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 She was withdrawn to Imbros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