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HMS Furious 1917

HMS Furious
HMS Furious

HMS Furious was one of the pioneering ships of British naval aviation. Originally laid down in 1915 as a large light cruiser mounting two 457mm guns, the largest on any Royal Navy warship, Furious was built as part of Admiral John Fisher's plan to attack Germany's Baltic coast using shallow draught vessels. When this attack became unlikely a new role was sought for the ship.

Her large size and excellent speed made Furious an obvious choice to operate aircraft. In February 1917 her forward gun was replaced with a flying off deck. In a remarkable event on 2 August 1917 Squadron Commander E.H. Dunning landed his Sopwith Pup on Furious' flying off deck, the first aircraft to land on a ship. A few days later Dunning tried again but was killed when his aircraft went over the side.

As a result of Dunning's accident a landing on deck was built on the stern in late 1917. This was not entirely successful because of the unpredictable wind currents caused by the superstructure amidships. However, Furious launched the celebrated Tondern raid in July 1918 when seven Camel aircraft attacked Zeppelin sheds destroying two airships.

Re-built between 1922-1925 with a full flight deck, Furious served with the Atlantic and Home Fleets until 1939. At the beginning of World War II she was employed hunting U-boats in the Atlantic and in April 1940 took part in the operations off Norway. In an unusual departure from her normal roles Furious then carried £18,000,000 of gold bullion to Canada.

For much of the war Furious was employed by the Home Fleet carrying out air strikes against German shipping in Norway, most notably the major attack on the German battleship Tirpitz on 3 April 1944. She was also used to ferry aircraft reinforcements to Malta including during the famous Operation 'Pedestal' convoy of August 1942 which raised the siege of the island. In November 1942 Furious was part of Force H which covered the landings in North Africa.

HMS Furious Statistics (1940)
Period in service: 1917 - 1944
Displacement: 22,450 tons
Length: 239.7m / 786.5ft
Beam: 27.4m / 90.1ft
Complement: 1,218
Speed: 30 kts
Armament: 12 x 4 inch Guns

8x 2 pounder PomPom Anti Aircraft Guns

Armour: 2 - 3 inch belt, 1 inch flight deck Torpedo bulges designed to counter a 440lb weapon
Aircraft: 33
Half Sister Ships: HMS Courageous, HMS Glorious

Notes: The armour belt was the protection along the sides of a ship's hull.