HMS Victorious was the third of the Illustrious class armoured aircraft carriers developed by the Royal Navy. The Royal Navy expected to have to operate within range of land based bombers in European waters so need a carrier that could withstand bombing. The Illustrious had an armoured flight deck and hangar sides but as a consequence she only had one hangar deck compared to Ark Royal's double Hangar deck, meaning she could only operate a small airgroup for her size. She was also given a fairly heavy anti aircraft battery and was equipped with radar.
HMS Victorious was very active in WW2 and was most famous for launching an air attack on the German battleship Bismarck. HMS Victorious was brand new and hadn't even got her complete air group embarked as yet but her Swordfish pilots managed to torpedo the Bismarck. The hit however, struck the armour belt and caused little damage.
Following the Bismarck chase, she escorted atlantic and arctic convoys and then operated with the home fleet in case of another attack by German surface ships. She then was back on Arctic Convoy duties and also launched an unsuccessful attack on the battleship Tirpitz.
She was then deployed in the Mediterranean in support of Operation Pedestal and Operation Torch. On her way back to Scapa Flow, her aircraft depth charged and sank a U-boat. She was then sent to help the US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbour as they were temorarily short of aircraft carriers in early 43. She had stronger arrestor wires fitted so she could operate Grumman Avenger strike aircraft and to fool the Japanese, she was known as USS Robin. She operated with the USS Saratoga but it was found that Victorious had better fighter control and the Avengers were easier to operate on Saratoga, so Victorious provided the fighter cover on combat operations and Saratoga the strike aircraft. During this time, Victorious spent 28 days in constant combat operations, a record for a British Carrier.
HMS Victorious was back in the UK at the end of 43 and underwent a refit before taking part in Operation Tungsten, the Royal Navy's air strikes against Tirpitz. In June 1944, she was deployed to the Indian Ocean with her half sister HMS Indomitable and as part of the Eastern fleet, she took part in raids against Japanese postitions. She then transferred to the BPF and took part in the Okinawa campaign. During the campaign she was hit twice by kamikazes but her armoured flight deck prevented any damage. During air raids on the main Japanese Islands, her aircraft located and attacked the escort carrier Kaiyo, leaving her out of action for the remainder of the war.
Victorious was the least damaged of the Illustrious class carriers and after repatriating British personnel from the Far East, she was part of the home fleet and was used for qualifying the Sea Fury for carrier operations. She was completely rebuilt in the 1950's as a strike carrier for the new jet aicraft coming into service. She had a new angled flight deck and many other modifications, so much so, she was almost a brand new ship. She operated between 1958 and 1968 in this new configuaration before being decommissioned an scrapped as part of budget cuts.
Aoshima's new (2016 tooling) Victorious looks like quite a nice kit and it includes decals for Royal Navy and the deck markings. Please note the large set of etch pictured on the box is an advert for an etch set that is available separately.