Light Fleet Carrier

currently INS Vikrant 1961-(India)


HMS Hercules was built by Vickers Armstrong, Newcastle. She was laid down 12 October 1943 and launched 22 September 1945, and work suspended May 1946 when almost 75% fitted out. Subsequently towed to Belfast and completed by Harland & Wolff along similar lines to HMCS Bonaventure with an angled deck, steam catapult and landing mirrors which were all post war developments for operating jet aircraft.

HMS Hercules was the fifth ship in a series of six Majestic class light aircraft carriers built for the Royal Navy during the Second World War. A class of quick-build carriers, they were intended to challenge German and Japanese navies around the world. Ironically none of them ever served in the RN. The war ended and work on all six ships were stopped.

Hercules was laid up for 10 years before being purchased by India in January 1957. Commissioned 4 March 1961 as INS Vikrant. Refitted for Sea Harrier operation 1979-1982. In her 36 years of commission, INS Vikrant steamed 4,99,066 nautical miles, the equivalent of 15 times around the world. Decommissioned late 1997. Extant India and subject to a campign to preserve her for posterity - the only Wartime constructed British aircraft carrier to be under possible preservation (see INS Vikrant website).

Battle Honours
None in WWII

None in WWII
Captain Pritam Singh Mahindroo (1961)

Squadrons and Aircraft
None in WWII

Associations and Reunions
No information

Carrier name HMS Hercules. Sold as INS Vikrant 1957 (India) 
Class Majestic Class
Type Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier
Ships in Class Majestic, Terrible, Magnificent, Powerful, Leviathan, Hercules
Launched Laid down October 1943. Launched September 1945. Laid up till purchased by India in January 1957.Commissioned 4 March 1961. 
Tonnage Displacement: 14,224 tons standard ; 18,085 tons full load
Engines Propulsion: Steam Turbines (4 Admiralty 3-drum boilers, 2 shafts, Parsons geared turbines), 40,000 shp.
Speed in Knots Speed: 25 knots
Armament Guns: 24 x 2 pdr AA ; 19 x 40 mm 
Crew Complement Compliment: 1100 (including air group)
Range  Range: 12,000 nmiles at 14 knots
Length (ft/inches) Dimensions: 630 pp, 650 wl, 695 oa x 80 x 23.5 feet
Beam (ft/inches)  
Draught (ft/inches)  
Flight Deck length (ft/inches)  
Flight Deck width (ft/inches)  
Number of aircraft carried 37
Fate of carrier Decommissioned late 1995.
Notes Originally part of the Colossus class, these last six ships were completed to a slightly modified design more suited to operating heavier aircraft. None commissioned into the Royal Navy, all but one being sold.

Express of India website - Save the Vikrant
World Aircraft Carrier Lists and Photo Gallery - from 1913 to 2000. Naval History Information Center, Haze Gray & Underway  
Save the Vikrant Campaign website Detailed website on the INS Vikrant and details to save it as an Indian national monument - the "Hero of the liberation war of 1971, pride of the nation and a symbol of the triumph of good over evil"
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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