The Royal Navy super-carrier which would have been bigger than HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales

In Bob Hind’s latest column this week for The News, he told the little-known story of the idea for a Royal Navy super-carrier which went back decades.

By Bob Hind
Sunday, 8th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 9th December 2019, 4:05 pm

With the arrival of the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales alongside her sister HMS Queen Elizabeth we now have two super-carriers the size of which the Royal Navy has never known.

But there could have been back in the 1960s.

CVA-01 – to give the ship her working title – would have been 33ft longer and 46ft wider than the modern ships.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth (left) passing her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales as she arrived in Portsmouth Harbour this week. Picture:: LPhot Rory Arnold/Royal Navy/PA Wire.

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She would have had a ship’s company of 3,250 compared to 1,600, both including aircrew.

Her range would have been 3,000 nautical miles, less than the modern ships and she would have displaced 55,000 tons compared to today’s 65,000 tonnes.

She would have carried 40 aircraft.

But because of government bickering and inter-service rivalry no order was ever placed and the whole idea was dropped by the Labour government in 1966.

The designer, Louis Rydill, said it was the happiest day of his life when the ship was cancelled.

Thanks to a stream of design changes and budget cuts, the whole construction had become a nightmare.