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RN post war carrier conundrums

uk 75

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Zen

Your points are all well taken and I have enjoyed the info generated.

I wonder if the RN would have been luckier if the Eagle design had been chosen
as the basis for all postwar carriers and the hapless Illustrious ships simply
scrapped. After Eagle and Ark Royal, additional ships could have been built
in the 50s to have a force of 4-5 broadly similar platforms in say 1962. Rather than the exxotic
CVA 01 the design could then have been allowed to evolve with each new build rather like the Nimitz class.
By 1975 if we had pulled out of East of Suez and concentrated on NATO the Eagle mods could have been left in service as a 3 ship class with Ark Royal and Eagle leaving service during the 70s. Depending on the success or otherwise of the BAC?HS? stovl fighter attacker programme, their successors might then have
been smaller cheaper vessels. This programme would also have allowed the light fleets to be sold scrapped or converted to provide money for other programmes.
UK 75
 

zen

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Its certainly one of the more concrete alternative scenarios that HMS Eagle is completed instead of scrapped in 1945. Three Ark Royal CVs by the mid 50's makes the idea of modernising the Illustrious class an even less attractive option, and might just have prompted the process for a new carrier in 1950. Likely this third ship woul be more like Eagle's modernisation than Ark Royal.
A two year lead over the 1952 process stands a chance of booking the available slip for '53 and an ISD of the very late 50's or very early 60's. With a second of class possibly laid down in Jan '55. In essence the 1952 ship but earlier.

A more consistent footing for the carrier fleet into the 60s and beyond.
Of course new ships prior to CVA-01 mean their constraints apply to any new aircraft, OR.346 as was cannot be so lax in terms of size and weight for the naval machines and will end up more like AW406 for fighters and possibly more like the early OR339 (600nm ROA)for strike.
 

Hammer Birchgrove

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sealordlawrence said:
Thorvic said:
CVF basing has nothing to do with regional politics
The CVF carriers are to be bassed at Portsmouth, they are only being assembled in Rosyth ;D.

However regional politics did come into the bassing of the JSF as the then current Scottish heavy cabinet decided that they should be bassed at Lossiemouth quoting some cobblers about the only base with a suitable runway (For a STOVL aicraft designed to operate off carriers, pull the other one !!!).
Funny that, as Portsmouth may not survive the SDR.
The Strategic Defence Review, right?
 

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How about this timeline?

All Audacious class are so delayed for one reason and another that none have had much done in the way of construction and all are cancelled immediately forcing the RN to rely on the Illustrious class and the Light Fleets, this is quickly shown to be a mistake and the studies for a new carrier are started - the 1952 carrier - does having no suitable large carrier increase the chances of something like the 1952 carriers being built?
 

zen

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All Audacious class are so delayed for one reason and another that none have had much done in the way of construction and all are cancelled immediately forcing the RN to rely on the Illustrious class and the Light Fleets, this is quickly shown to be a mistake and the studies for a new carrier are started - the 1952 carrier - does having no suitable large carrier increase the chances of something like the 1952 carriers being built?
Even if we assume the same decision timing for the 1952 effort, then the lack of suitable CVs forces them into carrying on with the 1952 ship itself in 1953 or driven home the earliest possible Medium Fleet type instead. Possibly the Medium Fleet type studies might even be run concurrent with the 1952 effort to gauge what they can achieve at what cost and at what timescale. That might support the lighter 28,000ton ship.

Its possible that lacking the Audaciouses, attempts to modernise the Illustriouses could begin earlier but this too will tend not to prevent the same conclusions and force a total rethink towards the largest possible they can get. Thats because they cannot start early enough to not hit the Angled Deck trails and Steam Catapult requirements which will so delay any effort and show up how deficient they are, nor can it avoid the ponderings about whats needed for a fast jet bomber.

I think you might have a case with this scenario.
 

