HMS Courageous (1916)
As an aircraft carrier, 1935
The later aircraft carrier HMS Courageous (German: "brave") of the British Navy was originally the lead ship of three "large light cruisers", which were designed and built during the First World War for the plan of the First Sea Lord , Lord Fisher to carry out a landing operation in the Baltic Sea on the Pomeranian coast. The result was very fast, lightly armored ships with few heavy guns and a shallow draft.
The Courageous was deployed in the North Sea during the last two years of the war and took part in the second naval battle near Helgoland .
From 1924 to 1928 it was converted into an aircraft carrier. At the beginning of the Second World War , Courageous was used with a group of destroyers to hunt submarines. On the evening of September 17, 1939, she was in the Atlantic west of the English Channel when she was hit by two torpedoes from the German U- 29 submarine under Lieutenant Otto Schuhart . The Courageous dropped within 17 minutes . 519 sailors were killed. She was the first British warship to be lost to a German attack during World War II.
Construction and use
The ship was originally built as a light battle cruiser at the Armstrong-Whitworth shipyard in High Walker under hull number 895. Together with the sister ships Glorious and the Furious , also built in High Walker under hull number 896 , it was supposed to penetrate the Baltic Sea and carry out an amphibious landing operation there to build a second front and support Russia . After what was now Soviet Russia left the war, this plan was not implemented. With her sister ship Glorious , the Courageous was used as a cruiser in the North Sea. The third ship, the Furious , which was to receive two 18-inch single towers in place of the 15-inch twin towers, has already been completed as a makeshift aircraft carrier. It received only the heavy rear gun and a hangar for seven to eight aircraft at the front and carried out tests as an aircraft carrier. From November 1917, the shipyard also removed the heavy stern tower of the Furious , which now received a landing deck at the stern. From March 1918, the half-sister was used purely as an aircraft carrier.
The Courageous took part in the second naval battle near Heligoland on November 17, 1917. In pursuit of the German II Reconnaissance Group, it fired 92 shells from its heavy artillery and 180 rounds from its medium artillery without getting a real hit and was not hit itself.
Since the ships, because of their heavy artillery, contributed to exceeding the total tonnage for battleships set at the Washington Naval Conference in 1922, it was decided to convert the Courageous and Glorious to aircraft carriers. Its heavy towers were stored and were used in World War II to arm the last British battleship, the Vanguard , which was not completed until 1946.
The conversion of the Courageous took place from 1924 to 1928 in the Naval Shipyard Devonport in Plymouth . It was only partially based on the conversion of the half-sister Furious that took place between 1921 and 1925 . Like these, it had two hangar decks and a lower launch deck in front of the hangar. However, it was given a side island with a chimney, bridge and command facilities, as had previously been given to the carrier Eagle . The renovation was completed on February 21, 1928 and was considered very successful.
From May 1928 to June 1930 the Courageous served in the Mediterranean fleet stationed in Malta , where it was replaced by the then completed Glorious . After the overhaul, she served from August 12, 1930 in the British Atlantic Fleet , which was renamed Home Fleet in 1932 . During the Abyssinia crisis , she moved to the Mediterranean again in August 1935 and returned to England in February 1936. During the routine docking times, it was regularly modernized and received new brake cables, two hydraulic launch catapults and modern anti-aircraft guns. In December 1938 she was replaced in the fleet by the new Ark Royal . As a school authority, she remained in service until the Furious took over this task in May 1939 .
The first operational machines were Blackburn Dart torpedo bombers, Fairey Flycatcher fighters and Fairey IIIF reconnaissance aircraft. From 1933 to 1938, the aircraft group consisted of the Fighter Squadron 800 (9 Hawker Nimrod , 3 Hawker Osprey ; naval versions of the Hawker Fury or the Hawker Demon ), the Torpedo Squadron 810 (initially 12 Dart s) and the two multi-purpose squadrons 820 and 821 (initially 9 Fairey IIIFs each ). The last three seasons received 12 Fairey Swordfish each in September 1937 . Blackburn Ripon from 1933, Blackburn Baffin from 1934 and Blackburn Shark from 1937 were also used as torpedo bombers . The multi-purpose squadrons had Fairey Seal from 1933, Shark s from 1934 and Baffins from 1935.
The Courageous was already lost in the first days of World War II . The aircraft carrier, accompanied by the two destroyers HMS Ivanhoe (D16) and HMS Impulsive (D11) , was hit with two torpedoes by the German submarine U 29 on September 17, 1939 at 7:50 p.m. when it was about to launch its aircraft. It sank after only 17 minutes. 741 men survived, while the remaining 519 men of the crew died , including the ship's commander , Captain William Tofield Makeig-Jones. The Fairey Swordfish of Seasons 811 and 822 of the British Navy Air Force were lost with the carrier . The high number of survivors is thanks to the Dutch passenger steamer Veendam , which used 14 lifeboats, and the British cargo ship Dido , which took more than 200 men. The British freighter Collingworth also helped . The rescued were later handed over to the destroyer Kelly .
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- Raymond A. Burt: British Battleships of World War One. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis MD 1986, ISBN 0-87021-863-8 .
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