Audacious Class Trio

uk 75

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Perhaps the most tantalising what-if for the RN sees it taking a more rational approach to its postwar carrier fleet.
In particular, building three Audacious class ships and scrapping the remaining heavy carriers.
Initially the RN was right to focus on its light fleet carriers, but by building the Audacious class and disposing of Illustrious and co, it would have had the basis of a carrier force that could have operated into the 80s.
By 1964 Audacious, Ark Royal and Eagle would have been the core of the RN, and two ships would have been the basis of the F4/Buccaneer force, with the third in reserve.
A change for the Centaurs would have been their re-rolling as ASW ships in addition to Commandos. Centaur and Hermes would keep a cat so they could operate S3 Vikings provided under a NATO programme in addition to Seakings.
In this alt, the F4 replaces the P1154 in 1963 and there is no P1127RAF.
Oh and no Falklands (though by 1982 replacing the carriers would have become an issue).
 

Archibald

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Amen to that, brother !

Eventually pass the Illustrious / Implacables to a tier country (how about Canada or Australia ?) but don't go Victorious on them.

The Audacious in reserve should be Ark Royal, considering she was the worse of the lot. Two Audacious, keep all 4 Centaurs similar. Now is a 6 (and a half) carrier fleet to carefully deflate up to the 90's and the end of Cold War. Whatever happens to freakkin' CVA-01, the carrier fleet will carry on.
Note that there is no reason to create the Invincible / Ocean if two of the four Hermes are massively upgraded, including with Harriers.

Air group: Phantoms and Buccaneers, Gannet AEW. Later Harrier is gradually introduced to "aliviate" the catapults and provide cheap light attack capability to complement the Buccaneers.

An advice: by 1974 build the "Big wing Harrier" instead of SHAR. This instantly kill AV-8B, keep the Harrier in Great Britain and solidify the family around one single variant.
Big wing Harrier(s) for the RN, RAF, Spanish Navy, Italian Navy, USMC and India.

By 1980 the fleet consists of two Audacious and two Centaurs, with three more carriers as reserve / backup (Ark Royal and two Centaurs).

Now if the fleet has to be cut down - the Audacious are too old and too expensive for Maggie Thatcher taste - then screw them and pass their aircraft to the RAF.

Take a third Centaur out of storage and rebuild the fleet around them - with Big wing Harriers. Meanwhile the P.1216 is coming... fund that
- instead of Typhoon, it is complementary from the Rafale instead of a competitor
- shoehorn it into DARPA ASTOVL (and kill the F-35 in passing).
Note that ITTL McDonnell Douglas never "stole" the Harrier and created the AV-8B, so Uncle Sam is not in a position of strength.

Also note that, just like the F-35 variants (to lift-fan or not to lift-fan), it is possible to build a STOL or CTOL P.1216. Just scrap the two forward nozzles (the ones taking cold air out of the fan).
Note that the moveable nozzle remains, as it useful for STOL and also X-31 like crazy manoeuvers (the Sea Harrier used that trick OTL).
This way you can have P.1216 A/B/C variants similar to the F-35.
 
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zen

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Certainly if three Audacious Class were completed, this would be more than paid for by not modernising Victorious. This last Carrier may even complete with the CDS and Type 984, much as Hermes. Possibly by 1958.
Assuming two Audacious with CDS, Type 984, mk13 arrestors, mkIV catapults. Then the pressure to modernise to this standard the first of carriers would be substantial.
Just achieving a fleet of 3 Audacious class of similar standard exerts powerful effects on decision processes.
At least 2 would refit with ADA. Ideally in this AH, Broomstick doesn't happen and ASWRE C-band 'Type 966?' is funded

This also takes some pressure off CVA-01 process, as if we assume a downgrade to just 3 carriers in future, then CVA-01 doesn't need to enter service until later into the 70's. This could even be pushed back into the 80's if downgraded to just 2 carriers.

Assuming a larger run of Buccaneers in turn exerts increased pressure for the RAF to have to take it.
Assuming P1154 is dropped post NMBR.3 'joint win' for F4K. P1127 remains Kestrel, Tripartate and a curiosity.

This would make decisions over AFVG and Jaguar....interesting.
 

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Additional.

Looking to the long-term AFVG/UKVG represents the best option for a Buccaneer Successor and not directly confronting the RAF's needs. Rather such requirements would seem complimentary to the point of commonality.
Even the longer-term ADV has merit to replace F4.
The obvious difference between this and Tornado, is wing area, and power to weight ratios. Suggesting a difference in engine from OTL RB.199. Scaled options did exist early in that program.

Arguably the Franco-British AFVG could survive and suck in Germany and Italy with workshare.
 

Archibald

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The obvious difference between this and Tornado, is wing area, and power to weight ratios. Suggesting a difference in engine from OTL RB.199. Scaled options did exist early in that program.

