What a Difference 68 Years Makes

With Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee passing last week, the Admiralty made sure to release a bunch of images of Tars and Marines assembled at assorted Royal Navy assets to celebrate.

Among the imagery was this shot of the deck of the RN’s 65,000-ton Lightning Carrier, named after Elizabeth herself.

This of course begs comparison to this shot of the 18,000-ton Australian Colossus-class light carrier HMAS Vengeance (R71) from April 1954 when the then 28-year-old Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, made her first historic visit to Western Australia and the Port of Fremantle.

As noted by the RAN, “On seeing the image taken of Vengeance, HM is reported to have commented that it was ‘a most original forgery.'” Photo via the Robert Elliston Glasgow Collection – State Library of Western Australia.

During her service in the RAN, Vengeance carried a squadron each of Hawker Sea Furies and Fairey Fireflies as well as three early Bristol Sycamore helicopters. She appears to have six Furies on deck and it is likely the image was captured from a Sycamore. Interestingly, although she was only a third the size of today’s HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Australian light carrier had about the same sized air wing!

Vengeance, laid down the same week as the 1942 Torch Landings in North Africa, languished and wasn’t completed until 1952 when she was completed for a temporary loan to the Australians. She only operated “Down Under” for four years and in 1956 was sold to Brazil just after the RAN took possession of a replacement carrier, HMAS Melbourne.

Following extensive reconstruction and modernization in Rotterdam, Vengeance was renamed and commissioned by the Brazilian Navy as Minas Gerais on 6 December 1960, serving until 2001.

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