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An alternative Royal Navy for the 1970s

Abraham Gubler

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I did a rough costings attempt based on my idea for a replacement of the Types 82, 22, 42 and 22 with a single high end destroyer (Type 83?) with weaponised Turana missile. What is important in considering a high-low mix is the retention under this concept of the Leander class as a general purpose frigate. Without the lengthy Ikara and Sea Wolf rebuilds there will be higher availability of Leanders and they and some other older ships can compensate for the smaller gross fleet numbers of the single class high end destroyer build plan.

Using the Types 82 and 42 as the benchmark my Type 83 destroyer would probably cost 1.25 x that of a Type 42 (with a reasonable dose of contingency) built in the same year. Type 22 started of costing about the same as a Type 42 but later in their run their cost blew out to 1.5 x of a same year Type 42 despite considerable growth in the size of the later (Batch 3). Type 21 costed 0.75 x that of a Type 42 in a similar year.

So from this I reckon that by the Falklands War the RN orders for 1 T82, 8 T21, 8+6 T42 and 3+5 T22 would equate to orders for 24 Type 83 high end destroyers. Of which 9 would still be in varying starts of pre commission from contract to crew training. So at the time of the Falklands War that is a reduction from 20 to 15 available ships of the post Leander generation.

Also the impact on the Leander fleet would be extensive as there would be no Ikara, Exocet and Sea Wolf upgrades. These ships would be upgraded by the Falklands but only with improved sensors, helicopter (Lynx) and Sea Cat systems (2 x) and the canisterised Turana anti-ship missile (8 x). They would all retain their 4.5” Mk 6 gun. All 26 would be available in a modernised condition by the start of the War without the complex and lengthy conversions. So taking into account the Leanders the actual available fleet size has reduced from only 42 to 41. A loss of a single hull easily compensated for by retaining a single Types 12 or 81 in commission into 1982.

Systems wise across the Leander and post Leander fleet (not including the County class and Types 12 and 81) this would result in a fleet wide increase of Sea Dart capable ships from 9 to 15 and from Sea Wolf ships of 4 to 9. Available Sea Dart missiles would increase from 216 to 600 and Sea Wolf from 7 directors to 30. Also the number of Ikara ships would grow from 9 to 15 and the number of Lynx hangar spots from 38 to 56. Antiship missiles would increase from 68 Exocets to a staggering 328 Turanas. The number of 4.5” guns (either Mk 6 or Mk 8) would increase from 23 to 41. No doubt such a fleet could produce a far more powerful task force for operations in the Falklands.

Of key importance is the availability of a number of integrated Sea Dart and Sea Wolf ships for operations around the Falklands Sound during the landing. In each case of the losses of HM Ships Coventry, Ardent and Antelope this position in the fleet would be taken by one of these ships. In all three cases the presence of integrated Sea Dart and Sea Wolf would make a decisive difference in their ability to defeat Argentine air attack. Even the loss of HMS Sheffield is likely to be countered as thanks to the more redundant design (no single water main to be cut) and hull armour around the amidships magazine.
 

Tony Williams

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Abraham Gubler said:
I did a rough costings attempt based on my idea for a replacement of the Types 82, 22, 42 and 22 with a single high end destroyer (Type 83?) with weaponised Turana missile. What is important in considering a high-low mix is the retention under this concept of the Leander class as a general purpose frigate. Without the lengthy Ikara and Sea Wolf rebuilds there will be higher availability of Leanders and they and some other older ships can compensate for the smaller gross fleet numbers of the single class high end destroyer build plan.

Using the Types 82 and 42 as the benchmark my Type 83 destroyer would probably cost 1.25 x that of a Type 42 (with a reasonable dose of contingency) built in the same year. Type 22 started of costing about the same as a Type 42 but later in their run their cost blew out to 1.5 x of a same year Type 42 despite considerable growth in the size of the later (Batch 3). Type 21 costed 0.75 x that of a Type 42 in a similar year.

So from this I reckon that by the Falklands War the RN orders for 1 T82, 8 T21, 8+6 T42 and 3+5 T22 would equate to orders for 24 Type 83 high end destroyers. Of which 9 would still be in varying starts of pre commission from contract to crew training. So at the time of the Falklands War that is a reduction from 20 to 15 available ships of the post Leander generation.
An interesting alternative scenario. There are two separate issues here:

1. The fleet composition, i.e. the types of warships built and the nature of their capabilities.

2. The weapon systems they would be equipped with.

On the fleet composition, my original proposal was for general-purpose warships in two classes, with 12 high-end County class replacement (essentially T22 and T42 capabilities combined) and 24 much smaller low-end Leander replacements (without the bulky and costly area air defence system). In each case, the ships would be vastly more capable than the classes they were replacing: all of the ships would be useful in a "hot" war against a well-equipped enemy. I think that this would be an affordable alternative to the T21/22/42, given the savings on Leander conversions and on the "white elephant" Bristol.

I suspect that your "Type 83" (essentially the same as my high-end destroyer) might cost a lot more than 1.25x a Type 42: I guesstimated 1.5x as much, which does affect the number of vessels which could be afforded. Also, my proposal addresses the need to replace the Leanders during the 1980s. I think that going for just "Type 83" destroyers for the RN would leave it short of hull numbers to cover their general commitments, so another class of much less expensive vessels would need to be acquired (involving some reduction in the number of Type 83s) to cope with all of the anti-piracy, anti-drug smuggling and general policing and flag-waving duties. All that could be afforded (and would be needed) would probably be diesel-powered, gun-armed corvettes, which would clearly be of virtually no use in a hot war.

I might add that this dilemma is still with us - should the RN continue to concentrate its limited funds only on highly-capable but very expensive (to buy and run) ships for all tasks, leading to the chronic shortage of hulls which it suffers now, or should it accept a reduction in the number of those in order to afford a larger class of cheap patrol corvettes to keep the overall hull numbers up? The latter makes more sense in "peacetime" but is less effective in a hot war.

As far as the weapon systems are concerned, I have been pondering the merits of VLS vs steerable launchers, and multi-purpose vs specialist launchers. Steerable launchers have the advantage of using simpler and cheaper missiles, since they can be pointed directly at the target and thereby rely on SARH (for SAMs) or a ballistic trajectory (for ASROC). They are not of course needed for AShMs or cruise missiles, which need autopilots anyway so can steer themselves onto the right course after launch.

However, steerable launchers have some substantial disadvantages: they are mechanically complex, with several stages involved before a missile can be fired: rotating the magazine, or moving the missiles within the magazine, to get the selected missile in the right position under the loading hatch: opening the hatch; moving the missile up to the launcher; attaching the missile to the launcher; training and elevating the launcher. If anything goes wrong at any point of this process, the whole system stops until mechanics can sort it out. As I've mentioned, I recall a Sea Dart launcher suffering a malfunction in the Falklands.

The vulnerability of a steerable launcher system becomes even more critical if it is multi-purpose, with a mix of SAM, AShM and ASW missiles in the magazine. This offers attractive flexibility, but any problem with the launcher means that you lose all of your major weapon systems in one go. You really, really don't want this to happen when the enemy is closing in on you, and it's worth going to a lot of trouble to avoid the risk. One solution is to have more than one multi-purpose launcher, but this has a substantial impact on warship size and cost without adding any extra capability - only redundancy. This no doubt explains why navies have been reluctant to go down the multi-purpose launcher route; with single-purpose launchers you only lose one weapon system when malfunctions occur (and they will...).

