Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan

Abraham Gubler

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In 1964 the Royal Australian Navy made a submission to the government leadership to replace the Majestic class light aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne and its then air wing of four Sea Venom all weather fighters, six Gannets ASW aircraft and 12 Wessex ASW helicopters. The useful life of the Melbourne and its air wing was expected to expire by 1967 and without replacement or upgrading the Navy’s carrier capability would go with it. The Navy’s submission took into account the growing military power of Indonesia that had introduced several key Soviet systems and her increasing belligerence (at that time) along with that of China. It looked at various practical methods of replacing the Melbourne and air wing and made appropriate recommendations.

The Navy’s preferred replacement path for the Melbourne was to acquire from the US Navy a second hand Essex class carrier that would be upgraded to the same level as the USS Oriskany with angled flight deck and British steam catapults. The new carrier’s air wing would comprise 16 F-4B Phantom strike fighters, 12 S-2E Tracker ASW aircraft, four E-1B Tracer AEW aircraft, 16 Wessex ASW helicopters and two Sycamore SAR helicopters. The new carrier and air wing was expected to be fully operational by 1969 and a detailed plan for acquisition, including supporting equipment and personnel growth was provided. The entire cost of the new carrier acquisition was given as 150 million Australian pounds including a 10% contingency. This is the equivalent to 3.4 billion of today’s Australian dollars. The carrier and air wing would be expected to give a life of 15-18 years.

In the end the Government decided to spend a lot less than £150 million and refitted the Melbourne (£4 millioN) for another 10 years of life and purchased new aircraft for an air wing of four A-4G Skyhawk light fighters, six S-2E Trackers and 10 Wessex.

The detailed submission is now public via the National Archives of Australia and a .pdf version can be downloaded at:

http://www.t5c.biz/aat5cmisc/RAN_Replacement_CV.pdf
 

starviking

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Interesting.

Discussion in the document ties in with the statement in Brown & Moore's Rebuilding the Royal Navy that

"in April 1964 there were even thoughts that the Royal Australian Navy would buy one of the class (CVA01)"
 

Thorvic

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Interesting reading, although the conclusion to go for a modernised Essex greatly depended on the actual material condition of the surplus hulls available for conversion.

The other ionteresting bit is the assumption that the Oriskany version would be able to operate Phantoms. Didnt't the USN decide that whilst possible for a Phantom to take off and land it was only just within safety margins and thus impractical for the F-4B/J ?.

Would the RAN have therfore had to go with the RN Spey toom or possibly even go with the F-4HL ?

G
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
In 1964 the Royal Australian Navy made a submission to the government leadership to replace the Majestic class light aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne .

The Navy’s preferred replacement path for the Melbourne was to acquire from the US Navy a second hand Essex class carrier that would be upgraded to the same level as the USS Oriskany with angled flight deck and British steam catapults. The new carrier’s air wing would comprise 16 F-4B Phantom strike fighters, 12 S-2E Tracker ASW aircraft, four E-1B Tracer AEW aircraft, 16 Wessex ASW helicopters and two Sycamore SAR helicopters. The new carrier and air wing was expected to be fully operational by 1969 and a detailed plan for acquisition, including supporting equipment and personnel growth was provided.
http://www.t5c.biz/aat5cmisc/RAN_Replacement_CV.pdf
yes, very interesting project
but i think that the manpower required to operate a essex CV (2/2500 sailors), were too considerable for the RAN Navy
 

TinWing

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Abraham Gubler said:
In 1964 the Royal Australian Navy made a submission to the government leadership to replace the Majestic class light aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne and its then air wing of four Sea Venom all weather fighters, six Gannets ASW aircraft and 12 Wessex ASW helicopters. The useful life of the Melbourne and its air wing was expected to expire by 1967 and without replacement or upgrading the Navy’s carrier capability would go with it. The Navy’s submission took into account the growing military power of Indonesia that had introduced several key Soviet systems and her increasing belligerence (at that time) along with that of China. It looked at various practical methods of replacing the Melbourne and air wing and made appropriate recommendations.

