Aircraft carrier HMS Furious

The HMS Furious was originally intended as the ships of the Courageous class for a landing company in German Pomerania, but was rebuilt before completion in an aircraft carrier.


Launching and design:

Plans for the construction of light light cruisers went back to the First Seelords Lord Fisher. In his time as a high admiralty officer this was a big supporter of the capital ships and drove its construction significantly forward. His strategy was to build ships with heavy guns of long range, superior speed, and only weak armor. These ships should remain in their speed and the range of the guns always out of enemy range and bombard the ships themselves.

The actual plan with such ships even in the case of a war with the German Reich existed before the First World War. These ships should penetrate quickly into the Baltic Sea and unload there in Pomerania soldiers to carry out an attack. For this purpose, the ships should have the lowest possible draft, have a high speed and the range of the guns are above those of German ships.

When the First World War broke out, the British Navy Department adopted these plans and commissioned the construction of the two Courageous-class ships and the HMS Furious with precisely these specifications.

These were then classified as a large light cruiser or as a light battle cruiser.

In contrast to the two ships of the Courageous class, the Furious should not be equipped with four 38.1 cm but with two 45.7 cm guns. Also, the dimensions and the displacement were larger.

The launch of the HMS Furious took place on 15 August 1916, the commissioning on 26 July 1917.



Original planning of the HMS Furious




Conversion to an aircraft carrier:

After the Battle of the Skagerrak from May 31 to June 1, 1916, and the poor information on the locations of the German ships, the British Navy became aware of the importance of reconnaissance planes and accordingly carrier ships.

However, the Royal Navy lacked appropriate ships that could keep up with the speed of the big battlecruisers and battleships. Since the construction of the HMS Furious had not been completed and both this ship and the two ships of the Courageous class proved to be a misconstruction before the mission, it was decided to convert the Furious in May 1917 to an aircraft carrier.

For this purpose, the front turret was dismantled and a 21 m x 11.8 m hangar was built, whose capacity was eight to ten seaplanes. Over the hanger a 69 meter long and 15.5 meter wide flight deck was mounted on which the seaplanes could start with the help of a starter car. The landing should be done on the water and recording on the ship with a crane.

In the period from 2 August 1917 to 11 September 1917, several tests were made to land with aircraft that had a wheel gear. On August 2, 1917 Squadron Commander Edwin Dunning was able to make the first landing on a moving warship with a Sopwith Pup. On August 7, 1917 Dunning crashed deadly in his third attempt.

From November 1917 to March 1918, further reconstruction work was carried out. In the process, the rear turret was removed, a hanger erected and a 86.3-meter-long and 21.3-meter-wide landing deck mounted. The number of aircraft could thus be increased to 16, in some cases up to 26 aircraft were carried on board.



HMS Furious after the first conversion in 1917


HMS Furious


HMS Furious


Sopwith Camel aircraft on the flight deck of the HMS Furious




Use in the war:

After the second conversion, the ship took on July 19, 1918 in the attack on the German halls of the airships in Tønder with seven aircraft in part. Two airships could be destroyed, but on the way back three airplanes had to make an emergency landing, three had to be interned in Denmark and one had to be reported missing.




Use and reconstruction after the war:

After the First World War, the HMS Furious was relocated to the Baltic Sea and blocked the city of Kronstadt in 1919 during the Russian Civil War.

Since it was already foreseeable in the first test phase from late 1917 to early 1918 that the conversions could only be provisional, the ship was rebuilt again from June 1922. It was now mounted a continuous flight deck, with the Hangers were again below it. The upper hanger was equipped with a lift over which the fighters could be brought to the front flight deck. In the armament, the existing 14-cm guns were placed in other positions, also three 10.2 -cm anti-aircraft guns were mounted. In contrast to the other aircraft carriers, the Furious did not receive an island in which the command post was located. For this purpose, the command post on the right and the ship's command on the left next to the flight deck were installed. The retractable navigation stand was on the flight deck. The conversion was completed in August 1925, then the ship was put back into service.

