMR). [16]
  • 22 October – USS John F. Kennedy laid down. [76]
  • 23 January – USS America commissioned. [46]
  • 8 April – USS Saipan renamed USS Arlington. [16]
  • July – HMS Magnificent sold for scrap. [54]
  • HMS Centaur designated as depot ship. [59]
  • Béarn decommissioned. [19]
  • British 1966 Defence White Paper cancels defense projects such as CVA-01 and begins plans for phased end to UK carrier aviation.
  • Dixmude returned to U.S. Navy, [19] sunk as target.
  • 15 February – USS Midway decommissioned for further modernisation. [16]
  • 2 May – USS Lake Champlain decommissioned. [16]
  • 27 July – USS Franklin sold for scrap. [16]
  • 27 August – USS Arlington recommissioned as communication relay ship. [16]
  • HMS Victorious decommissioned for re-fit, subsequently damaged in a minor fire leading to decision to scrap. [31][86]
  • 30 August – USS Cabot loaned to Spain, recommissioned as Dédalo. [87]
  • 31 March – Béarn sold for scrap. [19]
  • 27 May – USS John F. Kennedy launched. [76]
  • Arromanches redesignated as a helicopter carrier. [88]
  • 26 April – HNLMS Karel Doorman decommissioned, placed in reserve, end of Dutch carrier aviation. [70]
  • 22 June – USS Nimitz laid down [89]
  • July – USS Franklin D. Roosevelt decommissioned for modernisation. [26]
  • 7 September – USS John F. Kennedy commissioned. [76]
  • 3 October – USS Tarawa sold for scrap. [16]
  • 15 October – HNLMS Karel Doorman sold to Argentina. [90]
  • 1 January – USS Lexington reclassified as a training carrier (CVT). [16]
  • 13 February – USS Randolph decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 12 March – Ex-HNLMS Karel Doorman recommissioned as ARA Veinticinco de Mayo. [90]
  • 26 May – USS Franklin D. Roosevelt recommissioned. [26]
  • 30 June – USS Essex decommissioned. [26]
  • July – HMS Victorious sold for scrap. [31]
  • 1 December – USS Boxer decommissioned [46] USS Philippine Sea struck. [16]
  • ARA Independencia decommissioned, placed in reserve. [91]
  • 14 January – USS Arlington decommissioned. [16]
  • 15 January – USS Bennington decommissioned, placed in reserve [16] USS Valley Forge decommissioned. [16]
  • 30 January – USS Princeton decommissioned. [26]
  • 31 January – USS Midway recommissioned. [26]
  • 13 February – USS Kearsarge decommissioned, placed in reserve. [26]
  • 27 May – USS Wright decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 26 June – USS Hornet decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 27 June – USS Yorktown decommissioned. [16]
  • 3 July – HMCS Bonaventure decommissioned. [14][54]
  • 15 August – USS Dwight D. Eisenhower laid down. [89]
  • September – Soviet aircraft carrier Kiev laid down. [92]
  • September – USS Leyte sold for scrap. [26]
  • HMS Centaur decommissioned. [59]
  • March – HMCS Bonaventure sold for scrap. [54]
  • 13 March – USS Boxer sold for scrap. [26]
  • 17 March – ARA Independencia sold for scrap. [90]
  • 23 March – USS Philippine Sea sold for scrap. [26]
  • May – USS Monterey and USS Princeton sold for scrap. [26]
  • 2 July – USS Bon Homme Richard decommissioned, placed in reserve.
  • 30 July – USS Shangri-La decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 29 October – USS Valley Forge sold for scrap. [16]
  • 3 December – Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 begins. Indian carrier INS Vikrant carries out airstrikes against land and naval targets Pakistani submarine PNS Ghazi sent to hunt the Vikrant, but sinks under mysterious circumstances.
  • 15 December – USS San Jacinto sold for scrap. [16]
  • HMS Centaur sold for scrap. [59]
  • HMS Albion decommissioned and sold for scrap. [59]
  • 26 January – HMS Eagle decommissioned. [14][49]
  • 28 April – USS Lake Champlain sold for scrap. [26]
  • 13 May – USS Nimitz launched. [89]
  • 1 July – USS Wasp decommissioned. [16]
  • 5 December – Loan of Dédalo (ex-USS Cabot) to Spain converted to sale. [87]
  • December – Kiev launched, Minsk laid down. [92]
  • USS Bunker Hill sold for scrap. [16]
  • 27 January – Paris Peace Accords U.S. forces withdraw from the Vietnam War.
  • 21 May – USS Wasp sold for scrap. [16]
  • 20 July – HMS Invincible laid down. [93]
  • 1 September – USS Ticonderoga decommissioned. [16]
  • 12 November – HMAS Sydney decommissioned. [53]
  • 22 January – Arromanches decommissioned. [19]
  • 28 February – USS Antietam sold for scrap. [26]
  • 1 March – USS Kearsarge sold for scrap. [26]
  • 15 March – USS Intrepid decommissioned. [46]
  • HMS Triumph decommissioned, placed in reserve. [47]
  • 1 April – USS Randolph sold for scrap. [46]
  • May – Kiev commissioned. [92]
  • 3 May – USS Nimitz commissioned. [89]
  • 1 June – USS Essex sold for scrap. [26]
  • 1 September – USS Ticonderoga sold for scrap. [26]
  • 30 September – Minsk launched [94]Novorossiysk laid down. [95]
  • 11 October – USS Dwight D. Eisenhower launched [89]USS Carl Vinson laid down. [89]
  • 13 October – USS Yorktown preserved as museum ship. [16]
  • 28 October – HMAS Sydney sold for scrap. [53]
  • 30 January – USS Hancock decommissioned. [26]
  • March – HMS Bulwark decommissioned, placed in reserve. [59]
  • 1 June – USS Arlington sold for scrap. [26]
  • 1 September – USS Hancock sold for scrap. [26]
  • September STOVL Harriers equip Spanish aircraft carrier Dédalo, returning her to fixed-wing carrier operations first STOVL aircraft carrier.
  • 30 September – USS Oriskany decommissioned, placed in reserve. [16]
  • 7 October – HMS Illustrious laid down. [93]
  • 3 May – HMS Invincible launched. [93]
  • 30 September – USS Franklin D. Roosevelt decommissioned. [26]
  • 18 October – USS Dwight D. Eisenhower commissioned. [89]
  • Arromanches sold for scrap. [19]
  • 1 April – USS Franklin D. Roosevelt sold for scrap. [26]
  • 27 September – Minsk commissioned. [94]
  • 17 February – Baku laid down. [96]
  • October – HMS Eagle sold for scrap. [49]
  • 1 December – HMS Illustrious launched. [93]
  • 14 December – HMS Ark Royal (Invincible class) laid down. [93]
  • 26 December – Novorossiysk launched. [95]
  • February – HMS Ark Royal (Audacious class) decommissioned [49] end of conventional Catapult-Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) carrier operations for the UK.
  • 23 February – HMS Bulwark recommissioned. [59]
  • 8 October – Príncipe de Asturias laid down. [97]
  • HMS Bulwark placed in reserve. [59]
  • 15 March – USS Carl Vinson launched. [89]
  • 11 July – HMS Invincible commissioned [93] first purpose-built STOVL carrier, first ship to include a ski-jump ramp.
  • 1 August – USS Wright sold for scrap. [26]
  • 22 September – HMS Ark Royal (Audacious class) sold for scrap. [14][49]
  • 26 March – Giuseppe Garibaldi laid down. [98]
  • 27 March – HMS Bulwark decommissioned. [59]
  • 10 April – HMS Bulwark sold for scrap. [14]
  • 9 May – First carrier fitted with a ski jump, HMS Hermes. [66]
  • 2 June – HMS Ark Royal launched. [93]
  • 13 October – USS Theodore Roosevelt laid down. [89]
  • 9 December – HMS Triumph sold for scrap. [14][62]
  • 25 February – Australian government announces its intention to purchase HMS Invincible and rename it HMAS Australia.
  • 13 March – USS Carl Vinson commissioned. [89]
  • 19 March – Argentina invades South Georgia, launching the Falklands War this war provides the impetus to slow the drawdown of the Royal Navy, including carrier aviation deal to sell HMS Invincible to Australia cancelled.
  • 23 March – USS Intrepid struck, preserved as a museum ship. [46]
  • 1 April – Baku launched. [96]
  • 1 May – Argentine carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo detects and attempts airstrike against British fleet, but is unable to launch due to unfavorable winds.
  • 2 May – Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano sunk by British submarine carrier Veinticinco de Mayo withdraws to safe port for the duration of the war.
  • 22 May – Príncipe de Asturias launched. [97]
  • 30 May – HMAS Melbourne decommissioned. [75]
  • 14 June – Argentine land forces in the Falkland Islands surrender, ending the conflict.
  • 20 June – HMS Illustrious commissioned. [93]
  • 5 July – USS Shangri-La struck. [46]
  • September – Novorossiysk commissioned. [99]
  • 12 April – HMS Hermes decommissioned, placed in maintained reserve. [59]
  • 27 October – USS Theodore Roosevelt launched. [89]
  • 3 November – USS Abraham Lincoln laid down. [89]
  • ARA Veinticinco de Mayo inoperable, laid up for possible modernisation. [101]
  • HMAS Melbourne sold for scrap. [75]
  • 30 September – Giuseppe Garibaldi commissioned as helicopter anti-submarine warfare carrier. [98]
  • 1 November – HMS Ark Royal commissioned. [93]
  • 5 December – Leonid Brezhnev launched. [100]
  • 10 December – Riga laid down. [102]
