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How would earlier Soviet carriers affect USN developement?

apparition13

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They only did that because at the start of the war, carrier air groups had only a single fighter squadron and it was very rapidly realized that they needed more fighters to both escort an outbound strike and defend against an inbound strike. And even then, they didn't replace an attack squadron. They just added an additional VF squadron. Usually while either transferring the bombers from the Scouting Squadron to the Bombing Squadron or redesignating the VS squadron as a VB squadron.
At the beginning of the war (per wiki):
  • 1 fighter squadron (VF) composed of 18 Grumman F4F Wildcats
  • 1 bombing squadron (VB) composed of 18 Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers
  • 1 scouting squadron (VS) composed of 18 Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers
  • 1 torpedo squadron (VT) composed of 18 Douglas TBD Devastator or Grumman TBF/TBM Avenger torpedo bombers
End of the war:
  • 1 squadron of 18 Grumman F6F Hellcat fighters
  • 4 squadrons of 72 Vought F4U Corsair fighter/bombers
  • 1 squadron of 12 Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers
Fighters went from 18 to 90, attack aircraft from 54 to 18. But the Corsairs could do the dive bombing mission too. And CAS.

I also doubt the F8U-3 would be carrying it.
Advanced F8U-3 configuration, four sidewinders and two Vought V-415A LRAAMs, which lost to the Bendix Eagle. Page 59, Naval Fighters 87, Tommy Thomason. It it could carry Vought's LRAAM, it should be able to carry Bendix's. Those missiles are all on the fuselage. Add wing pylons (like was done to the regular F-8) and 4 or even 6 might be possible. I don't know how much weight the variable incidence wings could take, but the two pylons on the F-8 were rated at 4000 pound each.

Except the Navy didn't want a dogfighter. It wanted a fleet defense interceptor. So yes, it would still go the F-111/F-14 (or similar) route.
If it can carry LRAAM, it can do the fleet defense mission. Better than the F-4, since it had more range. And if you really want a RIO, there were two seat proposals as well (page 11).

And the Super Tiger was never intended to be anything more than a daylight dogfighter armed with cannon and two Sidewinders...

No, they couldn't carry Sparrows. They were Sidewinder armed only.
Grumman Super Tiger Design 98J-2, Two Sparrow (outer wing pylons), 2 sidewinder (dorsal pylons). Page 43, Naval Fighters 44, Corwin Meyer.

And attack capabilities would have been similar to the Crusader. A few dumb bombs or rocket pods. Bomb trucks, they were not...

No, they don't. Again, the Super Tiger was not an attack aircraft. The Skyhawk could carry a much bigger bomb load than the F11F-2.
Design 98J-5, tested and flown. Center and inner wing pylons, 2000 pound capacity each, mid wing pylons 3500 pound capacity each, outer wing pylons, 1000 pound capacity each. Max total external load over 9000 pounds. Page 44, Naval Fighters 44. An APQ-50 radar with air to air and air to ground capability was to be fitted.

A-4 (D/E) max load, 8500 pounds.

Seems pretty similar to me, but the F-11 had two more wing pylons and the ventral pylons for two sidewinders. It can carry sidewinders without taking up wing stations, and it can also self-escort, which the A-4 can't.

This is the version proposed to Germany (and others) in competition with the F-104. The F-104 was used for air defense (2 wings), recon (2 wings), naval attack (2 wings), and strike (5 wings). The German Air Force wanted the Super Tiger, it would have had the same mission set as the Starfighter. Including strike, both over land nuclear and over water anti-shipping.

Buccs would still be useful, but if F-15s and F-16s can't catch Buccaneers flying at 20 feet over Nevada during Red Flag Mig 19s aren't going to catch them 20 feet over the sea. Add Rb04s for standoff and the situation gets even worse for the Soviets.
Ummmmm, citation? Also, Red Flag is a training exercise, not real combat. In training exercises, there are often rules in place to allow things to happen that would never be allowed in actual combat. Usually to test specific systems or tactics.
Mission planning starting around 2:30, low level flight at 4:00, avoiding the CAP at 4:36, debrief with CAP at 9:15.

