HMAS Endeavour (CV-1941)
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The Endeavour class are the Australis Navies equivalent to the
Illustrious class (improved Ark Royal). In size the two classes actually replace
the UK Audacious class and I go straight to the Malta class.
With the laying down of the two Endeavour class ships the Australis navy had in production the 3 classes of aircraft carrier they felt was neccessary for fleet operations. The Australis Navy had been keeping an eye on the Japanese and US Navies production of large aircraft carriers and felt that as they also had a stake in the Pacific it would need to have similar sized vessels. The Royal Navy had the Ark Royal type in production and while a good design the Australis Navy wanted something bigger. While only 80 feet longer than the Ark Royals, the Endeavours had nearly 130 feet more length of hangar space because of the hull shape and flight deck arrangement. 100 feet doesnt sound much but it is an extra 25-30 aircraft and took the Endeavours past the 90 mark.
A further two ships were ordered in 1940 under the Emergency war program. The first two ships, HMAS Endeavour and HMAS Captain Cook were completed in October 1941 and March 1942 respectively, which was about 6 months earlier than expected as the War building double shifts came into force. The next two, HMAS Flinders and HMAS ANZAC were completed in 1943 just in time for the last of the major Pacific Battles.
The armament of the ships showed where the expected danger would come from with 8 twin 4", 8 octuple 2 pounder pom pom, an a handful of 20mm single weapons. All of the weapons were mounted on sponsons along the side of the hull (except those around the bridge superstructure) to keep the inner hull free for aircraft hangarage. It was thought that the ships best defense would be its own aircraft.
The ships aircraft on completion in 1941 were, Torpedo bomber - Fairey Seabattle Mk2, Dive bomber - Blackburn Skua Mk2, Fighters - Hawker SeaHurricane Mk2C, and Westland Whirlwind Mk2. This gave them aircraft the equal of any being used by the Japanese who looked like being the major opposition in the Pacific. Production of the Australis Hurricanes and SeaHurricanes were aided in 1940 by the purchase of 200 Grumman Wildcats and the order of a further 300 of the new F4U Corsair then entering production. The Wildcats went exclusively to the Albatross escort carriers where they proved excellent aircraft. Since this was originally written in 2010-11 I have added other aircraft to the inventory best of which would be the Gloster Griffon F5-34 fighter aircraft ordered by the FAA as its shipboard fighter, coming into service in 1938, by 1941 the Mk.2 version with uprated engine would have been coming into production.
|Displacement||46,500 tons full load|
|Breadth||114 ft (hull) 132 ft (flight deck/sponsons)|
|Machinery||4 shaft steam turbines, 165,000shp|
|Range||8,000 miles at 18 knots|
|Armour||1.5" flight deck, 4.5" over machinery and magazines. 3" side across machinery spaces.|
|Armament||16 x 4" (8x2)
64 x 2pd (8x8)
12 x 20mm (12x1)
|Aircraft||96 (36TB, 24 DB, 24 F1, 12 F2)|
|Complement||2800 with aircrew.|
The Gloster Griffon (above) started being produced at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation at their Melbourne plant in 1939.
Below: Blackburn Skua was designed as a Fighter/Divebomber with 4 forward firing .303 machine guns. This was upgraded in the Mk2 to a more powerful engine and 4x13.2mm machine guns.
The Westland Whirlwind Mk2 was an Australis upgrade from the original Mk1 plans, and designed for use on the Endeavour Class as long range reconnaissance aircraft.
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