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CNO Zumwalt gets Franklin and Bunker Hill, 1971 - then what ?

Archibald

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As said in the tin. OTL Zumwalt turned an Iwo Jima LPH (USS Guam) into a makeshift SCS demonstrator. It worked well enough it convinced Spain to replace their Dedalo with a SCS derivative: the Asturias.

Whatif he went a step further and turned these two Essex carriers into makeshift VSS or CVV demonstrators ?

Or some kind of intermediate design ?

Note: Bunker Hill and Franklin had been severely crippled by kamikazes in spring 1945. They survived and were 100% repaired by 1947. Only to spend the next 20 years waiting for a massive rebuild that never come. They were stricken in 66' but BH lasted until 1973.
Whatif Zumwalt atempted that rebuild... his own unique way, turning them into SCS VSS or CVV wannabees ?
 

uk 75

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Some factors that might help in this scenario:
- Hubert Humphrey wins the 1968 US election and US forces withdraw from Vietnam before the 1972 election (possible but not probable).
- The Nimitz design is proving more complicated and expensive than expected with in service date slipping into the 70s.
- The growing Soviet naval presence especially submarine forces needs a greater number of US vessels to be built to replace wartime tonnage.
- The A7 Corsair has proved a very effective strike aircraft able to operate from Essex sized carriers.
- The USAF and USN are not pleased with the cost and performance of the F4 while the F14 and F15 are proving less capable and more expensive than expected. A Lightweight Fighter is needed.
 

isayyo2

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I think it's important to lay out what is required from the SCS design.

Is 30+ Knots needed? I doubt it, considering the sub 25 Knot speeds of the DE/FF "Ocean Escorts."
Steam cats and an angled deck? Most definitely, with VSX and E-2s on the horizon they'll need it.
How much attack capability is warranted; can the Navy really afford a single-mission carrier? All things considered, the SCB-125's did pretty well off of Vietnam. Despite their age and limited magazine size the Navy kept sending Oriskany, Ticonderoga, Hanock and Bon Homme Richard back to Yankee station. So smaller carriers can still make meaningful contributions, if supplied properly.
Manning, this is the big one. What can be done to reduce manning on older vessels while still improving their lethality? The most drastic and easiest change to make is cutting out half of the power plant; you'd cut speed down to under 28 Knots, but is it really needed? While reducing the crew compliment, general habitability must be improved at the same time. If these ships are going to last another 15 - 20 years then improved bunking and air conditioning should be a priority during the refit. General "digitalizing" of shipboard electronics would keep the shipboard electronics inline with the Spruance Class and reduce maintenance needs.
Finally, what ship should be the demonstrator? While Franklin and Bunker Hill should be the first of the "ultimate" refits I think the Antietam would be a better choice as it already has the angled deck. Or we could use an SCB-144 ship in service like Yorktown that's had a relatively benign career as an ASW Carrier.

Regardless of the demonstration ship, this final refit of the Essex Class would build off the SCB-125A and SCB-144 refits and hopefully avoid the overruns of Midway's SCB-101.66. So, we gain an aluminum flight deck and C11-1 catapults along with handling facilities for the A-7, S-3, SH-3, and E-2. We delete all things related handling AvGas and one half of the machinery; remaining 3" and 5" guns are replaced by Sea-Sparrow. The new space from the deleted main machinery can be replaced with enlarged ammunition bunkers and fuel. Electronics would be updated to keep pace with new ships being commissioned: SPS-48/49 radars, and SQS-53 sonar.
At most, the air wing would consist of 2xVS Squadrons 1xHS Squadron 2xVAL/VFA Squadrons plus the VAW detachment and ideally handling space for DASH drones. With the increased in munitions bunkerage, I would be bold and call these ships CVLs instead of CVSs though Congress may object? The max increase in life would be 20 years, so these would retire peacefully after the Gulf War. Perhaps even participating as well.

Probably about six ships or so would be converted and I'm picking out the least "worn":
Antietam - Demonstrator
Franklin - Spent life tied up
Bunker Hill - Spent life tied up
Philippine Sea - Spent 60s tied up
Lake Champlain - Decom'd in 66
Randolph - Decom'd in 68
Wasp - Spent entire career with NATO

Honorable Mentions would be the three LPH conversions, but I'm unsure how expensive it would be undo their "Marinification"
 
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isayyo2

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Alright I'm coming back into this with some additional thoughts and greater implications; this is in application to all the threads we've been involved with the past few days.

