HMAS Tasman Sea (CV-1940)


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The Australis Navy decided during the 1930's that 3 different types of Aircraft carrier were required for general service needs. 1, an attack carrier as large and carrying as many aircraft as possible (Endeavour class), 2, A medium sized carrier to operate with the Battlefleet carrying less attack aircraft and more defensive fighters (Tasman Sea class), 3, a carrier for escorting merchant ships either in convoy, as the fleet support ships or the attack transports carrying invasion troops (Albatross class). With the advent of Jets the numbers of each type that were to be built altered significantly with the larger carriers becoming more important as the Albatross type were not really able to operate jets. But as their role was to guard convoys the slower piston engine aircraft were all that was necessary for those duties.

This meant that each seperate type could be designed to perform that duty rather than the 'multi-role' vessels that other navies were building. Speed, armament, aircraft capacity, armour, range, all tailored to what the ship was to do.


The Tasman Sea class were to be built to act with the battlefleet. With the battleships making 25-28 knots an acceptable speed was deemed to be 26 knots. The bigger faster battleships and battlecruisers would act with the Endeavour class attack carriers. The ship was to be larger than the Van Diemen, which filled the same duty, and carry more aircraft. Longer range was required. Heavy ant-aircraft armament was also deemed neccessary. The jet age saw these ships being totally redesigned to take advantage of all the information that had been gathered with the Van Diemens operation of jets in the South American battles. Fully angled flight deck, deck edge lifts and the deletion of all the AA guns except the heavy quad 2 pounder mountings. The changes to the plans added 6-8 months onto the early ships building times as building had to be stopped as the ships were nearing completion.


One of the main things learnt from the Falkands was that more than anything else was to keep the 'runway' free of aircraft movement inhibiting the action of striking aircraft up and down to the hangar for refuelling and rearming. The main problem to this was the centerline lifts. Replacing these with deck edge lifts alleviated the problem.


The first of the class was laid down in 1936 (HMAS Tasman Sea - 1940) with another in 1937 (HMAS Foveaux Strait - 1940), then a further 2 in 1939 (HMAS Bass Strait, HMAS Timor Sea - 1942). The Emergency War building program added a further 2 in 1940 (HMAS Coral Sea, HMAS Arafura Sea - 1943) and 1941 (HMAS Lake Eyre, HMAS Lake Wanaka - 1944), and another 1 in 1942 (HMAS Solomon Sea - 1945) and 1943 (Spencer Gulf - 1946).  These were the last large ships laid down for the Australis Navy in World War 2 as building prioritised on the small AA cruisers, destroyers and escorts.


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

24 x 2pd (6x4)

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


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