Work began on Ark Royal in 1934 and was completed four years later. On the outbreak of the Second World War she was the only modern aircraft carrier available to the Royal Navy . She was fast, manoevrable and well-armed and at the time was considered to be the world's most outstanding ship.
In 1940 Ark Royal saw action in Norway and then took part in the attacks on the Vichy bases at Mers-el-Kébir (6th July, 1940) and Dakar (23rd September, 1940). Ark Royal also played an important role in the sinking of the Bismarck on 26th May, 1941.
Over the next few months Ark Royal operated in the Mediterranean. On 13th November 1941 she was hit by a torpedo 30 miles off Gibraltar. Badly damaged she sank the following day with the loss of only one crew member.