The Navy’s preferred replacement path for the Melbourne was to acquire from the US Navy a second hand Essex class carrier that would be upgraded to the same level as the USS Oriskany with angled flight deck and British steam catapults. The new carrier’s air wing would comprise 16 F-4B Phantom strike fighters, 12 S-2E Tracker ASW aircraft, four E-1B Tracer AEW aircraft, 16 Wessex ASW helicopters and two Sycamore SAR helicopters. The new carrier and air wing was expected to be fully operational by 1969 and a detailed plan for acquisition, including supporting equipment and personnel growth was provided. The entire cost of the new carrier acquisition was given as 150 million Australian pounds including a 10% contingency. This is the equivalent to 3.4 billion of today’s Australian dollars. The carrier and air wing would be expected to give a life of 15-18 years.

In the end the Government decided to spend a lot less than £150 million and refitted the Melbourne (£4 millioN) for another 10 years of life and purchased new aircraft for an air wing of four A-4G Skyhawk light fighters, six S-2E Trackers and 10 Wessex.

The detailed submission is now public via the National Archives of Australia and a .pdf version can be downloaded at:

http://www.t5c.biz/aat5cmisc/RAN_Replacement_CV.pdf
The rationale for 1964 carrier studies disappeared with the change of government in Indonesia in 1965. With Sukarno out, and Soviet ties broken, it was clear that Australia wouldn't face an immediate naval threat to the north. Within a few years, the Soviet supplied Indonesian fleet was largely inoperable.

It is quite telling that the original archive contains a page revealing the real motivations for a larger carrier, a rather shameful piece describing Australia as "the only European country in the South East Asia region."

Here is the page below:

 

Abraham Gubler

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TinWing said:
The rationale for 1964 carrier studies disappeared with the change of government in Indonesia in 1965. With Sukarno out, and Soviet ties broken, it was clear that Australia wouldn't face an immediate naval threat to the north. Within a few years, the Soviet supplied Indonesian fleet was largely inoperable.
In part and completely unpredictable from the viewpoint of 1964. Would be like arguing that NATO countries should have ended all defence acquisitions in 1986-88 because the Berlin Wall would fall in 1989…

The Navy was also worried about being increasingly involved in Vietnam (which came true) and the growing power and belligerence of China (true as well). Plus the fundamental issue of needing a new carrier in order to sustain their carrier capability.

Like many Australian acquisitions in the early 1960s (including the F-111) a SCB-125A carrier and Phantom/Tracker air wing would have came too late for when it was really needed: in 1962-66 to counter Indonesia’s Confrontation of Malaysia and invasion of West Papua. Therein lies the problem of strategic foresight and convincing the purse holders to spend early and not late.

TinWing said:
It is quite telling that the original archive contains a page revealing the real motivations for a larger carrier, a rather shameful piece describing Australia as "the only European country in the South East Asia region."
Ahh and Australia remains the only country with a majority European population in SEA… Is this shameful?

Obviously the belief that this would lead to Australia being ostracized has been proven wrong by events. But in the 1960s where racial policies still governed many nations actions it is a typical statement. During the 1960s Indonesia murdered over a million Chinese and disenfranchised the Papuans, Malaysia implemented a political system prejudiced against the Chinese, the Phillipines launched campaigns against their Muslim Malays, etc, etc.

To judge past events with the benefit of hindsight and more enlightened social understandings is truly foolish. Might as well condem Edward I for purging Engliand of the Jews in the 13th Century.
 

TinWing

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Abraham Gubler said:
TinWing said:
The rationale for 1964 carrier studies disappeared with the change of government in Indonesia in 1965. With Sukarno out, and Soviet ties broken, it was clear that Australia wouldn't face an immediate naval threat to the north. Within a few years, the Soviet supplied Indonesian fleet was largely inoperable.
In part and completely unpredictable from the viewpoint of 1964. Would be like arguing that NATO countries should have ended all defence acquisitions in 1986-88 because the Berlin Wall would fall in 1989…

The Navy was also worried about being increasingly involved in Vietnam (which came true) and the growing power and belligerence of China (true as well). Plus the fundamental issue of needing a new carrier in order to sustain their carrier capability.

Like many Australian acquisitions in the early 1960s (including the F-111) a SCB-125A carrier and Phantom/Tracker air wing would have came too late for when it was really needed: in 1962-66 to counter Indonesia’s Confrontation of Malaysia and invasion of West Papua. Therein lies the problem of strategic foresight and convincing the purse holders to spend early and not late.
It's entirely clear that substantial foreign intervention against Indonesia in the years preceding the 1965 coup would have shifted events in favor of the PKI. As it turned out, Indonesia was not only neutralized as a potential threat by the accession of Suharto, but actually became a western ally. In the end, the same would be true of China after some remarkable Nixon era diplomacy.

