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Carrier/Liner hybrid

sienar

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Antonio

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Aircraft facilities onboard liners offered a new postal delivery and liason services, but why should anyone consider going full flat top when a catapult was enough to do the job? Why do you should need to operate an airwing from a liner?
 

RLBH

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Aircraft facilities onboard liners offered a new postal delivery and liason services, but why should anyone consider going full flat top when a catapult was enough to do the job? Why do you should need to operate an airwing from a liner?
Presumably so that mail (and possibly passengers) could be delivered to the liner at sea. On a transatlantic run that might save a day or two on the mail, depending on the flights. But on something like the UK-Australia run, it would allow you to deliver mail to and collect from places en route without needing to put in for the sake of a couple of bags of mail. That might well save a significant amount of time.

Also, don't discount the novelty factor. It may have been studied simply because the idea was new and exciting. Happens enough these days with new and exciting ideas, there's no reason the past should be any different!
 

Grey Havoc

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Not to mention it was also more than likely designed with wartime AMC usage in mind, as per the Second Hague Convention. The Roaring Twenties weren't exactly known for their political stability, at a time when defence budgets were mostly very tight (a lot of politicians & bureaucrats in various countries including Great Britain were among other things claiming that the League of Nations would make large national standing military forces unnecessary, outside of those needed for colonial commitments). In fact, come to think of it, another design consideration alongside being a Royal Navy ace up the sleeve may have actually been availability for call up by the League of Nations in an emergency, either as a RN vessel or directly.
 

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This design is discussed in The Hybrid Warship by Layman & McLaughlin.
There is a plan drawing in the book, including an internal plan.

The design was by d'Enycourt, John Harper Narbeth (who had designed most of the first-generation aviation vessels in the RN) and assisted by C J W Hopkins who looked after the liner side of the design, and he had also worked on Argus, Eagle and Hermes.
The design was discussed at the 64th Session at the Institution of Naval Architects on 21st March 1923 (not 1920 as the NMM label suggests).
It was to be a luxury liner with a flight deck to allow exchange of passengers, mail and light cargo to ports where the ship was not stopping at en-route. The flight deck had two 46ft x 26ft lifts amidships but no arrester gear was fitted. The mast was semi-retractable or a smaller fully-retractable mast was planned. Much of the upper structure was open to aid uniform airflow, there were two small hangars, each served by one lift; the forward one was below the waterline and the aft one was above the engine room. The big 'ovals' aft are the funnels.
Internal bulges were fitted for ice/collision protection and to lessen rolling, of course its no coincidence these would offer some anti-torpedo protection.

The paper they presented expressly denied military use, saying it was not suited with its easily flooded cabin and accommodation spaces topside. Certainly the hangars would be tiny, d'Enyocurt estimated 6-22 aircraft depending on how big the aircraft were, given the size of the hangars on the plan, 6 looks more reasonable as the likely total. The authors suggested use on the Britain-Australia route with only one stop at Suez and all other destinations served by air. Plus joyrides during the voyage would bring in income. It might also be modified with mooring and towing equipment for the Empire Airship routes to India too.

Overall the critics were kind, only the short flight deck and hazard of the mast were pointed out, some suggested fitting a catapult to aid take-offs.

Specs
24,000 tons (full)
670ft (oa) long (565ft flightdeck) x 80ft beam (wl) (92ft over bulges) (100ft flightdeck)
40-45,000shp turbines for 24kts (av. 21-22kts)
2,500 tons of oil
1,500 tons of cargo
1,250 passengers in 4 classes, crew of 460 inc. 20 aviation personnel
 
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Grey Havoc

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The paper they presented expressly denied military use, saying it was not suited with its easily flooded cabin and accommodation spaces topside.
Interesting.
 

Dilandu

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Aircraft facilities onboard liners offered a new postal delivery and liason services, but why should anyone consider going full flat top when a catapult was enough to do the job? Why do you should need to operate an airwing from a liner?

It may be the "covert military" idea - i.e. "we would increase our carrier fleet in peacetime, by building aircraft-capable liners, so in case of war we would just mobilize them".
 

Grey Havoc

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Quite possible, though stranger things have happened. Another possibility is that the design was drawn up in response to some hare brained scheme of the Treasury and/or another ministry.
 