The other issues with steerable launchers are that the magazines are limited to certain shapes (usually rotary) which can limit their capacities, and their size may also determine where they can be mounted in a ship. And of course, they need clear arcs of fire which (unless the ship is double-ended) means that the ship might have to be manoeuvred before a missile can be fired.

These considerations have reinforced my preference for VLS silos over steerable launchers. They are mechanically vastly simpler (the only mechanical operation before firing being to open the hatch - and if one jams, you've got lots more), they are inherently modular with the number and configuration of silos being tailored to each class of ship, they don't need wide firing arcs, they are faster to fire both initially and in continuous rates (determined by the fire control system rather than any mechanical limitations), and there is no penalty in making them multi-purpose - in fact, it brings the benefit of providing flexibility in the mix of missiles being carried so that can be varied to meet the needs of each conflict.

These VLS advantages are so massive that the primary disadvantage identified in this thread - that the missiles have to be more complex - is I believe relatively insignificant. As you suggested, the Sea Dart missile could be SARH as designed, the only modification being to the booster rocket which would need a command guidance and steering module. Since Sea Wolf (which in my scenario would also use VLS, as originally designed) uses command guidance, then the Sea Wolf directors (of which I would install four in my high-end GP destroyer) would be used to aim Sea Dart towards the target until the SARH picked it up.

As far as other weapons are concerned, I am relaxed about who makes the medium-calibre gun - except that there must be one on every ship - but feel that if Vickers is to design a new one (historically, the 4.5 inch Mk 8) then it should use the standard USN 5 inch ammunition, partly because the RN would then benefit from US advanced ammunition developments, partly because it's more effective anyway.
 

robunos

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Regarding the missile fit for these vessels, it seems to me to boil down to one question; Is the technology of the day sufficient to create a workable VLS system? I don't know, I don't know enough about matters Naval...

cheers,
Robin.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Tony Williams said:
On the fleet composition, my original proposal was for general-purpose warships in two classes, with 12 high-end County class replacement (essentially T22 and T42 capabilities combined) and 24 much smaller low-end Leander replacements (without the bulky and costly area air defence system)
While the overall RN fleet maintained a high/low mix or rather fleet destroyer and anti-submarine/patrol frigate mix I think in the decision making timeframe of 1966-70 the need was far more for the high end. At this time the RN only had eight modern ships with guided missiles coming into service (County class) while the USN had 50 plus the conversions of WWII cruisers. The balance of the RN’s fleet destroyer force were obsolete WWII designed ships (Daring, Battle, Ch) with little more capability than the frigates. The need was strongly for guided missile (ie Sea Dart) fleet destroyers

On the other hand they had a plentiful supply of ships capable of peacetime patrol work and war time anti-submarine escort. With an ongoing production program of Leander class frigates that could deliver new, low cost (well under half the cost of a new patrol frigate: Type 21) up until the mid-1970s (or later). The motivation to go ahead with the Type 21 seems to be entirely driven by a desire to support industry and in particular export opportunities. The RN did not need eight more patrol frigates between 1974-78 half as much as they needed four more guided missile fleet destroyers in this time frame. The need for the Type 22 was also driven by the falling off in fleet wide anti-submarine capability thanks to new Soviet submarine effectiveness. But if the new guided missile fleet destroyer had a Type 22 level of anti-submarine capability a new ship wouldn’t be needed.

This is why in my scenario I’m happy to see the RN abandon a requirement for a new frigate in the 1970s. Especially since it turns out that thanks to the Ikara conversions the RN cancelled a last and 27th Leander frigate (Friedman: British Destroyers). 27 Leanders without Ikara and Sea Wolf conversions plus two batches of 10 each of “Type 83s” ordered in the 1970s would result in exactly the same number of ships in 1982 than in real life.

But how to get past the Governments strong desire for supporting a commercial frigate in the late 1960s? Well have the RAN go ahead with their General Purpose Escort in 1968. Which was what the Type 21 was before it was called Type 21: a joint RN/RAN frigate. Australia pulled out at the end of 1968 because the two requirements were becoming too different to be supported by a single program. However if the RN was pushing ahead with the “Type 83” and didn’t want any production money (as opposed to design money) to go to their version of the RN/RAN frigate then it is built to the Australian standard (a much better ship). Say four built in the UK (VT and Yarrow) and two in Australia (which is pushing it for Australian ship building at that time) all for the RAN and zero for the RN. The UK gets its export frigate program for a much more attractive ship that might be competitive with the Italian Lupo (Peru, Venezuela, Iraq) as well as winning orders in Brazil (Mk 10). The RN gets to keep £170m for constructing something more useful.

Tony Williams said:
I suspect that your "Type 83" (essentially the same as my high-end destroyer) might cost a lot more than 1.25x a Type 42: I guesstimated 1.5x as much, which does affect the number of vessels which could be afforded.
I tend to agree. The basis of my cost estimate was just adjusting the Type 82 for inflation but this used the general CPI calculator. During this time it looks clear that the cost of military systems were inflated at a far higher rate than the national average. Also the costing didn’t look too bad compared to a Type 42 which it basically shares most sub-systems with but reading more about these ships made it clear how many corners were cut to push down cost from vehicle system to ‘fitted for but not with’ mission systems. Now we don’t want any of that do we. However on the ledger side for the “Type 83” is it is a single ship program replacing effectively four separate ones (Type 42 Batch 3 is really a different ship class). There has to be cost savings there somewhere especially in the later ships thanks to learning and a steady unbroken singular ship program.

Tony Williams said:
These VLS advantages are so massive that the primary disadvantage identified in this thread - that the missiles have to be more complex - is I believe relatively insignificant.
It isn’t insignificant because this is the chronological flow of technical progress. You can’t go back in time and say heah Mr Mitchell don’t put a Merlin in that Spitfire Mk 1 put this jet engine thingy and it may be more complex but it will be a better plane. The same goes for the Sea Dart and vertical launching.

Tony Williams said:
As you suggested, the Sea Dart missile could be SARH as designed, the only modification being to the booster rocket which would need a command guidance and steering module.
I wrote that in jest because while it may sound simple it is incredibly complex. For every missile launch to require the attentions of two separate missile control systems that have to work together perfectly is just Rube Goldbergian. Integration is by far the hardest thing to do with any system.

Also don’t overplay the problems with mechanical launchers. They may have broken down from time to time but they also worked more often than not and worked well. In the Type 83 as I am proposing there is four additional missile launchers (Sea Cats or Sea Wolves) to back up the primary Sea Dart launcher. So if it is down the ship still has some self defence capability. And there are two launchers for the anti-submarine and anti-ship missiles. This is the best approach to dealing with launcher reliability concerns designing in redundancy. If you mandate this for Sea Dart then you build a double ended ship like the CF.299 Frigate “D” proposal and the Type 43. You could probably even fit in a hangar and flight deck aft of the aft dual missile launcher on the “D” CF.299 Frigate design in which case you have a Type 83 with redundant Sea Dart capability.

