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fighting ships of the world

ROYAL NAVY (UNITED KINGDOM)

AIRCRAFT CARRYING SHIPS

ILLUSTRIOUS fleet aircraft carriers

Victorious 1941

Name No Builder Laid down Launched Comp Fate
Illustrious 87- R2 - R87 Vickers-Armstrong, Barrow 27/4/1937 5/4/1939 25/5/1940 stricken 11/1956
Victorious 38 - R23 - R38 Vickers-Armstrong, Tyne 4/5/1937 14/9/1939 15/5/1941 stricken  3/1968
Formidable 67 - R1 - R67 Harland & Wolff, Belfast 17/6/1937 17/8/1939 24/11/1940 stricken 11/1953

 

 

Displacement standard, t

23000

Displacement full, t

28620 (29110 - 29240 service)

Length, m

205.1 pp 229.6 oa

Breadth, m

29.2 w 32.5 oa

Draught, m

8.69 at 29200 t

No of shafts

3

Machinery

Parsons geared steam turbines, 6 Admiralty 3-drum boilers

Power, h. p.

111000

Max speed, kn

30.5

Fuel, t

4840 oil

Armour, mm

belt: 114, hangar sides: 114,  bulkheads: 114 - 64, flight deck: 76

Armament

Illustrious: 8 x 2 - 114/45 QF Mk III, 6 x 8 - 40/39 pompom, 33 aircraft (Sea Gladiator, Roc fighters, Skua diving bombers, Swordfish, Albacore torpedo bombers, Walrus recon planes)

Formidable: 8 x 2 - 114/45 QF Mk III, 6 x 8 - 40/39 pompom, 33 aircraft (Sea Gladiator, Fulmar, Martlet fighters, Skua diving bombers, Swordfish, Albacore torpedo bombers, Walrus recon planes)

Victorious: 8 x 2 - 114/45 QF Mk III, 6 x 8 - 40/39 pompom, 33 aircraft (Fulmar, Sea Hurricane, Buffalo, Martlet fighters, Swordfish, Albacore torpedo bombers, Walrus recon planes)

Sensors

type 79 radar

Complement 1229, up to 1997 later

Aircraft facilities: (fd - 5,510 m², ha - 2,638 m² / 12,928 m³); others: (fd - 5,922 m², ha - 2,638 m² / 12,928 m³): Flight deck: 190 (Illustrious) / 204.2 (others) (useful length)  x 29.0 m. Hangar: 139.6 x 18.9 x 4.9 m. There were 2 lifts (6.4 t, 13.7 x 6.7 m). There was 1 catapult BH-III (5.4-t plane dispersed to 122 km/h). Aircraft fuel stowage was 230 000 l. Later useful length of flight deck was increased to 225.6 m.

Year Fighters Torpedo bombers Rescue planes
4/1940 Illustrious 15 Fulmar 18 Swordfish ---
11/1940 Illustrious 12 Fulmar, 2 Sea Gladiator 24 Swordfish ---
3/1941 Formidable 13 Fulmar 10 Albacore, 4 Swordfish ---
5/1941 Victorious 6 Fulmar 9 Swordfish ---
10/1942 Illustrious 6 Fulmar, 24 Martlet 18 Swordfish ---
11/1942 Formidable 6 Seafire, 24 Martlet 6 Albacore ---
11/1942 Victorious 11 Martlet, 6 Fulmar 21 Albacore, 9 Swordfish ---
7/1943 Illustrious 10 Seafire, 24 Martlet 12 Barracuda ---
10/1943 Victorious 36 Wildcat 18 Avenger ---
4/1944 Victorious 28 Corsair 21 Barracuda ---
5/1944 Illustrious 28 Corsair 21 Barracuda, 21 Avenger ---
7/1944 Formidable 18 Corsair 24 Barracuda ---
12/1944 Illustrious 36 Corsair 21 Avenger ---
3/1945 Illustrious 36 Corsair 16 Avenger ---
3/1945 Victorious 37 Hellcat 14 Avenger ---
5/1945 Formidable 36 Corsair 18 Avenger ---
7/1945 Formidable 36 Corsair, 6 Hellcat 12 Avenger ---
8/1945 Victorious 37 Corsair 16 Avenger 2 Walrus

Ship project history: Illustrious by right is considered as significant ship in evolution of aircraft carriers. She had protection of the flight deck for the first time in world practice which considerably have raised her battle immunity.

Six ships of Illustrious class became the biggest class of fleet aircraft carriers of Royal Navy. They were sectioned into 3 groups and had significant differences. First three ships had one level hangar and 3 shafts.

Designing of Illustrious has begun in 1936. Ship should have protection from 500pdr (227kg) bombs and 152mm shells. Standard displacement was limited 23 000ts as resolved by the London conference of 1936.

Protection was rather powerful, 62% of flight deck area was covered by 76mm armour. Increase of battle resistance was paid by 2 times smaller, than on Ark Royal, air group and reduction of freeboard (11.6 m at Illustrious instead of 17.1m at Ark Royal).

The "aerodynamic" form of island and funnel in the form of a profile of a plane wing, and also the round-downs of the deck became feature of architecture of Illustrious: it was supposed, that it will decrease the turbulence of air and will improve conditions of take-off and boarding of aircrafts. At the same time round-downs shrank deck effective length to 189m, therefore on the subsequent aircraft carriers, since Victorious, round-downs began to fulfil not such big, that has allowed to extend its deck to 204.2m. The AA armament repeated accepted on Ark Royal, but with new 114mm so-called "inter-decks" mountings.

