RN 1962: Escort Cruiser versus Type 82 with helo

uk 75

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In Friedman's book on British Destroyers and Frigates there is an interesting account of how the Royal Navy looked at the competing virtues of two ships which are described but never illustrated.

The first is a 10,000 ton escort cruiser armed with Seadart launchers front and aft and with a sponson mounted Ikara asw launcher (similar to that originally planned for CVA 01). The second is a 6,000 ton destroyer design derived from the Type 82 (Bristol) armed with a single Seadart launcher forw'd and a helicopter pad aft. Both were expected to carry Chinook size helos (later Seakings).

The RN preferred the Escort Cruiser and would have ordered them for delivery at the end of the 60s if Polaris costs and design staff shortages had not led to a postponement and the conversion of the Tiger class cruisers to helicopter carriers for replacement at the end of the 70s.

In 1966 the Escort Cruiser was still planned to join the fleet in the late 70s. The RN again looked at the Type 82 to provide a cheaper alternative. By 1967 the CVA 01 had been cancelled and the Escort Cruiser became a Command Cruiser (described publicly as an enlarged Type 82) and Type 82 was replaced with the smaller Type 42.

Given the fiasco of the Tiger conversions it is perhaps not surprising that the RN has still not published whatever drawings were done of the 1962 Seadart ships. The old fashioned looking Seaslug ships always shown and the later 1966 Working party ships are completely different designs. Maybe one day the drawings will surface.

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zen

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Considering the era we cannot be sure the drawings survive at all. They may have been destroyed on orders or later on in a clearout.

Its like those CV studies done from 53 onwards besides the CVA-01 studies where did the rest go?
 

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According the Friedman's British Carrier Aviation he takes the narrative from Honnor and Andrews 'HMS Invincible: The First of a new Genus of Aircraft Carrying Ships' RINA paper and from Groves 'Vanguard to Trident' that in 1966 the helicopter-missile cruiser was under development at 6,000 tons. After 1966 two designs were followed, a 12,500 ton cruiser with a flight deck aft (probably a Type 82 development) and a 17,500 ton through-deck cruiser via a Staff Requirement, the First Sea Lord favoured the 12,500 ton cruiser but when Sir Michael Le Fanu became First Sea Lord in 1968 he favoured the a through-deck ship for VTOL operations. Naval Staff Target 7079 brought the Study 21 (a cruiser with aft flight deck) and Study 22 a Seadart armed through-deck cruiser (a picture I've drawn some time ago based on a plan and the orginal drawing).

As for the Type 82 design only six Sea King could be carried aft but for the planned nine needed for ASW operations a hull hangar was needed. By 1970 the design was 17,500 tons and through-deck.
 

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Hood

Thanks for the excellent summary and illustrations of the evolution of the CAH post 1966.

I would still love to see the Escort Cruiser design that nearly got ordered in 1963 (but for Polaris apparently). I do not know where they intended to fit the 2 Seadart launchers and Ikara ASW mentioned in Brown/Moore.

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Brown/Moore's Rebuilding the Royal Navy goes into the 1962-3 Cruiser helicopter carrier programme in some detail, but is frustratingly vague about the ships that were about to be ordered (as opposed to the design
studies which led up to them). I may have misread the text, but my reading
is that the version to be ordered was to have Seadart and Ikara.

What makes this ship interesting is that it was on the verge of being
ordered, and would have been if Skybolt had not been cancelled for the
RAF in 1962, forcing the RN to bring forward its order for Polaris.

Originally, the RN seems to have hoped to get its cruisers and carriers
paid for before ordering Polaris-type subs in the late 60s early 70s. The Skybolt decision was thus a mixed blessing.

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Until the Polaris decision cancelled the missile equipped helicopter cruiser (the Tiger class
were to be converted as substitutes until the ships could be reinstated in the 70s), the
RN planned to operate the following as a Task Group

CVA 01 (equipped with Seadart and Ikara)

CH (equipped with Seadart and Ikara)

Type 82 (equipped with Seadart, Ikara and Limbo)

Escort frigate/destroyer (small ASW helo, Limbo)

Until the CH was cancelled the CVA 01 and Type 82 were not intended to carry
large ASW helos. This only became necessary with the substitution of the
Tiger class conversions with their limited helo load (2-4 depending on size). The
displaced ASW helos had to be found room on the CVA 01.

