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Preserved, war graves and wrecks of Aircraft Carriers of the Royal Navy  1939-1945

Former HMS Vengeance as ARA Minas Gerais after refit in 2000

Here is a list of Royal Navy, Commonwealth and World aircraft carriers which still exist in the 21st century either as preserved ships, wrecks or designated as underwater war graves. 

The preservation scene for British or Commonwealth aircraft carriers is none existent, most of the Fleet Carriers were scrapped in the 1940s and 1950s, HMS Victorious was scrapped in 1970 and regarded as a sad loss, the last aircraft carrier which had any significant wartime service was HMS Attacker which was scrapped as late as 1980! Whilst for HMS Ark Royal, which was decommissioned 4 December 1978. Its preservation effort failed; so the hulk was sold in 1980 and subsequently scrapped. More recently Venerable and Vengeance (Minas Gerais) were still actively operating with the Navies of Argentina and Brazil. An active campaign by a British group tried to safeguard Vengeance in 2003-2004 however there was a complete lack of support from the British Government or the Fleet Air Arm and Royal Naval Museums in the UK. Her fate was sealed and with no assistance to preserve her in the UK, Vengeance was towed to Alang in India and was being scrapped 2004-5.

Today there with no real preserved former Royal Navy carrier the nearest effort is merely a mock up of an aircraft carrier at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton to provide the public with a "Carrier Experience". This exhibition embarrassingly cost more than it would have cost to purchase the real carrier HMS Vengeance. A sad state of affairs for ship preservation. By comparison the US has had the foresight to preserve its great wartime carriers, 11 still exist in the States. 

The renown Royal Navy aircraft carriers that were sunk in conflict with the enemy may have been largely forgotten in people's mind and may be now just be rust but in some cases are as real as the day they were torpedoed or sunk and are preserved as underwater war graves, a total of 9 Royal Navy carriers may still survive as underwater wrecks today. 

Yet there is still some little hope for preservation of British Aircraft Carriers. Some, 2 British aircraft carriers laid down in the Second World War still survive to some extent, HMS Hercules and Hermes. One, HMS Hercules is becoming a Museum in India as the INS Vikrant, whilst the Hermes (INS Viraat) is still actively operating with the Navy of India. The UK still has one last opportunity to preserve those important class of ships in its Maritime History, there is time but only just......

Museum Proposal
to identify and preserve a Royal Navy aircraft carrier for future generation

Please help us to preserve our shared naval aviation heritage.

If you have information about available Aircraft Carriers with a Royal Navy history which fills gaps in the preservation scene please contact us. In future editions of the FAA archive NEWS we will keep you informed with out progress to preserve our Royal Navy and FAA Heritage.

For each of the 13 aircraft carriers listed below, are Photographs, Profiles, a Short Description and History of Development (5 to 40 lines), Technical Data, Battle Honours and Operational History, Squadrons, details of the extent of surviving or preserved Aircraft Carriers and any Associations are given. The lists are sorted alphabetically by the names used by the Royal Navy. If you are uncertain about the latest or current name of an aircraft carrier, the alternative name in usage is also listed here. 

Complete list of extant, preserved, wrecked or working former Royal Navy aircraft carriers extant in World War II:

Ark Royal II (wreck)

Audacity (wreck)

Avenger (wreck)

Biter (wreck)

Courageous (wreck)

Dasher (wreck)

Eagle I (wreck)

Glorious (wreck)

Hercules - extant as INS Vikrant in India

Hermes (wreck)

Hermes (light carrier) - extant ? as INS Viraat in India

Majestic - last served as HMAS Melbourne. Flight deck survives in China 2000

Venerable - extant as ARA Vientecinco de Mayo (part) Beached at Alang 2000 for scrapping

Vengeance - extant until 2004-5 as Minas Gerais (Brazil). Beached Alang 2004-5

FAA Archive - For a full list of all surviving WW2 aircraft carriers and information on their current status

FAA Archive - List of underwater wrecks and maritime memorial aircraft carriers

FAA Archive - surviving World War II ships of the World 2000-2001


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Created: 3-04-2001, Last Modified 3-06-2005


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