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April 03, 2005

Canada had aircraft carriers?

Hi-res click here.

Flight ops launch. Flight ops recovery.

A little something for our visitors from the North. I *did* almost run with a "Canada has an Aircraft Carrier" for the April Fool's spoof.

I know some Central North American heads are shaking, "Huh? Canada had an aircraft carrier?" Yes, they actually had several during WWII and beyond, until Her Majesty's Canadian Ship Bonaventure was paid off in 1970 and subsequently scrapped in Taiwan in 1971.

The Canadian carriers were Escort and later Light Fleet carriers, as opposed to the monster Fleet carriers of the US. They were intended for, and their aircraft complements reflect, anti-submarine warfare duties, which along with mine-clearing is something of the specialty of the Canadian Navy. It wasn't always safe duty, either - aside from the normal dangers of flight deck ops - as this pic of HMCS Nabob (via shows. In WWII the Canadians crewed ships that were officially on the lists of the Royal Navy. All part of that Dominion thing, I guess. Somewhat like a Commonwealth Lend-Lease. There are some interesting pics available (like this one - testing rubberized flight deck) at the websites alreadly linked to or listed below:

Under the Cat: Site for families, friends and crew of the Bonaventure.
Mike Campbell's website: Peacetime Naval Memorial.
RCAF. Yes, the RCAF.
Shearwater Aviation Museum.
The Bonaventure Battle Group.
Comrades and Colleagues - another Crew List.

If you have others, send 'em, I'll add 'em.

Oh - I can't close out this bit on Canadian Carriers without referring you to this article regarding the commissioning of the Bonaventure - and the uniquely Canadian flavor (and sensitivities) - especially this last paragraph:

In 1952, when Canada bought the half-finished Powerful, she was to be the first genuinely Canadian aircraft carrier, so she needed a genuine Canadian name; therefore, some creative soul at Naval Headquarters in Ottawa chose Bonaventure, the name of an island bird sanctuary in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. She displaces 19 900 tons, measures 213.4 m in length and 24.3 m in beam (not including sponsons), has a top speed of 24 knots, and takes a wartime complement of 1 200 men. Improvements on the original design include a steam catapult, a mirror landing sight, and a distinctive angled flight deck that allows a longer landing run without sacrificing parking space forward. As well as helicopters, Bonaventure will carry McDonnell Banshee all-weather jet fighters and Grumman Tracker anti-submarine torpedo bombers.

The whole article, from the Forces website, and by Charmion Chaplin-Thomas , is available here.