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Australia’s 1964 Replacement Carrier Plan

JohnR

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Just rereading this thread, I mentioned in my earlier post (#32) that the Australians were offered alternately Albion and the Hermes.

But I was wondering if this went ahead what fighter aircraft could have been used, my guess is that the only appropriate aircraft was the Crusader, with potentially Buccaneer for a strike component with Tracer for AEW and alternatively Trackers if ASW role was intended.

What was the length of the catapults, I estimate as around 150feet.
 

Grey Havoc

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That could in turn have possibly ended up providing the additional impetus necessary for the Shorts built Crusader proposal (V-466 Crusader) to proceed to fruition.

UK Crusader

(Project stillborn by June 1964)

Built by Short Bros in Harland
RB.168-25R Spey turbofan, 12,000lb dry, 20,000lb reheat
Based on two seat TF-8, but equipped for pilot & navigator
Front fuselage development and production by Short, with rest of fuselage imported from Vought in the US, for assembly in Belfast.
With Spey, 50% British
Unit cost only slightly above French purchase price (£500,000)
French system of double leading and trailing edge droops, together with (BLC) blown ailerons and flaps
Could be made compatible with Firestreak and Red Top

Source:

Flying Review International June 1964

short-crusader-jpg.12552
 
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zen

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Just rereading this thread, I mentioned in my earlier post (#32) that the Australians were offered alternately Albion and the Hermes.

But I was wondering if this went ahead what fighter aircraft could have been used, my guess is that the only appropriate aircraft was the Crusader, with potentially Buccaneer for a strike component with Tracer for AEW and alternatively Trackers if ASW role was intended.

What was the length of the catapults, I estimate as around 150feet.
151ft stroke mk4 catapults. I seem to once have had overall lengths for them but cannot remember where.
 

Archibald

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This is rather close from a Clemenceau own catapults, which already struggled to launch modified Crusaders (BLC).

It just dawned on me, the Australians could have bought clones of the french Crusaders (which were the last to roll out of that production line circa 1964-65) since they were wired for R530s... the very same missile used by the Mirage III-O.
 

H_K

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151ft stroke mk4 catapults. I seem to once have had overall lengths for them but cannot remember where.

Info from this « British Catapults » thread: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/warships1discussionboards/british-catapult-questions-t22160.html

BS-4 (Majestics and Centaurs)
103ft stroke
151ft track length
40,000lb @ 78kt, 30,000lb @ 101kt
Note: HMAS Melbourne’s catapult was extended by ~8ft for Skyhawks. Minas Gerais’s catapult was also extended to ? ft.

BS-4C (Centaur post-1958 refit)
130ft (or 139ft?) stroke
165ft track length
35,000lb @ 99kt, 30,000lb @ 110kt

BS-4A (Hermes port catapult post 64-67 refit, Victorious, Ark Royal & Eagle pre-refit)
145ft stroke
175ft track length
50,000lb @ 87kt, 30,000lb @ 120kt

BS-4 #9 ie. 9th produced (HNMLS Karel Doorman, later ARA Veinticinco de Mayo)
174ft stroke
199ft track length
30,000lb @ 114 kt, operationally 20,300lbs @ 121.5kt
(seems low, but apparently this catapult was optimized for fast launch cycles, with a low steam pressure to avoid depleting the carrier’s limited steam supply, and the long track was a way to offset the low steam pressure)

BS-5 (Clemenceau, Ark Royal & Eagle bow cats post-refit)
164ft stroke
220ft track length
50,000lb @ 91kt, 42,000lb @ 110kt, 35,000lb @ 126kt

BS-5A (Ark Royal & Eagle waist cats post-refit)
199ft stroke
268ft track length
60,000lb @ 95kt, 50,000lb @ 105kt, 35,000lb @ 145kt
 
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zen

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Ok struggling with the phone and the quote function.

Years ago in Carrier Conundrums I typed.
"
BS mk IV catapult.
Here we get a lot of different measurements
Flightdeck end fore'd to track end varies from 9.5ft to 17ft
Track for a 151ft strroke is 180ft, but to center of the CALE gear it seems to be 183 to 184ft.
Center CALE to the end of the blast deflectors also varies. Shortest is 34ft, longest is 41ft. I exclude HMS Victorious due to their having to work the things around the foreward lift location.
So the 'system lenght' for the catapult is between 228t and 242ft. We'll leave the bridale catcher for another time as its later than the 50's designs."

Additional.
Most publications state Ark and Eagle ultimately had bow 151ft stroke and waist 199ft stroke catapults.
Victorious is clearly stated as 145ft stroke after modernisation.
 

Archibald

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My bad then. The australian catapult would be much shorter. Hence Crusaders might be even more tricky...
 

