HMS Vengeance (R71)

HMAS Vengeance (AWM 044574).jpg
The aircraft carrier Vengeance, during her loan to the Royal Australian Navy
United Kingdom
Builder:Swan Hunter, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
Laid down:16 November 1942
Launched:23 February 1944
Completed:15 January 1945
Fate:Loaned to Royal Australian Navy
Commissioned:13 November 1952
Decommissioned:25 October 1955
Reclassified:Training ship (1954–1955)
Motto:"I Strike I Cover"
Fate:Returned to Royal Navy, then sold to Brazilian Navy
Badge:Ship's badge for Vengeance, in the RAN format
Name:Minas Gerais
Acquired:14 December 1956
Commissioned:6 December 1960
Decommissioned:16 October 2001
Fate:Scrapped 2004
General characteristics (RN/RAN service)
Class and type:Colossus-class light aircraft carrier
  • 13,190 tons standard
  • 18,040 tons full load
Length:695 ft (212 m)
Beam:80 ft (24 m)
Draught:23.5 ft (7.2 m)
Propulsion:Parsons geared turbines, 2 shafts, 42,000 shp (31,000 kW)
Speed:24.5 knots (45.4 km/h; 28.2 mph)
Range:6,200 nautical miles (11,500 km; 7,100 mi) at 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph)
Aircraft carried:30–40
Notes:Taken from:[1][2]

HMS Vengeance (R71) was a Colossus-class light aircraft carrier built for the Royal Navy during World War II. The carrier served in three navies during her career: the Royal Navy, the Royal Australian Navy (as HMAS Vengeance, from 1952 to 1955), and the Brazilian Navy (as NAeL Minas Gerais, from 1956 to 2001).

Constructed during World War II, Vengeance was one of the few ships in her class to be completed before the war's end, but she did not see active service. The ship spent the next few years as an aircraft transport and training carrier before she was sent on an experimental cruise to learn how well ships and personnel could function in extreme Arctic conditions. In late 1952, Vengeance was loaned to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as a replacement for the delayed aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne. She remained in Australian waters, operating as an aircraft carrier and training ship, for the majority of her three-year loan, and was returned to the Royal Navy (RN) in August 1955.

Instead of returning to RN service, the carrier was sold in 1956 to Brazil, and entered service after major upgrades, which allowed the ship to operate jet aircraft. Renamed Minas Gerais, the carrier remained in operation until 2001. Several attempts were made to sell the ship, including a listing on eBay, before she was sold for scrap and taken to Alang for breaking up.

Design and construction

Vengeance was constructed by Swan Hunter.[3] She was laid down on 16 November 1942, and launched on 23 February 1944.[3] Construction was completed on 15 January 1945, and Vengeance was commissioned into the RN.[3][4]

The Colossus-class carriers were intended to be 'disposable warships': they were to be operated during World War II and scrapped at the end of hostilities or within three years of entering service.[5] Despite this prediction, Vengeance had a service life of over 55 years.

Weapons and systems

Her initial armament consisted of six quadruple QF 2 pounder naval guns (known as pom-poms) and 19 Oerlikon 20 mm cannon.[2] In 1945, after being assigned to the British Pacific Fleet, eight of the Oerlikons were replaced with eight single Bofors 40 mm guns; these guns provided better protection against Japanese kamikaze aircraft.[2]

When commissioned into the RAN in 1952, the weapons outfit included 12 Bofors 40 mm guns and 32 Oerlikon 20 mm cannon.[2]


During her service in the RAN, Vengeance carried a squadron each of Hawker Sea Furies and Fairey Fireflies.[2] The carrier's air group included three Bristol Sycamore, acquired by the RAN after observing the performance of a United States Navy Sycamore[dubious ] operating from HMAS Sydney during her Korean War deployment.[6][verification needed] Although not the first helicopters to see military service in Australia (that title belonging to a Sikorsky S-51 of the Royal Australian Air Force), the Sycamores formed the first Australian military helicopter squadron, and led to the establishment of Australia's first helicopter pilot school.[7] All three helicopters were brought out from England aboard Vengeance.[7]

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