Training and Escort Carrier

Ex USS Winjah ACV/AVG-54/CVE-54
Became South Africa Star 1948


HMS Reaper (D-62) was built as a Ruler Class escort carrier in the USA at Seattle-Tacoma and laid down 5 June 1943 as USS Winjah ACV/AVG-54. Launched 22 November 1943, she was rransferred to the Royal Navy on 18 February 1944, and commissioned 21 February 1944

The ruler Class was the third group of escort carriers built in the USA for the Royal Navy, and were generally similar to the preceding "Attacker" Class. The modifications carried out to the earlier class after their arrival in the UK were incorporated in the "Ruler" Class during construction. Many of the class were used as amphibious support carriers, taking part in the invasion of Southern France. Others supported Eastern Fleet operations against Burma and Malaya, and some served with the British Pacific Fleet as escorts for the Fleet Train.

HMS Reaper was built as an Assault Carrier for duties in 1944 - 5. She was mainly employed on ferry and transport duties, including convoy escort and training in the Atlantic.

With the collapse of the German forces in 1945, HMS Reaper was called upon to take part in a top secret mission, code named operation Lusty which started on 22 April 1945. The USAAF Intelligence Service had sent teams to Europe to gain access to enemy aircraft, technical and scientific reports, research facilities, and weapons for study in the US. Operation LUSTY began with the aim of exploiting captured German scientific documents, research facilities, and aircraft, the searchers nicknamed "Whizzers" located nine Me 262 jet aircraft at Lechfeld airfield, and travelled far and wide over Europe by jeep and occasionally by air to find the aircraft on the "Black Lists." Once found, the Royal Navy were willing to loan the aircraft carrier HMS Reaper. The most viable harbour for docking the carrier and loading the various aircraft was at Cherbourg, France. The "Whizzers" flew the Me 262s and other aircraft from Lechfeld to St. Dizier, to Melun, and then to Cherbourg. All the aircraft were cocooned against the salt air and weather, loaded onto the carrier which sailed in July 1945 for the USA, where they were studied by the Air Intelligence groups of both the USAAF and Navy.

The Me 262A, the world's first operational turbojet aircraft, on display at the USAF Museum (USA) was taken to the US from Germany onboard HMS Reaper in July 1945 for flight evaluation.

Reaper was finally returned to the USN by the Royal Navy on 20 May 1946, and became mercantile South Africa Star 1948, scrapped Milhara 1967.

Battle Honours
Atlantic 1944

No information on Captains.

Squadrons and Aircraft
No information

Associations and Reunions
No information

Carrier name HMS Reaper
Built as USS Winjah ACV/AVG-54. 
became mercantile South Africa Star 1948
Class Ruler
Type Training and Escort Carrier (US built)
Ships in Class Ameer, Arbiter, Atheling, Begum, Emperor, Empress, Khedive, Nabob, Patroller, Premier, Puncher, Queen, Rajah, Ranee, Reaper, Ruler, Shah, Slinger, Smiter, Speaker, Thane, Trouncer, Trumpeter
Launched Laid down 5 June 1943. Launched 22 November 1943, Transferred 18 February 1944, Commissioned 21 February 1944
Tonnage 8,333 tons

Gross displacement 14,000 tons

Load 5667 tons

Engines 2 x Foster-Wheeler boilers; 2 x Westinghouse geared turbines at 8500 shp, 1 shaft
Speed in Knots 18 knots 
Armament Gun 2 x 1 x 5"/38-cal DP 8 x 2 x 40mm AA 27-35 x 1 x 20mm AA 
Crew Complement 646 Officers & Ratings including Air Group
Length (ft/inches) 496
Beam (ft/inches) 69' 6"
Draught (ft/inches) 23'3"
Flight Deck length (ft/inches) 470'
Flight Deck width (ft/inches) 70'
Number of aircraft carried 18-24
Fate of carrier   scrapped Milhara 1967.
OPERATION "LUSTY" (Luftwaffe secret technology) USAF website Post war US operation to return secret Luftwaffe technology to the USA. HMS Reaper was involved in transporting the valuable cargo.
USAF Museum Home to some of the German aircraft transported by HMS Reaper in July 1945 to the USA
Navsource online: Escort Carrier photo archives: HMS Reaper REAPER
Escort Carriers of World War Two - by Poolman, Kenneth (1989). Published by Arms & Armour. ISBN 0853689520
        Last Modified: 23-2-2001


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