Stunning images show F-35B jets and Merlin helicopters packed into the hangar of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The vessel tweeted the following images showing F-35Bs and Merlin helicopters in the hangar.

The images are shown below.

Image Crown Copyright 2021.

Now the Merlins, note the Crowsnest radar pods. You can read more about these aircraft at the excellent NavyLookout website here.

Image Crown Copyright 2021.

The hangar can hold around 24 aircraft.

HMS Queen Elizabeth hangar size. [2047 x 977] : WarshipPorn

The vessel is currently carrying around 18 F-35Bs plus a number of Merlin helicopters.

HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group recently arrived in Scotland for a major multinational exercise. The Royal Navy say that Exercise Strike Warrior involves more than 20 warships, three submarines and 150 aircraft from 11 nations and is a final test for the Carrier Strike Group ahead of its first operational deployment to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Asia Pacific.

“The exercise, which will run for two weeks, will see the task group pitted against warships from NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 1 in waters off north-west Scotland to prove it is capable of undertaking high intensity operations against the most demanding adversaries. The culmination of Strike Warrior will see the Carrier Strike Group certified ready for deployment, at which point operational command will pass from the Royal Navy’s Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd, to the Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key.”

Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group, said:

“The new UK Carrier Strike Group is the embodiment of British maritime power, and sits at the heart of a modernised and emboldened Royal Navy. Protected by a ring of advanced destroyers, frigates, helicopters and submarines, and equipped with fifth generation fighters, HMS Queen Elizabeth is able to strike from the sea at a time and place of our choosing; and with our NATO allies at our side, we will be ready to fight and win in the most demanding circumstances. Carrier Strike offers Britain choice and flexibility on the global stage; it reassures our friends and allies and presents a powerful deterrent to would-be adversaries.”

The aircraft carriers jets have been busy too.

HMS Queen Elizabeth F-35s fire missiles off Scottish coast

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Herodotus
Herodotus
3 months ago

Is that a 24 max or can they squeeze more in….looks to be the space?

captain p wash
captain p wash
3 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Sorry to post a reply to your question here, Hope it doesn’t get Flagged again ! But, It’s always been at that level from the finalised design. But It depends on the type of aircraft embarked as the F35 B’s are a different size to something like Apache or Chinook so in theory we could squeeze a few more in ……. Oh and if we ever had a “Sea Gnat” , There’s room for at least 100 and a Mezzanine for another 100 probably. 😃Hope you are well mate.

Andrew
Andrew
3 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

I’m with you on that, I think once they have finished the round the world deployment they’ll be able to squeeze a few more in…..

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
3 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

I used to fly light aircraft and watching the ground handlers pack the hangar at the end of the day is quite a lesson of how to get a quart into a pint pot! I would suggest that that packing illustration (best I’ve seen online and very interesting) shows a typical ‘optimal’ packing. If you look carefully there is a very clear pattern to it, given away by the 4 sets of 3 aircraft. One at each end of the hangar and two mid-ships. I.e. the highest density is furtherest away from the lifts. The layout is probably designed to… Read more »

Herodotus
Herodotus
3 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Bit of a nightmare when trying to access the aircraft you need when you want! I guess it’s like partially unpacking a suitcase…..a lot of aircraft will have to be kept on deck and rotated during maintenance. I was interested in your light aircraft hanger comments. Do they partially unpack the hanger to allow access to all aircraft or is it arranged on a booking basis…ie can my aircraft be accessed tomorrow?

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
3 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Hi Herodotus, As the customer they’ll sort you out, but it is considered bad manners not to give them warning a couple of days prior to you wanting to fly, especially if you haven’t flown for a while as your plane will have naturally migrated to the back of the hangar. So simple answer you can always get to your plane, but you might have to stand around for a while if the team is busy and you wouldn’t be the most popular person in the world… 🙂 Going back to the carrier. You are right that maintenance is also… Read more »

Herodotus
Herodotus
3 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Thanks for that lengthy and informative reply Chariot. It sets the standard that should be adopted by others that claim to know….but possibly don’t 🙂

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
3 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

You are welcome mate. Although I should hasten to say I have never served and my answer is based on flying light aircraft.

