Larger British light fleet carriers?

EwenS

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I'm having popcorn and enjoying the debate so far. Also taking notes. More and more thinking that Audacious vs Implacable vs Centaur was a no-choice: all of them were flawed, one way or another. I'm leaning toward the side of "old carriers in the jet era are hopeless, build new ones you dummy RN."
Agreed that they are all flawed. But as with everything else in life there are compromises to be made. The Illustrious/Implacables are IMHO not worth the effort of reconstruction and by the 1960s Victorious was too small. The Centaurs (first 3) are OK for the 1950s but are too small when you come to the 1960s and the need to operate the Buccaneer and an aircraft larger/more powerful than the Sea Venom. Hermes is like Victorious.

The best solution would have been a completely new design in the late 1950s or early 1960s. Whether that should be CVA-01 or not I can't make up my mind about. Opinions on that design in everything I read seem to be divided. But whatever way you look at it, by about 1960 for a conventional carrier with a meaningful sized airgroup to operate state of the art strike & fighter aircraft seems to need a ship of 55,000+ tons deep displacement. Larger would have been nice but the facilities don't allow (another case of lack of investment since the 1920s). But no one wants to actually write the cheque for that so we kept patching up what we had to last a bit longer until the money could become available. Which of course it didn't until the 1997 Defence Review leading to the QEs. Light at the end of the tunnel after 30+ years.
 

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The problem is post 1957, the aircraft balloon in size, weight and TO&L speeds/energy.
Result is the Medium Fleet Carrier petters out 1958 and a new effort begins 1959....which becomes CVA-01
However curiously I seem to recall that from an initial 45,000ton concept they resolved around a 50,000ton one.....only to be told by the minister to go back and come up with more.

Meanwhile the hybrid Guided Weapon Ship/Carrier of 30,000tons drifted on until I think 1960 or even '62.
Likely because it was a platform for NIGS and died with it.
 

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But whatever way you look at it, by about 1960 for a conventional carrier with a meaningful sized airgroup to operate state of the art strike & fighter aircraft seems to need a ship of 55,000+ tons deep displacement. Larger would have been nice but the facilities don't allow (another case of lack of investment since the 1920s).

The French were stuck at a maximum of 42000 - 45000 tons (PA58 Verdun & CdG territory). Wondering whether a carrier alliance with the British would allow them to bust that limit, if only for Phantoms with SNECMA Speys (in place of TF30s).
Don't forget that the Clems used a shortened BS-5 (can't remember the exact length, think it was 150 ft or a bit more, when the Audacious had the full length at 200 ft or more). Circa 1956 the Medium Fleet carrier studies you mentions had a true clone of PA58 - every single dimension evenly matched. I put them side by side on this forum a while back, I'll try to find the thread and post.
 

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But whatever way you look at it, by about 1960 for a conventional carrier with a meaningful sized airgroup to operate state of the art strike & fighter aircraft seems to need a ship of 55,000+ tons deep displacement. Larger would have been nice but the facilities don't allow (another case of lack of investment since the 1920s).

The French were stuck at a maximum of 42000 - 45000 tons (PA58 Verdun & CdG territory). Wondering whether a carrier alliance with the British would allow them to bust that limit, if only for Phantoms with SNECMA Speys (in place of TF30s).
Don't forget that the Clems used a shortened BS-5 (can't remember the exact length, think it was 150 ft or a bit more, when the Audacious had the full length at 200 ft or more). Circa 1956 the Medium Fleet carrier studies you mentions had a true clone of PA58 - every single dimension evenly matched. I put them side by side on this forum a while back, I'll try to find the thread and post.
Eagle and Ark as modernised in the 1960s had one BS5 at 151ft long on the bow and one at 199ft long in the waist position.
 

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Link to the Opening Post - i.e. Post 1.
Link to Post 61.
Link to Post 76.
I addressed some of your comments in Post 61.
The 10 Colossus class were designed to operate aircraft weighing up to 15,000lb. The 6 Majestic class were ordered as Colossus class but they were modified to operate 20,000lb aircraft whilst under construction. The Centaur class was designed to operate 30,000lb aircraft and that was the major reason for the increase in size and more powerful machinery.

So firstly the Admiralty has to introduce the 30,000lb aircraft limit early enough for the first 16 light fleet carriers to be built as Centaurs instead of Colossuses and Majestics. My guess is that it has to be at least two years earlier. I have no idea what would make them do that.
I still have no idea what would make them do that.

However, the Opening Post asks, what if they did it? Not, why would they do it?

Neither was the Opening Post intended to provoke several dissertations on all the (admittedly good) reasons why they wouldn't and/or couldn't do it.
The next problem is to find the extra labour and steel needed to build the larger hull and the more powerful machinery. This probably means the cruisers Blake, Hawke, Lion and Tiger are suspended before they were laid down to provide said labour and steel. They'd be re-ordered as Neptune class cruisers in 1944 and cancelled at the end of the war. The material, money and labour used 1954-61 to complete Blake, Lion and Tiger can be used to do something else and there will be no temptation to convert them into interim escort cruisers because they won't exist.
I thought it was implicit (although admittedly not explicit) when I wrote it that suspending the cruisers Blake, Hawke, Lion and Tiger would allow the 16 Centaurs built instead of the 16 Colossus/Majestic class to be built in the same length of time as well as providing the labour and material required to build the larger hulls and more powerful machinery.

I didn't explicitly say so by writing it in the post, because my writing speed make's Paul Simon's work rate look like Prince's (for example I began writing this soon after you uploaded Post 76) and my intention was to write a summary and it was becoming more detailed, a lot longer in length and taking a lot longer in time to write than I'd intended.

Since then I've come to the conclusion that it would be necessary to sacrifice the cruisers Minotaur, Swiftsure and Superb to provide the necessary labour and materials (in particular the extra boilers) to build 16 Centaur class instead of the 16 Colossus and Majestic class ships AND in the same length of time.

Before your reply I'm aware that Minotaur and Swiftsure were laid down before the first Colossus. I'm also aware that Tiger was laid down before the first Colossus too. However, as the decision to introduce the 30,000lb limit for aircraft carriers has to be made at least 2 years earlier in this "version of history" there is enough time for the Admiralty to decide to suspend these ships before they were laid down.

I'm aware that the pp length of a Centaur was 20 feet longer than a Colossus/Majestic (650ft v 630ft) and the waterline beam was 10 feet wider (90ft v 80ft). Therefore, some of the ships might have to be built in different yards.

