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HMS Ark Royal

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HMS Ark Royal 1/700 scale Dragon Kit # A241 - $24.95



The first-of-class HMS Invincible Aircraft Carrier was built by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering (now BAE Systems Marine) at Barrow-in-Furness. The ship was commissioned in July 1980. The two sister ships HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal, both built at the Swan Hunter Shipbuilders yard in Wallsend, were commissioned in 1982 and 1985.

The role of the 20,600t aircraft carrier is to provide a command headquarters for the task group and to support the operations of the short take off and vertical landing aircraft and helicopters. The ship accommodates over 1,000 crew, including 350 aircrew with 80 officers. It also has capacity for an additional 500 marines.

The vessels were armed with a Sea Dart twin launcher, installed on the forecastle of the ship near the ski ramp. However, the missile system has been removed from all three carriers and the flight deck extended, to provide more capacity for aircraft and enable take-off for RAF Harrier GR.7 aircraft.


The combat data system is BAE SYSTEMS ADIMP with communication links Link 10, Link 11 and Link 14. Following refit, HMS Invincible has had the combat system upgraded to the same standard as Illustrious and Ark Royal, with new multi-function consoles and flat-panel colour displays. The secure satellite communications system, the Astrium (formerly Matra Marconi) SCOT, has the capacity to handle data rates up to 2Mb/s.


HMS Ark Royal is armed with three Mark 15 Phalanx close-in weapon systems (CIWS) from Raytheon and General Dynamics. Each Phalanx CIWS has one 20mm M61A1 Vulcan Gatling-principle gun which fires 3,000 rounds/min at a range of 1.5km.

HMS Invincible and Illustrious each have three Thales Nederland (formerly Signaal) Goalkeeper CIWS. Goalkeeper's Gatling principle 30mm gun provides a maximum firing rate of 4,200 rounds/min with a range of 1,500m.

All three carriers are also equipped with two GAM-B01 20mm guns from Oerlikon-Contraves and BAE SYSTEMS, which have a maximum range of 2km and firing rate of 1,000 rounds/min.


The Invincible class is fitted with the Thales Defence Type 675(2) jamming system and either a UAA(2) (Invincible, Ark Royal) or UAT(8) (Illustrious) electronic support measures system also supplied by Thales Defence (formerly Racal). Invincible and Ark Royal are also to be fitted with the UAT ESM.

The ship's decoy system is the Royal Navy's Outfit DLJ with Sea Gnat. There are eight 130mm six-barrel launchers produced by Hunting Engineering. Chemring and Pains Wessex produce the Sea Gnat chaff and infra-red decoys.


The ship supports nine Harrier aircraft (both the Royal Air Force GR7 Harrier II and the Royal Navy F/A2 Sea Harrier), nine Sea King HAS 6 antisubmarine warfare helicopters and three Sea King AEW 2 airborne early warning helicopters. Landing trials with the Merlin HM.1 helicopter have taken place on the Ark Royal, which will be the first carrier to deploy the Merlin.

The runway is about 170m long with a ski ramp set at 12. In the hangar deck the aircraft is tethered to the floor using securing chains with tension clamps. Strachan and Henshaw have been contracted to install a replacement aircraft carrier lift system.