As part of a project to give the Norwegian Campaign a facelift, I have finalised the Courageous-class intro.
.B Engine(s) output: 90,000 hp
.B Top Speed: 30 knots
.B Main armament: 16 x 4.7-inch (119mm) guns and 3 x 8-barrelled 2-pdr pompoms
.B Aircraft: 48
.B Displacement (full load): 27,400 tons
.B Thickest armour: 3-inch (belt)
.P The two ships of the Courageous-class - Courageous and Glorious - were,
along with their half-sister Furious, the only capital ships ever built for a
specific operation. They were designed just after the outbreak of World War I
with a view to undertaking Admiral John Fisher's Baltic Project; a plan - never
carried out - to sail an invasion fleet into the Baltic Sea and land an army on
the German coast, from where they would march on Berlin.
.P The Courageous-class ships, built between 1915 and 1917, were classed as large
light cruisers - effectively light battlecruisers. They were fast ships, armed
with four 15-inch guns, but were given very little in the way of armour
protection. At the end of the war they were surplus to requirements and placed in
.P However, a reprieve was at hand. Under the terms of the 1922 Washington Naval
Treaty, the Royal Navy (RN) was allowed to convert the two sisters into aircraft
carriers. Courageous' conversion was completed in May 1928, with Glorious following in
.P Initially the ships had two flight decks, including a flying off deck at the
bow. The latter, suitable for the small aircraft of the time, was removed
during a refit in the mid-thirties and the space used to house additional anti-
aircraft (AA) weaponry.
.P The two ships were very similar visually, with an island structure and large
funnel fitted on the starboard side. Their appearance was perhaps spoiled by the
abrupt ending of the flight deck well short of the bow. Differentiation between
the two became easier when, in the mid-thirties, Glorious received an extension
to her flight deck aft which took the flight deck level with her stern. Despite the
benefits this extension gave the pilots, Courageous was not given the same
.P The ships were able to carry 48 aircraft, which was significantly more than
the capacity of the RN's existing carrier fleet. The aircraft were housed in two
hangers that were served by two lifts. Plans were drawn up to convert the ships
to a single hanger arrangement in the late thirties, but these changes, which
would have increased capacity and allowed for new armour plating, were never
.P As was the case with all RN carriers at the start of World War II, they were
hampered in their effectiveness by the poor quality aircraft that they were able
to employ. This was a result of a lack of money for defence spending between the
wars and this deficiency was then made worse because of the decision to have the
Royal Air Force (RAF) responsible for naval aircraft.
.P To assist take-off two catapults were fitted - each capable of launching
8,000lb at 56 knots. Four arrester wires were installed to help safely land the
aircraft. 35,700 imperial gallons of aviation fuel was carried.
.P Defensive armament was limited to AA weaponry only, with sixteen single
4.7-inch guns. These weapons were augmented with twenty-four 2-pdr pompoms and
multiple 0.5-inch machine guns.
.P Betraying their light battlecruiser heritage, armour protection was very thin.
A belt of just 3-inches provided vertical protection and 0.75-inches for the
flight deck. Bulges were fitted, but this was largely to aid stability than for
.P The ships were fitted with Parsons geared turbines that produced 90,000hp and
a top speed of 32 knots. By the time of their conversion, this top speed had
reduced to around 30 knots.
.P The names Courageous and Glorious were typical of the inspiring and grand
names used for RN capital ships.
22nd November 1944 - The British Pacific Fleet is born (temporary avatar changes to commemorate the ships and aircraft). HM Ships Formidable, Illustrious, Victorious