The last conversion took place from November 1938 to May 1939. The ship received a small solid island on the starboard side of the flight deck and all 14-cm and 10.2 -inch guns were dismantled. In return, twelve 10.2-cm anti-aircraft guns were mounted in twin towers, some of which were mounted on the forward flight deck.



HMS Furious in World War II


HMS Furious in World War II 1941


A Fairey Barracuda of the 831 Squadron landing on the HMS Furious




Use in the Second World War:

The first mission during the Second World War, the HMS Furious had during the fighting for Norway. British, French and Polish troops were to occupy important Norwegian ports to prevent the supply of raw materials to Germany. However, when the ship arrived in Norway on 9 April 1940, there were still no aircraft on board, these flew later from Britain. When the Fairey Swordfish aircraft were finally on the carrier, they attacked on 11 April, the units of the Wehrmacht in Trondheim. On April 13, the second battle took place around Narvik, in which eight German destroyers were either sunk or sunk by their own crew. On April 21, aircraft were still brought to Norway, then the ship left the area.

Following the occupation of Norway by Germany, the HMS Furious relocated to the Mediterranean and convicted Hawker Hurricane fighters to the British Air Force base in Malta from September 1940 until June 29, 1941.

From July to September 1941, the Furious was again deployed in the North Sea, where it flew with their aircraft attacks on the Norwegian city of Petsamo to destroy the local facilities of the German Air Force.

In September 1941 Hawker Hurricane fighters were again brought to Malta, followed by a conversion of the ship until April 1942.

After the ship could be used again in the Mediterranean, Supermarine Spitfire aircraft were brought to Malta from August to November 1942. Then support the ship landing the Allies at Algiers.

In 1943, the HMS Furious was again involved in attacks on German air forces and submarine bases in Norway.

In March 1944, the ship was ordered to the Scottish Loch Eriboll and was to be prepared for the attack on the German battleship Tirpitz. The background was the planned landing by the Allies in northern France. So that the Tirpitz does not run out of the Norwegian mooring and attacks the DropShips, Winston Churchill issued the order to sink the ship. From April 3 to June 1944, the Furious aircraft flew a total of four attacks on the ship, none of the attacks could sink it.

On September 15, 1944, the ship was assigned due to the high wear of the reserve fleet and was no longer used in the war.





After the Second World War, the HMS Furious served as a pilot and target ship for bomb attacks in Loch Striven, Scotland.

From 1948, the ship was first scrapped in Dalmuir, from 1954 in Troon.




Ship data:


HMS Furious


Great Britain

Ship Type:  

Aircraft carrier


Single ship


Armstrong Whitworth, Elswick




August 15, 1916


July 26, 1917


Scrapped from 1948 to 1954 first in Dalmuir then in Troon


239,8 meters


26,8 meters


7,3 meters


Max. 23.256 tons


880 men


18 Yarrow boiler
with oil firing

4 Brown-Curtis geared turbines


90.000 PS (66.195 kW)

Maximum speed:  

32 kn




2 x 45,7-cm L/40 guns

11 x 14-cm L/50 guns

4 x 7,6-cm anti-aircraft guns

2 x 533-mm torpedo tubes underwater

4 x 533-mm Torpedo Tubes Surface Water


Flight deck 25 mm






You can find the right literature here:


British Battleships of World War One

British Battleships of World War One Hardcover – November 15, 2012

This new edition of a classic work on British battleships is the most sought after book on the subject. Containing many new photographs from the author's exhaustive collection this superb reference book presents the complete technical history of British capital ship design and construction during the dreadnought era. Beginning with Dreadnought, all of the fifty dreadnoughts, 'super-dreadnoughts' and battlecruisers that served the Royal Navy during this era are described and superbly illustrated with photographs and line drawings.

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The British Battleship: 1906-1946

The British Battleship: 1906-1946 Hardcover – October 15, 2015

Norman Friedman brings a new perspective to an ever-popular subject in The British Battleship: 1906-1946. With a unique ability to frame technologies within the context of politics, economics, and strategy, he offers unique insight into the development of the Royal Navy capital ships. With plans of the important classes commissioned from John Roberts and A D Baker III and a color section featuring the original Admiralty draughts, this book offers something to even the most knowledgeable enthusiast.