Do you know whether the slips that the seven cruisers that I'm sacrificing to build 16 Centaurs instead of 16 Colossus/Majestic class were long enough? According to Conway's 1922-46 the dimensions of Minotaur and Swiftsure were pp length 538ft and beam 63ft at the waterline.
Moving to the end of the war, with delays to laying Centaurised Colossus ships down and longer build times the result is fewer wartime completions and more ships of the class further away from completion. Without the need for for the historic Centaurs to be worked on to clear the slips money is saved but that doesn't mean that it would automatically flow to completing the Theseus & Triumph (Warrior had been promised to Canada who were keen to get into the carrier game but were happy to see Magnificent, which was not that far from completion historically, laid up). Stopping work on Majestic, Leviathan, Powerful & Terrible historically saved about £3.2m. That sum would be greater if they were building as Centaurs.
I've already explained why I think the ten Centaurised Colossus ships (plus Magnificent and Terrible) which were twelve ships completed by the end of 1948 in the "real world" would be laid down at the same time and completed in the same length of time.

According to Marriott in Royal Navy Aircraft Carriers 1945-1990 HMAS Melbourne (ex-Majestic) cost £A8,309,000 when completed in 1955 and Centaur cost £10,500,000 Sterling when completed in 1953. As far as I know the exchange rate at the time was £A1.00 = £1.25 Sterling so Melbourne's cost was £10,386,000 Sterling rounded down to the nearest thousand. I don't know how much HMAS Sydney and HMCS Magnificent cost when completed in 1948. It was probably less because of inflation and neither of them had a steam catapult.

Off the top of my head HM Treasury was paying about £600 million a year to service a National Debt of £32 billion in the second half of the 1940s and £12.8 million (I'm assuming that it was £3.2 million per ship) is a trifling sum in comparison.

As I understand it the Admiralty's problem in the Austerity Era wasn't a shortage of money. It was a shortage of shipbuilding resources which had to be concentrated on building merchant ships to replace war losses so the Merchant Navy could earn more badly needed foreign currency and on foreign orders as part of the Export Drive because the Treasury needed all the foreign currency the British economy could earn. That's the overriding reason for the cancellation and/or suspension of so many ships at the end of the war and why the ships that were completed took so long to build.

So it's more a question of whether the material resources were available to complete the ships by the end of 1948, rather than the financial resources and if they weren't what had to be sacrificed. I had earlier written that the resources released by cancelling Albion, Bulwark, Centaur and Hermes at the end of the war (or not laying them down in the first place) were used to accelerate the completion of Ark Royal & Eagle and complete the third Audacious. I might have to revise that and say that between 1946 and 1948 they were used to complete Hercules, Leviathan, Majestic and Powerful by the end of 1948.

Before anyone replies. I appreciate that the resources required to complete the fitting out of a ship may not be the same as the resources required to complete a ship as far as the launching stage.

They probably go straight into reserve or other ships have to be paid off to provide the crews, which is something I intend to discuss in a later post.

According to Conway's 1922-46 the original design of the Centaur class had a crew of 1,380 which is 80 more than the 1,300 it quotes for the Colossus and Majestic classes. My guess is that the difference was due to the Centaurs having machinery that was twice as powerful.

Part Two (if I ever write it) will be about how they will be used by foreign navies that operated Colossus and Majestic class carriers in the "real world" and whether they will have the men and money to make use of the extra capability of the Centaur design.

Part Thee (if I ever write it) is intended to be what happens between 1948 and the Suez War which takes in the Nine Year Plan, Revised Restricted Fleet, the 1951 Rearmament Programme and the Radical Review of 1954.

Part Four (if I ever write it) is intended to be the Sandys Defence Review through to the late 1960s or 1970s.

However, at present I'm busy writing replies to the replies to Part One.
 
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But whatever way you look at it, by about 1960 for a conventional carrier with a meaningful sized air group to operate state of the art strike & fighter aircraft seems to need a ship of 55,000+ tons deep displacement. Larger would have been nice but the facilities don't allow (another case of lack of investment since the 1920s).
The French were stuck at a maximum of 42000 - 45000 tons (PA58 Verdun & CdG territory). Wondering whether a carrier alliance with the British would allow them to bust that limit, if only for Phantoms with SNECMA Speys (in place of TF30s).
Don't forget that the Clems used a shortened BS-5 (can't remember the exact length, think it was 150 ft or a bit more, when the Audacious had the full length at 200 ft or more). Circa 1956 the Medium Fleet carrier studies you mentions had a true clone of PA58 - every single dimension evenly matched. I put them side by side on this forum a while back, I'll try to find the thread and post.
Eagle and Ark as modernised in the 1960s had one BS5 at 151ft long on the bow and one at 199ft long in the waist position.
For what it's worth John Jordan on Page 23 of An Illustrated Guide to Modern Naval Aviation and Aircraft Carriers wrote that both catapults were 170ft 7in (52m) long but that might be the total length and not the "stroke" length. The entry on the Clemenceau class in Conway's 1947-1995 also says that they were 52m long but not whether it was the stroke or the total length.

While I have the book on my lap the pair of catapults on PA58 would have been 78m long, but again Conway's 1947-1995 doesn't say whether it was the stroke or total length. 78 metres is 255 feet 11 inches rounded up to the nearest inch.
 

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But whatever way you look at it, by about 1960 for a conventional carrier with a meaningful sized air group to operate state of the art strike & fighter aircraft seems to need a ship of 55,000+ tons deep displacement. Larger would have been nice but the facilities don't allow (another case of lack of investment since the 1920s).
The French were stuck at a maximum of 42000 - 45000 tons (PA58 Verdun & CdG territory). Wondering whether a carrier alliance with the British would allow them to bust that limit, if only for Phantoms with SNECMA Speys (in place of TF30s).
Don't forget that the Clems used a shortened BS-5 (can't remember the exact length, think it was 150 ft or a bit more, when the Audacious had the full length at 200 ft or more). Circa 1956 the Medium Fleet carrier studies you mentions had a true clone of PA58 - every single dimension evenly matched. I put them side by side on this forum a while back, I'll try to find the thread and post.
Eagle and Ark as modernised in the 1960s had one BS5 at 151ft long on the bow and one at 199ft long in the waist position.
For what it's worth John Jordan on Page 23 of An Illustrated Guide to Modern Naval Aviation and Aircraft Carriers wrote that both catapults were 170ft 7in (52m) long but that might be the total length and not the "stroke" length. The entry on the Clemenceau class in Conway's 1947-1995 also says that they were 52m long but not whether it was the stroke or the total length.