Tony Williams said:
As far as other weapons are concerned, I am relaxed about who makes the medium-calibre gun - except that there must be one on every ship - but feel that if Vickers is to design a new one (historically, the 4.5 inch Mk 8) then it should use the standard USN 5 inch ammunition, partly because the RN would then benefit from US advanced ammunition developments, partly because it's more effective anyway.
Just one gun? Any decent NGS ship should have two or more realistically three so as to keep two in operation at any one time. And the RAN had a requirement for any coastal operations ship to have fore and aft guns for some time after the experience of the Han River fighting in Korea. Got to be able to shoot in all directions when things get really rough.

But in the 1965-70 decision making time frame there was no advanced 5” ammunition. The USN was planning to put 175mm guns on ships and this was where the Copperhead laser guided capability was to be delivered. But building the Mk 8 around the then new 5” round makes sense. But the 4.5” is built for more range than the 5” in terms of over 10% more length to width in the shell and 20% more propellant for weight of the projectile. Which is why being a smaller shell it flies almost as far. But it’s really going to take 30-40 years from starting the Mk 8 project before being in 5” is going to make a significant difference.
 

Tony Williams

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Abraham Gubler said:
While the overall RN fleet maintained a high/low mix or rather fleet destroyer and anti-submarine/patrol frigate mix I think in the decision making timeframe of 1966-70 the need was far more for the high end. At this time the RN only had eight modern ships with guided missiles coming into service (County class) while the USN had 50 plus the conversions of WWII cruisers. The balance of the RN’s fleet destroyer force were obsolete WWII designed ships (Daring, Battle, Ch) with little more capability than the frigates. The need was strongly for guided missile (ie Sea Dart) fleet destroyers.
That's a fair point, but would limit the Leanders and other second-tier ships to being useful only in peacetime patrolling, with no replacements in sight. Furthermore, their steam plants would have made them very expensive to crew in comparison with a modern diesel-powered corvette with the same utility. Assuming that the money pot was fixed and that your Type 83 cost roughly 1.5x a Type 22 or 42, you would have a limited number of hulls capable of use in a hot war. In my proposal, the frigates have VLS Sea Wolf as well as other modern weapon systems, so would be very effective in a hot war.

As ever, no right answer, just different pros and cons.

Tony Williams said:
These VLS advantages are so massive that the primary disadvantage identified in this thread - that the missiles have to be more complex - is I believe relatively insignificant.
It isn’t insignificant because this is the chronological flow of technical progress. You can’t go back in time and say heah Mr Mitchell don’t put a Merlin in that Spitfire Mk 1 put this jet engine thingy and it may be more complex but it will be a better plane. The same goes for the Sea Dart and vertical launching.

Tony Williams said:
As you suggested, the Sea Dart missile could be SARH as designed, the only modification being to the booster rocket which would need a command guidance and steering module.
I wrote that in jest because while it may sound simple it is incredibly complex. For every missile launch to require the attentions of two separate missile control systems that have to work together perfectly is just Rube Goldbergian. Integration is by far the hardest thing to do with any system.
[/quote]

I don't think that the "jet powered Spitfire" is a fair comparison. From the mechanical point of view, a VLS system is very much simpler than a steerable launcher. Command guidance was a well-established system at the time of planning the new generation of RN warships, and so was semi-active radar homing. So the new bit for a VLS Sea Dart would have been switching between the two systems at booster burn-out. I don't doubt that would have required a lot of development work to get right, but not beyond the capabilities of the day. The Soviet S300 SAM system, which uses VLS plus a TVM system which combines features from radio command and SAR guidance, first entered service in 1978, which means that development must have started in the 1960s. The naval version (SA-N-6) entered service a few years later. Not beyond the bounds of possibility, IMO.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Tony Williams said:
That's a fair point, but would limit the Leanders and other second-tier ships to being useful only in peacetime patrolling, with no replacements in sight.
These ships remain very useful as ASW platforms well into the 1980s. The Leanders would also have increased utility as they cycle through modernisation in the 1970s with Lynx, improved radars and sonars and in my scenario canister launcher Turana anti-ship missiles while retaining their 4.5” gun. As to replacement the RN doesn’t have the design resources until the mid 70s to start on a new frigate unless they source a commercial design. Just as the Type 22 design followed the Type 42 so could a “Type 21” follow a “Type 83”. This ship could enter production in the late 70s or early 80s to sustain low end frigate numbers. With the Type 83 having the full ASW fit this Type 21 could be a simpler (and cheaper) ship compared to the Type 22.

Tony Williams said:
I don't think that the "jet powered Spitfire" is a fair comparison. From the mechanical point of view, a VLS system is very much simpler than a steerable launcher. Command guidance was a well-established system at the time of planning the new generation of RN warships, and so was semi-active radar homing. So the new bit for a VLS Sea Dart would have been switching between the two systems at booster burn-out. I don't doubt that would have required a lot of development work to get right, but not beyond the capabilities of the day.
Mechanical issues in the launcher were never the constraint in missile design but the control systems of the missile. Building a missile with two flight control systems just to avoid what was then a non-problem in launcher mechanical reliability is as out there as expecting the Spitfire Mk 1 to be jet powered. So is doubling the cost of Sea Dart missiles and ship systems (an additional £4 million per £20 million ship!) and adding to the complexity of system development. You wouldn’t have Sea Dart dual command/homing missiles in service until 1978 and so on.

But if at the time any Admiral had burst into the room at DNC and demanded they fix a problem with mechanical launcher reliability in 1962. They would have simply said lets fit two launchers per ship. Problem solved, rather than respecify a requirement for a much more complex missile system just so it can use simple silo launchers.

Tony Williams said:
I The Soviet S300 SAM system, which uses VLS plus a TVM system which combines features from radio command and SAR guidance, first entered service in 1978, which means that development must have started in the 1960s. The naval version (SA-N-6) entered service a few years later. Not beyond the bounds of possibility, IMO.
S300 development started in 1967 and Patriot in 69. TVM is an entire generation advanced in complexity compared to Sea Dart. You can’t build TVM without transistorised computers, phased array radars and without huge advances in science over that which was available to the RN in 1960-62 when they launched CF.299 (Sea Dart). Sea Dart was technologically a rather simple program as it effectively just repackaged technology developed for Bloodhound (CWI seeker and ramjet motor). TVM in 1962 is beyond the bounds of possibility (period!) and dual command/homing guidance extremely unlikely for limited dividend of launcher reliability.
 

Tony Williams

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I think that you are double-counting the resources available for your scenario. In my proposal the estimated resources cover two new ship classes to build as Leander and County replacements instead of T21, 22 and 42. You seem to be applying the same resources to just replacing T22 and 42, then going back later to build a new "T21" Leander replacement, in the meantime adapting the Leanders to carry new missiles. Funded from what?

On the VLS Sea Dart I am unconvinced by your arguments, which I think are seriously exaggerated. Given that the Sea Dart booster rocket would use the same command guidance system and directors developed for Sea Wolf, I don't believe that the increase in cost, of the ships or the missiles, would be anything like as great as you claim. As I have already acknowledged, the handover from command guidance to SARH (which would obviously be linked to booster burnout) would require some intensive development effort but there is no obvious reason why that would be fundamentally beyond the capabilities of the time.

