HMS Ark Royal (CV-1937 (1941-mod))


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First purpose built carrier to be completed for the Royal Navy since the original Hermes. The Commonwealth overall had plenty of experience with aircraft carriers with the converted ships like Furious and Eagle. The conversions had shown that too much early attention had been taken on ship armament features to the detriment of aircraft handling facilities. With this pair of ships the Royal Navy were making a radical change. The major threat perceived to aircraft carriers were other aircraft. Therefore the armour schemes for future aircraft carriers was to have armoured flight decks to protect the ship with side armour of lesser size to support the deck armour. This would affect the amount of aircraft carried and these first two ships on a displacement of 27,000 tons carried 60-70 while the US equivalents of the Enterprise type carried 90+ (using deck parks).

Above - HMS Golden Hind as completed with Sea Battle torpedo bombers and Skua dive bombers, Sea Gladiators were in service while Sea Hurricanes had just entered service and were replacing the Gladiators as the Hurricane squadrons were trained.

With so much armour placed over the double hangar the hull was made deeper to compenste for some of the topweight. Even so in bad weather the ships could be a mite temperamental. Entering service in late 1937 and early 1938 the Ark Royal and Golden Hind proved excellent in service, with large amounts of attack and defense aircraft compared to earlier ships.

On the outbreak of war the Golden Hind was the carrier at Gibraltar as part of Force H with the Battlecruiser Renown as heavy escort. These ships with their cruiser and destroyer escorts were dispatched to the South Atlantic to rendezvous at Simonstown with the Australis contingent . The fleet would then escort the ANZAC and South African troops in their troopships to meet the Brazilian fleet at St Helena and proceed to retake the Falkands Islands that had been occupied by the Argentinians. The Golden Hind had just received its first two squadrons of SeaBattlejets torpedo/light bombers. 26 aircraft were flown on and training and dummy attacks were practiced all the way to Simonstown, 18 aircraft of the 26 survived to then.

Once the South American interlude was through and the Golden Hind returned to Home waters it was sent to Glasgow for a six month refit to implement the changes necessary to operate jet aircraft. The angled deck had an extension of 18 feet built out and supported down the port side so that aircraft landing on that missed the arrester wires could accelerate down the angle and go around to try landing on again. Prior to this an aircraft landing on that missed catching the arrester wires ended up buried in the safety net with normally a heavily damaged or written off aircraft.  The Ark Royal was to follow the Golden Hinds refit but the ship was lost in the Mediterranean before this could be done.


Displacement 27,000 tons std, 33,100 full load
Length 815.5 ft
Breadth 94.8 ft (Hull)
Draught 33 ft
Machinery 4 shaft, Geared turbines, 110,000shp
Speed 31 knots
Range 7000 miles at 16 knots
Armour 3" flight deck, 2.5" side, 4.5" magazines
Armament 16 x 4" (8x2)

16 x 2pd (2x8)

12 x 40mm (6x2)

14 x 20mm (7x2)

Aircraft 60 normal, 72 maximum
Torpedoes nil
Complement 1600

 Below:completed ready for sevice.

 Below: cross section of ship circa 1938.


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