Dilandu

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Quite possible, though stranger things have happened. Another possibility is that the design was drawn up in response to some hare brained scheme of the Treasury and/or another ministry.

Well, the fact that this project was prepared by head of DNC, and that it's very clearly resembled the military carrier - not to mention that author for some reason specifically tried to dissuade such suggestion (despite the fact that conversion of civilian ships into carriers in case of war was not forbidden by Washington Treaty) - certainly could arose a lot of suspicions...
 

Grey Havoc

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Indeed, it could well be a case of 'the lady doth protest too much'.

ISTR there was a similar US scheme - XCV?
Yes, in 1940. Thanks to Arjen for the image below of the design in her liner guise without flight deck, though the proposal you may be actually thinking of is an earlier one from 1927 as shown in the bottom image also provided by Arjen (some more details at the link):
p-4p-png.530670




liner-carrier-jpg.530674
 
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Hood

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I think you all might be reading too much into this.

Even in 1923 d'Enycourt, Narbeth and Hopkins probably had the most experience of designing aircraft carriers and the associated features required (airflow, smoke interference) in the world, so its only natural that they would turn their talents to the civilian sphere. Who else was going to draw up even a remotely plausible civil carrier-liner concept?
The use of aviation to transform continental communications was rapidly expanding and capturing the imagination as to the technical possibilities. Even airlines were only just starting to tap into the possible market. The same transformation for steamship lines was feasible in that time, the use of non-stop ships would save time and these companies could serve multiple destinations without stopping and potentially increasing their revenues, especially for mail. And looking ahead, if airliners did look like threatening steamship revenues, this was an ideal way to fight back. Most long-distance seaplane and in-flight refuelling experiments over oceanic routes well into the late 1930s were driven by fast mail contracts.

Double-hulls date to the pre-war era; e.g. RMS Britannic, so internal bulges was not out of place for flood protection; and being naval designers would have been a natural design feature for them to use.

Also, the ink on the Washington Treaty was barely dry, so its rather early days for Treaty-breaking designs (and why advertise the fact if you were going to). I do think though that this factor, as much as operating costs and other practical concerns meant that what on paper looked an attractive idea ultimately went nowhere.
 

Dilandu

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Treaty-breaking designs

Er, it was not treaty-breaking. The treaty defined carrier as "vessel of war with a displacement in excess of 10,000 tons (10,160 metric tons) standard displacement designed for the specific and exclusive purpose of carrying aircraft." And the only limitation for civilian ships was Article XIV:

No preparations shall be made in merchant ships in time of peace for the installation of warlike armaments for the purpose of converting such ships into vessels of war, other than the necessary stiffening of decks for the mounting of guns not exceeding 6 inch (152 millimetres) calibre.
Which, as I should point, does not include civilian ship specifically build for carrying planes. Like this design.

So frankly, I see little reasons NOT to assume that 24.000-ton fast ship with flat deck, hangar and bulges was not suggested as covert attempt to exploit Treaty loopholes.
 

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Some piccies I have of the design
1923 UK mail carrier.jpg

1923 UK mail carrier 1.jpg

I think this posting came from the Warships1 board

This originally is supposed to have come from the publication “Transactions of the Institution of Naval Architects” Mar 1923 and was proposed by Eustace d’Eyncourt who was the British “Director of Naval Construction” from 1912 to 1923. According to Friedman’s “US Aircraft Carriers” there was a somewhat similar US proposal in 1928 for a 980-foot high speed North Atlantic liner.

The British proposal was for a 600/80/28 foot, 24 knot mail packet capable of carrying 80% of the first and second class and 40% of the third class passengers of the Mauritania for such routes as the

GB to NY with aircraft delivering mail to Canada on route

GB to Australia with aircraft delivering mail to Egypt and India on route

Vancouver to Hong Kong or Australia.

No armament was mentioned though it did say it could carry either 18 Sopwith Cuckoos or 21 Parnall Panthers or 21 Nieuport Night Hawks.

The mast was said to be not a problem because aircraft took off quickly but if it did become a problem an alternate folding mast and derrick was proposed. Bulges were fitted to protect against “icebergs”. The boilers being exhausted out the stern would probably be a problem since it ran right above the First Class lounge and I doubt that people would pay to get overheated. If you notice the B deck amidships is dedicated to lifeboats so I am wondering if during war time the deck could be removed and combined with C deck to create a midship hanger to double the amount of aircraft carried?

