Designing an aircraft to fit RN carriers

uk 75

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Having followed all the excellent threads on the CVA 01 and
RN carrier aircraft saga I find myself wondering what would
have happened if a smaller aicraft could have been designed.

The RN tried to get carriers to operate the Phantom and
Buccaneer combination. In doing so it limited its options to
Ark Royal, Eagle and a new carrier (CVA01). France on the
other hand was able to operate two aircraft carriers with
the Etendard Crusader mix right through to the 1990s.
Other countries managed with the A4 Skyhawk. Even the
USN found the F8 and A4 useful enough in Vietnam.

If the RN had settled for a more limited size and capability
Fighter/Attacker aircraft, would this have been a better
option than the Sea Harrier? Was such an aircraft within
the scope of UK industry. The various BAC swing wing
projects (BAC 583) were probably too complex, while
the Jaguar was probably not as good as the Etendard.

The UK could only afford to build and man three fixed
wing carriers. Despite efforts to seek more, reality
always brought the RN back to three large platforms.
Would 3 Hermes size vessels with a fighter/attacker
force of Etendard style aircraft have been much better
than the Invincible/Sea Harrier combination?

History seems to be in danger of repeating itself. The
JSF vstol option looks as fragile as the HS 1154. It
is tempting to say that just as the Phantom was
obviously better than 1154 the conventional JSF
is better than its vtol version.
Apart from the inevitable "Falklands" scenario are
there really that many cases where carrier-borne
aircraft can do things that land-based planes
cannot. Since the end of the Cold War virtually
all UK air operations have been from fixed bases
in Italy, Turkey or the Gulf.

Perhaps carriers are an expensive way of deploying
a smaller amount of airpower....

Besides CVA 01 looked so much cooler than HMS
Tony Blair (CVF).

UK 75
 

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