I may be off on the fighters though. No F-16s cited that I can find (although I think I read that somewhere, but I may be wrong), but it was late 70s to early 80s so F-16s were possible. Red Flag 77-9, so September 77, was the first time that Buccs, and the RAF, flew there. They did go up against F-5s and F-15s. Including, according to this article, two F-15 kills by dropping retarded bombs in their face. Which led to adding Sidewinder to their capability, and it seems they got a few kills with those, I gather by taking out fighters attacking another of their flight, fighters who got a little too fixated on the Buccaneer they were after and forgot to check their six.

Favorite bit from the interview: they had been flying at 10 feet at 540 knots, but that left dust trails so they climbed to 20. There may be some embelishment there, but it was definitely under 100, and I have heard tales of barbed wire found on Buccaneers after Red Flag missions. I suspect if you grazed a fence at 540 you might do more than graze the ground a second later, but you know fighter pilots, they don't embellish nothin'.
 

lordroel

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So, by mid-1960s, USSR have four light 20.000-ton carriers in Pacific and four in Northern Fleet. Roughly they are:
Well at least no carrier are assigned to the Baltic Fleet, but one could be assigned there to train and use as a ASW platform.
 

EwenS

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They only did that because at the start of the war, carrier air groups had only a single fighter squadron and it was very rapidly realized that they needed more fighters to both escort an outbound strike and defend against an inbound strike. And even then, they didn't replace an attack squadron. They just added an additional VF squadron. Usually while either transferring the bombers from the Scouting Squadron to the Bombing Squadron or redesignating the VS squadron as a VB squadron.
At the beginning of the war (per wiki):
  • 1 fighter squadron (VF) composed of 18 Grumman F4F Wildcats
  • 1 bombing squadron (VB) composed of 18 Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers
  • 1 scouting squadron (VS) composed of 18 Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers
  • 1 torpedo squadron (VT) composed of 18 Douglas TBD Devastator or Grumman TBF/TBM Avenger torpedo bombers
End of the war:
  • 1 squadron of 18 Grumman F6F Hellcat fighters
  • 4 squadrons of 72 Vought F4U Corsair fighter/bombers
  • 1 squadron of 12 Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers
Fighters went from 18 to 90, attack aircraft from 54 to 18. But the Corsairs could do the dive bombing mission too. And CAS.

That exaggerates the change and ignores what was in the pipeline in 1945.

The 1941 air group is certainly typical for the time. But the 1945 air group is based around the Essex class and overstates the fighter element by 18 aircraft. In reality a typical Essex airgroup of about 102 aircraft in mid-1945 comprised:-

1 VF squadron (36 F6F or F4U fighters including 2 F6F-5P photo aircraft and a night fighter flight of 4 F6F-5N)
1 VBF squadron (36 F6F or F4U fighters)
1 VB squadron (15 SB2C dive bombers)
1 VT squadron (15 TBM torpedo bombers)

In some cases the VF and VBF squadrons operated the same aircraft type, either all F6F or all F4U, but in others the VF squadron had F6F and the VBF squadron had F4U.

There are official records freely available on the internet showing the composition of USN carrier air groups every week or so from Jan 1942 to Sept 1945.

Friedman in his "Fighters Over the Fleet" notes that after Okinawa the carrier air groups were to be reorganised as more bombing would be required (he cites a Memo for Asst Sec of the navy for Air A1-3/VV dated 7 June 1945). Had the war gone on BuAer anticipated that by Oct 1946 the TBM would be eliminated altogether being replaced by still more SB2C. The elimination of the TBM was to be possible by clearing the SB2C to drop torpedoes and while work on this had been carried out and then dropped in 1943, it was restarted in 1945 in the Replacement Training Squadron VB-97 based at WIldwood.

The plan was that by Oct 1945 the number of fighters in each CV air group would reduce from 72 to 55 and torpedo planes from 15 to 12. Meanwhile the number of SB2C dive bombers would increase from 15 to 32.

At the same time the TBM torpedo bomber was to be eliminated from the CVL air groups, which would then increase their fighter complement from 24 to 36 aircraft. You can see this change beginning to be implemented by looking at the "Location of US Naval Aircraft" report for 4 Aug 1945 where the Pacific CVLGs are all noted to have their VT squadrons due "to decommission".

The changes were also to affect the air groups planned for the Midway class CVB. Here the number of fighters to be embarked was to fall from 97 to 73, while the number of dive bombers was to increase from 64 to 73.

