Ministry of Defence
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Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion

H.M.S. ARK ROYAL

HMS Ark Royal. The Royal Navy's first purpose built aircraft carrier. The Royal Navy allocated £81,000 for the acquisition and conversion of a merchant ship. Mercantile hull lying on the stocks at Blyth was purchased, possibly a hull of a general or grain carrier. The ship was built with a large aeroplane hold, 150ft x 45 x15, and workshops were also included. A sliding hatchway gave access to the flight deck, the aircraft were lifted by two 3 ton steam powered cranes. HMS Ark Royal was launched 5th September 1914 and completed in December 1914. The first aircraft operated were Sopwith seaplanes type 807, a short 135, two Wright Pushers and two Sopwith Tabloid land planes.

After commissioning, HMS Ark Royal sailed to the Dardanelles on 1st February 1915, her aircraft were used for reconnaissance of the bombardment by the Royal Navy of the Turkish forts and covered the Gallipoli landings from the 25th April. She was withdrawn to Imbros at the end of May to become the depot ship for land based aircraft. In January 1918 two of her Sopwith ABC planes attempted to bomb the Goeben. After World War One she operated in the Black Sea transporting aircraft to Batumi. Also used in the support of the Sumali land campaign against the Mad Mullah, serving in the sea of Mamura and Black Sea. During 1920 she took part in the withdrawal of White Russian forces from Crimea.

From November 1920 HMS Ark Royal went into reserve at Rosyth being refitted in this time. Recommissioned September 1922 to take aircraft out to the Mediterranean during Chanak crisis. In April 1923 she was refitted at Malta, December 1944 she was renamed HMS Pegasus as the planned new aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal was laid down. Used in various capacities during World War Two and eventually sold in December 1946, she was converted to a merchant ship Anita I but conversion was never completed and she was finally broken up in 1949.

Armament: four 12 pdr quick firers, two machine guns, two land planes, five float planes. Complement: 180. Speed: 11 knots.

Last updated 15 August, 2008

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