H_K

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Posting the link to the original report:

RAN proposal for a replacement aircraft carrier and fixed wing aircraft

1 JUL 1964 (pp. 6-54)
From: Minister for Navy
To: Minister for Defence
This letter puts forward the options for a replacement aircraft carrier and fixed wing aircraft for the RAN.

«The requirements have been brought out separately against the most likely threats (...), namely the submarine in SEATO and Indonesia, air and missile attack.

We are out-numbered, out-gunned, out-ranged and generally out-sped by the Indonesians. (...) We have nothing that can match the cruiser IRIAN on the surface.

(...) The possible threat to our shipping, both from the air and the surface, has been seriously aggravated by the Indonesian acquisition of surface-to-surface and air-to-surface guided missiles. (...) The only reliable defence against them is to inhibit them at the source. (...) There is no possible way of doing this except by fighter aircraft, particularly carrier based fighters, and without fighter aircraft the RAN would be precluded from operating with any degree of safety in North Australian and New Guinean waters.

Also if the IRIAN were to operate against Middle East trade routes and more particularly the tanker traffic from the Persian Gulf, the RAN and in fact Australia has at present nothing with which to adequately defend this vital route.

(...) Ground support for the army and air cover over the beaches in an amphibious landing are additional tasks which may be required in the future.

(..) Finally, if Indonesia did wish to exploit the situation when the majority of our land and air forces were committed to SEATO operations, the ability to deploy quickly an aircraft carrier with modern strike aircraft could prove the only possible and effective deterrent.

(...) An all weather carrier based fighter is required which can give the fleet air defence in depth against present and future high performance aircraft, stand off missile vehicles and reconnaissance aircraft. Supersonic and high altitude aircraft are essential. The aircraft is also required to have a strike capability against well defended surface forces and be able to strike ground targets in a modern air defence environment. A photographic reconnaissance capability is desirable.

(...) The types of naval aircraft evaluated agonist the requirement were Phantom F4B, Crusader F8E, Sea Vixen, and Demon F3. The latter two have been rejected as they are only transonic aircraft soon to be phased out of service. The Phantom F4B is recommended in preference to the Crusader F8E, as it more closely meets the staff requirement and is superior in design, weapon carrying, handling qualities and possesses twin engined safety.
»
 
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H_K

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To add to the post above, I am not convinced that the RAN’s ask for a replacement carrier was ever a serious proposal. It smells of a trial balloon to secure the « next best option » ie. the modernisation of HMAS Melbourne and acquisition of new aircraft (S-2 Trackers and Skyhawks).

Look at the Minister of Navy’s own rather lukewarm (!) cover letter to the proposal (pp. 235-238)

« A project of this magnitude, in the timetable proposed, would present a considerable strain on the administrative resources of the Navy, at a critical period in the build up of the RAN. (...) The plan, in the timing proposed, therefore involves some risk of over-commitment of resources.

(...) This involves a very substantial build up from the present strength of 12,500 to the overall naval strength of 17,600 estimated to be required. This may be difficult to achieve.

(...) Some doubt must arise as to the desirability of investing such a large sum in a carrier, the hull of which by 1968 will be about 25 years old.

(...) Perhaps the following course of action should be considered:
(a) The alternative suggested by the Naval Staff of re-equipping MELBOURNE with Tracker fixed wing anti-submarine aircraft

(b) Proceeding with the modernisation of MELBOURNE in 1966 as planned
(c) Consideration at the same time, or as soon as possible, of the requirement stated by the Naval Staff for a new carrier with modern fighter/strike aircraft, for possible acquisition at a future date
 

Grey Havoc

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Look at the Minister of Navy’s own rather lukewarm (!) cover letter to the proposal (pp. 235-238)
Though that may have been partly down to the fact that the minister in question, a certain Fred Chaney Sr., was still dealing with the political fallout from the MelbourneVoyager collision which had occurred the month before he had finally been able to take up his position. Also, he was a decorated RAAF WWII veteran, so he may have perhaps preferred to have gotten the Minister of Air job instead! ;)
 

Volkodav

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The RAN were very much behind the proposal, it was very much their baby, the political classes not so much, remember at the same time period they seemed to think the Canberra was a perfectly adequate bomber not in need of replacement and the Sabre replacement had been deferred several times. The government was even considering acquiring surplus USN WWII destroyers to bolster escort numbers instead of DDGs or even additional Type 12s, defence spending was very far down the the food chain. Then the were the "scientific" elements within the key Department of Prime Minister And Cabinet, were even more rabidly pro RAAF and anti RAN than the RAAF its self was. They wanted high tech missiles and sensors to replace not just carriers but surface ships and even combat aircraft. Into the 1970s these clowns were stating outright that 10 P-3C Orions to supplement the 10 in service and replace the 10 P-3Bs in service were more important than replacing Melbourne so at least the already in service Seakings could still go to sea in useful numbers.
 

