The Ark Royal commissioned
The British and French navies had been testing the water, as it were, for aircraft carriers with the Hermes and La Foudre respectively, but they were conversions of, or more accurately alterations to, existing ships. The Ark Royal, commissioned on December 9 1914, was an aircraft carrier proper, a first.
The navy, keen to get ahead in the field, bought in 1913 a partially-built grain carrier or tramp-steamer hull under construction in Northumberland at the Blyth Shipbuilding Company, paying £81,000 for it. With the benefit of the Hermes trials and subsequent experience various design changes were incorporated in the new vessel: a forward aircraft deck; an aircraft hold capable of housing seven planes (her original complement was five float-planes and two wheeled models, the latter forced to put down on land); two cranes able to lift the seaplanes on deck after they landed on the water; and intriguingly and probably uniquely, a sail to keep the ship head-on to the wind, facilitating take-off.
Ark Royal saw action in the Dardanelles in 1915, and in various regional campaigns after WWI ended; indeed she remained in service until 1944, though after December 1934 sailed with a new name, HMS Pegasus, making way for the naming of a new HMS Ark Royal.
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