Friday, April 13, 2012
This is the British carrier HMS Indefatigable, the seventh and (so far) last Royal Navy vessel to carry that name (not including C.S. Forester's fictional vessel). She was launched on December 8, 1942, but not commissioned until May 3, 1944. Because of the delay, the Brits successfully carried out Operation Bijou, in which disinformation was spread that the ship had entered service shortly after being launched. Code-breaking of Japanese communications showed that the ruse had been successfully, so much so that the enemy believed that Indefatigable had completed an entire cruise to the far east and back to Clyde for refitting at the time that she was actually commissioned. While she missed most of the action of the war, she did have the honor of being present in Tokyo Bay for Japan's surrender. She was scrapped in 1956.
One thing is clear, though, and that is this photo was taken in the Pacific theater of operations, since the FAA insignia on the Avengers' wings is an alternate one used only in the Pacific, and which doesn't have the center red circle, since that color could be mistaken for the Japanese insignia.
And if anyone can tell me what squadron is represented by tail code "S", I'd be much appreciative!