HMS Kitchener (CV-1928 (1938-mod))


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The two uncompleted R class battlecruisers were approximately 70-75% each when construction was halted at wars end. The two hulls sat there for a further 2 years while these ships future was being decided. The news of the Confederate and Commonwealth Union giants with the ships being built in Japan made these two ships look badly outclassed. The setting up of the Southern African Navy took away many modern ships from the Royal Navy stocks of which the loss of the Eagle from the aircraft carrier list gave the Royal Navy designers the chance to use the bigger Lord Kitchener and Lord Gambier to replace the much smaller Eagle (the title 'Lord' was dropped from the names prior to launch).

Renown type as battlecruisers, after reconstruction in 1938.

The Geneva conference of 1922 sealed these two ships fates as the Royal Navy was going to have to divest itself of lots of ships to come within the new treaties limits. Completeing these two ships could never have been contemplated as there was no tonnage availble for new construction, especially of 15" gunned battlecruisers, conversion to aircraft carriers was their last chance to be saved from the breakers yards hammers.

The ships conversions followed the Courageous type with just a bit more of everything due to the extra size of these ships over the light battlecruisers of the Courageous class. The extra size of the ships allowed an extra half hangar at the rear of the ship. The two deck take off strips forward pioneered by the Furious was carried on to these ships (as well as the Japanese conversions that took it even further). One of the major problems with this conversion was the forward flying off deck where it was mated to the foredeck. During one period of service in the West Indies the ship went through the edge of a hurricane where the forefoot of the ship was plunging so much that it ripped back the flying off deck to the point where it was unuseable and a danger. With this and other anomalies and problems only highlighted after only 8 years in service, they were taken in hand for major refurbishment.

The Royal Navy had learnt its lessons well from the operations with the aircraft carriers it had built and converted. The first true carrier, Hermes, had proven too small and with too many ship features included to the detriment of aircraft handling facilities. The Ark Royal class took all of the best bits and philosophies from its own and foreign built aircraft carriers and what emerged was probably the best of the pre-war aircraft carrier designs. The actual length and breadth of the Ark Royal type was very similar to the Kitchener type. Unfortunately that was where the similarities ended. The Ark Royal hull shape with its enclosed bow and broad hull was quite different from the narrow fore and aft footprint of the R type ships. A complete revamp of the armament and other essentials mounted on the side of the ships was undertaken, but the major work was the rebuilding of the bow to an enclosed design. The design work carried out on the Ark Royal was to be carried on to the rebuilding of these ships. The single 4" AA guns were kept but resited just below the flight deck level where they were less prone to spray interference. A complete set of minor armament of 2pd and 20mm sizes were fitted off the sides of the hangar.


Displacement 32,500 tons std, 39,440 tons full load (34,000 std / 41,000 full - 1938)
Length 801.5 ft 804.5 ft 831 ft (new bow)
Breadth 92 ft 104 ft over sponsons 124 ft over sponsons
Draught 31 ft
Machinery 4 shaft geared turbines, 120,000shp
Speed 30 knots
Range 8500 at 16 knots (11,200 at 15 knots after rebuilding)
Armour 11" side, 5.5" deck, 11" turrets BC 5.5" side 3.5" deck 1.5" FD  CV
Armament 8 x 15" (4x2)

16 x 5.25" (8x2)

64 x 2pd (8x8)

16 x 40mm (16x1)

12 x 4" (12x1)

32 x 2pd (4x8)

16 x 0.5" mg (4x4)


12 x 4" (12x1)

64 x 2pd (8x8)

24 x 20mm (24x1)


Aircraft nil 54 66
Torpedoes nil
Complement 1400 1100 + 500 air 1928 1200 + 650 air 1938
Notes HMS Repulse 08/1916

HMS Renown 09/1916

HMS Hood 11/1918

HMS Howe 01/1919

HMS Kitchener (conv to CV)

HMS Gambier (Conv to CV)



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