PMN1

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Out of interest, if you have STOVL aircraft and can dispense with the steam catapults, would it be feasible to replace the steam turbine with gas turbines with the gas turbines having electric drive to the shafts to avoid needing all the trunking that usually goes with gas turbines?
 

zen

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Nothing excludes the possibilty of this. After all electric driven props where used on Lexington I seem to reccal.

And of course something like is in CVF and in fact seems to have been on the cards since the new carrier studies started (possibly becuase we'd committed to this on Type 45).

Whether it would be considered viable in the 1960s or 1950's however is another matter.
 

Hammer Birchgrove

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Well there were marine versions of Bristol Proteus and Rolls-Royce Tyne, so my guess is that they could have been used.

Is it much more difficult to make gas turbine hybrids, rather than steam turbine or diesel hybrids (as in sub-marines)?
 

Abraham Gubler

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PMN1 said:
Out of interest, if you have STOVL aircraft and can dispense with the steam catapults, would it be feasible to replace the steam turbine with gas turbines with the gas turbines having electric drive to the shafts to avoid needing all the trunking that usually goes with gas turbines?
So instead of large tubes of air you would have large hot and heavy copper cables to run the power down to the motors.
 

PMN1

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Abraham Gubler said:
PMN1 said:
Out of interest, if you have STOVL aircraft and can dispense with the steam catapults, would it be feasible to replace the steam turbine with gas turbines with the gas turbines having electric drive to the shafts to avoid needing all the trunking that usually goes with gas turbines?
So instead of large tubes of air you would have large hot and heavy copper cables to run the power down to the motors.
Doesn't seem to have bothered the CVF team.
 

Abraham Gubler

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PMN1 said:
Doesn't seem to have bothered the CVF team.
Because they got to design their carrier with 21st century technology rather than that of the 1950s and 60s...
 

Grey Havoc

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Abraham Gubler said:
Because they got to design their carrier with 21st century technology rather than that of the 1950s and 60s...
Not that 21st century tech is always better than 20th century technology....

[Flees to screams of 'BURN THE HERETIC!']
 

Volkodav

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Appologies for the thread necromancy.

A thought comes to mind that the Tornado is not a particularly large or heavy aircraft compared to many, and also has VG. Extrapolating this, could the Tornado have been a viable option as a carrier strike and air defence type, especially from smaller carriers, i.e. Clemenceau, Foch, Hermes and possibly even Victorious? Able to operate Phantoms, Ark and Eagle would have been no brainers, could they have been compatible with modernised Essex?

The US did I believe, fly A-3s from modernised Essex, I could be mistaken though. Quick check and yes they did.

Another thought, the first three Armoured Fleet Carriers were the preferred option for modernisations because it was believed a single design solution would cover all three, however Illustrious and Formidable were found to be unsatisfactory following survey due to wartime damage, leaving only Vic. Now lets imagine comprehensive surveys were undertaken before any design work or plans were made, determining that Lusty and Formidable were unsuitable fore rebuilds, money could have instead been spent on Implacable and Indefatigable, or potentially, if undertaken early enough, could have justified additional Audacious or Hermes being completed instead of cancelled.
 
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Archibald

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Appologies for the thread necromancy.

A thought comes to mind that the Tornado is not a particularly large or heavy aircraft compared to many, and also has VG. Extrapolating this, could the Tornado have been a viable option as a carrier strike and air defence type, especially from smaller carriers, i.e. Clemenceau, Foch, Hermes and possibly even Victorious? Able to operate Phantoms, Ark and Eagle would have been no brainers, could they have been compatible with modernised Essex?

The US did I believe, fly A-3s from modernised Essex, I could be mistaken though. Quick check and yes they did.

Another thought, the first three Armoured Fleet Carriers were the preferred option for modernisations because it was believed a single design solution would cover all three, however Illustrious and Formidable were found to be unsatisfactory following survey due to wartime damage, leaving only Vic.
No Tornado is way too heavy for the smaller ones you mention. Their catapults can throw barely 16 mt when Tornado is 22 mt. VG can't change that.
France had the wonderful Mirage G making 118 kt at 16 mt but even that was at the edge of what Foch could do.

