Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s have a look at another of the upcoming new ships, the tier VI British Premium Aircraft Carrier Ark Royal.
I think that by now, this ship is quite famous, to say the least, but it would be an insult to not have a look at her history.
The HMS Ark Royal was a unique aircraft carrier built by the Royal Navy and which served during the Second World War. Built under the restrictions of the Washington Naval Treaty, the ship was ordered in 1934, laid down on 16 September 1936 and commissioned in 1938. Her design was unique compared to the previous British aircraft carriers as her hangar and flight deck were an integral part of the hull instead of an add-on. She was able to carry a large number of aircrafts thanks to 2 hangar deck levels with between 50 to 60 aircraft transported even though in theory, it could go up to 72.
The Ark Royal took part in numerous operations in the Atlantic and started the War by assisting in the first sinking of a U-boat (U-39) of the Second World War as part of the Hunter-killer groups. However, with the sinking of the Courageous soon after, the Royal Navy understood that it was too dangerous to employ Aircraft carriers to hunt submarines.
After a rescue mission to help the submarine Spearfish, the Ark Royal with the battleships Nelson and Rodney was spotted and attacked by 3 German Dornier Do 18 seaplanes. One of them was shot down and became the first British aerial kill of the war. Soon after, 4 Junkers Ju 88 attacked the ships with one dropping its 1 000 kg bomb payload on Ark Royal but missed its target. Due to a reconnaissance flight not finding the carrier, the Germans claimed that the ship had been sunk by the bomb hit and used it to fuel the war propaganda. In the end, it just forced Britain to reassure their allies, telling them that the ship was all fine and floating which turned out to be a bit embarrassing for the Nazi propaganda.
The Ark Royal would later take part in the hunt of the German Panzerschiff Admiral Graf Spee before returning to the Mediterranean for a while. She would then sail to Norway to provide fighter support for other ships and for land operations.
After this, the ship would sail back to the Mediterranean, helping against Vichy France’s navy and the Italian navy.
In early 1941, The aircraft carrier would have a little hide and seek game with the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau but in the end, both battleships escaped in the Atlantic.
She would later take part in the Malta Convoys with a very important break in May 1941 to hunt the German battleship Bismarck. The Swordfish bombers of the Ark Royal carried 2 attacks with the first one being a massive failure (and at the same time a miracle) with the bombers mixing up the British light cruiser Sheffield for the Bismarck and dropping their new magnetic torpedoes on her. Thankfully, these new torpedoes turned out to be a faulty and, returning to the Ark Royal, the bombers were rearmed with functional torpedoes. The swordfish bombers, once they spotted the Bismarck were able to get 3 torpedoes on target with one jamming the rudder of the battleship, forcing her to sail in a circle and dooming the ship.
The great carrier of the Ark Royal would end in November 1941 when she was torpedoed by the submarine U-81. Despite all the efforts to save the ship, she would capsize and sink on the 14 November with only one lost sailor out of her 1 488 crew members.
Later investigations would discover that multiple design flaws lead to the ship’s sinking, design flaws that would be fixed on the next carrier designs.
Her wreck was rediscovered in 2002 South of Gibraltar.
If you want more detailed information about the Ark Royal, I strongly recommend you this video from Drachinifel, an amazing youtuber doing short guides of warships of various eras.
As a side note, for now, the Ark Royal’s torpedo bombers are… Albacores… Wargaming announced that this would be changed buuut… Wargaming. You had ONE job!
The bow, the stern, the flight deck and the sides of the Ark Royal are 19 mm thick. Her superstructure is 10 mm thick and finally, the main belt, including the citadel is 110 mm thick.
Eeeeeeeh… As much as the Kaga works at tier VIII, I have a hard time seeing the Ark Royal working right now. The Kaga has fairly fast planes and huge reserves. The Ark Royal has slow as hell planes (good luck doing something with planes going at a top speed of 133 knots and with low HP against tier VIII ships) and her reserves, when comparing them to the other tier VI carriers, are really nothing stellar. Also, I’m not even talking about her horrendous carpet bombing with 18 mm penetration bombs.
For now, all I can see is that I will have “fun” testing that ship.