Two systems in the Navy I know that didn't get enough love were the QH-50 DASH and S-3 Viking; both ASW platforms surprise surprise and both have potential for additional roles. While considered finicky in the USN, the Japanese did just fine with the DASH drone though it too was replaced with manned helicopters. Instead of discarding the drones, stick with the QH-50E and flesh out it's surveillance potential. I'd like to see a mixture of SH-3s and QH-50s on the new FFs and DDs using the Canadian beartrap system, the Sea Kings could use the drones to expand their own surveillance potential and provide the ship with gunfire spotting as was done in Vietnam. I just realized that the DASH and MQ-8s share the same family of Allison 250 engines, talk about reinventing the wheel...

The Viking could have had a strike capability as early as 1975 with the Harpoon missile, a big missed opportunity for the VS community and a significant capability for these fledgling Essex CVLs. The Viking should be fully fleshed out with a strike capability comprising of Mavericks, Bullpups, Walleyes, and Harpoon by its service entry; as well developing the dedicated tanker KS-3A for a 10+2 VS Squadron. Speaking of the Harpoon, what was holding back its integration into the Sea Kings? The Westlend licenses across the pond carried Exocets and Sea Eagles, so the potential is clearly there. Heck, the QH-50Es had a 1500 pd payload so Mavericks or a Harpoon would have possible too.
A potential S-3B would include more powerful TF-34s, perhaps 12,000lbs, and might have additional pylon for more cruise missiles or eventually AIM-120s. ES-3s would be newbuilds as well.

Regardless if Elmo gets his way and these CVL Essex's come to be, I still think the Nimitz should be designed with a VS squadron in mind. 1. Clearly is was done IRL with minimal fuss 2. The surface search capability would be a boon to strike packages and additional shooters are always appreciated 3. These CVLs aren't forever, and they'll need replacement in the 90s i.e. Nimitz to replace the conventional CVs and CVLs.
 
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EwenS

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Re Sea King and Harpoon, for the USN why fit ASM to helicopters when there are plenty of fast movers to haul bombs and missiles? Also AIUI USN Sea Kings didn’t get an on board radar until the SH-3H version in the mid1970s so no way of seeing a target until then unless designated by someone else.The air-launched Harpoon didn’t enter service until 1979 and a helicopter launched one would have needed boosters like the surface launched variant, just like Sea Eagle.

The Westland Sea Kings had radar from the very start of their careers having the same set as in the Wessex HAS3.
 

isayyo2

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Re Sea King and Harpoon, for the USN why fit ASM to helicopters when there are plenty of fast movers to haul bombs and missiles? Also AIUI USN Sea Kings didn’t get an on board radar until the SH-3H version in the mid1970s so no way of seeing a target until then unless designated by someone else.The air-launched Harpoon didn’t enter service until 1979 and a helicopter launched one would have needed boosters like the surface launched variant, just like Sea Eagle.

The Westland Sea Kings had radar from the very start of their careers having the same set as in the Wessex HAS3.
Oh that's good to know, was there a specific reason why a surface search radar was suddenly needed? While doing a little reading it seems like it was a "fitted for, but not with" dating back to the original A model. While the S-3 was doing carriage testing of the Harpoon back in 75, its IOC on the P-3 was 79 as you've mentioned, was the delay caused budgetary or technical reasons?

As for the SH-3 carrying Harpoon, I think it would be wise to have its hard points rated at 2000 pounds. Not only to comfortably carry the Harpoon, but also air launched variations of ASROC and Sea Lance for greater standoff capability.
 
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1Big Rich

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As said in the tin. OTL Zumwalt turned an Iwo Jima LPH (USS Guam) into a makeshift SCS demonstrator. It worked well enough it convinced Spain to replace their Dedalo with a SCS derivative: the Asturias.

Whatif he went a step further and turned these two Essex carriers into makeshift VSS or CVV demonstrators ?

Or some kind of intermediate design ?

Note: Bunker Hill and Franklin had been severely crippled by kamikazes in spring 1945. They survived and were 100% repaired by 1947. Only to spend the next 20 years waiting for a massive rebuild that never come. They were stricken in 66' but BH lasted until 1973.
Whatif Zumwalt atempted that rebuild... his own unique way, turning them into SCS VSS or CVV wannabees ?

Franklin and Bunker Hill were supposedly being held for an 'ultimate' rebuild of the Essex class.

IIRC, they were to be the escorts for United States (CVA-58) which was to focus on nuclear attack.

If they gong to do a CVV-like role, they will likely need bulging. Not a big deal on a couple fronts, as I recall CVV was 28 knot carrier, and Oriskany had been bulged to about 44,000 tons or so (I don't recall exactly). The flight deck would likely be replaced by all-metal (Oriskany had a lot of her flight deck replaced by metal, IIRC, but not all).

