Became temporarily USS Robin 1943

 Fleet Aircraft Carrier

HMS Victorious was built by Vickers Armstrong, Newcastle. Laid down 4 May 1937, she was launched on 14 September 1939 and commissioned 15 May 1941.

In 1935 the Admiralty took a radical step by deciding that the next generation of aircraft carriers would be afforded the same protection as the big-gun units. Previous carriers had been armoured, but only only the lower or main deck over the machinery and magazines and in a waterline belt. The "Illustrious" Class ships were to have a hangar protected against 500lb bombs and 6" shells; leading to the armouring of the flight deck. The flight deck between the lifts was 3" thick and the hangar walls were 41" thick. Both Formidable and Victorious were struck by Kamikazes in 1945, but both were operating aircraft again soon after the hits - unlike the wooden-decked US carriers.

HMS Victorious Swordfish ranged on deck prior to the attack on the Bismarck in the Atlantic, 1941

HMS Victorious joined the Home Fleet on commissioning in May 1941 just nine days later her pilots encountered and attacked the Bismarck. On 23 May 1941, the new carrier HMS Victorious whose aircrews, despite their inexperience, succeeded in putting a torpedo into the battleship's midship section, which opened up a fuel tank on the Bismarck. Unfortunately, the injury was insufficient to stop the ship, which then managed to shake off the cruisers. With a dawn air search from the Victorious failing to re-establish contact, there began an anxious 32 hours until a Consolidated Catalina sighted her, trailing oil but clear of the Home Fleet and well on her way to Brest. Force H had, however, been brought north for just such an eventuality and was well placed. An HMS Ark Royal aircraft was in touch by noon on 26 May and, despite appalling weather conditions, an aerial torpedo strike was launched. It was bad luck that the radar-fitted cruiser HMS Sheffield had gone on ahead, for the Swordfish leader also attacked by radar through the low cloud base, wasting the torpedoes on the wrong ship, which skillfully avoided them. A further five hours elapsed before another strike could be mounted. In conditions that would have aborted flying in peacetime, the aircraft took off and flew via the Sheffield to the target. 'two hits were scored, one severely damaging a rudder and propeller shaft. Now slowed
significantly, the Bismarck was harried throughout the night by destroyers before being sunk after a gunnery duel on the following morning.

9 March 1942 four 4 Fairey Albacores of 832 Squadron, from HMS Victorious, emerged from the cloud abeam of Tirpitz (in foreground) and the destroyer Friedrich Ihn (in the background) and began to dive to an immediate attack.

Victorious's Fairey Albacore aircraft were subsequently involved in an attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in March 1942  in a Norwegian fjord.

HMS Victorious in convoy with HMS Indomitable and HMS Eagle, 1941-1942, Mediterranean

She provided cover for Russian convoys PQ-15 and PQ-17 in May and June 1942 respectively. The British Home Fleet was set to sail from its base at Scapa Flow on the following day. It was to trail PQ-17 at a distance of 200 miles and provide distant cover. The fleet included the battleship HMS Duke of York, two cruisers and 14 destroyers reinforced by the battleship USS Washington and the carrier HMS Victorious.

She left the Clyde with Operation "Pedestal" convoy on 3 August 1942; left "Pedestal" convoy 10 August and took part in the North African landings in November 1942.

Combined U.S.N. Battle Group of HMS Victorious (foreground) renamed as USS Robin and USS Saratoga, at Noumea, New Caledonia, 1943

Refitted at Norfolk Navy Yard USA, winter 1942-43, after which she was loaned to the US Pacific Fleet until being replaced by USS Essex. Despite its massive industrial muscle, the United States still found itself short of carriers in the Pacific, the only American carrier available in the South Pacific was USS Saratoga. HMS Victorious sailed to Pearl Harbor to join USS Saratoga's Battle Group, Task Force 14. She arrived and took up duties under Task Force 14 in the the Southwest Pacific on 17th May 1943. Renamed the USS Robin, she embarked US aircraft and aircrew, and with the Saratoga swept the Soloman Islands, whilst Saratoga embarked all the strike squadrons including the Fleet Air Arm 832 Squadron Avengers.

