HMS Ark Royal (CV-1937)

HMSAS Kwazulu (CV-1938)


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First purpose built carrier to be completed for the Royal Navy since the original Hermes. The Commonwealth overall had plenty of experience with aircraft carriers with the converted ships like Furious and Eagle. The conversions had shown that too much early attention had been taken on ship armament features to the detriment of aircraft handling facilities. With this pair of ships the Royal Navy were making a radical change. The major threat perceived to aircraft carriers were other aircraft. Therefore the armour schemes for future aircraft carriers was to have armoured flight decks to protect the ship with side armour of lesser size to support the deck armour. This would affect the amount of aircraft carried and these first two ships on a displacement of 27,000 tons carried 60-70 while the US equivalents of the Enterprise type carried 90+ (using deck parks).

With so much armour placed over the double hangar the hull was made deeper to compenste for some of the topweight. Even so in bad weather the ships could be a mite temperamental. Entering service in late 1937 and early 1938 the Ark Royal and Golden Hind proved excellent in service, with large amounts of attack and defense aircraft compared to earlier ships. The Brazilian Navy ordered two ships, only one of which was delivered in 1939, while the second, that was also under construction for Brazil, (see Santa Catarina class) was completed for the Royal Navy as HMS Saint George in 1941. The Brazilian ships were completed to a slightly differing design with less armour and displacement than the Royal Navy ships, otherwise they were, externally, identical. The vessel (HMSAS Kwazulu) built for the Southern African Navy arrived just in time to undertake its working up period then with the outbreak of war, help to defeat the Argentinian and Germanic States fleet units in a series of battle around the Falkands Islands and Tristan da Cunha. Golden Hind was the Royal Navys aircraft carrier contribution to the same battles. These three carriers proved extremely effective against the Argentinian and Germanic States ships. It was only the weather that stopped these ships destroying the German raiders from the air and allowed the battlefleet to mop them up.

Displacement 27,000 tons std, 33,100 full load
Length 815.5 ft
Breadth 94.8 ft (Hull)
Draught 33 ft
Machinery 4 shaft, Geared turbines, 110,000shp
Speed 31 knots
Range 7000 miles at 16 knots
Armour 3" flight deck, 2.5" side, 4.5" magazines
Armament 16 x 4" (8x2)

32 x 2pd (4x8)

16 x 40mm (8x2)

16 x 20mm (8x2)

Aircraft 60 normal, 72 maximum
Torpedoes nil
Complement 1600
Notes Ark Royal (1938)

Golden Hind (1938)

Kwazulu (1939-SA)

Saint George (1941)

(1 Brazilian 1939)

Launching of the Ark Royal

Above: Ark Royal being launched, Below:completed ready for sevice.

Above: flight deck of Golden Hind with Blackburn Skuas ranged for take-off. Below: cross section of ship.


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