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HMS EAGLE

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Curious that during the 20 odd years that the carriers were in service, from the 1950s-70s their silhouettes changed on a frequent basis due to modernisation, and much can be said of other post war RN ships during this period. Yet other navies did not seem to follow this pattern. The Soviets and Americans pretty much settled for building improved versions rather than rebuild. The French did not drastically modernise either.
 

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Ark Royal would have changed to this format (possible exception of 984 radar) if it was not for the then defence cuts. In the end Ark had the limited £30M refit to handle F4 Phantoms. Eagle was fully modified with a completely new island and power generation / radar, she only needed a further £5M for full Phantomisation. With the benefit of hindsight (minus political agenda) Eagle would have been fit for purpose until the early 80's, outstripping the worn out Ark.
In response to stevo's comment, I suppose the technological changes were so significant huge alterations were considered cheaper, the conversion of the Type 12 frigates to operate helicopters is a classic example on a scale that probably would not happen nowadays.
 

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Actually the US did a fair amount of modernisation/refits, the many missile conversions of DD/CA ships (in particular 'Albany' and her sisters) and the 'Midway' class carriers, along with the many heavily modified 'Essex' class CV's looked nothing like their WWII configurations, 'Midway' I believe was considered the most extensively modified of any USN vessel.

Of course, given the US taxpayers' deep pockets a vast number of new-builds rounded out the fleet as well...
 

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