As World War One progressed, the Royal Navy had led the way in the conversion of various ships into a series of small seaplane tenders. Of course, these had
significant disadvantages. They were small and had a very limited storage capacity. In an age before the catapult, they had to stop to lower the seaplane into the water
and then retrieve it. Perhaps most significantly, seaplanes had substantially lower performance than land planes. Because of the heavy and cumbersome pontoons the
average seaplane was "
meat on the table" for a land fighter. What if land aircraft could be launched from and recovered aboard ship? That would be a new weapon of
significant power. The Admiralty decided to try converting a larger ship into an aviation ship that could operate fixed gear land aircraft. Still under construction was the
half sister to the light battlecruisers
Glorious and Courageous, which carried two twin 15-inch gun turrets. This half sister was HMS Furious, which was to carry two
single gun 18-inch turrets. By March 1917 there was a huge shortage of aircraft in the Grand Fleet. On March 19, 1917 the Admiralty ordered that work on
Furious stop
in order to convert her into an aircraft carrier. A flight deck was added forward of the superstructure, sloping down to the top of the cutwater, while the aft 18-inch gun
turret remained on the quarterdeck. There was a hangar under the flight deck. Since the ship was almost finished at the start of the conversion,
Furious finished quickly.
On July 4, 1917 she was completed and joined the Flying Squadron of the Grand Fleet.
There was no problem launching aircraft but recovering them was a different story. At first it seemed that it was perfectly feasible. The stall speed of the Sopwith Pup
was only slightly higher than the top speed of the
Furious. In trials the carrier squadron commander was killed upon his third attempt to land on this forward flight
deck. In September it was decided to land the stern 18-inch turret and add another hanger and landing deck behind the stack. After all, it is difficult to achieve a straddle
with a one-gun salvo. However, the decision for the
Furious to have a forward and aft flight deck, separated by the superstructure and funnel, was not the first large
warship to be chosen for this conversion. In August 1917 the Royal Navy was building five large cruisers displacing almost 10,000-tons an armed with seven 7.5-inch
guns. They were specifically designed to hunt raiders in the Empire’s sea lanes. They were called the
Elizabethans or Hawkins Class because each was named after
one of Queen Elizabeth’s great sea hawks who had done so much to infuriate Spain and then defeat the Spanish Armada. In August 1917, one month before the
decision to give
Furious an aft flight deck, one of the Elizabethans was ordered to be given a forward and aft flight deck. This ship was specifically intended to operate
with the
Furious. The Royal Navy already had enough data on the problems of Furious in air operations with only a forward flight deck. In July 1917 the plans for the
first bow to stern aircraft carrier, the
HMS Hermes, were finished but the order was not placed. The conversion of the Elizabethan would allow testing of some of the
concepts that went into the
Hermes design. The HMS Cavendish building at Harland & Wolff in Belfast Northern Ireland was the Elizabethan chosen for conversion
into an aircraft carrier.
Laid down on June 29, 1916, the HMS Cavendish was launched on January 17, 1918. In June the ship was renamed HMS Vindictive and was commissioned in
October 1918. The hull form was unchanged from her cruiser design but a large hangar was added aft and a smaller hangar added forward. The aft flight deck was the
landing deck and the forward deck was the launch deck. The superstructure, tripod and funnels separated the two hangars. A narrow platform on the port side
connected the two flight decks. The aft deck had a powered lift but the access to and from the forward hangar used two derricks on each side of the hull to lift and
lower planes to the hangar. A crash barrier in the same form as that carried on
Furious was placed at the forward end of the aft flight deck. The Vindictive retained
four of the original seven 7.5-inch guns, one forward and one aft on centerline and two amidships, one on each side and slightly forward of the second funnel.
Vindictive was also given four above water 21-inch torpedo tubes to supplement the two submerged tubes. Also added were four 3-inch low angle guns with one on
each side of the bridge and two on the quarterdeck, and four 3-inch AA guns mounted on a platform between the funnels. As completed the
HMS Vindictive wore a
striking multicolor dazzle camouflage scheme.

Displacement was 9,750-tons light and 9,906-tons standard.
