Late 1960's USN Fletcher-class 'Harrier Carrier' concept

Pioneer

Seek out and close with the enemy
Senior Member
Joined
May 22, 2006
Messages
2,153
Reaction score
688
Here's a really interesting account I found on Project Terminated, by Ronnie Serrano:

'... a couple drawings were done by Pierre Mion for the U.S Navy in the late-1960s which shows using converted Fletcher-class destroyers into makeshift "Harrier Carriers". The plan at the time is to convert the older Fletchers into small carriers to house at the time proposed AV-8A Harriers for use in roles such as convoy protection, anti-shipping/submarine, fleet protection, and amphibious assault roles. The modified Fletchers would carry 1-2 AV-8A Harriers in which they can be rearmed and refuel at any point in time. Also, the Harrier Carriers still had fighting capability with them retaining some of their armament such as their MK-30 127mm cannons. However, while the concept had potential in which the proposal could be done with little problem, the U.S Navy had little interest in the concept and it was later abandoned.'

Does anyone else have anything on these 'Fletcher-class Harrier Carrier' concepts?

Regards
Pioneer
 

Attachments

  • USN Fletcher-class 'Harrier Carrier' (1960's).jpg
    USN Fletcher-class 'Harrier Carrier' (1960's).jpg
    112.6 KB · Views: 294
  • USN Fletcher-class 'Harrier Carrier' (1960's)2.jpg
    USN Fletcher-class 'Harrier Carrier' (1960's)2.jpg
    63.6 KB · Views: 295

Pirate Pete

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
Jul 25, 2007
Messages
199
Reaction score
219
Have to say, I don’t give much chance for the forward flight-deck version lasting particularly well in an Atlantic (orPacific) storm!
think the second illustration could be construed as being a bit ‘generous’ with the amount of space available for more than one aircraft.
 

archipeppe

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Oct 18, 2007
Messages
1,952
Reaction score
1,075
Could be interesting export proposal for third world navies...

With only one little issue: since Harrier is out of production and the F-35B is out of many third world countries money pockets, there's no cheap VTOL airctaft to put on its deck.
 

Tzoli

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2011
Messages
1,825
Reaction score
1,127
Could be interesting export proposal for third world navies...

With only one little issue: since Harrier is out of production and the F-35B is out of many third world countries money pockets, there's no cheap VTOL airctaft to put on its deck.
In the late 1960's? Even by late 1970's early 1980's when the Fletchers really at their end life this is not a bad idea, even limited off shore air striking capability or anti Pirate duty.
Imagine some Arabian Sheiks buying these together with Harriers and now imagine those pesky Somali Pirates got greeted with a Harrier or two!
 

riggerrob

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
1,697
Reaction score
1,156
Have to say, I don’t give much chance for the forward flight-deck version lasting particularly well in an Atlantic (orPacific) storm!
think the second illustration could be construed as being a bit ‘generous’ with the amount of space available for more than one aircraft.

Agreed!
I can remember many days onboard HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Iroquois they piped "forward decks out of bounds" - because of large waves washing the decks - but somehow we launched Sea Kings from the aft flight deck a few of those days.
They'd pipe "Flying stations. No smoking aft of frame 44."
 

JohnR

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 8, 2006
Messages
790
Reaction score
264
What a waste of a potentially still useful warship, at best helicopter facility could be fitted. Trials and experience a proven that the most appropriate platform for a Harrier was a 'through deck'. I'm reminded of the appalling stupid Skyhook, concept, how much would the fitting of the handling equipment cost, and would that be better spent in hull structure. I was always taken by the Vosper Mini Harrier Carrrier.
 

Dilandu

I'm dissatisfied, which means, I exist.
Joined
May 30, 2013
Messages
1,859
Reaction score
1,553
Website
fonzeppelin.livejournal.com
In the late 1960's? Even by late 1970's early 1980's when the Fletchers really at their end life this is not a bad idea, even limited off shore air striking capability or anti Pirate duty.
Imagine some Arabian Sheiks buying these together with Harriers and now imagine those pesky Somali Pirates got greeted with a Harrier or two!
Quite a lot of other nations might be interested in such proposal, too. Especially considering that rather significant number of "Fletcher" were sold to different navies, and so many nations have experience to operate them.
 