  • April – HMS Hermes sold to India. [103]
  • 15 April – U.S. 1986 Bombing of Libya by carrier- and land-based aircraft.
  • 25 August – USS George Washington laid down. [89]
  • 25 October – USS Theodore Roosevelt commissioned. [89]
  • 13 February – USS Abraham Lincoln launched. [89]
  • 30 May – Príncipe de Asturias commissioned. [97]
  • 9 August – USS Shangri-La sold for scrap. [46]
  • October – Leonid Brezhnev renamed Tbilisi. [102]
  • December – Ulyanovsk laid down. [102]
  • 4 December – Riga launched. [102]
  • Giuseppe Garibaldi takes on Harrier aircraft, initiating Italian fixed-wing carrier operations.
  • INS Vikrant ends CATOBAR operations and is converted with ski jump to all-STOVL operations. [103]
  • 14 April – Charles de Gaulle laid down [105] first non-U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier. [106]
  • 20 May – Ex-HMS Hermes commissioned as INS Viraat. [103]
  • 25 July – USS Hornet struck, preserved as a museum ship [16] USS Oriskany struck to be preserved as a museum ship or scrapped. [16]
  • 5 August – Dédalo decommissioned. [107]
  • 20 September – USS Bon Homme Richard and USS Bennington struck. [46]
  • 11 November – USS Abraham Lincoln commissioned. [89]
  • Riga renamed Varyag. [102]
  • 30 April – USS Coral Sea decommissioned. [46]
  • 21 July – USS George Washington launched. [89]
  • 2 August – Gulf War begins with Iraq invading Kuwait.
  • 4 October – Tbilisi renamed Admiral Kuznetsov. [108]
  • Baku renamed Admiral Gorshkov. [104]
  • 21 January – Admiral Kuznetsov commissioned. [100]
  • 28 February – Gulf War ends with ceasefire.
  • 13 March – USS John C. Stennis laid down. [89]
  • 1 November – Ulyanovsk cancelled at 40% complete. [109]
  • 8 November – USS Lexington decommissioned. [46]
  • 25 December – Soviet Union dissolves, Cold War ends
  • Construction of Varyag stopped, transferred to the Ukraine. [110]
  • 4 February – Ulyanovsk scrapped [109] USS Bon Homme Richard sold for scrap. [26]
  • 11 April – USS Midway decommissioned, preserved as a museum ship. [26]
  • 15 June – USS Lexington donated as a museum ship. [26]
  • 4 July – USS George Washington commissioned. [89]
  • September – Novorossiysk laid up in reserve. [109]
  • 7 May – USS Coral Sea sold for scrap. [26]
  • 30 June – Kiev, [111]Minsk[94] and Novorossiysk[109] decommissioned.
  • 10 July – USS Ranger decommissioned, on donation hold as of 2004. [46]
  • 11 September – USS Forrestal decommissioned, [46] on donation hold. [26]
  • 13 November – USS John C. Stennis launched. [89]
  • 29 November – USS Harry S. Truman laid down. [89]
  • 1 December – USS Bennington sold for scrap. [26]
  • 7 May – Charles de Gaulle launched. [105]
  • 12 July – HTMS Chakri Naruebet laid down. [112]
  • 20 August – USS Saratoga decommissioned. [26]
  • 1 August – Novorossiysk and Minsk sold for scrap, Minsk not scrapped. [109]
  • 9 September – USS Oriskany sold for scrap, not scrapped. [26]
  • 10 October - HMS Ocean launched.
  • 9 December – USS John C. Stennis commissioned. [89]
  • 20 January – HTMS Chakri Naruebet launched. [112]
  • 9 August – USS America decommissioned. [46]
  • 14 September – USS Harry S. Truman launched. [89]
  • ARA Veinticinco de Mayo decommissioned. [113]
  • 31 January – INS Vikrant (R11) decommissioned, to be converted to a museum ship at Mumbai. [114]
  • 27 March – HTMS Chakri Naruebet commissioned. [112]
  • 30 July – USS Oriskany repossessed by the USN due to default by scrapping contractor. [26]
  • 1 October – Clemenceau decommissioned. [79]
  • 12 February – USS Ronald Reagan laid down. [46]
  • April – Varyag sold to China. [110]
  • August – Minsk towed to China for use in an amusement park. [94]
  • 30 September – USS Independence decommissioned. [46]
  • 25 July – USS Harry S. Truman commissioned. [89]
  • Varyag departed Ukraine under tow, refused passage through Bosporus Strait, stationed near the straits for three years. [110]
  • January – ARA Veinticinco de Mayo sold for scrap. [115]
  • 1 January – USS Saratoga placed on donation hold. [26]
  • October – Scrapping of Dédalo commenced. [107]
  • 15 November – Foch decommissioned, and recommissioned as NAe São Paulo. [116]
  • 10 March – USS Ronald Reagan launched. [46]
  • 18 May – Charles de Gaulle commissioned. [117]
  • 17 July – Cavour laid down. [118]
  • 7 October – War in Afghanistan begins.
  • 16 October – NAeL Minas Gerais decommissioned. [119]
  • Varyag allowed passage through Bosporus Strait, arrived in Dalian Shipyard in northern China. [110]
  • 20 March – US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq launched.
  • 12 July – USS Ronald Reagan commissioned. [46]
  • 7 August – USS Constellation decommissioned. [16][46]
  • 6 September – USS George H.W. Bush laid down. [120]
  • 11 September – USS Forrestal designated for disposal. [46]
  • 2 December – USS Constellation stricken. [46]
  • NAeL Minas Gerais sold for scrap. [119]
  • 20 January – Admiral Gorshkov sold to India being refurbished and renamed INS Vikramaditya. [121]
  • April – USS Independence nominated to be sunk as artificial reef.
  • 20 July – Cavour launched. [118]
  • 11 April – INS Vikrant steel plate cutting started. [122]
  • 19 April – USS America towed to sea for live firing tests. [123]
  • May – Juan Carlos I laid down. [124]
  • 14 May – USS America scuttled. [26]
  • 3 August – HMS Invincible decommissioned, placed in reserve until 2010. [125]
  • 17 May – USS Oriskany sunk as an artificial reef. [16][26]
  • 31 May – Minsk sold at auction, disposition unknown. [94]
  • 7 October – USS George H. W. Bush launched. [120]
  • February – USS Forrestal prepared to be sunk as a reef USS Independence and USS Constellation scheduled to be scrapped within five years. [126]
  • 10 March – Juan Carlos I launched. [124]
  • 27 March – Cavour commissioned. [118]
  • 10 January – USS George H. W. Bush commissioned [127] final ship of the Nimitz class.
  • 28 February – INS Vikrant keel laid [122]
  • 12 May – USS Kitty Hawk decommissioned, placed in reserve. [128]
  • 7 July – First steel cut for HMS Queen Elizabeth[129]
  • 13 November – USS Gerald R. Ford laid down [130]
  • 11 Mar – HMS Ark Royal (R07) decommissioned [132]
  • 26 May – First steel cut for HMS Prince of Wales[133]
  • 10 August – Ex-Varyag completed, began sea trials for the PLAN. [134]
  • 8 June – INS Vikramaditya(ex-Admiral Gorshkov) commenced sea trials [135]
  • 25 September – Ex-Varyag commissioned as Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning[136]
  • 10 October – India and Russia announce delay in handover of INS Vikramaditya delayed twelve months until fourth quarter 2013 [137]
  • 1 December – USS Enterprise decommissioned [138]
  • 6 February – Príncipe de Asturias (R-11) decommissioned. [139]
  • 12 August – INS Vikrant launched [140]
  • 9 November – USS Gerald R. Ford launched. [141]
  • 16 November – INS Vikramaditya (ex-Admiral Gorshkov) re-commissioned. [142]
  • 17 July – HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) launched. [143]
  • 28 August – HMS Illustrious (R06) decommissioned [144]
  • 11 Oct – USS America (LHA-6) commissioned. First of a new class of amphibious assault ships.
  • 22 November – INS Vikrant (ex-HMS Hercules) scrapped
  • 28 November – HMAS Canberra commissioned into the Australian Navy. First Australian helicopter carrier.
  • 25 March – JS Izumo commissioned into the Japanese Navy as third serving helicopter carrier
  • 31 March – USS Peleliu (LHA-5) decommissioned.
  • 4 December – HMAS Adelaide (L01) commissioned into the Australian Navy. Second Australian helicopter carrier.
  • 2 June – ENS Gamal Abdel Nasser commissioned into the Egyptian Navy. First aircraft carrier operated by an African country.
  • 16 September – ENS Anwar El Sadat commissioned into the Egyptian Navy. Second Egyptian helicopter carrier.
  • 14 February – Brazilian aircraft carrier São Paulo (A12) (Ex-French aircraft carrier Foch (R99)) retires from service. [145]
  • 6 March – INS Viraat (ex-HMS Hermes (R12) ) decommissioned from the Indian Navy. [146]
  • 22 March – JS Kaga commissioned into the Japanese Navy as fourth serving helicopter carrier. [147]
  • 8 April – USS Gerald R. Ford begins sea trials. [148]
  • 26 April – Type 001A aircraft carrier launched. [149]
  • 26 June – HMS Queen Elizabeth begins sea trials. [150]
  • 24 August – USS Enterprise first steel cut. [151]
  • 8 September HMS Prince of Wales (R09) Christened
  • 7 December HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) commissioned
  • 21 December HMS Prince of Wales (R09) launched
  • 3 January 2018 sale of HMS Ocean (L12) to Brazil, for £84.6 million, announced.
  • 29 June 2018 PHM Atlântico (A-140) (ex-HMS Ocean (L12) ) commissioned to Brazilian Navy. [152]