I'm not sure AFVG can survive. IF it survives, however, it might be a bargain for the Armée de l'Air - as it would make them part of ATL Tornado and also cure them of the "heavy fighter folly".
Problem, as usual, is Dassault - and Jaguar. Armée de l'Air budget was bursting at the seams. Jaguar cancellation would be the correct move.

At least, unlike the Typhoon / Rafale split this time SNECMA is on the right side. If the RB.172 survives then M53 is toast, and so is TF306E.

This also has interesting impact on the French Navy. AFVG is already at the high end of Clemenceau-class capability, notably the catapults - 16 to 17 mt.

Intriguing... the AFVG timeline. I like it. Needs to dig that further... there are so many Dassault prototypes all over the place, plus AdA procurement was in shambles (and you thought RAF was bad ?)
 

Archibald

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Something is needed as "cannon fodder" to keep Dassault busy with the Armée de l'Air without killing AFVG. What is needed is a successor of the Mirage III.
Designed, NOT around an Atar, a M53 or a TF306E but around the AFVG engine, that is: the SNECMA M45G-1.
Fixed wing, single engine, and cheap: a low-end to the AFVG.
Eventually, if Dassault eat Breguet, as a successor to the Jaguar.
There are many ways to achieve that.
Either a subscale Mirage F2 / F3 with a RB.172, that is, an alternate Mirage F1. Second best alternative: an upgraded Mirage III / Mirage V.

In both case it begs the question: how does M45G-1 compares with old Atar ?

That engine was half the size and weight of an Atar, a very minuscule turbofan. Thrust was not too bad: 5500 to 6000 kg of thrust. Problem is that any Atar 9 beats that, up to 7200 kg of thrust for the 9K50.

I think a slghtly scaled down Mirage F1 would be perfect. Having a modern turbofan (M45G) instead of an antiquated Atar (9K50) would greatly help fuel consumption and range.

The French Navy is in an even more bizarre position. AFVG is neither Crusader nor Super Etendard but something radically different - to say the least.
With a little luck it can pull a Hornet and be an honest-to-god multirole aircraft.
Without any luck, it turns into a miniature F-111B. The horror, the horror.

What is sure is one thing: the Jaguar has to die. Ding dong, the "Jag" is dead. Maybe the best way to get ride of it would be to bargain Breguet fate.
Dassault "Ok, I will absorb Breguet and AVFG without trying to kill it with the Mirage G series. In exchange: the Jaguar must die. Otherwise, it will be the AFVG."

Dassault is the key, as usual...
 

zen

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H.mmmmm....

Trainer to HSA 1173? Single RB.172 of 13,000lb reheated......swap for M45G?
runner up prize for loosing P1154 and VG Strike?
HSA desperate after P1127 proves dead end.
Dassault jump onto Hunter/Gnat successor? HSA-Dassault tie up?

Then again....wasn't the VG effort Dassault?
So Breuget Taon would more neatly mesh with HSA.1173
 
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uk 75

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Replacing the Buccaneer/F4 combination from 1980 in this alt RN depends on the carrier replacement decision.
Wothout CVA01 in the mid 60s Healey does not cut the carrier force, but in true Brit fashion the replacement programme for the CV/CVS fleet is kicked down the road.
The Heath Government is even less inclined toorder new big ships for the RN. The 70s are a bad time for the MOD. The 1976 cuts are absorbed by the T42/T22 fleet but also delay the replacement of the big ships.
The Nott review in 1981 decides to retire one of Eagle/Audacious to the reserve but ensure one ship is in service. The CVS fleet is cut down to Hermes with Centaur in reserve. Bulwark is put up for sale.
The age of the ships had been an issue since 1976. Plans for an Audacious successor have been around for years, but the need for an improved NATO ASW force has moved focus to a new CVS design.
France faces a similar issue with its carrier force. Michael Heseltine succeeds Nott in 1982 and meets his French opposite number.
The RAF Vindicator (48ac formerly known as TSR2) force replaced Vulcan B2s in 1970 after Polaris took over the deterrent
The RAF reluctantly agreed to take Buccaneer S2s to replace Canberras (F4s had taken over the strike role in RAF Germany).
France and Britain were faced with a requirement to replace Mirage III/ IV and V --Vindicators/Bucs/F4s.
Dassault and BAe still smarted from the recent sale of the century won by F16. Aistralia, Canada and West Germany were already keen on the F18. Rolls Royce were as ever keen to supply engines.
In 1982 a new carrier and a new fighter/attacker were needed urgently by Britain and France.
 

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Domestic industry needs AFVG-UKVG-MRCA or this is the end. Especially if Jaguar dies.
TSR.2 is not happening. Computers is the reason and until Elliots package for A7, there is no funded computer able to do the job without recourse to virtual memory on tape....and that is not going to work in bumpy regime of low level flight.

Options are AFVG, UKVG, MRCA or Jaguar. Choose Minister or go down in history as the man who killed this sector off.

In history AFVG seems the obvious choice, and a potential winner. But OTL French are more interested in heavy fighter and carrier aircraft.
While the UK was ever less interested as Interdiction Strike was increasingly priority.

