HMS Furious (CV-3)

An Early Carrier of the Royal Navy

By , June, 2007. Updated March 1, 2012.

Captain Jackson of the Royal Flying Corps revved up his Sopwith Camel in the pre-dawn darkness aboard HMS Furious, a converted cruiser, in July 1918 serving a new function for the Royal Navy --- as an "aircraft carrier."  Facing into the wind blowing over the North Sea darkness, Jackson's little biplane shot forward when released and it zipped down Furious' 600-foot flight deck.

Jackson clawed for altitude as his flight-mates, Capt. Dickson and Lt. Williams, followed him. By 0300 hrs they had cleared Furious and climbed to an altitude of 5,000 ft heading south down the coast of Denmark until turning east and climbing to 6, 000 ft to approach the German Zeppelin base at Tondern (by following roads!). Jackson had arranged to signal his spotting of the target with a red flag -  but which he couldn't put his hands on at the critical moment when he sighted the target!!

Another flight of four Camels followed the first 20 minutes later. In all, the seven airplanes bombed the Zeppelin sheds with surprising effectiveness, effectively shutting them down for the remaining months of the war. The British fliers got separated after the strike; some went down in Denmark and were interned, Lt. Yeulett was killed, and Captain Jackson ditched and was picked up by HMS Violent.

HMS Furious had started to demonstrate the usefulness of naval aviation.

HMS Furious, aircraft carrier

Originally laid down as a large light cruiser, HMS Furious was commissioned June 26, 1917 a plane carrier, with a flying-off deck. A fatal landing accident caused the ship to be outfitted with a landing-on deck.

Eventually modernized with a full length flight deck, AA battery and an updated with an island in 1939, HMS Furious was a work in progress. Launching an early and highly significant air strike in naval history, Furious sent seven Sopwith Camels with two 50 pound bombs to Tondern, successfully damaging two sheds and destroying two Zeppelins on July 19, 1918.  Read more about the Tondern raid here.

Numerous large openings between her hull proper and the flight deck revealed her chimeric construction. Also, the way her flight deck stopped well short of the bow and  stern further indicated her cruiser-ly origins.

*Displacement:* 22,450 tons standard
*Length: *239.7m / 782 ft
*Beam: *27.4m / 90.1ft
*Draft: *25 ft (7.6 m)
*Propulsion:* Steam Turbines (18 Yarrow small-tube boilers, 4 shafts, Brown-Curtis geared turbines), 90,000 hp.
*Speed:* 29.5 knots
*Complement: *1,218
*Aircraft:* 22-40

*Range: *6,000 nautical miles at 20 kt**

12 × 4 inch (102 mm) guns (6 × 2)
22 × 20 mm guns (22 × 1)
48 × 2 pdr (40 mm) pom-poms (6 × 8)

HMS Furious, aircraft carrier

September 15, 1948 HMS Furious was decommissioned, her sale and scrapping completed in 1954.

Read more about Furious at the USNavy website, and  Wikipedia.