Indomitable Class (CV-1944+)
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These were the ultimate of British carrier designs. For many years these four
ships would be the largest ships built for the Royal Navy. At 42,000 tons, 900 x
114 feet they were huge ships. The design included the novel feature of split
bridge structures with the after bridge being for the aircraft commander and his
staff. A heavy defensive armament was carried with eight twin 4.5" of the new
Mk.V mountings, and 16 of the latest 40mm twin STAAG mountings. No lesser
weapons of 20mm or smaller were fitted. The aircraft also were the very latest
of the piston engine aircraft available to the RN, with 3 squadrons of Fairey
Spearfish, 3 squadrons of Hawker Sea Fury, and 1 1/2 squadrons of De Havilland
Sea Hornet aircraft.
The first two ships finished their trials and were accepted for service just in time to be transferred to the Pacific Theatre for action against the Japanese. It was there that the new weapons and aircraft more than proved their worth against the Kamikaze menace and in being able to launch many valuable sorties against Japanese targets. Both ships remained undamaged through to the end of the war. On completion of the second pair in 1948, these two ships were taken in hand to receive the same modifications as the later pair. While these ships were under refit, the second pair fought in the Korean War.
The four Indefatigable class were completed in two pairs. Implacable and
Indefatigable were completed in late 1944, early 1945. The Eagle and Ark Royal
(named for vessels lost in WW2) were originally to be completed in 1946, but due
to the steel shortage of 1941 and revisions of the plans to add in all the
latest features it was not until 1948-49 that they began their trials, finally
being commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1949-50. The two pairs were hardly
ever in commission at the same time. Lengthy refits to update electronics,
angled decks, strengthen ship fittings to take ever larger and heavier aircraft.
All took time and money. Some of the refits were shortened and the incremental
list of things to do would have to wait till next time. Eagle and Ark Royal
fought in the Korean war while the double 'I's were in having their angle decks
fitted. The double 'I's were eventually decommissioned in 1975-77, the E & AR
lasting till 1990, supposedly till the completion of the CVA01 type.
The drawing below pictures Eagle (and Ark Royal) after its 1970-74 refit to be able to operate the Phantom II aircraft. The main armament is four of the new Super-Cat (Supersonic Sea Cat) launchers and control systems. Legacy equipment in the shape of one twin 3"/70 and twin mkV 40mm mountings. This equipment was left as it would have been just as expensive to remove it as it was to leave it in place. It also came in handy for training purposes. With such a large crew, these ships rarely sailed fully manned and were used regularly to train cadets.
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