A-3 was very heavy BUT subsonic ! compared to supersonic birds like Phantoms it changes a lot of things even at equal weight of 25 mt. The supersonic bird comes on the deck with twice or thrice the kinetic energy.

Consider the following facts
- heaviest carrier landing ever was a 60 mt freakkin C-130 Hercules on USS Forrestal
- U2R landed on USS America even with their never ending wingspan.
Both aircraft are very slow subsonic birds.

By contrast heaviest supersonic naval bird was the A5C Vigilante followed by Phantoms and Tomcat. All three 28-33 mt max.
Half the Hercules weight... but they had to slow from Mach 2.5 to 180 kt to land !
 
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zen

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Appologies for the thread necromancy.

A thought comes to mind that the Tornado is not a particularly large or heavy aircraft compared to many, and also has VG. Extrapolating this, could the Tornado have been a viable option as a carrier strike and air defence type, especially from smaller carriers, i.e. Clemenceau, Foch, Hermes and possibly even Victorious? Able to operate Phantoms, Ark and Eagle would have been no brainers, could they have been compatible with modernised Essex?

The US did I believe, fly A-3s from modernised Essex, I could be mistaken though. Quick check and yes they did.

Another thought, the first three Armoured Fleet Carriers were the preferred option for modernisations because it was believed a single design solution would cover all three, however Illustrious and Formidable were found to be unsatisfactory following survey due to wartime damage, leaving only Vic. Now lets imagine comprehensive surveys were undertaken before any design work or plans were made, determining that Lusty and Formidable were unsuitable fore rebuilds, money could have instead been spent on Implacable and Indefatigable, or potentially, if undertaken early enough, could have justified additional Audacious or Hermes being completed instead of cancelled.
A navalised Tornado is going to weigh more for mo increase in performance. So while I can see a Sea Tornado flying from Eagle and Ark Royal. It would be a bit iffy for the smaller CVs. Though it might be do-able it requires a lot and only limited numbers would fit.

As earlier a third Audacious is quite possible but post war it's not that rational to start a fourth unless this is in place of a Malta. Even then it's a bit fanciful and more rational to start a next generation programme.
 

bobtdwarf

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Appologies for the thread necromancy.

A thought comes to mind that the Tornado is not a particularly large or heavy aircraft compared to many, and also has VG. Extrapolating this, could the Tornado have been a viable option as a carrier strike and air defence type, especially from smaller carriers, i.e. Clemenceau, Foch, Hermes and possibly even Victorious? Able to operate Phantoms, Ark and Eagle would have been no brainers, could they have been compatible with modernised Essex?

The US did I believe, fly A-3s from modernised Essex, I could be mistaken though. Quick check and yes they did.

Another thought, the first three Armoured Fleet Carriers were the preferred option for modernisations because it was believed a single design solution would cover all three, however Illustrious and Formidable were found to be unsatisfactory following survey due to wartime damage, leaving only Vic. Now lets imagine comprehensive surveys were undertaken before any design work or plans were made, determining that Lusty and Formidable were unsuitable fore rebuilds, money could have instead been spent on Implacable and Indefatigable, or potentially, if undertaken early enough, could have justified additional Audacious or Hermes being completed instead of cancelled.
A bit of a misconception.. Victorious was just the next in line, Illustrious had been modernized just after the war they made her into the trials and training carrier. The next to come in for work after the war was Indomitable which was also "Modernized" but not reconstructed.. she was supposed to take over being the training and trials carrier from Illustrious after a refit in 1957. Neither were subject to major reconstruction though. Victorious was just the next ship of the lot in the build order.. Formidable WAS smoked though.

