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HMCS Magnificent prior to her 1951 refit
HMCS Magnificent (ex-HMS Magnificent) prior to her 1951 refit
Class overview
Builders: Harland and Wolff
HM Dockyard Devonport
Swan Hunter
Vickers-Armstrongs
Operators: Royal Australian Navy
Royal Canadian Navy
Indian Navy
Preceded by: Colossus class
Succeeded by: Centaur class
Built: 1942-1961
Planned: 6
Completed: 5
Cancelled: 1 (scrapped prior to completion)
Preserved: 1 (museum ship)
General characteristics (original design)
Type: Light fleet carrier
Displacement: 14,224 tons standard, 18,085 tons at full load
Length: 695 ft (212 m)
Beam: 80 ft (24 m)
Draught: 23.5 ft (7.2 m)
Propulsion: 4 Admiralty 3-drum boilers, Parsons geared steam turbines; 40,000 shp
Speed: 25 knots (46 km/h)
Range: 12,000 nmiles at 14 knots (26 km/h)
Complement: 1,200 (including air group)
Armament: 25 × Bofors 40 mm guns
Aircraft carried: 37 aircraft of various types
Notes: Individual ships' characteristics vary greatly depending on the time major construction resumed, the operating navy, and the intended role of the ship

The Majestic class was a ship class of six light fleet aircraft carriers constructed for the Royal Navy, but serving in the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and Indian Navy.

Contents

Design

The Majestic class was conceived as a modified version of the Colossus class carrier, incorporating improvements in flight deck design and habitability.[1] Majestic and Colossus carriers were almost identical in hull design and both were considered subclasses of the '1942 design' light aircraft carrier program.[2] These carriers were intended to be 'disposable warships': they were to be operated during World War II and scrapped at the end of hostilities or within three years of entering service.[3]

Six ships were ordered: Hercules, Leviathan, Magnificent, Majestic, Powerful, and Terrible. These six ships replaced the cancelled final six Colossus class carriers.

Construction and acquisition

The six carriers were built by four shipyards: Harland and Wolff, HM Dockyard Devonport, Swan Hunter, and Vickers-Armstrongs. Construction of the ships began in 1942 or 1943, and they were launched during 1944 and 1945, but following the end of World War II, the Admiralty ordered the suspension of many British shipbuilding projects, including the fitting out of the six Majestics.[1]

Majestic and Terrible were purchased by the Royal Australian Navy in June 1947 for the combined cost of AU£2.75 million, plus stores, fuel, and ammunition.[1][4] As Terrible was the closer of the two ships to completion, construction was finished without modification, and she was commissioned into the RAN on December 16, 1948 as HMAS Sydney.[1] Work progressed on Majestic at a slower rate, as she was to be upgraded with the latest technology and equipment, including an angled flight deck, steam catapult, and mirror landing aid.[5] Majestic was completed and commissioned into the RAN as HMAS Melbourne on 28 October 1955.[6]

The Royal Canadian Navy acquired Magnificent (which was the only ship to retain her original name) after the war, and commissioned her April 7 1948. In 1952, the RCN purchased Powerful, which was upgraded along similar lines to Majestic/Melbourne. Powerful was renamed HMCS Bonaventure and commissioned into the RCN in January 17, 1957, replacing her near-sister ship.

Hercules was also upgraded along the lines of Majestic/Melbourne. She was sold to the Indian Navy in 1957, who commissioned her as INS Vikrant in 1961.

Leviathan was the only ship of the class not to be completed. In 1968, her boilers were removed and used to repair those destroyed in a fire aboard ARA Veinticinco de Mayo, a Colossus class carrier acquired by the Armada of the Argentine Republic, and she was scrapped without ever being commissioned later in the year.

Ships

Hercules
She was launched in 1945, but was neglected for 10 years until bought by India. She was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1961, being named INS Vikrant. Decommissioned in 1997 and converted into a museum ship, Vikrant is the only World War II-era British-built carrier to be preserved after decommissioning.
Leviathan
She was launched in 1945, though never completed or commissioned. Her boilers were removed to repair ARA Veinticinco de Mayo in 1968, and she was scrapped later that year.
Magnificent
She was launched in November 1944 and commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy in 1948. She was returned to the Royal Navy June 14, 1957, who held her in reserve until 1965, when she was struck from records and broken up for scrap in Faslane, Scotland.
Majestic
She was launched in 1945, and sold to Australia in 1947. Majestic was heavily upgraded, and became the third ship in the world to be constructed with an angled flight deck and steam catapult.[7] The ship was renamed HMAS Melbourne and commissioned into service in 1955. During her career, Melbourne had minimal, non-combat roles in the major conflicts of the era, but was involved in two major peacetime accidents: colliding with and sinking HMAS Voyager in 1964 and USS Frank E. Evans in 1969. She was decommissioned in 1982, and sold to China for scrap in 1985. Instead of scrapping Melbourne, the People's Liberation Army Navy studied the carrier and used her to train pilots.
Powerful
She was launched in 1945, and was purchased by Canada in 1952 to be upgraded to a similar standard to Majestic. She was renamed HMCS Bonaventure and commissioned into RCN service in January 1957, to replace sister ship HMCS Magnificent that was exchanged for the Colossus class carrier HMCS Warrior in 1948. She was decommissioned in 1970, and was scrapped in Taiwan in 1971.
Terrible
She was launched in 1944, and was transferred to the Royal Australian Navy, under the name of HMAS Sydney in 1948. She was decommissioned in 1958, recommissioned as a fast troop transport in 1962. Sydney participated in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. She was decommissioned for the second time in 1973, sold to a South Korean steel mill in 1975, and broken up for scrap.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d Hobbs, Commander David (October 2007). "HMAS Melbourne (II) - 25 Years On". The Navy 69 (4): pg 5. ISSN 1332-6231.  
  2. ^ Stevens, David & Reeve, John, ed (2005). The Navy and the Nation: the influence of the Navy on modern Australia. Corws Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin. p. 211. ISBN 1-74114-200-8. OCLC 67872922.  
  3. ^ Stevens, David & Reeve, John (eds.)(2005). The Navy and the Nation, pg 217
  4. ^ Donohue, Hector (October 1996). From Empire Defence to the Long Haul: post-war defence policy and its impact on naval force structure planning 1945-1955. Papers in Australian Maritime Affairs (No. 1). Canberra: Sea Power Centre. p. s 38, 45-47. ISSN 1327-5658. ISBN 0-642-25907-0. OCLC 36817771.  
  5. ^ Donohue, Hector (1996). From Empire Defence to the Long Haul, pg 94
  6. ^ Hall, Timothy (1982). HMAS Melbourne. North Sydney, NSW: George Allen & Unwin. p. 72–73. ISBN 0-86861-284-7. OCLC 9753221.  
  7. ^ Hobbs, David (2007). HMAS Melbourne - 25 Years On, pg 6

References

  • Ireland, Bernard. The Illustrated Guide to Aircraft Carriers of the World. Hermes House, London, 2005. ISBN 1-84477-747-2
  • The Ships of Canada's Naval Forces 1910-1981. Collins Publishers, Don Mills, Ont. Canada, 1981. ISBN 0-00-216856-1
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