"In the Nick of Time" can best describe the jump jet aircraft carrier HMS Invincible. The Royal Navy pioneered the aircraft carrier and by the end of World War One had more experience in carrier operations than all of the other navies of the world combined. Then the British defense establishment took the wrong turn and placed the careers of the pilots of the Fleet Air Arm under the control of the newly developed Royal Air Force. Compounding this unwise decision, the RAF was also responsible for developing the aircraft for the carriers. As a consequence, the further refinement of aircraft carrier development and operations was stunted between the two world wars. History has a way of repeating itself and by the late 1960's the Labour government in power issued an infamous White Paper, which proposed the termination of the FAA. It was argued that carriers were no longer needed in the era of ballistic missile submarines. This was almost the exact argument used in 1948 by the USAF to grab the funds authorized to build the USS United States CVB-58, to fund more B-36 bombers. The government planned to phase out all aircraft carriers in the Royal Navy. Then the Conservative party took power and changed the plan somewhat. The Tories were not the savior of the FAA, as they also invoked substantial cuts in the RN establishment themselves. However, they did not terminate the FAA. With the development of the Harrier VTOL aircraft, in April 1973, a new type of aircraft carrier was ordered for the RN. Laid down on July 20, 1973 and launched by Queen Elizabeth II on May 3, 1977, it was not until July 11, 1980 that HMS Invincible was commissioned. 

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The government did not learn from history and by early 1982 it was announced that the brand new carrier would be sold to Australia in 1983. Then in April 1982, providence, in the form of the Argentine government, stepped in and changed the course of the FAA. When Argentina landed troops on the Falklands, the FAA was rescued from the brink of the abyss. The Royal Navy could barely scrape up enough ships to take back the islands. In an incredible show of resourcefulness and logistical skill, the RN mustered every possible asset to complete the mission. Luckily, the disposal of the old carrier HMS Hermes had not occurred and the sale of HMS Invincible had not been concluded. These two carriers, along with a modern reincarnation of the WWII CAM ship, in the form of merchant ships carrying aircraft, were the core of the task force which reclaimed the Falklands for Great Britain. Albatros produces a model of this battle veteran. The model portrays the ship as she appeared in 2003, after refits from the Falklands fit. Numbered ALK-72C, the Albatros HMS Invincible comes with full deck markings.

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The Albatros HMS Invincible ALK-72C is available from Chris Daley of 1250Ships.com


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