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Great Britain's Flag

Great Britain's Illustrious class, HMS Indomitable, and Implacable class fleet aircraft carriers

Note: Some sources just classify these as Illustrious Class ships as they are very similar.

Photos

  • HMS Formidable
  • HMS Formidable
  • HMS Illustrious
  • HMS Illustrious
  • HMS Implacable
  • HMS Implacable
  • HMS Implacable
  • HMS Indefatigable
  • HMS Indefatigable
  • HMS Indefatigable
  • HMS Indomitable
  • HMS Indomitable
  • HMS Indomitable
  • HMS Indomitable
  • HMS Indomitable
  • HMS Victorious
  • HMS Victorious
  • HMS Victorious
  • HMS Victorious
  • HMS Victorious
  • HMS Victorious

Design

The Second London Treaty limited the next two aircraft carriers to be only 23,000 tons each.5

The Third Sea Lord, Rear-Admiral Henderson, wanted the carriers to have a high level of defense because it was felt they would have to defend against many land based aircraft while in the Mediterranean.5

Hangar

The Illustrious class were the first carriers in the world to have all armored hangars.2 This was felt that the carrier had to be able to resist fire from 6" guns.2 The drawback with the armored hangar is it only allowed for one hangar.2,3 To save on weight it was decided to go with only one hangar.5

The hangar was 458' x 62' x 16'.2,5 Thirty torpedo bombers and six fighter/dive bombers could be carried.5

Flight Deck

There was one 14,000 lb hydraulic catapult located in the flight deck.2,5

The two elevators were 45' x 22'.2,5

Eventually outriggers were installed off the deck to allow up to 54 aircraft to be carried.5

HMS Indomitable

Sacrificing hangar armor the HMS Indomitable could carry more planes.1,2

During construction an additional upper hangar was added and it was 458' x 62' x 14'.1,2,5 The forward elevator was 45' x 33' and the aft elevator elevator 45' x 22'.2

The lower hanger was 168' x 62' x 16'.5

Additional 20 mm guns were added.1

The Indomitable had a catapult that could launch 14,000 lbs at 66 knots.2

Implacable class

Build under the 1938 Programme.5

The Implacable class had a catapult that could launch 16,000 lbs at 66 knots or 20,000 lbs at 56 knots.2

The upper hangar was 458' x 62' x 14'.2 The forward elevator was 45' x 33' and the aft elevator 45' x 22'.2

The lower hangar was 208' x 62' x 14' and was located aft.2

The short heights on the hangars precluded the Corsair from being carried.2

The Implacable class ships were fast enough to keep up with the Essex class ships in the Pacific.3

Ships

HMS Illustrious

  • Class: Illustrious class1,2,3,5
  • Manufacturer: V. A. at Barrow1,4, Vickers-Armstrong at Barrow2,5
  • April 27, 1937: Laid down.5
  • April 5, 1939: Launched.1,2,4,5
  • May 21, 1940, May 25, 19402,5: Commissioned.2,4,5
  • August 1940: Joined Fleet.5
  • 1940 - 1941: With the Mediterranean Fleet.1,5 Sank two Italian destroyers.5
  • November 10 - 11, 1940: Taranto attack.5 Sank Conte di Cavour and damaged Littorio and Caio Duilio.5
  • January 1, 1941: Hit by 7 bombs, and only a 2,200 lb bomb went through the flight deck.2 In Malta Illustrious was further hit and was out of action for 10.5 months.2
  • June 1941: Hit by eight 500 kg and 1,000 kg bombs.5 Temporary repair in Alexandria.5
  • May 1942: Finished being rebuilt in United States.5
  • 1942 - 1943: With the Eastern Fleet.1
  • May 1942: Madagascar landings.5
  • 1943: With Force "H."1
  • 1944: With the Eastern Fleet.1,5
  • 1945: With the Pacific Fleet.1,5
  • 1945: 50 20 mm and three 40 mm Bofors quad mounts installed.5
  • April and May 1945: Hit by kamikazes.5

HMS Victorious

  • Class: Illustrious Class1,2,3,5
  • Manufacturer: Vickers-Armstrong at Newcastle5, V. A. at Tyne1,4, Wallsend1, Vickers-Armstrong at Tyne2, Wallsend Slipway4
  • May 4, 1937: Laid down.5
  • September 14, 1939: Launched.1,2,4,5
  • May 15, 1941: Commissioned.2,4,5
  • 1941 - 1943: With the Home Fleet.1
  • Mid 1942: Malta convoys.5
  • 1942 - 1943: Refit at Norfolk Navy Yard.5
  • 1943: With the South Pacific Fleet.1,5
  • 1944: With the Home and Eastern Fleets.1
  • Spring 1944: Raid on Tirpitz.5
  • July 1944: Far East.5
  • 1945: Member of the Pacific Fleet.1,5
  • 1945: 45 20 mm and 21 40 mm Bofors installed.5
  • May 1945: Hit by two kamikazes.5 Repairs in Australia.5

