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Polaris tubes stay on Cruisers?

isayyo2

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Before Polaris was put out to sea, submarines weren't their only host platform; the USN had their Long Beach and Albany cruisers "fitted for, but not with" with eight Polaris tubes. Also, the Italian Navy and their Cruisers held provisions for Polaris tubes. Still, these plans were dashed after the Cuban Missile crisis and the quick build-up of American SSBNs.

So, what if the surface navy kept their nuclear missiles?

Personally, I think if the SWO's got their way, we might see the Long Beach turn into a class of ships that led independent Surface Action Groups. The "DLG Frigates" would still be procured for air defense, but CGN (CAGN) Cruisers would be built in the 60s and continue their historical roles; more or less, these are the "Strike Cruisers" but built to 60s standards so Talos, Mk11 launchers, Asroc, and probably no guns, unfortunately. But what other offensive weapons might arise if the surface navy got more of the budget? Something of the equivalent to Styx or Moskit anti-ship missiles? How much earlier could Tomahawk or an equivalent come into service?
 

isayyo2

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Italy could have put this baby on its cruisers
Italian SLBM ALFA Missile
A definite loss of national deterrence and prestige, perhaps other nations would continue their nuclear programs if Italy had been successful?
 

Dilandu

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So, what if the surface navy kept their nuclear missiles?
Most likely they would be eventually removed during first refit to save money and free displacement for more useful equipment. A few missiles on escort ships just arent practical in comparsion with 41 dedicated boomer.
 

Archibald

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Ninja'd, damn it.

I would extend the whatif to "ballistic missiles without nuclear warheads for everything".

One example: loaded with conventional explosives and used as "surrogates" strike vehicles or bombers.

Another example: let's suppose a very different Falklands. Port Stanley airfield must be wrecked.
So the British send a R-class nuclear submarine, it fires a Polaris, except with a very different warhead: some kind of "ballistic Durandal" or "conventional explosive cluster bomb". The Polaris warhead explodes over the airfield and rains thousands of bomblets all across the tarmac, thoroughly devastating it.

In a few words "Prompt global strike" ICBM plans touted by Bush 43 circa 2004 (from memory).

thoughts ?
 

Lascaris

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Italy could have put this baby on its cruisers
Italian SLBM ALFA Missile
Italy needs either to feel considerably more threatened, frex by a hostile Warsaw pact Yugoslavia on its border or to somehow avoid Italian (and West German) participation in the French nuclear weapons program being cancelled after De Gaulle returns to power. Or maybe both.
 

Grey Havoc

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Italy could have put this baby on its cruisers
Italian SLBM ALFA Missile
Italy needs either to feel considerably more threatened, frex by a hostile Warsaw pact Yugoslavia on its border or to somehow avoid Italian (and West German) participation in the French nuclear weapons program being cancelled after De Gaulle returns to power. Or maybe both.
The return of the Kingdom of Italy and hopefully more sane (and longer lived!) governments would also help. (Flees back to fallout shelter)
 

isayyo2

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Ninja'd, damn it.

I would extend the whatif to "ballistic missiles without nuclear warheads for everything".

One example: loaded with conventional explosives and used as "surrogates" strike vehicles or bombers.

Another example: let's suppose a very different Falklands. Port Stanley airfield must be wrecked.
So the British send a R-class nuclear submarine, it fires a Polaris, except with a very different warhead: some kind of "ballistic Durandal" or "conventional explosive cluster bomb". The Polaris warhead explodes over the airfield and rains thousands of bomblets all across the tarmac, thoroughly devastating it.

In a few words "Prompt global strike" ICBM plans touted by Bush 43 circa 2004 (from memory).

thoughts ?
My thoughts exactly.

Conventional theatre ballistic missiles with cluster munitions and FAE clearing the way for carrier launched strike planes during Desert Storm, or launching Prompt Global Strike deep penetrators at Tora Bora?
Ship launched ballistic missiles could fling satellites to keep communications going, or their large tubes could carry ABM missiles.

There was also talk of shooting scramjet ballistic missiles out of 16" guns, ~400nm in 9 minute!
 

Dilandu

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One example: loaded with conventional explosives and used as "surrogates" strike vehicles or bombers.

Considering low accuracy of 1960s ballistic missiles, it would be an exemplification of inefficient waste of money.
So the British send a R-class nuclear submarine, it fires a Polaris, except with a very different warhead: some kind of "ballistic Durandal" or "conventional explosive cluster bomb". The Polaris warhead explodes over the airfield and rains thousands of bomblets all across the tarmac, thoroughly devastating it.

