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More Colossus / Majestics for other navies ?

Archibald

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As said in the tin. Working from Wikipedia I managed to wrap my brain around the fate of the many Magestic / Colossus and the Navies that used them.

There is a lot of waste and redudance there. 9 carriers for 7 countries ?

-Whatif Argentina and Brazil bought "first hand" carriers ?

-Never quite realized that Arromanches and Vikrant were quasi-twins. That's explains how and why France sold Alizés to India - and tried to sell Etentard IVB with Avon and BLC.

- What foreign navy could have (realistically) joined that party ? Spain got a US carrier (Dedalo) because, well, Gibraltar. Any other ? Italy ? an asian tiger ?
 

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starviking

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As said in the tin. Working from Wikipedia I managed to wrap my brain around the fate of the many Magestic / Colossus and the Navies that used them.

There is a lot of waste and redudance there. 9 carriers for 7 countries ?

-Whatif Argentina and Brazil bought "first hand" carriers ?

-Never quite realized that Arromanches and Vikrant were quasi-twins. That's explains how and why France sold Alizés to India - and tried to sell Etentard IVB with Avon and BLC.

- What foreign navy could have (realistically) joined that party ? Spain got a US carrier (Dedalo) because, well, Gibraltar. Any other ? Italy ? an asian tiger ?
Venezuela’s dictator wanted a carrier and cruisers in the 1950s, but was deposed before that came to fruition. IIRC, he wanted new builds - but who knows what may have happened?

Perhaps if Venezuela joined the carrier club, Chile would have tried to follow them? Can’t see it being sustainable in the long term though.

Apart from that, the only other hope would have been the US putting more pressure on other NATO nations to provide support. An ASW Majestic/Colossus might be seen as one way of getting the heat off - but the Maritime-focused NATO nations already had at least one of those. Could, say Canada be persuaded to operate two carriers? Share air wings with the US?

The UK was trying to be a guarantor of stability in the Indian area, before the US-UK embargos over the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war drove those nations to China and the Soviet Union respectively. Butterfly away that war, and perhaps Anglo-Indian engagement leads to an extra CVL in Indian service?
 

zen

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As said in the tin. Working from Wikipedia I managed to wrap my brain around the fate of the many Magestic / Colossus and the Navies that used them.

There is a lot of waste and redudance there. 9 carriers for 7 countries ?

-Whatif Argentina and Brazil bought "first hand" carriers ?

-Never quite realized that Arromanches and Vikrant were quasi-twins. That's explains how and why France sold Alizés to India - and tried to sell Etentard IVB with Avon and BLC.

- What foreign navy could have (realistically) joined that party ? Spain got a US carrier (Dedalo) because, well, Gibraltar. Any other ? Italy ? an asian tiger ?
There was one I forget her name that was available.
Several possible contenders for this.
Venezuela
South Africa
Being the two that spring to mind.

Realistically we come back to the question of what aircraft in what numbers need to come about to make this more attractive.
 

Archibald

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Hell yes. On the British side - next to nothing. SR.177 and Sea Vixen ? Nope.
On the US side there are some attractive types but they wouldn't fit on a Magestic, by a long shot.

Case in point: Canadian Banshees. A straight wing subsonic aircraft, and still a carnage of airframes and pilots. 16 out of 39 DOA for the count.

Can a Majestic handle a supersonic Skyhawk interceptor ? Pretty hard.

Crusaders were altready a tight fit on Clemenceau, and there are excellents reasons why they never took a chance on Arromanches (hey, that's a Colossus !)
We know a Fouga Zéphyr and an Alizé could do it. A trainer and a prop-driven submarine Hunter. And we know from Dassault proposal to the Indian Navy that an Etendard IV would need 2000 pounds+ more thrust of an Avon to provide a LOT of BLC.

Even then, the Indians were unwilling to take the risk, so an Etendard probably can't fit on a Majestic even with a ton of BLC...

The only time, ever, Arromanches got Crusaders on its deck was... as an aircraft transport, cocooned in 1963 (yes, it was Arromanches who ferried the Crusaders for Foch and Clemenceau... the irony !)

I wonder if a Skylancer given the Mirage 2000 treatment (limited instability via analog FBW) courtesy of the Avro Arrow tech transfer, could land on a Magestic.