But insert retention of carriers and potentially, compromise with France is possible.

Irony is runner up prize of supersonic trainer is potentially a winning product.
 

zen

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In particular, building three Audacious class ships and scrapping the remaining heavy carriers.

What role they supposed to play in late 1950s?
At the time, all sorts of missions. Korea and Suez prove this, at the time withdrawal from Empire makes retreat to Carrier airpower a means to assist the process safely.
Strike North is strong at the time, and Mountbatten argues successfully for the broken backed war role during 56 Defence Review.
Hence modernisations from 1950, the 1952 effort, Medium Fleet Carrier effort, Hybrid missile Carrier-Cruiser and then CVA-01.
Pressure mounts when not only does the Next Generation Carrier Aircraft look like F111 (70,000lbs and over 60ft long), but Ark Royal's state is assessed in '63 as much worse than expected.
 

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Illustrious / Implacables had two big flaws
- some were crippled / worn-out in WWII
- even the ones in good shape had terrible hangars too low a ceiling... and raising the hangar led to that Victorious monstrosity.

Basically the Illustrious / Implacables were red herrings and money pits. Better to scrap them and bet everything on the "smaller ones" (Centaur) and the "larger ones" (Audacious).

We need a TL "best possible fate for the Illustrious / Implacables, post-WWII...

 

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Korea and Suez prove this, at the time withdrawal from Empire makes retreat to Carrier airpower a means to assist the process safely.

Suez mostly demonstrated, that carriers armed with mostly WW2 era guns and planes are very poor argument against annoyed Soviet Union.
 

A Tentative Fleet Plan

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Domestic industry needs AFVG-UKVG-MRCA or this is the end. Especially if Jaguar dies.
TSR.2 is not happening. Computers is the reason and until Elliots package for A7, there is no funded computer able to do the job without recourse to virtual memory on tape....and that is not going to work in bumpy regime of low level flight.
The Elliott 920 series was considered as an alternative to the Verdan for TSR2. as far as I'm aware the Elliott avionics used in the A-7 was the Head-Up Display.
 

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What is sure is one thing: the Jaguar has to die. Ding dong, the "Jag" is dead. Maybe the best way to get ride of it would be to bargain Breguet fate.
Dassault "Ok, I will absorb Breguet and AVFG without trying to kill it with the Mirage G series. In exchange: the Jaguar must die. Otherwise, it will be the AFVG."

Dassault is the key, as usual...

AFVG itself. Go by the original distribution of work and give Dassault design leadership for the aircraft and Britain for the engine. AFVG becomes essentialy a Mirage G variant. I still think M45G was too weak of course and you'd probably need a stronger variant for anything good to come out of it.
 

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Yeah M45 wasn't very good, I readily agree with that. Shame, become it was very advanced technology - RB.199 stemmed from it, and through the XJ30 / 40, EJ200... SNECMA badly needed an ADVANCED / SMALL / TURBOFAN (something neither M53, TF306 or Atar were).

Could the M45G be given more "muscle" ? The subscale variant of it - hint: Jaguar's Adour - had a strong evolution past Mk.102.
Mk.104 and Mk.106 were fine engines AFAIK.

What is needed is a Mk.104 upgrade for M45G... if it worked on the Adour, it should work on its bigger brother.

Imagine the jackpot for SNECMA, if an improved M45 become an advanced, turbofan successor to the Atar... now they would be in the RB.199 / F404 game long, long before OTL M88...

The neat thing with M45G is, give it a little more thrust and it becomes an oustanding replacement for Atar not only in the Mirage III / V, but also in the Mirage IV. Far more easily to shoehorn a M45 inside their engine bays, than J79, Spey or M53.

Adour Mk 104 - Much more powerful version available in early '80s, with higher operating temperature (700° vs 640), capable of about 5,500 kgf dry and 8,000 lb with max A/B (static).
While it was only marginally better in military thrust at take off, this engine improved the Jaguar’s low power-to weight ratio and enabled much better performance, with 10% more thrust at take off (with after burner engaged), and up to 27% more thrust in high subsonic cruise, helping the Jaguar in its typical flight envelope (low level, high speed attack).

Applied to M45G... 4 mt *27% = 5 mt tons. And 6 mt + 10% = 6600 kg.

This put M45G right in the middle of the atar thrust range - at half the weight, size, and fuel consumption.
 
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Hood

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I'm not sure having three Audacious makes much positive difference.
Hermes is unlikely to complete to the standard that she did as there would be no need to try and shoehorn Buccaneer onto her.

Manpower post 1967 becomes an issue, also Healey's post 1966 removal from EoS means the RN doesn't really need 3 carriers as the bases east of Gib slowly close down. One of them is bound to get the chop, in RL it was Victorious after her fire gave a convenient excuse.
Even is you get past, the 1973-74 Defence Review has its own axes to wield.