They will probably need a longer stroke catapult than the modified Essex class, and the forward elevator might have to be deleted or moved to the starboard side forward of the island. They won't be able to strike down the E-2 into the hangar, but the E-2A conducted carrier tests on Oriskany, so they could land and take off from them even if they were based on other carriers.

Let's say the field a Midway-light air group, say half a squadron of S-3 Viking, one of A-6 Intruders, one of A-7 Corsair IIs and one of F-4 Phantom IIs, some KA-6s plus Sea Kings of course. Say about 50-55 aircraft. They wouldn't have the F-14s if CVV, nor the stores but they could operate as a proof-of-concept, maybe relieving Midway and Coral Sea for refits and see how they do in comparison.

My thoughts,
 

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As said in the tin. OTL Zumwalt turned an Iwo Jima LPH (USS Guam) into a makeshift SCS demonstrator. It worked well enough it convinced Spain to replace their Dedalo with a SCS derivative: the Asturias.

Whatif he went a step further and turned these two Essex carriers into makeshift VSS or CVV demonstrators ?

Or some kind of intermediate design ?

Note: Bunker Hill and Franklin had been severely crippled by kamikazes in spring 1945. They survived and were 100% repaired by 1947. Only to spend the next 20 years waiting for a massive rebuild that never come. They were stricken in 66' but BH lasted until 1973.
Whatif Zumwalt atempted that rebuild... his own unique way, turning them into SCS VSS or CVV wannabees ?

Franklin and Bunker Hill were supposedly being held for an 'ultimate' rebuild of the Essex class.

IIRC, they were to be the escorts for United States (CVA-58) which was to focus on nuclear attack.

If they gong to do a CVV-like role, they will likely need bulging. Not a big deal on a couple fronts, as I recall CVV was 28 knot carrier, and Oriskany had been bulged to about 44,000 tons or so (I don't recall exactly). The flight deck would likely be replaced by all-metal (Oriskany had a lot of her flight deck replaced by metal, IIRC, but not all).

They will probably need a longer stroke catapult than the modified Essex class, and the forward elevator might have to be deleted or moved to the starboard side forward of the island. They won't be able to strike down the E-2 into the hangar, but the E-2A conducted carrier tests on Oriskany, so they could land and take off from them even if they were based on other carriers.

Let's say the field a Midway-light air group, say half a squadron of S-3 Viking, one of A-6 Intruders, one of A-7 Corsair IIs and one of F-4 Phantom IIs, some KA-6s plus Sea Kings of course. Say about 50-55 aircraft. They wouldn't have the F-14s if CVV, nor the stores but they could operate as a proof-of-concept, maybe relieving Midway and Coral Sea for refits and see how they do in comparison.

My thoughts,
They won't put Phantoms or Intruders on the Essex. Not that the ships couldn't handle them. They could. But they were fuel and ammo hogs. The A-6 and F-4 could empty an Essex class in a couple days by themselves. Before my banning on AH, I had started a thread about keeping the Essex class as a strike carrier. It ran for almost 200 pages IIRC and we discussed this at length.

In Vietnam, Oriskany usually sailed with 2xVF squadrons flying F-8s and 3xVA squadrons flying A-7s, along with 4xE-1s, 2-3xEKA-3s, helicopters and sometimes photo recon Crusaders as well. All told, some 70-80 aircraft. In this time period, I would expect her Air Wing to be similar.

As for longer cats, that's just a straight out non starter. Look at an overhead view of Oriskany. The starboard JBD is right in front of the island. And on the port side, pushing the catapult track back would extend it into the landing area.
 
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@1Big Rich
The W2F-1/E-2As "rotordome" could be lowered 3 Feet in order to clear the Essex class's hanger height. The Essex class could also to blame why the E-2A was such a disappointment in the 60s... I read it here, but I'm sure it's mentioned on our forum as well
This is correct. The E-2 was designed and built with a radome that lowered to allow the aircraft to be struck down in the Hanger of the Essex and the Midway classes. The lowering dish wasn't the problem with the Hawkeye. The problem was pushing the cutting edge of technology for increased performance. Primarily, the electronics kept overheating. The lowering radome was retained at least as late as the E-2C, which can be seen on the SAC sheet. And I believe it was in place as late as the "D" model.
 

1Big Rich

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They won't put Phantoms or Intruders on the Essex. Not that the ships couldn't handle them. They could. But they were fuel and ammo hogs. The A-6 and F-4 could empty an Essex class in a couple days by themselves. Before my banning on AH, I had started a thread about keeping the Essex class as a strike carrier. It ran for almost 200 pages IIRC and we discussed this at length.