In May-June 1943, at Noumea, New Caledonia, the light cruiser USS San Diego joined USS Saratoga, and carrier HMS Victorious in support of the invasion of Munda, New Georgia, and of Bougainville. During this period Victorious operated 60 British and American Wildcat fighters for air cover. The two carriers sailed on 27th June, the carriers took up position and in the next few days put up 600 sorties against little opposition. The aircraft were reassigned to their parent carriers on 24 July, and the force reached Noumea the next day.

Resuming her former name, HMS Victorious returned to the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow towards the end of 1943 and in early 1944 her aircraft participated in the attack on the Tirpitz.

HMS Victorious covered Russian convoys from January-March 1944, then took part in  Operation "Tungsten" air strike against the German battleship Tirpitz, with HMS Victorious on 3 April 1944. This was a first for British Naval aviation with the first comabt missions of the Corsair (29 January 1944 first Corsair combat operations from a U.S. carrier, USS Enterprise, by VF (N)-101)

Successful attack in Operation Tungsten of 3 April 1944 on the Tirpitz in Kaa Fjord, North Norway by Barracuda dive-bombers from HMS Furious and HMS Victorious

In May 1944, Victorious went in for a refit, which on completion she joined the British Eastern Fleet enroute to the Far East. In July 1944, she led a strike against Palembang with HMS Illustrious,  then on 25 July she led a strike against the Andaman Is. with HMS Indomitable.

In October 1944, she was assigned to the British Pacific Fleet. The command of the BPF was split between Sir Bruce Fraser (fleet operations) and Sir Philip Vian (air operations). The BPF had six new fleet carriers, HMS Indominable, HMS Victorious, HMS Illustrious, HMS Implacable, HMS Indefatigable and HMS Formidable, but not all were active at the same time because of refits and engine problems. There were two battleships, HMS King George V and HMS Howe. These were escorted by six cruisers and 12 destroyers. The air crews were a mixture of Canadians, South Africans, New Zealanders and British pilots. They flew mostly American aircraft such as the Corsair, Avenger and Hellcat, with a few Seafires.

Corsair II from 1836 sqn embarked on HMS Victorious as part of the British Pacific Fleet in 1944 -
took part in raids on the Sumatra oil fields.

 In early 1945, the carriers Indomitable, Victorious, Illustrious and Indefatigable cooperated with the US Fifth fleet in its battle to take Okinawa. HMS Victorious took part in the January 1945 strikes against Pankalan Brandan (Sumatra) with HMS Indefatigable on 4 January 1945, and then strikes against Palembang with HMS Illustrious and HMS Indefatigable on 24 and 29 January 1945.

Corsair II JT427 "TRH" of 47th Naval Fighter Wing (1834 and 1836 sqdns)
and flown by Wing Leader Lt Col. RC 'Ronnie' Hay RM of HMS Victorious in January 1945
Profile created by Nigel Eastmond.

Lieutenant Don Sheppard RCNVR, joined HMS Victorious in November 1943. After joining the BPF, while aboard Victorious, Sheppard shot down two Oscars in the East Indies strikes on 4 January 1945. He scored a kill on a Tojo on 24 January and shared two kills on 29 January. Later on 4 May he obtained a kill on a Judy. Sheppard thus achieved "ace" status and was the only Canadian Corsair pilot and only FAA pilot to achieve this. Sheppard was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for his gallantry.

HMS Victorious returned to Sydney in February 1945, departing again on 28 February 1945 for a strike against Sakishima Gunto. She was hit by a Kamikaze on 9 May 1945 - no damage.

Corsair 1834 and 1836 squadrons ranged on flight deck of HMS Victorious in preparation for an air strike against the Japanese, 1945

Ship's officers and 1834 squadron pilots watch Corsair "7T" of 1834 being moved by deck handlers on HMS Victorious, 1945

On July 1945 an 849 Squadron aircraft from HMS Victorious located and scored the first bomb hit on the Japanese escort aircraft carrier Kaiyo (or Kayo), which was seriously damaged by the FAA aircraft in Beppu Bay, Kyushu, on 24 July 1945. Kaiyo was stricken from the Japanese naval register in November 1945 and was scrapped at Beppu Bay in 1946-48.