Later the Ikara was removed from CVA 01 and left only on the Type 82 and
a planned later escort ship design.

We really need to know what the ship agreed to in 1962/3 was supposed
to look like. Hope someone can find something put there somewhere.

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The narrative in Brown/Moore supports the idea that the planned
cruiser was a derivative of the illustrated Seaslug ship.

However, it is hard to see how two launchers and four directors
for Seadart plus a launcher and director for Ikara can be worked
into this design. Unless of course, one looks at the early angle
deck version of CVA 01 shown in Brown/Moore and illustrated on
Richard Beedall's excellent site by an MOD artists impression.

Using this design as a basis and modifying the standard view of
the large Seaslug cruiser helo carrier we can produce a ship
resembling a cut size CVA 01, with two Seadart launchers
either side of the aft flight deck and a side sponson for
Ikara as on original CVA01 drawings. There would be no
gun or seacat armament, but an elongated CVA01 style
superstructure with Macks and enough room for radars.

Now all we need is for someone to find this sketch at the NAO or
Bath to confirm the theory. In view of how close the ships were
to being ordered in 1962, there must be something out there.

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Volkodav

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Sorry for the thread necromancy.

Brown mentioned that the UK recommended the Escort Cruiser to Australia when they came shopping for a cut and shut steam powered County class DLG in the early 60s. They were too busy to design the pointless, smaller, steam powered, Tartar armed, Wessex equipped destroyer Australia wanted, looked at the actually Australian requirement and suggested the escort cruiser could fill both their area air defence and helicopter carrier roles concurrently.

Ah what could have been, there were proposals to convert both the RANs Battle and Daring class destroyers into Tartar (and possibly Ikara) DDGs (the Modified Leander class cruiser was also proposed for guided missile conversion) in addition to buying three new ships; with that many converted DDGs in service already waiting for a trio of escort cruisers would have seen a very very different RAN, especially after Sea harrier became available. Just a though, these plans to upgrade three to five (or possibly even six) existing ships with guided missile may have been part of the reason (apart from cost) that the new ships were to be built overseas.
 

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Escort cruisers, the name changed by country, were popular as a concept across the west in the late 1950s through the 1960s. The Canadians developed a concept they called the Heliporter (though never built it), the Italians actually built three ships over two separate classes and the RN developed the escort cruiser concept. The attraction, despite the borderline unhinged rantings of David Hobbes, was that they allowed navies to get ASW helicopters to sea in large numbers quickly- and in supportable packages that provided a perceived capability in terms of station-keeping/platform availability for ASW helicopters at sea. For those navies that had operated carriers the combination of guided missile systems and ASW helicopters offered an affordable (if not ideal) replacement for ex-RN light fleet carriers with fast-jets and Trackers/Gannets which is why they were pursued. There were a series of NATO studies/exercises through the 1960s that called into question the benefit of a light ASW carrier versus additional helicopter equipped destroyers and maritime patrol aircraft due to emerging technology (notably sonobuoys as well ASW helicopters with dipping sonar).

The RAN actually had a slightly different operational environment that goes some way to explaining why HMAS Melbourne lasted so long, they never faced a submarine or air threat as sophisticated as that in the North Atlantic but the Indonesian scenario did call for some specific anti-surface and strike capabilities. For much the same reason the Australian DDL project churned out a design notably different in key areas to those coming out of NATO countries.
 

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JFC Fuller said:
Escort cruisers, the name changed by country, were popular as a concept across the west in the late 1950s through the 1960s. The Canadians developed a concept they called the Heliporter (though never built it)......................................

I've never heard of this. Do you have any details and drawings? Where could these details be found?

Bigger Guns, MORE POWER!

