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HMS Formidable file photo [23546]


CountryUnited Kingdom
Ship ClassIllustrious-class Aircraft Carrier
Hull Number67
BuilderHarland & Wolff, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Laid Down17 Jun 1937
Launched17 Aug 1939
Commissioned24 Nov 1940
Decommissioned12 Aug 1947
Displacement30,530 tons standard; 35,500 tons full
Length781 feet
Beam103 feet
Draft31 feet
MachineryPropulsion: reboilered. Original propulsion: Steam Turbines (6 Admiralty 3-drum boilers, 3 shafts, P
Power Output111,000 shaft horsepower
Speed30 knots
Range11,000 nm at 14 knots
Armament6 x 8 x 2pdr pom-pom AA 2 x 4 x 40mm Bofors AA 4 x 1 x 40mm Bofors AA 10 x 2 x 20mm Oerlikon AA 14 x
Armor3 in flight deck, 2 inch hangar deck, 4 inch side belt, 4 inch hangar sides
Flight deck620 x 95 ft
Aircraft33 in 1941, 40 in 1944


ww2dbaseThe Illustrious-class carriers were of a new school of thinking, providing battlecruiser class armor to purpose-built carriers. Illustrious-class carriers enjoyed a thick metal flight deck, which would later prove to be valuable against kamikaze attacks that would be thrown at them. Compared to the wooden flight decks of American carriers, the Illustrious-class ships were much more durable in war, however their size were on the smaller side as they were "treaty ships" that needed to be within 23,000 tons.

ww2dbaseCommissioned in late 1940, the Formidable started her career escorting a convoy to Capetown, then was transferred to the Mediterranean in Feb 1941. She participated in the Battle of Cape Matapan in 27-29 Mar 1941, and supported Crete operations in May. She suffered serious damage by 1000kg bombs at the latter operation, which put her out of commission for six months for repairs in the United States. She joined the British Eastern Fleet earlier in 1942 under the command of Admiral Somerville, then returned to the Mediterranean in Oct 1942 where she would provide support for Allied landings in North Africa (Nov 1942), Sicily (Jul 1943), and Salerno (Sep 1943). She joined the Arctic Convoy in Oct 1943 before being placed out of commission for the first half of 1944 for refitting.

ww2dbaseAfter her refitting, the Formidable launched a number of strikes on German battleship Tirpitz in Norway, on 17 Jul, 22 Aug, 24 Aug, and 29 Aug, as part of the Goodwood Operations. She bounced between service in the Mediterranean and the Far East throughout her career, finally settling down in the British Pacific Fleet in Apr 1945, where she would participate in air strikes against Sakishima Gunto in May 1945 and against the Japanese home islands in July-August 1945.

ww2dbaseWhen Japan surrendered, HMS Formidable was stationed in Sydney. She went on several troop transport missions to England before being decommissioned in Mar 1947. She was sold in 1953 and scrapped in Nov 1956 at Inverkeithing.

ww2dbaseSources: Fleet Air Arm Archive, Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Mar 2005

Aircraft Carrier Formidable (67) Interactive Map


Albacore aircraft aboard HMS Formidable, 1940sAlbacore aircraft of No. 820 Squadron FAA flying in formation over HMS Formidable and other warships, 1940s
See all 61 photographs of Aircraft Carrier Formidable (67)

Formidable Operational Timeline

24 Nov 1940 Formidable was commissioned into service.
18 Feb 1941 German aircraft mined the Suez Canal in Egypt, forcing the transit of carrier HMS Formidable into the Mediterranean Sea to be delayed.
21 Feb 1941 British aircraft carrier HMS Formidable, in the Red Sea awaiting transit through the Suez Canal while it was swept for mines, launched 7 Albacore aircraft to attack the harbor of Massawa, Eritrea, Italian East Africa, causing little damage.
9 Mar 1941 Minesweeping work completed in the Suez Canal in Egypt, and British Royal Navy commanders gave aircraft carrier HMS Formidable the go ahead to sail through from the Red Sea into the canal.
10 Mar 1941 The newly worked-up aircraft carrier, HMS Formidable, passed through the Suez Canal to join Admiral Andrew Cunningham's Mediterranean fleet at Alexandria, Egypt, which has been without an armoured carrier since HMS Illustrious had been withdrawn as a result of the serious damage it had suffered from enemy dive-bombers in January 1941.
26 May 1941 Six Albacore carrier aircraft from HMS Formidable attacked Italian airfields on Scarpanto in the Dodecanese Islands in Operation MAQ3. German bombers counterattacked the carrier, hitting her twice and killing 12; escorting destroyer HMS Nubian was also hit, seriously damaging the stern and killing 15.
18 Jul 1945 Lieutenant William Bell Asbridge, Corsair fighter pilot stationed flying from HMS Formidable, was shot down and killed in action near Tokyo, Japan.
13 Oct 1945 HMS Formidable arrived in Sydney, Australia, disembarking 1,300 Australian troops and liberated prisoners of war.
12 Aug 1947 Formidable was decommissioned from service.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. David Proud says:
16 Oct 2016 12:44:39 PM

good evening
do you know the name of the tug which towed her to the breakers

thank you
2. Gerard Henderson says:
3 Jan 2018 11:53:18 AM

I would love to hear if anyone has any information on my dad, James Henderson who served on hms formidable in second world war.
I know he was in Alexandria in Egypt and he was an aircraft technician.
I would be eternally grateful if anyone had any information.
3. Amy Johnson says:
2 Feb 2018 03:06:28 AM