CVA-01 and CVA-02 are killed outright. With CVA dead the innovative Direct-Acting (Water Spray) Arrester Gear (DAAG) is likely dead too. So that removes the ability to grow future aircraft weights beyond 40,000lb at 125kt (the Mk.14 fitted to Ark Royal, older Mk.13 was 30,000lb). DAAG was the same rating but of course had more growth being a new design whereas Mk.14 was a super-beefed up Mk.13).
So its more than likely that the FAA keeps on with Phantom and Bucc until the 1990s. With Skyflash and Sea Eagle that's no bad thing.
Means the RAF post-TSR fiasco is worse unless they pony up for more new-build Buccs and of course no extra Phantoms to boost the air-defence squadrons.

Would the Thatcher government fund replacements? Who knows, its a 50/50 gamble, they might but on the other hand Nott might just stick with a 2 or 3 CVS and would probably sell one of the surplus Audaciouses to the Argies to boot!
 

uk 75

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I threw in TSR2 to show that it doesnt make much difference whether it or 48 Vulcans meet the SACEUR requirement into the 80s.
Lose AFVG and Jaguar and the RAF has to have a mix of F4s and Bucs into the 80s. No money for 1127 which dies in 1963 when F4s ordered for RAF and RN.
The carrier force, as Hood points out, might not survive in the numbers I painted. I am assuming NATO lobbies hard for them.
With no big project after Lightning (and TSR2 in my alt alt) BAC builds on its relationship with France. Concorde is hard wired by treaty. Cooperation on Mirage iIIV does not end with the F4 decision. VSTOL is soon dropped. The possible replacement of Mirages/Etendards/Crusaders and F4/Buccaneers in the 70s prompts cooperation on the Mirage G and then in the 80s a delta/canard like P110/Mirage4000. This aircraft known as Taifun/Typhoon is ordered in
the mid 80s with deliveries starting in the late 80s.
The carrier replacement initiative is more fraught. The absence of VSTOL means that a CVS has to have at least one catapult to operate S3 Vikings and possibly F18s. The RN lobbies for two new Audacious sized carriers. F
The MN wants a similar sized ship but also wants nuclear power.
 

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I'm not sure having three Audacious makes much positive difference.
Hermes is unlikely to complete to the standard that she did as there would be no need to try and shoehorn Buccaneer onto her.

Manpower post 1967 becomes an issue, also Healey's post 1966 removal from EoS means the RN doesn't really need 3 carriers as the bases east of Gib slowly close down. One of them is bound to get the chop, in RL it was Victorious after her fire gave a convenient excuse.
Even is you get past, the 1973-74 Defence Review has its own axes to wield.

CVA-01 and CVA-02 are killed outright. With CVA dead the innovative Direct-Acting (Water Spray) Arrester Gear (DAAG) is likely dead too. So that removes the ability to grow future aircraft weights beyond 40,000lb at 125kt (the Mk.14 fitted to Ark Royal, older Mk.13 was 30,000lb). DAAG was the same rating but of course had more growth being a new design whereas Mk.14 was a super-beefed up Mk.13).
So its more than likely that the FAA keeps on with Phantom and Bucc until the 1990s. With Skyflash and Sea Eagle that's no bad thing.
Means the RAF post-TSR fiasco is worse unless they pony up for more new-build Buccs and of course no extra Phantoms to boost the air-defence squadrons.

Would the Thatcher government fund replacements? Who knows, its a 50/50 gamble, they might but on the other hand Nott might just stick with a 2 or 3 CVS and would probably sell one of the surplus Audaciouses to the Argies to boot!

Bouncing off this... I wonder, could "1 Audacious + 1 Centaur " survive all the cuts from 1962 to Falklands ? Exactly: HMS Eagle + HMS Hermes, the later not stripped of its catapult. Everything else (old carriers, CVA-01, Invincibles) is toast.
Manpower and cost wise, seems that matches OTL three Invincibles...

Maybe that could have been the solution. Start from Eagle and Ark Royal + 4 Centaurs (a six carrier fleet) in 1962 and then gradually deflate this until the 80's.
Gradually substitute Harriers to the Phantom / Buccaneers...
 

zen

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If one is running on the Carriers, does one need the Cruisers?
This alone frees up a lot of personnel until the late 70's.
If one is running on the Carriers, does one need both Audaciouses and Centaurs? Surely the desire to keep the larger means whatever the smaller deliver, which is increasingly ASW and Commando Assault, would be replaced by something more efficient in terms of personnel and running costs.....
Just like the Commando Carrier design, which actually existed as a study.

Arguably such a ship doesn't need Cruiser facilities as in ASW ops, the new ASW Frigates will coordinate. Equally when performing Commando ops in contested areas a real Carrier would attend.....

In fact wouldn't a Commando Carrier be a much better investment than Fearless and Intrepid? And cheaper than CVS?
 
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Hood

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Gradual deflation sounds fair.

3+4 scenario: You could have 3 Audacious and decide to retire Bulwark and Hermes in 1966 and keep the other two as Commando carriers, then trim to 1 (Albion?) and 2 Audacious & Eagle in 1975 so in 1980 you still have 2 fleet carriers and a commando carrier but all rapidly aging and you need to consider replacement so ideally new construction would be 1978-1983, that might knock the Type 22 funding a bit (maybe chop the Leander refit programme) but any later and you risk not enough funding for the SSN programme.