I was in the department where the assessment of the orginal designs proposals for the carriers were assessed, although not directly involved. Aircraft movements was a key variable obviously.

Cheers CR

Alex
Alex
3 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

The ships max is around 70 when you include deck space

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 months ago

This is supremely surreal stuff bordering on the twilight zone.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
3 months ago
Reply to  George Allison

I think he is Impressed with the whole Awesomeness, I know I am 😀

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
3 months ago
Reply to  George Allison

No Sarcasm at all, It’s how I interpret his Comment based upon the picture in the article above. It’s an amazing achievement and seeing 5th generation F35’s aboard such a fantastic Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier is Borderline Surreal. The Smiley face is a friendly addition I chose from the set you have provided. Sorry If you found my comment/reply sarcastic George.

julian1
julian1
3 months ago
Reply to  George Allison

its not sarcasm – its fascinating and mind-boggling. Which stowage positions allow for major maintenance such as an engine change?

Nick C
Nick C
3 months ago

I think, gentlemen, you should keep on the topic, and not waste time on punctuation. It will be interesting to see the hangar in two months time when I suspect that there will be fewer packing cases in evidence, since they will have been used or stowed. I don’t think that the ships were designed to hangar all of the forty aircraft postulated in the original design spec anyway. And if you talk to anyone who has served in a previous generation of carriers they will tell you that you can shoehorn a heck of a lot of airframes into… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago

That hanger view is more impressive than the deck for me. Humungous.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
3 months ago

Hi Daniele, are there hangars on two levels?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

I don’t know, sorry. I don’t think so?

Nick C
Nick C
3 months ago

Hi Daniele, Quentin. No it’s only one deck. I think the last carriers with two hangars were Ark Royal and Eagle. It’s still a heck of a big space, you could have a lot of people to a part in it!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Nick C

Thanks Nick.

Ambivalent Lurker
Ambivalent Lurker
3 months ago

R09 HMS Ark Royal’s (and Eagle’s if I remember correctly…way before my time) two level hanger, not as good as may look as the deck lift goes through the hanger and not at the side of the ship like QE and the lower deck was, by accounts, not a nice place to workcomment image

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago

Fascinating photo, cheers AL.

Herodotus
Herodotus
3 months ago

Phantoms and Bucs…a heavyweight duo!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Buccaneer. One of my all time fav aircraft. Built to last.

Herodotus
Herodotus
3 months ago

And a great performer at low level…think there are some You-Tube videos. A great design that, like the Canberra, we could have done much more with. Certainly better than the US A7 Corsair. 🙂

OOA
OOA
3 months ago

Great to see. Looking very businesslike.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago

It does show how important size really is in regards to these ships. The pictures really show how much space is needed for those f35s and merlins.

A good comparison of invincibles Hanger with harriers and sea kings:

https://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/news-photo/the-hanger-deck-of-hms-invincible-as-the-aircraft-carrier-news-photo/830163394

Herodotus
Herodotus
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Are those maintenance stepladders mounted on gimbals?

QuentinD63
QuentinD63
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Hi Jonathan, looking at that diagram, I sure would have liked a phalanx on each corner. I know there’s overlap but if one of the three goes bung there could be some vulnerabilities.

Does anyone have any news if there’ll be any additional defensive armament added, RWS or shorad missiles? Are there any non-aircraft/helo ASW/torpedo systems on these carriers? It’s so big I can’t see on any photos.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
3 months ago
Reply to  QuentinD63

Errr…Ships can change course and do to open up firing arcs and to present the best profile for defence against ASMs.
So if you lose a system you alter course to bring the other mounts into play. As all of the mounts talk to each other, conduct threat evaluation and allocate threats between themselves losing one mount is not a disaster…just very very annoying!

Locking Nut
Locking Nut
3 months ago

The biggest single takeaway from those pictures for me is that three of the Merlins have got the Crowsnest kit fitted. Or the bag, at least.

maurice10
maurice10
3 months ago

Some minds will be mulling over the Med deployment as the Israel / Palestinian conflict intensifies? Would it be wise to sail the Carrier Strike Group through the canal at this critical moment? The current conflict could go in several directions and pose no real problems, but the MOD may need to make alternative plans if the conflict involves other neighbouring states?