^[I] For most carriers, the dates listed here are those when the carrier was laid down, launched, commissioned, decommissioned and disposed of. If the carrier was a conversion from another ship, then the first date listed is when she was taken in hand to be converted however, if a carrier was subsequently redesignated, its history is followed until disposal. The first time a ship is named in the list, it is linked to the relevant page within Wikipedia if the ship was renamed, the first instance of the new name is also linked. Additionally, key relevant historical dates are interspersed with the ship-related dates to provide context.

^[II] For the purposes of this timeline, an aircraft carrier is a commissioned naval ship with at least one permanent flush deck designed for the launch and recovery of fixed-wing aircraft. This timeline does not include ships with temporary landing or take-off platforms, vessels designed for helicopter operations, marine assault ships of various designs, catapult ships, WWII escort carriers, merchant aircraft carriers, CAM ships, nor seaplane carriers and tenders.

^[III] The timeline is mainly divided into decades, the exceptions being the two World Wars and the interwar period, which are each treated as separate blocks. For the purposes of this list, the First World War is considered to have started on 28 June 1914 and ended 11 November 1918, while the Second World War is considered to have started on 1 September 1939 and ended 14 August 1945.

^[IV] The actual text of the message from the First Lord of the Admiralty to the Wright Brothers, dated 7 March 1907, taken from The Old Flying Days by Charles Cyril Turner, p. 293, was:

I have consulted my expert advisers with regard to your suggestion as to the employment of aeroplanes and I regret to have to tell you, after the careful consideration of my Board, that the Admiralty, whilst thanking you for so kindly bringing the proposals to their notice, are of opinion that they would not be of any practical use to the Naval Service.

Joining the U.S. Navy

On the way to Noumea, New Caledonia, the Royal Navy discovered how the U.S. Navy conducted underway replenishment. Due to Pacific Ocean distances, the U.S. Navy was adept at keeping ships at sea for 80 to 90 days between port visits, something the crew of Victorious/Robin had never experienced.

British sailors on Victorious saw for the first time how U.S. Navy oilers and supply ships refuelled a carrier or battleship on one side and one or more ships on the other. Sometimes, U.S. carriers and battleships refuelled destroyers. Later in the war, the Royal Navy adapted many of U.S. Navy’s underway replenishment techniques.