HMS Formidable

  • Class: Illustrious class1,2,3,5
  • Manufacturer: Harland & Wolff1,2,4,5
  • June 17, 1937: Laid down.5
  • August 17, 1939: Launched.1,2,4,5
  • November 24, 1940: Commissioned.2,4,5
  • 1941: With the East Indies and Mediterranean Fleets.1,5
  • March 28, 1941: Damaged Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto and cruiser Pola.3,5
  • March 29, 1941: Helped sink three Italian cruisers at Battle of Matapan by stopping Pola.5
  • May 26, 1941: While near Scarpanto was hit by two 2,200 lb bombs and was out of action for six months.2,5
  • 1942: With the Eastern Fleet.1
  • 1943: With Force "H."1
  • 1944: With the Home Fleet.1
  • August 1944: Raid on Tirpitz with HMS Furious and HMS Indefatigable.5
  • Autumn 19445, 1945: With the Pacific Fleet.1,5
  • May 1945: Hit by kamikaze.5

HMS Indomitable

  • Class: Illustrious class1,3,5
  • Manufacturer: V. A. at Barrow1, Vickers-Armstrong at Barrow2,4,5
  • November 10, 1937: Laid down.5
  • March 26, 1940: Launched.1,2,4,5
  • October 1, 1941, October 10, 19412,5: Commissioned.2,4,5
  • 1941: With the Home Fleet.1
  • 1942: With the Eastern Fleet.1
  • 1942 - 1943: With the Home Fleet.1
  • August 12, 1942: Hit by two 1,100 bombs.2 Due to damage near the elevators she was out of action for six months.2
  • 1943: With Force "H."1
  • July 16, 1943: Hit by aerial torpedo.2,5 Resulting damage forcer her to be out of action for 8.5 months.2 Refit in United States.5
  • 1944: With the Eastern Fleet.1
  • April 1944: Added twelve 40 mm Bofors.2
  • July 19445, 1945: With the Pacific Fleet.1,5
  • May 4, 1945: Hit by kamikazes.5

HMS Implacable

  • Class: Illustrious class1, Implacable class2,3,4,5
  • Manufacturer: Fairchild1,2,4,5
  • February 21, 1939: Laid down.5
  • December 10, 1942: Launched.1,2,4,5
  • August 28, 1944: Commissioned.2,4,5
  • 1944: With the Home Fleet.1
  • End of 1944: 60 20 mm single and twin mounts in total.5
  • 1945: With the Pacific Fleet.1

HMS Indefatigable

  • Class: Illustrious class1, Implacable class2,3,4,5
  • Manufacturer: Clydebank1,4, John Brown2,5
  • November 3, 1939: Laid down.5
  • December 8, 1942: Launched.1,2,4,5
  • May 3, 1944: Commissioned.2,4,5
  • 1944: With the Home Fleet.1
  • March 1944: First ever landing by a twin engine aircraft, a Mosquito.3
  • August 1944: Raid on Tirpitz with HMS Furious and HMS Formidable.5
  • End of 1944: 60 20 mm single and twin mounts in total.5
  • 1945: With the Pacific Fleet.1

Usage

Kamikaze Hits

The HMS Formidable and the HMS Victorious were hit by kamikaze attacks and survived very well.2

The HMS Indefatigable was hit by a kamikaze and a 550 lb bomb and suffered little damage.2

