Colossus Class (1944) CVL

The Colossus Class (1944) was the first of two classes of Light Fleet Carriers. They were the result of the events early in WW2 which caused Britain in 1941 to have only seven aircraft carriers available for the Fleet. Fully Armoured Fleet Carriers took a long time to build, needed yards experienced in building to warship standards, and all shipbuilding facilities were fully stretched.

The solution chosen, was to build smaller carriers, just over 13,000 tons for the Colossus Class (1944) and 14,000 tons for the later Majestic Class (1948), as against 23,000 tons approx for the Illustrious Class (1940) of Fully Armoured Fleet Carriers. 

Just as importantly the Light Fleets were based on a merchant standard hull and were not armoured. So they were much faster to construct, and could be built in smaller yards. Of course it meant they were more vulnerable, but in fact the war was virtually over before they were ready for action.

An advantage of their being unarmoured was that they were easier to repair and rebuild, and could carry more aircraft for the same size hull than an armoured one. 

Despite their potential combat vulnerabilities in comparison with the Armoured Fleet Carriers they were a very successful class of ships.

Those in Royal Navy service were scrapped by the mid 1960's.

However, several were sold to other navies and had exceptionally long careers. One, HMS Venerable after serving with the Royal Netherlands Navy until 1968, was sold on to the Argentinean Navy as the 25 de Mayo. As such she had dubious honour of being an enemy ship during the Falklands War of 1982. She was still in service on her 50th birthday. A remarkable career for a modern ship and great value for money.


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This page last edited - 20 February, 2013.

Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.