Audacious Class


Audacious Class

Country: United Kingdom There were orginally four ships in this class but only two were built. Originally laid down during the Second World War two were cancelled at the end of hostilities; work on the other two was suspended. When work resumed on the two their design diverged so radically that they will be treated as separate entries.

HMS Eagle

This ship was was one of the two largest British aircraft carriers ever built. Originally Audacious, she was finally launched as Eagle in March 1946. This was after the Audacious Class carrier which had originally been named Eagle was cancelled. Although she was not brought into service until 1951 she did not receive an angled flight deck as a part of her initial design. Eagle was involved in the Suez Crisis of 1956 operating Wyverns, Skyraiders, Sea Hawks and Sea Venoms. Following the end of hostilities she was withdrawn and fitted with an angled flight deck and a mirror landing system. She rejoined the fleet in 1957 but two years later she was again withdrawn for a more extensive refit at Devonport Dockyard. Re-commissioned in 1964 Eagle was a very different ship than the one that had gone into refit. In addition to major improvements to her accommodation, machinery and aircraft she also acquired a full angled deck with steam catpults. Her island was also enlarged. As a result of these changes her displacement was increased which made her the largest ship in the Royal Navy. Eagle by then was equipped with Scimitars, Sea Vixen and Gannet aircraft. Later the Buccaneers replaced Scimitars and it was planned that Phantoms would replace Sea Vixens. However Labour government defence cuts saw Eagle being paid off in 1972.

HMS Ark Royal 

Ark Royal was the Royal Navy’s last conventional catapult and arrested landing aircraft carrier. Construction had begun in 1943. At the end of the war work had been suspended. Following resumption of work she was launched in 1950. Five years later in 1955 she was commissioned. During this lengthy period significant technological changes had taken place in aircraft carrier design and she had received some of these as her design had been significantly modified. As time went on her design diverged from the other ship in the class: Eagle. When Ark Royal was eventually commissioned she had a partially-angled flight deck, two steam catapults, a deck-edge lift on the port side, modified armament, and the new mirror landing system. These innovations allowed for much more efficient use of the carrier as aircraft could land and take off at the same time. In 1956 her port 4.5in guns were removed. Four years later the forward starboard 4.5in guns were also removed. The remaining 4.5in guns were removed in 1964. In 1960 her port deck edge lift was removed. Withdrawn from service in March 1967 for a major refit she did not re-emerge until 1970. At that point she had a full 8.5° angled flight deck, three new catapults and new arresting gear. The island had been replaced with a new design and her electronics had been partly upgraded. Although it was planned to fit her with Seacat missile launchers this never happened and she left the refit with no defensive armament. She had not been involved in the Suez operations in 1956 but in 1963 she carried out trials of the V/STOL Hawker P.1127, a precursor to the Harrier. She took part in numerous NATO exercises but perhaps the most remembered was in 1970 when she collided with the Soviet destroyer Kotlin which had been shadowing her during a Mediterranean exercise. Ark Royal suffered slight damage; the Soviet vessel received significant damage. By 1970 she was the only Royal Navy carrier to operate F-4 Phantoms alongside her Buccaneers. She was only able to continue by cannabalizing parts from her decommissioned sister - Eagle. In the l

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