While I have the book on my lap the pair of catapults on PA58 would have been 78m long, but again Conway's 1947-1995 doesn't say whether it was the stroke or total length. 78 metres is 255 feet 11 inches rounded up to the nearest inch.
For what they're worth I've made some crude calculations using the plan view drawing of Clemenceau in Jordan's book.

According to them the distance between the bow (not including the bridle catcher) and the forward lift is 229ft 10in and the length of the catapult is 188ft 9in.
 

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Hermes had 1x175ft & 1x151ft BS.4 rated at 50,000lb at 94 knots.
According to Freidman in British Carrier Aviation Hermes was completed with a pair of 151ft stroke BS.4 catapults.

I've assumed that one was lengthened to 175ft as part of her 1964-66 refit. Have I assumed correctly? Or was Friedman wrong? His books aren't immune from typographic errors.

For what it's worth the photographs of Hermes taken before and after the refit along with the line drawings in contemporary editions of Jane's Fighting Ships suggest that I have assumed correctly.
 

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Blake - Fairfield, Clyde
Hawke - Portsmouth DY
Lion - ie Defence. Scotts, Clyde
Tiger - ie Bellerophon. John Brown, Clyde
Minotaur - H&W Belfast
Superb - Swan Hunter, Tyne
Swiftsure - VA(Tyne)

The labour problem is far more complex than you suggest. Portsmouth DY, Scotts & John Brown were not involved in the Colossus/Majestic or Centaur programmes. You assume that the labour is free to be transferred to other yards building carriers. But was it?

All the yards had other work that could absorb "spare" labour internally. Priorities issued by the Admiralty, often under pressure from Churchill, kept changing, requiring yards to move labour internally from one project to another (work stopped on Bellerophon in early 1942 when the effort was ordered switched to Vanguard. It didn't start again until mid 1943. So no labour there to shift to another yard building a carrier or to take on such a build). Whole ship orders were moved from one yard to another to best utilise the labour (2xR class DD from Fairfield to John Brown in 1941 for example). Fairfield had more work than they could handle through most of the war, which is highlighted by their inability to lay Monmouth down in 1944 leading to its replacement in the Centaur programme with Bulwark at H&W in early 1945.

Scotts especially got a bad reputation for not being able to complete ships and submarines quickly enough for the Admiralty. That was something that went on until the end of the war. 3 Weapon class destroyer ordered in Apr/May 1943 were cancelled in Dec 1944 (10-12 months before the general round of cancellations) because there was no sign of the yard being able to start them any time soon. Labour was at times taken away from Defence to expedite completion of destroyers in the yard. So if it is decided to cancel Defence altogether then I'm sure the yard would be keener to reallocate them internally to speed up other ships they were under pressure to deliver than give that labour up to another yard.

Ask yourself why John Brown took 4 years to launch Bellerophon when Fiji & Bermuda took 14 and 22 months. Or Fairfield 40 months to launch Blake when Phoebe (their last cruiser unaffected by wartime suspensions) took 18. Such was the pressure in 1941 that there were long periods shortage of labour stopped work on ships like Implacable & Bellona altogether.

So if you want to transfer more labour beteen yards you need to first get the priorities sorted both overall and then within each individual yard. And that would mean raising the priority of the light carriers beyond the historical and above projects like Vanguard and the LST(3).

I recommend "Building for Victory" by George Moore, if you can track down a copy, to understand the historical pressures on major warship building in Britain in WW2.
 

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Re the discussions on the capacities of various catapults.

I compiled this from the copy of British Aircraft Carriers: Design, Development and Service Histories by David Hobbs on Scribd.

British Aircraft Carrier Catapults According to Hobbs.png

NB it didn't say what the launching capacities of the two BS.4s that Ark Royal was completed with. So I used the figures for Hermes which seem to be their capacities after her 1964-66 refit.

Hobbs explicitly says that both of her catapults could launch 50,000 at an end speed of 94 knots. Viz:-
2 x BS.4, port 175ft stroke; starboard 151ft stroke; both 50,000lb at 94 knots.
 

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Link to Post 89.
I appreciate that it won't be easy. However, not being easy is not the same as not being possible.

As I understand it the long building times for the Swiftsure class cruisers were because other work was given greater priority for the limited industrial resources. I'm also aware that priorities were constantly changing. That's why I'm suggesting that the entire Swiftsure class would have to be suspended in 1941 to make what @Lascaris wants to happen happen.

Re the problem of transferring personnel between shipyards my understanding is that the Government gave itself the power to conscript workers and send them wherever it thought fit. The most extreme example being the Bevin Boys. For those that don't know they were men of military age that were conscripted to work in the coal mines instead of the armed forces.

I've spent a day justifying Part One. If what I've suggested is impossible is there any point in me continuing?
 

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Hermes had 1x175ft & 1x151ft BS.4 rated at 50,000lb at 94 knots.
According to Freidman in British Carrier Aviation Hermes was completed with a pair of 151ft stroke BS.4 catapults.

I've assumed that one was lengthened to 175ft as part of her 1964-66 refit. Have I assumed correctly? Or was Friedman wrong? His books aren't immune from typographic errors.

For what it's worth the photographs of Hermes taken before and after the refit along with the line drawings in contemporary editions of Jane's Fighting Ships suggest that I have assumed correctly.
Ark completed with 2x BS4 (151ft stroke). Hobbs "British Carrier Aviation" & Cooper "Farnborough & the Fleet Air Arm"

Her 1967-70 refit saw these upgraded to BS5 with forward one at 151ft long and waist at 199ft long. Hobbs again.

Hermes BS4 1959 2xBS4 151ft stroke as per Friedman. 1964-66 refit BS4 175ft port side and 151ft starboard side. Hobbs & Cooper again plus McCart "HMS Hermes 1959-1989".

Victorious 2xBS4 of 145ft stroke. Hobbs & Cooper

Eagle 1959-64 refit 2xBS5. 151ft stroke forward, 199ft waist. Hobbs

Confusingly Cooper refers to the cats in Ark & Eagle as still being BS4 despite their being noted elsewhere as BS5. But the lengths all agree.
 

