The victorious story

Previous Ships

The first HMS Victorious was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched at Blackwall, London in 1785. She was the first ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name.

Victorious participated in the capture of the Dutch colony of Cape Town, in which an invasion had been caused due to fears of France's expansion across the world. Britain seized the strategic Cape Town and thus secured the nation its routes to the East. The rest of her career was spent in the warm climates of the East Indies, patrolling the vast waters in that region.

In 1803, while in Gibraltar, Victorious was condemned and then broken up at Lisbon.


The second HMS Victorious was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line. She was launched at Portsmouth in 1808, just five years after the first of the lineage was broken up. Her first action came the year after her launch, as part of the Baltic Squadron, in which she assisted in the bombardment of the port of Flushing (Vlissingen) in what is now the Netherlands. The naval bombardment was just a part of a much larger operation. The land force consisted of some 30,000 men. The objectives were rather simply, to assist the Austrians by invading the Low Countries and to destroy the French Fleet at their believed location of Flushing.

The town of Flushing was actually seized, but the whole invasion soon became irrelevant and pointless, for the French Fleet had actually escaped to the port of Antwerp and the Austrians had been defeated and were negotiating peace with the French. Over 4,000 British soldiers were killed during the expedition, 106 due to combat, the rest because of an illness known as Walcheren Fever.

Her deployment to the Mediterranean saw Victorious have her first skirmish against a French warship, on 22 February 1812 in the northern Adriatic Sea, against the French Rivoli 74, which was eventually defeated with much of her crew being killed and wounded. Rivoli was captured once the skirmish came to an end and she later served in action as a Royal Navy warship against the French. Victorious won the lineage its first battle honour during this engagement.

Victorious served as part of Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn's fleet in the Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812. Victorious participated in the blockade of the Elizabeth River, keeping the USS Constitution at her berth in Norfolk during the conflict.

Victorious returned to the United Kingdom in 1814, for harbour service that would last until she was scrapped in 1861.


The third ship to be named HMS Victorious had the most quiet of careers. She was one of nine Majestic-class pre-Dreadnought battleships, that had an armament of 4 12 inch guns and 12 6 inch guns. She was built at Chatham Dockyard. She had a displacement of 14,900 tons with a length of 421 feet. The Majestic's were a template for many successor pre-dreadnought classes.

Victorious had her obligatory service in the Mediterranean Fleet in early 1898 and from 1900 to 1903. During the mid-1898 to mid-1900 time frame, she served on the China Station. After these duty stations, she was transferred to in the Channel Fleet. She never saw combat service in World War I, becoming a dockyard repair ship until her eventual scrapping in 1923.


HMS Victorious - The War Years

HMS Victorious was built by Vickers Armstrong, Newcastle. She was laid down on 4th May 1937, and she was launched on 14th September 1939, being commissioned on15th May 1941.

In 1935 the Admiralty took a radical step by deciding that the next generation of aircraft carriers would be afforded the same protection as the big-gun units. Previous carriers had been armoured, but only only the lower or main deck over the machinery and magazines and in a waterline belt. The "Illustrious" Class ships were to have a hangar protected against 500lb bombs and 6" shells; leading to the armouring of the flight deck. The flight deck between the lifts was 3" thick and the hangar walls were 41" thick. Both Formidable and Victorious were struck by Kamikazes in 1945, but both were operating aircraft again soon after the hits - unlike the wooden-decked US carriers.

HMS Victorious joined the Home Fleet on commissioning in May 1941, and just nine days later her pilots encountered and attacked the Bismarck. On 23rd May 1941, the new carrier HMS Victorious whose aircrews, despite their inexperience, succeeded in putting a torpedo into the battleship's midship section, which opened up a fuel tank on the Bismarck.