Pioneer

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and the Sabre replacement had been deferred several times.
Sorry Volkodav, but could you elaborate for me these 'deferred studies/considerations to replace the Sabre's please?

Regards
Pioneer
 

Pioneer

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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.

Yes please Mike Pryce!!

Regards
Pioneer
 

Volkodav

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and the Sabre replacement had been deferred several times.
Sorry Volkodav, but could you elaborate for me these 'deferred studies/considerations to replace the Sabre's please?

Regards
Pioneer
Need to dig out the books but there were planned enhanced Sabres that went nowhere, the proposed buy of (I believe 30) Starfighters in 1958? An original RAAF mission examining multiple options including Starfighter, Draken etc. RAAF discussion in relation to F-5, mention of F-105 etc.

Some I have read in Stewart Wilsons books but a lot of it has been mentioned in discussions on this site, GTX has contributed much in this area.

This is just off the top of my head so apologies for the lack of detail and references. The comments ref PM&C advice to government by Public Service "Scientific" experts, is my interpretation of the cabinet documents in the National Archives, especially the executive summaries prepared by PM&C so the poor politicians didn't have to actually read the submissions. Some of these, in particular those relating to the replacement of HMAS Melbourne in the 70s and 80s, and the decision to cancel the project once HMS Invincible was off the table, showed a level of anti RAN bias that made the RAAF submissions look positively pro RAN. The slant being the carrier is a waste of money, the RAN doesn't need to operate away from land based air cover, sonar buoys are better than helicopters with dunking sonar, Orions are more versatile and capable than carrier air groups, Orions will cost less than a new carrier so the money saved can be spent in areas other than defence.

In a nutshell PM&C conducted an anti carrier campaign that continued through at least two changes of government. The arguments in the 60s were similar RAN doesn't have the personnel, its too expensive, land based aircraft are better and cheaper, the RAN doesn't need to operate too far away from RAAF bases etc.

When I have time I will dive into more docs in the National Archives as there are some real gems as to why what happened happened, a pattern I am seeing over and over again is public servants driving an agenda based on personal biases and personal beliefs through the control of information being passed onto the decision makers.
 

Pioneer

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and the Sabre replacement had been deferred several times.
Sorry Volkodav, but could you elaborate for me these 'deferred studies/considerations to replace the Sabre's please?

Regards
Pioneer
Need to dig out the books but there were planned enhanced Sabres that went nowhere, the proposed buy of (I believe 30) Starfighters in 1958? An original RAAF mission examining multiple options including Starfighter, Draken etc. RAAF discussion in relation to F-5, mention of F-105 etc.

Some I have read in Stewart Wilsons books but a lot of it has been mentioned in discussions on this site, GTX has contributed much in this area.

This is just off the top of my head so apologies for the lack of detail and references. The comments ref PM&C advice to government by Public Service "Scientific" experts, is my interpretation of the cabinet documents in the National Archives, especially the executive summaries prepared by PM&C so the poor politicians didn't have to actually read the submissions. Some of these, in particular those relating to the replacement of HMAS Melbourne in the 70s and 80s, and the decision to cancel the project once HMS Invincible was off the table, showed a level of anti RAN bias that made the RAAF submissions look positively pro RAN. The slant being the carrier is a waste of money, the RAN doesn't need to operate away from land based air cover, sonar buoys are better than helicopters with dunking sonar, Orions are more versatile and capable than carrier air groups, Orions will cost less than a new carrier so the money saved can be spent in areas other than defence.

In a nutshell PM&C conducted an anti carrier campaign that continued through at least two changes of government. The arguments in the 60s were similar RAN doesn't have the personnel, its too expensive, land based aircraft are better and cheaper, the RAN doesn't need to operate too far away from RAAF bases etc.

When I have time I will dive into more docs in the National Archives as there are some real gems as to why what happened happened, a pattern I am seeing over and over again is public servants driving an agenda based on personal biases and personal beliefs through the control of information being passed onto the decision makers.
Thank you Volkodav, thank would be greatly appreciated.

Regards
Pioneer
 

H_K

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Reading through the documents a little more, the reception to the carrier replacement proposal appears to have been downright frosty:

Minister of Defence Shane Paltridge - 7 July 1964 (p.183)

« An initial reading does raise some substantial doubt in my mind. (...) The interim proposal does not appear to be attractive, particularly as it is acknowledged by the Navy Board that it would only be a make-shift inadequate to completely meet the strategic requirements.