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Hermes had 1x175ft & 1x151ft BS.4 rated at 50,000lb at 94 knots.
According to Freidman in British Carrier Aviation Hermes was completed with a pair of 151ft stroke BS.4 catapults.

I've assumed that one was lengthened to 175ft as part of her 1964-66 refit. Have I assumed correctly? Or was Friedman wrong? His books aren't immune from typographic errors.

For what it's worth the photographs of Hermes taken before and after the refit along with the line drawings in contemporary editions of Jane's Fighting Ships suggest that I have assumed correctly.
Ark completed with 2x BS4 (151ft stroke). Hobbs "British Carrier Aviation" & Cooper "Farnborough & the Fleet Air Arm"

Her 1967-70 refit saw these upgraded to BS5 with forward one at 151ft long and waist at 199ft long. Hobbs again.

Hermes BS4 1959 2xBS4 151ft stroke as per Friedman. 1964-66 refit BS4 175ft port side and 151ft starboard side. Hobbs & Cooper again plus McCart "HMS Hermes 1959-1989".

Victorious 2xBS4 of 145ft stroke. Hobbs & Cooper

Eagle 1959-64 refit 2xBS5. 151ft stroke forward, 199ft waist. Hobbs

Confusingly Cooper refers to the cats in Ark & Eagle as still being BS4 despite their being noted elsewhere as BS5. But the lengths all agree.
So Hermes did have one of its catapults (the port one) extended from 151ft to 175ft in her 1964-66 refit.

And the rest is exactly the same as the table in Post 90 which was from Hobbs.
 

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I've spent a day justifying Part One. If what I've suggested is impossible is there any point in me continuing?
On the building side there are far too many variables in play down to the level of individual yards in different geographical areas and the ships building in them to be able to determine whether the outcome of this scenario might be possible. So for me the scenario is impossible unless you want to move completely into the realms of fantasy and ignore all the historical constraints. So I'm giving up on this thought exercise. I'll leave it to you to decide if you want to continue.
 

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The forward of two 52 metres (171 ft) catapults is at the bow to port, the aft catapult is on the forward area of angled landing deck.

Sooooo right between Hermes, initial, and Audacious ? Make some sense as Clems clearly were closer in size from Hermes than Audacious.

50 m would be 164 feet and I indeed remember the Foch & Clems catapults were 50 m or 52 m long - in contrast with 75 m for the CdG, which catapults are Nimitz C-13s; except shortened from 90 m+ to 75 meters.

44 m = 145 ft (Victorious, no surprise it had difficulties launching Phantoms)
46 m = 151 ft (Hermes initially, Ark, Eagle initially and FORWARD)
50 m = 164 ft
52 m = 171 ft (Foch & Clem BS-5)
54 m = 177 ft (Hermes longuest)

60 m = 199 ft (Ark & Eagle = WAIST )

75 m = 246 ft (CdG)

90 m = 296 ft
93 m = 306 ft
94 m = 310 ft

Fun to think a rebuild Hermes ended with slightly longer cats than the brand new Clemenceaus. It also explains why both had some difficulties operating Phantoms safely and essentially never did it.

And indeed Wikipedia has the varied breeds of C-13s, with their respective carriers.

1653494444380.png
 
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The Mirage G is the closest thing from a MiG-23 the West ever had. Except it was better. It combined a big and massive SNECMA TF306 (cured of many lethal flaws) and Dassault savoir faire. End result: it touched down at 108 kt only, for a 16 tons aircraft.
FWIW Michel Tanguy was Mirage G's test pilot in this episode of Les chevaliers du ciel or The Aeronauts as it was known on British TV.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQj4MVRj_YQ

In an earlier episode he was flying the Mirage IIIV or Balzac.
 
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Are you mixing that up with the 14 Buccaneers that Ark Royal normally carried. As far as I know she never embarked more than 12 Sea Vixens or 12 Phantoms.

If you're getting your figures from the Navypaedia entry I don't see 14 Sea Vixens anywhere. However, it does say 6 Sea Vixens and 14 Whirlwinds on Ark Royal in 1960. The first seems too low and the second seems too high so it could be a transposition error.
EAGLE fleet aircraft carriers (2(1), 1951 - 1955)
Same site as Eagle but for Ark Royal's page. Scroll down to 1962 for the 14-Sea Vixen squadron.
It's not the same website that you provided for Eagle, but yes it does show Ark Royal carrying 14 Sea Vixens from March 1962 to October 1966.

Also this source says that Ark Royal only carried 8 Phantoms and 12 Buccaneers from June 1970 to December 1978.
 

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Link to Post 90 about catapults.
These are the sizes and maximum lifting capacities from the same source which was the copy of British Aircraft Carriers: Design, Development and Service Histories by David Hobbs on Scribd.

British Aircraft Carrier Lifts According to Hobbs.png

Hobbs wrote that Illustrious later had its lifts enlarged and strengthened. He didn't say what the maximum loads for Indomitable, Implacable and Unicorn were which is why the table says n.a.
 
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Clems clearly were closer in size from Hermes than Audacious.
Clemenceau vs. Hermes makes for an interesting comparison.

Here's a side-by-side view of both carriers in Shipbucket scale (2px = 1ft), with F-8 Crusaders. Hermes has 33 aircraft spots vs. 47 for Clemenceau.

Practical capacity (per USN standards) would be 75-80% of this number, so roughly 26 F-8s on Hermes vs. 36 on Clemeanceau. Then subtract 4-6 for AEW/ASW... so 20 fast jets on Hermes vs. 30 on Clemenceau.

So Hermes has roughly 2/3rds the air wing capacity as Clemenceau. However in other key respects Hermes is actually much worse (e.g. max alpha strike size and ability to keep a catapult clear for alert launches)... the problem is Hermes' shallow angled deck and lack of a waist catapult, which really eat into free deck parking. Plus the rather small hangar.

So my idea of 4 Centaurs upgraded to Hermes standard may not be so great after all...
 

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Link to Post 90 about catapults.
Link to Post 99 about lift dimensions and their maximum loads.
These are the hangar dimensions according to the copy of British Aircraft Carriers: Design, Development and Service Histories by David Hobbs on Scribd. The dimensions are in feet and inches.

British Aircraft Carrier Hangar Dimensions According to Hobbs.png

Edit 26.05.22: See the comments of @EwenS in Post 112 about the lower hangar of Indomitable.
 
