British Built CVE (1941)

After the fall of France in 1940 during WW2 German U-boats and Focke-Wulf 200 Condor aircraft were able to range far into the Atlantic and operate in the Mid-Atlantic Air Gap free from the risk of being caught by British aircraft.

There was therefore a desperate need to provide convoys with aircraft protection to shoot down aircraft and also attack U-boats to force them to submerge and allow convoys to outrun them, or continue their attack while submerged and be able to be detected by ASDIC equipped escorts. Forcing the U-boats to submerge also made formation of wolf packs more difficult.

So in January 1941 the Admiralty ordered the conversion of the captured 6,000 ton German blockade runner Hannover to produce an auxiliary aircraft carrier from a merchant hull. On 20-June-1941 HMS Audacity was commissioned (initially as HMS Empire Audacity). She was fitted with a simple flight deck half the length of HMS Ark Royal, basic deck landing equipment and only four arrester wires. On her first convoy escort duty her Martlet aircraft shot down a FW200 Condor aircraft. Unfortunately during her third convoy escort she was torpedoed and sunk but the concept of the auxiliary aircraft carrier, or Escort Carrier CVE, as it was known in the USA was successfully proved. 

Other merchant ships were converted by British yards as resources permitted but each ship was different. So a coherent class of British built CVE's did not exist. However each ship followed the same general concept as the Audacity.


Large numbers of three classes of CVE's  were produced by US yards based on the US Liberty ship design, for operation by Allied Navies. 

Archer Class (1942) CVE;
Attacker Class (1942) CVE;
Ruler Class (1942) CVE


*** Note: to be reworked to clarify links of all ships and specs. ***


- HMS Activity (1942)
- HMS Audacity (1941)
- HMS Campania (1944)
- HMS Nairana (1943)
- HMS Pretoria Castle (1943)
- HMS Vindex (1943) 

-  Activity Class (1942)
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- Plans/Schematics
- Pictures

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This page last edited - 04 September, 2012.

Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.