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British Battlecruisers 1905-1920

British Battlecruisers 1905-1920 Hardcover – December 15, 2016

The brainchild of Admiral Sir John Fisher, battlecruisers combined heavy guns and high speed in the largest hulls of their era. Conceived as "super-cruisers" whose job it was to hunt down and destroy commerce raiders, their size and gun-power led to their inclusion in the battlefleet as a fast squadron of capital ships. This book traces in detail the development of Fisher's original idea into the first battlecruiser Invincible of 1908, through to the "Splendid Cats" of the Lion class, and culminating in HMS Hood in 1920, the largest warship in the world for the next twenty years. The origins of the unusual "light battlecruisers" of the Courageous type are also covered.

The well-publicized problems of British battlecruisers are examined, including the latest research throwing light on the catastrophic loss of three of the ships at the Battle of Jutland. The developmental history is backed by chapters covering machinery, armament, and armor, with a full listing of important technical data. The comprehensive collection of illustrations includes the author's superb drawings and original Admiralty plans reproduced in full color. This revised and updated edition of the classic work first published in 1997 will be welcomed by anyone with an interest in the most charismatic and controversial warships of the dreadnought era.

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British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser: 1914–16 (Duel)

British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser: 1914–16 (Duel) Paperback – November 19, 2013

Battles at Dogger Bank and Jutland revealed critical firepower, armor, and speed differences in Royal Navy and Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial German Navy) Battlecruiser designs.

Fast-moving and formidably armed, the battlecruisers of the British and German navies first encountered one another in 1915 at Dogger Bank and in the following year clashed near Jutland in the biggest battleship action of all time. In the decade before World War I Britain and Germany were locked in a naval arms race that saw the advent of first the revolutionary dreadnought, the powerful, fast-moving battleship that rendered earlier designs obsolete, and then an entirely new kind of vessel - the battlecruiser. The brainchild of the visionary British admiral John 'Jacky' Fisher, the battlecruiser was designed to operate at long range in 'flying squadrons', using its superior speed and powerful armament to hunt, outmanoeuvre and destroy any opponent. The penalty paid to reach higher speeds was a relative lack of armour, but Fisher believed that 'speed equals protection'. By 1914 the British had ten battlecruisers in service and they proved their worth when two battlecruisers, Invincible and Inflexible, sank the German armoured cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off the Falklands in December 1914.

Based on a divergent design philosophy that emphasised protection over firepower, the Germans' battlecruisers numbered six by January 1915, when the rival battlecruisers first clashed at Dogger Bank in the North Sea. By this time the British battlecruisers had been given a new role - to locate the enemy fleet. Five British battlecruisers accompanied by other vessels intercepted and pursued a German force including three battlecruisers; although the battle was a British tactical victory with neither side losing any of its battlecruisers, the differences in the designs of the British and German ships were already apparent. The two sides responded very differently to this first clash; while the Germans improved their ammunition-handling procedures to lessen the risk of disabling explosions, the British drew the opposite lesson and stockpiled ammunition in an effort to improve their rate of fire, rendering their battlecruisers more vulnerable. The British also failed to improve the quality of their ammunition, which had often failed to penetrate the German ships' armour.

These differences were highlighted more starkly during the battle of Jutland in May 1916. Of the nine British battlecruisers committed, three were destroyed, all by their German counterparts. Five German battlecruisers were present, and of these, only one was sunk and the remainder damaged. The limitations of some of the British battlecruisers' fire-control systems, range-finders and ammunition quality were made clear; the Germans not only found the range more quickly, but spread their fire more effectively, and the German battlecruisers' superior protection meant that despite being severely mauled, all but one were able to evade the British fleet at the close of the battle. British communication was poor, with British crews relying on ship-to-ship flag and lamp signals even though wireless communication was available. Even so, both sides claimed victory and the controversy continues to this day.

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