That of course leaves the issue of South Vietnam, where Australian did indeed intervene. It's clear that the Australian role in that conflict was not decisive in any respect, with or without a single Australian carrier at "Dixie Station."


Abraham Gubler said:
TinWing said:
It is quite telling that the original archive contains a page revealing the real motivations for a larger carrier, a rather shameful piece describing Australia as "the only European country in the South East Asia region."
Ahh and Australia remains the only country with a majority European population in SEA… Is this shameful?

Obviously the belief that this would lead to Australia being ostracized has been proven wrong by events. But in the 1960s where racial policies still governed many nations actions it is a typical statement. During the 1960s Indonesia murdered over a million Chinese and disenfranchised the Papuans, Malaysia implemented a political system prejudiced against the Chinese, the Phillipines launched campaigns against their Muslim Malays, etc, etc.
Even by the standards of the Johnson era, the document in question does possess racist overtones. In many respects, the Australia psyche was shaped by the events of 1942, such as the bombing of Darwin, so it hardly comes as a surprise that subsequent defense policy was a product of a somewhat misguided paranoia, with a particularly eccentric focus on Indonesia.

Abraham Gubler said:
To judge past events with the benefit of hindsight and more enlightened social understandings is truly foolish. Might as well condem Edward I for purging Engliand of the Jews in the 13th Century.
Edward I is indeed universally condemned today for the Edict of Expulsion, an act that was very obviously counterproductive even at the time. Of course, none of this is relevant to this forum?
 

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Well, leaving aside the fact they seem to have forgotten the existence of a second European country in the near vicinity (New Zealand - perhaps its too far from the Asia mainland to count?) I don't see anything at all "shameful" in this statement.
 

Abraham Gubler

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TinWing said:
It's entirely clear that substantial foreign intervention against Indonesia in the years preceding the 1965 coup would have shifted events in favor of the PKI. As it turned out, Indonesia was not only neutralized as a potential threat by the accession of Suharto, but actually became a western ally. In the end, the same would be true of China after some remarkable Nixon era diplomacy.
Which is why the UK, the Netherlands and Australia never had any intent to intervene in Indonesia’s internal affairs. However they did have strong desire to stop Indonesia attacking its neighbours. In order to do that required military force. Fortunately the application of this force dissuaded Indonesia from escalating their Confrontation. But if they had escalated and as the geographically centered and aggressor element in this conflict they could have chosen where to apply their conventional military force. Outside of the presence of any RN fleet carrier and the RAF/RAAF strike units on the Malay peninsula and Darwin area the Indonesians would have had air-sea superiority. Also their new fleet of Soviet fast submarines were a far greater threat than the WW2 type submarines the RAN was prepared to fight. Which is why the RAN wanted to upgrade its aircraft carrier and is laid out in some detail in the report linked to above.

TinWing said:
That of course leaves the issue of South Vietnam, where Australian did indeed intervene. It's clear that the Australian role in that conflict was not decisive in any respect, with or without a single Australian carrier at "Dixie Station."
Australia’s involvement in VietNam was not precluded on being “decisive”. It was to meet regional security obligations and to be of a meaningful assistance rather than pure tokenism.

When it came to deploying the RAN’s aircraft carrier the USN actually requested the deployment of Melbourne onto the Yankee Station before the end of the Rolling Thunder attacks on the North (‘69). Yankee Station was deficient in ASW coverage and the Melbourne was seen as useful gapful. However the RAN belayed the deployment because Melbourne could only stay online at Yankee Station for 10 days due to its deficient stores and maintenance capability compared to the 31 day station periods used by USN carriers.

TinWing said:
Even by the standards of the Johnson era, the document in question does possess racist overtones. In many respects, the Australia psyche was shaped by the events of 1942, such as the bombing of Darwin, so it hardly comes as a surprise that subsequent defense policy was a product of a somewhat misguided paranoia, with a particularly eccentric focus on Indonesia.
And Johnson’s involvement in Australian politics was? Australia’s psyche was not shaped by 1942, only an ignorant foreigner educated by Baz Lurhman’s incredibly poor depiction of 1930s/40s “Australia” could make such a poor call. WW2 was actually crucial to the withering away of systematic Australian anti-Asian racism.