Tzoli

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2011
Messages
1,825
Reaction score
1,127
What is more interesting is that the flight deck is actually the hanger itself as well! The sidis would open up providing even more surface area and the roof was rolled up (Probably some lightweight material of fabric and aluminium?) . Check the rollers at furthest parts of the flight decks.
 

Dilandu

I'm dissatisfied, which means, I exist.
Joined
May 30, 2013
Messages
1,859
Reaction score
1,553
Website
fonzeppelin.livejournal.com
What is more interesting is that the flight deck is actually the hanger itself as well! The sidis would open up providing even more surface area and the roof was rolled up (Probably some lightweight material of fabric and aluminium?) . Check the rollers at furthest parts of the flight decks.

Yep, quite unotrodox design. Albeit if I recall correctly, the similar solution was used by French on T-53 class La Galissonnière destroyer:

1608574907139.png
1608574965674.png
1608574980760.png
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
7,315
Reaction score
6,309
Reminds me of "Hunt for red october" when they use a two seat Harrier to transfer Jack Ryan from Kennedy to Invincible...

Starting from the old and diminutive Fletchers, imagine the number of ships that could become "Harrier carriers"... (shall we call them CHARRIERS ? non mais faut pas charrier non plus !)

 
Last edited:

Hood

ACCESS: Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Messages
2,683
Reaction score
3,240
It would be tricky to land a Harrier on a pitching destroyer deck in heavy seas, especially for a bow-located deck.
The wire arrester gear is a novel concept though, not sure where that comes from or whether it was the Mion's own idea. That could be potenially highly hazardous if you picked up that wire too fast as you come in to hover.
 

Sherman Tank

I don't want to change my personal text
Joined
Oct 15, 2016
Messages
208
Reaction score
130
What a hopelessly... well let's say optimistic design. Bearing in mind what D.K. Brown wrote about how operating one or two Harriers turned out to be almost as expensive as operating a dozen or so, there's absolutely no way a Fletcher could've successfully been used in this way even if you could safely land a V/STOL on that tiny deck.
 

Tzoli

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2011
Messages
1,825
Reaction score
1,127
You guys think this design would be an all weather attack conversion proposal. Indeed small flight deck on a WW2 destroyer hull isn't the best option but very economical, and most likely be used in clear or light weather and not in every Sea State!
I seriously doubt that operating 1-2 Harriers are as costly as operating an entire wing!
 

Fluff

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 9, 2019
Messages
752
Reaction score
637
Really of all the things to use a WW2 Fletcher? There were already plenty of heli equipped ships in use, not to mention lots of old aircraft carriers, remodeled as Commando/anti-sub, and whatever. Better to develop a RATO assist VTOL to get a harrier up with a full fuel load and missiles.

And if you really need another ship then surely Atlantic conveyor types would be more use. Or assuming you are trying to escort a convoy, just put a harrier on the large fuel/grain ship.
 

Pioneer

Seek out and close with the enemy
Senior Member
Joined
May 22, 2006
Messages
2,153
Reaction score
688
IMHO this conversion would have amounted to little more than a 1960's equivalent to a WWII CAM Hurricarrier.
What you suggest about 'a post-WWII CAM arrangement is probably true, but it would only take one Harrier to shoot down a marauding Bear or Badger just the same....


Regards
Pioneer

 

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
7,315
Reaction score
6,309
I'm quietly keeping a list of all the *alternate carriers concepts* the USN studied at some point or another... CVV, VSS, SCS, strike cruiser, and this one...

It is no surprise the advent of the Harrier stimulated the imagination of many. Now was a combat aircraft able to hover like an helicopter... similar "frenzy" happened with other varied VSTOL concepts - V-22, CL-84, Convair 200, Lockheed Cheyenne, Rockwell XFV-12...
 

RLBH

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
May 5, 2007
Messages
412
Reaction score
345
I seriously doubt that operating 1-2 Harriers are as costly as operating an entire wing!
In ship design terms, it is. You need the same deck run to take off, you need the same maintenance shops, and so forth. Once you've provided those facilities, the additional cost to enlarge them for the rest of the squadron is pretty marginal.

Something like a converted WW2 destroyer would only be able to support VTOL operations with limited maintenance. The CAM role is about all it would be fit for, with the key difference of being able to use the fighter again.
 