Unfortunately, on the way to Noumea, the accident rate with the Avengers continued. The decision was made to turn Victorious/Robin into a “fighter carrier.” U.S. Navy squadron VF-5 was transferred from the now repaired Saratoga to the Royal Navy carrier and 832 Squadron and its Avengers moved to the U.S. ship.

Now equipped with 60+ U.S. Navy F4F-4 Wildcats and Royal Navy specification Martlets, Victorious/Robin went off to war as part of Task Force 36.3. Saratoga took on the 16 Avengers from 832 Squadron.

UK Defence Forum

SKB Senior Member Posts: 6951 Joined: 30 Apr 2015, 18:35 Location:

HMS Victorious (R38) (Illustrious Class Aircraft Carrier) (1941-1968) (RN)

Post by SKB » 08 Jun 2015, 19:13

^ Aerial view of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (R38), taken circa 1958-1960, when the Royal Navy operated the Douglas Skyraider AEW.1.

^ Ship's crest

HMS Victorious, ordered under the 1936 Naval Programme, was the third Illustrious-class aircraft carrier after Illustrious and Formidable. She was laid down at the Vickers-Armstrong shipyard at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in 1937 and launched two years later in 1939. However, her commissioning was delayed until 1941 due to the greater need for escort vessels for service in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Her service in 1941 and 1942 included famous actions against the battleship Bismarck, several Arctic convoys and the Pedestal convoy to Malta. She was loaned to the United States Navy in 1943 and served in the south west Pacific under the codename USS Robin. Victorious contributed to several attacks on the Tirpitz. The elimination of the German naval threat allowed her redeployment first to the Eastern Fleet at Colombo and then to the Pacific for the final actions of the war against Japan.

After the war, her service was broken by periods in reserve and the most complete reconstruction of any Royal Navy carrier between 1950–8, which involved the construction of new superstructure above the hangar deck level, a new enlarged flight deck, new boilers and the 984 3D AW and AD radar and data links and heavy shipboard computers able to track 50 targets and assess their priority for interrogation and interception. The reduction of Britain's naval commitment in 1967, with the end of the Confrontation with Indonesia, and a fire while under refit, prompted or excused her final withdrawal from service, 3–5 years early, and she was scrapped in 1969.

^ HMS Victorious in original 1941 configuration.

Service History

Bismarck Episode
Just two weeks after commissioning in 1941, Victorious took part in the hunt for the German battleship Bismarck in the North Atlantic. Originally intended to be part of the escort for Convoy WS 8B to the Middle East, she was hardly ready to be involved in the hunt for Bismarck with only a quarter of her aircraft complement embarked. Sailing with the battleship HMS King George V, the battlecruiser HMS Repulse, and 4 light cruisers – Force H from Gibraltar – Victorious was hastily deployed to assist in the pursuit.

On 24 May 1941, Victorious launched nine of her biplane Fairey Swordfish torpedo bomber aircraft and two Fulmar fighters. The Swordfish, affectionately known by their crews as "stringbags", under the command of Eugene Esmonde flew through foul weather and attacked Bismarck in the face of tremendous fire from anti-aircraft guns. The result was only a single, ineffectual hit to the armoured belt.[2] No aircraft were shot down during the attack, but the Fulmars ran out of fuel on the return journey and had to ditch in the sea as the ship's homing beacon had failed. Victorious took no further part in the chase aircraft from Ark Royal disabled Bismarck‍ '​s steering gear, thus contributing to her sinking three days later. Esmonde received a DSO for his part in the action.

Convoy and other Arctic duties
In early June 1941, while part of the escort for troop convoy WS 8X, a Swordfish of 825 Squadron from Victorious located the German supply ship Gonzenheim north of the Azores. The Gonzenheim had been intended to support the Bismarck but was subsequently scuttled when approached by British warships. On 5 June, she was detached to Gibraltar and, with Ark Royal and a naval escort, "flew-off" Hawker Hurricane aircraft to reinforce the besieged British Mediterranean base of Malta (Operation Tracer). Victorious returned to the naval base at Scapa Flow with captured crewmen from the Gonzenheim.

In late July 1941, she escorted HMS Adventure via the Arctic, to Murmansk with a load of mines On the 31st she took part in the raid on Kirkenes and Petsamo during which thirteen of her aircraft were lost.

At the end of August, Victorious escorted the first of the allied convoys to Archangel (Operation Dervish) in company with a force of cruisers and destroyers and then covered the return passage of HMS Argus which had delivered Hurricane fighters to Murmansk (Operation Strength). During early September, she launched more air attacks, this time against Tromsø (twice), Vestfjorden and against shipping off Bodø. On 13 September, aircraft from Victorious sank the Norwegian Hurtigruten coastal steamer Barøy.

In October 1941, decrypted German Enigma signals indicated a break-out into the Atlantic by the German warships Scheer and Tirpitz. Victorious was deployed with the Home Fleet for their interception, this included a patrol in the Denmark Strait with battleships HMS King George V, USS Idaho and USS Mississippi and cruisers USS Wichita and USS Tuscaloosa. Note that this joint Anglo-American operation pre-dated the formal state of war between the United States and Germany. These operations continued until mid November, when Hitler cancelled the German operation. Victorious then continued with the Home Fleet until March 1942.

Victorious returned to the Arctic Convoys in March and April 1942 helping to provide cover for convoys PQ 12, QP 8, PQ 13, QP 9, PQ 14 and QP 10. During these operations, she also made an unsuccessful air strike on the Tirpitz, losing two aircraft. From the end of April, until June, Anglo-American forces (including the US ships Washington, Tuscaloosa and Wichita) covered convoys PQ 16, QP 12, PQ 17 and QP 13, after which Victorious returned to Scapa Flow.

The Arctic convoys had been suspended temporarily after the heavy losses suffered by Convoy PQ 17 when twenty-three out of thirty-six ships were sunk. This was after the convoy had been scattered in the belief that an attack was imminent by the German warships Admiral Hipper, Lützow, Admiral Scheer, and Tirpitz.

Operation Pedestal
The suspension of the Arctic convoys released Victorious to take part in a "last chance" attempt to resupply Malta – Operation Pedestal. Malta-bound Convoy WS 21S departed Britain on 3 August 1942 escorted by Victorious with HMS Nelson and cruisers Nigeria, Kenya and Manchester. Exercises (Operation Berserk) were performed with aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable, Furious, Eagle and Argus to improve operational techniques.

Pedestal began on 10 August 1942 and involved a great array of ships in several coordinated groups two battleships, four aircraft carriers, seven cruisers and thirty-two destroyers. Some of the carriers were transporting aircraft for Malta's defence and fourteen merchant ships carried supplies. On 12 August 1942 Victorious was slightly damaged by an attack from Italian bombers. Eagle was less fortunate, being torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat on her return journey to Gibraltar. Ultimately Pedestal was a success: supplies, including oil and reinforcing Spitfires allowed Malta to hold out, albeit at the cost of the loss of nine merchant ships, one aircraft carrier, two cruisers, and a destroyer.

In September, 1942, Victorious was taken in hand for a refit that included the installation of an aircraft direction room. After trials, she was ready to participate in the North African landings.

