Fleet Aircraft Carrier


HMS Indefatigable was built by John Brown, laid down 3 November 1939, launched 8 December 1942 and commissioned 3 May 1944. She joined the British Pacific Fleet in 1945 where she received superficial damage from a kamakaze hit. Sjhe was on reserve between 1946-1949, became a training carrier 1950-1954. Stricken 1956 and broken up.

Indefatigable was ordered in 1939 and her sister ship in the Implacable Class, HMS Implacable was ordered a year earlier.  In response to a Naval Staff requirement for greater speed and increased aircraft complement, an extra turbine and shaft were installed and the lower hangar was extended forward so that it was 46 feet longer than that in Indomitable. The armour plating on the hangar sides was increased to 2", and the height of the lower hangar was lowered by 2 feet so that both hangars had an overhead clearance of only 14 feet. The result was very cramped accommodation spaces, and a restriction on the type of aircraft that could be operated - the hangars were too low for Corsairs, and due to the unavailability of Hellcats the ships were compelled to carry short-range Seafires. The main external differences were the much enlarged funnel and longer island.

Construction was halted in 1940 by order of Winston Churchill, and even after it was resumed little priority was given to their completion. Implacable took 5 years to build, and by the time she was completed Indefatigable her sister was fully operational and already at sea in combat.

After a short period of operations with the Home Fleet, both ships went to the Pacific, where their larger air groups were responsible for the majority of sorties flown by the carriers of the British Pacific Fleet.

The war service of Indefatigable commenced when she was involved in deck-landing trials achieving a 'first' with the first-ever deck landing by a twin engine aircraft, a de Havilland Mosquito. She then joined the Home Fleet in July 1944, to take part in the attacks on the German Battleship Tirpitz in Norway, with Operaytion Mascot of 17 July 1944, then subsequently a further series of attacks on the Tirpitz on 22, 24 and 29 August 1944 as part of Operation Goodwood.

Taken shortly after the Operation Goodwood II strike on 22 August 1944.
Tirpitz is located in the upper right corner, hiding behind the smoke.

24 August 1944. The British Force turns into the wind to launch the third strike of Operation "Goodwood III". Left to right on the photograph is Formidable, Devonshire, Indefatigable and Duke of York

HMS Indefatigable was modified for Pacific service between October-November 1944 and then joined the Eastern Fleet in November 1944. She led air strikes against an oil refinery at Medan with HMS Indomitable and HMS Victorious on 4 January 1945, then in air strikes against Palembang on 24 and 29 January 1945.

Following a period at Sydney in February 1945, she took part in air strikes against Sakishima Gunto and Formosa in March-April 1945. She was the first British ship to be hit by a Kamikaze when serving with the British Pacific Fleet on 1 April 1945. However, however she quickly recovered and became fully operational within 1 hour. She subsequently took part in further strikes against Sakishima Gunto in May 1945. By the end of these operations Indefatigable had contributed one-third of the Fleet Air Arm sorties flown between 26 March and 25 May 1945.

In June 1945 she was at Sydney - machinery breakdown delayed sailing. She then took part in air strikes against Japanese home islands between 24 July-10 August 1945. Indefatigable operated with the American Third Fleet in Japanese waters between 10 August-2 September and her aircraft flew what was officially the last sortie of the war on 15 August 1945, where her seafires shot down 8 enemy aircraft.

HMS Indefatigable flightdeck, Tasman Sea, November 1944

Indefatigable was at the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay on 3 September 1945, and returned to Sydney on 17 September, after which she repatriated POWs from Japan to Sydney between October-November 1945.

Post war in December 1945 she sailed for New Zealand and return to Sydney, finally departing Sydney at the end of January 1946 for the UK where she arrived on 15 March 1946. She was paid off and put into reserve in December 1946. Post war Indefatigable was recommissioned as a boys training ship in 1950, had her hangars converted to classrooms and accommodation space. Neither ship was significantly modernised, and both were only 10 years old when paid off in August 1954. She was towed to Dalmuir late 1956 for scrapping. Broken up at Troon.

