In August 1917, at the height of the First World War, a small biplane landed on the makeshift flight deck of HMS Furious - the first ever carrier landing in aviation history. This small act ushered in a new era. Two decades later, when Britain stood on the brink of another World War, the Royal Navy had a small fleet of aircraft carriers, with several more nearing completion. When war came the newly-formed Fleet Air Arm would demonstrate that what it lacked in modern equipment, it made up for in skill and daring.
The first of these carriers were converted from existing ships. Then in 1938 HMS Ark Royal was launched - Britain's first purpose built carrier. Its design set the standard for what was to come. The "Ark" was followed by the highly successful Illustrious Class, and then by others whose design was modified in the light of wartime experience. British fleet carriers had steel flight decks, and although smaller and able to carry less aircraft that the carriers seen in the Pacific, they were better suited to conditions in European waters. It also meant they were more resilient, and could shrug off damage that would cripple their American counterparts.
Over the next six years these British aircraft carriers would launch attacks against a major Italian naval base, attack the Italian battle fleet on the high seas, and cripple the Bismarck, so that the battleships of the Home Fleet could overtake her. They would also see service in every theatre of war, including the Pacific. Inevitably, their success came at a price. Courageous, Eagle and Ark Royal were torpedoed by U-Boats, Glorious was sunk by the guns of a German battlecruiser, and Hermes was lost to Japanese bombs. Most of the rest of the carrier fleet were damaged to some extent during their service lives, but they survived and kept on fighting.
This New Vanguard title tells the story of these remarkable warships, and reveals the secrets of their design, how they operated, and above all, what they achieved.
About the Author
Angus Konstam is an acclaimed military and naval historian, and one of Osprey's most experienced and respected authors, with over 35 titles in print. These Osprey titles include British Battlecruisers 1939-45, British Motor Torpedo Boats 1939-45, and the forthcoming two-volume study; British Battleships 1939-45, all of which form part of the New Vanguard list. Other titles include Spanish Armada 1588, Pirates, British Forts in the Age of Arthur and Piracy: The Complete History. He has also written over two dozen larger books for other publishers.
A former naval officer, underwater archaeologist and maritime museum curator, Angus has a long and passionate love affair with the sea, maritime history and warships. He makes regular television and radio appearances, and has held events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Angus is now a full-time writer and historian, as well as being a board member of the Society of Authors, and Publishing Scotland. He currently lives in Edinburgh.
For more details visit the author's website at www.anguskonstam.com The author lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Table of Contents
The Development of Britain's Carrier Fleet 5
The Carriers of the Great War
HMS Ark Royal
The Illustrious and Implacable Classes
Light Fleet Carriers
Service History 1939-45
Carrier Specifications 39
HMS Ark Royal
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