Fighter Catapult Armed Auxillary Ship
Ex HMS Ark Royal (II)
Became Anita I 1946


HMS Pegasus was a seaplane carrier and later a fighter catapult ship built at Blythe and laid down as a collier but taken over during construction. Commissioned December 1914 as HMS Ark Royal, renamed HMS Pegasus in December 1934 as the original name was required for the new Fleet Aircraft carrier.

Pegasus was a Catapult Armed ship or Fighter Catapult ship. It was a representative of the Pegasus Class consisting of Ariguani, Maplin, Patia, Pegasus and Springbank with FAA aircraft. Each of these merchantmen were equipped with one Fleet Air Arm or RAF fighter and a temporary catapult. When threatened by enemy planes, the fighter took off. When it was done, it ditched, and the pilot was (theoretically) picked up by the merchant ship's convoy. As an interim measure until more escort carriers could be made, selected British or Dominion merchant ships were fitted with an obsolescent Hawker Hurricane fighter to protect the ship convoys against air attack or reconnaisance overflights. The pilot was the only Fleet Air Arm or RAF crew member on board, and had little to do unless the plane was needed. If an emergency arose, the aircraft would be catapulted off to do combate, then the pilot had to ditch and be fished out of the water. Though the aircraft could only be used once, they even had their landing gear deleted to save weight, they could save a convoy from air attack.

The first catapult launch from a moving ship was by Lt.Cmdr. H.H. Mustin in a Curtiss AB-3 flying boat on 16 July, 1916, launched from the USS North Carolina (ACR-12). In the second world War the first FAA pilot shot from a catapult ship was by Lt Birrell in 1941.

Photograph of example of catapult launched aircraft - Kingfisher

Pegasus was converted to become a catapult ship in 1940, saw war service in the Atlantic 1940, and became a training ship from 1941-1944, and put into reserve from September 1944 and subsequently relegated to being an accomodation ship.

Sea hurricane catapult launch

Cam Ship with Hurricane Fighter on the Catapult .. Atlantic Convoy 1942

Pegasus was sold as mercantile ship Anita I in 1946. Scrapped Greys Yard, Essex October 1950.

Battle Honours
Atlantic 1940 - 1

No information on Captains.

Squadrons and Aircraft
No information

Associations and Reunions
No information

Ship name Pegasus (ex HMS Ark Royal I). became Anita I
Class Pegasus
Type Catapult and Maintenance Trials Ship 
Ships in Class Ariguani, Maplin, Patia, Pegasus, Springbank
Tonnage 2,070 standard; 3,315 tons deep load
Engines 2 shaft Brown-Curtis geared turbines; 6 boilers developing 9,500shp
Speed in Knots 20
Armament Two single 3inch Anti-Aircraft, Two Single 12-pounder Anti-Aircraft. Air Weapons: 18inch torpedoes, light bombs, 0.303in ammunition, flares and pyrotechnics 
Crew Complement 258
Length (ft/inches) Length (ft/inches) 332/4
Beam (ft/inches) Beam (ft/inches) 43/0.75 
Draught (ft/inches) Draught (ft/inches) 18/9
Flight Deck length (ft/inches) 82
Flight Deck width (ft/inches) 28
Number of aircraft carried 9 seaplanes and wheeled fighters
Fate of carrier  
World Aircraft Carrier Lists and Photo Gallery - from 1913 to 2000. Naval History Information Center, Haze Gray & Underway  
British and HMS Pegasus - Further information.  
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). Janes 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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