Large light cruiser HMS Courageous

The large light cruiser HMS Courageous belonged to the same class of ships and was originally intended for a landing company in German Pomerania, but was rebuilt after the war in an aircraft carrier.


Launching and design:

The plans for the construction of the two ships of the Courageous class 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 two ships with precisely these specifications.

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

As a main armament, four 38,1-inch rapid-fire cannons were selected, each of which was housed as a pair in a tower at the stern and at the bow. In addition, 18 10.2-cm rapid-fire cannons were mounted in triple-barreled torpedo-boat-mounted guns. Since the ships were to operate close to the coast, attacks with such boats were the most dangerous, especially since the German Reich had a large number of them.

It powered four Parsons geared turbines on four shafts driven by 18 Yarrow oil-fired narrow-tube boilers.

To achieve a desired speed of 32 knots, the armor was kept very weak. An internal armor was therefore used, which delayed the explosion of projectiles and splinter longitudinal and transverse bulkheads should limit the explosive effect. Overall, the Panzerstärke more suited those of a light cruiser.

Overall, both ships of the class were classified as faulty construction. On the one hand, because of the weak armor, on the other hand, the entire construction of the ship was designed so weak that the recoil of their own heavy guns could cause damage to the construction. Another shortcoming was the fire control method used, which at a high speed could not provide the required accuracy of impact that would have been required.

The launch of the HMS Courageous took place on 5 February 1916, the commissioning on 4 November 1916.



HMS Courageous




Use in the war:

After shortly before the completion of the ships, the actual tasks had been eliminated, the HMS Courageous was assigned to the commissioning and the test drives the battlecruiser division.

The only battle in which the ship participated was on 17 November 1917 at the second Helgoland battle. It pursued the German ships of the 2nd reconnaissance group, but could not get a hit, in return, but also received no.




Use after the war:

Under the terms of the 1922 Washington Naval Conference, neither HMS Courageous nor its sister ship HMS Glorious continued to serve in the Royal Navy in their design.

Since the half-sister ship HMS Furious was converted to an aircraft carrier during the construction phase to a large light cruiser end of the war, developed the British Navy Department plans for the two ships of the Courageous class to use this as an aircraft carrier and thus the provisions of the Washington Naval Conference.

From 1924 was begun with the conversion. For this purpose, the armament and superstructures were removed, with the heavy guns were stored. In return, the ships received two hangar decks, over a continuous flight deck and an island. On the upper flight deck two compressed air catapults were installed as support for the takeoff of the aircraft. The stern was open and equipped with a crane so that seaplanes could be lifted onto the lower flight deck. As Bewafnung 16 12-cm L / 40 anti-aircraft guns and a variety of anti-aircraft machine guns were selected. The armor was retained, with the flight deck being given an additional armor of 25mm.

As aircraft were selected:

  • 22 fighter planes
  • 18 artillery observation or reconnaissance aircraft
  • 12 torpedo bombers

The conversion of the HMS Courageous lasted until February 21, 1928.

From May 1928 to June 1930, the ship served in the Mediterranean fleet until it was replaced by the HMS Glorious. Subsequently, the ship served in the Atlantic Fleet until December 1938, the new aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal was completed and replaced the Courageous.

Until May 1939, the ship still served as a training ship, was then replaced by the Glorious and assigned to the reserve.



HMS Courageous after the conversion to the aircraft carrier


HMS Courageous during the sinking





When World War II broke out, the HMS Courageous was reactivated and assigned to the Grand Fleet.

On 17 September 1939, the ship sailed in the company of the two destroyers HMS Ivanhoe and HMS Impulsive southwest of Ireland, when the aircraft carrier was torpedoed at 19:50 clock by the German submarine U -29 and sank.

From the crew 741 men were rescued, 519 were killed.




Ship data:


HMS Courageous


Great Britain

Ship Type:  

Large light cruiser

From February 21, 1928:
Aircraft carrier




Armstrong-Whitworth, Newcastle upon Tyne




February 5, 1916


November 4, 1916


Sunk on 17 September 1939 by the German submarine U-29


239,8 meters


24,7 meters
after reconstruction
: 27,6 meters


7,9 meters
after reconstruction
: 8,5 meters


Max. 19.180 tons
after reconstruction
: 24.210 tons


842 men
after reconstruction: 814 + 403 men


18 oil-fired Yarrow kettles

4 Parsons turbines


90.000 PS (66.195 kW)

Maximum speed:  

31 kn (57 km/h)




4 × 38,1 cm in twin towers

18 × 10,2 cm in triplets

2 × anti-aircraft gun 7,6 cm

2 × torpedo tube ⌀ 53,3 cm


as carrier:

16 × rapid fire 12 cm L / 40

24 × anti-aircraft cannon 4 cm

14 × anti-aircraft machine guns

  • 22 fighter planes
  • 18 artillery observation or reconnaissance aircraft
  • 12 torpedo bombers

Belt: 51-76 mm

Deck: 19-76 mm

Towers: 178-229 mm

Flight deck: 19-25 mm
(as an aircraft carrier)






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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