The entire "what if?" article which started this thread was predicated on the use of hindsight to propose different options which might have some worthwhile advantages. So whether or not the Admiralty would have been easy to convince of this at the time is not particularly relevant. However, an analysis of the benefits in terms of reliability in action and flexibility in both ship design and weapon loads of a multi-purpose VLS system would surely have had some appeal, even then. Especially when "simply adding two launchers per ship" would have led to a substantial increase in ship size and cost, as the studies of the time demonstrated. And of course, fore-and-aft launchers would also have created problems in providing helicopter facilities.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Tony Williams said:
I think that you are double-counting the resources available for your scenario. In my proposal the estimated resources cover two new ship classes to build as Leander and County replacements instead of T21, 22 and 42. You seem to be applying the same resources to just replacing T22 and 42, then going back later to build a new "T21" Leander replacement, in the meantime adapting the Leanders to carry new missiles. Funded from what?
Type 21 was designed by commercial industry for the RN while the RN’s personnel were designing the Type 42. Once they finished the Type 42 they designed the Type 22. As to resources I have just considered the costs to build the Types 82, 21, 42 and 22 for replacement with the “Type 83”. The costs for upgrading the Leanders happened in the real world alongside these programs. In my scenario the Leander upgrade is far simpler and not requiring the extensive rebuilds of the Ikara and Leander conversions. I’m quite sure this money along with the Exocet conversion would cover the non-missile side of the Leander upgrade (as it did in real life) and a much less costly fitting of a self-guided canisterised missile alongside the hangar or whatever.

As to designing a mid to late 1970s “Type 21” this is again cost neutral because with the Type 83 the RN wouldn’t need to design the Type 42 Batch III or the Type 43. Such a ship would be much cheaper than the Type 22 and of low priority and production orders only in the very late 70s, early 80s after 20 Type 83s had been ordered. I can’t see how Leander upgrades to a reduced scope than the real world and a simple late 1970s frigate would affect orders for the first 20 Type 83s.

Tony Williams said:
On the VLS Sea Dart I am unconvinced by your arguments, which I think are seriously exaggerated.

SNIP

The entire "what if?" article which started this thread was predicated on the use of hindsight to propose different options which might have some worthwhile advantages
Which is why your rejection of the strong arguments against VLS Sea Dart smacks of scenario fulfilment. Far from exaggerating, I think I’ve made it sound easy. Silo launching was well understood in the 1960s and as soon as missiles came into service able to support it (Sea Wolf, SM2) it was at least tested and eventually implemented. When one considers how much good stuff the RN had to throw out from 1965-75 because they couldn’t afford it the survival of a highly complex dual guidance system just to avoid a simple mechanical magazine and trainable launcher sounds highly improbable.

Getting concerned about the troubles of fitting two mechanical missile launchers per ship is nothing compared to two directors per channel of fire. And the stage one radio command director would have to be able to point to zenith to capture the vertically launched missile and then be able to guide it towards the reflected RF cone of the target illuminator. So no nice and easy side by side mounting of these directors they all have to be centreline.
 

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I have been following this thread with great interest as it is a subject close to my.. (UK 75).

I offer some thoughts (sorry if I duplicate points made earlier on) in drawing up alternative orders of battle for the RN in this timescale.

1966 and the decision to abandon fixed wing airpower from 1971 was a traumatic moment for the RN which, unlike apparently the Royal Australian Navy, it found hard to adjust to. The rationale adopted was that given the new political focus on Europe and NATO the Royal Navy's main role would be to provide anti-submarine support in the form of task groups centred round large helicopter carrying ships. The Tiger class conversions were the only ships in the short term able to operate the new Seakings, though Hermes and Bulwark were later pressed into this role when the limitations of Tiger and Blake became clear.

Retaining fixed wing airpower for use in the NATO role was seen by the Treasury as duplicating the huge power of the US carrier task forces allocated to NATO. Until the 70s the only aircraft carrying ships available to the Soviets were the unipmpressive Moskva and Leningrad. Land based Blinder, Bear and Bison aircraft were seen as relatively easy meat for US airpower and the Seaslug and Seadart were seen as adequate area defence against them and their large aircraft like missiles.

The sinking of the Israeli destroyer Eilat in 1967 by the primitive Styx missile unleashed a whole wave of technical responses. The RN developed helicopter missiles (initially the French AS 12 but then the Sea Sku programme) while the US started the development (already in hand) of its Harpoon missiles. Up to this point the US Sixth Fleet relied on its Talos, Terrier and Tartar missiles used in a surface role while the RN expected to do the same with Seaslug 2 and Seadart.

Exocet was adopted by the Royal Navy as an off the shelf solution despite its size and other limitations (Harpoon was still some years away from service in 1970 when Exocet was selected).

Seawolf mutates in this period from a straightforward Seacat replacement to a much more capable, but also much bulkier system. In hindsight this seems to have been asking too much of the range of hulls available to the RN which really needed an equivalent of NATO Sea Sparrow, adopted by most of our European allies.

Type 22 is the Leander replacement. Even with the benefit of hindsight there is no way round this fact, because of the main warfighting role against the Soviet submarine threat. Consequences are that the Leanders are run on to long and the Type 21 has to serve as a Leander replacement rather than a replacement for the second rate Type 81 Tribals, single role Type 17s etc in the more peacetime limited war roles. Given that the Type 21s are used for so many different roles and are also the main class of ship sent to the Falklands (compared with Type 12 etc) they should have received Sea Sparrow equivalent (they initially were supposed to have Seawolf).

Type 42 shows the limits of British budgets rather than ingenuity. No Western navy apart from the US is able to afford the costly cruiser size (innocuously called Frigates at this time) ships with double ended missiles. Even the US has to cut its suit to suit budget restraints, apart from the nuclear frigates classes (Virginia, California) there is quite a gap between the Leahy/Belknaps and thei eventual Ticonderoga class replacements. In the 70s the Type 42s with their Seadarts are as good as anything we could have got from the US (Adams later Spruance with Tartar/Standard). France deploys no new area SAM after Masurca until this Century with Eurosam, relying like everyone else on the Standard family. The Seadart versus Standard debate is too complicated for me, so I leave it to others.

Ikara (apologies to my Australian friends) seems a red herring. Although more capable than ASROC it is much clumsier and harder to put aboard ship (I love the ASROC pepperbox launcher which the US also adopts for Sea Sparrow and later Harpoon- as do the Japanese who make full use of it). However, as all new build British ships are helicopter capable I think we could have saved some money here and followed the Canadian example of fitting Frigates with Sea Kings and ASROC. After all the Canadians were facing the same threat as us.

Unlike contributors here I share the RN's distrust of low end ships which the Treasury use as a way fo salami slicing budgets. I would have like to have seen a US style single hull design for ASW and area SAM, but as others have pointed out there were good reasons for this not being possible. Ideally, Type 82s escorting CVA 01s would have been the 70s RN (see my model on Richard Beedall's site). But given what I have written above, the RN did a pretty good job with what it had.

A design which does seem to fit the ASW and Commando Ship needs of the RN is an earlier version of Ocean rather than the expensive Invincibles. A programme of 4 to 6 such ships could have replaced Tiger, Blake, Bulwark and Hermes.

And finally, the Falklands. Politics in the 60s and 70s did not envisage a war in the South Atlantic.
It was assumed that US influence in Latin America was strong enough to prevent it. With the benefit of hindsight we should have built a proper airfield on the Islands as the locals wanted us to do. However, decolonization was the watchword and there was little appetite in Whitehall or either Labour or Tory ranks for such..
 

