Colossus class aircraft carrier

Colossus class aircraft carrier

The "Colossus" class aircraft carriers were a class of Royal Navy light aircraft carriers. A total of sixteen ships were foreseen.

Two ships of the Colossus class (HMS|Perseus|R51|6 and HMS|Pioneer|R76|2) were tailored for aircraft maintenance rather than combat duty. Another five were suspended, to be completed later as "Majestic" class carriers. A sixth converted "Majestic", the "Leviathan", was not completed at all. All five "Majestics" were sold to Commonwealth or friendly navies.


The sinking, in December 1941, of the HMS|Prince of Wales|1939|6 and HMS|Repulse|1916|2 by land-based aircraft made clear the vulnerability of unsupported capital ships to air attack, and demonstrated the urgent need for a larger naval air arm.

At the start of the war, the Royal Navy operated both escort aircraft carriers and fleet aircraft carriers. However, escort carriers were designed solely for defensive convoy work and were of little use for in an offensive role. Their slow speed and small size ruled them out as platforms for high-performance fighter aircraft. On the other hand, the expensive fleet carriers were in short supply and would take too long to build. The conversion of merchant ships was considered for a time, but it was rejected because of the need for transport vessels.

The "Colossus" class emerged as an expedient solution to this critical shortage of combat aircraft carriers. These ships were based on the "Illustrious" class design, but reduced in size, and intended to be available within two years. To expedite construction, the "Colossus" class was built to commercial scantlings, rather than naval standards.

The first four "Colossus" carriers were completed in December 1944 and were immediately dispatched to the Far East. None of the ships saw action. The "Colossus" class ships did not possess the armoured flight decks that had effectively protected the "Illustrious" class fleet carriers against "kamikaze" attacks during Operation Iceberg.After the Second World War, the class provided a cheap way of projecting the Royal Navy's presence. Some of the ships saw service in the Korean Conflict. Less costly to operate than fleet carriers, they carried almost as many aircraft. Many ships were sold to foreign navies and continued to serve into the 1990s.

List of Ships

* - first loaned, then sold, to France. Renamed "Arromanches". Broken up in 1978.
* - broken up in 1961.
* - broken up in 1962.
* - originally designated "Edgar", but rechristened "Perseus" upon commission in 1945. Broken up in 1958.
* - originally the "Ethalion"; later, the "Mars". Finally renamed "Pioneer". Broken up in 1954.
* - broken up in 1962.
* - broken up in 1981.
* - sold to the Netherlands in 1948 and renamed "Karel Doorman II". Resold to Argentina and renamed "Vienticinco de Mayo". Towed to India as of 2006 and believed to have been scrapped.
* - served with the Royal Australian Navy from 1953–1955. Sold to Brazil in 1956 and renamed "Minas Gerais". Decommissioned in 2001. Broken up in 2004.
* - loaned to the Royal Canadian Navy, returned to the UK in 1956 and sold to Argentina to be renamed "Independencia" in 1958. Broken up in the 1970s.

External links

* [ Friends of HMS Vengeance Campaign]
* [ Maritimequest Royal Navy aircraft carrier photo gallery]
* [ Account of Commonwealth Naval operations off Okinawa]

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