I am guessing that as long as the British did not put any armament on them in peacetime they would not legally be considered warships and would not come under the Washington limits.

If they were built in the 30s - would there be sufficient aircraft for them by the time of WW2? I don't think 5 would have been built, btw - if 24 knots was meant to be the service-speed, I believe they'd get by with three vessels of that speed to maintain a weekly service (more or less the Holy Grail of transatlantic ocean liner services) on the North Atlantic. If built for the Australia service, I am guessing three might be able to maintain a one-per-fortnight service, and six for a weekly service (but this is solely a guess). P&O Line and Orient Line (the latter being wholly owned by P&O Line, and later merged with it) built their late 40s/early 50s 22knot liners in multiples of three, at any rate - Orient Line built Orcades, Orontes and Orsova, while P&O Line got Himalaya, Iberia and Arcadia, all employed on the London-Sydney service, and all with 22 knot service speed, and top speed notably higher.

Of course there are other lines that might employ the ships also - Union Castle Line operated a number of mail & passenger services to various British possessions in Africa, Bibby Line operated, apparently in addition to a London-Rangoon service, a number of purpose built troop transports for the British government (and it might be more acceptable in legal terms to use such vessels for this scheme than regular civilian vessels), as did British India Line, which also operated regular passenger, mail and cargo services between the UK and India, and (IIRC) between India and Africa. I am not certain what multiples of compatible vessels would be preferred by these companies, though.

If we assume that by the start of WW2 a trio or so of such aircraft carrying mail steamers (CVMS?) are available (lets call them Saxonia, Ivernia and Sylvania, all operated by Cunard on a weekly service between Liverpool and Montreal), one wonders how they would have been employed. They might have an effect on aircraft acquisition policies of the FAA, depending on how early they entered service. Would these ships have to be manned by RNR or RNVR or RFA personnel?
 

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No armament was mentioned though it did say it could carry either 18 Sopwith Cuckoos or 21 Parnall Panthers or 21 Nieuport Night Hawks.
For emergency colonial policing duties, or just as an occasional peacetime aircraft ferry, I wonder?
 

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Makes perfect sense from the luxury travel market.
Company airplanes would soon earn their keep flying side errands.
If a passenger arrives at the dock too late, the shipping agent offers him the opportunity to fly aboard ... for an extra thousand pounds/dollars.
Bored passengers always have the option of a sight-seeing flight if that the ship is not scheduled to visit that pretty little island, glacier, bird sanctuary, etc. off to the side of the scheduled route. Modern cruise ships charge hundreds of dollars per passenger for local bus tours during port calls.
Finally, business passengers - in a big rush - can pay extra to fly ashore a day early. Another thousand pounds please sir.
These airplanes only need to be big enough to carry 6 or 8 passengers. If they range 500 miles, that equals a day's sailing (24 hours) in only 5 hours.
 

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I read somewhere, (I think it was in The Hybrid Warship) that this design was intended to work with the then proposed Airship network which was being tested around this time by R-36 and was considered a very going concern until the R101 catastrophe. The notion of moving mail and possibly 1st class passengers between a liner in the Gulf of Arabia heading for Suez and an airship heading for Delhi. Hood mentions the possibility of "mooring and towing equipment" If these liners were on a reliable schedule they could indeed have scheduled at sea rendezvous with associated airships to provide underway refueling and topping off of hydrogen (which can be generated easily on a ship) . I'm not sure that would that would be economical, since the ship would probably have to stop its transit and steam in circles on station for a day or two to widen the window of arrival for the Zeppelin and allow for weather, but all of this was very new in 1920.
 

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I think you all might be reading too much into this.

Even in 1923 d'Enycourt, Narbeth and Hopkins probably had the most experience of designing aircraft carriers and the associated features required (airflow, smoke interference) in the world, so its only natural that they would turn their talents to the civilian sphere. Who else was going to draw up even a remotely plausible civil carrier-liner concept?
And in '23 d'Eyncourt was only a year away from resigning and going back to Armstrong-Whitworth, so he may well have been thinking of what he could do in the civilian sphere with what he had learned as DNC.

