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fighting ships of the world

ROYAL NAVY (UNITED KINGDOM)

AIRCRAFT CARRYING SHIPS

ARK ROYAL fleet aircraft carrier (1938)

Ark Royal 1939

Name No Yard No Builder Laid down Launched Comp Fate
Ark Royal 91 1012 Cammell Laird, Birkenhead 16/9/1935 13/4/1937 16/11/1938 sunk 14/11/1941

 

Displacement standard, t

22000

Displacement full, t

27720

Length, m

208.8 pp 243.8 oa

Breadth, m

28.9 wl 29.0 deck

Draught, m

8.46 deep load

No of shafts

3

Machinery

3 sets Parsons geared steam turbines, 6 Admiralty 3-drum boilers

Power, h. p.

102000

Max speed, kts

31

Fuel, t

4620 oil

Endurance, nm(kts) 10300(16)

Armour, mm

belt: 114, bulkheads: 76 - 64, lower hangar deck: 89 over engines, magazines and aviation fuel tanks

Armament

8 x 2 - 114/45 QF Mk I, 4 x 1 - 47/40 3pdr Hotchkiss Mk I, 4 x 8 - 40/39 2pdr QF Mk VIII, 8 x 4 - 12.7/62, 60 aircraft (Nimrod, Osprey, Sea Gladiator fighters, Skua diving bombers, Swordfish torpedo bombers, Walrus recon planes)

Complement

1580

Aircraft facilities (fd - 6,366 m², ha - 5,690 m² / 27,878 m³): Flight deck: 219.5 (useful length)x29.0m. Upper hangar: 173.1x18.3x4.9m, lower hangar: 137.8x18.3x4.9m. There were 3 lifts for both hangars each (2 lifts: 13.7x6.7m, 1 lift: 13.7x7.6m). There were 2 catapults (5.4t plane was launched at 122 km/h). Aircraft fuel stowage was 454,600l.

Year Fighters Diving bombers Torpedo bombers Seaplanes
8/1939 --- 18 Skua 42 Swordfish ---
10/1939 --- 8 Skua 21 Swordfish ---
4/1940 5 Roc 18 Skua 21 Swordfish 1 Walrus
5/1940 --- 23 Skua 21 Swordfish ---
6/1940 --- 24 Skua 21 Swordfish 5 Walrus
8/1940 --- 24 Skua 30 Swordfish ---
10/1940 12 Fulmar --- --- ---
4/1941 24 Fulmar --- 30 Swordfish ---
5/1941 18 Fulmar --- 30 Swordfish ---

Ship project history: The most well-known aircraft carrier of Royal Navy of the Second World War.
    Prominent features of architecture of Ark Royal were extremely high freeboard (17.1m) and the big aft overhang of a flight deck which at the expense of it significantly exceeded a hull length. The flight deck was a structural part of the hull and participated in providing of a longitudinal strength of the ship. Absence of diesels-generators (all electric power was made by steam turbine-generators) was a significant lack of as a whole the successful ship and has played a fatal role in her fate: after torpedo hit and incapacitation of boilers Ark Royal has lost the electric power, and the further struggle for the survival has appeared unsuccessful.
    The AA armament was rather powerful to pre-war measures, however air defence abilities were reduced by absence of the radar: Ark Royal became last large ship of the Royal Navy without it.

Protection:  Main belt protected 45% of length by waterline and expanded to lower hangar deck abreast funnel, to upper deck fwd and aft from funnel and to main deck abreast magazines. Underwater protection depth was 4.08m, there were 38mm anti-torpedo bulkheads. This protection could resist exploding of 380kg TNT.

Modernizations: 5/1941: + 2 x 4 - 40/39 2pdr QF Mk VIII

Naval service: Ark Royal 13/11/1941 returned from the operation on carrying fighters to Malta and has received torpedo hit from German submarine U81. She has sunk next day, later 14 hours after attack, in 25 miles E from Gibraltar.

Ark Royal 1940

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

Ivan Gogin, 2008-14