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I think he refers to the DDH or helicopter destroyers. I've never heard of any cruiser sized Canadian warship project. (Even the Canadian modified Queen Elizabeth class Battleships were too British)
 

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This thesis can shed some light on the RCN Heliporter (especially page 78):

https://qspace.library.queensu.ca/bitstream/1974/8298/1/Mayne_Richard_O_finalsubmission_200804_PhD.pdf

Fraser-Harris was anxious. He had a unique opportunity to shape the RCN’s
future force structure, and, perhaps because of that, one officer who accompanied him
remembered “being forced to wait while [Fraser-Harris] (in somewhat unusual fashion)
paid a nervous trip to the washroom in preparation for his ordeal.”101 Despite these
jitters, Fraser-Harris did a good job with the General Purpose Frigate. However, he went
too far with the Heliporter. The current plans to convert the St. Laurent class into DDHs
would place a small number of helicopters into a large number of ships, and as a result
Fraser-Harris argued that the RCN actually needed a “helicopter carrier” to support these
smaller units. By lengthening a Restigouche hull to 420 feet, he explained further, this
platform could not only carry nine Sea King helicopters, but also could act as a mother
ship with proper maintenance facilities “for other aircraft in the escort force.” Yet in
proposing such a ship, Fraser-Harris revealed that he actually wanted the Heliporter to be
a small flattop aircraft carrier rather than a helicopter-carrying frigate.
 

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Tzoli said:
I think he refers to the DDH or helicopter destroyers. I've never heard of any cruiser sized Canadian warship project.

Most of these designs started out destroyer sized and then grew, including the RN Helicopter Cruiser concept. The link/document TomS posted has sketches of several of the Canadian concepts.
 

M. A. Rozon

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JFC Fuller said:
Tzoli said:
I think he refers to the DDH or helicopter destroyers. I've never heard of any cruiser sized Canadian warship project.

Most of these designs started out destroyer sized and then grew, including the RN Helicopter Cruiser concept. The link/document TomS posted has sketches of several of the Canadian concepts.

Thank you! I don't recall reading this thesis before. It answers the question nicely.

Thanks again.

Bigger Guns, MORE POWER!

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M. A. Rozon

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TomS said:
This thesis can shed some light on the RCN Heliporter (especially page 78):

https://qspace.library.queensu.ca/bitstream/1974/8298/1/Mayne_Richard_O_finalsubmission_200804_PhD.pdf

Fraser-Harris was anxious. He had a unique opportunity to shape the RCN’s
future force structure, and, perhaps because of that, one officer who accompanied him
remembered “being forced to wait while [Fraser-Harris] (in somewhat unusual fashion)
paid a nervous trip to the washroom in preparation for his ordeal.”101 Despite these
jitters, Fraser-Harris did a good job with the General Purpose Frigate. However, he went
too far with the Heliporter. The current plans to convert the St. Laurent class into DDHs
would place a small number of helicopters into a large number of ships, and as a result
Fraser-Harris argued that the RCN actually needed a “helicopter carrier” to support these
smaller units. By lengthening a Restigouche hull to 420 feet, he explained further, this
platform could not only carry nine Sea King helicopters, but also could act as a mother
ship with proper maintenance facilities “for other aircraft in the escort force.” Yet in
proposing such a ship, Fraser-Harris revealed that he actually wanted the Heliporter to be
a small flattop aircraft carrier rather than a helicopter-carrying frigate.

Sorry for the double post; I quoted the wrong post.

Thanks again. That's answers my question nicely.

Bigger Guns, MORE POWER!

B)
 

The Skipper

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Escort cruisers, the name changed by country, were popular as a concept across the west in the late 1950s through the 1960s. The Canadians developed a concept they called the Heliporter (though never built it), the Italians actually built three ships over two separate classes and the RN developed the escort cruiser concept. The attraction, despite the borderline unhinged rantings of David Hobbes, was that they allowed navies to get ASW helicopters to sea in large numbers quickly- and in supportable packages that provided a perceived capability in terms of station-keeping/platform availability for ASW helicopters at sea. For those navies that had operated carriers the combination of guided missile systems and ASW helicopters offered an affordable (if not ideal) replacement for ex-RN light fleet carriers with fast-jets and Trackers/Gannets which is why they were pursued. There were a series of NATO studies/exercises through the 1960s that called into question the benefit of a light ASW carrier versus additional helicopter equipped destroyers and maritime patrol aircraft due to emerging technology (notably sonobuoys as well ASW helicopters with dipping sonar).

