written by Bruce T. Swain
Few ships with such a short operational career
(she lasted only 3 months in service) have had such a great
influence on naval history as Audacity - the first of the
She had begun life in 1939 as the North German Lloyd’s
cargo/passenger liner Hanover, a motor vessel of 5537
gross registered tonnage, very similar to the ships being
converted by the Germans to disguised raiders. She was caught
outside home waters by the outbreak of war, and captured in the
West Indies in February 1940 while trying to run the blockade.
Her conversion to an escort carrier began in January 1941; at
this stage she was known as Empire Audacity, and this
mercantile form of name was not dropped until after she was
commissioned : Mercantile ships working under the RN carried the
prefix "Empire" in their name.
There was neither time nor space to give her a hangar or a lift,
so her aircraft were parked on deck. Three arrestor wires and an
open conning position on the starboard side were fitted, together
with a minimal anti-aircraft armament.
As the principal air threat was perceived to be Condor long-range
reconnaissance aircraft, her aircraft were all fighters.
Hurricanes were propsed but not available, while the excellent
and robust Grumman Martlet (the British designation for the F4-F
Wildcat) was not only available but had been specifically
designed for carrier operations. Eight aircraft were embarked,
forming 802 Naval Air Squadron.
She sailed with her first convoy in September 1941, to Gibraltar.
Her aircraft proved themselves by shooting down a Condor,
fighting off a bombing attack, and forcing several U-boats to
submerge by strafing them.
Two more convoys and two more Condors shot down found Audacity
joining Commander Walker’s famous Second Support Group on 17
December 1941 to escort convoy HG-76, homeward bound from
Gibraltar, for what was to be one of the classic convoy actions
of the war. Audacity’s aircraft shot down 2 Condors,
assisted in the sinking of a U-boat and played a vital part in
the defence of the convoy against large numbers of submarines,
for whom she was the priority target.
She conclusively proved the value of the escort carrier, and even
before she was sunk improved types were already commissioning
from American shipyards.
|Flight Deck Width
diesels @ 5200 hp , 1 shaft
Aircraft & Complement
Officers & Ratings including Air Group
- 1 x 4" HA/LA
- 6 x 1 x 20mm
- September 1941
- 8 x Martlet fighters (802
- Three convoys UK-Gibraltar-UK
- joined Second Escort Group 17
December escorting convoy HG-76 from Gibraltar to
- sunk by 3 torpedoes from U.751
21 dec. 1941.