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uk 75 said:
No Western navy apart from the US is able to afford the costly cruiser size (innocuously called Frigates at this time) ships with double ended missiles.
The name cruiser is much abused because most people outside naval constructor departments don’t understand what it means. It’s not about gross size but about a ship construction standard. A cruiser unlike a destroyer is not an expendable ship it is also a long range, self sustaining ship. What this means is it has to have a range of duplication in sub systems, protection and much more extensive self-maintenance capability and stores. The only western cruisers designed and built as such post war (as opposed to being called such) are Long Beach, California and Virginia classes and the non-built CSGN class. The DLG/frigates (Leahy and Belknap) were built to destroyer standards and should never have been renamed cruisers. Same with Tico though the base Spurance hull has many cruiser features – like most USN destroyers.

uk 75 said:
In the 70s the Type 42s with their Seadarts are as good as anything we could have got from the US (Adams later Spruance with Tartar/Standard).
The DXG or DDG variant of the Spurance class was only ordered by the Iranians (USN wanted it but ran out of money post VietNam) and is a far more capable ship than the Type 42s. For one it has SM-2 which is a generation ahead of Sea Dart missile guidance wise.

uk 75 said:
France deploys no new area SAM after Masurca until this Century with Eurosam, relying like everyone else on the Standard family.
Which is reasonable considering Masurca was just a license built Terrier with a French name.

uk 75 said:
Ikara (apologies to my Australian friends) seems a red herring. Although more capable than ASROC it is much clumsier and harder to put aboard ship
No it wasn’t. It was designed to fit right in and replace the space of a ship allocated to a Limbo Mk X AS mortar. As seen in its Australian and Brazilian applications. The British version however was a Frankenstein but that was their problem not that of Ikara. While requiring a bit more space than ASROC that’s a worthy price considering ASROC was useless against anything other than a dead in the water submarine.

uk 75 said:
However, as all new build British ships are helicopter capable I think we could have saved some money here and followed the Canadian example of fitting Frigates with Sea Kings and ASROC. After all the Canadians were facing the same threat as us.
Canadians just used Sea King (never used ASROC on the same ship) and was widely considered (especially by the Canadians) an amazing thing that they fitted on-board a frigate. Of course Australian Ikara had a special Sea King data link and the combination of the two was probably the best non-nuclear ASW capability in the 1970s and 80s – anywhere.

uk 75 said:
And finally, the Falklands. Politics in the 60s and 70s did not envisage a war in the South Atlantic.
It was assumed that US influence in Latin America was strong enough to prevent it.
Sure but policy did envisage war in general. Whether fought off Norway or the Falklands it involved having warships able to survive against an air threat. If the 1982 RN had to fight the Soviets it would have suffered far, far more than against the Argentines.

uk 75 said:
With the benefit of hindsight we should have built a proper airfield on the Islands as the locals wanted us to do.
So giving the Argentineans an airbase for their best fighters and strike aircraft actually on the islands would have helped the British retake them? I don’t think so…
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
The name cruiser is much abused because most people outside naval constructor departments don’t understand what it means. It’s not about gross size but about a ship construction standard. A cruiser unlike a destroyer is not an expendable ship it is also a long range, self sustaining ship. What this means is it has to have a range of duplication in sub systems, protection and much more extensive self-maintenance capability and stores. The only western cruisers designed and built as such post war (as opposed to being called such) are Long Beach, California and Virginia classes and the non-built CSGN class. The DLG/frigates (Leahy and Belknap) were built to destroyer standards and should never have been renamed cruisers. Same with Tico though the base Spurance hull has many cruiser features – like most USN destroyers.
That's actually very correct, and even the California and Virginia classes were originally designated DLGNs, Long Beach being the last true cruiser.
 

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Just cleaning up the files in my computer and thought I would post this drawing here before consigning it to the archives of my C drive. When discussing the "Type 83" of a few weeks ago I drew up a quick vertical to assess what was possible. This is the result.

Using the Type 82 hull with unit propulsion for two sets of Tyne and Olympus. These engine rooms are port and starboard with the diesel generator rooms on the other sides. Sea Dart is amidships with Type 909 directors on the opposite beam to the exhausts. there is plenty of room for everything else including double Ikara magazine under the flight deck, hangar for two Lynx, double Sea Wolf forward and aft and even growth space in front of the bridge (or a third Type 909 here for two Sea Darts per beam). Offset engine rooms are very space efficent because they take away the length consumption of a big stack. As seen here and on the Type 43 and Spurances.
 

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uk 75

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Abraham

On your points. On the cruiser point I was only following the US Navy's own terminology, my point was the problem of double ended missile ships, which only the US and Soviet Union deployed between 1960 and 1990.

On Seadart's performance. The only missile available for the size of hull the UK looks at was the Standard/Tartar family (as adopted by France, Germany, Italy, Australia, Japan etc). Only the Italian Navy had a new build ship able to carry SM2 (Vittorio Veneto).

Airbase on the Falklands. The RAF regularly stationed Phantoms and Victor tankers around the world in the 70s, I am sure if an airport had existed on the Falklands with adequate facilities for Phantoms the Argentines would not have been so encouraged to invade.

Ikara. I have had another look at Friedman and you are right that Ikara was the only effective missile solution against fast deep diving Soviet subs. However, the Japanese seemed happy enough to deploy ASROC in large numbers. My preference would have been to get Seakings into service in greater numbers and not go down the Lynx route, but I accept that there were good reasons why this was not done.

My Type 82 variant would have been a double ender to make best use of Seadart. Other ships in the Task Group could have handled gunnery and ASW. 8 of this version would have been good escorts for RN Task Groups.

I forgot to mention Seacat 2 which seems to me to have been a British equivalent of Sea Sparrow/BPDMS and could have been shipped in the 70s on Leanders etc leaving Seawolf to be developed for the 22s and 23s (Vertical Launch Seawolf earlier than actually deployed-the design was there much earlier).

UK 75
 

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uk 75 said:
On your points. On the cruiser point I was only following the US Navy's own terminology, my point was the problem of double ended missile ships, which only the US and Soviet Union deployed between 1960 and 1990.
Terminology is used and abused by just about everyone. But when it comes to comparisons it isn’t a useful benchmark. Meanings become important then. As to the double ended ship it’s not such a big thing.

uk 75 said:
On Airbase on the Falklands. The RAF regularly stationed Phantoms and Victor tankers around the world in the 70s, I am sure if an airport had existed on the Falklands with adequate facilities for Phantoms the Argentines would not have been so encouraged to invade.
If there was no aircraft based there it would be a prise not a deterrent. Somehow I very much doubt the UK would maintain combat aircraft there in 1982. Considering how extensive the cuts to defence had been over the 15 years previous.

uk 75 said:
On Ikara. I have had another look at Friedman and you are right that Ikara was the only effective missile solution against fast deep diving Soviet subs. However, the Japanese seemed happy enough to deploy ASROC in large numbers. My preference would have been to get Seakings into service in greater numbers and not go down the Lynx route, but I accept that there were good reasons why this was not done.
That the Japanese and USN built large numbers of ASROC equipped ships doesn’t make it a competitor to Ikara. Both navies relied far more on ASW aircraft and owned the shore based assets to integrate with them. In which case ASROC probably acted more like beaters for the submarines not the killers.

uk 75 said:
On I forgot to mention Seacat 2 which seems to me to have been a British equivalent of Sea Sparrow/BPDMS and could have been shipped in the 70s on Leanders etc leaving Seawolf to be developed for the 22s and 23s (Vertical Launch Seawolf earlier than actually deployed-the design was there much earlier).
Seacat 2 was simply what Seacat always needed: a supersonic missile. It used the same guidance systems as Seacat 1. But would have made a huge difference in capability.
 