According to plain old Joe Baugher website...


Specification of Douglas F5D-1 Skylancer:​


Engine: One Pratt & Whitney J57-P-8 turbojet, 10,200 lb.s.t. dry and 16,000 lb.s.t. with afterburning.

Maximum speed: 953 mph at 35,000 feet, 990 mph at 44,000 feet, 749 mph at sea level.
Cruising speed 637 mph.
Initial climb rate 20,790 feet per minute.
An altitude of 30,000 feet could be attained in 7.9 minutes.
Service ceiling 57,500 feet.
Combat ceiling 49,200 feet.

Landing speed 155 mph.

Stalling speed 112.7 mph.

Combat range 1335 miles.

Weights: 17,444 pounds empty, 24,445 pounds combat, 25,000 pounds gross, 28,072 pounds maximum takeoff.

Dimensions: wingspan 33 feet 6 inches, length 53 feet 9 3/4 inches, height 14 feet 10 inches, wing area 557 square feet.

Internal fuel capacity was 1333 US gallons. Two 150-US gallon drop tanks could be carried underwing, bringing total maximum fuel capacity to 1633 US gallons. Armed with four 20-mm cannon in the wings.
 
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zen

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Ahh but Vought had a smaller Crusader design using a Sapphire J65 and manually folded wings....
 

Archibald

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WTF ? no kidding ? And Peru ? really ? Chile maybe, but Peru ? talk about bitting more than one could chew...
 

EwenS

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A second carrier postwar for Canada? No chance.

In 1945 Canada agreed to man Warrior & Magnificent on a loan basis. Warrior was taken over in 1946. Postwar completion of the latter slowed down. Then in Jan 1947 Canada decided it could only afford to run one carrier but wanted Magnificent rather than Warrior as it could be fitted out for arctic service. So in 1948 Warrior came back to the RN and Magnificent went to the RCN on loan. Then in 1952 Canada purchased Powerful for modernisation as Bonaventure as a replacement for Magnificent which was returned to the RN in 1957
 

EwenS

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The Argentinians operated the Super Etendard from the 25 de Mayo, at least for pilot carrier qualifications.
 

EwenS

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To the OP. When are you proposing these “new” sales should take place?

After 1952 there are only 2 incomplete Majestic hulls left unsold to Commonwealth countries - Hercules and Leviathan. The former was bought by India as Vikrant in Jan 1957 for conversion.

By the early 1960s Leviathan was laid up in unmaintained reserve, having been used as a source of spares, officially and unofficially.

There is a very important difference between the Colossus and Majestic classes. The former had flight decks stressed for only 20,000lb aircraft, which by the 1950s wasn’t enough for the new generation of aircraft. So a lot of work, and cost, was involved in making the Colossus class useable. The Majestics were built with, IIRC, 30,000lb decks.
 

archipeppe

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Italy, absolutely Italy.

In late 40's - early 50's, Italian Navy was trying to get at least a couple of CVL from US NAVY (Indendependance Class, maybe the same USS Cabot that later become the Spanish Dedalo).
Americans were fine with this plan (especially after that Italy joined NATO), and started to provide Curtiss S-2C to Italian Navy in order to have them on flight deck.

The internal political opposition (the Communist party was very strong at that times) and also the fiery opposition of Italian Air Force that doesn't wanted Navy to fly her own planes (this thing lasted up to late 80's when an Italian Law changed the rule allowing Garibaldi Carrier to have the first AV-8B onboard).

In my opinion if the proposal come from UK rather than USA, with a Colossus Class rather than Independance Class there were more than a chance that it could happen.
Since UK has less internal political opposition in Italy (at that time was run by Labourists), and Italian Air Force exploited the De Havilland Vampires (produced in Italy by Macchi Aviation).

So an Italian Navy Colossus or Majestic could have onboard Sea Venoms, Sea Hornets and maybe later Scimitar or Vixens.
 

Archibald

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, and started to provide Curtiss S-2C
Wait, you mean Curtiss Helldiver ? I would say it was a perfect way to DISGUST Italy from ever having a naval aviation.
SB2C : SOB, second class... :p

That old law from Mussolini days, yes. And they said USAF - USN rivalry was bad !

