A Carrier for the Royal Netherlands Navy
After the Second World War the Netherlands naval staff was well aware of the fighting value of airpower at sea. During the war Dutch crews had gained some experience in operating the MAC-ships Gadila and Macoma. In trying to hold the feeling until a ‘full size’ aircraft carrier could be added to the post-war fleet, an intermediate was acquired from the British, Nairana, which entered service in 1946 as Hr Ms Karel Doorman. She was returned to the Royal Navy when the wishes of the Netherlands naval staff came through, the arrival of an aircraft carrier, as full size as the Dutch could ever hope for. On June 2, 1948 Venerable, a Colossus class aircraft carrier, built in 1942-45 by Cammell Laird, Birkenhead, joined the fleet as the second Karel Doorman. In her first years of employment she carried a capable air wing, suitable for close air support and arial attack, consisting of up to 24 Fireflies and Sea Furies. For rescue duties a yellow Sea Otter was included, later replaced by a S-51 helicopter, called Jezebel.
A Modern Ship
From 1955 until 1958 Hr Ms Karel Doorman was extensively refitted, in which many new developments in naval aviation were added. The typically British island was replaced by a Dutch designed superstructure, with much similarities to the cruisers of the De Ruyter class. Most notably the enormous LW-01 long range radar antenna on top of an even more enormous lattice mast and a tall funnel, which carried the large LW-02 radar antenna, only slightly smaller than the first one. Typically of larger Netherlands warships was the VI nodding height finder, of which two were placed on either end of the superstructure. The close range anti aircraft guns were replaced by 10 Bofors 40mm, 40L70. The following 2 years Hr Ms Karel Doorman operated up to 14 Avengers, 10 Sea Hawks and 2 S-55 helicopters and acted as flagship of Smaldeel V (Task Force 5). The main employment area was the northern North Sea (except for a party trip to Florida), together with destroyers of the Friesland and Holland class, and sometimes a submarine of the Walrus class.
Submarine Patrol for NATO
In 1961 Hr Ms Karel Doorman was equipped with the latest avionica and again her air wing was changed. Tasked by NATO, the Royal Netherlands Navy was to perform anti submarine patrol in the northern Atlantic. Hr Ms Karel Doorman became the base for 8 Grumman Trackers S2F and 6 helicopters S-58. Again as flagship of Smaldeel V operating from Invergordon, Scotland, Hr Ms Karel Doorman frequently was accompanied by the destroyers Hr Ms Limburg, Groningen, Drenthe and Holland and the submarines of the Dolfijn class. Later escorts were the broad beam Leanders of the Van Speijk class. In 1968 Karel Doorman was struck by an accidental fire in the boiler-room. The Netherlands Navy considered repair beyond her (financial) capabilities and decided to sell her old lady to Argentina. Repaired and overhauled by Wilton Fijenoord Shipyard, she began a new life.
(according to Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1947-1982)
Laid Down:3 Dec 1942 Launched: 30 Dec 1943 Completed: 17 Jan 1945
Length: 211.3m oa Beam: 24.4m wl, 37.0 flight deck Draft: 7.6m
Displacement: 15,900 tons normal, 19,900 full load
Armament: 12-40mm, later 10-40mm
Performance: 23.5 knots maximum Range: 12,000nm @ 14 kts
Complement: 1462 officers & men
Pictures of the carrier Hr Ms Karel Doorman and other Dutch carriers can be found on http://www.hazegray.org/navhist/carriers/nethcv/
Karel Doorman at War
Renamed Veinticinco de Mayo, she was equipped with A-4Q Skyhawks, S2A’s and SH34 helicopters. The Falklands war with the United Kingdom broke out in April 1982 and on May 2, Veinticinco de Mayo had her brief, war-time moment. As part of Task Group 79.1-79.2 she and her escorts Santisima Trinidad and Hercules made a nightly approach at a British force, which had been detected by a reconnaissance aircraft of the old lady herself the previous evening. At dawn an air strike was about to be executed, but even in steaming at all her 25 knots she could give, it proved impossible to get enough wind over the flight deck to get the Skyhawks, as fully loaded as they were, airborne. A second chance did not occur, even though Veinticinco de Mayo remained in the area for several days, luckily escaping from being torpedoed by HMS Splendid. After years of inactivity she was sold for scrap in 1999 and was towed by a Dutch company to the breakers yard at the beach of Alang, India.
Name of the Ship
The Royal Netherlands Navy tends to name her ships after the great admirals of the (long forgotten?) past. The most recent great admiral is Schout bij nacht (Rear Admiral) Doorman, the man who led the Dutch (later Allied) fleet in 1942 in a series of actions against the Japanese and finally into the battle of the Java Sea. However, this did not turn out to be a success, which certainly Schout bij nacht Doorman could not be blamed for. He just gave his life for his country, as he was ordered. His name for the carrier was not so much chosen for his actions in the war, as well for his strong efforts in the years just before the war to transform the Marine Luchtvaart Dienst (Naval Aviation Service) into a well equipped fighting and reconnaissance force, attached to the Royal Netherlands Navy in the East Indies.
The model is made in 1:700 scale and displays the 1961 appearance of Hr Ms Karel Doorman. The model is completely scratch build, except for the S-58’s, which are modified Tamiya models. The materials used were cardboard for the hull, superstructure, radar antenna’s, gun shields, wings and props of the S2F’s; copper and steel wire for the masts, cranes, gun barrels, pole antenna’s and landing gear of the S2F’s; balsa wood for the bows, boats, most of the remarkable crash crane and S2F hulls. It took 3 years to build her, I’m always a slow builder. The dog sat on it once, which was a rather depressing experience. He is no longer in the family (the dog I mean, the model is patched up and still in existence).