Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) Warships (HMCS) Commissioned 1950–1989, Aircraft Carriers, HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21)and HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22)

Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) Warships (HMCS) Commissioned 1950–1989,

Aircraft Carriers,

HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21) and HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22)

Data currrent to 13 June 2019.

Majestic-class light aircraft carrier

HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21);  HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22)

(IWM Photo, A 28022)

The Royal Navy Majestic-class aircraft carriers HMS Magnificent (left) and HMS Powerful under construction at Harland and Wolff's Musgrave shipyard, Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK).  Both carriers would serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, Powerful as HMCS Bonaventure.

(RCN Photo courtesy of the Shearwater Aviation Museum)

HMCS Magnificent, 7 Apr 1948.  

(USN Photo)

HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), view from the air with a RCN Grumman TBM-3 Avenger, 1953.

(RCN Photo)

HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), carrying 46 RCAF Canadair CL-13 Sabres cocooned on deck.  The Sabres were being repatriated from Germany, 1957.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951074)

HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), with an RCAF de Havilland CC-123 Otter on deck, Port Said, UNEF, 14 Jan 1957.

(RCN Photo)

The Royal Canadian Air Force contributed four DHC-3 Otters (along with DC-3s and Caribous) to the United Nations mission known as UNEF, which were delivered by the Canadian aircraft carrier HMCS Magnificent to Port Said and flown off to El Arish.  In this photo we see one of the four taking off Maggie’s flight deck at Port Said.  Three more Otters would rotate through later but they would arrive and go home via RCAF CC-119 Flying Box Car or CC-130 Hercules.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951070)

HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), unloading Canadian Army vehicles, Port Said, UNEF, 13 Jan 1957.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951381)

HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), view from an RCN Grumman Avenger, 1952.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951375)

HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), with Grumman Avengers on deck, 1952.

 (USN Photo)

Grumman TBM-3W Avenger aircraft on the flight deck of the Canadian aircraft carrier HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), circa 1953.

  (USN Photo)

Grumman TBM-3 Avengers on the deck of HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), rough weather, ca 1953.

(USN Photo)

Grumman TBM-3 Avengers on the deck of HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), rough weather, ca 1953.

(USN Photo)

HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), with Grumman TBM-3W Avenger on the flight deck ca 1953.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3194865)

HMCS Magnificent, Fairey Firefly F.R. Mk. IV, TW753, 825 Sqn swerved off the flight deck.

(RCN Photo)

Hawker Sea Fury FB.11 on the HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), ca 1955.

(RCN Photo)

Hawker Sea Fury FB.11 on the HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), ca 1955.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo,  MIKAN No. 4950940)

HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), welcome home, Halifax, 1950.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4950941)

HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), Halifax, 1950.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4950940)

HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), alongside HMCS Quebec, June 1954.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951037)

HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), Halifax, June 1954.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951038)

HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), Halifax, June 1954.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951045)

HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), leaving her berth at Halifax, May 1953.

HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21) was a Majestic-class light aircraft carrier that served the Royal Canadian Navy from 1946–1956.  The third ship of the Majestic class, Magnificent was built by Harland and Wolff, laid down 29 July 1943 and launched 16 November 1944.  Purchased from the Royal Navy (RN) to replace HMCS Warrior, she served in a variety of roles, operating both fixed and rotary-wing aircraft.  She was generally referred to as the Maggie. Her aircraft complement included Fairey Fireflies and Hawker Sea Furies, as well as Seafires and Avengers.  Her last role was as a transport during the Suez Crisis, carrying a large part of the Canadian peacekeeping force to Egypt, its vehicles parked on her deck.  Magnificent was decommissioned by the RCN in 1956 replaced in RCN service by HMCS Bonaventure, another RN Majestic class carrier (HMS Powerful) that had not been completed at the end of the war.  Magnificent was returned to the RN in 1957 and placed in reserve until disposed of. The ship was broken up in Faslane in July 1965.

Mariner Miracle, 1953

 (RCN Photo)

A U.S. Navy Douglas AD-4B Skyraider from Attack Squadron VA-75 Sunday Punchers, Carrier Air Group 7 (CVG-7) from the USS Bennington (CVA-20), piloted by LTJG Jim Elster, ready for launch from the Canadian aircraft carrier HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21), after the so-called "Mariner Miracle" in 1953.  In September 1953 the carriers USS Wasp (CVA-18), USS Bennington and HMCS Magnificent were taking part in naval exercise "Mariner" in the North Atlantic.  On the afternoon of 23 September 1953, with 42 planes aloft, the carriers were completely socked in by fog.  The aircraft were unable to find and return to their carriers in the fog and as they ran low on fuel, Vice Admiral T.S. Combs and Rear Admiral H.H. Goodwin ordered all aircraft to ditch near the submarine USS Redfin (SSR-272) at 1620 hrs.  Just as the aircraft were about to do so, however, the fog lifted slightly and all planes were ordered to land on the first carrier platform they could find.  All 42 aircraft were recovered safely with only minimum fuel remaining.  USN LTJG Elster's Skyraider landed on HMCS Magnificent and while onboard Canadian sailors painted a red mapleleaf on the American stars.  It is reported that in spite of many refits and repairs, the maple leaf was still intact on the aircraft many years later.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951124)

HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22), at Harland and Wolff yards, Belfast, Ireland, 1957.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951199)

HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22), 1957.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951344)

HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22), port bow view, 1960.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951341)

HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22), port bow view, 1960.

 (DND Photo via Mike Kaehler)

HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22), celebrating 10,000 trapped landings.

 (DND Photo via Mike Kaehler)

HMCS Bonaventure showing the proposed white landing triangle rolled out around 22.

 (RCN Photo via Mike Kaehler)

HMCS Bonaventure view from a Sikorsky H0S4 helicopter, RCN (Serial No. 228).

 (RCN Photo via Mike Kaehler)

HMCS Bonaventure with a Sikorsky H0S4 helicopter, RCN (Serial No. 228) on deck.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951213)

Sikorsky HO4S-3 Helicopter line up on HMCS Bonaventure, ca 1957.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951209)

HMCS Bonaventure, Sikorsky HO4S-3 helicopters, 1957.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951212)

 McDonnell F2H-3 Banshee, RCN (Serial No. 103), preparting to launch from HMCS Bonaventure.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4821339)

McDonnell F2H-3 Banshee, HMCS Bonaventure, 1957.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951224)

de Havilland (Grumman) C2SF-1 Tracker landing on HMCS Bonaventure.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951223)

de Havilland (Grumman) C2SF-1 Tracker landing on HMCS Bonaventure.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951250)

de Havilland (Grumman) C2SF-1 Tracker on HMCS Bonaventure.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4821374)

HMCS Bonaventure, 13 Oct 1957.

    (USN Photo)

HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22), ca. 1960.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4821237)

HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22)trials, 1 May 1957.

HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22) was a Majestic class aircraft carrier.  She served in the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Forces Maritime Command from 1957 to 1970 and was the fifth and the last aircraft carrier to serve Canada.  The ship was laid down for the British Royal Navy as HMS Powerful in November 1943.  At the end of the Second World War, work on the ship was suspended in 1946.  At the time of purchase, it was decided to incorporate new aircraft carrier technologies into the design.  Bonaventure never saw action during her career having only peripheral, non-combat roles.  However, she was involved in major NATO fleet-at-sea patrol during the Cuban Missile Crisis. As HMS Powerful she was laid down at Harland and Wolff in Belfast on 21 November 1943, and launched on 27 February 1945.  Work was suspended after the end of the Second World War, and was not resumed until the ship was bought by Canada.  She was acquired in the early 1950s by the Royal Canadian Navy, which was looking to replace its aging Second World War–vintage light carriers Magnificent (another Majestic class carrier) and Warrior, which were deemed unsuitable for the jet age.  Several surplus US and UK ships were considered, and the then-incomplete HMS Powerful, a Majestic-class light fleet carrier, was purchased in 1952 from the Royal Navy on the condition that it be refitted with an angled flight deck and steam catapult.  Bonaventure, named after Bonaventure Island, a bird sanctuary in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, was commissioned into the Canadian Navy upon completion of its refit and modernization on 17 January 1957.

HMCS Bonaventure carried five squadrons. Initially, she had up to 34 planes and helicopters embarked at any time.  The number of aircraft gradually reduced until the refit in 1967, when the air group peaked at 21 aircraft.  Initially, two types of fixed-wing aircraft were operated from Bonaventure.  The McDonnell F2H-3 Banshee was flown by VF 870 and VF 871 Squadrons, while Grumman CS2F Tracker anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft were operated by VS 880 and VS 881 Squadrons.  Bonaventure also carried Sikorsky HO4S helicopters operated by HS 50 Squadron.  By 1958, Bonaventure was able to conduct around-the-clock sustained operations, keeping four Trackers and two HO4Ss in the air at all times, saturating an area of 200 square nautical miles (690 km2) with anti-submarine warfare aircraft.  The Banshees were retired in 1962.  In 1964 new Sikorsky CHSS-2 Sea King helicopters were added to Bonaventure's complement.  In 1966 the carrier docked in Quebec for a mid-life refit.  This second refit took 18 months and cost $11 million.  After the 1968 unification of the Canadian armed services, Bonaventure was decommissioned in Halifax, on 3 July 1970, and was scrapped in Taiwan in 1971.