Adding Peru, Chile and Italy to the list then. As noted by @EwenS however, the supply of Colossus / Magestic isn't infinite...
 

archipeppe

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, and started to provide Curtiss S-2C
Wait, you mean Curtiss Helldiver ? I would say it was a perfect way to DISGUST Italy from ever having a naval aviation.
SB2C : SOB, second class... :p

That old law from Mussolini days, yes. And they said USAF - USN rivalry was bad !

Yes I mean them.
This is history: during 1950 a first group of Italian Naval aviators were sent to Pensacola to start training, and they in 1952 were able to fly Naval aircraft as US NAVY personell, including carrier operations. Italian Navy was provided by US counterpart of about 50 Curtiss S2C-5 Helldiver, to be placed onboard the first Italian carrier in anti-submarine role.

The very first two of them left the USS Midway, cruising in the Mediterranean Sea, the 12th of December 1952 to Naples Naval Air Station. They were designated: Italian Navy Gull One (101) and Gull Two (102) and they were painted with typical US NAVY midnight blue with Italian roundels with an anchor atop. Once landed in Capodichino airport they were immediately surrounded by Italian Military Police (Carabinieri) since the crew was not recognized by Italian Law (not real Mussolini's one rather than Balbo driven) as Italian airmen rather than "pirates"!!!!

The embarassing situation was temporarily resolved taking both aricrafts and their crews within the margin of American part of Capodichino airport (that still exists today).
At the end, as we all know, the Italian Air Force won: the navy never got its CVLs and the Helldivers were placed under Air Force rules. The S2C had a brief anti-submarine career with the Air Force and was replaced by Grumman Trackers and the end of 50's.

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Archibald

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Gosh, this is more akin to Comedia del arte, than astronautics. WTH.

Se non è vero, è ben trovato
 

Zoo Tycoon

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Folland proposed a Naval Gnat (Gyron Jnr, MTOW 10klbs) which would work well on either Colossus or Majestic. It’s reported there was interest from India, Australia and Canada. Ref Folland Gnat Sabre Slayer and Red Arrow by V Bingham.

Argentina did briefly get Super Etendard (26klbs) operational from 25 de May (Colossus Class HMS Venerable) ;- there’s pictures/film of them landing on and being catapulted off. I remember reading that Dassault were commissioned to undertake upgrades to the ship including strengthening of the landing zone. I think after 82 Argentina struggled to get 25 de May out of port due to unreliability.

Most of the Colossus and Majestic operators used A4 Skyhawks (16klbs)

Attractive options could have included;-

Grumman F11 Tiger or Super Tiger;- Light enough (23klbs) with very good capability, supersonic, a bit fast on landing but not too bad.

Douglas F4D-1 Skyray - a bit lighter (22klbs) with good capability with slower landing speed.

I wonder if these were considered by any operators?

The Argentinians operated the F9F Panther (18klbs) and F9F-6 Cougar (21klbs) from ARA Independence (Colossus Class HMS Warrior*) but was rather marginal due to catapult issues.

* After Warrior’s involvement in Operation Grapple she was afflicted by the “Witches Curse”, ref Christmas Island Cracker by W Oulton.
 

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zen

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I thought the naval Gnat was using a Orpheus?
I also seem to recall something about a trainer for the RN
 

Zoo Tycoon

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Regular Gnat, both single and two seat, did indeed use Orpheus. Mr Bingham records Gyron Jnr in a single seat Naval Gnat because it had air bleed for high lift (Buccaneer S1 heritage). He doesn’t mention a two seat trainer for the RN. He also mentioned that Hooker had lost interest in further Orpheus so was generally looking at Gyron and RB145 for Gnat mk2.
 
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zen

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Hmmmm...it's an interesting scenario had the Gyron Junior Gnat made it to service....despite the poor fuel economy.
The mkV seems the logical place to look.
Almost a P.45 in being a pared down system.

Though I never quite understood the poor performance figures for the early RR MTU RB.153.
 

uk 75

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Little slack in possible operators

NATO Canada, France and Netherlands were the only North Atlantic navies wanting ASW carriers. Norway and Germany had more important local naval requirements to meet.
Italy built ASW cruisers and relied on land based anti shipping aircraft.
In Asia Australia and India are the only blue water navies.
In South America only Argentina and Brazil need an Atlantic carrier force. Chile and Peru focus on coastal defence.
That leaves South Africa. No real requirement even without the politics.
So the actual vessels pretty much went to all the possibles.
 

archipeppe

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Italy built ASW cruisers and relied on land based anti shipping aircraft.