Escort/Command Cruisers: although CVA dies, the need for an ASW helicopter carrier and potential overseas command ship doesn't fade. In fact you could argue without CVA hogging the budget the cruisers might have gone ahead in 1963 as planned instead of the Tiger rebuilds. That gives us something a little less capable than Invincible completing by 1969. Also means you really could dispose of two Centaurs in 1966-67 and save even more money. I would guess only 2 would be built at this time, perhaps not enough hulls to quite take on the Commando role but I guess they would from the 1970s onwards. They would need replacing in the late 1980s but by then it might not matter if the RN does build a couple of proper carriers around 1979-84.

Commando Carrier: from 1975 you could either just use the couple of Command Cruisers (if they exist), or the RN could seize the opportunity to build the three Invincibles but give them more of a dual CVS/LHA role from the start.
You probably could keep a couple of Centaurs going until the 1980s but in my mind these 1940s ships are really pushing it by 1980 due to their material condition.
 

zen

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You make a good point there Hood, without such pressure on a carrier successor, the Cruiser comes to the fore.
.....at least that's one option.

This might keep Broomstick and in turn exert influence on the Dutch.
 

uk 75

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In my assumptions, the.Centaurs become a combined ASW/Commando ship as Bulwark and Hermes did in the late 70s.
I keep a catapult to let them operate Gannets, then S3 Vikings as part of NATO's improved ASW assets.
No cruisers survive the arrival of the Countys and the Centaurs are the prime Seaking platform until T22 arrives.
By the 70s the Audacious and Centaurs need to be replaced, as well as Fearless and Intrepid.
The problem is that in the 70s the UK and its industry is in a horrendous state.
The RN cling on to its big ships because NATO wants and needs them. But by 1982 only Eagle and Hermes remain in service.
Nott repeats earlier arguments for frigates and submarines as more effective Sov sub killers.
The cost of replacing them has inflated and the capacity of British industry has declined.
With no Harrier and no Through Deck Cruisers there is no plan B.
The Nott Review links retirement of Eagle to the retirement of F4s and Bucs in 1985 when Tornado takes their place. Hermes is offered to Australia with her S3 Vikings. The Seakings are deployed on new T22s and RFAs.
There is no Falklands War. Ironically the deployment of three SSNs deters the March 82 invasion, strengthening the case for more Trafalgar class boats.
The only way round this is to build replacement ships in the 70s, but it is hard to see this happening unless you rewrite UK history.
 

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The Escort Cruiser, later Command Cruiser aka Through-Deck cruiser, and finally CVS is a legacy of Mountbatten's enthusiasm for the cruiser.
What the RN actually needs is a modern combined ASW/Commando carrier to replace the converted Centaurs in the 70s.
Unlike real world Eagle/Ark or alt 3 Audacious replacements these ships are a relatively easy build in the late 60s. Three could be in service by 1975 replacing Hermes and co.
 

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Thing is the US trialled the Sea Control concept from a Commando Carrier.
Arguably building such for the RN is the way forward at the time in this scenario and arguably more than 3.

Though it should be born in mind that Cruiser efforts failed due to priorities being Carriers and Submarines.
Delay CVA-01 process and the Cruiser could be too far gone as a process by '63 and the incoming government in '65 will be faced with a choice between them.
Remember that Type 82 was increasingly viewed as less efficient than new Cruisers. It was the process being further along that favoured Type 82 otherwise it would have been ditched.
 

uk 75

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The thorniest problem left by my 3 Audacious no CVA01 alt RN is what happens after 1985.
Nott would have done his best to get rid of the remaining ship.
As I mention above, the 70s are a pretty bleak time for new builds as Invincible (HMS Unfinishable) showed.
One project survived this whole era unscathed. Concorde was unkillable because France had written it into the agreement.
So we find ourselves back at the Anglo French carrier.
The PH75 has still to morph into the Charles De Gaulle. Clemenceau and Foch have many years of service left.
But the Marine Nationale has the vision needed to drive a programme. A class of 4 carriers. 2 for the RN and 2 for the MN.
The British would bring essentially an updated Audacious. France would want a nuclear ship.
Could the two be got together Concorde fashion.
 

uk 75

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The Cruiser and CVA01 live in the same world.
If the RN had not been so desperate to get CVA01 (an assumption I make above) the existing Audacious class would not provoke the 1966 row which is caused by the lack of credibility in the RN plans for the F4.
Freed from that problem and by giving up cruisers for destroyers/frigates, the ASW/Commando ship becomes a NATO asset..It might even have replaced Australian, Canadian and Dutch ships.
 

