HMS Queen Elizabeth: What is a Queen Elizabeth class Royal Navy aircraft carrier

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The Royal Navy’s £3.1bn aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is carrying out flight trials in America. 

The behemoth left Portsmouth in August and is set to return to the city by the end of the year. 

HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in New York City. Picture: Royal Navy

HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in New York City. Picture: Royal Navy

The HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is set to enter active duty in 2021, is the first of two Queen Elizabeth class carriers. 

But what does that mean? 

Here's all you need to know: 

Why is it called Queen Elizabeth class? 

Both the class of aircraft carrier and the HMS Queen Elizabeth were named, not for the current sovereign of the UK, but in honour of the WW1 era super-dreadnought Queen Elizabeth. 

READ MORE: HMS Queen Elizabeth: When will Royal Navy's £3.1bn aircraft carrier enter active service?

Is it just the HMS Queen Elizabeth? 

No the UK will have two Queen Elizabeth class carriers once construction is finished. 

As well as the HMS Queen Elizabeth, there will also be her sister ship the HMS Prince of Wales which is still being finished. 

What is so special about them? 

Both the HMS QE and HMS Prince of Wales will be the largest warships ever constructed for the Royal Navy. 

They will also be the second-largest non-US warships after the Yamato-class battleships – used by Imperial Japan during WW2. 

Both ships will be 280 metres (920 ft) long and have a Carrier Air Wing (CVW) of up to forty aircraft – although they are capable of carrying up to fifty at full load.

READ MORE:  HMS Queen Elizabeth: Meet Royal Navy warship's new Commanding Officer

HMS QE and HMS PW will have F-35B fighter jets and the project is set to cost £6.2 billion in total. 

Where will they be based? 

Both of the Queen Elizabeth class warships will be based out of Portsmouth Naval Base – after being constructed at Rosyth Dockyard, Fife.