Battle Honours
Norway 1944, Palembang 1945, Okinawa 1945, Japan 1945

No information on Captains.

Squadrons and Aircraft
Embarked squadrons
May 1944:  57 aircraft - 24 Seafires, 21 Barracudas and 12 Fireflies
November 1944:  73 aircraft - 40 Seafires, 21 Avengers, 12 Fireflies

FAA squadrons embarked Dates Aircraft type
894 May 1944-March 1946 Seafire II-III
1770 May 1944-June 1945 Firefly I
820 June-Sept 1944 Barracuda II
826 June-Sept 1944 Barracuda II
842 dt July 1944 Swordfish II
887 July 1944-march 1946 Seafire F.III/L.III
1840 Aug 1944 Hellcat I
820 Oct 1944-March 1946 Avenger I
888 Dec 1944-Jan 1945 Hellcat II
1772 July 1945-Dec 1946 Firefly I

Associations and Reunion

HMS Indefatigable Association
Headquarters : Nautical Club, Bishopsgate Street, Birmingham B15 1ET   WWW:

Archivist/Historian Peter Bonney, 73 Colindale Crescent, Colindale, London NW9 5EU  Tel: 020 8205 1989 - Email:

Memorabilia Custodian  William (Bill) Briggs, 25 Sudley Gdns, High Street, Bognor Regis,West Sussex PO21 1HY - Email:

Newsletter editor, GE Purnell, 164b Green Lanes, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 5LT. Tel: 021 3826648 (1994)
Carrier name HMS Indefatigable
Class Implacable Class
Type Fleet Aircraft Carrier
Ships in Class Implacable, Indefatigable
Launched Laid down 3 November 1939. Launched 8 December 1942. Commissioned 3 May 1944. 
Tonnage Displacement: 23,825 tons standard ; 32,624 tons full load
Engines Propulsion: Steam Turbines (8 Admiralty 3-drum boilers, 4 shafts, Parsons geared turbines), 148,000 shp.
Speed in Knots Speed: 32 knots
Armament Guns: 8 x twin 4.5 inch ; 48 x 2 pdr AA ; 27 x 20 mm Oerlikon AA
Crew Complement 1550 Officers & Ratings, 700 Air Group
Range  Range: 11,000 nmiles at 14 knots
Length (ft/inches) Dimensions: 673 pp, 766.5 oa x 95.75 x 29 feet
Beam (ft/inches)  
Draught (ft/inches)  
Flight Deck length (ft/inches) 760
Flight Deck width (ft/inches) 90
Armour 4" belt 4" hangar sides 3" flight deck 2" hangar decks 
Number of aircraft carried Aircraft: 54
Fate of carrier Reserve 1946-1949, training carrier 1950-1954. Stricken 1956 and broken up 
Notes The Implacable Class carriers were a follow-on from the Illustrious class which took Indomitable's modifications a stage further with a full length two-level hangar. Hangar height was even less than in the Illustrious' due to an attempt to stay within the London Naval Treaty's limitations on displacement. By the end of the war, deck parking allowed 81 aircraft to be carried. The lack of hangar height rendered the ships almost useless after the war, unable to operate many modern aircraft.

Electronics 1944 Type 291 air search Type 272 surface search Type 293 surface search Type 974 navigation 

HMS Indefatigable Association website
HMS Implacable Class in THE ROYAL NAVY WWII website Details and specifications of the Implacable class including summary history
Aircraft Profiles by FAUCONBERG AEROGRAPHICS  SUPERMARINE SEAFIRE L. Mk.III, 887 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service, H.M.S. Indefatigable, British Pacific Fleet, August 1945 Piloted by Sub-Lieutenant G.J. Murphy this aircraft shot down two Mitsubishi A6M Reisens, Odaki Bay Japan, 15.8.45
Aircraft profiles by Scott Fraser, owner of Tally Ho! decals  The following profiles are offered by Scott Fraser, owner of Tally Ho! decals, Seafire L.III, NN212, 887 Squadron, HMS Indefatigable, Seafire L.III, PR171, 807 Squadron, HMS Hunter Burmese Coast, May 1945
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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