HMS Illustrious (CV-1939)


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The Illustrious class followed on from the Ark Royal type but took the armour to an even higher amount. A 4.5" citadel of armour encasing the flight deck and both sides was designed to be bomb proof to 500kg/1000lb bombs and 8" gunfire. It was thought that these ships would be needed in the Mediterranean where aircraft were always just minutes away from Italian bases and along the coasts of Europe where airfields abounded.

The classes air group was half that of Ark Royal with 36-40 being carried depending on size and type. The hangar height was not that good either as the designers had tried to keep the armoured flight deck as low as possible. This meant that the Illustrious class was unable to operate some of the later UK aircraft and most of the later US aircraft. The next full carrier class (Audacious type) being much larger cured some of these problems.

I have recently drawn an alternate Illustrious class aircraft carrier where the design of the Ark Royal is followed on with bigger all round dimensions to increase aircraft carrying capacity. Allied to that is better aircraft for the FAA from 1937-38 through to 1941-42.



HMS Illustrious with a Swordfish overflying the deck, while the crew play deck hockey. The far side of the elevator wall shows the deck thickness.


Displacement 25,000 tons std, 29,500 tons full load
Length 740 ft
Breadth 95.75 ft
Draught 28 ft
Machinery 3 shaft Geared turbines, 110,000shp
Speed 31 knots
Range 11,000 miles at 14 knots
Armour 4.5" flight deck, 4.5" side, 3" magazines.
Armament 16 x 4.5" (8x2)

96 x 2pd (12x8)

Aircraft 40 (increased to 56 with deck park)
Torpedoes nil
Complement 1275
Notes HMS Illustrious

HMS Inflexible

HMS Indomitable

HMS Implacable

HMS Indefatigable



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