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uk 75 said:
1966 and the decision to abandon fixed wing airpower from 1971 was a traumatic moment for the RN which, unlike apparently the Royal Australian Navy, it found hard to adjust to.
Traumatic in a morale sense yes, that is beyond dispute. However I have actually come to the conclusion that the RN adjusted very quickly by essentially lopping off the carriers, their dedicated escorts and the third-rate (Type 19) frigates from the future fleet structure- easy to do as these were the EoS elements. This left the ASW helicopter cruisers and the general purpose Sea Dart/ASW frigates in the middle; the latter were themselves a direct product of the realisation that combining the two specialities into one hull made the Type 82 class too expensive to be ordered in the numbers required. This structure was settled by the end of the 60s as was manifested in the ordering of the first T42 in 1968 and the first T21 in 1969.

The image of poor adjustment, I feel, comes from the way in which the affair was handled. The 1965/6 review may have announced the run-down of the carrier force but it also gave it almost another decade of service to 1974/5 or beyond. This then got turned on its head by the 1968 review which called for both carriers to be gone ASAP, this was itself then modified when the retention of Ark Royal as an interim to the Invincibles was funded by abandoning the conversion of Lion.
 

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Well then, after a quick skim over that I'd say you have a good alternative timeline. Though I might quibble a few issues after my readings.

First pointer, in the context of Sea Dart AAW system onboard the Invincibles, the RN seems to have favoured such a solution from the CVA-01 process. My current reading suggests the reason is the dispersal of assets in a force to avoid making attractive 'collective' targets for nuclear weapons.

So while this might add the inconvenience of Sea Dart to the CV(S), it actually adds to the idea for Sea Dart on your AltD1 ships and in fact assuming a mk II Sea Dart with active seeker and datalink, your AlftF2 ships.

On successor CVs there were in the early days of the CVF studies a number of varying STOVL type designs. So in the light of a successful combined Harrier/Jaguar Successor, one of these is quite attractive and the design side of CVF wrapped up a lot earlier.

However on the issue of any PCB aircraft, there would be more stringent requirements for any VL with PCB. The obvious, though RN opposed answer, is a gridwork section of deck sponsoned over the water. Permitting a bulk of hot gases to pass through to the sea below.
The other way forward is as now, the use of a 'rolling VL', which is something that goes back at least as far as the P1154 design.

On the matter of Sea Dart, it's control and guidance system would need replacement for the future, and considering the missile itself I'd estimate that too. Hence the Type 45 and Sea Viper (UK-PAAMS). But this is possibly achievable on your common VLS silo within Sea Dart (VLS's) existing dimensions, and could have been started as a research effort say around the mid-70's onwards.
Presuming so, one might also look at the upper end of GWS-27 using AESA and active seekers as well. Potentially a comprehensive solution system is conceivable using active Sea Wolf and Active Sea Dart with some form of AESA.

I might ask though about the gun aspect as you are more of an authority on that matter than anyone I can currently get to talk to, what is so inferior about the 105mm options for a naval gun?
 

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Thanks for your response, I don't have any argument with it - just to note that among my thoughts for P.1216 I have always had a rolling landing in mind, for the same reason that it is being considered for F-35B: to increase the bring-back weight and so make it unnecessary to dump expensive PGMs in the sea before landing. The fact that this would also minimise the deck-heating issue is a valuable bonus.

I have nothing in principle against the 105mm calibre for a naval gun. In fact, I would have liked the RN to adopt the automatic Vickers 4" in the 1950s, but that's a different "what if", and there would be a few practical issues in taking this route in the 1970s:

- the gun and its ammo (whether based on the medium-velocity field gun or the high-velocity tank gun) would probably need some work to suit it to a autoloading naval application: in the case of the field gun, the ammo would need to be fixed (projectile rigidly attached to cartridge case) for rapid handling; in the case of the tank gun, different projectiles would be needed and these may be limited in length (tank gun projectiles tend to be short, but the Vickers 4" naval had very long projectiles - see below).

- designing and developing an autoloading mounting would be just as costly as for the 4.5" Mk 8, so there would be no cost saving.

- the RN would end up with non-standard naval ammo, just as it has now, and therefore face the cost of developing its own advanced ammo types.

- the opportunity to swap the Sea Dart and its VLS system for another nation's gun would be lost, therefore reducing potential Sea Dart customers.

 

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Grey Havoc said:
Tony, have you come across this already?:
No, I haven't seen that one.

One of my favourite aviation "what ifs" of the 1950s concerns the Gyrodyne/Rotodyne. The Fairey Rotodyne massively outclassed every conventional helicopter when it first flew, in speed, range and payload. Sadly it was intended for commercial use which (with the benefit of hindsight) was a non-starter. The US Army was very interested in a military version and wanted to order around 200 IIRC but the British Army couldn't see the point ::) so it was scrapped.

What I would have liked to see was a whole family of Gyrodynes developed from 2-seat trainers to Hercules-sized transports (like the Groen Brothers have promoted: http://www.groenaeronautics.com ) and everything in between. The UK could have monopolised the market for such high-speed VTOL transports (and later, combat versions).
 

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zen said:
First pointer, in the context of Sea Dart AAW system onboard the Invincibles, the RN seems to have favoured such a solution from the CVA-01 process. My current reading suggests the reason is the dispersal of assets in a force to avoid making attractive 'collective' targets for nuclear weapons.
It was due to RN study work that showed a missile system was considerably more effective at directly defending a ship if the system was mounted on the ship itself rather than on a nearby escort.
 

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JFC Fuller said:
It was due to RN study work that showed a missile system was considerably more effective at directly defending a ship if the system was mounted on the ship itself rather than on a nearby escort.
That makes sense especially at close range, but why wasn't Sea Wolf chosen instead of Sea Dart? Was it a timing problem?
 

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Not just at close range but in general. Sea Dart allowed for engagement at longer ranges and was thus more attractive where it could be installed, ideally both systems would be included on one ship in the way they were intended to be on the Type 43 design and post Falklands on Batch III Type 42s and the Invincibles (both installations cancelled for reasons as yet unknown to me).

The Rotodyne was cancelled for a very simple reason, it was crushingly expensive and actually not very useful. By the time it was cancelled one Rotodyne was going to cost the equivalent of multiple military Heralds (then the favourite aircraft for the light cargo role the Rotodyne was proposed for, the Avro 748 was ordered instead for political/industrial reasons) and would cost significantly more to operate. Furthermore, whilst it was faster than a helicopter it was still significantly slower than a fixed wing turboprop meaning more airframes were required for the same lift capacity. Its short range was also a problem as it limited the aircrafts utility in the theatre reinforcement role. Finally it was very inefficient in the hover mode compared to normal helicopters (which was the main valid complaint the RN had against the type as an ASW asset). Against all that the ability to land vertically and fly a bit faster than a helicopter simply wasn't worth it.
 

