Jackie Fisher loved fast warships with large artillery. Armor was unimportant as long as they had speed. In other words, he loved the battlecruiser. After the start of World War One, he managed to turn the orders of two battleships into two battlecruisers, the Repulse and Renown. However, after that, funding for new capital ships dried up as resources were sent to programs with a higher priority. Another project of Admiral Fisher was an amphibious landing on the Baltic shore north of Berlin. Fisher thought that supported by naval gunfire, the landings could be accomplished and Berlin seized. For this he wanted not only ships with not only large caliber artillery and speed, but also shallow draft for the Baltic.
The combination of these twin obsessions resulted in three of the most curious warships of World War One, Courageous, Glorious and Furious. In order to provide funding, all three were ordered as and under the designation of large light cruisers. This was a ruse to procure more of his beloved battlecruisers. Weighing in at close to 20,000 tons each, almost 23,000 tons deep load, they were clearly following in the footsteps of Invincible, rather than having any semblance of a light cruiser, other than the lack of armor.
Courageous and Glorious came first, each mounting four 15-inch guns. With a top speed of 32 knots and a shallow draught of 22 feet, they met Fisher’s dream requirements for the Baltic scheme. But if 15-inch guns were good, think how much better 18-inch guns would be! Hence the Furious. Using the same basic design as Courageous, the Furious was designed to have two single gun 18-inch/40 turrets in lieu of the twin 15-inch turrets of the preceding ships.
However, while the Furious was building, Fisher left the Admiralty for the last time. His successors did not share his enthusiasms. Since the start of the war aircraft had dramatically improved in performance and capabilities. 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, hey 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 design for Furious was changed and a hanger and flight deck was placed in front of the bridge in lieu of the forward 18-inch turret. When she joined the fleet in March 1917, this was the guise of Furious, flight deck forward, single 18-inch gun turret aft. Furious went into a testing program. 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.
So in November 1917 Furious went back to the yard. March 1918 saw the Furious reemerge with a new aft landing deck that was 300 feet in length and 50 feet wide. With the new aft hanger the aircraft complement jumped from 8 to 16. However, in spite of the high expectations the aft flight deck design was unsuccessful in safely landing aircraft. Of thirteen tries, nine aircraft crashed in trials. The superstructure, tripod and stack created too much turbulence over the stern to allow safe landing of the frail biplanes of the period.
In July 1918 Furious launched the first significant carrier strike in naval history. Seven Sopwith Camels each with two 50-pound bombs, attacked Zeppelin sheds at Tondern. The attack successfully damaged the sheds and destroyed two Zeppelins. From that point carrier aviation was off and running, with Furious being the first aircraft carrier. In 1921 Furious went back in and was converted to a true full flight deck carrier. Oddly enough, although Furious was first, she was also the only survivor of the early 1920s British carriers. Hermes, Eagle, Courageous and Glorious were all gone by 1942, while Furious sailed on to triumph in World War Two and the torch of the boneyard in 1948. (History from Aircraft Carriers of the World by Roger Chesneau)
Now, through Loose Cannon Models, modelers can build a replica of the HMS Furious, as she appeared from March 1918 to 1921. A true multimedia kit, you will find loads of resin parts, full brass photo-etched fret, brass rods, and decal sheet. The model of the Furious was produced by David Angelo and the aircraft (6 Sopwith Pups and 6 Sopwith 1 ˝ Strutters) were produced by Mitsuaki Kubota. Each Sopwith comes with resin wings and fuselage and brass undercarriage, wheels and struts. Loose Cannon provides in the instructions a very nice painting guide that shows Furious in a colorful dazzle camouflage featuring a lime green and various shades of gray. (Due to a computer color error, certain areas of the profile show a pale yellow. Those areas are actually the same pale green as the rest.) The Loose Cannon Furious with her centerline superstructure and stack, safety netting & goalposts, with a kaleidoscope colored camouflage, with her deck covered with dark brown Sopwiths, will be an extraordinarily striking model.