Four new ships are about to hit the high seas in World of Warships. To celebrate, we’ve prepared several historical articles about the creation of the original ships in the real shipyards, as well as about their features and the process of re-modelling them in the game. These materials will summarize all the information about each aircraft carrier in the new branch, and we hope that reading them will bring a fresh perspective to your game experience and give you greater insight into their gameplay. Let’s take a look at the newcomers!
Tier IV: Hermes
This ship was the first purpose-built aircraft carrier in the world to be laid down (although the first to be commissioned was Hosho). Hermes was conceived in the Admiralty’s Department of the Director of Naval Construction in 1916–1917. Hermes, just like her “ideological” sister ship, Hosho, was based around a cruiser-type hull. The initial design provided for two superstructures with a flight deck running between them, a flexible slipway, and an overhead crane for hoisting seaplanes. The design also included artillery armament that consisted of six 102 mm guns.
Hermes was laid down on January 15, 1918, in the Armstrong-Whitworth shipyards. The construction works proceeded very slowly, because all efforts were focused on refurbishing battleship Almirante Cochrane, turning her into aircraft carrier Eagle. Sometime later, work was suspended altogether, pending the results from the flight tests being carried out on aircraft carrier Argus.
The ship design underwent numerous changes during the construction phase: the slipway and overhead crane were removed, and though a fore-end catapult was initially included in the blueprints, it later disappeared from them. In 1920, Hermes acquired her final look: she had a single island along the starboard side, a flight deck stretching all the way up to the bow, and six 140 mm guns. The ship entered service on February 18, 1924.
Soon after being commissioned, the ship participated in the Fleet Review conducted by the King. Following this, Hermes set sail for the Mediterranean and then onwards to the Royal Navy’s China Station, where she served from 1927 till 1937. In 1938 the ship’s role changed and she became a training ship. When World War II broke out, the ship was recommissioned to conduct anti-submarine patrols in the North Sea. After a U-boat sunk carrier Courageous, Hermes was relocated to the South Atlantic, where her aircraft took part in the Dakar raid, aimed at sinking battleship Richelieu— moored at that time in Dakar’s port. Afterwards, she participated in the search for pocket battleship Admiral Scheer. Early in April 1942, together with a number of escorting ships, the aircraft carrier arrived at the island of Sri Lanka to prepare for the invasion of Madagascar. On April 9, 1942, during the Japanese air raid on Trincomalee, Hermes was sunk by airplanes launched from Japanese aircraft carriers.
In-Game Ship Model
The in-game model is effectively carrier HMS Hermes as of 1941. Her hull has been developed based on the Danae-class light cruiser design, featuring a single-level hangar; a massive, wide flight deck; great flaring of the ship’s sides at the bow; and an open poop deck. Three 140 mm Mk.I single guns are mounted on each side of the hangar’s gallery. The massive superstructure, the so-called island, is offset to the starboard side of the ship. It has a wide funnel and quite a large, tubular mast with a range-finder station. Two 102 mm/45 Mk.V AA guns are mounted, one forward of the superstructure, and the other—sternwards of the superstructure.
Tier VI: Furious
While preparing for the increasingly inevitable Great War against Germany, Admiral Sir John “Jacky” Fisher developed the Baltic Project, an ambitious plan to land Russian troops using the British fleet on the Pomeranian coast in Germany. The core of the British force was supposed to be comprised of ships carrying heavy armament and with a shallow draft. This resulted in the appearance of the Courageous- and Furious-class “large light cruisers”, with ultralight 76 mm armor protection, but armed with super heavy guns: two 457 mm single-guns were mounted on Furious.
The ship was laid down on June 8, 1915, in the Armstrong-Whitworth shipyards. Before the time of her launch in August 1916, it had become clear that the Baltic campaign would not be realized. By 1917 the decision was made to convert the ship into an aircraft carrier. On June 26, 1917, Furious entered service with one 457 mm gun located at the ship’s aft-end and a 50 m long takeoff deck at her fore-end. However, it soon became apparent that landing on such a flight deck constituted a deadly peril, which is why, in 1918, the aft-end gun was removed from the ship, making room for a 91 m long landing deck. In this configuration, Furious saw some action at the very end of World War I. In 1921, the carrier was sent for yet another overhaul, during which, based on the operational experience gained from carrier Argus, the ship was stripped of all superstructures, as well as her funnel and mast. The fore- and aft-end hangars were combined, and above the resulting hangar, another upper hangar was added. It allowed for simultaneous launching of the aircraft from both levels: the short fore-end flight deck, and the upper deck which stretched over ¾ of the ship’s length.