This result happened not because it was the Italian Navy's intentions to achieve it.
This was the result of the pressure of Italian Air Force to prevent Italian Navy to operate its own fixed wing aircrafts from its own carriers.

Italian Navy was forced to operate with helicopters (not contemplated into the infamous law of 1923) with relatively small ships (with the notable exception of the Vittorio Veneto cruiser).

Turning back to the thread's topic: Italy could make an agreement with UK to have a Colossus class more or less for free (exactly like US wanted to do with the Independace Class carriers) with the Italian commitment to purchase English aircrafts and helicopters for Italian Navy.
It would be possible within the same framework that allowed Italian Air Force to operate with Vampires as first jets.
 

Grey Havoc

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That leaves South Africa. No real requirement even without the politics.
IIRC, South Africa was getting increasingly concerned by the late 1950s about possible interdiction of it's sea routes by Soviet commerce raiders or worse. 'Managed decline' polices of successive British governments only served to increase the Union's (soon to be Republic) concerns, even though such polices had politically benefited the Apartheid era ruling party greatly in the short term. (By the late 1970s the global & regional strategic situation from the viewpoint of the SANF had become dire enough such that they would have loved to get both cruisers, preferably something along the lines of the just re-designated Virgina-class CGNs, though they certainly wouldn't have said no to a good CAGN or three, and ASW carriers of any description. However, this probably takes us outside of the scope of this topic.)
 
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uk 75

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I am surprised that NATO did not get involved in this one.
I had forgotten that the Western European Union treaty did not allow West Germany to operate carriers. Even in the 90s when Germany was rumoured to be looking at a helicopter carrier there was much criticism.
I dont think Italy was under similar international restriction only its own Naval Law. NATO could have asked for this to be changed.
 

EwenS

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The timing of the sales to first Brazil and then Argentina is amusing. An attempt at oneupmanship leading to the balance of power being restored?

Brazil buys Vengeance in Dec 1956 but has to spend heavily in Netherlands to get a modern ship at the end of 1960. Note they chose (or were offered?) Vengeance from reserve and not the Leviathan in use by the RN as an accommodation ship. The Indians, who must have been negotiating at the same time, chose the incomplete Hercules to convert to Vikrant.

Then just over a year later in 1958. Argentina manages to buy the partially modernised Warrior (only RN Colossus/Majestic to get an angled deck) newly decommissioned by the RN and puts it into service in 1959, but has to buy Karel Dooman in the late 1960s.

Incidentally, Vengeance’s time with the RAN was purely meant as a temporary loan pending delivery of the delayed Melbourne. She was delayed to get firstly steam catapults then the angled deck and mirror landing sight. In 1955 she became only the third carrier to complete with all three features (as opposed to be converted with them) following Ark Royal and Forrestal.
 

zen

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IF.....if the RN had found a way to keep carriers of Colossus/ Majestic size relevant things might have been different.

But something like the Gnat mkV or earlier DH.116 needs to happen in concert with this in the aviation side.

Shipside in turn the ASWRE C-band radar instead of Broomstick, hopefully cutting the need for the substantial 909 sets for Sea Dart as well.

Result is distribute-able fleet structure around ASW.
 

Volkodav

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The thought crossed my mind a few years back that the Colossus and Majestic classes would / could have made a good CVS option for the USN, being more capable than the Independence class and cheaper to operate than an Essex. While unlikely a possible arrangement could have been for the UK to transfer all remaining 1942 CVLs to the USN in exchange for sufficient upgraded Essex to replace the Armoured Fleet Carriers. Another thought I had was a US build of modified 1942 CVLs along the same lines as they built River Class Frigates as Tacoma Class PFs, truly getting into fantasy land now though.
 

zen

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Well this takes us back to the debate between DNC and DAW over New Trade Protection CVs based around the widely available drydocks....essentially a Colossus hullform modernised and with modern steam plant.

But what makes that option workable is a reasonable fighter. As the basis of such a debate was the Scimitar. About 8 of which could fit the hanger.....

Now had that come about, then the RN would be getting more of these new CVs and logically this opens up further export of such.
 
