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Great Britain's HMS Ark Royal fleet aircraft carrier

Photos

HMS Ark Royal fleet aircraft carrier after launching, April 13, 1937:
Great Britain's HMS Ark Royal fleet aircraft carrier after launching, April 13, 1937
National Archives NH-97585

HMS Ark Royal fleet aircraft carrier and HMS Renown battleship in the Mediterranean in 1940:
Great Britain's HMS Ark Royal fleet aircraft carrier and HMS Renown battleship in the Mediterranean in 1940
©IWM A-2336
HMS Ark Royal fleet aircraft carrier in 1938 or 1939:
Great Britain's HMS Ark Royal fleet aircraft carrier in 1938 or 1939
National Archives 19-SB-2J-1
HMS Ark Royal fleet aircraft carrier in 1939:
Great Britain's HMS Ark Royal fleet aircraft carrier in 1939
National Archives NH-79167
HMS Ark Royal fleet aircraft carrier with Swordfish flying over in 1939:
Great Britain's HMS Ark Royal fleet aircraft carrier with Swordfish flying over in 1939
National Archives NH-85716

Design

The HMS Ark Royal was the first to be designed from the start to be a large aircraft carrier.

The HMS Ark Royal incorporated better design features based on experience during the 1920s and 1930s. These included an island, armored deck and hangars, and more anti-aircraft defensive armament.

Aircraft

In 1937 there were 48 Swordfish and 24 Skuas.

Island

The island and funnel were located on the starboard side. There was a tripod mast.

Flight Deck

The flight deck extended out past the stern. The flight deck was armored. The flight deck was also an integral part of the strength of the ship.

Two catapults that could launch 12,000 lbs at 66 knots were installed.

Hangars

There were two hangar decks, the upper that was 568' x 60' x 16' and the lower 452' x 60' x 16'. There were two 45' x 22' elevators and one 45' x 25' elevator. Each had two platforms, one that would travel between the upper and lower hangar, and one that went from the upper hangar to the flight deck. This created a lengthy process to take a plane from the lower hangar deck to the flight deck.

The hangar deck and walls were armored.

Engines

The boilers were each located in separate engine rooms.

Ships

HMS Ark Royal

  • Manufacturer: Cammell Laird
  • September 16, 1935: Laid down.
  • April 1937, April 13, 1937: Launched.
  • November 16, 1938: Commissioned.
  • 1939: With the Home Fleet and in the South Atlantic.
  • September 26, 1939: A Skua shot down a German flying boat for the first aerial victory of World War II for Great Britain.
  • 1940: With the Home Fleet and Mediterranean Fleet.
  • Spring 1940: Off Norway with HMS Glorious.
  • 1941: With Force "H."
  • May 1941: Added two 2 pdr octuple mounts.
  • May 1941: Swordfish hit Bismarck with a torpedo causing the rudder to be jammed.
  • November 13, 1941, November 14, 1941: Sunk.

Usage

At most times there weren't enough aircraft to have the HMS Ark Royal to be at full compliment.

150 miles east of Gibraltar the U-81 hit the HMS Ark Royal with one torpedo which opened a 130' x 30' hole. Flooding spread as the smoke ducts between rooms didn't have baffles. After fourteen hours, while under tow, the HMS Ark Royal sank.

 

Specifications

  HMS Ark Royal
Crew 1,575, 1,580, 1,600
Displacement 22,000 tons
Displacement - Loaded 26,700 tons, 27,700 tons, 27,720 tons
Physical Characteristics  
Length 800'
243.8 m, 243.83 m, 243.84 m
Length - Water Line 685', 721' 6"
208.78 m, 219.91 m
Length - Between Perpendiculars 685'
208.79 m
Beam 94' 9"
28.88 m, 28.9 m
Draft / Height 22' 8", 22' 9"
6.9 m, 6.93 m
Draft / Height - Maximum 27' 9"
8.46 m
Flight deck 720' x 95', 780' x 96'
237.74 m x 29.26 m
Performance  
Speed 30.75, 31 knots
Range at 20 knots 7,600 nautical miles
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 4.5" twin mount, 4.5" L/45 QF Mk I HA twin mount, 4.5" HA : 8, 16
3 pdr saluting: 4
2 pdr, 2 pdr octuple mount, 2 pdr pompom octuple mount : 4, 6, 32, 48
0.5" machine gun, 0.5" / 12.7 mm quad mount: 8, 32
Aircraft 60, ~65, 72
Armor  
Belt 4.5"
Bulkheads 2.5 - 3"
Deck 2.5", 2.5 - 3", 3.5"
Engines  
Boilers Admiralty 3 drum: 6
Shafts 3
Turbines Geared, Geared Steam, Parsons Geared
HP 102,000
Oil 4,600 tons, 4,620 tons
Aircraft Fuel 100,000 gallons

Sources:

  1. Warships of World War II, H. T. Lenton and J. J. Colledge, 1964
  2. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Robert Gardiner, 1987
  3. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  4. Janes' Fighting Ships of World War II, 1989
  5. The World's Aircraft Carriers 1914 - 1945, Roger Chesneau, 1986
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site