At the same time the F6F would be replaced by the F8F Bearcat on many carriers (the first squadron VF-19 went aboard Hornet in Sept 1945)
 

Grey Havoc

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It should have occurred to me before, but another possible consequence of Soviet carriers arriving on the scene earlier would be the USN Subcarrier program coming to fruition (1963 design shown below, h/t Michel Van & Julio Garay Terrazas).

submarino_portaaviones-jpg.638802
 

Archibald

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An APQ-50 radar with air to air and air to ground capability was to be fitted.
The beauty of that was Westinghouse creating two variants of APQ-50
- APQ-64 for Sparrow II (and Skylancer)
- APQ-72 for Sparrow III (and early Phantoms)

The APQ-50 itself was the Skyray radar. Very early on the Phantom also planned to use it; but Westinghouse was told to grow the antenna from 24 inch to 32 inch, in turn forcing McDonnell to create the familiar bulbous nose of post YF-4H Phantoms.

In my alternate history Canadian Westinghouse take a licence for all three variants; and goes a step further growing the antenna to 40-inch for the Arrow, right from 1955-56... avoiding the RCA Astra-1 (and Sparrow II) expensive boondoggles; saving the entire program down the road, a day of 1959...
 
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GK Dundas

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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?
At the time we moving towards American equipment.
Towards that end I would expect Ontario and Quebec losing their aft 6" turret Being replaced by a Mk10 launcher with Terrier missiles.
 

isayyo2

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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?
At the time we moving towards American equipment.
Towards that end I would expect Ontario and Quebec losing their aft 6" turret Being replaced by a Mk10 launcher with Terrier missiles.
The Minotaur Class was just bit larger than the Terrier toting Leahy and Farragut classes; could be an interesting build on Shipbucket.
 

GK Dundas

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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?
At the time we moving towards American equipment.
Towards that end I would expect Ontario and Quebec losing their aft 6" turret Being replaced by a Mk10 launcher with Terrier missiles.
The Minotaur Class was just bit larger than the Terrier toting Leahy and Farragut classes; could be an interesting build on Shipbucket.
I would dearly love to see that too ,add to that Bonnie now armed with supertigers and skyhawks .And there you have 2/3s of Hellyer's "Global Mobile Force".
And all done by the despised navy.
I suspect he'd have had a stroke!
 
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royabulgaf

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The thing is, the purpose of SSNs was to stay underwater forever. So, you surface for 1/2 hour or so at point A and make lots of noise. Then, go to point B at a fixed time, hang around for a half hour or so, and make a lot of noise. Meanwhile, that sub could hold a trainload of underwater launched, fire and forget cruise missiles, and do away with a watertight door the size of a tennis court.
 

CV12Hornet

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I think the main change for the US Navy is more investment in antiship weapons, ending the discontinuity between the late-WWII efforts and the program that led to Harpoon. I think they had all the components they needed IOTL in terms of ships and aircraft - OTL fighter designs and numbers, not to mention SAMs, were designed to beat off large land-based strikes and would have done just as well against carrier strikes. And the strike aircraft would mostly just need modification to perform maritime strike. Though I do think there would be more of a skew to medium attackers like the Intruder over light attackers like the Skyhawk and Corsair, especially as the Essex-class age out of the fleet.

What the US Navy didn't have - and arguably still doesn't have - was the weaponry to do so, not against carrier targets. Harpoon finally gave US Navy ships and aircraft credible over-the-horizon antiship capability, and it only came into being in 1977. Further, while its warhead is sufficient for most surface combatants for sinking carriers you ideally want something bigger.

The big missed opportunity seems to be the Gargoyle missile, which would be sufficient in the late 1940s but would need to be replaced with more accurate and longer-ranged missiles as Soviet defensive systems progress. I expect this would also prompt earlier study into SEAD operations, given the more pressing need to penetrate Soviet naval SAM screens. And potentially further development of the Regulus II; a smaller warhead and a range cut would probably be sufficient to fit a decent terminal guidance system.

One interesting change that might come about: IOTL the US Navy briefly flirted with the Buccaneer S.2 before settling on the Intruder. But while the Intruder is the better bomb truck the Buccaneer is the better maritime strike aircraft, particularly in its ability to fit a 4000-lb weapon in its bomb bay, where the Intruder maxed out at 3000 lbs on its strongest pylons. US Navy Buccaneers would be very cool.
 

uk 75

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You do not need to sink an aircraft carrier to render its airgroup useless.
A well aimed torpedo can destroy its rudder, a bomb or missile hit on the island or parked aircraft on deck can stop it operating for some time.
 

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