Illustrious Class

Overview

Country: United Kingdom

The Illustrious Class aircraft carriers were some of the most important ships in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. They were laid down at a time of re-armament and all three took part in significant sea battles during the war. HMS Victorious is unique in being the only British carrier loaned in 1943, and renamed, to the US Navy.

Only Victorious survived into the Cold War; the other two being broken up in the 1950s. Victorious however underwent an expensive and extensive reconstruction which enabled her to operate jet aircaft.

Victorious formed part of the British Pacific Fleet and the end of the war and was involved in POW repatriation until 1947.

In January 1947 the ship was decommissioned, but in October of that year was re-commissioned as a training carrier. She operated in this duty until October 1950. The ship then went in for a major reconstruction, which lasted from October 1950 until January 1958. Victorious was rebuilt from hangar deck upwards with angled flight deck and large increase in hangar height. She then went on to serve in Home and Far East Fleets for the next ten years. In 1967 she was damaged by fire during a minor re-fit. It was decided not to repair her and she was decommissioned early. She was sold for scrap in 1969 and was broken up at Faslane in 1970.

During her period of post war operational service she operated Sea Fury, Sea Hawk, Sea Vixen, Scimitar and Gannet aircraft.

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