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Grey Havoc

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Here's a potential dark horse: Israel, as a helicopter carrier.
 

EwenS

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At the start of 1957 the position was as follows:-
Glory & Theseus in reserve
Ocean training ship to the end of the year then reserve
Triumph earmarked in 1956 for conversion to repair ship
Warrior flagship for British atomic tests then to reserve by year end and subsequent sale to Argentina 1958.
Magnificent returns from Canada and goes to unmaintained reserve.
Leviathan incomplete and used as an accommodation ship and source of spare parts for other ships.

Glory, Ocean and Theseus were all put up for sale in 1957 but there were no takers. Not Italy, Peru, Chile, South Africa or Israel. Why? Presumably none were in the market for a carrier. After a couple of years they slipped into unmaintained reserve.

Refitting to a modern standard was a 4 year job for Vengeance and cost $27m on a ship that cost Brazil $9m (Warrior took 18 months to refit with strengthened and angled deck, arrester gear, mirror landing sight, new radars etc but no steam catapult).

But are they any good to the RN for ASW?

In the late 1950s the RN is moving away from fixed wing AS aircraft (Gannet & Seamew) to helicopters. One thing I’m try to understand is why lose the longer range asset? I’ve read comments that for fixed wing aircraft their limiting factor became the number of sonobuoys they could carry to prosecute a fast submerged sub (radar of the time of little use in spotting periscopes/schnorkels etc and MAD being equally useless) having to lay out lines of them that need replaced every so often. I’ve still not found how many a Gannet could carry. If the fixed wing aircraft is ineffective why carry it? Why not leave the longer distance work (away from the task force) to the RAF and its much larger Shackleton with presumably greater sonobuoy load.

Helicopters had dipping sonar (much more effective for prosecuting subs of the era) but until the arrival of the Wessex in 1961 had to operate in hunter killer pairs. They can cover the AS work closer in being shorter ranged. And a useable number can be squeezed aboard the fleet carriers.

The alternative is the RN spending a lot of money to upgrade the Colossus class over a relatively long period of time (5+ years?) and buy Trackers which seem to have a greater sonobuoy load. You then get to the mid-1960s to find you have a bunch of austere ships built quickly in wartime that are fast approaching the end of their hull/machinery lives but a fleet of relatively new aircraft. Where do you go then?

So I’ve concluded that the RN decision to let the Colossus/Majestic class go from the mid 1950s was probably the right one.
 

Grey Havoc

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Glory, Ocean and Theseus were all put up for sale in 1957 but there were no takers. Not Italy, Peru, Chile, South Africa or Israel. Why? Presumably none were in the market for a carrier. After a couple of years they slipped into unmaintained reserve.
It may not have been that there were no takers, but that there were political obstacles to any real attempt at a sale. See here for example. And that's before we even get to the ever ongoing shenanigans of the Foreign Office...
 

kaiserbill

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As mentioned by Grey Havoc, by the late 1950's/early 1960's, there was concern in British and South African circles at interdiction by the USSR of the vital trade route around The Cape.
This resulted in the purchase of the Buccaneer maritime strike aircraft, although the newly elected Labour govt cancelled a follow on order for 16 additional Buccaneers.
The SAN had wanted to place an order for 6 Type 12 frigates, but in the end, went with 3, purchasing the modified Type 15 SAS Vrystaat, and extensively modified their existing WW2 destroyers into helicopter carrying ASW vessels. (See pic below)

The global commerce route around the Cape was (and still is) vital, as even present day traffic indicates.
The Simons Town Agreement was only terminated in 1975, under great pressure.

There was plenty of facilities and infrastructure to operate carriers in South Africa. For example, HMS Illustrious was refitted 3 times in South African dockyards

The only problem with the above is the navy was the poor cousin of the Air Force and Army in South Africa, wrt to equipping, financing, and manpower. It always was this way.

On the subject of aircraft, as noted by myself in other threads, as well as another poster above, the supersonic Grumman Super Tiger, which first flew in 1956, would seem to me to be an ideal aircraft for these smaller carriers.
 

