|Malta-class aircraft carrier|
|General characteristics (Design X1)|
46,900 long tons (47,700 t) standard|
57,700 long tons (58,600 t) deep load
820 ft (249.9 m) between perpendiculars|
850 ft (260 m) waterline
|Beam:||115 ft 9 in (35.3 m)|
|Draught:||35 ft (10.7 m) deep load|
|Installed power:||200,000 shp (150,000 kW)|
4 geared steam turbine sets
8 water-tube boilers
|Speed:||33.25 knots (61.58 km/h; 38.26 mph)|
|Range:||7,100 nmi (13,100 km; 8,200 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)|
8 × 2 – QF 4.5 inch dual-purpose guns|
7 × 6 – 40 mm Bofors Mk VI anti-aircraft guns
|Armour:||4 inches (100 mm) over hangar walls and flight deck|
|Aviation facilities:||2 catapults|
The Malta-class aircraft carrier was a British large fleet aircraft carrier design of World War II. Inspired by the strike capability of United States Navy aircraft carriers, the Malta design took onboard several American innovations in hangar design and aircraft operations. Three ships were ordered in 1943 for the Royal Navy. However, design work on the class was not completed before the end of the war, and all three ships were cancelled before construction started.
The Maltas were designed with the strike role in mind, as British carriers in service at the time were unable to field the same quantity of aircraft, or launch and recover them at similar rates, to carriers of the United States Navy. The ships were designed along similar lines to the American Midway-class aircraft carriers, and were to be slightly larger at 897 feet (273 m) in length overall and 115 feet 9 inches (35.28 m) at the beam. It was predicted that each ship would displace 47,350 tonnes at standard load, and 56,800 tonnes at full load, with draughts of 29 feet 6 inches (8.99 m) and 34 feet 6 inches (10.52 m) respectively. Eight boilers and geared steam turbines would have supplied 200,000 shp (150,000 kW) for propulsion; this was to be distributed to four or five propeller shafts (the thinking was that a fifth, centerline shaft would have been less susceptible to damage from torpedoes).
There were major design departures from previous British carriers, with an open hangar deck, allowing aircraft to warm up their engines before transferring to the flight deck for launch. The 897-by-136-foot (273 by 41 m) flight deck allowed multiple aircraft to launch or land simultaneously, and four aircraft lifts (two on the centereline, and two on the deck edges) aided the rapid movement of aircraft around the flight deck. Sixteen arrestor cables would have been capable of catching landing aircraft up to 20,000 pounds (9,100 kg) in weight, at speeds of up to 75 knots (139 km/h; 86 mph), while the two hydraulic aircraft catapults could launch fully laden aircraft at 130 knots (240 km/h; 150 mph). The armoured flight deck, while seen as a necessity in the context of Japanese kamikaze attacks, was, at 4 inches (100 mm), thinner than other British carriers. Between the hangar spaces and the deck park, the Malta class design would have been capable of carrying up to 80 aircraft.
Ordering and cancellation
Although the design was still being finalised, three ships were ordered in July 1943. The design was continually revised until the end of the war, when the order for the ships was suspended. All were cancelled by the end of 1945, although it is unclear if the lead ship, HMS Malta was laid down before the cancellation.
Ships in class
There were to be three ships:
|Name||Assigned builder||Cancelled|
|HMS Malta (D93)||John Brown & Company, Clydebank||21 December 1945|
|HMS New Zealand (D43)||Cammell Laird, Birkenhead||21 December 1945|
|HMS Gibraltar (D68)||Vickers-Armstrong, Newcastle-upon-Tyne||5 November 1945|
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