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
3 months ago
Reply to  maurice10

Good point Maurice. One to watch. I’m sure the MOD will not put the carrier in harm’s way

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
3 months ago
Reply to  maurice10

Easiest way to embarrass us would be to run a huge container ship into the canal bank. Could never happen though 🙂

Deep32
Deep32
3 months ago
Reply to  maurice10

The only other route would be down and around the Cape, which would probably add another 3-4 weeks transit, assuming they are sailing at an economical speed, say 12-15 knots.

MarkF
MarkF
3 months ago

And my wife says that my garage is full and she can’t find anything 😀

DP
DP
3 months ago
Reply to  MarkF

😂

David
David
3 months ago

Now, if USMC have different stores to RAF / RN those packing cases are going to be fun and of course, it will take genuine trust between nations for the sailors to learn to work together, two nations, upto 7 different services also having to work together.

On the other hand, sure the US personnel will enjoy the ‘wet’ facilities of this carrier 😉

Good luck to all and God Speed.

QuentinD63
QuentinD63
3 months ago
Reply to  David

Hi David, I hope there’s no DG in them crates! I assume that actual weapons are safe and sound somewhere else?

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
3 months ago
Reply to  QuentinD63

Anything with bang in it will be carrying an Orange Haz label with the Explosive grouping on it. It will also be stowed under 2 locks and keys in the magazines or ready use lockers. Even the pilots life jacket gets locked up because it has mini flares in it so its a Pyrotechnic hazard. The rules and regs for the safe stowage and movement of explosive stores on RN vessels are extensive. BR 862 refers or the previous version which is available in all good google searches, JSP 862 is around. As an ex- Officer of the Quarter, OOQ,… Read more »

Paul T
Paul T
3 months ago
Reply to  David

You would hope that the often mentioned ‘Automated Weapons Handling System’ on the QE’s is compatible with all UK and US Munitions.

David Barry
David Barry
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Well, yeah, but, no, but the US have FAR more systems available to them and fitted with and for…

So perhaps, QEC will need to come up to speed on that issue.

Ambivalent Lurker
Ambivalent Lurker
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Im pretty sure that they are, its a munitions handling system and the USMC has been training with the RN and QEC ships to use this for a few years now.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
3 months ago

I read an article recently on a US website about their people who were deploying. A USN ordinance specialist was saying about the differences between the USN and RN systems. The USN assembles its weapons in the main magazine, whereas the RN has seperate weapon preparation areas. Which might not sound that significant, but I suspect it makes a lot of difference to work practices.

Cheers CR

Ron
Ron
3 months ago

Does anyone know if a F35B could have folding wings?

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
3 months ago
Reply to  Ron

F-35C does. the B has smaller wings than the C and cannot fold them.

Ron
Ron
3 months ago

Thanks SR, maybe I did not explain myself correctly, the question should have been is there any technical reason why a F35B could not have folding wings like the C does. For example extra stress on wing loading due to Vertical landing. I also keep asking myself the question would it be possible to fit the B with the larger wings of the C. I know or understand that it would take some frame changies but again is it technically possible. If so I can see it as a good way to increase lift thereby increasing range or load out.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
3 months ago
Reply to  Ron

Hi Ron. I guess the first answer would be a weight issue. Introducing a lot of extra systems and structural bits onto an aircraft that has already exchanged significant payload/range in favour of the STOVL setup. My second concern (only guessing here) would be that you might further eat into the fuel capacity? My third consideration would be that you would have to insert the fold outboard of the lateral roll control jet efflux vents, so you wouldn’t be saving a lot of footprint for all the extra complexity, weight, cost, maintenance penalties. As for putting the C wings onto… Read more »

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
3 months ago
Reply to  Ron

Hi Ron. Adding the C’s wings would only increase weight and drag. It can’t carry any extra stores under the wings. The F35C has larger wings to improve it’s slow speed handling for carrier landings. The F35B lands vertically, or can carry out a running landing using it’s STVOL mode to handle the speed and lift.

