Aircraft mother ship HMS Ark Royal

The HMS Ark Royal was a merchant ship that was purchased by the Royal Navy at the outbreak of World War I and converted into an aircraft mother ship.


Launching and design:

In early 1914, the construction of a large merchant ship was started in the shipyard Blyth Shipbuilding Company in Blyth.

However, when the First World War broke out, it was bought by the Royal Navy and ordered to be converted immediately before completion.

As with the already used HMS Hermes and the current ship should be converted into an aircraft mother ship. Since it did not have aircraft carriers and runways, the aircraft were dropped into the water via cranes or brought back on board.

The launch of the HMS Ark Royal took place on 5 September 1914, the commissioning on 10 December 1914.



HMS Ark Royal




Use in the war:

After commissioning and some test drives, the HMS Ark Royal was ordered to the eastern Mediterranean to support the landing of British troops in the Dardanelles after the Ottoman Empire entered the war against Britain. With two Wight Pusher Seaplanes, the ship participated in the reconnaissance of the landing and troop movements of the Ottoman Empire in the area.

The ship had the next and last use during the war, when two of the airplanes were used to bomb the Ottoman-flagged, former SMS Goeben.




Use after the war:

After World War I, the HMS Ark Royal was deployed in the Mediterranean and Black Seas to assist White Guards forces during the Russian Civil War and British forces landing in Somalia.

1923 then the transfer to Malta, where the ship was overhauled and some areas were rebuilt.

With the construction of an aircraft carrier named HMS Ark Royal, the original HMS Ark Royal was renamed HMS Pegasus in December 1934.

When the Second World War broke out, the Pegasus was considered completely outdated and played no part in the planning of the British High Command.





At the beginning of World War II, HMS Pegasus was in the port of Scapa Flow. On 14 October 1939, the German submarine U-47 penetrated into the harbor and shot at the battleship HMS Royal Oak. The last torpedo missed the battleship and hit the behind HMS Pegasus.

Only in 1946, the wreck was sold. Plans to rebuild the ship into a merchant ship had to be abandoned and so it was scrapped in 1949.




Ship data:


HMS Ark Royal
from December 1934:
HMS Pegasus


Great Britain

Ship Type:  

Aircraft mother ship


Single ship


Blyth Shipbuilding Company, Blyth




September 5, 1914


December 10, 1914


Sold in 1946 and scrapped in 1949


111,6 meters


15,5 meters


Max. 5,7 meters


Max. 7.450 tons


180 man


2 boilers

1 composite machine


3.000 PS (2.206 kW)

Maximum speed:  

11 kn




4 × 7,6 cm L / 40 rapid-fire gun

2 × machine gun

5 seaplanes

2 land planes








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.

Click here!



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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