The RAN actually had a slightly different operational environment that goes some way to explaining why HMAS Melbourne lasted so long, they never faced a submarine or air threat as sophisticated as that in the North Atlantic but the Indonesian scenario did call for some specific anti-surface and strike capabilities. For much the same reason the Australian DDL project churned out a design notably different in key areas to those coming out of NATO countries.
Please clarify "The borderline unhinged rantings of David Hobbs" (not Hobbes, btw)
 

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Escort cruisers, the name changed by country, were popular as a concept across the west in the late 1950s through the 1960s. The Canadians developed a concept they called the Heliporter (though never built it), the Italians actually built three ships over two separate classes and the RN developed the escort cruiser concept. The attraction, despite the borderline unhinged rantings of David Hobbes, was that they allowed navies to get ASW helicopters to sea in large numbers quickly- and in supportable packages that provided a perceived capability in terms of station-keeping/platform availability for ASW helicopters at sea. For those navies that had operated carriers the combination of guided missile systems and ASW helicopters offered an affordable (if not ideal) replacement for ex-RN light fleet carriers with fast-jets and Trackers/Gannets which is why they were pursued. There were a series of NATO studies/exercises through the 1960s that called into question the benefit of a light ASW carrier versus additional helicopter equipped destroyers and maritime patrol aircraft due to emerging technology (notably sonobuoys as well ASW helicopters with dipping sonar).

The RAN actually had a slightly different operational environment that goes some way to explaining why HMAS Melbourne lasted so long, they never faced a submarine or air threat as sophisticated as that in the North Atlantic but the Indonesian scenario did call for some specific anti-surface and strike capabilities. For much the same reason the Australian DDL project churned out a design notably different in key areas to those coming out of NATO countries.
Please clarify "The borderline unhinged rantings of David Hobbs" (not Hobbes, btw)
I fear you will find that our colleague JFC Fuller can sometimes be inclined to excessive superlatives on occasion. He has in the past also been a little 'short' with other Board Members when he doesn't necessarily agree with their point of view or statements.
He is FAR from unique in this, and I myself have noticed that various Members can be somewhat abrupt when disagreeing with others. This is when the Board Moderators sometimes have to step-in.
That is not to say he is not very knowledgeable, and indeed there are MANY postings across these boards that support this, and we would be VERY MUCH poorer without his contributions.
I do have to agree that Mr Hobbs can be somewhat 'fanatical' in pointing the finger of blame at various other Military or Politicos whilst sometimes extolling the virtues of an unimpeachable Royal Navy. Unfortunately, as an author, David Hobbs is far from unique in this, and MANY others fall into the same temptations instead of giving a more balanced narrative.
 
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Hood

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Probably worth pointing out that David Hobbs was the Curator and Principal Historian of the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton, before he became an author and lecturer.

He was also a serving Fleet Air Arm pilot, so he would have formed his opinions of contemporary events 'at the coal face' so to speak. Whether the archival material he consulted in later years as curator and author has confirmed his opinions or whether he has read and presented them in a way that confirms his opinions is open to question - but remember folks no historian is ever unbiased.

Hobbs certainly has strong views, whether they are right or wrong is open to interpretation. One could see him as a useful counterpoint to Friedman perhaps. Friedman, Sturton and Brown tend/tended to approach from the technical side, which is why Hennessey & Jinks was a welcome breath of political oversight of submarine developments. Sadly the surface fleet hasn't really been covered politically since Eric Grove's (who I have only just found out sadly died in April) Vanguard to Trident, which was written 34 years ago, and think of the tons of material released since then at Kew and other archives!
 

uk 75

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RIP Eric Grove I was fortunate enough to run into Professor Groves at the now
defunct Motorbooks shop in St Martins Court London where most of my books
in those days came from. I asked him about Desmond Wettern's Decline of British
Seapower. He was very friendly and helpful. He confirmed that it was still a useful
book. He clearly knew Wettern.
Very sorry to learn that he has gone from us.
 