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Hood

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In the late 1950s the RN is moving away from fixed wing AS aircraft (Gannet & Seamew) to helicopters. One thing I’m try to understand is why lose the longer range asset? I’ve read comments that for fixed wing aircraft their limiting factor became the number of sonobuoys they could carry to prosecute a fast submerged sub (radar of the time of little use in spotting periscopes/schnorkels etc and MAD being equally useless) having to lay out lines of them that need replaced every so often. I’ve still not found how many a Gannet could carry. If the fixed wing aircraft is ineffective why carry it? Why not leave the longer distance work (away from the task force) to the RAF and its much larger Shackleton with presumably greater sonobuoy load.

Fixed-wing lost its attraction due to aircraft size.
Seamew AS.1 weighed 9,795lb empty, MTOW 15,000lb
Gannet AS.1 weighed 15,000lb empty, MTOW 19,600lb

Seamew was a limited platform, as you say few sonobuoys and reliant on radar - fine for WW2 era diesel subs and even early snorters but rapidly obvious to be limited by the 1960s, especially as nuclear subs became a reality.

Helicopters were seen as better, the dipping-sonar was superior to reliance on sonobouys and the hunter-killer 'single package' was preferred. They were much lighter - in theory - so could operate from smaller escort carriers. They could also loiter and hover over submarines in a way aircraft couldn't.
NA.43 called for 9,000lb AUW
Trouble is the 'hunter-killer' Bristol 191 ballooned in weight from 10,600lb AUW to 18,000lb. That put it beyond the Colossus-class deck and lift strength. Even the Bell HSL asked for under MDAP weighed nearly 17,000lb gross with a 26,500lb MTOW. Only the Whirlwind could meet 9,000lb and was a hunter-killer pair (and a flop).

In reality ASW required specialist sensors and weapons and they were heavy, carrying them under a rotor couldn't defy physics, even if the Admiralty wanted them too. Slowly this improved with better electronics and gas turbines engines for better power-to-weight ratios.

The question regarding LR MR is interesting, but the RAF and RN were at loggerheads, the RAF feared RN takeover bids for Coastal Command and they taunted the Admirals with the pre-war Inskip Award that prevented them from operating fixed-wing armed aircraft from shore bases.


As to exports, its worth remembering the RN saw these carriers as commerce protectors, then H-Bombs come along and Strath Report says the UK doomed and will be wiped out in a day so need to worry about reinforcement convoys. So ships without use, apart from niche roles like Commando assault that doesn't need heavy choppers or aircraft.
For export nations, they saw these ships as a cheap means to enter the carrier club as fully fledged carriers with fighters and strike and ASW aircraft. Like turning up at a Ferrari race meet in a Fiat 500 Abarth...
Sadly the lack of suitable fighters rather limited export nation's choices if they couldn't get ex-USN stuff and/or the expertise or money to ask someone else to refit the carrier with new steam cats etc. like the Dutch did.
 

EwenS

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Glory, Ocean and Theseus were all put up for sale in 1957 but there were no takers. Not Italy, Peru, Chile, South Africa or Israel. Why? Presumably none were in the market for a carrier. After a couple of years they slipped into unmaintained reserve.
It may not have been that there were no takers, but that there were political obstacles to any real attempt at a sale. See here for example. And that's before we even get to the ever ongoing shenanigans of the Foreign Office...
Reading that my first thought was a sense of deja vu given the last 10 years!

Some of their Lordships also seem to have been looking at the past through rosy glasses. For example, by the time war broke out Rodney was badly in need of a major overhaul. As for the 50 US destroyers, yes they were very welcome, but they had come from USN reserves and came with a host of problems. Some even failed to get across the Atlantic at the first attempt. And the idea that we should keep Castles and Bays to chase down Soviet Whiskey class subs in the event of war that was expected to last, at most, days.......
 

Grey Havoc

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And the idea that we should keep Castles and Bays to chase down Soviet Whiskey class subs in the event of war that was expected to last, at most, days.......
Not entirely crazy, to be fair. Quite of a few of the Strath Committee's assumptions and conclusions were highly dubious at best, even allowing for things like limitations on available intelligence on Soviet capabilities at the time. It is interesting to see just how discredited the Strath Report had become by the mid-1970s, less than 20 years later. And of course towards the end of that decade, MAD's crown had begun to slip (somewhat ironically initially thanks to growing Soviet strategic superiority throughout the decade), with concepts like Broken-backed war beginning to make a comeback.
 
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