Japanese escort carrier Kaiyo crippled by 849 sqdn aircraft from HMS Victorious, 1945.
Beached in Beppu Bay, Kyushu, Japan, while being scrapped, 1946-47.

HMS Victorious served with the BPF until the end of war on repatriation duties for former POW troops, 1945-47.

Another aviation first for HMS Victorious, was when the first deck trials with Sea Furies, were undertaken by the third production aircraft, TF898, which began aboard HMS Victorious during the winter of 1946-47. There were some initial problems with arrester hooks being damaged during landings, and several interim modifications were necessary. The Sea Fury Mk. X was finally cleared for shipboard duty in the spring of 1947.

Victorious was decommissioned in January 1947, recommissioned October 1947 as a training carrier from October 1947-October 1950. Then she underwent major reconstruction from October 1950-January 1958, the entire ship being rebuilt from hangar deck upwards with angled flight deck and large increase in hangar height. She then was in Home and Far East service 1958-1968. She was damaged by fire during a 1967 refit when it was decided that she should be decommissioned early. She was then sticken  in July 1969, decommissioned and sold for scrapping 1969. She finally arrived at Faslane in July 1970 to be broken up.

Battle Honours
War service Atlanric, Coral Sea, Arctic, Norway, Mediterranean, Pacific Fleet 1945.


No information on Captains.

Squadrons and Aircraft
May 1941 33 aircraft - Fulmars, Swordfish
1944 50 aircraft - Corsairs, Avengers

FAA squadrons embarked Dates Aircraft type
809 Jan 1941-Nov 1942 Fulmar II
825 May-June 1941 Swordfish I
800Z May-June 1941 Fulmar I
820 June 1941 Swordfish I
828 July-Aug 1941 Albacore I
827 July-Aug  1941 Albacore I
820 July 1941-Jan 1942 Albacore I
817 Aug 1941-Nov 1942 Albacore I
832 Aug 1941-Dec 1942 Albacore I
802 dt Sept 1941 Martlet I
885 June-Aug 1942 Sea Hurricane Ib
884 July-Nov 1942 Spitfire V
801 dt Aug 1942 Sea Hurricane Ib
896 Sept 1942-Sept 1943 Martlet IV
898 Oct 1942-Oct 1943 Martlet IV
882 Oct 1942-Sept 1943 Martlet IV
832 Jan-Sept 1943 Avenger TBF1
1834 Feb 1944-Oct 1945 Corsair II/IV
827 March-April 1944 Barracuda II
829 March-July 1944 Barracuda II
831 March-Aug 1944 Barracuda II
1836 March 1944-Oct 1945 Corsair II/IV
1837 July-Sept 1944 Corsair II
1838 July 1944 Corsair II
822 dt Sept 1944 Barracuda II
849 Dec 1944-Oct 1945 Avenger II


Associations and Reunions

HMS Victorious Association, founder: AWF Rodgers, 32 Trostrey, Hollybush, Cwmbran, South Wales, NP44 70D (1992)

Telegraphist / Air Gunner Derek Foster (Fleet Air Arm)
Trained as a Telegraphist Air Gunner, Derek Foster's first posting was with 825 Squadron aboard HMS Vindex in the North Atlantic, searching for German submarines. Later, in the Far East, Foster served on HMS Victorious attacking Japanese islands as well as the clip

HMS Victorious Association, founder: AWF Rodgers, 32 Trostrey, Hollybush, Cwmbran, South Wales, NP44 70D (1992)