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Escort cruisers, the name changed by country, were popular as a concept across the west in the late 1950s through the 1960s. The Canadians developed a concept they called the Heliporter (though never built it), the Italians actually built three ships over two separate classes and the RN developed the escort cruiser concept. The attraction, despite the borderline unhinged rantings of David Hobbes, was that they allowed navies to get ASW helicopters to sea in large numbers quickly- and in supportable packages that provided a perceived capability in terms of station-keeping/platform availability for ASW helicopters at sea. For those navies that had operated carriers the combination of guided missile systems and ASW helicopters offered an affordable (if not ideal) replacement for ex-RN light fleet carriers with fast-jets and Trackers/Gannets which is why they were pursued. There were a series of NATO studies/exercises through the 1960s that called into question the benefit of a light ASW carrier versus additional helicopter equipped destroyers and maritime patrol aircraft due to emerging technology (notably sonobuoys as well ASW helicopters with dipping sonar).

The RAN actually had a slightly different operational environment that goes some way to explaining why HMAS Melbourne lasted so long, they never faced a submarine or air threat as sophisticated as that in the North Atlantic but the Indonesian scenario did call for some specific anti-surface and strike capabilities. For much the same reason the Australian DDL project churned out a design notably different in key areas to those coming out of NATO countries.
Please clarify "The borderline unhinged rantings of David Hobbs" (not Hobbes, btw)
I fear you will find that our colleague JFC Fuller can sometimes be inclined to excessive superlatives on occasion. He has in the past also been a little 'short' with other Board Members when he doesn't necessarily agree with their point of view or statements.
He is FAR from unique in this, and I myself have noticed that various Members can be somewhat abrupt when disagreeing with others. This is when the Board Moderators sometimes have to step-in.
That is not to say he is not very knowledgeable, and indeed there are MANY postings across these boards that support this, and we would be VERY MUCH poorer without his contributions.
I do have to agree that Mr Hobbs can be somewhat 'fanatical' in pointing the finger of blame at various other Military or Politicos whilst sometimes extolling the virtues of an unimpeachable Royal Navy. Unfortunately, as an author, David Hobbs is far from unique in this, and MANY others fall into the same temptations instead of giving a more balanced narrative.
I served under Commander David Hobbs, 1987- 1989, and have read some of his books. As regards the cancellation of CVA 01, it is well known that the Royal Air Force doctored a map, moving Australia 500 miles north of its actual position, to bolster their claim that they could be the "Mobile Global R.A.F.", covering the world from land bases. It is also well known that this sleight of hand helped to convince Defence Secretary Denis Healy that CVA 01 was unnecessary. Commander Hobbs makes reference, to this incident, in at least one of his books. However, I have not read anything, which he has written, that could, IMO, be described as "Borderline unhinged rantings".
 

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Moderator note:

Pirate Pete and Hood post #17 and #19 are posts are well arguments favorable to JTC Fuller. But I think The Skipper point is also remarkable, we could find less offensive but still effective adjectives for sure.

That benefits everyone
 

JFC Fuller

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My, positive, reviews of David Hobb's books can be found elsewhere on this forum. The quality of his research and narrative writing is excellent and he has made a significant contribution to the published history of the RN carrier fleet and the FAA in the post-war era. However, it is also my view that the strength of his feeling about the withdrawal of the RN's large carrier force lead him to occasionally make dramatic assertions that are supported by neither the surviving documents nor logical deduction.

His views on the Escort Cruiser concept are, to me, exemplar of this. Hobbs uses it as a lightning rod for his criticisms of certain senior Royal Navy personnel in the early 1960s. His three core charges against the Escort Cruiser concept are that it was "backwards thinking", had no real purpose and undermined the case for CVA-01. None of these is very credible, the first appears to be based on nothing more than the use of the term cruiser and the second is disproven by a passage in his own Helicopters and Helicopter Carriers chapter describing the perceived shortage of at sea ASW helicopters. The last is undermined by the fact the RN sold CVA-01 (and the existing large carriers) to the Chiefs of Staff and three governments as a means of providing the fighter and strike capability required to deliver British commitments East of Suez, everything else was tangential.

@The Skipper, and anyone else, is entitled to disagree with me and my five year old post above.
 
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