Escort Carrier

Ex Rio Parana and Ex BAVG-3
Became Dixmude (France) 1945


HMS Biter was built in the USA at Sun Shipbuilding, and laid down as mercantile Rio Parana. Launched 18 December 1940, and converted to BAVG-3, transferred to RN and commissioned 1 May 1942.

Biter was a member of the "Avenger" Class. These ships were basically similar to "Archer", but differed sufficiently to be regarded as a separate class. All were converted in the USA from mercantile hulls. When Avenger and Biter first arrived in the UK they went immediately into dockyard hands to have their flight-decks lengthened by 42 feet to allow Swordfish aircraft to take off with a full load of weapons and fuel.

HMS Biter's war service included support to the North African landings November 1942. This was the last time the Sea Hurricane was used - Operation Torch, the amphibious assault on North Africa. Sea Hurricanes of 800 and 801 squadron flew off of HMS Biter, while HMS Dasher carried Sea Hurricanes of 835 squadron. The Sea Hurricanes were very successful in protecting the beachheads against the French, with five Dewoitine D.520s being shot down and a further 47 aircraft destroyed on the ground. Once the invasion had taken hold, the carriers withdrew, leaving the job of air cover to the RAF and the USAAF.

Modifications to HMS Biter's aviation fuel system were undertaken in December 1942-Febraury 1943, Atlantic convoy escort from March 1943-August 1944, during which time her aircraft assisted in sinking the German Submarine U203 on 25 April 1943 and U89 on 12 May 1943.

HMS Biter returned to the USN on 9 April 1945 and was immediately transferred to France and renamed "Dixmude". She was finally returned to the USN on 10 June 1966 and sunk as a test target in 1966.

Battle Honours
North Africa 1942, Atlantic 1943 - 4.

No information on Captains.

Squadrons and Aircraft
15 planes 12 x Swordfish ASW patrol / T.B's 3 x Martlet fighters

Sea Hurricane JS278 of 800 sqdn flown by Sub Lt RL Thompson from HMS Biter

FAA squadrons embarked Dates Aircraft type
833 dt Sept 1942 Swordfish I
800  Oct-Nov 1942 Sea Hurricane IIc
833A Oct-Nov 1942 Swordfish II
811  Jan-Aug 1944 Wildcat V/Swordfish II

Associations and Reunions
No information

Carrier name HMS Biter. Ex Rio Parana, Ex BAVG-3, 
Sold and renamed Dixmunde 1945 (France)
Class Avenger Class
Type Escort Carrier (US built)
Ships in Class Avenger, Biter, Dasher, Charger (retained in the US for FAA training) 
Launched Biter Sun Shipbuilding Converted 18 December 1940 Commissioned1 May 1942 
Tonnage Net displacement 8,200 tons Gross displacement 14,500 tons Load 6,300 tons 
Engines 2 x diesels @ 5200 hp , 1 shaft
Speed in Knots 16
Armament Gun 3 x 1 x 4"/50-cal HA/LA 4 x 2 x 20mm 7 x 1 x 20mm 
Crew Complement 555 Officers & Ratings including Air Group
Length (ft/inches) Length 492'3"
Beam (ft/inches) Beam 69'6" 
Draught (ft/inches) Draught 25'
Flight Deck length (ft/inches) 480'
Flight Deck width (ft/inches) 70'
Number of aircraft carried 15
Fate of carrier  Sunk as test target 1966

Ships website and HMS AVENGER Escort carrier  Details and history of HMS AVENGER Escort carrier 
NavSource Photo Archives Escort Carriers: HMS Biter photo archives og HMS BITER
Specifications Charger/Avenger Class Escort Aircraft Carriers by HMS D.97 Biter ex BAVG.3 transferred to France renamed Dixmude 
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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