Naval loans to the US during the Second World War

The British Navy loaned HMS Victorious to the US Navy in the Second World War. She was given a refit and sent to action in the Pacific.

In 1942, during the Second World War (1939–45), the ship USS Hornet was lost, and the USS Enterprise damaged by the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Battle of Santa Cruz. The US Navy was left with only one fleet carrier, USS Saratoga for service in the Pacific. The British Royal Navy came to the rescue by withdrawing HMS Victorious from its fleet and sending her to the US.

Modified for war in the Pacific

HMS Victorious was given a refit to make her more suitable for war in the Pacific. As well as war modifications, she was also fitted with an ice-cream maker and Coca-Cola machines. By May 1943 she was ready to join USS Saratoga on operations in the Pacific, and with the American carrier provided cover to the fleet assembled for the invasion of New Georgia in the Solomon Islands.

The ‘Limey flat top’

For the purposes of security, signals generally referred to HMS Victorious as USS Robin, while she was serving alongside the Americans, but she was generally known amongst them as ‘the Limey flat top’.

By July 1943 the first of the new American ‘Essex’ and ‘Independence’ classes of aircraft carriers were entering service, and HMS Victorious returned to the war against Germany. She did however return to the Pacific in 1945 with the British Pacific Fleet for the final operations of the war. HMS Victorious was finally broken up in 1969.