HMS Centaur (CVL-1943)

HMSAS Zambia (CVL-1944)


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The Centaur class was the Royal Navies answer to the need for large numbers of aircraft carriers with decent amount of aircraft carrying capacity. Like the Albatross type before them the Centaurs were based on a mercantile type hull fitted with hangar and flight deck above. The ships being completely unarmoured except for amounts around the magazines and aviation gas storage areas.

The ships were so good that they were sold to many nations at wars end. Spain, Netherlands, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, France, India, Greece, Norway and Sweden all wanted one or more of these very handy ships. At three quarters of the size of the Illustrious type and carrying more aircraft they were easy to maintain. The Southern African Navy took over 2 of the class that were built for them.

Being completed from late 1943 onward they were not involved in the close quarters actions in the Mediterranean but did become active in the Pacific where their unarmoured hulls soon led to them being withdrawn from the front line and being used in minor roles as HMS Perseus took a Kamikaze hit that despite good fire control systems the fires caused by the hit raged out of control and the ship had to be abandoned and sunk.


Displacement 15,800 tons std, 23,500 tons full load
Length 727 ft
Breadth 88 ft hull, 110 ft over sponsons.
Draught 25 ft
Machinery 2 shaft, steam turbines, 50,000shp
Speed 26 knots
Range 12,000 miles at 14 knots
Armour 2.5" over magazines.
Armament 8 x 4" (4x2)

48 x 2pd (6x8)

28 x 20mm (8x2 12x1)

Aircraft 54
Torpedoes nil
Complement 1400


RN Ships.

HMS Centaur, HMS Vengeance, HMS Albion, HMS Bulwark, HMS Venerable, HMS Majestic, HMS Magnificent, HMS Pioneer, HMS Triumph, HMS Glory, HMS Ocean, HMS Thesseus, HMS Goliath, HMS Alderney, HMS Perseus, HMS Thetis, HMS Warrior, HMS Terrible.

RSAN Ships.

HMSAS Johannesburg, HMSAS Zambia.


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