Allied Warships

Aircraft Carriers

Royal Navy

The aircraft carrier HMS Courageous of the Courageous class. She was lost on 17 Sep 1939.

The primary mission of the aircraft carrier is to deploy and recover aircraft – effectively operating as a seagoing airbase. Each carrier at the time would have over thousand sailors and upwards of 30 aircraft. The US Navy fielded an incredible 36 carriers during WWII, the Royal Navy 24 and the French Navy had one obsolete carrier. The US navy used most of their carrier against the very powerful Japanese Navy in the Pacific that was arguably the most capable carrier force at the beginning of the war.

Typically the aircraft carrier formed a part of fast carrier force, being able to strike long and hard at the enemy, even in the most unlikely areas. They were heavily defended by destroyers, light cruisers and often powerful fast battleships – not to mention their own aircraft defenses against enemy carriers.

The Allies lost 9 aircraft carriers during the war, 3 of the 4 Royal Navy losses were to German U-boats.

Aircraft carriers, both during the British attack on Taranto in Nov 1940 and of course Pearl Harbor in Dec 1941, proved to be the future of naval warfare, along with submarines. In modern times the aircraft carrier is the ultimate show of naval power.

All Aircraft Carrier classes (in service with the Royal Navy).

 Courageous (2)1916 - 1916
 Furious (1)1917 - 1917
 Argus (1)1918 - 1918
 Hermes (1)1923 - 1923
 Eagle (1)1924 - 1924
 Ark Royal (1)1938 - 1938
 Illustrious (3)1940 - 1941
 Indomitable (1)1941 - 1941
 Unicorn (1)1943 - 1943
 Colossus (10)1944 - 1948
 Implacable (2)1944 - 1944

Please note that we list the classes by navies that initiated/owned the class. Often vessels of certain classes were then built for other nations (or lent), those ships are not visible here but only through the navies pages or by looking into each class.

War losses: Aircraft Carriers



17 Sep 1939HMS Courageous (50)Courageous 


8 Jun 1940HMS Glorious (77)Courageous 


13 Nov 1941HMS Ark Royal (91)Ark Royal 


9 Apr 1942HMS Hermes (D 95)Hermes 
8 May 1942USS Lexington (CV 2)Lexington 
7 Jun 1942USS Yorktown (i) (CV 5)Yorktown 
11 Aug 1942HMS Eagle (94)Eagle 
15 Sep 1942USS Wasp (CV 7)Wasp 
27 Oct 1942USS Hornet (i) (CV 8)Yorktown 

9 Aircraft carriers lost. See all Allied Warship losses.

See all Aircraft carriers

See all Allied Warship types

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