HMS Unicorn (CVL-1941)


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The need for dedicated small aircraft service carriers that could back up the fleet carriers was recognised with the laying down of the two Ark Royal class carriers. The first Unicorn class ship was laid down at the end of 1938 and completed early in 1941. None of these ships ever fulfilled this role during WW2 as the need for carriers in all theaters of the world meant that they undertook front line duties from day one. The first two were followed by repeat orders in 1940 (2) ex Chilean order, 1941 (4), 1942 (2). The four ordered in 1941 were the cancelled Lancaster Class cruisers.

These were full sized aircraft carriers with double height hangar, good defensive armament and a decent amount of aircraft carried compared to any of the converted carriers. They were replaced by the Hermes class production which were laid down in 1943 and all completed post war. The ships started the war with the basic Commonwealth air wing aboard, Griffon, Skua and Sea Battle aircraft.

The Australis Navy also built the Unicorn class ships under the Tasman Sea Class name. The main difference was the Australis ships carried twin 4" in place of the singles on the Unicorns. Australis did not have the same pool of spare weapons that were stockpiled in Britain.

I have done various Light Fleet Carrier drawings for the Australis scenarios and some were good and some were average at best. They are posted below so you can see the difference between them.

HMAS Tasman Sea Class


Displacement 22,500 tons std, 27,500 tons full load
Length 727.5 ft
Breadth 90 ft hull
Draught 28 ft
Machinery 2 shaft steam turbines, 50,000shp
Speed 26 knots
Range 7000 miles at 18 knots
Armour 3" over machinery and magazines
Armament 8 x 4" (4x2)

16 x 2pd (4x4)

16 x 40mm (8x2)

12 x 20mm (6x2)

Aircraft 60 (12TB, 12 DB, 12F2, 24F1)
Torpedoes nil
Complement 1800
Notes Tasman Sea (1936) 1940

Foveaux Strait (1937) 1940

Bass Strait (1938) 1942

Timor Sea (1938) 1942

Coral Sea (1940) 1943

Arafura Sea (1940) 1943

Lake Eyre (1941) 1944

Lake Wanaka (1941) 1944

Solomon Sea (1942) 1945

Spencer Gulf (1943) 1945

HMS Centaur Class

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.

I have the drawing noted as 1944 but in all reality these should not start completing till about 1948-50, having been suspended at wars end.


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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