Operation Torch
In November 1942, Victorious took part in the North African landings. Operation Torch, which involved 196 ships of the Royal Navy and 105 of the United States Navy, landed about 107,000 Allied soldiers. Ultimately successful, Operation Torch was the precursor to the later invasions of Sicily, Italy and France. Victorious provided air cover during the landings and made air attacks at Algiers and Fort Duree. Four of her Martlet (Wildcat) fighters landed at Blida airfield to accept its surrender.

She left for Scapa Flow on 18 November and, while en route, Fairey Albacores of 817 Squadron depth charged U-517 off Cape Finisterre. The submarine's structure was badly damaged and she was scuttled surviving crew were rescued by HMS Opportune.

USS Robin
USS Hornet was sunk and USS Enterprise was badly damaged at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. This left the United States Navy with only one fleet carrier, the USS Saratoga, operational in the Pacific. In late December 1942, Victorious was loaned to the US Navy after an American plea for carrier reinforcement. During this time, she was code named (but not renamed) as USS Robin for signals purposes (derived from the character "Robin Hood".) After a refit in the United States at the Norfolk Navy Yard in January 1943, Victorious passed through the Panama Canal to operate with the United States forces in the Pacific.

Victorious arrived at Pearl Harbor in March 1943 and was taken in hand for conversion for the operation of USN Wildcat (FAA Martlet) and Avenger aircraft and the addition of more close range weaponry. She was ready for service by May and sailed with USS Saratoga for the south-west Pacific. Her role with Task Group 36.3 was to support US landing operations and provide defence against attacks by Japanese warships. The two aircraft carriers had a mix of US and British squadrons, with air-cover provided by Victorious and strike aircraft by Saratoga. In August, 1943, Victorious and Saratoga provided air support for Allied forces during the invasion of New Georgia (part of Operation Cartwheel). In September 1943, with new Essex- and Independence-class aircraft carriers becoming available to the US Navy, Victorious returned to the naval base at Scapa Flow, arriving in mid-October.

Attack on the battleship Tirpitz
From December 1943 until March 1944, Victorious was under refit at Liverpool, when new radar was fitted. At the end of March, Victorious with Anson and Duke of York formed Force 1, covering the passage of Convoy JW 58. On 2 April 1944, Force 1 joined with Force 2, composed of the aging carrier HMS Furious and the escort carriers HMS Emperor, Fencer, Pursuer, and Searcher as well as numerous cruisers and destroyers. The combined force launched an attack (Operation Tungsten) on the Tirpitz in Altafjord, Norway. This involved Barracudas in two waves, hitting the battleship fourteen times and strafing the ship's defences. Although near-misses caused flooding and there was serious damage to the superstructure, the ship's armour was not penetrated. Nonetheless, the attack put Tirpitz out of action for some months. The Task Force returned to Scapa Flow three days later.

Victorious was to participate in three further attacks on Tirpitz, in April and May (Operations Planet, Brawn and Tiger Claw), but these were cancelled due to bad weather and anti-shipping strikes were substituted. On 30 May, an acoustic torpedo attack by U-957 against Victorious failed and subsequently she made more shipping attacks off Norway (Operation Lombard).

Eastern Fleet
In June 1944, Victorious in company with HMS Indomitable, left British waters to join the Eastern Fleet at Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), where she arrived on 5 July. The Eastern Fleet, after a quiet period of trade protection and relative vulnerability, was now being reinforced with ships released from the Atlantic and Mediterranean, in preparation for offensive action against the Japanese.

After a short preparatory period, Victorious took part in a sequence of air attacks against Japanese installations. The first was Operation Crimson on 25 July, a joint attack with HMS Illustrious on airfields near Sabang in Sumatra. In late August, she provided air cover for Eastern Fleet ships that were providing air-sea rescue facilities for US Army aircraft during air attacks on Sumatra (Operations Boomerang). On 29 August, in company with HMS Illustrious and Indomitable and escorted by HMS Howe, Victorious made air strikes on Padang, Indaroeng and Emmahaven (Operation Banquet). After a short pause, on 18 September, Victorious and Indomitable attacked railway yards at Sigli in Sumatra followed by photo-reconnaissance of the Nicobar Islands (Operation Light). During Light, there was a "friendly fire" attack on HMS Spirit, fortunately without causing any casualties.

At the end of September, Victorious had a short interval at Bombay for repairs to its steering gear to remedy problems that had arisen during Operation Light. She rejoined the Eastern Fleet on 6 October. The next operation, Millet, was her last with the Eastern Fleet. On 17 October, she launched attacks on the Nicobar Islands and Nancowry harbour, with HMS Indomitable and escorted by HMS Renown. Enemy air attacks destroyed four aircraft and damaged five more. During early November, Victorious returned to Bombay for more work on her steering as more problems had arisen during Millet.

British Pacific Fleet
The British Pacific Fleet (BPF) was formed at Trincomalee on 22 November 1944 from elements of the Eastern Fleet and Victorious was transferred to the new fleet. From November 1944 until January 1945 the BPF stayed in the Indian Ocean, training and gaining experience that they would need when working with the United States Navy. Victorious, however, remained under repair at Bombay until January, 1945 and missed raids on oil refineries at Pangkalan Brandan (Operation Robson).

In early January, 1945, she was available for Operation Lentil, a repeat raid on the oil refineries at Pangkalan Brandan with HM Ships Indomitable and Implacable. Further raids on Japanese oil and port installations in Sumatra were made on 16 January. By late January, the BPF had finally quit Ceylon and was en route to its new home base in Sydney. The voyage was interrupted on 24 January for another series of raids, this time on Pladjoe and Manna in south west Sumatra (Operation Meridian 1) during which there was little opposition from Japanese aircraft. This was followed on 29 January by unsuccessful attacks on oil installations at Soengi-Gerong (Operation Meridian 2). This time, the Japanese attempted air attacks on the British fleet but these were beaten off. Total aircraft losses by all carriers were 16 aircraft in action and another 25 lost by ditching or on landing. Nine Fleet Air Arm pilots captured by the Japanese were executed in April 1945.

In early February, Victorious joined Task Force 113 (TF113) at Sydney to prepare for service with the US 5th Fleet. At the end of the month, TF113 left Sydney for their forward base at Manus Island, north of New Guinea, and then continued, joining the 5th US Fleet at Ulithi on 25 March as Task Force 57 (TF57), supporting the American assault on Okinawa. The task allocated to the British force was to neutralise airfields in the Sakishima Gunto. From late March until 25 May, the British carriers Victorious, Illustrious (later replaced by Formidable), Indefatigable and Indomitable formed the 1st Aircraft Carrier Squadron commanded by Vice Admiral Philip Vian and they were in action against airfields on the Sakishima Islands (Operations Iceberg I and Iceberg II) and Formosa (Operation Iceberg Oolong).

The British carriers were attacked by kamikaze suicide aircraft and Victorious was hit on 4 and 9 May and near-missed on 1 April, but her armoured flight deck resisted the worst of the impacts. She remained on station and was back in operation within hours on each occasion, despite damage to an aircraft lift and steam piping in her superstructure. Three men were killed and 19 of the ship's company were injured.

