Canada's Aircraft Carriers
HMCS MAGNIFICENT - Served With the RCN
from 1948 to 1957.
Shown here off Jetty 4, Halifax Dockyard.
Aircraft Carriers - World War II
Laid down as the merchant
vessel Edisto, but converted to an aircraft carrier while
building, she was commissioned HMS NABOB in Tacoma, Wash.,
on September 7, 1943. After working up, she entered Burrard
drydock at Vancouver on November 1 for modification to
RN standards, completing January 12, 1944. About this
time it was arranged that she and a near-sister Puncher,
should be manned largely by Canadians while remaining
RN ships. In February she embarked 852 Squadron (FAA)
of Avengers at San Francisco and sailed for the U.K. via
New York, where she took aboard a flight-deck cargo of
Mustangs for the RAF. She joined the British Home Fleet
at Scapa Flow on August 1, and that month took part in
two operations off the Norwegian coast, the second being
an attack on the Tirpitz. On August 22 Nabob was torpedoed
by U 354 in the Barents Sea, resulting in a hole some
32 feet square abaft the engine room and below the waterline.
Amazingly, she made Scapa under her own power on August
27, but was not considered worth repairing and was paid
off at Rosyth on October 10. She left there in 1947 to
be broken up in Holland, but was resold and converted
for merchant service, emerging in 1952 as the German MV
Nabob. Sold Panamanian in 1967 and renamed GLORY, she
was broken up in Taiwan in 1978.
Begun as MV Willapa,
she was commissioned HMS Puncher at Tacoma, Wash., on
February 5, 1944, and arrived at Vancouver on March 15
for modification to RN standards. She left Esquimalt in
June for Norfolk, Va., enroute ferrying motor launches
from New Orleans to New York. In July she left Norfolk
for Casablanca with a cargo of 40 USAAF aircraft, returning
to Norfolk to load the Corsairs of 845 (RN) Squadron and
a deckload of U.S. aircraft for the U.K. On February 1,
1945, she joined the Home Fleet, and following VE-Day
was used for several months for deck landing training.
In September she was partially converted to serve as a
troop carrier and employed the rest of the year repatriating
Canadian troops from Britain. In 1946 she left Halifax
for Norfolk and was paid off there January 16 for return
to the USN. Converted for merchant service, she became
the British Muncaster Castle in 1949, later to be renamed
Bardic in 1954 and Bennevis in 1959. She was broken up
in Taiwan in 1973.
| Canadian manned but
commissioned as RN ships. Carried about 20 aircraft
with a crew of 1,000 and a maximum speed of 18 kts.
Armament consisted of 2-5" guns, 16-40mm bofors
and 20-20mm pom-poms.
|Ship Name (Click for Image)
||20 Oct 42
||9 Mar 43
||7 Sep 43
||30 Sep 44
||Displacement 15,390 tonnes.
||21 May 43
||8 Nov 43
||5 Feb 44
||16 Jan 46
||Displacement 15,700 tonnes.
Post War Carriers - 1946 to 1970
of an expanded role for Canada in the Pacific war began
as early as May, 1944, and it was agreed that larger ships
would be required than any then serving in the RCN. The
Canadian Naval Staff favoured returning the escort aircraft
carriers Nabob and Puncher, then on loan from the RN,
and taking over light fleet carriers in their place. Two
of these, WARRIOR and MAGNIFICENT, were offered on loan
(with option to purchase) in January, 1945, and arrangements
were concluded in May, but neither ship had been completed
by VJ-Day. WARRIOR was finally commissioned at Belfast
on January 24, 1946, arriving at Halifax on March 31 with
the Seafires and Fireflies of 803 and 825 Squadrons. Unsuited
for an eastern Canadian winter, she was transferred to
Esquimalt in November.
Reductions in defence
spending soon made it evident that the RCN would be able
to afford only one carrier, and it was decided to exchange
WARRIOR for the slightly larger MAGNIFICENT. WARRIOR accordingly
returned to the East coast in February 1947, where she
was engaged most of the year in sea training and, latterly,
in preparations for her return to the RN. In February,
1948, she arrived at Belfast, where she transferred stores
to MAGNIFICENT and, on March 23, was paid off. She served
in the RN until 1958, when she was sold to Argentina and
Magnificent, a near-sister
to WARRIOR, had been launched at Belfast six months after
her, in November, 1944. She was commissioned on April
7, 1948, and spent the ensuing nine years in an unceasing
round of training cruises and exercises, visiting such
far-flung ports as Oslo, Havana, Lisbon, and San Francisco,
and taking part in large-scale NATO manoeuvres such as
"Mainbrace" and "Mariner" in 1952 and 1953. On December
29, 1956, she left Halifax for Port Said, carrying a deckload
of 233 vehicles as well as 406 army personnel and stores
as Canada's contribution to the UN Emergency Force in
the Middle East. "Maggie" sailed from Halifax for the
last time on April 10, 1957, to be paid off at Plymouth
on June 14. After being laid up for eight years there
she arrived at Faslane, Scotland, in July. 1965, for breaking
When the Suez crisis
erupted, MAGNIFICENT had just completed landing stores
for her successor, a more modern carrier whose construction
had been suspended in 1946. The successor s name was to
have been HMS Powerful, but the RCN decided to rename
her BONAVENTURE after the bird sanctuary in the Gulf of
St. Lawrence. Work on this ship had stopped three months
after her launching in February, 1945, with the result
that when construction resumed in 1952, improvements could
be built into her. The most notable of these was the angled
flight deck, which provided a longer landing run without
sacrificing forward parking space, and permitted the removal
of the unpopular crash barrier. Also noteworthy were a
steam catapult and a mirror landing sight, the latter
going far toward eliminating human error in landing.
The "Bonnie" was commissioned
at Belfast on January 17, 1957, and arrived at Halifax
on June 26, carrying on deck an experimental hydrofoil
craft that was to serve in the development of HMCS Bras
d'Or. Unlike her predecessors, BONAVENTURE had Banshee
jet fighters and Tracker A/S aircraft as her complement.
Like them, she enjoyed a busy career of flying training
and participation in A/S and tactical exercises with ships
of other NATO nations. What was expected to be her mid-life
refit, carried out from 1966 to 1967, took 16 months and
cost over $11 Million. This cost proved to be too high
for Canada's Navy, as she was paid off in 1970, and sold
| All of this class carried
30 aircraft and had a maximum speed of 24 kts.
|Ship Name (Click for Image)
||27 Nov 43
||27 Feb 45
||17 Jan 57
||1 Jul 70
||Ex-RN HMS POWERFUL. Displacement 16,000 tonnes.
Armed with 4x3" (2 barrelled) guns plus 8x40mm bofor.
||29 Jul 43
||16 Nov 44
||7 Apr 48
||14 Jun 57
||Ex-RN HMS MAGNIFICENT. Displacement 15,700 tonnes.
Armed with 3x3" (2 barrelled) guns plus 18x40mm
||12 Dec 42
||20 May 44
||24 Jan 46
||23 Mar 48
||Ex-RN HMS WARRIOR. Displacement 13,350 tonnes.
Armed with 24-2pdr (6 x IV) guns plus 19x40mm bofor.