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JFC Fuller said:
Not just at close range but in general. Sea Dart allowed for engagement at longer ranges and was thus more attractive where it could be installed, ideally both systems would be included on one ship in the way they were intended to be on the Type 43 design and post Falklands on Batch III Type 42s and the Invincibles (both installations cancelled for reasons as yet unknown to me).
Certainly an AAW ship of the period should have had both Sea Dart and Sea Wolf (as I propose in my article). My point was that in long-range engagements whether the attacking plane was ultimately going to be attacking your ship or the one close to you in formation makes no practical difference to the firing solution. With a close-in defence system this becomes a real problem as to protect another ship involves engaging a target with a considerable angular rate of change rather than a simple head-on one.

The Rotodyne was cancelled for a very simple reason, it was crushingly expensive and actually not very useful. By the time it was cancelled one Rotodyne was going to cost the equivalent of multiple military Heralds (then the favourite aircraft for the light cargo role the Rotodyne was proposed for, the Avro 748 was ordered instead for political/industrial reasons) and would cost significantly more to operate. Furthermore, whilst it was faster than a helicopter it was still significantly slower than a fixed wing turboprop meaning more airframes were required for the same lift capacity. Its short range was also a problem as it limited the aircrafts utility in the theatre reinforcement role. Finally it was very inefficient in the hover mode compared to normal helicopters (which was the main valid complaint the RN had against the type as an ASW asset). Against all that the ability to land vertically and fly a bit faster than a helicopter simply wasn't worth it.
You really can't compare a VTOL transport with a CTOL one - whatever the technology, whether a helicopter, a tilt-rotor or a gyrodyne, the VTOL one is vastly more expensive to buy and run and has a greatly inferior speed and payload/range. You would only use a VTOL craft if VTOL was an absolute requirement for doing the job. What matters is therefore how the gyrodyne compares with a helicopter, because that's the only alternative if you must have VTOL (given the technology of the time). And the Rotodyne had a vastly superior performance to any contemporary helicopter.
 

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Sea Dart was really intended as an anti-missile system rather than an anti-aircraft system. As such its range, at least in initial form, wasn't that great. Documents from early in its life comparing it to Sea Slug Mk.2 give it a range of just over 30,000 yards. The RN never got the truly long range system it wanted which was NIGS.

Regarding Rotodyne, the RAF had a specific requirement which was to lift a certain tonnage to the forward battle area, they came to the conclusion (rightly given the costs they were being quoted) that a combination of fixed wing STOL aircraft and conventional helicopters were a much cheaper and more flexible alternative.
 

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JFC Fuller said:
Sea Dart was really intended as an anti-missile system rather than an anti-aircraft system. As such its range, at least in initial form, wasn't that great. Documents from early in its life comparing it to Sea Slug Mk.2 give it a range of just over 30,000 yards. The RN never got the truly long range system it wanted which was NIGS.
But Sea Wolf was definitely an anti-missile system, and intended for what the carriers really needed - close-in engagement of the aircraft and missiles which got past the Sea Dart on the escorts.

Regarding Rotodyne, the RAF had a specific requirement which was to lift a certain tonnage to the forward battle area, they came to the conclusion (rightly given the costs they were being quoted) that a combination of fixed wing STOL aircraft and conventional helicopters were a much cheaper and more flexible alternative.
No doubt Fairey incurred considerable development costs they needed to recoup but, discounting that, there is no obvious reason why a gyrodyne would be any more expensive than a comparable helicopter: IIRC, the rotor assembly was much simpler (although the blades themselves were more complex to make). Certainly the performance advantages should have prompted some far-sighted decision-making. We could have had, decades ago, a range of VTOL transports with a performance closer to the V-22 than to a conventional helicopter, with nothing like the cost and complexity.

The issue of "flexibility" depends on how you define it, and the scenarios you choose. For example, it is not flexible to have to shift a load first in a conventional plane to a forward base, and then have to transfer it to a helicopter (therefore two aircraft with two crews required), if a single gyrodyne could move it in one go. That applies even if the gyrodyne needs a refuelling stop which the CTOL plane does not.
 

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British carriers needed a missile system that could defend them against Soviet missiles in the 70s and 80s, Sea Dart was effective as that system and gave greater range than Sea Wolf though combining both systems on the same ship would have made more sense. I always thought it revealing that the final incarnations of the CVA-01 design had Sea Cat in addition to Sa Dart.

The RAF ran the numbers on the Rotodyne and they just didn't stack up. As impressive as certain aspects of its performance were (others were considerably less so, notably hover efficiency) they just weren't useful enough in the context of the UK operational requirement. As for what made it costly, it may conceptually seem a simple aircraft but below the skin things change rapidly, in addition to two turboprops there are a pair of gas generators and the four tip-jets, not to mention the stainless steel piping required to get the gas from the generators to the tip-jets at the end of very long spinning rotors.
 

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Not only that but Rotodyne would have required a large deck space for flight operations and a large hangar space. Like the Bristol 192 and Chinook ASW, space issues forced these bigger helicopters out. The Second World War-era carriers were too small given the Sea Vixens, later F-4s, and Buccaneers aboard them, they wanted to maximise as many of these aboard carriers as they could. The bright idea to move the Chinooks to an escort required the Escort Cruiser, mini-carriers which were very expensive extras. In the end it proved easier to stick a quartet of Wessex onto the Tiger conversions.
With the questionable hover efficiency in terms of fuel burn, its unlikely scaling the design down would have helped and for the dash speed requirement between sonar dips, I'm not sure the extra speed would have been a game-changing bonus, though the greater weapons carrying capacity would have been useful.

Also, could the Rotodyne's blades been reliably made to fold given the piping in them?
 

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I mentioned a family of gyrodynes, not just the Rotodyne. For shipboard and many other uses, I had in mind a layout with engines powering rear-mounted prop(s) (either two close together, possibly ducted, or one contra-prop driven by two engines - like the Gannet) which would be a far more compact layout than the Rotodyne's. It would also lend itself rather well to a ground attack variant.

The blade-folding issue is a good point, which would need thinking about. Efficiency in hover is something which would have to be balanced against the superior payload/range of the gyrodyne - and its speed in reaching the target area.
 

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Tony Williams said:
Without wishing to re-run all of the previous arguments, I have a revised and extended version of my original article uploaded:
http://quarryhs.co.uk/AltRN.pdf
Well then with VL Sea Dart, VL Ikara and COGAG Spey all in the 1960s its just Swingpunk*. As likely as Turtledove's ridiculous transplant of Fort Drum from the middle of the wide channel approaches to Manilla to the estuarine mouth of Pearl Harbour. Though at least you could build Fort Drum on Ohahu unlike these 1970s and 80s tech in the 60s.

Real tech changes in the 60s that would make a difference are very limited. Seacat 2 is probably the most likely and significant. Less likely but just as significant would be anti ship Turanna. The RN and RAN could just do what the French did to make Exocet: buy on OTS missls guidance system to stick on thier missle. The French brought the West German Kormoran system, the Brits and Aussies could buy the Swedish RBS-04 system. Make for a far superior missle to Exocet that can use Ikara launchers or lightweight coffin boxes.

