“On this day in history” 26 June 1916, Royal Navy Courageous-class battlecruiser HMS Furious was placed into commission.
Furious was modified to become an aircraft carrier trials ship, her forward turret was removed and a flying-off deck added. Floatplanes, such as the Short Admiralty Type 184, would land on the water for recovery.
HMS Furious as completed. Note flying-off deck forward (IWM SP 89).
Between November 1917 and March 1918, Furious underwent further conversion. Her aft turret was removed and a landing deck added. Elevators were installed to service aircraft hangars.
HMS Furious in 1918 with landing deck aft (NHHC 42000).
The modifications proved unsatisfactory, particularity due to the separate flying-off and landing decks, and in 1921 Furious was taken in hand for further conversion.
The work was intensive and took place at HM Dockyards Rosyth and Devonport. Her bridge superstructure and funnels were removed to provide for a full-length flight deck. A two-level hangar was built under the flight deck and serviced by two elevators. Furious recommissioned in 1925.
HMS Furious after completion of her major redesign (NHHC 60973).
By the outbreak of war in 1939, Furious was serving as a deck landing training carrier. She was then assigned to the Home Fleet to replace Courageous, lost on 29 September.
On 10 April 1940, Furious embarked Swordfish aircraft of 816 and 818 Naval Air Squadrons for service in the Norway campaign. Without fighter aircraft, she was vulnerable to German attack, and on 18 April bombs dropped by an He.111 damaged her propeller shafts.
After repairs, Furious sailed for Canada carrying £18,000,000 in gold bullion. This was part of Operation Fish, the temporary evacuation of British wealth to safety in Canada during the Second World War. The British bullion – amounting in total to $25 million (~ $28 billion in 2016) – was stored in a specially constructed vault at the Sun Life Building in Montreal.
Furious served with Force H during Operation Torch in 1942 and with the Home Fleet during two operations against the Tirpitz – Operation Tungsten in April 1944 and Operation Mascot in July 1944.
Fleet Air Arm crewman chalks message onto bomb carried by one of Furious‘s Barracuda aircraft during Operation Tungsten, April 1944 (IWM A22640).
Showing signs of age, Furious was placed reserve in September 1944 and paid off in April 1945. She was sold for scrap in 1948.