Vindictive’s length was 605-feet (184.4 m) overall and 565-feet (172.21 m) between perpendicular
bulkheads. Her beam was 65-feet (19.81 m) with a draft of 17-feet 6-inches (5.33 m)(mean) and 20-feet (6.1 m) (full load). Originally designed to be fueled by both
fuel oil and coal, the
Vindictive was built for fuel oil only. Twelve Yarrow boilers provided steam for the four Parsons turbines developing 60,000 shp for a maximum
speed of 29.5-knots.
For further anti-aircraft defense four machine guns were added in 1919. In mid-1919 the Vindictive ran aground in the Baltic and spent until 1921 in Portsmouth for
repairs. Originally the
Vindictive was to carry only six aircraft but trials revealed that two fighters and six reconnaissance aircraft could be carried. The flight deck
arrangement proved an even bigger failure than that experienced by
Furious, since the Vindictive was a much smaller ship. Because of the poor design and crashes,
Vindictive had a very short and limited operational career as an aircraft carrier. It was decided to convert Vindictive back to a cruiser but that she would keep her
forward hangar that would be serviced by a lattice crane. A catapult was also added to the forward deck. This configuration could launch aircraft but obviously could
not land them, so it had very limited aviation capability. The conversion lasted from 1923 to 1925. In 1937 the
Vindictive was changed to a training ship and during
World War Two served as a repair ship. In February 1946
HMS Vindictive was sold for scrap and broken up. (Bulk of history from Aircraft Carriers of the World,
1914 to the Present
by Roger Chesneau 1984.)
AJM Models HMS Vindictive – The AJM Models HMS Vindictive aircraft carrier is a very nice kit of an unusual ship. Designed as a companion for the larger HMS
, battlecruiser converted into an aircraft carrier, the design of Vindictive followed a pattern similar to the larger Furious with forward and separate aft flight
decks with a connecting platform between the two. This creates a striking appearance for a World War One warship, especially with initial dazzle paint scheme using
light blue, mid-blue, white, light gray, light pink and black paints.
AJM Models has done a magnificent job in capturing this unusual design with the multi-media
production of this 1:700 scale model. With numerous resin parts, multiple brass photo-etch frets, brass wires, a decal sheet and comprehensive instructions, the
model presents a great attraction for any modeler interested in World War One warships or the evolution of the aircraft carrier.

The casting of the
Vindictive hull is fabulous. The hull is very clean, free of casting defects and is packed with side and deck detail. There was no breakage, pinhole
voids on the hull sides or deck (although of course there were some pinholes on the bottom of the casting) and only a minute amount of flash along the waterline, which
requires a minimal amount of sanding. There are two rows of portholes forward, with one row amidships and a single row at a lower level aft. The thin armored belt is
subtly done with a unique belt line at the bow and nice hull side anchor hawse fittings. Superb forward derrick fittings are on the outboard side of the hull on each side
of the forward funnel and eight strengthening strakes on each side of the belt. Two torpedo tube doors are on each side, as well as thin sponsons/platforms overhanging
the hull on the forward end of quarterdeck.
Deck detail is abundant and outstanding. There is very fine deck planking with butt end detail. About the only area lacking detail is inside of the outline for the forward
superstructure placement. The forecastle, forward of the locater lines for the separate breakwater, has fittings of deck edge twin bollard and open chock fittings.
Anchor chain run plates lead from the chain locker fittings past/through the windlasses to deck hawse openings. The hawse openings would benefit from deepening.
Aft of the breakwater is concave depression, in the center of which is the forward 7.5-inch gun base. Clustered around this position are deck access coamings and a
minute ventilator. Both funnel bases have rectangular ventilators with overhang and sloping aprons, with locater holes for steam pipes. Aft of the funnels are three
ventilator fittings, each of which has numerous small doors, typical of large British warships of the period. At the rear of this deck is a skylight and another multiple
door ventilator fitting. Other detail found amidships are what appears to be coal scuttles (designed for coal and fuel oil
Vindictive finished construction for fuel oil
only), raised bases for the waist 7.5-inch guns, twin bollards, open chocks, ready ammunition lockers, deck access coamings, one large and two small deck houses.
The low quarterdeck has more open chocks, twin bollards, access coamings, mushroom ventilators and locator lines and circles for separate parts. The mount for the
aft 7.5-inch gun is in another dish depression like the forward gun.