Rather than being misguided paranoia or racist the statement in the report is entirely realistic and feasible. It takes a dash of the worst of 21st century post modernist anti-racism screeching in which any mention of “European ethnicity” as a distinct identity is somehow seen as bordering on Nazi Aryan supremacy beliefs to portray this report in such a light.

In 1964 Indonesia was half way through an eight year campaign of the most strident vitriol against the creation of Malaysia as a “British colonial entity”, VietNam was fighting the world’s greatest power to drive out the last vestiges of French colonialism and the new vestiges of American colonialism from the South, China was launching the cultural revolution to destroy all Chinese “tainted” by European influence, India was striving to create a global non-aligned movement as a counter to European and American influence. In the light of such post colonial activities is it racist to make the call that anti-European and American resentment may be directed towards Australia? Especially that an increasingly radical Indonesia stymied in their attempts to destroy Malaysia may turn the same vitriol against Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Fortunately the belief was found wrong as in most cases the post colonial anti-western movements were in the main simply miss-direction from power grabbing dictators who meet their appropriate demise. And despite American heavy handedness in VietNam they proved much better friends to people all around the world than anyone else.
 

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This may also explain the diagram I have seen of the Hawker Siddeley P.1154 and how it would 'fit' on a Majestic class carrier, the one in the diagram being, as far as I could tell, Melbourne.

It was not the P.1154 RN, but rather the final RAF version, which would place it after February 1964. The RAF version was designed to fit Majestic-class lifts.

If I see it again I'll try to scan it.

Regarding the files on the RAF P.1154 the argument in its favour I saw from Solly Zuckermann etc. were couched in shockingly racist terms. Basically it was required to be supersonic to counter 'locals' (not the word used in the files!) "with Migs", i.e. Mig 19/21, in SE Asia (P.1154 was intended for FEAF, so I had assumed the diagram of a Majestic class related to this) and Middle East. It was clear that there was a belief still in the swinging sixties that 'the white man' must not be outdone by 'natives' (again, not the words used!).
 

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harrier said:
This may also explain the diagram I have seen of the Hawker Siddeley P.1154 and how it would 'fit' on a Majestic class carrier, the one in the diagram being, as far as I could tell, Melbourne.

It was not the P.1154 RN, but rather the final RAF version, which would place it after February 1964. The RAF version was designed to fit Majestic-class lifts.

If I see it again I'll try to scan it.

Regarding the files on the RAF P.1154 the argument in its favour I saw from Solly Zuckermann etc. were couched in shockingly racist terms. Basically it was required to be supersonic to counter 'locals' (not the word used in the files!) "with Migs", i.e. Mig 19/21, in SE Asia (P.1154 was intended for FEAF, so I had assumed the diagram of a Majestic class related to this) and Middle East. It was clear that there was a belief still in the swinging sixties that 'the white man' must not be outdone by 'natives' (again, not the words used!).
You appear to be deliberately trying to spin a racist narrative when there is not one. This seem to fit perfectly with western considerations East of Suez in the time frame. The Royal Navy was planning for exactly the same scenario, that was the point behind the CVA-01 fleet configuration. The thought being that formal colonies East of Suez would become Soviet client states and would be provided with the latest Soviet weaponry including nuclear weapons and SSN's. Remember that 1964 is just two years after the Cuban missile crisis. The combination of ideological hatred (communism versus capitalism) and contempt born out of colonial history (just check Zimbabwe today) mixed with the latest Soviet arms and manipulation as part of Soviet grand strategy (still not properly understood at the time) is a concoction that represented a major threat. To call it racist is absurd and offensive and Tinwing owes everyone an apology for his original post.
 

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I'm not spinning anything. Just stating that the language used by some politicians in the 60s would be shocking if used today.
 

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harrier said:
I'm not spinning anything. Just stating that the language used by some politicians in the 60s would be shocking if used today.
Yes you are, which is why you used a series of words that by your own admission are not even in the files.
 

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If I would attack 1960's Australia, it would be for its "White Australia"-policy and the treatment of Aborigines, not because Australian politicians and officers of the armed forces wanted to be able to defend their nation from possible and hypothetical threats.

But that's me.
 

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sealordlawrence said:
harrier said:
I'm not spinning anything. Just stating that the language used by some politicians in the 60s would be shocking if used today.
Yes you are, which is why you used a series of words that by your own admission are not even in the files.
Knowing Zuckerman's reputation, I imagine the word he used was less polite than "locals".
 

