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Eureka ! a naval Northrop N-156

Archibald

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We discussed at nauseum alternatives to the F-8 Crusader from 1956, 1968, 1975. One we missed was this very one. I had forgotten one of the early N-156 was to be a naval fighter. The USN wanted it for the smallest carriers of WWII vintage that had not been downrated to secondary or tertiary missions as of 1954-57.
Despite the well-known limitations of the F-5A / F-5E / T-38 family, a "naval N-156" (generic term) it might have been an interesting alternative considering
a) its diminutive weight of less than 30 000 pounds
b) supersonic capability
c) seemingly never ending career (still lasting to this day).

It can be done either in 1956 as the N-156N or in 1963 as a naval T-38.


Imagine if that little bird scored a "bullseye" and managed to provide supersonic interceptor capability to
- Hermes-class
- Audacious-class
- Clemenceau class
- USN varied WWII escort / light carriers (revamped)
- RN Colossus / Magestic class (revamped)
- legacy Essex (second hand ships for RAN and RN)
- rebuild Essex (Franklin & Bunker Hill)

Two startling examples: The Netherlands and Canadian navies. These countries air forces were OTL massive users of the F-5 and their navies had small carriers that went ASW or retirement because their interceptors were obsoletes (Banshee, Sea Hawks...)

One big belly drop tank for a little more range, two or four AIM-9, eventually a Vulcan gun for decent firepower...

Thought ?
 
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Archibald

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It also dawned on me that the N-156 N/F/T family exactly met the ECAT target - I mean, the Breguet-BAC-SEPECAT Jaguar.

N-156T = supersonic two seat trainer (Jaguar B, check)
N-156F = cheap multirole fighter (Jaguar A, check)
N-156N = naval variant (Jaguar M, check !)

Where it gets very interesting is that Aerospatiale (who lost ECAT to both Breguet and Dassault) exactly proposed to take a licence from Northrop and build N-156F (pardon, F-5A) for the Armée de l'Air, just to piss off Dassault and their combat aircraft monopoly.

Now imagine if Aerospatiale and Northrop put an ECAT bid with a modified N-156 and win the day. Note that the N-156N / F-5, while a limited avionic aircraft, would be much lighter on the Clemenceaus catapults than the Crusader...

While a little short ranged, the F-5 would also be perfect for France missions in Africa as done OTL by Mirage F1s and Jaguars... rugged and cheap aircraft.

There it is... https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/threads/french-ecat-projects.1167/

How about that. A F-5 Tiger with one single Adour engine... that is, a much less powerful, but earlier, F-20 Tigershark.

How about Jaguarshark ? since they have the same engine... ROTFL :p
 
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apparition13

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Would it fit on refitted "Casablanca"-class escort?
Alternatively, no. The A2D Skyshark was meant to fly off the Casablancas, but they were too small for jets. The N-156 (the T-tailed model in the third image from this post, the PD-2706) was designed for the Commencement Bay class CVE*. There was a proposal to add an angled deck and 30 feet to the bow to increase speed from around 20 to 24 knots for about $22 million and use them as ASW ships with S2Fs**. N-156 would have been a good fit for fighter cover. As might the Gnat mk4 naval variant, another might have been that could have flown off small carriers. There were 19 C. Bays, a potentially useful number of ships.

* Chong, Flying Wings and Radical Things, p. 110. He mentions the C. Bays by name as the ship the naval N-156 was meant for, but makes no mention of the Casablancas.

** Friedman, U.S. Aircraft Carries, p. 339-340. With the cancellation of the A2D, the Casablancas were kept in reserve for a while as potential ASW helicopter carriers, but Friedman indicates they were deemed unsuitable (I couldn't see why, I think they would fit the Canadian Heliporter concept) and then scrapped. The modified C. Bays were rejected in favor of a new design that was around three times the price, but that had double or more the airgroup, since the C. Bays could only carry 18 S2Fs, less if they had a fighter detachment of some sort.
 

Dilandu

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Alternatively, no. The A2D Skyshark was meant to fly off the Casablancas, but they were too small for jets. The N-156 (the T-tailed model in the third image from this post, the PD-2706) was designed for the Commencement Bay class CVE*. There was a proposal to add an angled deck and 30 feet to the bow to increase speed from around 20 to 24 knots for about $22 million and use them as ASW ships with S2Fs**. N-156 would have been a good fit for fighter cover. As might the Gnat mk4 naval variant, another might have been that could have flown off small carriers. There were 19 C. Bays, a potentially useful number of ships.
Hm. What if we try fuel-air catapult to get more takeoff speed?
 

apparition13

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Hm. What if we try fuel-air catapult to get more takeoff speed?
The Casablancas were only ~155 meters in length and just under 11k tons. The Commencement Bays were 170 meters, 180 with the proposed bow extension, and 24k tons. They were just too small to take the bigger catapults the jets required. I'd also wonder if they could handle the top weight of reinforced decks to handle jets.

They were also limited to 20 knots. Experiments with S2F Trackers on the Commencement Bays which had similar speed demonstrated that wind over deck requirements meant they couldn't launch or recover aircraft for disturbingly large periods of time. Higher landing speeds for jets would just make recoveries even more dodgy. That's why the Commencement Bay modification proposals included machinery improvements to raise the speed to 24 knots. There likely wasn't room or weight allowance to do the same for Casablancas.

On top of which the air wing would be tiny. The C. Bay had a capacity of 34 vs. 27 WW2 era aircraft for the Casablancas, and they were heavier and larger aircraft*. C. Bays could only embark 18 S2F Trackers, which would imply maybe 12-14 for a Casablanca. Add in a detachment of N-156/Gnat mk-4/(or an afterburning A-4, which seems an obvious idea to me even though I've never seen it proposed) for air defense, and the ASW complement would be down to under 10 for a Casablanca.

The backronym of combustible, vulnerable, expendable for CVE also came from experience with Casablancas. Five were lost in the Pacific. One to a torpedo, two to single kamikaze attacks, one to a cruiser shell hit or a near miss from Yamato at Samar, which it survived with significant damage only to be finished off later in the day by a single kamikaze, and one that survived a first kamikaze hit but not the second. Three out of the five were one-shotted, the other two took two. They weren't the most robust ships the USN ever acquired.

That said, there were 45 of them left after the war, and it seems a shame to let them go to waste. If the A2D engine could have been made to work, they might have been useful as CAS platforms. A task force of 5 (which was not atypical for WW2) might be able to operate a total of 80 or so A2Ds, which could be very useful in support of Marine units, or even Army units in Vietnam. They would need another carrier nearby for air cover.

Or perhaps as CVS-H; ASW helicopter carriers. Canadian research into heliporter destroyers (DHH) indicated that it would take 8 SH-3 Sea Kings to keep 2 on station 24/7 for up to about two weeks, 15 to keep two on station indefinitely. I could see 15 SH-3s on a Casablanca. They would be useful in convoy escort roles with that kind of air group. But the A2D fell through and the USN didn't think they had the capability to prove useful as helicopter carriers (the A2D was cancelled in 1954, the SH-3 first flew in 1959, which is when the Casablancas started being broken up) , which left them without a role, so they got scrapped.

Had they been kept in reserve into the mid 60s, after the SH-2 and SH-3 had been introduced, I wonder if Canada and some of the other smaller maritime NATO nations would have been interested in them as Atlantic convoy escorts.

*Even when it came to WW2 carrier aircraft they were limited to lighter fighters. They kept the F4F because the F6F was too heavy. The F8F was designed to fly off them, which is one reason it was so light. Now, the A2D was huge by comparison, bigger than any WW2 carrier aircraft, but it was also designed specifically to operate off the Casablancas.
 

Archibald

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I'm writting a kind of "werewolf" story where the nazis go into hiding in Norway and Svalbard in 1945, and decides to fight back with I-400 submarines (thank you, surviving Yamamoto !) with H2O2 AIP systems. They spend ten years building strength and finally start chaos and havoc a day of 1955.

This cause a major threat to the USN and is essentially a pretext for a naval tech wank / wet dream. Make no mistake, I know it isn't quite realistic !

Since there are a shitload (50+23, and counting) of Casablanca, Sangamon, Commencement bay carriers in storage and good for nothing...

I wanted to turn these carriers into kind of "proto arsenal ships" with plenty of Vought Regulus and Regulus II missiles.

How hard would it be to stuff these old ships with Regulus and turn them into launch platforms ?

I'm thinking about very straightforward mods: essentially a huge lift for the missiles, carry them on the deck, fire, reload.

Think about a "floating Regulus shotgun platform" with little crew, a mere helicopter platform, and that's it. Those ships would be expendable cannon fodder.
 
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Lascaris

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I'm writting a kind of "werewolf" story where the nazis go into hiding in Norway and Svalbard in 1945, and decides to fight back with I-400 submarines (thank you, surviving Yamamoto !) with H2O2 AIP systems. They spend ten years building strength and finally start chaos and havoc a day of 1955.

This cause a major threat to the USN and is essentially a pretext for a naval tech wank / wet dream. Make no mistake, I know it isn't quite realistic !

Since there are a shitload (50+23, and counting) of Casablanca, Sangamon, Commencement bay carriers in storage and good for nothing...

I wanted to turn these carriers into kind of "proto arsenal ships" with plenty of Vought Regulus and Regulus II missiles.

How hard would it be to stuff these old ships with Regulus and turn them into launch platforms ?

I'm thinking about very straightforward mods: essentially a huge lift for the missiles, carry them on the deck, fire, reload.

Think about a "floating Regulus shotgun platform" with little crew, a mere helicopter platform, and that's it. Those ships would be expendable cannon fodder.
In 1955? Curtis LeMay solves the issue within 6 hours tops. Unless Bomber command or the Soviets are faster.
 
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