After May, 1945 the British Pacific Fleet withdrew to Sydney and Manus for refits and, in the cases of Victorious, Formidable and Indefatigable, for repairs to battle damage. The British fleet rendezvoused with the US 3rd Fleet on 16 July and became effectively absorbed into the American structure as a part of TF38 for the "softening up" of Japanese resistance within their home islands.

During the second half of July, aircraft from Victorious took part in a series of attacks on Japanese shipping, transport and airbases on Honshu and around the Inland Sea. In one notable attack in July, aircraft of 849 Squadron from Victorious located the Japanese escort carrier Kaiyo at Beppu Bay in Kyūshū and attacked her, inflicting serious damage that kept the ship out of the remainder of the war. In the main, however, British aircraft were excluded from the actions against the major Japanese naval bases the Americans, for political reasons, preferred to reserve these targets for themselves.

War's end
The two atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August, respectively, and Japan surrendered on 15 August. By the time of the surrender, the outcome of the war was clear and Victorious left for Manus with Task Force 37(TF37) on 12 August and then proceeded to Sydney. This apparently premature departure was in fact a delay to a withdrawal planned for 10 August, to prepare for the anticipated invasion of Japan (Operation Olympic). The British Pacific Fleet (BPF) commander had agreed to stay for one more day's operations, but the British arrangements could not stretch to a further delay and fuel shortages were insurmountable. In addition, the steering faults that had hampered Victorious in the Indian Ocean in late 1944 are believed to have continued.

On 31 August, Victorious‍ '​s ship's company took part in the Victory Parade in Sydney.

Postwar & Refit
Victorious left Australia in September 1945, arrived back in Britain on 27 October and undertook three trips to collect servicemen and war brides of British servicemen from Australia and the Far East. In the winter of 1946–47, the first deck trials with the Hawker Sea Fury (Mark 10) took place aboard Victorious, leading to its approval for carrier operations in early 1947.

She was reduced to the reserve in October 1947 and subsequently joined the Home Fleet Training Squadron in 1948. The ship was extensively reconstructed and modernised at Portsmouth Dockyard between 1950 and 1958. This took over eight years because of frequent design changes to allow for new technologies. And in particular, the decision in 1953 that she would have to have her original steam turbines replaced, to be viable past 1964, which meant much work had to be redone, and a new flight deck installed twice over. The cost of the reconstruction increased from 5 million pounds to 30 million pounds creating what was in many respects a new ship. Her hull was widened, deepened, and lengthened her machinery was replaced with Foster-Wheeler boilers her hangar height was increased new armament of 3 inch (76 mm) guns was installed a fully angled flight deck (of 8 degrees) and steam catapults were added. Her radar equipment was extensively altered to include up to date equipment, and included the first type 984 3-D radar system to be installed on a ship. While it was hoped she could operate a full air group of 50 aircraft, the rapid increase in size of the jets coming into service limited her to operating no more than 28 aircraft (including helicopters).

On 25 September 1958 Commander J. D. Russell drowned in his Supermarine Scimitar after a failed attempt to land on Victorious for the first time after her refit. Although the landing hook engaged the arrestor wire, the wire itself snapped due to improper rigging and the aircraft then rolled slowly over the side. It sank very slowly, but the plane-guard helicopter crew couldn't release the pilot, and it was seen that Cdr Russell had opened his canopy and then closed it again, possibly as effect of gravity on the heavy frame. The other seven Scimitars in the stream diverted away to Yeovilton.

In 1960, after recommissioning into the Home Fleet on 14 January 1958, with work-ups and deployments in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, she portrayed both herself and HMS Ark Royal during the filming of the British film Sink the Bismarck!. This was despite post-war modifications significantly altering her appearance – the addition of an angled deck and a Type 984 "searchlight" radar. The actor Kenneth More who had served aboard Victorious as a junior officer, played a fictitious Admiralty Director of Operations. He is shown giving the order to detach Victorious from Convoy WS 8B, which was forming in the River Clyde in order to move almost 20,000 troops to the Middle East.

Victorious took part in Operation Vantage in support of Kuwait in July 1961. Later in 1961 she would sail to join the Far East Fleet. In 1964, she provided support for the newly independent state of Malaysia against territorial expansion by its neighbour, Indonesia. In April 1966 departed again to serve with the Far East Fleet for a year, during which she proved capable of landing a USN Phantom F-4 from USS Ranger, returning to the UK for a refit period from June 1967, which was almost completed, when a minor fire provided a political excuse to delete her on 13 March 1968, in further defence cuts, as a third operational carrier was no longer required for the two further years, she was intended to serve, till 1970.

The end
On 11 November 1967, after the completion of the 1967 refit and shortly before the start of what was intended as the ship's final commission, there was a relatively small fire, which was rapidly extinguished, in the Chief Petty Officers' mess (resulting in one death and two hospitalisations). Although damage was relatively minor, the fire coincided with a reduction of the defence budget and a manpower shortage for the Royal Navy. Together with the 1966 decision to phase out fixed-wing naval aviation, it was decided at very short notice not to recommission Victorious. Her captain was told of this just one day before the scheduled recommissioning ceremony. The ceremony was held by the ship's crew anyway as a "wake" for the ship. She was paid off in 1968 and subsequently placed on the Disposal List in 1969. She was sold later that year to British Shipbreakers and towed on 13 July 1969 to Faslane Naval Base, where she was broken up.

Class and type: Illustrious-class aircraft carrier
Displacement: As built: 29,500 tons Post-refit: 35,500 tons full load
Length: As built: 673 ft (205 m) Post-1957 refit 753 ft (230 m) waterline, 781 ft (238 m) overall
Beam: As built: 95 ft (29 m) Post-1957 refit 103 ft (31.4 m)
Draught: As built: 28 ft (8.5 m) Post-1957 refit 31 ft (9 m)
3 Parsons geared turbines
6 Admiralty 3-drum boilers
111,000 shp, 3 shafts
Speed: 30.5 knots (56 km/h)
Range: 11,000 nautical miles (20,000 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)
Crew Complement: 2,200 (including air group)
16 × 4.5 inch (8 × 2)
48 × 2 pdr (6 × 8)
21 × 40 mm AA (2 × 4, 2 × 2, 9 × 1)
45 × 20 mm AA (45 × 1)
Armour: flight deck: 3"
hangar deck: 2"
side belt 4"
hangar sides: 4"
Aircraft carried:
During World War II: included: Albacore, Avenger, Barracuda, Corsair, Fulmar, Seafire, Sea Hurricane, Swordfish, Wildcat, F6F Hellcat
36 Fulmar/Albacore
54 Corsair/Avenger
Post-refit aircraft included: Gannet, Scimitar, Sea Fury, Sea Hawk, Sea Vixen, Buccaneer
Motto: Per coelum et aequorem victrix (Through air and sea victorious)
Honours & awards: Cape of Good Hope 1795 – St Lucia 1796 – Egypt 1801 – Walcheren 1809 – Rivoli Action 1812 – Bismarck Action 1941 – Norway 1941–42 – Arctic 1941–42 – Malta Convoys 1942 – Biscay 1942 – Sabang 1944 – Palembang 1945 – Okinawa 1945 – Japan 1945
Notes: Pennant numbers: 38, R38, 38

Particulars of HMS VICTORIOUS

From 1941From 1958
Length: overall 748 feet 6 inches 781 feet
Length: waterline 710 feet 740 feet
Beam: overall 112 feet 145 feet 9 inches
Beam: waterline 95 feet 9 inches 103 feet 4 inches
Displacement 23,000 tons
Displacement: full load 28,619 tons 35,500 tons
Flight deck: length 742 feet 775 feet
Flight deck: width 95 feet 147 feet
Full speed 30.5 knots 31 knots
Oil fuel 4,640 tons 4,850 tons
Avcat 50,000 gallons 339,000 gallons
Compliment 1,750 (wartime)
1,286 (peacetime)

Postwar Fireflies and Seafires, HMS Illustrious

I am once again indebted to Dave Bull for sharing his fantastic collection of images of HMS Illustrious with Naval Air History. These photographs date from the immediate postwar period when the battered and war-weary carrier proved her usefulness yet again with a period as a trials and training carrier.