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Clems clearly were closer in size from Hermes than Audacious.
Clemenceau vs. Hermes makes for an interesting comparison.

Here's a side-by-side view of both carriers in Shipbucket scale (2px = 1ft), with F-8 Crusaders. Hermes has 33 aircraft spots vs. 47 for Clemenceau.

Practical capacity (per USN standards) would be 75-80% of this number, so roughly 26 F-8s on Hermes vs. 36 on Clemeanceau. Then subtract 4-6 for AEW/ASW... so 20 fast jets on Hermes vs. 30 on Clemenceau.

So Hermes has roughly 2/3rds the air wing capacity as Clemenceau. However in other key respects Hermes is actually much worse (e.g. max alpha strike size and ability to keep a catapult clear for alert launches)... the problem is Hermes' shallow angled deck and lack of a waist catapult, which really eat into free deck parking. Plus the rather small hangar.

So my idea of 4 Centaurs upgraded to Hermes standard may not be so great after all...
Re what you wrote about the hangars.

John Jordan on Page 23 of An Illustrated Guide to Modern Naval Aviation and Aircraft Carriers wrote that Clemenceau's hangar dimensions were:

499ft useable length x 72-79ft width x an overhead clearance of 23ft.​

This compares extremely well to Hermes whose hangar dimensions from the table in post 101 were:

356 length x 62ft width x 17ft 6in overhead clearance.​
499ft x 72ft = a hangar area of 35,928 feet which is 50% greater than Hermes (22,072 square feet) and that multiplied by 23ft produces a volume of 826,344 cubic feet more than double Hermes (386,260 cubic feet).

The extra 10 to 17 feet of hangar width was more useful than the extra 143 feet of length because it made two and three abreast stowage (according to the type) easier.
 

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Clems clearly were closer in size from Hermes than Audacious.
Clemenceau vs. Hermes makes for an interesting comparison.

Here's a side-by-side view of both carriers in Shipbucket scale (2px = 1ft), with F-8 Crusaders. Hermes has 33 aircraft spots vs. 47 for Clemenceau.

Practical capacity (per USN standards) would be 75-80% of this number, so roughly 26 F-8s on Hermes vs. 36 on Clemeanceau. Then subtract 4-6 for AEW/ASW... so 20 fast jets on Hermes vs. 30 on Clemenceau.

So Hermes has roughly 2/3rds the air wing capacity as Clemenceau. However in other key respects Hermes is actually much worse (e.g. max alpha strike size and ability to keep a catapult clear for alert launches)... the problem is Hermes' shallow angled deck and lack of a waist catapult, which really eat into free deck parking. Plus the rather small hangar.

So my idea of 4 Centaurs upgraded to Hermes standard may not be so great after all...
For what it's worth the lifts are about the same size and Clemenceau's maximum load is 10% greater:

Hermes 54ft x 34ft deck-edge forward and 54ft x 44ft centre-line aft, both maximum load 40,000lbs.​
Clemenceau 56ft x 43ft centre-line forward and 52ft x 36ft deck-edge aft, both maximum load 44,000lbs.​

It looks like Clemenceau could operate Buccaneers, which have smaller folded dimensions than an Etendard.
 

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Just a moment.....did the AN ever consider the Buccaneer?
 

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It looks like Clemenceau could operate Buccaneers, which have smaller folded dimensions than an Etendard.
Hermes could still carry a useful air group of 20-24 fast jets (Scimitar, Sea Vixen, Buccaneer, Crusader, Skyhawk, Etendard… doesn’t really matter as they all had similar folded dimensions).
From the tables that I recently posted:

Buccaneer dimensions
Extended - 63ft 5in x 42ft 4in​
Folded - 51ft 10in x 19ft 11in​
Etendard IVM dimensions
Extended 47ft 3in x 31ft 6in​
Folded 47ft 3in x 25ft 7in​

A folded Buccaneer is 10% longer than an Etendard, but the Buccaneer's folded wingspan is 20% less than an Etendard.

That doesn't make any difference on Hermes because it's hangars are 62ft wide which means both types can only be stowed two abreast.

However, on Clemenceau her 72-79ft wide hangars are just too narrow for three Etendards abreast (unless they can do it by staggering them) but it can easily take three Buccaneers abreast.

Unfortunately, I remember reading somewhere that the Clemenceau and Foch were lightly built. (I can't remember where or I'd cite it.) If I have remembered correctly the flight deck might not be strong enough to take an aircraft as heavy as the Buccaneer.

Plus we haven't discussed the arrester gear yet. That might require upgrading.
 

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Indeed, how would a larger Veinticinco de Mayo have served Argentina in 1982...assuming no change elsewhere.
A RN SSN sinks it PDQ or else!

The Dutch refits to 25 de Mayo (ex-Karel Doorman, ex-Venerable) and Minas Gerais (ex-Vengeance) included fitting an 8.5 degree angled flight deck and one 103ft stroke BS.4 steam catapult capable of launching aircraft weighing 30,000lbs, but the source which is An Illustrated Guide to Modern Naval Aviation and Aircraft Carriers by John Jordan doesn't say what the end speed was.

The source also says that both ships had two 45ft x 34ft centre-line lifts which are the same dimensions as when they were completed, but had presumably been strengthened to take 30,000lb aircraft, ditto the flight deck and the arrester gear.

Main hangar dimensions (from the table I posted up-thread) were 275ft x 52ft x 17.5ft.

According to Jordan VdM's air group in 1984 was 10 Super Etendards, 5 S-2E Trackers and 4 SH-3D Sea Kings which is a total of 19 aircraft. Jane's Fighting Ships 1982-83 says that the air group was normally 18 fixed wing and 4 helicopters for a total of 22 aircraft. VdM was operating the Skyhawks instead of Super Etendards in 1982 but those aircraft and Tracker had nearly the same folded dimensions so a mix of 18 Skyhawks and Trackers or 18 Super Etendards and Trackers aught to be possible.

The most important difference in 1982 is that this VdM has catapults that are a lot more powerful and there are two of them. If they are rebuilt to the same standard as Centaur in 1958 that's two 139ft stroke catapults capable of launching 40,000lb aircraft and if its the same standard as Hermes that's two 151ft stroke catapults capable of launching 50,000lb aircraft.

