HMS Glory file photo [16968]

Colossus-class Light Carrier

CountryUnited Kingdom


This article refers to the entire Colossus-class; it is not about an individual vessel.

ww2dbaseThe loss of the mighty battlecruiser HMS Repulse and the brand new (and still not fully worked up) Battleship HMS Prince of Wales, overwhelmed and sunk by waves of Japanese bombers in December 1941, sent shock waves through the corridors of the Admiralty in London. Clearly, there was an urgent need that future operations by surface vessels in the Far East should be covered by adequate air support. This presented something of a problem to the Admiralty for Escort carriers were far too small and too slow to operate the necessary high-performance fighters, while full sized fleet carriers would take too long to construct. What was needed was something in between.

ww2dbaseAs large merchantmen were too valuable to convert, a new design was rushed through, in which a class of aircraft carrier could be constructed, it was hoped, in 18 to 21 months. These vessels would be built to mercantile (rather than military) standards, and by September 1942 no less than sixteen were on order.

ww2dbaseThe first carrier HMS Colossus was launched on the 30th September 1943, but it would not be until December 1944 that she should be joined with her sister ships HMS Glory (November 1943), HMS Venerable (Decemver 1944) and HMS Vengeance (February 1944) to form a coherent squadron for dispatch to the Far East. Fortunately this squadron was to see no action before the Japanese surrender, for the unarmoured Colossus class carriers would have had a slender chance of surviving Japanese Kamikaze hits.

ww2dbaseThe 18,000 ton Colossus class carriers would however become much more successful in post war service. They could carry more aircraft (Janes Fighting Ships of World War II says between 39 and 44) than many of the bigger fleet carriers, yet were vastly more economical to operate. They gave an invaluable contribution during the Korean War; their Seafire and other aircraft regularly striking at enemy positions ashore.

ww2dbaseThe Colossus carriers also proved utterly durable. Even as late as 1995, at least two, the Vikrant (ex HMS Hercules)and the Minas Gerais (ex HMS Vengeance) were still operating under the Indian and Brazilian flags respectively.

ww2dbaseSources: Collin-Janes Warships of WWII, Janes Fighting Ships of World War II, Janes Modern Warships.

Last Major Revision: Oct 2007

Colossus-class Light Carrier Interactive Map

Colossus-class Light Carrier Operational Timeline

1 Jun 1942 The keel of carrier Colossus was laid down.
27 Aug 1942 The keel of carrier Glory was laid down by Harland and Wolff at Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom.
30 Sep 1943 Carrier Colossus was launched.
27 Nov 1943 Carrier Glory was launched at Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, sponsored by Lady Cynthia Brookes, wife of Prime Minister Basil Brookes of Northern Ireland.
16 Dec 1944 HMS Colossus was commissioned into service.
12 Mar 1945 HMS Colossus departed Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom.
2 Apr 1945 HMS Glory was commissioned into service.
13 Jun 1945 HMS Colossus arrived at Colombo, Ceylon.
17 Jan 1946 HMS Colossus was drydocked at the Selborne drydock at Simonstown, South Africa for repairs and refitting.
26 Mar 1946 HMS Colossus completed her refitting and repairs at the Selborne drydock at Simonstown, South Africa.
3 Nov 1956 Arromanches launched Corsair fighters to strike airfields near Cairo, Egypt.
22 Jan 1974 Arromanches was decommissioned from service.


HMS Colossus at Greenock, Scotland, United Kingdom, 1945HMS Glory at Sydney, Australia, 1945Hangar bay of HMS Colossus while on repatriation duty, Jinsen Prisoner of War Camp, Inchon, Korea, Sep 1945HMS Colossus off Wusong, Shanghai, China, circa Sep 1945
See all 24 photographs of Colossus-class Light Carrier

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Colossus-class Light Carrier Photo Gallery
HMS Colossus at Greenock, Scotland, United Kingdom, 1945
See all 24 photographs of Colossus-class Light Carrier

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