Protection:  Main belt protected about 30% of length by waterline. Main belt amidships was taken to the hangar deck and to the flight deck on the starboard side abreast island. 9m ends of main belt were taken to the upper deck only. Hangar sides were protected on full hangar length. 62% of flight deck (over hangar) had 76mm armour, another part of flight deck was 38mm. Hangar deck has 76 - 64mm thickness between ship sides and hangar sides and 25mm inside citadel. Lower deck was 76mm aft. Lifts were not armoured. There were 38mm anti-torpedo bulkheads. 4.1m deep underwater protection can resist exploding of 340kg TNT.

Modernizations: 1/1941, Illustrious; 11/1941, Formidable: + 10 x 1 - 20/70 Oerlikon

10/1941, Victorious: + 8 x 1 - 20/70 Oerlikon

about 1942, all: - type 79 radar; + type 79B radar

1/1943, Victorious: + 17 x 1 - 20/70 Oerlikon

4/1943, Victorious: + 2 x 4 - 40/56 Bofors, 2 x 2 - 40/56 Bofors, 10 x 2 - 20/70 Oerlikon

6/1943, Illustrious: + 16 x 2 - 20/70 Oerlikon, 2 x 1 - 20/70 Oerlikon

11/1943, Illustrious: useful length of flight deck increased to 225.7 m. (fd - 6,545 m², ha - 5,690 m² / 27,878 m³)

1943 - 1944, all: - type 79B radar; + type 272, 277, 279, 6x 282 radars

4/1944, Victorious: - 1 x 8 - 40/39, 10 x 1 - 20/70 Oerlikon; + 13 x 2 - 20/70 Oerlikon

10/1944, Illustrious: - 1 x 8 - 40/39; + 3 x 1 - 40/56 Bofors, 3 x 2 - 20/70 Oerlikon, 2 x 1 - 20/70 Oerlikon

end 1944, Formidable has up to 54 20-mm Oerlikon.

1944 - 1945, all: + type 281B, 293 radars

1945, Victorious: - 4 x 2 - 20/70, 2 x 1 - 20/70; + 6 x 1 - 40/56 Bofors

late 1945, Victorious: - 3 x 2 - 20/70 Oerlikon; + 3 x 1 - 40/56 Bofors

1945, Formidable: - 20 - 20/70 Oerlikon; + 12 x 1 - 40/56 Bofors (11 x 2 - 20/70 and 12 x 1 - 20/70 Oerlikon were carried)

1945, Victorious: + SG radar

mid-1946, Illustrious: catapult changed by more powerful unit, 30% more aviation fuel was carried. Flight deck ends were reconstructed, so its useful area was increased; - 14 x 1 - 20/70 Oerlikon; + 1 x 8 - 40/39 pompom, 18 x 1 - 40/56 Bofors.

(1950 - 1958) Victorious : Hull was lengthened, widened and deepened, machinery and boilers replaced. Two 44m steam catapults, two new faster lifts and angled (8.75 0) deck fitted. Hangar height was 5.25m. Electric generating capacity doubled. New artillery fitted.

Victorious 1964

Victorious 1968

Name Reconstructed Yard Fate
R38 Victorious 3/1950 - 1/1958 Portsmouth DYd stricken 3/1968

 

Displacement standard, t

30530

Displacement full, t

35500

Length, m

225.5 pp 238.0 oa

Breadth, m

31.5 wl 47.8 fd

Draught, m

9.50

No of shafts

3

Machinery

Parsons geared steam turbines, 6 Foster Wheeler boilers

Power, h. p.

110000

Max speed, kn

31

Fuel, t

n/a

Armour, mm

belt: 102, hangar sides: 102, flight deck: 76, hangar deck: 51

Armament

6 x 2 - 76/50 Mk 33, 1 x 6 - 40/56 Mk 6, 36 aircraft (Sea Hawk, Sea Venom fighters, Wyvern torpedo bombers, Skyraider attackers, Gannet, Avenger early warning planes, Whirlwind HAR/HAS, Sycamore HC/HR helicopters)

Sensors

type 984, 974, 293Q radars

Complement 2400

 (fd - 6,366 m², ha - 5,690 m² / 29,869 m³).

Year Fighters Attackers ASW planes Helicopters
1959 10 Sea Venom FAW.21 12 Scimitar F.1 6 Gannet AS.4 ---
1963 8 Sea Venom FAW.21 8 Buccaneer S.2 5 Gannet AS.4 5 Wessex

8/1963, Victorious: - 2 x 2 - 76/50, 1 x 6 - 40/56; Angle deck was strengthened, some other improvements were added.

Naval service: Illustrious was badly damaged by direct hits of seven 500kg and 1 250kg German air bombs and one near-miss 10/1/1941. She has received new bomb hits 16/1/1941 during damage repair on Malta. Illustrious has left out of operation for a year. Formidable was damaged by two 500kg bombs 26/5/1941 off Scarpanto and repaired about half a year.

 Formidable and Victorious were twice damaged by kamikazes in 1945, but in all cases the ships have functioned and could continue operational task fulfilment.

      

       Formidable 1946

       Illustrious 1953

      Victorious 1967

 

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Ivan Gogin, 2008-09