The latest set depicts training exercises involving two of the Fleet Air Arm’s most common types in the period between the end of the Second World War and the widespread adoption of jets, the Fairey Firefly and the Supermarine Seafire.

The Firefly was conceived in 1940 as a two-seat long-range fighter to replace the Fairey Fulmar (see A Problematic Naval Specification) and saw service in the last year of WW2 in its Mk.I guise. The Firefly provided the Fleet Air Arm with a versatile type for a range of tasks including all-weather fighter, anti-submarine aircraft and aircrew training.

The Fireflies are from 1830 Squadron, Abbotsinch, originally fighter/anti-submarine unit equipped with Fireflies and Seafires. The unit soon standardised on Fireflies and in August-September 1949, joined Illustrious for a period of embarkation and training, as seen here. The squadron carried out 205 accident-free deck-landings, for which it won the annual Boyd Trophy.

The second aircraft back is wearing a D tail code, indicating that it had been part of HMS Illustrious’ ship flight until recently. This aircraft does not appear to be carrying a radar pod, unlike most of the rest. The radar pod, carrying an American lightweight ASH radar set, was a simple modification that could turn the ‘straight fighter’ F.Mk.I into a reconnaissance and night-fighter type known as the FR.Mk.I. The former ship-flight aircraft also seems to be equipped with rocket rails.

Note also the range of spinner colours, and the two aircraft near the back in earlier dark upper camouflage schemes – at least the aircraft to the left-rear is in a wartime disruptive camouflage pattern. The ‘mixed bag’ nature of the aircraft suggests that they were drawn from other units that had switched to other types or disbanded.

These photographs could be part of the same training detachment, with the Firefly Mk.Is arranged in Illustrious’ hangar along with a number of Seafire Mk.XVs and XVIIs. Illustrious, as the first of the armoured carriers, was often criticised for her lack of aircraft storage space. When initially commissioned, Illustrious carried around 33 aircraft, little more than a third of the number carried by contemporary US carriers. However, towards the end of the war, skilful hangar and deck management allowed up to 57 aircraft to be carried without problems (see Three Raids at the Beginning of the End).

The next image shows Seafire Mk.XVs and M.XVIIs being brought up on deck to launch (with a single Firefly Mk.I, forward and centre).

The Seafire was introduced as an emergency measure, largely due to the failure of pre-war naval aircraft policy (see The Spitfire’s Struggle To Go To Sea). It was never an ideal carrier fighter, being rather too fragile, and with poor visibility for landing. Its performance in the air was superb, though, and the Seafire was steadily developed along the lines of its land-based counterpart. The Mk.XV was the first Griffon-engined version of the Seafire, and was roughly the naval equivalent of the Spitfire Mk.XII, with a similar engine and flying services. The Mk.XVII was a developed version of the XV, with various improvements including a bubble canopy and long-stroke undercarriage. Neither saw service during the war, but together they became a standard type in the postwar RNVR fighter squadrons until largely replaced by the Hawker Sea Fury in the early 1950s.

This is a Seafire Mk.XVII of 1831 Squadron, based at RNAS Stretton (hence the tail code ‘JA’) between 1947-1951. It was an RNVR fighter squadron equipped with Seafire XVs and XVIs using the codes 101-120. This aircraft appears to have missed all the wires and nosed over on striking the first crash barrier. There appears to be damage to the starboard cannon blister/ammunition hatch, possibly caused by the barrier when the aircraft struck.

Unfortunately, not all training exercises were as accident-free as 737’s period of embarkation on Illustrious. This image shows a Firefly F.Mk.I suffering a starboard main undercarriage collapse just as it picks up a wire. The Mk.I’s undercarriage seems to have been vulnerable to any side-load, and one of the first operational squadrons suffered three undercarriage collapses in a single launch exercise due to ground-loops.

A different landing accident, this time involving a Firefly Mk.V. This could in fact be one of the first such aircraft undergoing deck trials as it carries no shore-base or individual aircraft codes. Evidently the aircraft has caught a wire but drifted to port and put a wheel over the side, stopping short of hitting the crash barrier (the triple-cable across the deck just ahead of the propeller). The crash barrier was introduced to British carriers during the war, based on American practice. Previously, each aircraft had to be struck down and lowered on the lift before the next aircraft could land. With the barrier, landed aircraft could be parked at the bow, speeding the exercise considerably.

The significantly-improved Firefly Mk.4 and Mk.5/6 did not reach squadrons during the war, but enhanced the FAA’s capabilities in the immediate postwar period, including during the Korean War. They benefitted from a more powerful Griffon engine than the Mk.I and improved aerodynamics, including wing-root radiators and an enlarged fin. The Mk.5 was a ‘universal’ type incorporating the improvements of the Mk.4 but with the ability to convert quickly to the anti-submarine Mk.6 or night fighter variant simply by exchanging equipment. Mk.4 aircraft were rapidly replaced by Mk.5s.

These two images show Fairey Firefly Mk.4s 206 and 221/GN, of 737 Naval Air Squadron, having come to grief during training exercises.

Number 737 Naval Air Squadron reformed at Eglinton (indicated by the ‘GN’ tail codes) in March 1949 as part of the 52nd Training Air Group. The squadron was equipped with Fireflies and Seafires to train aircrew in the use of air weapons and basic anti-submarine warfare. The Seafires left after a year, and from 1950 to 1955 the squadron used Fireflies exclusively, albeit in a range of marks.

The Fireflies shown here evidently earlier FR.Mk.4 aircraft given the disruptive camouflage scheme, later replaced with Extra Dark Sea Grey over Sky (originally with a low demarcation, then a high demarcation as seen in the images of 1830 Squadron – Mk.V aircraft were painted with the newer scheme at the factory).

Firefly 206 seems to have suffered an undercarriage collapse and hit the barrier while moving sideways.

Thanks once again to Dave Bull for sharing his remarkable collection of images from HMS Illustrious. For previous sets of images, see Fleet Air Arm Twins, HMS Illustrious and Prototypes and Trials, HMS Illustrious

HMS Victorious (R38)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 01/25/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

HMS Victorious was the result of the growing British naval arms movement amidst rising tensions in Europe being spearheaded by German leader Adolph Hitler. She was ordered on January 13th, 1937 and had her keel laid down on May 4th, 1937 by Vickers-Armstrong. She was officially launched on September 14th, 1939 (Germany invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939 to officially begin World War 2) and was formally commissioned on May 14th, 1941. She fought under Pennant Number R38 and the motto "Per Coelum et Aequorem Victrix" meaning "Through Air and Sea Victorious". HMS Victorious was the last of the four-strong "Formidable-class" of British aircraft carriers that included HMS Formidable, HMS illustrious and HMS Indomitable.

