Military Wiki
HMS Vindictive (1918)
HMS Vindictive as an aircraft carrier
HMS Vindictive as an aircraft carrier
Career (United Kingdom)
Class and type: Laid down as a Hawkins-class heavy cruiser
Name: HMS Vindictive
Ordered: April 1916
Builder: Harland & Wolff, Belfast
Laid down: 29 June 1916
Launched: 17 January 1918
Commissioned: 1 October 1918
Renamed: June 1918
Reclassified: Aircraft Carrier, then returned to Cruiser, 1924.
Training ship in 1937
Repair ship in 1939
Destroyer depot ship in 1944
Fate: Scrapped, 1946
General characteristics
Displacement: 9,394 long tons (9,545 t) (light), 11,500 long tons (11,700 t) (deep load)
Length: 565 ft (172 m) (p.p.)
605 ft (184 m) (o.a.)
Beam: 55 ft (17 m)
Draught: 17 ft 6 in (5.33 m) (mean)
Installed power: 60,000 shp (45,000 kW)
Propulsion: 4 × Parsons geared turbines,
12 × Yarrow boilers,
4 × shafts
Speed: 29.75 kn (34.24 mph; 55.10 km/h)
Range: 5,400 nmi (6,200 mi; 10,000 km) at 14 kn (16 mph; 26 km/h)
Capacity: 1,000 tons oil and coal fuel (normal), 800 tons coal and 1,500 tons oil (max)
Complement: 700


  • 3 to 2 in (76 to 51 mm) side (amidships)
  • 2.5 to 1.5 in (64 to 38 mm) side (forward and aft)
  • 1 in (25 mm)upper deck (amidships)
  • 1.5 in (38 mm)lower deck (aft)
  • Aircraft carried: 12
    Motto: "Vinidicavi": - 'I have made good'
    Notes: Badge: On a Field Blue, Out of a Cloud Proper, an Arm, the hand grasping a Scimitar all Gold

    HMS Vindictive was a Royal Navy warship built between 1916 and 1918. Originally designed as a Hawkins-class heavy cruiser and laid down under the name Cavendish, she served in several different roles and underwent several conversions in a remarkably varied career that lasted until she was scrapped in 1946.

    Design and construction

    The design of the Hawkins-class cruisers was finalized in late 1915 and four ships were ordered in December of that year. The fifth and last was ordered in April 1916. As all the class were named after famous Elizabethan seafarers, this fifth ship was named Cavendish after the adventurer and circumnavigator Thomas Cavendish. She was laid down at the Belfast yard of Harland & Wolff in July 1916. Following the promising flight trials aboard Furious in 1917, the Admiralty decided that Cavendish should be converted and completed as an experimental aircraft carrier. She was therefore redesigned with a hangar on the forecastle with capacity for six aircraft which could be hoisted through a hatch to the roof, which formed a flying-off deck. This was connected by a catwalk on the port side to a landing-on deck constructed abaft the funnels, while buffer nets prevented overruns that could have collided with the superstructure. Though six aircraft were allowed for, it was found that two fighters and six scout planes could be carried.[2] The original cruiser armament was reduced to four 7.5 in (190 mm) guns. Cavendish was launched on 17 January 1918. In June 1918, she was renamed Vindictive, since it was desired to perpetuate the name of the old Arrogant-class cruiser Vindictive which had distinguished herself in the Zeebrugge Raid of April 1918 and had been sunk as a blockship at Ostend in May.[3]

    As aircraft carrier

    The modifications had made the ship lighter than the rest of the Hawkins-class, at 9,394 long tons (9,545 t) light displacement. Vindictive completed her trials on 21 September 1918 (ahead of the four other Hawkins-class ships) and achieved a trial speed of 29.12 kn (33.51 mph; 53.93 km/h) with 63,600 shp (47,400 kW) of engine output. She commissioned on 1 October and proceeded to Scapa Flow to work up, joining the fleet in the Firth of Forth only a few days before the Armistice. Her first (and apparently only) deck landing did not take place until November.