As I understand it unexpectedly light winds prevented VdM launching her Skyhawks in the Falklands War. The larger VdM with the more powerful catapults and extra 3 knots of maximum speed aught not to have this problem.

The hangars of Centaur were nearly the same length as VdM, but if they're rebuilt to Hermes standard that's an extra 80ft of main hangar at the expense of loosing the 55ft hangar extension.

However, the significant improvement here is the increase of the hangar's width from 52ft to 62ft which makes 2 abreast stowage of Skyhawks, Super Etendards and Trackers easier. I wrote easier rather than possible because there are some Shipbucket drawings up-thread showing a Colossus/Majestic stowing these aircraft two abreast by means of staggering so the hangar capacity of the larger VdM might not be double the real VdMs.

The larger VdM is 10 feat beamier at the waterline which probably translates into 10 extra feet of flight deck width across the ship and the flight deck is about 50 feet longer. So a bigger deck park as well as more aircraft in the hangar.

The lifts are about 10ft longer and 10ft wider in addition to being able to take heavier aircraft.

The crew of VdM was 1,500 according to both sources. However, Jane's provides more detail by saying it was 1,000 for the ship and 500 for the air group. The larger VdM would need a larger crew on account of the more powerful machinery and larger air group. I don't see that as being a problem because the Argentine Navy had 30,920 naval personnel in 1982 not including the 6,000 marines according to Jane's Fighting Ships 1982-83. Plus Argentina had a population of 28.79 million in 1982 so it aught to be able to raise the extra men if the existing personnel strength was insufficient.

Although you wrote if nothing else changes, one thing that might change is that they keep Independencia (ex-Warrior) which the British might have fitted with a pair of 139ft stroke BS.4 catapults as well as the interim angled flight deck that the real Warrior received before it became surplus to requirements and was put on the Sales List. Even with the original hydraulic steam catapults she could launch aircraft weighing 30,000lbs at 75 knots. The maximum weight of a Super Etendard was 25,350lb, an A-4M Skyhawk was 27,420lb and an S-2E Tracker was 29,150lb which were withing the weight capacity of the catapult. (The weights are from Jordan). So the Argentines might well think that she was worth keeping and running alongside VdM.
 
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H_K

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@NOMISYRRUC Aircraft spotting is a funny thing… it’s not all about square footage (folded length x width). It also matters how well you can stagger aircraft, which is more about wing area and geometry.

For example, the Etendard on paper is the same size as an F-8 Crusader and 10% bigger than an A-7 Corsair (due to its wide folded span), but in real life it staggers very compactly. As a result you can park 20% more Etendards than F-8s and 10% more than A-7s within the same space.

Here’s an example - Clemenceau with 61 Etendards vs. 47 F-8 Crusaders. Admittedly this is a paper exercise and operational spotting doesn’t allow for so much staggering so the benefit will be somewhat less.
 

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Archibald

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The Aeronavake was stuck with Etendards for nearly 60 years ( say 1955 2015) and afaik never considered Buccaneers. Not sure those 170 ft long catapults could handle them properly ? although BLC certainly helped. In passing, Breguet mastered BLC to near perfection and the result was the Breguet 941 transport that landed in much less than 1000 ft.

Hmmm Breguet Boucanier...
(my wife is from Réunion island and there boucané - smoked meat - is a classic dish. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Réunion )
 
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Link to Post 90 about catapults.
Link to Post 99 about lift dimensions and their maximum loads.
These are the hangar dimensions according to the copy of British Aircraft Carriers: Design, Development and Service Histories by David Hobbs on Scribd. The dimensions are in feet and inches.
One correction to the above. Indomitable’s lower hangar was 208ft long as per the drawing in Hobbs not as noted in the table in that book. (You need a magnifying glass!)

This thread on another site has a discussion about it explaining why.
 

BlackBat242

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The Dutch refits to 25 de Mayo (ex-Karel Doorman, ex-Venerable) and Minas Gerais (ex-Vengeance) included fitting an 8.5 degree angled flight deck and one 103ft stroke BS.4 steam catapult capable of launching aircraft weighing 30,000lbs, but the source which is An Illustrated Guide to Modern Naval Aviation and Aircraft Carriers by John Jordan doesn't say what the end speed was.

The source also says that both ships had two 45ft x 34ft centre-line lifts which are the same dimensions as when they were completed, but had presumably been strengthened to take 30,000lb aircraft, ditto the flight deck and the arrester gear.

Main hangar dimensions (from the table I posted up-thread) were 275ft x 52ft x 17.5ft.

This info is actually not quite accurate.

Minas Gerais actually had a longer catapult... made possible by the forward lift having been moved 8 feet to starboard.

Similarly, 25 De Mayo had an even longer catapult, made possible by angling closer to the port edge of the flight deck st the aft the of the track.

Both also bridle-catchers (25 de Mayo's was longer), which allows the catapult track to extend further forward than the standard BS-4 installation on the Colossus/Majestic carriers. Note that HMAS Melbourne received a bridle-catcher in 1971, which lengthened the catapult track & piston forward by 9 feet.

This is the info I have collected from various sources:
Minas Gerais (as modified in the Netherlands):
Manufacturer: MacTaggart-Scott, model C-3; stroke 130', track length (unknown); capacity 30,000lb @ 110 knots

25 de Mayo (after major repair & modernization in the Netherlands for sale to Argentina):

Manufacturer: Mitchell-Brown, model BS-4; stroke 174', track length 199'; capacity 30,000lb @ 114 knots
Notes: BS-4 #9 ie. 9th produced; capacity operationally 20,300lbs @ 121.5kt
(seems low, but apparently this catapult was optimized for fast launch cycles, with a low steam pressure to avoid depleting the carrier’s limited steam supply, and the long track was a way to offset the low steam pressure)



Here are photos illustrating the relocation of MG's fore lift:

hangar deck looking aft at aft elevator well - note the lift is centered, with a stub bulkhead on each side of the opening:

hangar deck looking aft at elevator well.jpg


hangar deck looking fwd at fore elevator well - note that the lift is even with the starboard hangar side, with a larger bulkhead on the port side of the opening:

hangar deck looking fwd at elevator well.jpg


Minas Gerais (as HMS Vengeance) before modernization - note the fore elevator is on the centerline:


Minas Gerais before modernization.jpg


Minas Gerais after modernization - note the fore elevator is starboard of the centerline:


Minas Gerais aerial.jpg


Close-up of fore elevator & catapult track:


db315797f3a94ba54547c874d948cd52e31e2e6.jpg


Below-decks layout:


MG deck 3.jpg



25 de Mayo showing the catapult track extending beside and aft of the fore elevator:


25 de Mayo fd hi.jpg
 

zen

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@NOMISYRRUC Aircraft spotting is a funny thing… it’s not all about square footage (folded length x width). It also matters how well you can stagger aircraft, which is more about wing area and geometry.