Hood

ACCESS: Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Messages
2,683
Reaction score
3,240
The D. K. Brown statement was in relation to studies made with the Type 43 DDG with two Harriers with a weird short deck overhanging the portside.
Brown states that during these studies it was found to be uneconomic to operate less than six Harriers from one ship. The maintenance spaces and ground crew for one Harrier were almost as large as those for six Harriers.
It seems as though some of the frigate studies Brown mentions were largely a critique of the commercial shipyards that were offering single-Harrier frigate concepts during the early 1980s.
 

Sherman Tank

I don't want to change my personal text
Joined
Oct 15, 2016
Messages
208
Reaction score
130
The D. K. Brown statement was in relation to studies made with the Type 43 DDG with two Harriers with a weird short deck overhanging the portside.
Brown states that during these studies it was found to be uneconomic to operate less than six Harriers from one ship. The maintenance spaces and ground crew for one Harrier were almost as large as those for six Harriers.
It seems as though some of the frigate studies Brown mentions were largely a critique of the commercial shipyards that were offering single-Harrier frigate concepts during the early 1980s.

Yes, you're right about this.

My point in bringing this up was that if you can't economically operate two Harriers on a clean sheet design like the Type 43 you sure as hell can't do it with a conversion of a much smaller Fletcher.
 

archipeppe

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Oct 18, 2007
Messages
1,952
Reaction score
1,075
Anyway we must not forget that Italian Navy for the first one to operate Harrier from a cruiser's deck, specifically it happened on 24 October 1967 when a RAF Hawker Siddeley P-1127 executed several take-offs and landings from the rear deck of Andrea Doria Crusier (D-553), moored in La Spezia harbour, validating the concept.

1608909468250.png


1608909505158.png
 

riggerrob

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
1,697
Reaction score
1,156
It would be tricky to land a Harrier on a pitching destroyer deck in heavy seas, especially for a bow-located deck.
The wire arrester gear is a novel concept though, not sure where that comes from or whether it was the Mion's own idea. That could be potenially highly hazardous if you picked up that wire too fast as you come in to hover.

Yes,
Landing is only half the hassle. The first time they landed a helicopter on a USN ship, it almost slipped over the side!
Immediately securing the airplane to the deck is difficult with all that hot exhaust.
The third challenge is towing the airplane into the hangar before it slides overboard.

I still prefer the British "Skyhook" concept from the 1980s. Mounting it amidships would minimize pitch and yaw, but the crane would still have to work hard to match the ship's roll to the almost stationary hovering Harrier. Semi-automatic re-fuelling extends the Harriers' combat-radius well beyond the destroyer screen.
e would still need to work hard to match the ship's role to the Harrier in a stationary hover. The "Skyhook" concept included a fuel hose through the "hook". They also sketched a cradle full of bombs and external fuel tanks for semi-automatic re-loads..
 

RLBH

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
May 5, 2007
Messages
412
Reaction score
345
Mounting it amidships would minimize pitch and yaw, but the crane would still have to work hard to match the ship's roll to the almost stationary hovering Harrier.
Therein lies the problem with Skyhook. It didn't work, at least not with the technology of the time. The crane couldn't be made to work hard enough, fast enough, to cancel out the motion of the ship.

It could probably be done today. Some offshore vessels have cranes with active heave compensation, which does essentially the same job. But they are huge compared to regular cranes of the same capacity.

By the time you'd built a small Harrier carrier with one (or two), added the maintenance facilities needed to make the Harriers useful, and then added enough aircraft to justify the cost, it would be big enough that you wouldn't need Skyhook any more.
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
7,315
Reaction score
6,309
With goddam algorithms, nowadays it would be possible to make pigs, iron or washing machines fly... quadcopters, cough, SpaceX water towers, cough...
 

RLBH

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
May 5, 2007
Messages
412
Reaction score
345
With goddam algorithms, nowadays it would be possible to make pigs, iron or washing machines fly... quadcopters, cough, SpaceX water towers, cough...
Not just algorithms, but also the mechanical and electrical engineering needed to make a crane with respond quickly enough. The equipment is big because it needs powerful motors, powerful cooling systems, and to be beefy enough to handle all of the above.

On top of all that, anything that lifts people or explosives has higher safety factors applied. Humans require 100%, I can't remember what it is for explosives. Combining both would probably be even more demanding.
 

Fluff

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 9, 2019
Messages
752
Reaction score
637
And if you then mapped the effect your trying to achieve, it could probably be done today by a drone, or a missile....
 

Similar threads

Top