    HMS Vindictive picks up a ditched aircraft, Baltic 1919

    HMS Vindictive firing party for dead pilot, Baltic 1919

    In July 1919, Vindictive was dispatched to the Baltic Sea with 12 aircraft to support the British activities in the Baltic in support of the White Russians and independent Baltic states. The principal concern was the major Bolshevik naval base at Kronstadt, which protected Petrograd. On 6 July, she ran aground on a shoal near Reval at 15 kn (17 mph; 28 km/h) and after more than a week was towed clear by tugs and two other cruisers.[4] On 17–18 August 1919, eight aircraft flying from the Vindictive carried out bombing and strafing attacks on gun and searchlight crews protecting the naval base. This diversionary raid distracted the defences and enabled Royal Navy Coastal Motor Boats to attack naval vessels in Kronstadt harbour. As a result, two battleships and the submarine depot ship Pamiat Azova were sunk. Vindictive remained in the area until December acting as a "mother ship" for aircraft and the CMBs. She paid off into reserve on 24 December 1919. Her damage from grounding required extensive repairs at Portsmouth Dockyard at a cost of £200,000.[5] (£8.21 million as of 2022),[6] The Admiralty had decided to abandon the idea of separate flying-off and flying-on decks in favour of flush deck carriers, and thus Vindictive was already obsolete in her brief carrier role.

    As cruiser

    The flight decks were removed and Vindictive was reconfigured back to a cruiser in 1924. Her appearance still differed from that of her half-sisters in the Hawkins-class as she retained a large hangar as accommodation for four aircraft plus a lattice-type handling crane, and her main armament was six 7.5 in (190 mm) guns to their seven. In the Autumn of 1925 she became the first Royal Navy cruiser with aircraft catapult gear:[7] her first catapult launch was on 31 October. She served on the China Station until August 1928, then joined the Atlantic Fleet. During her time in the far east Vindictive participated in the Nanjing incident, leading a British flotilla as part of an international force to protect foreign business interests and citizens. On 23 July 1929, she suffered an explosion in a gun at Chatham Dockyard in which one man was killed. She paid off into reserve on 30 December 1929. The catapult was then removed. From 1930-1933, she was recommissioned four times in order to make trooping voyages to Hong Kong, each round trip taking up to six months, and was then in reserve apart from appearing at the Silver Jubilee Naval Review at Spithead in July 1935.

    As training ship

    Vindictive in September 1937

    In 1936-1937, Vindictive was converted to a training ship for cadets. The work involved the removal of two sets of machinery and the after funnel, and the construction of deck-houses for accommodation and lecture spaces for 200 trainee officers. The aircraft crane was retained. Her armament was reduced to two 4.7 in (120 mm) guns. In this form (as illustrated) she displaced 9,100 long tons (9,200 t) and was capable of a maximum speed of 24 kn (28 mph; 44 km/h).

    As fleet repair ship

    From the summer of 1939-March 1940, Vindictive was converted once more, as a fleet repair ship, her seaplane crane and lecture spaces (easily convertible to machine shops) proving assets. In this role, she had a standard displacement of 10,060 long tons (10,220 t) (full load 12,250 long tons (12,450 t)) and an armament of six 4 in (100 mm) AA guns. She served in the Norwegian Campaign with the Home Fleet, then in July 1940 she transferred to Freetown, West Africa, serving in the South Atlantic until December 1942. She then moved to Mers el Kebir for a stint in the Mediterranean Fleet until 1944.

    As destroyer depot ship

    She was converted to her final role at Malta in 1944, departing Malta on 15 October 1944. By December she was serving the flotillas of the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow. She paid off into reserve in June 1945 and was scrapped at Blyth in February 1946.[8]


    1. Whitley 1995 p.79
    2. Roger Chesneau, Aircraft Carriers of the World, 1914 to the Present, p. 91.
    3. Raven and Roberts, British Cruisers of World War Two, p. 55.
    4. Robert Jackson, At War with the Bolsheviks: the Allied Intervention into Russia (London, Tom Stacey), p.216
    5. Chesneau, p. 91.
    6. UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2013), "What Were the British Earnings and Prices Then? (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
    7. Raven and Roberts, p. 55.
    8. Raven and Roberts, p. 437.


    • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475. 
    • Chesneau, Roger (1995). Aircraft Carriers of the World, 1914 to the Present: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (New, Revised ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-902-2. 
    • Friedman, Norman (1988). British Carrier Aviation: The Evolution of the Ships and Their Aircraft. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-054-8. 
    • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1922. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-85177-245-5. 
    • Layman, R. D. (1989). Before the Aircraft Carrier: The Development of Aviation Vessels 1859–1922. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-210-9. 
    • Raven, Alan; Roberts, John (1980). British Cruisers of World War Two. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-922-7. 
    • Whitley, M. J. (1995). Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Cassell. ISBN 1-86019-874-0. 

    External links

    This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).