The Victorious was completed as a conventional "straight line" aircraft carrier design with a starboard side island superstructure (containing communications, radar and navigation) and portside flight deck. The smoke stack used to exhaust the powerplant was settled just aft of the superstructure. This cleared the majority of the flight deck for incoming and outgoing aircraft. Incoming aircraft approached from the stern whilst outgoing types headed from the bow. Anti-aircraft defenses were set all about the perimeter of the flight deck while hangar elevators allowed access to the flight deck from below. Various aircraft types could be outfitted with fuel and stores while also undergoing at-sea repairs as required. The Victorious was essentially designed as a floating island.

As built, Victorious displaced at 29,500 tons and featured a running length of 673 feet with a beam of 95 feet and draught of 28 feet. Power was served through 3 x Parsons geared turbines coupled to 6 x Admiralty three-drum boiler systems collectively outputting at 111,000 shaft horsepower driving 3 x propeller shafts. This configuration allowed the vessel a top speed of 30 knots in ideal conditions with a range out to 11,000 nautical miles. Her various onboard systems and facilities required a massive crew contingent of 2,200 personnel including the requisite air section. Armor protection consisted of 3" over the flight deck" 2" at the hangar deck and 4" at the hull belt. While standard armament was defensive minded, it served a vital last-level of protection for the ship and was led by 16 x 4.5" cannons in eight two-gun turrets. This was backed by 48 x 2-pounder cannons in six eight-gun turrets. The next level proved to be the 21 x 40mm cannons which were set in two turrets of four guns, two turrets of two guns and nine turrets with single guns. The last layer became the 45 x 20mm cannon systems assigned across forty-five single-barreled turrets. Of course the best defense for aircraft carriers was their support fleet of ships, vessels that could provide a broader range of anti-aircraft, anti-ship and anti-submarine counters while the carrier concentrated on launching and retrieving her all-important aircraft.

The bread and butter for any carrier became her onboard air section. The Victorious eventually carried a slew of different types over the course of her long career and this included types designed in the United Kingdom and those under Lend-Lease and outright purchase from the United States. All types did, however, fall into basic categories of fighter, torpedo bomber and dive bomber during World War 2. Eventually the Victorious managed a flight group of over 50 aircraft during the peak of its wartime service. Jets such as the Blackburn Buccaneer followed in the post-World War 2 period.

One of HMS Victorious' first actions were in pursuit of the fabled German battleship KMS Bismarck which threatened Allied control of the North Sea and the Atlantic. Her air wing failed to make their mark when the battleship was engaged but the German vessel was eventually dealt her death blow from the aircraft of the equally-storied HMS Ark Royal (91) on a later date. HMS Victorious then served with Arctic Convoys en route to the Soviet Union and under threat from German warships and U-boats. She joined the British Home Fleet by October 1941 before once again returning to support the Arctic Convoys. She was called to provide air cover during the successful operation to resupply forces in Malta, though suffering light damage from Italian bombers in the process. She then provided air cover and strike capabilities during the famous Operation Torch landings in North Africa.

With the loss of the USS Hornet (key cog in the famous Doolittle Raid on mainland Japan) and heavy damage to the USS Enterprise, this left the Americans with just a single fleet-level carrier in service in the Pacific. This prompted the Royal Navy to send their HMS Victorious as a loaner to the Americans in December of 1942. The vessel was refit at Norfolk, Virginia, USA in January of 1943 and assigned the name of USS Robin to begin her tour with the US Navy. She arrived at Pearl Harbor in March of 1943. Undergoing a more US Navy-centric refit, the USS Robin was then readied for her Pacific actions tour in May of 1943. From there, she provided critical air cover for the landings at New Georgia of the Solomon Islands during Operation Cartwheel. Her USN tenure ended in September of 1943 when the USS Robin was returned to the Atlantic under British guard to continue her service as HMS Victorious.

Now outfitted with new radar, HMS Victorious was once again assigned to convoy support. Along with other Royal Navy vessels, HMS Victorious took part in the attacks against the German battleship KMS Tirpitz and provided enough damage to put the vessel out of action for the foreseeable future. Victorious was then reassigned to the Eastern Fleet near Ceylon (now present-day Sri Lanka) in the Far East during June of 1944. In July, Operation Crimson was launched with Victorious providing strike aircraft against key Japanese installations. Her final work with the Eastern Fleet was in October before repairs in Bombay was taken beginning in November. Victorious then fell under the charge of the British Pacific Fleet.

More raids with her aircraft followed against Japanese targets into January of 1945. She was called in support of the American landings at Okinawa during April of 1945. By this time, the desperate Japanese had charged its pilots with kamikaze suicide attacks on Allied surface ships and HMS Victorious became the target of such attacks (twice) during May though her armor held firm, fires were valiantly controlled and injuries promptly attended to. The attacks did claim the lives of three sailors however.

Next on the schedule for the Victorious were additional raids against Japanese targets and shipping to provide the final stranglehold on the mainland islands during May of 1945. She successfully engaged the IJN Kaiyo, an escort carrier, and knocked her out of commissioned for the duration of the war. World War 2 finally ended in August of 1945 under the unconditional surrender of Japan (Germany capitulated in May). HMS Victorious then toured south to participate in the Victory Parade at Sydney, Australia to mark the end of the war. She then set sail in September of 1945 for home waters and arrived in Britain in October.

In October of 1947, HMS Victorious was placed in reserve status before becoming a training platform during 1948. During the period spanning 1950 to 1957, she entered an extensive and ever-evolving refit program intended to modernize the vessel to support modern jet-powered aircraft and rotary-wing systems. Key to the changes included installation of an angled flight deck to allow greater clearance of the tower superstructure and the launching of a third aircraft simultaneously along with the original two bow positions. This work increased her displacement to 35,500 tons, her length to 753 feet, her beam to 103 feet and her draught 31 feet while her air group changed with the times as she accepted more modern fighter and strike aircraft (this also limited her air wing from the original 50 to under 30 units). Her original boilers were replaced with newer, more efficient 6 x Foster-Wheeler branded types. Her anti-aircraft defenses were improved through 12 x 3" anti-aircraft cannons and 6 x 40mm Bofors cannons. She was given more advanced radar systems to broaden her theater capabilities. Now completed, she was recommissioned for service in January of 1958.

From there, Victorious stayed active, first through a stint in the Middle East and then relocated to the Far East, eventually settling into a role with the Far East Fleet. She managed an existence with the Royal Navy up until 1968 to which British military budget constraints and political meandering sought to end her expensive tenure. As such, HMS Victorious was officially removed from service in 1969 and was unceremoniously scrapped soon after. Thus ended the tenure of one of the more storied Royal Navy aircraft carriers of World War 2.

Watch the video: victorious Receives New Strike Force 1966 (May 2022).


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