The smaller resin parts are cast singly or on a runner. There are four parts that are cast singly, the aft flight deck, the forward superstructure and both funnels. The
forward superstructure will probably take the greatest effort to remove from the casting block and clean the connection. The connection of the part to the casting slab
by a moderately thick ridge. You will need to separate the ridge first but if you have a Dremmel or other rotary cutting device, this won’t take long. There is a sizable
gap between the superstructure and the casting slab so it is easy to get at the connecting ridge with the cutting device. Once separated, of course you will have to sand
the bottom of the superstructure flat so that it sits flush on the locater outline on the hull casting. As with the hull casting, the superstructure part is loaded with detail.
The forward sides are packed with fittings that look like arrestor wire fittings but can’t be because there were no arrestor wires. There is a large well, which is covered
by a separate crowned roof and a separate locater square for the upper superstructure. The aft end of this part has porthole and door details. The majority of the deck
has steel plate detail but the junction lines are slightly raised instead of being incised. The largest of the separate parts is the aft flight deck. It is cast on a three-sided
runner with a thin connection shelf between the runner and the flight deck, which facilitates removing the deck from the casting runner. The deck has two different
patterns for top and bottom with the pattern with small rectangles facing upward. It appears that the top pattern represents wide wooden rectangles, while the lower
represents a steel plate base. Both patterns have raised junctures instead of recessed ones. The large forward funnel and the smaller aft funnel are well done with steam
pipe brackets and a clean upper apron. Both funnels will be focal points, as both have numerous brass parts for structures, platforms and fittings.
There are 28 runners of resin parts that can be divided into three categories; ship’s parts, boats and rafts and aircraft parts. In the ship’s fittings category there are 17
runners of parts. Two are superstructure levels and deck houses. Included are the tripod control top, control platform, three levels of upper superstructure, and three
deck houses. Three runners have armament, which includes 7.5-inch guns and their mounts, 3-inch guns and their mounts. One runner has the two forward derricks.
There is one runner with bridge fittings including speed annunciators, directors, binnacle and other very small fittings. One runner with only paravanes is present. Two
runners have an assortment of mushroom ventilators in various sizes. One runner has small cable reels, deck windlasses and J ventilators. Some other domed
ventilators share a runner with search light and signal lamps. More signal lamps, a speaker tube and other small fittings share a runner. Five deck winches in two
different patterns are on a runner. The last three runners in this category are very small fittings such as davit bases.

Three runners comprise the ship’s boats and rafts category. Two of the runners are open boats in three sizes. The large and medium boats have separate brass thwarts,
rudders and oars but the two small dinghies have cast in bench details. The third boat runner has to small open boats, larger than the dinghies, that have cast in bench
detail and carley rafts in two sizes. That leads us to the last category of resin runners, the aircraft.
AJM provides a whopping eight runners of resin aircraft parts.
Three types of aircraft come with the kit. On the smaller side are two Sopwith Camel 2F1 wheeled fighters, two Sopwith 1 ½ wheeled reconnaissance aircraft and two
larger Short Type 184 seaplanes. The short seaplanes are the most complicated as they have separate pontoons, tail parts and engines. Of course each aircraft type has
another host of brass parts for the struts, wheels for the Sopwiths, propeller, machine guns and ring mounts.
Speaking of a host of brass parts, that is just what you get from AJM. There are six brass photo-etch frets included in this 1:700 scale kit. Three detail the ship and three
detail the aircraft. There is a small amount of relief-etching but plenty of incised lines at bending point and attachment points. The largest fret has main gun platforms,
two-part clinker screens for each funnel, large searchlight housing and top platform for the aft funnel, top starfish platform, and amidships antiaircraft gun tower located
between the funnels. Those are just the larger parts. Some of the smaller parts included are breakwater; anchors; boat chocks; boat thwarts; various gussets; various
inclined ladders with safety railing but rungs instead of trainable treads; small cable reels; boats’ oars; accommodation ladders; control top widows; davits; boat rudders,
3-inch gun detail parts; flag staffs; aft flight deck platform, support lattice structure for the take off platform, all included among many others. One third of this fret is
devoted to railing. The railing has separate end stanchions instead of a bottom gutter. Two and three bar railing are found, sometimes both on the same piece are found
with different stanchion separation distances. Each part appears custom sized to avoid cutting to length.
