Fleet Aircraft Carrier


HMS Indomitable with HMS Eagle behind. Taken from flight deck of HMS Victorious - Operation Pedestal.
HMS Indomitable was built by Vickers Armstrong, Barrow, laid down 10 November 1937, launched 26 March 1940 and commissioned 10 October 1941. She served in the Far-East from July 1944, kamakazied 4 May 1945. Paid off and stricken May 1953. Broken up.

Ordered as the fourth ship in the "Illustrious" Class, Indomitable had her design revised so that she could operate 45 aircraft instead of 33. The extra stowage could be provided only by adding an extra hangar deck; it was found that by reducing the thickness of the hangar walls from 41" to 11" it was possible to raise the 1500-ton armoured flight deck by 14 feet without loss of stability.

HMS Indomitable's service history commenced with her sailing to the West Indies for work-up in November 1941. Had it not been for her grounding in Jamaica while working up in November 1941, Indomitable might well have been sunk the following month, as she was originally intended to join the battleship Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser Repulse at Singapore - and both those ships were sunk in December 1941. In January 1942, she joined the Eastern Fleet at Ceylon and ferried RAF Hurricanes to Java at the end of that month. She took part in Diego Suarez operation with HMS Illustrious in May 1942, and exercised with the RAF off Ceylon in June 1942. In May 1942, HMS Indomitable sailed to Madagascar to attempt to seize a French Navy base at Diego Suarez in order to prevent the Japanese from using it as a submarine base. The Sea Hurricanes in their first hostile operations were successful in their escort duties and managed to destroy 3 Morane Saulnier MS406 fighters on the ground.

Indomitable returned to the Clyde in July 1942, and subsequently took part in the operation "Pedestal" Malta convoy on 3 August 1942, her aircraft claiming 27 enemy destroyed for loss of 4 of their own.

Indomitable had her flight-deck armour pierced by an 1100lb bomb, in the Mediterranean in August 1942 when enemy bombers scored 2 hits and 3 near-misses; that and another hit aft where there was no armour put her out of action being repaired in the USA until February 1943. Indomitable sailed to the Mediterranean in February 1943, and was torpedoed off Sicily by a Ju-88 on 15 June while covering the Sicily landings. She underwent repairs in USA from July 1943-February 1944.

She then joined the Eastern Fleet and in the following year the British Pacific Fleet. She joined the Eastern Fleet in June 1944 for air strikes against targets on Sumatra with HMS Victorious on 29 August and 18 September, 1944. This was followed by air strikes against the Nicobar Islands with HMS Victorious on 17 and 19 October. She was involved in an unsuccessful attack on Medan, Sumatra, with HMS Illustrious on 20 December 1944.

On 4 January 1945, she took part in a successful air strike against Medan, with HMS Indefatigable and HMS Victorious, and then immediately afterwards was involved in further strikes against refineries in Palembang, Sumatra on 24 and 29 January 1945.

Indomitable was in Sydney in February 1945, returning to active duties with air strikes against Sakishima Gunto and Formosa in March-April 1945. On 4 May she was hit by a Kamikaze - but received no damage -the Kamikaze aircraft simply slid up the armoured flight deck and over the side. She later arrived back at Sydney for a refit in June 1945. She again departed from Sydney in mid-August for the re-occupation of Hong Kong, her aircraft flying their last combat missions on 31 August and 1 September against Japanese suicide boats at Hong Kong. She finally returned to the UK in November 1945 with British personnel from Australia having ditched all her aircraft overboard off Sydney

Post war Indomitable was involved in two more repatriation voyages in 1946, she then was put in reserve and undertook a refit between 1947-50. She again was active in the Home Fleet between 1950-53, but reduced to reserve on the Clyde in October 1953. She was sold for scrapping in October 1955.

Battle Honours
Malta Convoys 1942, Diego Suarez 1942, Sicily 1943, Palembang 1945, Okinawa 1945


Squadrons and Aircraft
Squadrons on Indomitable 1942-1945

November 1941:  45 aircraft - 9 Sea Hurricanes, 12 Fulmars, 24 Albacores
August 1942: 55 aircraft - 31 Sea Hurricanes, 24 Albacores
February 1943:  55 aircraft - 40 Seafires, 15 Albacores
June 1944:  48 aircraft - 24 Hellcats, 24 Barracudas
December 1944:  50 aircraft - 29 Hellcats, 21 Avengers
The following are recorded by Lenton:

Aug 1942 - Nos.800 (Sea Hurricane), 806 (Martlet), 827 (Albacore), 831 (Albacore) & 880 (Sea Hurricane).
May 1943 - Nos.807 (Seafire), 817 (Albacore), 880 (Seafire).
Aug 1944 - Nos.815 (Barracuda), 817 (Barracuda), 1839 (Hellcat) & 1844 (Hellcat).
Dec 1944 - Nos.857 (Avenger), 1839 (Hellcat) & 1844 (Hellcat). May 1945 - Unchanged through from Dec 1944.