The ship didn’t receive an island yet, though. In 1925, Furious entered service, and throughout several years that followed she was used for testing new airplane types. In 1930, the ship was sent for another overhaul. From 1932 through 1938, the carrier belonged to the Home Fleet, before finally, in 1939, during the course of one more modernization procedure, the ship received a small island along her starboard.
The aircraft carrier met the start of World War II in Scapa Flow. During the early period of combat action she participated in searching for German raiders and escorting convoys in the Atlantic. In 1940, the ship saw action in the Norwegian Campaign and received damage from the close-proximity explosion of an aerial bomb. In 1941–1942, Furious was mainly used as an aircraft transport carrier, transferring airplanes to Gibraltar and Malta. From October 1941 to April 1942, the ship underwent repairs in the U.S. Following this maintenance, she was involved in covering Allied forces during the landings in the Northern Africa in November 1942. From April through August 1944, Furious took part in the air strike attempts to destroy Tirpitz, hiding in the Norwegian fjords. However, it became increasingly apparent that the ship was in poor technical condition, and, in 1944, she was placed in reserve, before eventually being sold for scrap in 1948. Finally, in 1954, the ship’s hull was cut for metal in Troon, Scotland.
In-Game Ship Model
The in-game model is effectively carrier HMS Furious as of 1940. The ship’s hull is based on that of a “light battle cruiser”. Above its upper deck, a single-level hangar runs from the forecastle deck to the poop deck, and on top of this hangar is a flight deck with a small island along the starboard side. The AA defenses of Hull A comprise six 102/45 QF Mk.XIX twin gun mounts on the upper deck: one on the forecastle, one on the poop deck, and two on each side of the ship; six 40 mm octuple pom-pom mounts (three on the forecastle, one forward, and two sternwards of the island); and nine Oerlikon single-gun mounts. Hull B is additionally complemented with an additional six Oerlikon twin-gun mounts.
Tier VIII: Implacable
In the latter half of the 1930s, due to the sharp growth of the German, Italian, and Japanese fleets, the British Admiralty was faced with the challenge of increasing the number of aircraft carriers in the Royal Navy. The best ship of this type was Ark Royal, laid down under the 1934 Naval Program. Its design was supposed to be used as the basis for the new carriers. A prerequisite for the new aircraft carrier was solid armor: the hangar had to be protected from all directions, including the flight deck. In order to achieve this goal, while remaining within the limitation of 23,000 tons of water displacement imposed by the Second London Naval Treaty, the ship designers reduced the hangar size by one level in comparison with Ark Royal, which cut the air group size by half.
As a result, the Illustrious class emerged, whose “box-like” hangar was protected with side armor 114 mm thick and an armored flight deck 76 mm thick (this served as a protection against 1,000 lb bombs). However, the ship’s downside was the quite small number of aircraft on board. Three ships of this class were laid down in the period of spring-summer of 1937. The fourth ship in this series, Indomitable, laid down in the autumn of the same year, was an attempt to fix the issue of the extremely small size of the carrier’s air group. The ship’s hangar was expanded by means of building an additional semi-hangar. This increased the carrier’s capacity to 45 airplanes, but it also came at the cost of reducing the hangar’s side-armor protection to 38 mm in order to make the upper part of the ship lighter.
HMS Implacable was laid down on February 21, 1939, in the shipyards of Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co in Scotland. To increase her speed, the engineers introduced a shaft with a geared turbine unit, which resulted in a minor rearrangement of the ship’s internals. The hangar capacity was improved to accommodate up to 60 aircraft.