In Vietnam, Oriskany usually sailed with 2xVF squadrons flying F-8s and 3xVA squadrons flying A-7s, along with 4xE-1s, 2-3xEKA-3s, helicopters and sometimes photo recon Crusaders as well. All told, some 70-80 aircraft. In this time period, I would expect her Air Wing to be similar.

As for longer cats, that's just a straight out non starter. Look at an overhead view of Oriskany. The starboard JBD is right in front of the island. And on the port side, pushing the catapult track back would extend it into the landing area.


Point taken, just so happens I have an image of CV-34 on my postimage account



However, if they were going to be a CVV test ship and were getting a full rebuild, they might have had a very different island, like the compact one shown for the CVV



Another possibility might be moving the port elevator aft, extending the port sponson forward and having one bow and one midships catapult like the layout for CVV



Regards,
 

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They won't put Phantoms or Intruders on the Essex. Not that the ships couldn't handle them. They could. But they were fuel and ammo hogs. The A-6 and F-4 could empty an Essex class in a couple days by themselves. Before my banning on AH, I had started a thread about keeping the Essex class as a strike carrier. It ran for almost 200 pages IIRC and we discussed this at length.

In Vietnam, Oriskany usually sailed with 2xVF squadrons flying F-8s and 3xVA squadrons flying A-7s, along with 4xE-1s, 2-3xEKA-3s, helicopters and sometimes photo recon Crusaders as well. All told, some 70-80 aircraft. In this time period, I would expect her Air Wing to be similar.

As for longer cats, that's just a straight out non starter. Look at an overhead view of Oriskany. The starboard JBD is right in front of the island. And on the port side, pushing the catapult track back would extend it into the landing area.


Point taken, just so happens I have an image of CV-34 on my postimage account



However, if they were going to be a CVV test ship and were getting a full rebuild, they might have had a very different island, like the compact one shown for the CVV



Another possibility might be moving the port elevator aft, extending the port sponson forward and having one bow and one midships catapult like the layout for CVV



Regards,
Well, there's not a whole lot you can do with the island. It's already pretty small. I've been on the Yorktown and her island is cramped as hell. It doesn't really look like it in line drawings, but an Essex class Island is about half the size of the island on Midway. And it can't really be moved either. It's located where it is because that's where all the trunking for the boilers is located.

At any rate, other than in exceptionally hot and humid conditions, the C11-1 catapult was more than capable of launching anything in the Navy inventory, up to and including Tomcats if they were clean. So there's really no need to install more powerful cats. Particularly since the limitations on aircraft are a result of the class's limited JP-4 and ammunition stowage. And in the case of Tomcats, the hangars were too low to conduct ejection seat maintenence or perform landing gear drop checks.

My suggestion of you want it as a CVV proof of concept? Lift the nameplate and slide a new ship under it. CVV was designed to replace the Midways, not the Essex class. It's really hard to call an Ultimate Rebuild Essex class a proof of concept for a ship that will be some 20,000 tons bigger.

But, if you're just rebuilding them because you have the funds available and you need the decks faster than you can build new? That's a whole other thing. In that case, my suggestion would be to start with the SCB-27C/125A rebuild as a baseline and improve from there. These would be my changes:

1. Lengthen the port sponson to extend the angle deck and give you more flight deck space.
2. Move the port elevator from the forward end of the angle to the aft end along with moving the forward elevator from the centerline to the starboard deck edge. That both enlarges the fight deck and frees up a lot of internal volume by eliminating the elevator well.
3. All steel flight deck.
4. Water cooled JBDs. That was an issue that Lexington had in her career. Only the center panel of her JBDs was water cooled, which kept her from launching Phantoms and Tomcats as their exhaust would damage the outer panels of the JBD.
5. Bulge the hull to 105-107 feet compared to the 101' of the SCB-27A ships or the 103' of the -27C ships. They will help keep her from settling too deep in the water.
6. Three wires only for landings. We're gonna need every spare pound of weight savings.
7. If you MUST have a stronger cat, stick a C13 in the waist and eliminate the starboard C11. But my preference would be to retain the two bow C11s.
 

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How about skipping the angled deck refit completely and adding on a ramp for Harriers/VTOLs of your choice?

There's still a handful of straight deck carriers just waiting to be used.
 

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How about skipping the angled deck refit completely and adding on a ramp for Harriers/VTOLs of your choice?

There's still a handful of straight deck carriers just waiting to be used.
They actually used the USS Guam (LPH-3) as a prototype SCS. And it was a long trial, from 1971 through 1973.
 

isayyo2

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How about skipping the angled deck refit completely and adding on a ramp for Harriers/VTOLs of your choice?