FAA squadrons embarked Dates Aircraft type
800 Oct 1941-May 1942 Fulmar II
827 Oct 1941-Aug 1942 Albacore I
831 Oct 1941-May 1943 Albacore I/Barracuda I
880 Oct 1941-Aug 1942 Sea Hurricane Ib
806 April 1941-Aug 1942 Martlet I/II
796 dt Aug 1941-Sept 1942 Albacore I
800 dt Aug 1942 Sea Hurricane Ib
880 March-July 1943 Seafire IIc
899 March-July 1943 Seafire IIc
807 June 1943-July 1943 Seafire L.IIc
815 July 1943-Oct 1944 Barracuda II
1839 July 1944-Nov 1945 Hellcat I/II
1844 July 1944-Nov 1945 Hellcat I/II
857 Nov 1944-Nov 1945 Avenger I/II

Associations and Reunions

HMS Indomitable Association
Contact: Ron Sloan, 5 Somerset Place, Sale, Cheshire. M33 1HW.

Class (Modified Illustrious Class)
Type Fleet Aircraft Carrier
Ships in Class Illustrious, Victorious, Formidable, Indomitable
Launched Built by Vickers Armstrong, Barrow. Laid down 10 November 1937. Launched 26 March 1940. Commissioned 10 October 1941. 
Tonnage Displacement: 30,530 tons standard ; 35,500 tons full load 
Engines Propulsion: reboilered. Original propulsion: Steam Turbines (6 Admiralty 3-drum boilers, 3 shafts, Parsons geared turbines), 111,000 shp.
Speed in Knots Speed: 30.5 knots
Armament Guns: 8 x twin 4.5 inch AA; 48 x 2 pdr AA, 10 x 1 x 20mm AA


Crew Complement 1600 Officers & Ratings including Air Group 
Range  Range: 11,000 nmiles at 14 knots
Length (ft/inches) Dimensions: 781 oa x 103.25 x 31 feet 
Beam (ft/inches)  
Draught (ft/inches)  
Flight Deck length (ft/inches) 680 (extended to 745 in 1943)
Flight Deck width (ft/inches) 95
Armour 4" side 1" hangar sides 3" flight deck 2" hangar decks
Number of aircraft carried 45
Fate of carrier Paid off and stricken May 1953. Broken up.

HMS Illustrious Class in THE ROYAL NAVY WWII website Brief history of the Class
The Malta Convoys 1941 - 1942 - War at Sea 1939-1945 Details of each of the Malta convoys and of the operations of the aircraft carriers Argus, Ark Royal, Eagle, Furious, Indomitable and Victorious
Warship photographs of the Royal Navy A to Z. Information about HMS Indomitable in Operation Pedestal and the Malta Convoys.   
A-Z of Aircraft Profiles by FAUCONBERG AEROGRAPHICS HAWKER SEA HURRICANE Mk. IB, 880 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service, HMS Indomitable, Indian Ocean, May 1942 Operation Ironclad - Invasion of Madagascar, HAWKER SEA HURRICANE Mk. IB, 880 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service, HMS Indomitable, Indian Ocean, May 1942 Operation Ironclad - Invasion of Madagascar, SUPERMARINE SEAFIRE L.R. Mk. IIC, 880 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service, H.M.S. Indomitable, April 1943
Aircraft profiles by Scott Fraser, owner of Tally Ho! decals The following profiles are offered by Scott Fraser, owner of Tally Ho! decals, Hellcat II, 1844 Squadron, HMS Indomitable, April 1945, Hellcat I, JV141, 1839 Squadron, HMS Indomitable, May 1945
Personal website about HMS Indomitable  HMS Indom photos HMS Indomitable Photographs These are from a photo album compiled by my grandfather. They were purchased from the official photographer onboard the HMS Rodney. Text below reflects what my grandfather had written. 
Navl History online
A Supermarine Seafire IB taking off from the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable. 
Photos of the carrier from a Veteran
World Aircraft Carrier Lists and Photo Gallery - from 1913 to 2000. Naval History Information Center, Haze Gray & Underway
Sturtivant, R & Ballance, T  (1994). 'The Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm' Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1994 ISBN: 0 85130 223 8

The World’s Warships 1941 by Francis E. McMurtrie (1944). Jane's London 1941 1st ed. 

Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II by Francis E. McMurtrie (Editor)(1984). 320 pages. Crescent Books; ISBN: 0517679639

       Last Modified: 23-2-2001


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