For example, the Etendard on paper is the same size as an F-8 Crusader and 10% bigger than an A-7 Corsair (due to its wide folded span), but in real life it staggers very compactly. As a result you can park 20% more Etendards than F-8s and 10% more than A-7s within the same space.

Here’s an example - Clemenceau with 61 Etendards vs. 47 F-8 Crusaders. Admittedly this is a paper exercise and operational spotting doesn’t allow for so much staggering so the benefit will be somewhat less.
The problem with staggering is that movement of the aircraft is very much a rigid sequential order.
There's much less scope to change your mind and access a particular aircraft out of the sequence.
 

zen

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The Aeronavake was stuck with Etendards for nearly 60 years ( say 1955 2015) and afaik never considered Buccaneers. Not sure those 170 ft long catapults could handle them properly ? although BLC certainly helped. In passing, Breguet mastered BLC to near perfection and the result was the Breguet 941 transport that landed in much less than 1000 ft.

Hmmm Breguet Boucanier...
(my wife is from Réunion island and there boucané - smoked meat - is a classic dish. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Réunion )
Well at low weights as per S.1 I'd have thought Buccaneer is viable.

Hmmmmm.......Atar is a bit less in diameter.......but similar output to an Avon.....or Spey......
;)

Curious knock on effect is Exocet would be a lot cheaper for the FAA as the AN would pay for integration with Buccaneer.....and so Sea Eagle might never have been funded at all.
But a submarine launched version of Exocet could result.
‐--------
Though veering quite a way off topic for a moment.
Had say Shorts or Westlands won N/A.39, might Breguet have licensed this?
After all if DH had built the DH.116 then perhaps like the Vampire/Venom a French company might have license built it.
‐--------
 

Archibald

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The Aeronavake was stuck with Etendards for nearly 60 years ( say 1955 2015) and afaik never considered Buccaneers. Not sure those 170 ft long catapults could handle them properly ? although BLC certainly helped. In passing, Breguet mastered BLC to near perfection and the result was the Breguet 941 transport that landed in much less than 1000 ft.

Hmmm Breguet Boucanier...
(my wife is from Réunion island and there boucané - smoked meat - is a classic dish. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Réunion )
Well at low weights as per S.1 I'd have thought Buccaneer is viable.

Hmmmmm.......Atar is a bit less in diameter.......but similar output to an Avon.....or Spey......
;)

Curious knock on effect is Exocet would be a lot cheaper for the FAA as the AN would pay for integration with Buccaneer.....and so Sea Eagle might never have been funded at all.
But a submarine launched version of Exocet could result.
‐--------
Though veering quite a way off topic for a moment.
Had say Shorts or Westlands won N/A.39, might Breguet have licensed this?
After all if DH had built the DH.116 then perhaps like the Vampire/Venom a French company might have license built it.
‐--------

It would be SNCASE in Cannes (yes, same town as the Cinema festival). Merged with SNCASO (Bordeaux) on March 1, 1957 to create Sud Aviation, of Caravelle fame.

Sud Aviation Buccaneer !
 

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Link to Post 90 about catapults.
Link to Post 99 about lift dimensions and their maximum loads.
These are the hangar dimensions according to the copy of British Aircraft Carriers: Design, Development and Service Histories by David Hobbs on Scribd. The dimensions are in feet and inches.
One correction to the above. Indomitable’s lower hangar was 208ft long as per the drawing in Hobbs not as noted in the table in that book. (You need a magnifying glass!)

This thread on another site has a discussion about it explaining why.
Looking at the drawing on Scribd didn't work with a magnifying glass and when I tried to enlarge using the computer the text became blurred. However, I measured the hangars with a ruler and the lower hangar was half the length of the upper hangar.

And as you wrote in the article that you provided the link to Friedman (in Table 7-9 on Page 154) does indeed say it was 208 x 62 x 16 and for what it's worth so does Indomitable's article on on the Armoured Carriers website.

To be fair to David Hobbs it's a mistake that's been made by others:
  • Conway's 1922-47 (Page 20) also says 168ft x 62 x 16ft.
  • So does Chesneau (Page 103).
  • And D.K. Brown in the Design and Construction of British Warships 1939-39 does too, though I can't give a page reference because it comes from handwritten notes that didn't include the page number.
The table on Page 154 of Friedman also says that the pp length of Implacable and Implacable was 690 feet and not the 673 feet that I quoted from Conway's earlier in the thread.
 

EwenS

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Indeed, how would a larger Veinticinco de Mayo have served Argentina in 1982...assuming no change elsewhere.
A RN SSN sinks it PDQ or else!

The Dutch refits to 25 de Mayo (ex-Karel Doorman, ex-Venerable) and Minas Gerais (ex-Vengeance) included fitting an 8.5 degree angled flight deck and one 103ft stroke BS.4 steam catapult capable of launching aircraft weighing 30,000lbs, but the source which is An Illustrated Guide to Modern Naval Aviation and Aircraft Carriers by John Jordan doesn't say what the end speed was.

The source also says that both ships had two 45ft x 34ft centre-line lifts which are the same dimensions as when they were completed, but had presumably been strengthened to take 30,000lb aircraft, ditto the flight deck and the arrester gear.

Main hangar dimensions (from the table I posted up-thread) were 275ft x 52ft x 17.5ft.

According to Jordan VdM's air group in 1984 was 10 Super Etendards, 5 S-2E Trackers and 4 SH-3D Sea Kings which is a total of 19 aircraft. Jane's Fighting Ships 1982-83 says that the air group was normally 18 fixed wing and 4 helicopters for a total of 22 aircraft. VdM was operating the Skyhawks instead of Super Etendards in 1982 but those aircraft and Tracker had nearly the same folded dimensions so a mix of 18 Skyhawks and Trackers or 18 Super Etendards and Trackers aught to be possible.

