In August 1917, at the height of the First World War, a small biplane landed on the makeshift flight deck of HMS Furious - the first ever carrier landing in aviation history. This small act ushered in a new era. Two decades later, when Britain stood on the brink of another World War, the Royal Navy had a small fleet of aircraft carriers, with several more nearing completion. When war came the newly-formed Fleet Air Arm would demonstrate that what it lacked in modern equipment, it made up for in skill and daring. The first of these carriers were converted from existing ships. Then in 1938 HMS Ark Royal was launched - Britain's first purpose built carrier. Its design set the standard for what was to come. The ""Ark"" was followed by the highly successful Illustrious Class, and then by others whose design was modified in the light of wartime experience. British fleet carriers had steel flight decks, and although smaller and able to carry less aircraft that the carriers seen in the Pacific, they were better suited to conditions in European waters.
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December 18, 2012
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