fighting ships of the world



PRETORIA CASTLE escort aircraft carrier (1939/1943)

Pretoria Castle 1943

Name No Yard No Builder Laid down Launched Comp Fate
Pretoria Castle F61 1006 Harland & Wolff, Belfast // Swan Hunter, Wallsend ? 12/10/1938 1939 // 9/4/1943 sold mercantile 4/1946


Displacement standard, t


Displacement full, t


Length, m


Breadth, m

23.3 wl

Draught, m

8.89 deep load

No of shafts



2 Burmeister & Wain diesels

Power, h. p.


Max speed, kts


Fuel, t

diesel oil 2430

Endurance, nm(kts) 16000(16)


2 x 2 - 102/45 QF Mk XVI, 14 x 2 - 20/70 Oerlikon Mk II/IV, 21 aircraft (Fulmar, Sea Hurricane, Seafire, Martlet, Corsair fighters, Swordfish, Albacore, Barracuda torpedo bombers)

Sensors type 279, type 281 radars
Complement 666

Aircraft facilities (fd - 3,977m², ha - ~ 2,100m² / 11,130m³): Flight deck: 170.7x23.3m, hangar 70.4x18.5x5.3m. There was a lift (13.7x11.9m, 6.8t) and 1 catapult C-II (6.4t plane was launched at 122km/h). Aircraft fuel stowage was 345,500l.

Year Fighters Torpedo bombers
1944 6 Sea Hurricane 12 Swordfish

Ship project history: Former passenger liner (17,392BRT) was mobilized in October, 1939 and converted to armed merchant cruiser. In the mid-1942 the decision to convert her to escort aircraft carrier was accepted. Converted to carrier 7/1942 - 8/1943. Pretoria Castle became the largest escort aircraft carrier in the world. Unlike remaining representatives of the type, she had a light protection of magazines and steering gear, and also underwater protection consisted of void spaces fitted alongside. Two planned octuple pompoms were never installed.

Protection: there were splinter protection of magazines and steering gear and underwater protection.

Modernizations: None.

1/1946: 2 x 2 - 102/45 Mk XIX, 14 x 2 - 20/70 Mk V, 21 aircraft, type 279, type 281 radars

Naval service: No significant events.

Pretoria Castle 1944

Many thanks to Wolfgang Stöhr for additional information on this page.

Ivan Gogin, 2008-15