zen

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The thorniest problem left by my 3 Audacious no CVA01 alt RN is what happens after 1985.
Nott would have done his best to get rid of the remaining ship.
As I mention above, the 70s are a pretty bleak time for new builds as Invincible (HMS Unfinishable) showed.
One project survived this whole era unscathed. Concorde was unkillable because France had written it into the agreement.
So we find ourselves back at the Anglo French carrier.
The PH75 has still to morph into the Charles De Gaulle. Clemenceau and Foch have many years of service left.
But the Marine Nationale has the vision needed to drive a programme. A class of 4 carriers. 2 for the RN and 2 for the MN.
The British would bring essentially an updated Audacious. France would want a nuclear ship.
Could the two be got together Concorde fashion.
At this time.....quite possibly.
UK had a substantial nuclear industry and personnel, France was sending people over to learn.
So considering the UK probing into naval reactors for surface ships, there's scope for a collaborative reactor to power the carriers. Possibly part of grander but ultimately unfulfilled ambitiouns for other nuclear powered ships.
 

Hood

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The cruiser wasn't tied to CVA specifically, it was tied to the concept of fleet carriers, that's not quite the same thing if Britain already had 3 fully capable fleet carriers.
I agree a combination CVS/Commando carrier with a swing-role fleet of helicopters would be the best but alas is probably too late in conception and need for the command cruiser unless you push it back to the mid-1970s.

I am in two minds about Type 82/42 mix. It could be Type 82 goes ahead or more likely we get the planned Sea Dart and Ikara destroyers as separate ships.

I hate to speculate on a 1980s carrier. Going by what happened to HMS Ocean the results for a home-built design could be very messy. Was there enough co-operation with France in this period to go for a joint CVN? I'm not sure. Its opens a wealth of possibilties.
 

starviking

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I'm not sure having three Audacious makes much positive difference.
Hermes is unlikely to complete to the standard that she did as there would be no need to try and shoehorn Buccaneer onto her.

Manpower post 1967 becomes an issue, also Healey's post 1966 removal from EoS means the RN doesn't really need 3 carriers as the bases east of Gib slowly close down. One of them is bound to get the chop, in RL it was Victorious after her fire gave a convenient excuse.
Even is you get past, the 1973-74 Defence Review has its own axes to wield.

CVA-01 and CVA-02 are killed outright. With CVA dead the innovative Direct-Acting (Water Spray) Arrester Gear (DAAG) is likely dead too. So that removes the ability to grow future aircraft weights beyond 40,000lb at 125kt (the Mk.14 fitted to Ark Royal, older Mk.13 was 30,000lb). DAAG was the same rating but of course had more growth being a new design whereas Mk.14 was a super-beefed up Mk.13).
So its more than likely that the FAA keeps on with Phantom and Bucc until the 1990s. With Skyflash and Sea Eagle that's no bad thing.
Means the RAF post-TSR fiasco is worse unless they pony up for more new-build Buccs and of course no extra Phantoms to boost the air-defence squadrons.

Would the Thatcher government fund replacements? Who knows, its a 50/50 gamble, they might but on the other hand Nott might just stick with a 2 or 3 CVS and would probably sell one of the surplus Audaciouses to the Argies to boot!

Good points, but by having 3 Audacious we also change the dynamics of the Navy both internally and externally.

Internally we perhaps have a service that has more focus during the early 50s - they know they have 3 good fleet carriers, and passable medium fleets. The uncertainty and operational problems of having a frontline force of 3 different classes of carriers never raises its ugly head. Perhaps a more politically as well as operationally confident force results. Light fleets may be used longer as commando assets in addition to being sold to friendly nations.

Externally, political capital is not squandered on extensive and expensive carrier rebuilds - perhaps the Navy gets a bit of blowback from the cruiser rebuilds, but nothing like the scale of the costly Victorious rebuild.

The navy would be much better prepared for Suez too - if this occurs.

NATO Striking Fleet commitments are easier to fulfill, and perhaps both HMG and USG see the utility of having a dependable ally earlier.

And it may have been mentioned above, the 60s obsolescence crunch may be delayed, adding a few more years to the carrier replacement process.

Imagine the RAF having a leaner (in types), more appreciated force that they’re trying to defenestrate in a East of Suez debate. One with a well-managed, well-maintained fleet that has never had the problems of over-specced, over-cost aircraft. Perhaps islands would have been sunk instead of ships?
 

Hood

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I did have a thought that came to mind for a replacement. One that we always seem to overlook, the option that perhaps gets overshadowed by French co-operation.

What if the RN joined the CVV programme in the 1970s and from that both navies procured a couple of ships? I'm thinking a 50,000 ton CVV, 2 or 3x Sea Wolf launchers and an airwing of whatever fighter takes your fancy (Phantom, F/A-18). Maybe even chuck a in a sweetener like developing an Anglo-US supersonic VSTOL with the package too (not my favourite open but one that is open with this scenario).
 

zen

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I did have a thought that came to mind for a replacement. One that we always seem to overlook, the option that perhaps gets overshadowed by French co-operation.

