Allied Warships

HMS Victorious (38)

Aircraft Carrier of the Illustrious class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeAircraft Carrier
ClassIllustrious 
Pennant38 
Built byVickers Armstrong (Newcastle-on-Tyne, U.K.) : Wallsend 
Ordered13 Jan 1937 
Laid down4 May 1937 
Launched14 Sep 1939 
Commissioned15 May 1941 
End service13 Mar 1968 
History

HMS Victorious joined the Home Fleet on commissioning in May 1941 and just nine days later her pilots encountered and attacked the German battleship Bismarck. On 26 May 1941, the new carrier HMS Victorious whose aircrews, despite their inexperience, succeeded in putting a torpedo into the battleship's midship section, which opened up a fuel tank on the Bismarck. This was, however, insufficient to stop the ship.

After the sinking of the Bismarck, HMS Victorious continued to operate with the Home Fleet, Victorious's Fairey Albacore aircraft were subsequently involved in an attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in March 1942. She provided cover for Russian convoys PQ-15 and PQ-17 in May and June 1942 respectively.

HMS Victorious left the Clyde to participate in Operation "Pedestal" convoy on 3 August 1942; she left the "Pedestal" convoy on the 10th of August and took part in the North African landings in November 1942.

HMS Victorious was refitted at Norfolk Navy Yard USA, during the winter of 1942-43, after which she was loaned to the US Pacific Fleet until being replaced by the new USS Essex. Despite its massive industrial muscle, the United States still found itself short of carriers in the Pacific, the only American carrier available in the South Pacific was USS Saratoga. HMS Victorious sailed to Pearl Harbor to join USS Saratoga's Battle Group, Task Force 14. She arrived and took up duties under Task Force 14 in the the Southwest Pacific on 17th May 1943. She embarked US aircraft and aircrew, and with the Saratoga swept the Solomon Islands. In May-June 1943, at Noumea, New Caledonia, the light cruiser USS San Diego joined USS Saratoga and HMS Victorious in support of the invasion of Munda, New Georgia, and of Bougainville. During this period Victorious operated 60 British and American Wildcat fighters for air cover. The two carriers sailed on 27th June, the carriers took up position and in the next few days put up 600 sorties against little opposition. The aircraft were reassigned to their parent carriers on 24 July, and the force reached Noumea the next day.

HMS Victorious returned to the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow towards the end of 1943 and in early 1944 her aircraft participated in the attack on the Tirpitz. HMS Victorious covered Russian convoys from January-March 1944, then took part in Operation "Tungsten" air strike against the German battleship Tirpitz on 3 April 1944.

In May 1944, Victorious went in for a refit, which on completion she joined the British Eastern Fleet enroute to the Far East. In July 1944, she led a strike against Palembang with HMS Illustrious, then on 25 July she led a strike against the Andaman Islands with HMS Indomitable. In October 1944, she was assigned to the British Pacific Fleet. In early 1945, the carriers HMS Indomitable, HMS Victorious, HMS Illustrious and HMS Indefatigable cooperated with the US Fifth fleet in its battle to take Okinawa. HMS Victorious took part in the January 1945 strikes against Pankalan Brandan (Sumatra) with HMS Indefatigable on 4 January 1945, and then strikes against Palembang with HMS Illustrious and HMS HMS Indefatigable on 24 and 29 January 1945. HMS Victorious returned to Sydney in February 1945, departing again on 28 February 1945 for a strike against Sakishima Gunto. She was hit by a Kamikaze on 9 May 1945 - no damage. On July 1945 an 849 Squadron aircraft from HMS Victorious located and scored the first bomb hit on the Japanese escort aircraft carrier Kaiyo (or Kayo), which was seriously damaged by the FAA aircraft in Beppu Bay, Kyushu, on 24 July 1945. HMS Victorious served with the BPF until the end of war on repatriation duties for former POW troops, 1945-47.

Victorious was decommissioned in January 1947, recommissioned October 1947 as a training carrier from October 1947-October 1950. Then she underwent major reconstruction from October 1950-January 1958, the entire ship being rebuilt from hangar deck upwards with angled flight deck and large increase in hangar height. She then was in Home and Far East service 1958-1968. She was damaged by fire during a 1967 refit when it was decided that she should be decommissioned. This was done on 13 March 1968 and she was sold for scrapping. She arrived at Faslane in July 1969 to be broken up.

 

Commands listed for HMS Victorious (38)

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CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Henry Cecil Bovell, RN15 Oct 194026 Nov 1942
2Capt. Lachlan Donald Mackintosh, DSC, RN23 Nov 19421 Nov 1943
3A/Capt. Richard Cyril Vesey Ross, DSO, RN1 Nov 19438 Dec 1943
4Capt. Michael Maynard Denny, RN8 Dec 194315 Aug 1945
5Capt. John Campbell Annesley, DSO, RN15 Aug 1945

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Notable events involving Victorious include:


27 Jan 1941
While still in Walker Yard fitting out, she was narrowly missed by 2 bombs during a German air raid.

24 May 1941
Sailed from the Clyde despite being in incomplete state to take part in the hunt for the Bismarck. Her planes carried out 2 attacked and scored torpedo hits (3 claimed) on the battlewagon but were unable to slow her down (see Ark Royal entry).

23 Jul 1941
Sailed from Scapa Flow escorted by heavy cruisers Suffolk and Devonshire and 6 destroyers for an attack on German bases at Kirkenes and Petsamo, North Norway.
The task force was spotted by a German scout plane on 30/7 and the attackers received a hot welcome, sustaining heavy losses.

9 Mar 1942
Launched 12 Albacore torpedo bombers against the Tirpitz at her anchorage. 2 planes were shot down by the defences and no damage was done to the battleship.

21 Nov 1942
German U-boat U-517 was sunk in the North Atlantic south-west of Ireland, in position 46°16'N, 17°09'W, by depth charges from Albacore aircraft (Sqdn 817/I) of the British carrier HMS Victorious.

6 Jan 1944
Anti-shipping raid on the Norwegian coast with Furious. Their a/c attacked a convoy, sinking the transport Blaufuchs (ex Hans Leonhardt) and setting Sperrbrecher 181 on fire (the Sperrbrecher will sink at Stadlandet on 6/6 from accumulation of damage).

9 May 1945
While operating off Sakishima Gunto with TF 57, at 1657 hrs she was impacted by a suicide plane, which struck alongside the island then skidded along the deck and fell overboard. Its bomb exploded in the water and caused no damage.
At 1656 hrs another suicide crashed into the deck, blowing a hole of 2.3 m? and causing a depression in the deck over an area of 13.3 m?, with ancillary damage to a bulkhead and a catapult.
At 1657 hrs a third plane crashed to port but caused no damage. There were 3 killed and 19 wounded from the 3 impacts, Victorious was able to launch planes within 1 hour and land them 12 hours later, being back in full action within 2 days. Full repairs required 1 month.

Media links


British Aircraft Carriers 1939-45 (New Vanguard)

Angus Konstam


Carrier Operations in World War II

Brown, J.D.


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