As to guns the RN's real lack was a good dual pupose gun and/or AA gun. The Vickers 3" gun on Leader would squash the Argntine air strikes just as effectively as Sea Cat 2 or a wider fleet of Sea Wolf but do so with a lot more noise and flash for the TV news. The Vickers 4" gun in place of 4.5" Mks 6 and 8 would put a severe dent in the Argentine tac air and also provide first rate NGS.

This was available tech that just needed a bit more analytical thinking from the RN to put into the fleet.
 

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* Swingpunk: as in Steampunk but instead of placed in the Victorian age (ie steam) placed in the 1960s ie Swinging London. Just like first gen James Bond films. Jetpacks, silver jumpsuits on the moon, VL Sea Dart, etc. Groovy baby!
 

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Hood said:
given the Sex Vixens,
Sounds like it too belongs in a Swingpunk world ;-)

also, could the Rotodyne's blades been reliably made to fold given the piping in them?
Yes, no problem. If you can pipe hot gas via a rotor hub having a folding joint is not so hard especially as it doesn't need to fold while piping.
 

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Tony Williams said:
I mentioned a family of gyrodynes, not just the Rotodyne. For shipboard and many other uses, I had in mind a layout with engines powering rear-mounted prop(s) (either two close together, possibly ducted, or one contra-prop driven by two engines - like the Gannet) which would be a far more compact layout than the Rotodyne's. It would also lend itself rather well to a ground attack variant.

The blade-folding issue is a good point, which would need thinking about. Efficiency in hover is something which would have to be balanced against the superior payload/range of the gyrodyne - and its speed in reaching the target area.
The Rotodyne was essentially a trials machine, rather than the production variant. The production machine was to be about 10-15% bigger and was named the "Rotodyne Z" and featured a beavertail rear door and more powerful turboprops. What killed Rotodyne were spurious concerns about noise. In fact, Rotodyne in the unsilenced version was only slightly noiser than the V-22 is today. It operated from the heliport at Battersea without complaint during trials. It would have made an excellent COD or AEW or ASW aircraft for the Queen Elizabeth Carriers or a SAR aircraft for ground based use. It's rotor head was less complex and more easily manufactured than the Seaking's. Folding would have been quite easy because there wouldn't be a need to (initially) make it powered. The Rotodyne was truly a missed opportunity and even today would give the V-22 a good run for it's money.
 

JFC Fuller

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It wasn't noise that killed the Rotodyne it was lack of market. Even without the noise concerns BEA only wanted six machines and soon came to the conclusion they would struggle to fill seats on those. That combined with the lack of RAF interest killed it.
 

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The RN were offered and considered the Vickers 4" and were unimpressed from a technical perspective, the file still exists at Kew.

I do have some sympathy with the notion that the 3"/70 should have been installed more widely. A Leander with that weapon and Sea Cat would have been a considerably more potent opponent to air attack than the ships actually built.
 

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Kadija_Man said:
What killed Rotodyne were spurious concerns about noise. In fact, Rotodyne in the unsilenced version was only slightly noiser than the V-22 is today. It operated from the heliport at Battersea without complaint during trials. It would have made an excellent COD or AEW or ASW aircraft for the Queen Elizabeth Carriers or a SAR aircraft for ground based use. It's rotor head was less complex and more easily manufactured than the Seaking's. Folding would have been quite easy because there wouldn't be a need to (initially) make it powered. The Rotodyne was truly a missed opportunity and even today would give the V-22 a good run for it's money.
I think that the problem with making a commercial success of the civil Rotodyne went further than the aircraft itself; I think that the whole concept had a fundamental flaw. In order to show any overall travel time advantage in city-to-city transport (and thereby justify the much higher travel cost), it had to match railway stations in providing terminals in every city centre to be served. There would be no point in using existing fixed-wing airports since those can be more efficiently served by fixed-wing planes. So while there was a heliport at Battersea (possibly too remote - not served by the Tube) it would have been necessary to buy lots of very expensive land in every city centre for the construction of heliports, and provide good local transport links to them. That would have been incredibly expensive, and who would have paid for it?

I would have been inclined to twist the British Army's arm and get them to place an order for the military Rotodyne, which would probably have been followed by a major adoption by the US Army, then we're away.... Civil versions for niche purposes could have followed, but would never have been more than a fringe benefit.
 

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JFC Fuller said:
The RN were offered and considered the Vickers 4" and were unimpressed from a technical perspective, the file still exists at Kew.
I understand that the Admiralty's major objection (apart from NIH) was the lack of a water-cooled barrel, which could surely have been addressed. By all accounts I've read, the 4" gun actually worked very well - better than the new 3" and 6" and even the old 4.5" Mk 6.

I do have some sympathy with the notion that the 3"/70 should have been installed more widely. A Leander with that weapon and Sea Cat would have been a considerably more potent opponent to air attack than the ships actually built.
Indeed it would: the war happened too late for the Tiger class cruisers to show what they could do with their 6" and 3" guns!

The problem of course (apart from the 3" technical issues) was that while great for AAW, the 3" was poor at surface warfare and NGFS.
 

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Tony Williams said:
Kadija_Man said:
What killed Rotodyne were spurious concerns about noise. In fact, Rotodyne in the unsilenced version was only slightly noiser than the V-22 is today. It operated from the heliport at Battersea without complaint during trials. It would have made an excellent COD or AEW or ASW aircraft for the Queen Elizabeth Carriers or a SAR aircraft for ground based use. It's rotor head was less complex and more easily manufactured than the Seaking's. Folding would have been quite easy because there wouldn't be a need to (initially) make it powered. The Rotodyne was truly a missed opportunity and even today would give the V-22 a good run for it's money.
I think that the problem with making a commercial success of the civil Rotodyne went further than the aircraft itself; I think that the whole concept had a fundamental flaw. In order to show any overall travel time advantage in city-to-city transport (and thereby justify the much higher travel cost), it had to match railway stations in providing terminals in every city centre to be served. There would be no point in using existing fixed-wing airports since those can be more efficiently served by fixed-wing planes. So while there was a heliport at Battersea (possibly too remote - not served by the Tube) it would have been necessary to buy lots of very expensive land in every city centre for the construction of heliports, and provide good local transport links to them. That would have been incredibly expensive, and who would have paid for it?
Partially correct. In London, you had the Isle of Dogs which would have provided land for a dedicated heliport. Other cities had such areas of land which were no longer being used for their original purpose. However, you're concentrating on Western Europe. In Asia, the Rotodyne would have found considerable use, while Downunder it could have also been used as a regional airliner. In the US, a similar situation existed. Plenty of tall buildings with flat roofs there! In Western Europe it's greatest enemy would have been the VFT.

I would have been inclined to twist the British Army's arm and get them to place an order for the military Rotodyne, which would probably have been followed by a major adoption by the US Army, then we're away.... Civil versions for niche purposes could have followed, but would never have been more than a fringe benefit.
The British forces in general, as could the US forces have found the Rotodyne quite useful, offering large payloads, greater speed and ease of VSTOL use.
 

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Kadija_Man said:
In Asia, the Rotodyne would have found considerable use, while Downunder it could have also been used as a regional airliner. In the US, a similar situation existed. Plenty of tall buildings with flat roofs there!
True, but the problem with such radically new ideas is getting them off the ground. It is much, much harder to sell a new product abroad if domestic customers don't buy it first. It's a matter of confidence, as well as getting a production line started. The F-20 was supposed to be a rather good fighter at a low price, but once the USAF turned up their noses at it....
 
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