The second large fret has mostly large and medium sized brass parts and only a few small parts. The largest are the aft flight deck support lattices, which have an
intricate spider web appearance. The port side platform to move aircraft around the superstructure is on this fret. The forward launch ramp with relief-etching is here.
Other large parts are the crash barrier; side platform bulkheads; aft hangar overhead lattices; aft flight deck downturns and side supports; superstructure anti-aircraft
platforms; superstructure aft platform; forward crowned roof; and 7.5-inch gun bulkheads. The smaller brass parts on this fret are small gussets/triangular supports,
mostly for the flight deck downturn. Two more frets have the brass parts for the 7.5-inch guns. Each gun gets a gun shield with seven additional gun fittings for each

Three frets are provided, one for each type with two sets of parts per fret. Each Sopwith Camel gets nine brass parts, These are the undercarriage, folding wheels,
propeller with accurate curves, wing struts’ fuselage to upper wing struts, engine front, and top wing Lewis machine gun. The Royal Navy version of the Camel only
had one Vickers fuselage machine gun. The second machine gun was the top wing mounted Lewis gun. (Incidentally, Wingnut Wings has an incredible 1:32nd scale RN
Sopwith Camel 2F1.) The Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter two-seat reconnaissance plane gets 18 brass parts for each aircraft. Included are propeller, engine front, undercarriage
two-piece wheels, two wing struts, four fuselage to wing struts, two tail struts, a gun ring mount and a rear machine gun. Lastly we come to the king of aircraft brass
parts, the Short Type 184 seaplane. Each of these miniature 1:700 scale aircraft have an astounding 32 brass parts per aircraft! The largest of these parts is the center
undercarriage connecting the resin pontoons to the fuselage. These aircraft get four bladed propellers. Each has eight wing to wing struts, along with five upper wing top
supports and four lower wing bottom supports capped off by two-piece wing edge pontoons. There are also parts for the tail pontoon support, two-piece supports on
each horizontal stabilizer, and the engine and supports. The instructions appear to give an option to have the seaplane carrying a torpedo or bomb load as brass parts but
these must be resin ordnance as I didn’t see them on the fret.  
AJM also includes seven brass rods/wire in different diameters for mast legs, tops masts, yards and
booms. The instructions show the diameter and length of each part in millimeters. Four small decal sheets are provided. The ship sheet has two White Ensigns and one
Union Jack. There are three sheets of aircraft decals, one for each type. Each aircraft gets roundels for upper wing, lower wing, fuselage sides and tail flashes.
Instructions are four back-printed sheets with color used on pages one and two. Page one has a parts laydown at the top and color plan and profile of each aircraft.
Colors are named in Lifecolor names and numbers. One the second page we get the same treatment for the ship with color plan, starboard profile and port profile. You
need each profile as each side has a different dazzle camouflage pattern. Lifecolor names and numbers are also provided. This is a complex pattern to go along with a
complex kit, so will require patience. Page three has six assembly modules: forward and aft 7.5-inch guns; 3-inch guns; 7.5-inch waist guns; forecastle assembly;
take-off ramp; and lower forward superstructure assembly. Page four has five more modules concentrating on the upper superstructure assembly and control top
assembly. There are six modules on page five, which include funnel assemblies, anti-aircraft tower assembly and deck house assembly. There are only three modules
for page six, including waist 7.5-inch gun position, and amidships assembly. Page seven goes to five modules: deck break assembly; quarterdeck assembly; aft flight
deck hangar to deck assembly and transportation platform between the flight decks. Page eight concludes with five modules; two are on the aft flight deck and one
each for the Sopwith Camel, Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter and Short Type 184 Seaplane. Take your time in assembly. The instructions are reasonably good but there are just
so many parts that you really need to make sure you cover attaching each part in each module.
The AJM Models HMS Vindictive in 1:700 scale is a spectacular kit of this early Royal Navy aircraft carrier. It has a huge part count for resin and brass parts and is
definitely not suitable for beginners. However, if you take your time, this intricate
AJM kit will fulfill every modeling need.
Steve Backer