Specifications

  Illustrious class
Crew 1,2005, 1,2292, 1,3921
Displacement 23,000 tons1,2,3,4,5
Displacement - Loaded 25,500 tons3, 28,620 tons2, 28,210 tons5
Physical Characteristics  
Length 743' 9"5, 753'4, 753' 3"2, 753' 6"1,3
226.69 m5, 229.58 m2, 229.7 m3
Length - Water Line 673'1,2
205.12 m2
Length - Between Perpendiculars 673'5
205.13 m5
Beam 95'4, 95' 9"1,2,3,5
29.18 m2,5, 29.2 m3
Draft / Height 24'1,3,4,5
7.3 m3, 7.32 m5
Draft / Height - Maximum 28'5, 28' 6"2
8.53 m5, 8.69 m2
Flight Deck 620' x 95'2, 650' x 80'5
198.12 m x 24.38 m5
Performance  
Speed 30.5 knots2,5, 31 knots1,3,4
Range at 14 knots 11,000 nautical miles5
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 4.5"5, 4.5" DP twin mount: 81,3,5
4.5" DP: 164
4.5" L/45 QF Mk III HA twin mount: 82
2 pdr octuple mount: 61,3
2 pdr pompom octuple mount: 62
2 pdr5: 485
20 mm: 81,3
Aircraft 332, 361,5, ~453, >604
Armor  
Main belt 4.5"1,2,3
Flight Deck 1" - 1.5"5, 2.5 - 3"1, 3"2
Hangar - Side 4.5"1,2,3,5
Bulkheads 2.5 - 4.5"2
Engines  
Boilers Admiralty 3 drum boilers2,5: 62,5
3 drum boilers4: 64
Shafts 31,2,3,4
Turbines Geared1, Geared Steam3, Parsons Geared2,4,5
HP 110,0001,3,4, 111,0002,5
Oil 4,840 tons2, 4,850 tons5
Aircraft Fuel 50,540 gallons2,5
  HMS Indomitable
Crew 1,3922, 1,5925, 1,6004
Displacement 23,000 tons2,4, 24,680 tons5
Displacement - Loaded 29,730 tons2,4,5
Physical Characteristics  
Length 673'2
205.12 m2
Length - Water Line 753' 11"2,4
229.78 m2
Beam 95' 9"2,4
29.18 m2
Draft / Height 22' 4"4
Draft / Height - Maximum 29'2, 29' 5"4
8.84 m2
Flight Deck 680' x 95'2
Performance  
Speed 30.5 knots2, 31 knots4
Range  
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 4.5" L/45 QF Mk III HA twin mount: 82
4.5" DP: 164
2 pdr pompom octuple mount: 62
20 mm5: 85
Aircraft 452, 485, >604, ~653
Armor  
Main belt 4.5"2
Flight Deck 3"2,3
Hangar - Side 1.5"2,3,5
Bulkheads 1.5 - 3"2
Engines  
Boilers Admiralty 3 drum2: 62
3 drum4: 64
Shafts  
Turbines Parsons geared2,4: 32,4
HP 110,0002,4
Oil 4,500 tons2
Gasoline 75,110 gallons2
  Implacable class
Crew 1,4005, 1,5852, 1,8003, 2,0004
Crew - 1945 2,4675
Displacement 23,000 tons4, 23,450 tons2,5, 26,000 tons3
Displacement - Loaded 31,100 tons3, 32,000 tons4, 32,110 tons2,5
Physical Characteristics  
Length 765' 9"3, 766' 4"2, 766' 6"5
233.4 m3, 233.57 m2 , 233.63 m5
Length - Water Line 673'2
205.12 m2
Length - Between Perpendiculars 673'5
205.13 m5
Beam 95' 9"2,3,4,5
29.18 m2,5, 29.2 m3
Draft / Height 26'3,5, 29' 4"4
7.9 m3, 7.92 m5
Draft / Height - Maximum 28' 11"2,5
8.81 m2,5
Flight Deck 760'2, 750' x 80'5
228.6 m x 24.38 m5
Performance  
Speed 32 knots2,4, 32.5 knots3
Range at 14 knots 11,000 nautical miles5
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 4.5" DP twin mount3,4, 4.5" L/45 QF Mk III HA twin mount: 82,3,4
4.5"5: 165
2 pdr pompom octuple mount: 52, 63
2 pdr pompom quad mount: 12
2 pdr5: 485
20 mm3,5: 375, 383
Aircraft 545, 602, >604
Aircraft - 1945 815
Armor  
Main belt 4.5"2,3
Hangar - Side 1.5"3, 2"2
Bulkheads 2 - 3"2
Flight Deck 3"2,3
Engines  
Boilers Admiralty 3 drum boilers2,4,5: 62, 84,5
Shafts 42,3,4,5
Turbines Geared Steam3, Parsons Geared2,4,5
HP 110,0003, 148,0002,5
Oil 4,690 tons2,5
Gasoline 94,650 gallons2,5
  HMS Implacable
Crew 1,7851
Displacement 26,000 tons1
Displacement - Loaded  
Physical Characteristics  
Length 766'1, 766' 2"4
Length - Water Line 673'1
Beam 95' 9"1
Draft / Height 26'1
Draft / Height - Maximum  
Flight Deck 670' x 95'2
Performance  
Speed 32 knots1
Range  
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 4.5" DP twin mount: 81
2 pdr octuple mount: 61
20 mm twin mount: 171
20 mm1: 41
Aircraft 721
Armor  
Main belt 4.5"1
Deck 2.5 - 3"1
Hangar - Side 1.5"1
Engines  
Boilers  
Shafts 41
Turbines Geared1
HP 148,0001
Oil 4,690 tons2
  HMS Indefatigable
Crew 1,7851
Displacement 26,000 tons1
Displacement - Loaded  
Physical Characteristics  
Length 766'1, 766' 5"4
Length - Water Line 673'1
Beam 95' 9"1
Draft / Height 26'1
Draft / Height - Maximum  
Flight Deck 670' x 95'2
Performance  
Speed 32 knots1
Range  
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 4.5" DP twin mount: 81
2 pdr octuple mount: 61
20 mm twin mount: 171
20 mm1: 41
Aircraft 721
Armor  
Main belt 4.5"1
Deck 2.5 - 3"1
Hangar - Side 1.5"1
Engines  
Boilers  
Shafts 41
Turbines Geared1
HP 148,0001
Oil 4,810 tons2

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