Polaris missile CEP is about 940 meters. I.e. the chances of hitting the tarmac is pretty low. With the payload mass of 0,75 ton, it would just not be efficient.
 

JohnR

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There is also a danger of escalation. How does the target nation know if the ballistic missile heading their way is conventional or nuke???
 

archipeppe

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Italy could have put this baby on its cruisers
Italian SLBM ALFA Missile
Italy needs either to feel considerably more threatened, frex by a hostile Warsaw pact Yugoslavia on its border or to somehow avoid Italian (and West German) participation in the French nuclear weapons program being cancelled after De Gaulle returns to power. Or maybe both.
The return of the Kingdom of Italy and hopefully more sane (and longer lived!) governments would also help. (Flees back to fallout shelter)
Essentially Italy had an ambitious nuclear program that reached its peak in the early 60's with the Jupiter IRBM handled by USAF and AMI in Puglia and the Italian Navy conversion of the old Giuseppe Garibaldi cruiser into a modern unit, in particular Garibaldi cruiser was equipped with four vertical launch tubes for Polaris A1/Alfa missile.

They were the very first "hot tubes" and in a single occasion the Garibaldi launched a Polaris mock-up the 31st August 1963 from La Spezia gulf:

1614789185669.png

Since the "hot tubes" proved successfully they were included into the design of the next Italian flagship: the Vittorio Veneto crusier. There were room for four tubes (like the Garibaldi), into the middle section among the two macks rather than the stern accomodation of the Garibaldi.
Since the Polaris acquisition vanished and the Alfa program slowed down, with the change of political attitude at the end of the 60's the four Veneto's tubes were never used and the space above them was exploited to place a crane and several lifeboats.

The tail of the Italian nuclear progam (except for the never were Guglielmo Marconi nuclear submarine class) was the trial of Alfa missile that happened at least three times from Salto di Quirra launching site in the mid-70's.
 

uk 75

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I imagine that the change of NATO strategy away from large numbers of nuclear weapons being used early on in favour of flexible response by the second half of the 60s played a part. It also helped that Yugoslavia became a non aligned but more anti Soviet nation.
Nuclear proliferation also became less attractive to countries as the costs and complexity of weapons increased.
There is a thread on Italy and Switzerland's nuclear programmes
 

elmayerle

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Ninja'd, damn it.

I would extend the whatif to "ballistic missiles without nuclear warheads for everything".

One example: loaded with conventional explosives and used as "surrogates" strike vehicles or bombers.

Another example: let's suppose a very different Falklands. Port Stanley airfield must be wrecked.
So the British send a R-class nuclear submarine, it fires a Polaris, except with a very different warhead: some kind of "ballistic Durandal" or "conventional explosive cluster bomb". The Polaris warhead explodes over the airfield and rains thousands of bomblets all across the tarmac, thoroughly devastating it.

In a few words "Prompt global strike" ICBM plans touted by Bush 43 circa 2004 (from memory).

thoughts ?
Not necessarily bomblets, but a dispersal of ballistic penetrator KEWs to wreck the airfield.
 

royabulgaf

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I don't think the Polarismissiles of the 60s were accurate enough to be useful with non-nuclear warheads.
 

Dilandu

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High accuracy wasn't needed for their intended targets especially with the Polaris A2 being equiped with the W-47Y2 warhead (It had a yield of 1.2MT).
If I recall correctly, their main targets were airfields, naval bases, radar installations, and (in case of retaliation strikes) population centers?
 

Grey Havoc

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It was primarily a countervalue rather than a counterforce weapons system, so primarily cities, industrial areas and other civilian/non-military targets, though the others you mention would have been important secondary targets where possible (with preference given to relatively non-hardened facilities). Though the USN may have allowed some confusion on Congress' part to develop over exactly what Polaris was intended & capable of taking out, in order to keep the program going. If Congress had known the full truth of affairs it is highly unlikely they would have allowed Regulus II to be cancelled to in order free up more funds for the ever ravenous Polaris, for example.
 
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DWG

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There is also a danger of escalation. How does the target nation know if the ballistic missile heading their way is conventional or nuke???
How do they know a cruise missile is conventional or nuke?
Which is a completely valid point.

The answer is the current strategic context at that point in time, and that's very different now than it was when Polaris launch tubes were a thing.

It's going to become an issue again if the USN goes ahead with putting Intermediate-Range Conventional Prompt Strike/Common Hypersonic Glide Body launch tubes on the Zumwalts, because the numbers will be so low compared to Tomahawk magazine capacity spread across a SAG that they almost have to assume any weapon fired will be nuclear (because they likely will conclude some of them will be, whatever the weapon is called).
 

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