Colossus class Aircraft Carrier – R16-HMS

Length: 212 meters (695 ft) overall
Beam: 24 meters (80 ft)
Draft: 7,1 meters (23.3 ft)
Displacement: 18000 tons (full load)
Speed: 25 knots (46 km/h), max.
Range: 12000 NM (22000 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)
Complement: 1050

Parsons geared turbines

4 x Admiralty 3-drum boilers
40000 Hp (30000 KW)
2 shafts / 2 propellers

full flight deck & hangar for up to 52 aircraft

6 x 4-barrelled 2-pounder AA guns
16 x twin 20mm Oerlikon AA guns
> all weapons later replaced by 40mm Bofors in varying configurations

The 1942 Design Light Fleet Carrier, commonly known as the British Light Fleet Carrier, was a type of light aircraft carrier designed by the Royal Navy during World War II and utilized by multiple naval forces between 1944 and 2001. These carriers were created to bridge the gap between full-size fleet aircraft carriers, which were expensive, and escort carriers, which had limited capabilities.

Sixteen Light Fleet carriers were ordered, all based on the Colossus-class design, during 1942 and 1943. However, only eight were completed according to this design. Four of these entered service before the end of World War II, but none participated in front-line operations. Two more were converted to maintenance and repair carriers, providing support for aircraft maintenance. The remaining six were modified during construction to handle larger and faster aircraft and were later redesignated as the Majestic class. Construction on these six ships was suspended at the end of the war, with five eventually being completed and commissioned, while the sixth, Leviathan, was dismantled for spare parts and scrap.

Although these carriers were not completed in time to see combat during World War II, those in Royal Navy service played roles in the Korean War and the Suez Crisis. During the latter, two Colossus-class carriers performed the first ship-based helicopter assault in history. Additionally, four Colossus-class carriers and all five completed Majestic-class carriers were loaned or sold to seven foreign nations, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, India, and the Netherlands. These foreign-operated Light Fleet carriers participated in various conflicts, including the Korean War, the First Indochina War, the Vietnam War, the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, and the Falklands War.

Despite being initially considered “disposable warships,” all the completed Light Fleet carriers exceeded their planned three-year service life. The maintenance carriers were the first to be retired in the 1950s. By the 1960s, most Royal Navy carriers, with the exception of Triumph (which was later recommissioned as a repair ship), had been sold to other nations or scrapped. The carriers operated by other navies had longer service lives.

The design and construction of these carriers aimed to provide defensive air cover for Allied fleets and convoys during World War II. The ships were intended to be as simple as possible to minimize construction time and accommodate more shipyards, some with no prior naval construction experience. The Light Fleet carriers were designed to operate in fleet actions but were unarmored. Their initial armament included various anti-aircraft weapons, with a primary focus on their air groups. Eventually, the Bofors 40 mm gun became the main anti-aircraft armament for these carriers.

The Light Fleet carriers were a significant development in naval aviation and played a role in post-war conflicts, contributing to the history of aircraft carriers in the mid-20th century.

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