Forces of Valor 86007 Royal Navy Ark Royal Class Aircraft Carrier - HMS Ark Royal (91), Battle of the Atlantic, 1941 (1:700 Scale)
"Sink the Bismarck!"
- Prime Minister Winston Churchill, after learning of the demise of the battlecruiser HMS Hood, May 1941
HMS Ark Royal (pennant number 91) was an aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy that served during the Second World War.
Designed in 1934 to fit the restrictions of the Washington Naval Treaty, Ark Royal was built by Cammell Laird and Company, Ltd. at Birkenhead, England, and completed in November 1938. Her design differed from previous aircraft carriers. Ark Royal was the first ship on which the hangars and flight deck were an integral part of the hull, instead of an add-on or part of the superstructure. Designed to carry a large number of aircraft, she had two hangar deck levels. She served during a period that first saw the extensive use of naval air power; a number of carrier tactics were developed and refined aboard Ark Royal.
Ark Royal served in some of the most active naval theatres of the Second World War. She was involved in the first aerial and U-boat kills of the war, operations off Norway, the search for the German battleship Bismarck, and the Malta Convoys. Ark Royal survived several near misses and gained a reputation as a 'lucky ship'. The Germans incorrectly reported her as sunk on multiple occasions.
She was torpedoed on November 13th, 1941, by the German submarine U-81 and sank the following day. Her sinking was the subject of several inquiries; investigators were keen to know how the carrier was lost, in spite of efforts to save the ship and tow her to the naval base at Gibraltar. They found that several design flaws contributed to the loss, which were rectified in new British carriers.
Her wreck was discovered by a BBC crew in December 2002, approximately 30 nmi (35 mi; 56 km) from Gibraltar.
Pictured here is a 1:700 scale diecast replica of the HMS Ark Royal (91) aircraft carrier, as it participated in the hunt for the German battleship, Bismarck, in 1941.
Release Date: April 2013
Historical Account: "Sink the Bismarck!" - On May 18th, 1941, the German battleship Bismarck and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen began Operation Rheinbung by breaking into the Atlantic to raid shipping. After sinking the battlecruiser Hood and damaging the battleship Prince of Wales during the Battle of the Denmark Strait, Bismarck shook off her pursuers and headed for the French Atlantic coast. Ark Royal, Renown, and Sheffieldaccompanied by Faulknor, Foresight, Forester, Fortune, Foxhound, and Furywere dispatched to the Atlantic on May 23rd to search for the battleship. On May 26th, a Swordfish from Ark Royal located Bismarck and began to shadow her, while the Home Fleet was mobilized to pursue.
At the time of detection, the British ships were 130 nmi (150 mi; 240 km) away and would not catch Bismarck before she reached Saint-Nazaire. Fifteen Swordfish bombers were armed with torpedoes and sent to delay the ship. Sheffield, also shadowing Bismarck, was between Ark Royal and Bismarck. The aircraft mistook the British cruiser for their target and fired torpedoes. The torpedoes were fitted with unreliable magnetic detonators, which caused most to explode on contact with the water, while Sheffield evaded the rest. After realizing his mistake, one of the pilots signaled 'Sorry for the kipper' to Sheffield.
On return to the carrier, the Swordfish were re-armed with contact-detonator warheads, and launched at 19:15 for a second attack; locating and attacking Bismarck just before sunset. Three torpedoes hit the battleship: two impacted forward of the engine rooms, while the third struck the port steering room and jammed her rudder in a 15 port turn. Bismarck was forced to sail in circles until a combination of alternating propeller speeds was found which would keep her on a reasonably steady course which, in the prevailing force 8 wind and sea state, forced her to sail towards the British warships with almost no maneuvering capability. The German battleship suffered heavy attack during the night of May 26th-27th, and sank at 10:39 hours on May 27th.