Hi. We are trying to track down any info on my grandad Mr George Charles mills who served on the formidable during ww2.
Many thanks
Please contact me on amy_johnson79@hotmail.com
4. David banks says:
11 Feb 2018 04:11:04 AM

Am looking for any information about Petty Officer Ernest Charles Nicholls as he was mentioned in dispatches forbsomething whilst aboard hms formidable. It’s our golden wedding this year and sadly he passed away 1950 when his daughter was 4 now she is 72 and she still loves her father and if I can get information about him it would be nice so can anyone help me please.
5. Nigel Seaman says:
5 Oct 2018 08:43:15 AM

I will be very grateful if there is any information out there relating to my father, Ronald Edward Seaman who served on HMS Formidable as Petty Officer at the end of WW2.
Thank you and best regards,
6. Joeanne says:
1 Nov 2018 11:27:04 AM

Sadly my grandad has pass and was a crew member of the HMS Formidable I have come across many photos of his colleagues and I wondered if I can share them anywhere.
Regards Joeanne
7. Jennifer says:
6 Nov 2018 10:01:14 AM

I would love to hear if anyone has any information on William Michael Stanway ("Billy") who served on Formidable at the end of WW2.
8. Pappy Boyington Veterans Museum says:
29 Dec 2018 11:18:51 AM

Joeanne: Would like to see any information you would like to share. We are doing digital stories as told to us at the museum, and retelling them to preserve the history of service. We have some pictures and the retold story from his Sister reguarding her brother Grenville Dixon (mechanic}
9. Jo says:
21 Oct 2019 01:37:44 PM

Hi my father was on the formidable when it was hit. His name is Harry smith but may of been as Harry fallover. Does anyone know where I can find a crew list please?
10. Alan Dodd says:
5 Aug 2020 01:03:17 AM

My Father served all through except for the D Day landings.
James Dodd served as CPO he was in Norfolk Virginia when Pearl Harbour was hit.
11. James EDWARDS says:
9 Aug 2020 07:28:43 AM

My father Lt Dennis Edwards was engineer on Formidable late in the war, returning to UK 1946.
He was also a leading light in Formidable Association
If anyone is able to point me to a crew list or anything else of relevance it would be very much appreciated
Thank you
12. Cheryl says:
16 Aug 2020 01:36:21 AM

My dad Ray smith was on formidable from 1943-1947 he is still alive but has vascular dementia but I know he would love to have contact with anyone who was there at same time he always talks about people
13. Kay says:
27 Feb 2021 01:54:32 AM

My great grandfather George stobbs served on hms formidable in ww2
14. Peter Bursnall says:
3 Apr 2021 03:36:57 AM

My late father, Joseph (Joe) Bursnall was a stoker on HMS Formidable during WW11.
I have a number of photos and memorabilia of the ship and it’s ports of call.
If anyone would like them I will gladly send them to you.
Please get in touch.
15. Gail Vlachakis says:
17 Apr 2021 04:59:08 AM

My Dad, Horace Dickinson was on the Formidable from Oct 1940 to Nov 1943
He was on a PomPom gun.
16. Terry Crowdy says:
22 May 2021 03:57:01 AM

My Grandfather, Arthur Flint served on Formidable. I am writing a book on his service and would welcome any contributions by way of photographs or documents from the families of other crew members.
17. Terry Crowdy says:
23 May 2021 02:32:41 AM

Further to my post 16 above, I realise there is no way to contact people who have posted messages. If you have documents and photographs I am at espion @ sky . com - thank you!
18. Martin gane says:
19 Jul 2021 01:58:27 AM

I’m trying to locate my granddad. He was a aircraft mechanic on the formidable. Ernest John Gane from South Wales
19. Nadine Cumberland says:
8 Jan 2022 01:51:32 AM

I am looking for more information about the crew on this aircraft carrier. I believe my granddad Alfred Procter served during ww2. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
20. Anonymous says:
17 May 2023 07:05:10 PM

Been following the chain of sunken ships/subs/escort ships from USS Ticonderoga to see the last remaining ship indirectly involved with the Ticonderoga. Were any parts from this ship retired and commissioned to another after she was scrapped?
21. Jayne says:
27 Aug 2023 08:48:54 AM

I believe my father Edward William Burgess (Ted) was a aircraft mechanic on Formidable. I would love to find any info about his time on this ship.
22. Anonymous says:
25 Mar 2024 01:38:44 PM

My grandad served on this ship. Harold Scott. Any info about his time on the ship would be amazing 1943 we know he was definately on board possibly earlier.

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More on Formidable
Event(s) Participated:
» Battle of Matapan
» Madagascar Campaign
» Operation Torch
» Invasion of Sicily and Italy's Surrender
» Okinawa Campaign

» UK Aircraft Carrier Functions
» UK Aircraft Carrier Time Operational

Aircraft Carrier Formidable (67) Photo Gallery
Albacore aircraft aboard HMS Formidable, 1940sAlbacore aircraft of No. 820 Squadron FAA flying in formation over HMS Formidable and other warships, 1940s
See all 61 photographs of Aircraft Carrier Formidable (67)

Famous WW2 Quote
"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You win the war by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country!"

George Patton, 31 May 1944

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