Abraham Gubler

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Hammer Birchgrove said:
If I would attack 1960's Australia, it would be for its "White Australia"-policy and the treatment of Aborigines, not because Australian politicians and officers of the armed forces wanted to be able to defend their nation from possible and hypothetical threats.
Hear, hear! (ie I heartily agree)
 

harrier

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overscan said:
sealordlawrence said:
harrier said:
I'm not spinning anything. Just stating that the language used by some politicians in the 60s would be shocking if used today.
Yes you are, which is why you used a series of words that by your own admission are not even in the files.
Knowing Zuckerman's reputation, I imagine the word he used was less polite than "locals".
I was trying to say that they ARE in the files, many times over and in discussions involving not just Zuckerman but Mountbatten and other 'names', as well as more anonymous, but senior, people. The words are much stronger than the ones I used, but if I put them on the forum they would cause a torrent of protests. Overscan is right - they are much less polite than the ones I used.

While the sentiment ('can't be outdone by foreign chaps', again not the words used!) may be what you would expect from a generation who had fought a rearguard to preserve an empire, grown up in its heydey etc., the words are surprising to see in formal documents by ministers etc.

The interesting thing is that the P.1154 would have had little use for its supersonic speed, and even that was intended to be used for tail chases of M1.4 bombers, not dogfights. But the discussion (re MiGs) was very much 'we need a supersonic aircraft for its status as well as any operational reasons'.
 

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Thorvic said:
Interesting reading, although the conclusion to go for a modernised Essex greatly depended on the actual material condition of the surplus hulls available for conversion.

The other ionteresting bit is the assumption that the Oriskany version would be able to operate Phantoms. Didnt't the USN decide that whilst possible for a Phantom to take off and land it was only just within safety margins and thus impractical for the F-4B/J ?.

Would the RAN have therfore had to go with the RN Spey toom or possibly even go with the F-4HL ?

G
I think a variant of the Vought F-8 Crusader would have been a better choice!

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Pioneer
 

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As for the proposal and want for the RAN to operate the likes of the HMAS Melbourne of the coast of Vietnam - I cant not remember where or when I read it, but the USN even went as far as offering RAN Skyhawk pilots to operate from USN carriers - using USN A-4 Skyhawks in offensive ops in an exchange scheme!
But typically the Australian politicians coward at this idea - even though the RAN 'brass' was keen on the idea!


Regards
Pioneer
 

Abraham Gubler

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Pioneer said:
As for the proposal and want for the RAN to operate the likes of the HMAS Melbourne of the coast of Vietnam - I cant not remember where or when I read it, but the USN even went as far as offering RAN Skyhawk pilots to operate from USN carriers - using USN A-4 Skyhawks in offensive ops in an exchange scheme!
But typically the Australian politicians coward at this idea - even though the RAN 'brass' was keen on the idea!
That’s not how it happened it all. The authoritative source on this question is the book “Up Top: The RAN in SEA Conflicts 1955-72” by Jeffery Gray.

What actually happened is as part of the Government’s boost to the forces in VietNam after the ’66 election the RAN was tasked to provide 6-8 Skyhawk air and ground crews attached to a US unit in a similar way as the RAN’s joint Huey helicopter unit with the US Army. The RAN air and ground crews would have converted to the Skyhawk before their carrier was out of refit to operate them and during this employment gap the idea was to fly them in VietNam. The then PM, Harold Holt, actually announced on October 19, 1967 that the Skyhawks would be deployed with a USMC air group in South VietNam.

What then happened is the service chiefs couldn’t negotiate the mechanism to ensure that the RAN Skyhawks wouldn’t be flown over North Vietnam – because of risk – and over Laos and Cambodia – because of legality. Then there were logistic difficulties and by the time all this was sorted out HMAS Melbourne was back from refit and the Skyhawks were needed to fly from the carrier. Also by then Nixon was elected changing the focus of VietNam operations away from interdicting the North so the need for strike aircraft was significantly reduced.