The construction works for both ships were carried out unhurriedly, because the main efforts were aimed at building escort ships. The carrier was commissioned in August of 1944 and assigned to the Home Fleet. After conducting an operation against German warships in Norway – including Tirpitz – in March 1945, the carrier was transferred to the First Squadron in the Pacific combat theater. In June, Implacable attacked the Japanese naval base located on Truk atoll, and in July-August she delivered strikes upon targets in Japan and to shipping traffic in Japan’s coastal waters. After the war, the carrier ferried Allied prisoners of war and soldiers to Australia and Canada. In 1946, she returned to Britain. In 1949–1950, Implacable became the flagship of the Home Fleet, after which she stayed in reserve for two years, before being converted into a training ship. In 1952–1954, the ship was the flagship of the Home Fleet Training Squadron. On September 1, 1954, the ship was decommissioned from the Royal Navy, and sold for scrap metal on October 27, 1955.
In-Game Ship Model
The in-game model is effectively carrier HMS Implacable as of 1944. The hull is massive, with the aircraft hangar being an integral part of the ship’s hull. A large island with a wide exhaust funnel is located along the starboard side of the ship. 114/45 Mk.III dual-purpose guns are placed in twin mounts, grouped in pairs on the ends of the flight deck along each side of the ship, both at the aft- and fore-end (eight mounts in total: four along the port side and four along the starboard side; out of the four mentioned guns along each side of the ship, two mounts are located forward of the midship, and two aft of the midship). Hull A’s small caliber artillery comprises five 40 mm octuple pom-pom guns, three 40 mm quadruple pom-pom guns, twelve Bofors Mk.VII single guns, eight Oerlikon twin mounts, and fourteen Oerlikon single mounts. On Hull B, the pom-pom guns were removed and replaced with five Bofors Mk.VI sextuple mounts, and three Mk.IV Hazemeyer twin mounts. The number of Bofors Mk.VII single mounts was increased to twenty thanks to removing the Oerlikon twin mounts.
Tier X: Audacious
The removal of the Naval Treaty displacement restrictions at the start of World War II, and the appearance of heavier aircraft, prompted the Admiralty to build carriers with significantly larger dimensions than the carriers of preceding generations.
To create the new Audacious class, naval architects took the successful Implacable class as the basis for the new carrier and increased the water displacement by half, from 23,450 to 36,800 tons. The ship received a full-fledged double-level hangar of increased size and reinforced armor for the flight deck, although the hangar’s armor protection remained the same. On October 24, 1942, carrier Audacious, the lead ship in the series, was laid down in Belfast. The construction works proceeded with varying success because the Harland&Wolf shipyards were busy with other orders of higher priority at the same time. For this reason, the ship, renamed Eagle, was launched in March 1946, entering service only in October 1951. After a short period of service, the aircraft carrier underwent refurbishment in 1954–1955, during which she received an angled flight deck and a number of systems required for carrying jet aircraft. Following this upgrade, the ship saw her first combat action in the Suez Crisis. Between 1959–1964, Eagle was significantly rebuilt: enlarging her angled flight deck and equipping her with a new steam-driven catapult, electronic warfare systems, and an AA missile system. As a result, the ship’s displacement exceeded 54,000 tons. However, further refurbishing the ship, which would have been necessary to enable her to carry the modern Phantom FG.1 airplanes, was considered to be impractical for economic reasons. In 1972, Eagle was placed in reserve, and was sold for scrap metal six years later.
In-Game Ship Model
The in-game model is effectively the completed and unchanged initial design for carrier Audacious as of 1951. The ship’s hull is based on the Implacable-class hull, but increased in size to make her water displacement 36,800 tons. As with carrier Implacable, Audacious is armed with 114/45 Mk.III dual-purpose guns, placed in twin mounts. These mounts are grouped by pairs at the ends of the flight deck, and along each side of the ship, both at the aft- and fore-ends (eight mounts in total: four along the port side and four along the starboard side; out of the four mentioned guns along each side of the ship, two mounts are located forward of the midship, and two aft of the midship). Her small caliber artillery comprises nine Bofors Mk.VII single guns, two Mk.VI twin guns, and eight Mk.VI sextuple guns.