There's still a handful of straight deck carriers just waiting to be used.
They actually used the USS Guam (LPH-3) as a prototype SCS. And it was a long trial, from 1971 through 1973.
Yep, they sure did; but after Zumwalt left as CNO it was killed rather quickly...

- It notes here they dropped sonobuoys from Harriers!

 
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uk 75

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We know what could have been done with the SCS programme
Spain deployed the ship with Harriers and Seakings initially.
This option would have been perfectly feasible for the US and other NATO navies.
However, they prefered a different combination of ships.
The larger CVV was an orphan. Too small for the USN and too big for anyone else.
 

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The larger CVV was an orphan. Too small for the USN and too big for anyone else.
To get the CVV into service, I think you need more nations operating more big deck CATOBAR carriers post WWII. Had countries like Australia, India, France and Italy gone for 40,000 ton carriers in the 50s, by the late 60s, early 70s they may have been in the market for an approximately 60-65,000 ton carrier.
 
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uk 75

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I think the CVV needed the USN to get it into service. Australia might then have purchased one with an all F18 airgroup.. They could have been bought by the US instead of converting Midway and Coral Sea.
France might also see two such ships as cheaper than DeGaulle.
India and Italy not very likely for various reasons.
 

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I think the CVV needed the USN to get it into service. Australia might then have purchased one with an all F18 airgroup.. They could have been bought by the US instead of converting Midway and Coral Sea.
France might also see two such ships as cheaper than DeGaulle.
India and Italy not very likely for various reasons.
I agree that Italy and India are not likely. It would require quite a few changes to make either happen. I only included them since they were the only other countries I could think of that had both the financial and technical ability to operate CATOBAR carriers. I suppose Japan could be included as well, but I don't think anyone wants them operating strike carriers.

And replacing Midway, Coral Sea and FDR with CVVs instead of the 101.66 refit would be ideal. Hell, it probably would cost about the same
 

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Friedman does give some of the details of a proposed final Essex class CVS modernisation from a late 1966 OPNAV/NAVMAT study group, intended to support the following standard air wing:
  • 24 x VSX (to be S-3A Viking)
  • 8 x SH-3
  • 4 x fighter
Friedman just states fighters, the VSF squadrons were equipped with A-4s, one assumes there was an ambition to transition them to a more capable type when one became available. The SCB.100.68 new-build CVS study from 1963 was sized as a minimum Phantom carrier so at least some thought must have been given to re-equiping the VSF squadrons, F-8s were retained for those Essex class ships tasked as CVAs. Also curious is the absence of either the E-1B or the E-2 to replace it in the usual CVSG air wings. It was stated throughout the mid-late 1960s that the Essex class could not effectively operate either the E-2 or the F-4, despite both having originally been constrained in terms of size by the Essex class.

Either way, Friedman goes onto list a series of proposed/desired modifications:
  • Replacement of all remaining areas or wooden flight deck with aluminium clad hickory
  • Automatic Carrier Landing System
  • Satellite communications system
  • A new mast and antenna tower aft of the Island to support the satcom and ACLS
  • Installation of the Anti-Submarine Warfare Ship Command and Control System (ASWC&C) as trialled in USS Wasp (link)
  • Ship Inertial Navigation System (SINS) to support the S-3A
  • Improved habitability (inc. 6 x 200 ton air conditioning units)
  • Elimination of Avas stowage and an increase in JP-5 stowage to 760,000 gallons
  • Replacement of the four 1,500kw generators with 2,500kw units
Had such a program gone ahead the ASWC&C may have evolved into something like the Carrier Tactical Support Centre (TCS) installed in the CVs to support ASW operations as they converted to multi-purpose air wings in the 1970s, and the Versatile Avionics Shop Test (VAST) system would probably have been required to support the S-3s.

The result would have been a deep modernisation that increased displacement with the result that sustained speed would have fallen to 28.8 knots and there was concern that the ships structure wouldn't be able to take the weight.
 
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Grey Havoc

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Also curious is the absence of either the E-1B or the E-2 to replace it in the usual CVSG air wings.
They may well have had this in mind:
cl-84-aew-scs-jpg.3065

(h/t overscan)

In addition:
In regard to the Sea Control Ships;

Canadair is proposing an enlarged CL-84 for use as a sensor carrier and command post for the US Navy's proposed "sea control ships".

Source:
  • Air Enthusiast, May 1972

Oh, and again via overscan:
cl-84aew_01-jpg.73120
 
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