Dave G
Dave G
3 months ago
Reply to  Ron

In terms of having wing fold in the existing wing, it is probably technically possible but the necessary structure would increase weight and if they keep fuel in the wing (a quick Google suggest they do) then you may well end up reducing capacity and hence reducing range. Assuming you could engineer the bigger wings to fit and include the roll jets etc, they wouldn’t necessarily give you any benefit. They would significantly increase weight for an increase in lift you probably don’t need at higher flight speed while potentially making the aircraft too heavy for the vertical take off… Read more »

Joe16
Joe16
3 months ago
Reply to  Ron

Curse you and your inquisitiveness, you’ve forced an extension to my tea break and thus delayed me submitting some work reports…
I went looking, and apparently the F-35B has roll post nozzles in the wings. These are fed via pipes from the main lift fan and direct air downwards during vertical ops to provide downwards lift. They’re placed as far outboard as possible to maximise stability. Because of this, I don’t think they have enough room in the wing to fit the mechanics for folding the wing tips as well.
https://www.lockheedmartin.com/content/dam/lockheed-martin/eo/documents/webt/F-35_Air_Vehicle_Technology_Overview.pdf

Ron
Ron
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

Ooops Sorry, hope it was a good tea break.

Joe16
Joe16
3 months ago
Reply to  Ron

The tea was well brewed and hot, the chocolate was fridge cold, the information was interesting- all round a very agreeable break!

Mike
Mike
3 months ago

Stunning is a very over used word. It used to be used when you belted someone around the head. Now it’s used to describe fairly mundane photographs and is a favourite term of estate agents.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
3 months ago

Those images certainly look impressive and give a very good impression of just how complex and busy an aircraft carrier is. Having said that I do find the presence of all those wooden crates on the hangar deck somewhat disconcerting. That represents a lot combustable material and potential shrapnel should some anti-social numpty with an anti-shipping missile happen to stick one through the hangar hall. I am hoping that this might be due to the fact that the carrier is at IOC rather than FOC so everyone is still learning and that it is early days in a long deployment… Read more »

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
3 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

That amount of stores in the hangar is pretty normal. Racks around the hangar will also make room for more kit. Aircraft need a huge amount of spares to be able to operate for many months away from home. Ground equipment also takes up a lot of room. Everything is lashed to the deck, and the hangar deck Aircraft Handlers carry out hourly hangar rounds 24hr to make sure everything is safe. Hangar deck fire drills also take place very regularly.

Ambivalent Lurker
Ambivalent Lurker
3 months ago

Soooo… let me see,thats at least 6 F35B’s, 3 Crowsnest Merlins, 1 Merlin Mk2, a couple of PW F135 engines, 4 F35 mission simulators (2 per container) and a lot of other stores…and it still looks like there is enough room to work around the aircraft. Oh and another 12 f35B’s on deck plus a couple more Merlins. That a serious level of capability after 4 years of hard work to get the carriers into service after QE first left Rosyth. PWLS is back at sea, (6?) more F35Bs due this year, Crowsnest is finally being given its shakedown, HMS… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
3 months ago

Couldn’t agree more, all very encouraging.

I also see we are deploying an amphib force this summer as well. The Royal Navy is certainly working bloody hard at the moment. Well done one and all.

Cheers CR

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago

Well said. The capability will only grow. Few nations can do this.

expat
expat
3 months ago

Yep when you think Invincible would have had around 8 Harriers this is big step forward.

Billythefish
Billythefish
3 months ago

All the RAF/FAA airframes in the sheltered hangar – all the USMC ones out on deck getting salty 😂

It’s all part of the long service planning for the UK MoD…

Billythefish
Billythefish
3 months ago
Reply to  Billythefish

Also really good to see the crowsnest domes still in plastic wrap 😉

Joe16
Joe16
3 months ago

Great photos!
Anticipating criticism about “that’s not many aircraft to fit below decks”; this is actually about as many as fit in the hangar space of a Nimitz class carrier (according to a lazy Google search). Not sure how much maintenance can be done when they’re packed like that, but it’s not a small space, even by comparison with other nations’ vessels.

KEITH 68
KEITH 68
3 months ago

Could do with some racking to use the vertical spaces better and recover some floor space!