BAV Zulia (CV-1928)


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The Maturin and Zulia were ships of the ex Russian Imperator Nikolai I class of battleship. The Nikolai Class were to be improved Gangut's. The shortcomings of the Gangut were known and steps were taken to remedy the numerous problems. The first most noticeable item was the raised forecastle for improved sea keeping and to add some much needed extra buoyancy forward. This ship had been towed behind the Evstafi for thousands of miles from where it had been fitting out at the Nikolayev Yard. A survey was carried out at Puerto Cabello when the ship arrived in Venezuela to see if it was possible for the Venezuelan Navy Yard to complete the ship as a battleship. The amount and types of parts required were beyond their capabilities of producing, for now. At this stage news was arriving of the Brazilian and Argentinean navies search for ships to be used for conversion to aircraft carriers. After being re-christened the Zulia, the Venezuelan Navy had a meeting with several US yard representatives as to what would be required to convert the Zulia to an aircraft carrier. Several designs were produced for the conversion of the Zulia. One of the US designs was taken up as it would be within the remit of the yards at Puerto Cabello to complete.

The preparation of the Zulia for conversion to an aircraft carrier included removing all of the previously fitted armaments, armour and superstructure. The walls and support for the hangar was all steel plate that the yards were capable of producing. The US yards had provided information on the flight deck and how to use the edges for placing weapons and other fittings. One of the major replacements was to replace the original machinery with a 90,000shp turbo electric drive. This was half of the machinery tat was to have been fitted to the USS Constellation and powered the Zulia and Maturin instead.

Various refits were undertaken at both Puerto Cabello and US ports to upgrade armament and electronics. Venezuela sourced its aircraft complements from the US manufacturers and this allowed the Venezuelan carriers to integrate into US Task Forces in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans much easier. This was also aided by joint exercises with the US Navy.



Displacement 25,500 tons std 30,400 tons full load
Length 604 ft
Breadth 95 ft hull (107 over sponsons)
Draught 30 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines, 90,000shp
Speed 28 knots
Range 5000 miles at 14 knots
Armour 2" box over magazines and machinery
Armament As completed 1928

4 x 3" AA (4x1)
12 x 0.5" mg (12x1)
With refits to 1942

8x 3.9" (4x2)
8 x 40mm (4x2)
14 x 20mm (14x1)
Aircraft 32
Torpedoes nil
Complement 1540
Notes BAV Zulia

Old drawing which isn't too bad, but dated 1928 with 20mm and 40mm weapons.

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