:: HMS ILLUSTRIOUS (1939) ::

HMS Illustrious aircraft carrier (1939) High resolution picture

The HMS Illustrious was a British aircraft carrier launched in 1939 that participated actively in the Second World War, being her main operative action the attack performed by aeronaval torpedo bombers against the Italian Fleet anchored at Taranto. During her career in the Mediterranean, where she was hit repeated times by German and Italian dive bombers, the HMS Illustrious was saved from being sunk in numerous occassions thanks to her armored deck. This feature was useful as well in the Pacific, where British carriers suffered much less damage than their American counterparts when hit by kamikaze pilots.

The illustration shows the HMS Illustrious as she was during the landings at Salerno in 1943. Two Swordfish torpedo bombers can be seen on the deck, one of them "packed" in the elevator astern. Three fire control directors can be seen in the edges of the flight deck. The long antennas on the edges of the deck were lowered when flight operations were in progress. After a very active war career, the HMS Illustrious was relegated to training and trial tasks until being decommissioned at the end of 1954, and finally scrapped in 1956.

Class: Illustrious (6 units - Formidable, Illustrious, Implacable, Indefatigable, Indomitable, Victorious)

Type: Aircraft carrier

Length: 234 meters

Beam: 29.2 meters

Draught: 7.3 meters

Displacement (standard): 23580 tonnes

Propulsion: 3 x shaft, 3 x steam turbine Parsons, 6 x boiler Admiralty, 110000 horsepower

Speed: 30.5 knots (56.5 kilometers/hour)

Range: 11000 nautical miles (20000 kilometers) at 14 knots

Complement: 1500 as built

Armament (as built): 16 x 114-millimeter 45-caliber cannon, 48 x 40-millimeter cannon

Armor: 114 millimeters in waterline/hangars, 64 millimeters in bulkheads, 76 millimeters in flight deck

Aircraft (in 1940): 15 x Fairey Fulmar fighter, 18 x Fairey Swordfish torpedo bomber

Aircraft (in May 1942): 20 x F4F Wildcat fighter, 1 x Fairey Fulmar fighter, 20 x Fairey Swordfish torpedo bomber

Aircraft (in June 1944): 42 x F4U Corsair fighter, 15 x Barracuda II torpedo/dive bomber

Aircraft (in December 1944): 36 x F4U Corsair fighter, 21 x TBF Avenger torpedo bomber

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