What if the RN joined the CVV programme in the 1970s and from that both navies procured a couple of ships? I'm thinking a 50,000 ton CVV, 2 or 3x Sea Wolf launchers and an airwing of whatever fighter takes your fancy (Phantom, F/A-18). Maybe even chuck a in a sweetener like developing an Anglo-US supersonic VSTOL with the package too (not my favourite open but one that is open with this scenario).
Difficult politically, and problematic building a US design in the UK. But as part of something bigger perhaps?
IF....if it was also being sold to the French?
Or perhaps the Australians?

Really it would be the VVS of 30,000tons that fits better.
 

zen

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Escort Cruiser VCNS recomended it in June 1962 over the CF.299 Destroyer as it was becoming (having started as a Frigate).

This concept could take on the Commando delivery capability to succeed the Centaurs and delivered greater scope for future improvements compared to the tight design of the Type 82. In fact it was substantially more capable and alleviated constraints on the carriers by offloading helicopter ASW, easily integrating Ikara along with double the Sea Dart capability and capacity.
Stablity was greater, allowing Type 988 to be either raised up higher, or simply to cope with the increases in weight.
At this time 2 DDG = £20 million and one CG = £15.6 million.
This leaving 4.2 million for another Frigate (such as DS352).
a Fleet of 8 DDG = just 4 CG and left £16.8 million free for Frigates, equal to funding a fifth CG, 4 FF of £4.2 million, 3 FFG of upto £5.6 million (Leander repeat or DS338) or 2 FFG of £8.4 million (DS345)
 

uk 75

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The Escort Cruiser is unnecessary if you have enough Centaur class deck space. A cheap follow on ASW/Commando ship is well within the capacity of late 60s early 70s UK industry.
The Air Defence ship should be a Type 42 full length with space for SSM/CIWS.
The follow on fleet carrier needs to be able to operate F18/Rafale/AFVG.
The advantage of the RN not having the CVA01 trauma in the 60s is that the Labour Governments of 1964-70 and 74-9 will have seen the cost effectiveness of carriers and their usefulness. Orders for 2 replacrment ships may not even need French help as Labour will be keen to to keep shipbuilding going. The problem is not the design (a slightly bigger Audacious with similar layout) but getting a reliable propulsion system.
 

zen

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The Escort Cruiser is unnecessary if you have enough Centaur class deck space. A cheap follow on ASW/Commando ship is well within the capacity of late 60s early 70s UK industry.
The Air Defence ship should be a Type 42 full length with space for SSM/CIWS.
The follow on fleet carrier needs to be able to operate F18/Rafale/AFVG.
The advantage of the RN not having the CVA01 trauma in the 60s is that the Labour Governments of 1964-70 and 74-9 will have seen the cost effectiveness of carriers and their usefulness. Orders for 2 replacrment ships may not even need French help as Labour will be keen to to keep shipbuilding going. The problem is not the design (a slightly bigger Audacious with similar layout) but getting a reliable propulsion system.
Actually doesn't the less demanding timetable suggest prototyping of new plant?
Either the CVA-01 type or a COSAG type.
Either of which trialled in the 60's at modest cost, sets up next generation carriers for the 70's and 80's.
Though the period is one were a nuclear plant might be prototyped.

I would add if we avoid Anglo-Dutch Broomstick and fund ASWRE C-band set, then Type 82 is more plausible and delivers for both new carriers and Type 42.

Commando Carriers might also sustain industry in preparation for the new carriers. If anything it gives design staff and welders time to familiarise themselves with the new era of systems and standards.
 

JFC Fuller

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Good points, but by having 3 Audacious we also change the dynamics of the Navy both internally and externally.

Internally we perhaps have a service that has more focus during the early 50s - they know they have 3 good fleet carriers, and passable medium fleets. The uncertainty and operational problems of having a frontline force of 3 different classes of carriers never raises its ugly head. Perhaps a more politically as well as operationally confident force results. Light fleets may be used longer as commando assets in addition to being sold to friendly nations.

Externally, political capital is not squandered on extensive and expensive carrier rebuilds - perhaps the Navy gets a bit of blowback from the cruiser rebuilds, but nothing like the scale of the costly Victorious rebuild.

The navy would be much better prepared for Suez too - if this occurs.

NATO Striking Fleet commitments are easier to fulfill, and perhaps both HMG and USG see the utility of having a dependable ally earlier.

And it may have been mentioned above, the 60s obsolescence crunch may be delayed, adding a few more years to the carrier replacement process.

The RN big carrier fleet wasn't abandoned because of a lack of WW2 generation carriers, it was abandoned because there was no longer a desire to spend money buying a new generation of carriers, constantly rebuilding the old ones, or to provide the manpower to man the fleet of which they would be a part.

