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statistics as originally built
Sister ships: COURAGEOUS
Pennant Number: 77
Notes: To get around the Cabinet ruling against funding for any new capital ships, in early 1915, First Sea Lord Fisher ordered three "large light cruisers". Basically an expansion of existing light cruiser designs, with slightly improved armor and double the existing machinery. However, the design showed that the Royal Navy was becoming aware of the benefits of more advanced machinery, as the small-tube boilers developed much more power than their earlier "large tube" predecessors. There was concern about the ships being too lightly built. This came to fruition during the trials for COURAGEOUS on 8 January 1917, when she suffered some buckling between the forecastle and the forward 15" barbette, as well as various leaking fuel tanks. Both ships received an additional 130 tons of stiffening (although GLORIOUS was not strengthened until early in 1918). Despite 12 additional fixed torpedo tubes being fitted (in six double mounts), no proper role could be found for these ships, and they were often the subject of ridicule within the Royal Navy (even to the point of being referred to as "SPURIOUS" and "OUTRAGEOUS").
GLORIOUS was commissioned as flagship of the 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron, but was soon transferred to the Grand Fleet's 1st LCS (with COURAGEOUS). In action on 17 November 1917 (with COURAGEOUS and REPULSE) against German light forces in the Heligoland Bight, firing 57 - 15" shells. Following World War I, GLORIOUS was attached to the gunnery school at Devonport in 1919; later, became flagship of reserve.
There was discussion of scrapping both GLORIOUS and COURAGEOUS in compliance of the Washington Treaty, but it was decided to follow the relatively successful conversion of their near-sister FURIOUS and convert them into aircraft carriers. GLORIOUS was taken in for reconstruction in February, 1924 and completed in March, 1930; she was constructed along similar lines to FURIOUS, but with an island superstructure. Consideration was given to mounting 8" guns as defensive armament, but this was rejected, as was a similar proposal for 5.5" guns. All of her previous armament removed (her 15" guns, along with the 15" guns from COURAGEOUS, were eventually fitted to the battleship VANGUARD in 1944) and GLORIOUS was re-armed with 16 - 4.7" / 40 cal. high-angle guns in twin mounts, and a single four-barreled 2-pdr. "pom-pom" was installed. Aircraft capacity was set at 48, but rarely (if ever) was a full complement carried. In 1936, two catapults were installed on the main flight deck; at this time, the original "pom-pom" was removed, and three eight-barreled mounts were added.
GLORIOUS served with the Mediterranean Fleet, 1939-40, then with Home Fleet, 1940. She launched a series of airstrikes against German forces in Norway in early 1940. She was caught at short range and sunk by gunfire from German battlecruisers SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU on 8 June 1940. GLORIOUS had her flight deck filled with land-based aircraft being evacuated from Norway; the weather was misty and visibility was, at best, spotty; and British heavy forces were known to be in the area. So at first, it was assumed that the approaching battlecruisers were friendly forces -- thus, they were able to close to relatively close range before opening fire with devastating effects. Escorting destroyers ACASTA and ARDENT made efforts to lay smokescreens to shield GLORIOUS, but they were unsuccessful and all three ships were sunk in short order.