ETA: Communications across the Empire and the civilian shipping that provided it did impinge on DNC's role. The auxiliary cruisers weren't a wartime lash-up, they had been conceptualized and subsidized pre-war, with input from DNC's department on things like strengthening during construction for eventual gun mountings. Extending that thinking to auxiliary carriers would have been perfectly natural.
 

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Makes perfect sense from the luxury travel market.
Company airplanes would soon earn their keep flying side errands.
Several shipping lines did end up owning airlines, the Irrawaddy River Flotilla had a small fleet of Short floatplanes, and ISTR Malayan Airlines traces its heritage to the Straits Steamship Company.
 

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I think this posting came from the Warships1 board
I certainly think that's where I first heard of the XCV.

I think the Australian route is more suited to the concept. There just isn't the opportunity to use the aircraft facilities extensively during the Trans-Atlantic journey - Bermuda's about the only possible mid-ocean destination. While heading to Australia, whether via the Canal or the Cape, the problem isn't so much whether there's anywhere to fly to as which of the many alternatives you choose. ('Would Sir and Madam care for a side trip to Cyprus, or Beirut, or Jerusalem, or Suez, or Cairo, or the Pyramids, perhaps?')

One interesting consequence of this design is we'd get the COD concept several decades early, which might offer some more capable platforms for the ASW and AEW roles than the historical lash-ups of attack aircraft.
 

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Could it also have been mooted as a potential 'fast' troop-ship ? You could get a lot of bunks into the re-purposed 'premium' suites. Fast enough to run like the wind, have its own spotter aircraft for surface-running subs and raiders etc etc...

Better than the one or two 'catapult' float-plane 'spotters' a big warship could carry, which were often barely safer than those later Hurricats...

Pushing the notion a bit further, have a few auto-gyros, too ??
 

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The lifeboat capacity was for 1,800 people.
On first glance it looks possible to convert that space into a hangar, but the hangars were two-decks deep and the lifeboat space is only on B deck so the useable deck height is probably only 8-9ft high, not that much use as a hangar.

D'Enycourt at the time pointed out that having the forward hangar below the waterline was bad for a military carrier but the need to use the upper decks for passenger cabins forced this solution. So it looks like they had to make some serious concessions for the commerical aspects of the design.
 

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The more one looks at the details, the more obviously this is primarily a liner with aviation facilities added, and not a naval ship with passenger cabins added. Given the extent to which the British government endeavoured to comply with the letter and spirit of the Washington Naval Treaty, I think it's massively improbable that this is some sort of attempt to make an end-run around restrictions.

I'm entirely in the camp that this is d'Eyncourt trying to show off his thoughts around applying the latest technology (aircraft) to a significant type of ship (mail steamers) in advance of his move back into commercial work. If someone has access to the issue of Transactions of the Institution of Naval Architects, his paper would probably explain the context - comparable papers usually do. Unfortunately RINA doesn't have a digitised archive (or, anecdotally, even a paper archive) of Transactions prior to 2003.

Which is a shame, as there are all sorts of interesting things in Transactions.
 

Hood

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Unfortunately RINA doesn't have a digitised archive (or, anecdotally, even a paper archive) of Transactions prior to 2003.

Which is a shame, as there are all sorts of interesting things in Transactions.
What is this weird affliction that seems to have grown over the last 10-15 years to dump paper archives in libraries and collections?
Too often I've heard "oh journals are online nowadays" when no-one has bothered to check whether anyone has ever actually gone through the original bound editions and scanned them. I shudder at how much knowledge has been lost and denied to future researchers from pre-2000 journals.
(which is why the loss of the Flight archive is all the more galling since they have been digitised and still lost to posterity.)

I once came across a couple of bound copies of Transactions in a second-hand bookshop, but I suppose that is a rare find.
 

Dilandu

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The more one looks at the details, the more obviously this is primarily a liner with aviation facilities added, and not a naval ship with passenger cabins added. Given the extent to which the British government endeavoured to comply with the letter and spirit of the Washington Naval Treaty, I think it's massively improbable that this is some sort of attempt to make an end-run around restrictions.

I think, that it was envisioned mainly as liner, of course (since it was supposed to operate economically in peacetime) but with mobilization purposes at least in mind. With all respect, but as was pointed above - pre-WW1 passenger liners were initially designed with anticipation that they may be mobilized and used as fast raiders/auxiliary cruisers. This project fit perfectly in the same role.
 

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