The big carriers were the hill on which the RN senior leadership chose to die on. They fought for them continuously through the early 1960s including at least twice in full cabinet (1963 and 1966, winning in the former and losing in the latter) having been through similar battles in the 1950s. To emphasise the point, David Luce resigned as 1SL following the cancellation of CVA-01 - to no discernible effect. Prior to cancellation, manning the carriers was the highest priority resulting in insufficient personnel to man the required number of escorts, hence the rather absurd Type 19 design effort. The RN was effectively, though not deliberately, hiding it's manpower shortage in the future escort fleet. CVA-01 was ostensibly cancelled due to capital cost (cost of purchase) but in truth the manpower issue was slowly killing the existing ships anyway - both being a reflection of insufficient funds (more personnel means more pay, training, provisions etc.). The great advantage of the Invincibles was, through their small air wings and gas turbines, a much lower manpower requirement than any steam driven catapult equipped carrier could offer.

For reference, early 1960s planning was against a manpower cap of 103,000 (against the 88,000 Sandys had agreed to in 1957), the actual Vote A peaked at 104,000 for the year ending 31st March 1966, by 1989 it was down to 69,100, a decline of c.35,000 in 23 years.
 
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uk 75

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JFC Thank you as usual for your detailed knowledge of the background.
You might have added that crews preferred destroyers and frigates to serving on carriers.
But CVA01 is killed off because Healey destroyed the RN case for it, Eagle and Hermes providing a realistic and affordable carrier force. The design and the costs didnt help.
But in 1966 the RN and RAF are still competing to provide forces for 'East of Suez'.
The Fleet Working Party brief to avoid carriers and concentrate on the ASW cruiser in 1966 reflects how discredited the CVA01 saga had made carriers.
With the three Audacious and the Centaurs available, the only issue is the "Phantomisation" of one or two ships. This happened for one in real life, two more wouldnt have broken the bank.
Manpower was an issue. My scenario loses all the cruisers by 1966 with no refits. The only cost is keeping one more Centaur.
The Countys should have stopped at six or even four ships. The new build ASW/Commando ships could be ordered instead.
Bristol gets built (though I hate Ikara and would rather have more Seakings).
With no Escort Cruiser to worry about T42 and T22 could be developed faster and kept to the right size. Leanders could be stopped sooner though T21 might still be needed.
Where you are right even more, is in the 70s.
Getting two new carriers built for the 80s might simply be another CVA01 style fiasco.
But, as I argue above, with a decade of Phantom and Buccaneer operations the RN will have a better relationship with Callaghan and Healey.
Even then, the Nott argument that the RN must focus on the GIUK gap battle will still resurface.
 

Siberia

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Suez mostly demonstrated, that carriers armed with mostly WW2 era guns and planes are very poor argument against annoyed Soviet Union.
Did it? I'm not greatly familiar with the Suez Crisis so I'm curious what the Soviets did to demonstrate this.


One project survived this whole era unscathed. Concorde was unkillable because France had written it into the agreement.
IIRC it was actually the British government that had the cancellation clause inserted.
 

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Illustrious / Implacables had two big flaws
- some were crippled / worn-out in WWII
- even the ones in good shape had terrible hangars too low a ceiling... and raising the hangar led to that Victorious monstrosity.

Basically the Illustrious / Implacables were red herrings and money pits. Better to scrap them and bet everything on the "smaller ones" (Centaur) and the "larger ones" (Audacious).

We need a TL "best possible fate for the Illustrious / Implacables, post-WWII...

Ironically the FJ4 Fury, F11F Tiger and F4D Skyray would have all fit in the Implacables hangars. This means if the RN or an alternative operator had gone for available US aircraft and far less complex upgrade could have sufficed.

On the Maltas, something i noticed several years ago, a 1/600 Airfix Victorious scalorama'd to 1/700 has the approximate length and beam of a Malta.........
 

Volkodav

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JFC Thank you as usual for your detailed knowledge of the background.
You might have added that crews preferred destroyers and frigates to serving on carriers.
But CVA01 is killed off because Healey destroyed the RN case for it, Eagle and Hermes providing a realistic and affordable carrier force. The design and the costs didnt help.
But in 1966 the RN and RAF are still competing to provide forces for 'East of Suez'.
The Fleet Working Party brief to avoid carriers and concentrate on the ASW cruiser in 1966 reflects how discredited the CVA01 saga had made carriers.
With the three Audacious and the Centaurs available, the only issue is the "Phantomisation" of one or two ships. This happened for one in real life, two more wouldnt have broken the bank.
Manpower was an issue. My scenario loses all the cruisers by 1966 with no refits. The only cost is keeping one more Centaur.
The Countys should have stopped at six or even four ships. The new build ASW/Commando ships could be ordered instead.
Bristol gets built (though I hate Ikara and would rather have more Seakings).
With no Escort Cruiser to worry about T42 and T22 could be developed faster and kept to the right size. Leanders could be stopped sooner though T21 might still be needed.
Where you are right even more, is in the 70s.
Getting two new carriers built for the 80s might simply be another CVA01 style fiasco.
But, as I argue above, with a decade of Phantom and Buccaneer operations the RN will have a better relationship with Callaghan and Healey.
Even then, the Nott argument that the RN must focus on the GIUK gap battle will still resurface.
What exactly is wrong with Ikara?
 
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