(...) I am not myself as of yet convinced that there is a need for a carrier. As a layman I recall that critical incident of the last war, the sinking of Hood and Repulse off the Malayan peninsula. These vessels were of course to be a bulwark against which the Japanese invasion would collapse. Overnight they were gone. The same could happen to a carrier in my view, and having put almost all our eggs in the one basket we would then in fact be deprived of effective naval strength

[In the margins, a rather salty response, presumably pro-Navy: « Rubbish. These were lost through lack of air support »]

(...) I am too impressed by the fact that only three navies, the RN, the USN, and the French Navy have aircraft carriers in their fleets. I can only assume that other navies have not obtained the carriers either because they were beyond the resources of a country or they were not required to meet the strategic position which that country faced.

[In the margins, a response: « Argentina, Brazil, India, Spain, Netherlands, Canada, USSR »

(...) I am not clear as to how the manning position would be met.



*****
There was also a negative initial response from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the next day (July 8, 1964, pp. 184-186) and from the Chiefs of Staff committee (August 19, 1964, pp. 218-221).

Thus with no support from the Chiefs of Staff Committee, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Minister for Defence, and only lukewarm support from the Minister for Navy, there was no chance of the Essex proposal even being seriously considered.
 
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CV12Hornet

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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
The US Navy reporting on this subject should be taken with a grain of salt, as they wanted to get the Essex-class out of the attack role ASAP and acquire more supercarriers, which operating Phantoms off the Essex class does not help.

These days you can run the numbers yourself. Per Wikipedia the C-11 catapult mounted on the 27C and 125A Essexes could achieve the following:

39,000 pounds (18 t) at 136 knots;
70,000 pounds (32 t) at 108 knots

Per Alternate Wars, an F-4B loaded for bear - that is, four Sparrows and three external tanks - weighs 54,000 lbs and has a stall speed of 147 knots. That's pushing it with the C-11, but it is just barely launchable at the cruise speed of 20 knots. And if an Essex can land Skywarriors it can land Phantoms, Phantoms don't hit the deck nearly as hard.

It probably is lower-margin than the US Navy wanted, particularly on takeoff, but it's doable since the Australians are largely interested in air-to-air combat.

The F-4J is a significantly hotter plane, so it's probably not safely operable from an Essex. The F-4S, on the other hand, is, thanks to getting back some more takeoff and landing margin.

Five hulls were surplus around when the Australians were looking at this option. Bunker Hill and Franklin had been in reserve since 1947, of course. Leyte and Philippine Sea had been laid up since the late 1950s. And Tarawa was decommissioned in 1960. I've seen reference to Philippine Sea being the ship of choice, and she makes the most sense. It's still unclear how much lingering damage Bunker Hill and Franklin were dealing with, and compared to Leyte and Tarawa Philippine Sea had spent the least amount of time active, if barely.
 

Archibald

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This thread is a Godsend ! Fascinating reading. Thanks to the contributors !
 

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
The US Navy reporting on this subject should be taken with a grain of salt, as they wanted to get the Essex-class out of the attack role ASAP and acquire more supercarriers, which operating Phantoms off the Essex class does not help.

These days you can run the numbers yourself. Per Wikipedia the C-11 catapult mounted on the 27C and 125A Essexes could achieve the following:

39,000 pounds (18 t) at 136 knots;
70,000 pounds (32 t) at 108 knots

Per Alternate Wars, an F-4B loaded for bear - that is, four Sparrows and three external tanks - weighs 54,000 lbs and has a stall speed of 147 knots. That's pushing it with the C-11, but it is just barely launchable at the cruise speed of 20 knots. And if an Essex can land Skywarriors it can land Phantoms, Phantoms don't hit the deck nearly as hard.

It probably is lower-margin than the US Navy wanted, particularly on takeoff, but it's doable since the Australians are largely interested in air-to-air combat.

The F-4J is a significantly hotter plane, so it's probably not safely operable from an Essex. The F-4S, on the other hand, is, thanks to getting back some more takeoff and landing margin.

Five hulls were surplus around when the Australians were looking at this option. Bunker Hill and Franklin had been in reserve since 1947, of course. Leyte and Philippine Sea had been laid up since the late 1950s. And Tarawa was decommissioned in 1960. I've seen reference to Philippine Sea being the ship of choice, and she makes the most sense. It's still unclear how much lingering damage Bunker Hill and Franklin were dealing with, and compared to Leyte and Tarawa Philippine Sea had spent the least amount of time active, if barely.
You should also look at the F-4HL, as McD looked to improve the High Lift capability of the Spey powered Phantom for not just the Royal Navy but looked to be eyeing up the Crusader replacement for the Essex carriers
 

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