The Australian Government at that time had no objection to Australian units fighting in the North. The Canberra bombers were banned from missions over the North for the same reason USAF B-57s were: they weren’t survivable enough. Army forces obviously didn’t fight north of the DMZ. However RAN destroyers were assigned to Operation Sea Dragon and carried out extensive attacks against North VietNam shore targets and coastal traffic as far north as the Red River mouth.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Pioneer said:
I think a variant of the Vought F-8 Crusader would have been a better choice!
There’s a few pages dedicated to decision over which fighter to acquire for the planned SCB-125A replacement carrier. The P.1154, F-4B Phantom, F-8E Crusader, Sea Vixen and F-3 Demon were all assessed.

The Phantom F4B is recommended in preference t o the Crusader F8E, as it more closely meets the staff requirement and is superior in design, weapon carrying, handling qualities and possesses twin engine safety. Furthermore the Crusader ceases production in January, 1965 and will be replaced in service by the Phantom.
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
Pioneer said:
I think a variant of the Vought F-8 Crusader would have been a better choice!
There’s a few pages dedicated to decision over which fighter to acquire for the planned SCB-125A replacement carrier. The P.1154, F-4B Phantom, F-8E Crusader, Sea Vixen and F-3 Demon were all assessed.

The Phantom F4B is recommended in preference t o the Crusader F8E, as it more closely meets the staff requirement and is superior in design, weapon carrying, handling qualities and possesses twin engine safety. Furthermore the Crusader ceases production in January, 1965 and will be replaced in service by the Phantom.
The inclusion of the Demon seems a little odd at first glance, as the type was leaving squadron service during 1964 - unless the Aussies were looking for used airframes?

I don't know about the airframe life of the F3H, but I would assume that that type was being replaced by the Phantom due to obsolescence, not a lack of remaining flight hours?
 

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TinWing said:
The inclusion of the Demon seems a little odd at first glance, as the type was leaving squadron service during 1964 - unless the Aussies were looking for used airframes?

I don't know about the airframe life of the F3H, but I would assume that that type was being replaced by the Phantom due to obsolescence, not a lack of remaining flight hours?
They looked at every in-service carrier fighter in 1964. Obviously the Demon and Sea Vixen were both out of production and on the cusp of being withdrawn but they might have offered low capability, low cost, short term options. You've got to cover every base when proposing spending the hard earned penny of the CoA.
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
Obviously the Demon and Sea Vixen were both out of production and on the cusp of being withdrawn but they might have offered low capability, low cost, short term options.
Incorrect.

The last new built Sea Vixen rolled off the line in 1966 and the type would remain in service until 1972.
 

Abraham Gubler

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TinWing said:
Incorrect.

The last new built Sea Vixen rolled off the line in 1966 and the type would remain in service until 1972.
Correct.

In July 1964 HM Govt. ordered the Phantom for the RN FAA to replace the Sea Vixen. Obviously to anyone but the pedantic this meant that the Sea Vixen was not going to be a long term (1967-85) solution.
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
TinWing said:
Incorrect.

The last new built Sea Vixen rolled off the line in 1966 and the type would remain in service until 1972.
Correct.

In July 1964 HM Govt. ordered the Phantom for the RN FAA to replace the Sea Vixen. Obviously to anyone but the pedantic this meant that the Sea Vixen was not going to be a long term (1967-85) solution.
Actually, it is quite clear that the RN Sea Vixen fleet could have remained in service far longer than 1972, if need be. With Hermes converted to a "commando" carrier and Eagle withdrawn from service, there was simply no platform for the type.
 

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SeaVixen?

Since the USSR had shown its large anti-ship missiles I think in 1963, the Sea Vixen looked increasinly unable to protect the fleet. It would've required quite some investment to make it more capable, and frankly it was cheaper to buy a new machine.
Thus the RN had produced AW406, and in a desire to get something quickly into service had opted for the F4 with the spey. This is why they had'nt opted for something like the Type 583 since it would take too long to get into service.

That the F4K turned out to not be the quick and cheap option was another issue.
 

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Could you please remind me what the AW406 was?

Piotr
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
Pioneer said:
As for the proposal and want for the RAN to operate the likes of the HMAS Melbourne of the coast of Vietnam - I cant not remember where or when I read it, but the USN even went as far as offering RAN Skyhawk pilots to operate from USN carriers - using USN A-4 Skyhawks in offensive ops in an exchange scheme!
But typically the Australian politicians coward at this idea - even though the RAN 'brass' was keen on the idea!
That’s not how it happened it all. The authoritative source on this question is the book “Up Top: The RAN in SEA Conflicts 1955-72” by Jeffery Gray.

What actually happened is as part of the Government’s boost to the forces in VietNam after the ’66 election the RAN was tasked to provide 6-8 Skyhawk air and ground crews attached to a US unit in a similar way as the RAN’s joint Huey helicopter unit with the US Army. The RAN air and ground crews would have converted to the Skyhawk before their carrier was out of refit to operate them and during this employment gap the idea was to fly them in VietNam. The then PM, Harold Holt, actually announced on October 19, 1967 that the Skyhawks would be deployed with a USMC air group in South VietNam.

What then happened is the service chiefs couldn’t negotiate the mechanism to ensure that the RAN Skyhawks wouldn’t be flown over North Vietnam – because of risk – and over Laos and Cambodia – because of legality. Then there were logistic difficulties and by the time all this was sorted out HMAS Melbourne was back from refit and the Skyhawks were needed to fly from the carrier. Also by then Nixon was elected changing the focus of VietNam operations away from interdicting the North so the need for strike aircraft was significantly reduced.

The Australian Government at that time had no objection to Australian units fighting in the North. The Canberra bombers were banned from missions over the North for the same reason USAF B-57s were: they weren’t survivable enough. Army forces obviously didn’t fight north of the DMZ. However RAN destroyers were assigned to Operation Sea Dragon and carried out extensive attacks against North VietNam shore targets and coastal traffic as far north as the Red River mouth.

I am sorry my friend I stand corrected!!
It was a long time ago that I read it - and I no longer had a reference - but I am admit it was not from the book 'Up Top', as I have not read it - but its on my list of too do!

Regards
Pioneer
 

Thorvic

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zen said:
SeaVixen?

Since the USSR had shown its large anti-ship missiles I think in 1963, the Sea Vixen looked increasinly unable to protect the fleet. It would've required quite some investment to make it more capable, and frankly it was cheaper to buy a new machine.
Thus the RN had produced AW406, and in a desire to get something quickly into service had opted for the F4 with the spey. This is why they had'nt opted for something like the Type 583 since it would take too long to get into service.

That the F4K turned out to not be the quick and cheap option was another issue.
Zen

You kinda missed out that AW406 and the 583 were cancelled by the Govt for the P1154 joint development farce. When that was cancelled the Phantom was seen a cheap quick fix whilst a new more suitable airframe was developed (AFVG) for service in the mid 70's.
I get the feeling that F-4 hype had masked the fact it only suitable for very large carriers, couple that with the USN going for the TFX at the time, and they knew a new more suitable design was needed for the smaller carrier ops.

Does make you wonder how events would have faired if the UK had stayed in the carrier game even if CVA-01 was cancelled, could a new smaller carrier capable fighter be produced, and how would that effect the other small carrier users, perhaps Oriskany style modified Essex's might have appealed as Light Fleet replacements if a suitable modern airgroup was available to them ?. The French just couldn't afford to do it on their own, although they did try with the Mirage G8 following AFVG, Mirage F1M, Jaguar M....

G
 

zen

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Zen

You kinda missed out that AW406 and the 583 were cancelled by the Govt for the P1154 joint development farce. When that was cancelled the Phantom was seen a cheap quick fix whilst a new more suitable airframe was developed (AFVG) for service in the mid 70's.
I get the feeling that F-4 hype had masked the fact it only suitable for very large carriers, couple that with the USN going for the TFX at the time, and they knew a new more suitable design was needed for the smaller carrier ops.
Well to be honest what I said was a very short and simple post in haste, to put the point that Sea Vixen as was, was not considered adequet, once the RN had intelligence on the new Soviet anti-ship weapons. There where various proposals to upgrade the machine, which really needed new radar, and new missiles, to remain valid. The costs of that are such you might as well have a new machine, which will remain valid for far longer.
Your quite right that the RN was still more focused on the OR.346, AW406 was set for operating off the existing fleet until the new carriers came onstream, pushing back the ISD of the new wonderplane....

I certainly did not want to get thsi bogged down inthe whole P1154 saga, which woudl detract too much from the topic of this thread.

Presumably that intelligence must have been passed to the RAN, or they had their own source. Thus the need for better aircraft like the F4 and a carrier to operate it from, regardless of the projected lifespan of Melbourne.

Does make you wonder how events would have faired if the UK had stayed in the carrier game even if CVA-01 was cancelled, could a new smaller carrier capable fighter be produced, and how would that effect the other small carrier users, perhaps Oriskany style modified Essex's might have appealed as Light Fleet replacements if a suitable modern airgroup was available to them ?. The French just couldn't afford to do it on their own, although they did try with the Mirage G8 following AFVG, Mirage F1M, Jaguar M....
Yes it does pose such questiuons.
However from an RAN perspective what the UK needed to produce was either something like the Trade protection carrier studies, Medium Fleet studies, (both of roughly the same era) or Lord Carringtons 40,000ton CV.

Type 583 or Type 585 (early) solve the RN's problems, they would've met AW406 in full. We can say this with some degree of reliability thanks to Dassaults actualy building and flying of the Mirage G.
But they are too longterm to be in service on the then projected schedule and too lightweight for the heavy strike requirements of OR.346. Certainly the RAN is'nt interested in such a monster, or if they are, its only in their dreams not be revealed to their political masters.

Oriskany does seem to fit their bill, the most obvioius querry is whether its worth it to go down the F4 Phantom II route, or opt to follow the French with the F8 Crusader who, if I reccal correctly, bought refurbished or new Crusaders in 1965?
A cheaper proven solution potentialy than the risks associated with trying to operate the F4 from Oriskany.
 

JohnR

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I just happened to come across an entry in Wiki (I know), which states that the RAN started to look for a replacement for Melbourne back in 1956, when they were offered Albion; however, this was declined and the plan aborted. Then again in 1966 they were offered Hermes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMAS_Melbourne_(R21)
 

zen

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Surely not ruled out for cost reasons?

Surely it was their inferior range, and modest improvements over the Majestic class that precludes them?

However that said the option of Albion might relate to the desire to acquire SeaVixens, certainly it was felt by the RN that they where too big and heavy for a Majestic CV and they seem to have some concerns over how to give the RAN something better than Sea Venom.
 

Archibald

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Hello to whatifmodelers fellows ! :)

The french navy Crusader were new (fortunately, since we keep them until 1999 ::) )
They were the last to roll out of Vought production line.
 

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About the USS / HMAS Oriskany project, what kind of Refit / Modernisation would had been applied if Australia did decide to buy it?
 

TomS

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The plan was to modify another ship to the same standard as Oriskany, not to transfer Oriskany herself. Oriskany was the last Essex class ship to get SCB-125, the angled deck modernization of the Essex class. Her version was known as SCB-125A and included features like an aluminum plank flight deck and more powerful catapults that were not included in the original SCB-125. So presumably they'd have applied all of those mods to one of the older ships (Antietam went out of service in 1963, Lake Champlain in 1965/66).

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCB-125

Note that "British catapults" isn't much of a change, the C-11 was a British design anyway.

Edit: in the RAN Invincible thread there's a quick mention that the RAN was looking at a more modern radar for their proposed Essex modification.
 

Tzoli

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Ahh I see, so an Oriskany look Essex Modernisation but a probable sensor suit of the CVA-01 (1962/63) HMS Queen Elizabeth or a sensor suite HMS Ark Royal / HMS Eagle after their mid 1960's modernisation?
 

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Tzoli said:
Ahh I see, so an Oriskany look Essex Modernisation but a probable sensor suit of the CVA-01 (1962/63) HMS Queen Elizabeth or a sensor suite HMS Ark Royal / HMS Eagle after their mid 1960's modernisation?
I was referring to this post: https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,23148.msg285865.html#msg285865

1960s US sensor suite including the SPS-48 3-d air search radar. That would likely have been paired with SPS-49 2-d air search radar, SPS-10 surface search and the SPN-41 and SPN-43 air traffic control and approach radars.
 

Tzoli

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TomS said:
Tzoli said:
Ahh I see, so an Oriskany look Essex Modernisation but a probable sensor suit of the CVA-01 (1962/63) HMS Queen Elizabeth or a sensor suite HMS Ark Royal / HMS Eagle after their mid 1960's modernisation?
I was referring to this post: https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,23148.msg285865.html#msg285865

1960s US sensor suite including the SPS-48 3-d air search radar. That would likely have been paired with SPS-49 2-d air search radar, SPS-10 surface search and the SPN-41 and SPN-43 air traffic control and approach radars.
Thanks, maybe I will draw it, but I'm not sure as it would only look like a modernised Essex with Australian Flags, not much of a never were design.
 
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