The most important difference in 1982 is that this VdM has catapults that are a lot more powerful and there are two of them. If they are rebuilt to the same standard as Centaur in 1958 that's two 139ft stroke catapults capable of launching 40,000lb aircraft and if its the same standard as Hermes that's two 151ft stroke catapults capable of launching 50,000lb aircraft.

As I understand it unexpectedly light winds prevented VdM launching her Skyhawks in the Falklands War. The larger VdM with the more powerful catapults and extra 3 knots of maximum speed aught not to have this problem.

The hangars of Centaur were nearly the same length as VdM, but if they're rebuilt to Hermes standard that's an extra 80ft of main hangar at the expense of loosing the 55ft hangar extension.

However, the significant improvement here is the increase of the hangar's width from 52ft to 62ft which makes 2 abreast stowage of Skyhawks, Super Etendards and Trackers easier. I wrote easier rather than possible because there are some Shipbucket drawings up-thread showing a Colossus/Majestic stowing these aircraft two abreast by means of staggering so the hangar capacity of the larger VdM might not be double the real VdMs.

The larger VdM is 10 feat beamier at the waterline which probably translates into 10 extra feet of flight deck width across the ship and the flight deck is about 50 feet longer. So a bigger deck park as well as more aircraft in the hangar.

The lifts are about 10ft longer and 10ft wider in addition to being able to take heavier aircraft.

The crew of VdM was 1,500 according to both sources. However, Jane's provides more detail by saying it was 1,000 for the ship and 500 for the air group. The larger VdM would need a larger crew on account of the more powerful machinery and larger air group. I don't see that as being a problem because the Argentine Navy had 30,920 naval personnel in 1982 not including the 6,000 marines according to Jane's Fighting Ships 1982-83. Plus Argentina had a population of 28.79 million in 1982 so it aught to be able to raise the extra men if the existing personnel strength was insufficient.

Although you wrote if nothing else changes, one thing that might change is that they keep Independencia (ex-Warrior) which the British might have fitted with a pair of 139ft stroke BS.4 catapults as well as the interim angled flight deck that the real Warrior received before it became surplus to requirements and was put on the Sales List. Even with the original hydraulic steam catapults she could launch aircraft weighing 30,000lbs at 75 knots. The maximum weight of a Super Etendard was 25,350lb, an A-4M Skyhawk was 27,420lb and an S-2E Tracker was 29,150lb which were withing the weight capacity of the catapult. (The weights are from Jordan). So the Argentines might well think that she was worth keeping and running alongside VdM.
In May 1982 25 de Mayo deployed with

8x A4Q Skyhawk
4x S2E Tracker
2x S3D Sea King
2x Alouette III.

While her capacity may have been more the ability of the ARA to fill those slots is questionable. For example of 16 A4Q Skyhawks acquired in 1972 only 10 remained in service in 1982. Of 5 S3D in service in May 1982 only 3 were operational. Of 6 S2E in service only 5 were operational with only 4 deploying on the carrier at any one time.

The Argentinians only ordered 14 Super Etendards which were intended to replace not augment the Skyhawks remaining in service.

So you can begin to see how some of the figures quoted in earlier publications are arrived at. But whether that represents the actual intended embarked air group or not I don’t know.

With regard to the ARA and the SUE, ISTR reading somewhere recently that although they trained on the carrier, for which there are videos around on the net, their ability to carry a full weapons load was limited. I’ll try to remember where I saw it and dig it out.
 

NOMISYRRUC

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The Aeronavake was stuck with Etendards for nearly 60 years ( say 1955 2015) and afaik never considered Buccaneers. Not sure those 170 ft long catapults could handle them properly ? although BLC certainly helped. In passing, Breguet mastered BLC to near perfection and the result was the Breguet 941 transport that landed in much less than 1000 ft.

Hmmm Breguet Boucanier...
(my wife is from Réunion island and there boucané - smoked meat - is a classic dish. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Réunion )
Well at low weights as per S.1 I'd have thought Buccaneer is viable.

Hmmmmm.......Atar is a bit less in diameter.......but similar output to an Avon.....or Spey......
;)

Curious knock on effect is Exocet would be a lot cheaper for the FAA as the AN would pay for integration with Buccaneer.....and so Sea Eagle might never have been funded at all.
But a submarine launched version of Exocet could result.
‐--------
Though veering quite a way off topic for a moment.
Had say Shorts or Westlands won N/A.39, might Breguet have licensed this?
After all if DH had built the DH.116 then perhaps like the Vampire/Venom a French company might have license built it.
‐--------
It would be SNCASE in Cannes (yes, same town as the Cinema festival). Merged with SNCASO (Bordeaux) on March 1, 1957 to create Sud Aviation, of Caravelle fame.

Sud Aviation Buccaneer !
SNCASE did build the DH Sea Venom under licence as the Aquilon. DH and Blackburn became part of Hawker Siddeley.

According to the source I'm using (Postwar Military Aircraft: 5 De Havilland Vampire, Venom and Sea Vixen by Philip Birtles) the first Aquilon flew from Margiane on 31st October 1952.

They type equipped three units.
  • The first being 16F at Hyères which received its first aircraft in early 1955. The flotille served aboard Clemenceau from 1960 to 1962 and was finally disbanded in 1963.
  • 11F formed at Hyères in mid-1955. This squadron embarked on Clemenceau too (no date given) until the Aquilons were replaced by Etendards in 1962.
  • The third unit was Escadrille 59S which was formed as an all-weather fighter training school with Aquilon 203s and 204s from 1958 to 1963.
  • It continues by saying that a few Aquilons continued to fly during 1965 until the order grounding was received.
However, recent experience has taught me to be not to believe what I read in books.

It makes no mention of the Aquilon serving aboard Arromanches, La Fayette and Bois Belleau. Does anyone know if it did?
 
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NOMISYRRUC

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Link to Post 109.
Link to Post 113.
Thanks for that.

If I'd looked at the drawings of Karel Doorman/VdM and Minas Gerais in my copy of Friedman before typing my post I'd have saved you a lot of work. For what its worth I know about Melbourne having her catapult lengthened in 1971.

Bearing in mind how extensively those ships were modified, what do you think they'd have done with them if they'd been Centaur class ships instead of Colossus class ships? Particularly the catapults and the lifts?

And have you acquired any information on the catapults on Clemenceau and Foch?

The entry on VdM in Jane's Fighting Ships 1982-83 says that her 1950s modernisation cost 25 million Guilders. Does anyone know what that was in Pounds?
 
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