Carrier name HMS Victorious
Class Illustrious Class
Type Fleet Aircraft Carrier
Ships in Class Illustrious, Victorious, Formidable, Indomitable
Launched Built by Vickers Armstrong, Newcastle. Laid down 4 May 1937. Launched 14 September 1939. Commissioned 15 May 1941
Tonnage Displacement: 30,530 tons standard ; 35,500 tons full load 
Engines Propulsion: reboilered. Original propulsion: Steam Turbines (6 Admiralty 3-drum boilers, 3 shafts, Parsons geared turbines), 111,000 shp.
Speed in Knots Speed: 30.5 knots
Armament 5 x 8 x 2pdr "pom-pom" AA 2 x 4 x 40mm Bofors AA 2 x 2 x 40mm Bofors AA 9 x 1 x 40mm Bofors AA 23 x 2 x 20mm Oerlikon AA 15 x 1 x 20mm Oerlikon AA 
Crew Complement Compliment: 2200 including Officers & Ratings and Air Group
Range  Range: 11,000 nmiles at 14 knots
Length (ft/inches) Dimensions: 781 oa x 103.25 x 31 feet 
Beam (ft/inches)  
Draught (ft/inches)  
Flight Deck length (ft/inches) 620
Flight Deck width (ft/inches) 95'
Armour 3" flight deck 2" hangar deck 4" side belt 4" hangar sides 
Number of aircraft carried Aircraft: 36
Fate of carrier Damaged by fire during 1967 refit when it was decided that she should be decommissioned early. Stricken July 1969 and broken up. 
Notes Reconstructed October 1950 - January 1958, ship rebuilt from hangar deck upwards with angled flight deck and large increase in hangar height

As originally envisaged, the class comprised 6 ships, but the fourth ship and the last pair differed sufficiently for them to be regarded as separate classes. The increase in size of aircraft, particularly jets, made post-war use of the Illustrious class impractical due to a lack of hangar height. Victorious was the only carrier to serve past the early 1950's after being extensively reconstructed to operate jet aircraft.

HMS Illustrious Class in THE ROYAL NAVY WWII website Details and brief history of the Class
HMS Victorious:  Information by British  
Summary history of the Illustrious class in Royal Navy Ships of World War 2
Further information by Rob Jerrard on the Victorious.
The Malta Convoys 1941 - 1942 - War at Sea 1939-1945 Details of each of the Malta convoys and of the operations of the aircraft carriers Argus, Ark Royal, Eagle, Furious, Indomitable and Victorious
 Information about HMS Victorious in Operation Pedestal and the Malta Convoys.  
Death of PQ-17: As their escorts turned away, the ships of the doomed Allied convoy followed orders and began to disperse in the Arctic waters. By Raymond A. Denkhaus
With Gallantry and Determination" The Story of the Torpedoing of the Bismarck by Mark E. Horan
Tirpitz - Operation Operation "Rösselsprung" (5 July 1942) PQ-17
HMS Hood website and the sinking of the bismarck Account of the sinking of the Bismarck
Tirpitz Operation "Sportpalast" (5-9 March 1942) Attack on the Tirpitz by HMS Victorious, 1942
Tirpitz - Operation "Tungsten" (3 April 1944)
DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER: Online Library of Selected Images: Online Library of Selected Images:
-- JAPANESE NAVY SHIPS --Kaiyo (Escort Aircraft Carrier, 1943-1945).
Japanese escort carrier sunk by 849 sqdn aircraft from HMS Victorious 1945
Aircraft profiles by Scott Fraser, owner of Tally Ho! decals, Tarpon II, JZ525 HMS Victorious related profiles including Tarpon II, JZ525, 849 Squadron, HMS Victorious Flown against Pangkalan Brandan refinery, January 5, 1945
Aircraft Profiles by FAUCONBERG AEROGRAPHICS Aircraft Profiles of FAIREY FULMAR Mk. I, 803 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service, H.M.S. Formidable, Mediterranean Sea, December 1940, FAIREY FULMAR I, N1892 "6K", 808 Sqn RNAS, HMS Victorious, December 1940
 "HMS Victorious 1937 - 1969", by Neil McCart
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

World Aircraft Carrier Lists and Photo Gallery - from 1913 to 2000. Naval History Information Center, Haze Gray & Underway
        Last Modified: 23-2-2001


Return to Home Page


This page is published by Fleet Air Arm Archive and is updated regularly.
© 2000-2001 All rights reserved for all information created for or on behalf of the Fleet Air Arm Archive
Contact email: