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How would earlier Soviet carriers affect USN developement?

Dilandu

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Let's assume that USSR started to experiment with carriers in late 1920s, with planned rebuild of the training ship "Okean" into the light/training carrier "Komsomolets". While slow and of limited usefulness (roughly the equivalent of USN's "Langley"), this ship still allowed Soviet Navy to gain initial experience with deck-based aviation and its operations.

1595082915639.png

Some more experience was gained during World War 2, when Soviet Navy operated CAM ships at Black Sea, and maybe even received some MAC ships from Royal Navy as part of lend-lease.

So, when the major Soviet Navy buildup was launched in 1950s, the carriers followed also. Considering the Khrushev preference for highly specialized, smaller warships over multi-purpose large ones, the Soviet carriers would probably be relatively light, and generally oriented toward air defense, anti-submarine patrols, and providing fighter cover for land-based long-range bombers. I.e. they would be light air-defense carriers, not strike ones. Something like PBIA project (Plavbasa Istrebitelnoy Aviatsyy - Fighter Aircraft Floating Base), suggested in 1959:

1595083317661.png

So, by mid-1960s, USSR have four light 20.000-ton carriers in Pacific and four in Northern Fleet. Roughly they are:

* 20.000 tons displacement.
* Gas-turbine powered.
* Fuel-air catapults (no experience with steam ones, also gas turbines do not give steam)
* 24 fighter aircraft (Mig-19 derivative, planned to be replaced with Mach 2 fighter), 2-4 aerial early warning aircraft (Tu-91 AEW derivative), some copters.
* No attack aircraft - the carriers are only to provide reconnaissance and fighter cover for missile-carrying bombers and submarines.

Also, some Project 68-bis (Sverdlov-class) cruisers were rebuild into single-ended missile cruisers, armed with Volkhov-M SAM (naval version of S-75) with 17D ramjet missiles (ramjet kerosene is more... storable onboard the ship, than rocket fuel), and six unfinished 68-bis cruisers were completed as double-ended missile cruisers with Volkhov-M SAM and P-35 cruise missiles. They formed the escorts for carriers.

My question is: how would the USN and NATO navies evolved, if they were forced to dealt with the problem of Soviet aircraft carriers from the very beginning of the Cold War?

The presence of Soviet carriers, capable of providing fighter cover in open sea, would make defense of USN and NATO battlegroups much more difficult. It is one thing to intercept heavy jet bombers in non-contested airspace; it's completely different thing to do, if there are Soviet fighters presented, covering bombers against US interceptors. Also, searching for Soviet submarines would became much more difficult, if you need to reinforce the ASW patrols with fighters. And, attacks against Soviet ships and battlegroups became much more complex and dangerous too - due to presence of AEW-guided Soviet fighters, ready to engage the attacking aircraft.

This would obviously require some quite serious change in USN structure and weapon systems. Question - what would they probably be?
 
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Dilandu

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My thoughts:

* USN would probably want more fighters on carriers, at the expense of strike crafts. For example, real "Forrestall"-class in 1960s carried about 24 fighters, and about 36 attack crafts. In the situation, when Soviet carriers are a problem, there would be a strong urge to have more fighters on the decks.
* More attention would be paid to maneuvering air battle; XF8U-3 Crusader III might became the main fighter at the expense of Phantom.
* More attack carriers and air defense units, than anti-submarine ones. More Talos-capable cruisers, for example.
* Clearly more interest to standoff anti-ship weapon, like air/ship/submarine launched anti-ship missiles - to make penetrating Soviet battlegroups air defenses more... affordable. The A-3 Skywarrior might remain longer in the role of long-range missile-carrying platform.
 

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Saipans and Essex are the closest thing from ITTL Soviet carriers.

I can see the two Saipans being uprated (instead of turned into Nuclear Emergency Command Post Afloat), and also Franklin and Bunker Hill (the crippled Essex) being rebuild.

Plus more of the 22 Essex brought to SBC-125A standard.

If not enough, there are also the five remaining Independance-class. Two have been lost by 1947, two went to France (Lafayette & Bois Belleau). Of the fifth remaining, OTL another went to Spain as Dedalo but not before 1967.

Essex, Saipan and Independance all are fast carriers, up to 31 kt. By contrast Commencement bay (19 ships) and Casablanca (50 !!) are hopelessly slow.

Total
- 2 "super Essex"
- 22 SBC-125A Essex
- 2 Saipans
- 5 Independance

31 small&medium carriers. Boom.

Plus of course the Midways (3) and Forrestals (4) and all the others afterwards.

I can see the Northrop N-156N being produced by 1956, along the N-156T (T-38) and N-156F (F-5). They assume air cover from Saipans and Independance carriers with Skyraider AEW to guide them. While the Skyshark failed, another atempt -successfull - could be done at a "turboprop Skyraider" with the correct engine - the T56 turbine from the Hercules and P-3 Orion.

As for the Essex - the Crusader I & II are fine, of course, but F-5D Skylancer and F-11F-1F Super Tiger are awesome. All three aircraft with J79 will rule the skies. Plus the N-156N on the smaller carriers, and Phantoms on the larger ones.
 
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Dilandu

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I can see the two Saipans being uprated (instead of turned into Nuclear Emergency Command Post Afloat), and also Franklin and Bunker Hill (the crippled Essex) being rebuild.
Quite probably, yes. They are valuable enough to validate this.

If not enough, there are also the five remaining Independance-class. Two have been lost by 1947, two went to France (Lafayette & Bois Belleau). Of the fifth remaining, OTL another went to Spain as Dedalo but not before 1967.
Hm, probably not. They are too costly to rebuild. Also should point out, that operating more strike carriers would require more funds (they are more costly than ASW Essex's), so they assuming that budged would remain mainly the same - not all this fleet could be made operational.

I can see the Northrop N-156N being produced by 1956, along the N-156T (T-38) and N-156F (F-5). They assume air cover from Saipans and Independance carriers with Skyraider AEW to guide them. While the Skyshark failed, another atempt -successfull - could be done as a "turboprop Skyraider" with the correct engine - the T-56 turbine from the Hercules and P-3 Orion.
A probability. But question is - what kind of attack crafts they may operate, capable of carrying anti-ship missiles?
 

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Another consequence is that more of the Long Beach-class cruisers and Bainbridge-class DLGNs would be laid down; in our timeline the planned procurement of further units of those classes were (along with much else of the future development of the USN) precluded by the need to pour in more money into the already quite expensive Polaris program. In this alternate timeline the navy leadership would have been unlikely to be able to do that. That in turn would have lead to Polaris development being stretched out at best, probably leading to the SSM-N-9 Regulus II missile reaching operational status (IRL, some white lies [charitably speaking] had been told to Congress about Polaris' ability to carry out Regulus II missions when in actual fact their roles & target lists only partially overlapped at best).

Yet another thing that might have survived in this timeline is the RIM-46A Sea Mauler BPDMS.
 
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Dilandu

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Another consequence is that more of the Long Beach-class cruisers and Bainbridge-class DLGNs would be laid down; in our timeline the planned procurement of further units of those classes were (along with much else of the future development of the USN) precluded by the need to pour in more money into the already quite expensive Polaris program. In this alternate timeline the navy leadership would have been unlikely to be able to do that. That in turn would have lead to Polaris development being stretched out at best, probably leading to the SSM-N-9 Regulus II missile reaching operational status (IRL, some white lies had been told to Congress about Polaris' ability to carry out Regulus II missions when in actual fact their roles & target lists only partially overlapped at best).
Also maybe more "Albany" rebuilds; they have the best fire control channels in USN for quite a long time.
 

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Not much changes for NATO to be honest. At most, I think they keep a slightly bigger carrier fleet. The USN probably rebuilds Lake Champlain, Bunker Hill and Franklin to SCB-125A standard. Enterprise may get a sister or two instead of the conventionally powered America and JFK. I also think there will be a greater emphasis on range in TTL. The USN will want to engage Soviet fighters and bombers (and ideally sink the Soviet carriers before they can launch themselves) as far away from their ships as possible.

I don't see the Navy sacrificing an attack squadron for more fighters. The situation for them has not changed really. These new Soviet ships aren't capable of attacking them. And if they tried, even an Essex is a huge overmatch for them. Plus, people tend to forget that even USN attack planes were capable of employing Sidewinders and serving as a second line of defense behind the dedicated fighters. So that's another 36 aircraft that can be used to target the bombers or missiles.

The biggest change to me, would be how many of the NATO navies would stay in the carrier game. First and foremost, the Royal Navy. They would definitely not abandon carriers and would probably build the original CVA-01 proposal of a slightly downsized Forestall class. The Netherlands would probably keep Karel Doorman instead of selling her to Argentina and may even build a replacement. Canada probably keeps a two carrier fleet through the 60s, then maybe buys a modernized Essex and goes to a one carrier fleet. France would maintain between 2-4 decks and may launch an earlier replacement program for Foch and Clemenceau giving them two carriers compared to OTL's one.

The only other change I can see is how many decks the USN would keep deployed. In OTL, they wanted three in the Western Pacific and two in the Med at all times. Here, I could see that going to 4 and 3. Beyond that though, I don't think there would be any big doctrinal or tech changes.
 

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France only hope would be PA58 or PA59. PA58 is 45000 tons, early non-nuclear CdG. PA59 is by contrast a Foch clone in the (vain, OTL) hope to get it funded by 1959. ITTL it might be funded and build, although top priority is Mirage IVA with AN-11 by 1964.
Arromanches will stick in service, and how about getting one of its sisterships from the RN (Colossus class).

They would definitely not abandon carriers and would probably build the original CVA-01 proposal of a slightly downsized Forestall class.
Hmmm... CVA-01 was a disaster.
- Give me "1954-59 carrier" over it, any day.
Alternatively, there is
- a golden opportunity to build carriers with the French in the 1955-1960 era. The last avatars of the "1954 carrier" at 40000- 45000 tons scream to be merged with PA58.
- once again, my beloved Essex Franklin and Bunker Hill which are not worn out like their siblings.
- bet everything on 4*Centaurs + Eagle, scrap everything else including Ark Royal.
 
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Archibald

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A probability. But question is - what kind of attack crafts they may operate, capable of carrying anti-ship missiles?
Skyraiders and Skyhawks, probably. Anything larger or heavier is no-go.
 

Dilandu

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I don't see the Navy sacrificing an attack squadron for more fighters. The situation for them has not changed really. These new Soviet ships aren't capable of attacking them.
No, but they are capable of making Soviet long-range jet bombers MUCH more a threat for USN ships, by providing them fighter cover.

Plus, people tend to forget that even USN attack planes were capable of employing Sidewinders and serving as a second line of defense behind the dedicated fighters. So that's another 36 aircraft that can be used to target the bombers or missiles.
...A-4 with Sidewinders is literally useless against supersonic anti-ship missile. The most common Soviet long-range missiles of early 1960s - K-10S ("Kipper") was capable of Mach 1.5+ speed. The probability of its being successfully intercepted by subsonic attack aircraft are near zero.
 

Dilandu

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The biggest change to me, would be how many of the NATO navies would stay in the carrier game. First and foremost, the Royal Navy. They would definitely not abandon carriers and would probably build the original CVA-01 proposal of a slightly downsized Forestall class. The Netherlands would probably keep Karel Doorman instead of selling her to Argentina and may even build a replacement. Canada probably keeps a two carrier fleet through the 60s, then maybe buys a modernized Essex and goes to a one carrier fleet. France would maintain between 2-4 decks and may launch an earlier replacement program for Foch and Clemenceau giving them two carriers compared to OTL's one.
Yes, and quite probably they would try to push "SeaSlug" into service earlier, maybe rebuilding some old gun cruisers. The air defense became much more a priority. Also, RN would probably be more insistent in deploying the anti-ship missiles.

Skyraiders and Skyhawks, probably. Anything larger or heavier is no-go.
Hm, that would severely limited the size of missiles, that could be launched from them. Especially considering that many of 1960s missile are not fully-autonomous and would require mid-course guidance with carrier aircraft radar.
 

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...A-4 with Sidewinders is literally useless against supersonic anti-ship missile. The most common Soviet long-range missiles of early 1960s - K-10S ("Kipper") was capable of Mach 1.5+ speed. The probability of its being successfully intercepted by subsonic attack aircraft are near zero.
The goal wouldn't be to intercept the missiles (at least not past the late 50s). But to intercept the bombers before they could launch. Which was doable with subsonic attack aircraft up until the Backfire was introduced. And then it became kinda possible again with the introduction of the all aspect AIM-9L.
 

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The goal wouldn't be to intercept the missiles (at least not past the late 50s). But to intercept the bombers before they could launch. Which was doable with subsonic attack aircraft
Doable - yes, efficient... not exactly. Tu-16K, attacking from 250-300 km would not left A-4 much time to intercept it. The rear-aspect firing capabilities of the first-gen Sidewiders would force the defending A-4 to circle around bomber, and chase it to make an attack.
 

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The goal wouldn't be to intercept the missiles (at least not past the late 50s). But to intercept the bombers before they could launch. Which was doable with subsonic attack aircraft
Doable - yes, efficient... not exactly. Tu-16K, attacking from 250-300 km would not left A-4 much time to intercept it. The rear-aspect firing capabilities of the first-gen Sidewiders would force the defending A-4 to circle around bomber, and chase it to make an attack.
Oh definitely not easy. But doable. Plus, the Skyhawk (and Corsair) did retain 20mm cannons, so it could make a head-on pass using guns, then drop into trail and launch Sidewinders. It's not the best option. But its better than having them circle uselessly while their airbase gets bombed
 

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Oh definitely not easy. But doable.
Yes, but I'm not sure, that USN would be willing to put defense of their battlegroup on something only "doable". Putting more fighters at the expense of attack crafts seems more... promising.
That's not USN doctrine though. The Navy has always been offensive minded with their carriers. They will not sacrifice the offensive firepower of their attack craft for defensive firepower from fighters. They will work hard on getting systems like the AWG-9/AIM-54 into service so that one defensive fighter can engage multiple targets simultaneously long before they sacrifice an attack Squadron.
 

Dilandu

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They will work hard on getting systems like the AWG-9/AIM-54 into service so that one defensive fighter can engage multiple targets simultaneously long before they sacrifice an attack Squadron.
Yes, but in described scenario, they could not just concentrate on heavy missile-armed interceptor; they are forced to consider the air-to-air combat against enemy fighters as well. And in 1960s, the idea of long-range missile attacks against enemy fighters... just didn't work well. It actually simpler to increase capabilities of ATTACK aircraft through providing them with long-range missiles.

Also, the attack aircraft now are in need of escort - they could be intercepted by Soviet AEW-guided fighters. With all respect to A-4, but if, combat-loaded, they are intercepted by Mig-19, they would be massacred.

So, USN needed more air defenses for battlegroups, and more escort fighters for strike aircrafts. Any way, the decision to put more fighters & increase the missile-carrying capabilities of strike aircraft seems inevitable.

P.S. Actually, I wonder; would A-3 have longer service career? If the emphasis of strike aircraft shifted from "low-altitude toss-bombing attack" toward the "standoff long-range missile attacks", then A-3 looks like an optimal platform for any kind of heavy anti-ship/anti-ground missiles.
 

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Dilandu

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On paper at least, the Vigilante could "pop" an antiship missile out of its "linear bomb bay" : provided it was no wider than 3 ft in diameter... and it could be 32 ft long if needed.
Hm... theoretically yes, but it would require missile specifically adapted to Vigilante. Not what USN would actually like. However, if ballistic missile submarines shift would be lessened by a need to deploy more carrier forces... Yes, it is probable.
 

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If the RCN retained Bonaventure, would her air group be converted from ASW to eg light attack/air defence? She could switch from Banshees to Tigers (which I think was considered OTL) or your Turbo Skyraiders?
 

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If the RCN retained Bonaventure, would her air group be converted from ASW to eg light attack/air defence? She could switch from Banshees to Tigers (which I think was considered OTL) or your Turbo Skyraiders?
She would clearly need some fighters; also, more consideration must be given to her escorts. Maybe rebuild "Ontario" into Sea Slug-capable missile cruiser?
 

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I don't know that much would change fleet-wise from a NATO perspective. Weapons systems and tactics, definitely. Maybe slightly accelerated timelines for ASM's, ARM's, long-range AAM's. A preference for range for strike (more Whales and Intruders, fewer Scooters, for example. Maybe the Vig finds itself relevant longer).
But honestly, not sure that a bunch of MiG-19's afloat strikes the kind of note needed to prompt a massive fleet build -up from any NATO nation. Even in the 60's. Particularly since they are likely to be less capable (heavier, shorter ranged) than their landbased counterparts.
 

Dilandu

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But honestly, not sure that a bunch of MiG-19's afloat strikes the kind of note needed to prompt a massive fleet build -up from any NATO nation. Even in the 60's. Particularly since they are likely to be less capable (heavier, shorter ranged) than their landbased counterparts.
Buildup - no, but redistribution of efforts - yes.
 

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On paper at least, the Vigilante could "pop" an antiship missile out of its "linear bomb bay" : provided it was no wider than 3 ft in diameter... and it could be 32 ft long if needed.

dimensions here > https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/threads/a-5-vigilante-conventional-weapon-load.10925/#post-394576

Dang - a Harpoon would fit ! How about that... !!! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpoon_(missile)
Vigilante could also carry weapons externally.

As for CVA-01, it was pretty the minimum design capable of carrying the next generation of strike aircraft (OR.346). The 1954 Medium Carrier was equivalent to Hermes, which was marginal even with aircraft of the current generation (Sea Vixen and Buccaneer).
 

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Yes, but in described scenario, they could not just concentrate on heavy missile-armed interceptor; they are forced to consider the air-to-air combat against enemy fighters as well.
In practice, this wouldn't change from OTL. The Tomcat was built specifically to do both. In it's max load out configuration, it could lug 6xAIM-54s and 2xAIM-9s into battle. And the Phoenix was damn near fire-and-forget (at short ranges, at longer ones it did require a mid-course update). But it had such long range that they didn't really have to worry about the escorts since they would be engaging from a distance more than 5 times longer than the escorts maximum engagement range. And yes, the AWG-9 could distinguish between a bomber and a fighter based on the radar return. So all those big AIM-54s will be heading straight for the bombers and ignoring the fighters. Unless the Soviet pilots elect to kamikaze themselves and throw their plans into the path of the missiles. And I don't see that happening.

This isn't WWII where you need to be in gun range to engage. There is only so much you can do when the defending fighters are engaging you 600 miles away from your target (approx 500mi combat radius+100 mile missile range).


And in 1960s, the idea of long-range missile attacks against enemy fighters... just didn't work well.
You have to take those numbers with a grain of salt. The ROEs that American Fighters were forced to operate under were ridiculously restrictive. They were not allowed to engage at beyond visual range. So then the Sparrow was forced into a role it wasn't meant for: short range dogfights. The numbers still wouldn't have been pretty without those ROEs, but they would still be a damn sight better than they were.


Also, the attack aircraft now are in need of escort - they could be intercepted by Soviet AEW-guided fighters. With all respect to A-4, but if, combat-loaded, they are intercepted by Mig-19, they would be massacred.
Despite what I said earlier in my reply, it was not USN doctrine to send attack planes in unescorted when there was known fighter activity.


So, USN needed more air defenses for battlegroups, and more escort fighters for strike aircrafts. Any way, the decision to put more fighters & increase the missile-carrying capabilities of strike aircraft seems inevitable.
Not really. They would just do what they did in OTL: push the development of fire-and-forget weapons. They were actually working on an upgraded Sparrow that was active radar homing that was compatible with the Phantom. In OTL, it was a victim of budget cuts after a couple of failed tests. But with a bigger threat, it's likely that the money tap isn't turned off and it continues development.


P.S. Actually, I wonder; would A-3 have longer service career? If the emphasis of strike aircraft shifted from "low-altitude toss-bombing attack" toward the "standoff long-range missile attacks", then A-3 looks like an optimal platform for any kind of heavy anti-ship/anti-ground missiles.
No. The Skywarrior was a big plane. You could get better performance from the Intruder and it was, not joking, a third of the size
 

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In practice, this wouldn't change from OTL. The Tomcat was built specifically to do both. In it's max load out configuration, it could lug 6xAIM-54s and 2xAIM-9s into battle. And the Phoenix was damn near fire-and-forget (at short ranges, at longer ones it did require a mid-course update). But it had such long range that they didn't really have to worry about the escorts since they would be engaging from a distance more than 5 times longer than the escorts maximum engagement range. And yes, the AWG-9 could distinguish between a bomber and a fighter based on the radar return. So all those big AIM-54s will be heading straight for the bombers and ignoring the fighters. Unless the Soviet pilots elect to kamikaze themselves and throw their plans into the path of the missiles. And I don't see that happening.
Er, yes, but first - it would be 1970s before the AIM-54 would be available, and second - they would be forced to dealt with Tu-22 & Tu-22M, not Tu-16. Also, they wouldn't be facing Mig-19 by this time.

You have to take those numbers with a grain of salt. The ROEs that American Fighters were forced to operate under were ridiculously restrictive. They were not allowed to engage at beyond visual range. So then the Sparrow was forced into a role it wasn't meant for: short range dogfights. The numbers still wouldn't have been pretty without those ROEs, but they would still be a damn sight better than they were.
The point is, even when Sparrow were allowed to be used at longer ranges, it still wasn't much an anti-fighter missile in her early models. As far as I knew, early model Sparrows have very mediocre hit rate in nearly every conflict they participated.

Despite what I said earlier in my reply, it was not USN doctrine to send attack planes in unescorted when there was known fighter activity.
So essentially they would need fighters to do escort job and fighters to protect the battlegroup. Both actions required more fighters.

Not really. They would just do what they did in OTL: push the development of fire-and-forget weapons. They were actually working on an upgraded Sparrow that was active radar homing that was compatible with the Phantom. In OTL, it was a victim of budget cuts after a couple of failed tests. But with a bigger threat, it's likely that the money tap isn't turned off and it continues development.
So they would try to persuade themselves that attacking carrier battlegroups with gravity bombs & short-range missiles would work against USSR, because it didn't supposed to work against USA? I see a logical contradiction here.
 

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Let's say the Badgers nominally have to get within 200mi to launch. Carrier-borne MiG-19 has an effective range of? Maybe 250 mi? Afterburnering take-off, heavier, weapon load, climb out to the Badgers. Means the Soviet carrier has to close within 450 mi (probably closer) of the US carriers to escort a Badger strike. Presumably unnoticed, because otherwise, they probably have their hands full fending off US naval air. A Buccaneer, Whale, or Intruder could put gravity bombs on deck at that range.

Like I said, a shift of tactics, a shift in development timelines for weaponry, maybe a slight new emphasis on anti-air afloat. But MiG-19's aren't going to do much except provide slightly better fleet protection.
 
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_Del_

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You have to take those numbers with a grain of salt. The ROEs that American Fighters were forced to operate under were ridiculously restrictive. They were not allowed to engage at beyond visual range. So then the Sparrow was forced into a role it wasn't meant for: short range dogfights. The numbers still wouldn't have been pretty without those ROEs, but they would still be a damn sight better than they were.
Also note, that even an inaccurate missile like the Great White Hope launched in salvos against a bomber formation (and escorts) is going to play havoc with any type of coordinated attack. I doubt Soviet engagement tactics would have been "ignore the missiles" regardless of their inaccuracy. Certainly wasn't how BUFFS treated SAMs.
 

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Er, yes, but first - it would be 1970s before the AIM-54 would be available, and second - they would be forced to dealt with Tu-22 & Tu-22M, not Tu-16. Also, they wouldn't be facing Mig-19 by this time.
They were working on an upgraded Sparrow long before that with the same capabilities (minus the extreme range).


The point is, even when Sparrow were allowed to be used at longer ranges, it still wasn't much an anti-fighter missile in her early models. As far as I knew, early model Sparrows have very mediocre hit rate in nearly every conflict they participated.
No, it still wouldn't have been pretty. But considering how low the bar was, and how badly a lot of pilots were trained (i.e. most were never instructed to maneuver into an ideal firing position tracking until programs like Top Gun), it's but inconceivable that the hit rate could double or even triple. It's also worth noting that, by the end of Vietnam, Sparrow hit rates had gone way up compared to the early years as aircrew got better training and learned the lessons of the war .


So essentially they would need fighters to do escort job and fighters to protect the battlegroup. Both actions required more fighters.
No. That's why there were two Squadrons of fighters on every carrier. In practice one would defend the fleet, the other would escort the strike. Again, not WWII. Planes are dropping in for torpedo runs out winging over into dives to drop bombs.


So they would try to persuade themselves that attacking carrier battlegroups with gravity bombs & short-range missiles would work against USSR, because it didn't supposed to work against USA? I see a logical contradiction here.
Um, no? Guided missiles would still be developed. Maybe the Harpoon shows up a few years early. That's about it.
 

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You have to take those numbers with a grain of salt. The ROEs that American Fighters were forced to operate under were ridiculously restrictive. They were not allowed to engage at beyond visual range. So then the Sparrow was forced into a role it wasn't meant for: short range dogfights. The numbers still wouldn't have been pretty without those ROEs, but they would still be a damn sight better than they were.
Also note, that even an inaccurate missile like the Great White Hope launched in salvos against a bomber formation (and escorts) is going to play havoc with any type of coordinated attack. I doubt Soviet engagement tactics would have been "ignore the missiles" regardless of their inaccuracy. Certainly wasn't how BUFFS treated SAMs.
Yeah, the AIM-54 was not a maneuverable missile, so fighters could jink out of the way relatively easily. But a bomber can't. Especially one that's loaded down with ASMs. To survive, those bombers will either have to dump their missiles and push their G-envelope to the limit, or launch blind and pray they get lucky (not such a long shot when your launching nuclear weapons, which was Soviet doctrine).
 

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Um, no? Guided missiles would still be developed. Maybe the Harpoon shows up a few years early. That's about it.
1950s thinking would probably not be about sea-skimmer like Harpoon. The paradigm of this time was "supersonic speed and nuclear wahreads". As was mentioned above, it is more probable that Navy would try to use ASM-N-8 Corvus as standoff anti-ship missile.
 

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Er, Mig-19S have a combat range of about 650 km
Where are you getting 650kms from? It's ferry range with drop tanks and no weapons was only 2,000kms. I would be shocked if it had a combat radius of more than 400kms


I suggested air-fuel catapult to solve the takeoff problem
You're still going to need afterburner to get off the deck. Not all catapults are created equal
 

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Yeah, the AIM-54 was not a maneuverable missile, so fighters could jink out of the way relatively easily. But a bomber can't. Especially one that's loaded down with ASMs. To survive, those bombers will either have to dump their missiles and push their G-envelope to the limit, or launch blind and pray they get lucky (not such a long shot when your launching nuclear weapons, which was Soviet doctrine).
Or rely on Tu-22P's jammers and chaffs to soft-kill the incoming missile.

or launch blind and pray they get lucky (not such a long shot when your launching nuclear weapons, which was Soviet doctrine).
Well, X-22PSN was a passive radar-seeker, so it could be launched blind & home on radar)
 

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Um, no? Guided missiles would still be developed. Maybe the Harpoon shows up a few years early. That's about it.
1950s thinking would probably not be about sea-skimmer like Harpoon. The paradigm of this time was "supersonic speed and nuclear wahreads". As was mentioned above, it is more probable that Navy would try to use ASM-N-8 Corvus as standoff anti-ship missile.
They also have the AGM-62 Walleye which has a pretty good standoff capability.
 

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It's also worth noting that, by the end of Vietnam, Sparrow hit rates had gone way up compared to the early years as aircrew got better training and learned the lessons of the war .
Mostly, they had gotten a new version of the Sparrow with better maneuverability and shorter minimum-range requirements.
 
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