RN project management and surveying were subpar to say the least. An alteration in build order solves a huge amount of problems: Illustrious and Victorious first.. one as a flag and one as a trials ship, both with 16 foot hangars, skip Formidable because she is a mess, followed by Indomitable who will require the same general kind of reconstruction as the Implacable's you will get the "single design" solution they were looking for. The three of them are nearly the same beam and general layout just Indomitable is shorter; after you tear them down to the floor of the lower hangar you just cut them in half and put in a new section of hull just before the hull starts to curve towards the bow.. that last bit of big, fat, mostly square of mostly empty void for engines and hangar, to make them all 775 at the WL.. essentially makes them half sisters of a new class. Cancel Hermes entirely to free up funds and yard space and you might get both of them into the fleet at the same time that Vickie and Hermes joined it IRL.

Convert Illustrious and Victorious to LPH's instead of Albion and Bulwark.. they have hangars that will handle a Wessex just fine.. cut the center shaft and cap the hole gets rid of the vibration problem.. limits the speed to 24 knots.. The RN would be out no more cash then they were historically and have a more capable force.
 

zen

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Canning the Audacious class and funding major reconstruction of Illustrious and Implacable types is setting a major rocket under the effort for next generation carriers.
Good news is that sets the whole 1952 process off earlier and could see a solution chosen and built prior to technology force revisions and political intervention after '66.
 

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Canning the Audacious class and funding major reconstruction of Illustrious and Implacable types is setting a major rocket under the effort for next generation carriers.
Good news is that sets the whole 1952 process off earlier and could see a solution chosen and built prior to technology force revisions and political intervention after '66.
Been thinking about this for a bit. If we go with my altered refit order and curtail the amount of work done to Indomitable starting in 1950-ish to the historic work that was done in 1947-50 she comes out of the barn in 1953.

Edit: Using historic refit/rebuild order, what will be required is to curtail the work on Victorious. No steam cats, and they button her up in late 53 early 54 which gets you out the door for under 10.5 mil.. was doing some reading and it looks like they attempted to fit steam cats to her which delayed construction while they were being made, and then blew the whole project up when they discovered that she could not make enough steam to maintain speed and use them, they knew she only had 20 years left in her in 1945 so it should not have surprised them in the slightest that the boilers were going to crap out in '64-'65. and it only got worse as they threw new stuff into the mix every few months.. no steam cats and she comes out the barn fitted out like Albion/Bulwark/Eagle post 54... BH-5's and a five degree angle with a full gallery deck and a 17.5 hangar.

Implacable comes in on time and they begin her rebuild, which will get you a capable, modern carrier of about 38k tons when she is finished, but will when they are not very far into it highlight the need for A NEW ship. Time is a pressure, cash is a pressure.. so lets say they cancel Hermes(she will be great but to small given the aircraft the RN is ordering and the US is building), to free up the yard space and funds and lay down a modified Malta since they have the plans most of the way done already.

Do they have a yard available to start construction in the 1956/57 time frame or will they have to wait until after SS Canberra clears the slip?

I would think that the modification to the plans would entail moving the side lifts from port to starboard and eliminating the center lifts altogether.. no 4.5 DP allows some additional width to the area of former center lifts, gives you 530 feet of hangar, 90 feet at its widest and I am guessing about 54 at its narrowest.
 
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zen

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How many times must I inform people Malta is a dead end and only the propulsive element is carried forward after cancellation?
There is a case made for a new large carrier, but it's not Malta and was never going to be Malta.
The only hope of that is if Davenport No.10 limited study is chosen....not much less than the 1952 study and the early preference CVA study.

Even more so by '52, if not by '47 when the case was again made for a new large carrier.

Yards are available for a '55 start. But the '54 slip is taken by a cruise liner and would need to be booked much earlier.

Centre forward lift is guaranteed dry in foul weather, while deck edge lifts like on Hermes are very exposed.....very exposed.
That's why the much later CVA-01 ends up with one inboard forward and deck edge aftward shielded by the length of the ship and the island.
 

uk 75

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It is while since I read Grove and Wettern on postwar British naval policy, but I recall dimly that for much of the period we are discussing the main focus for carriers was ASW and trade protection while the existing large carriers were seen as having a role in East of Suez and similar local wars rather than in "general war".
 

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It is while since I read Grove and Wettern on postwar British naval policy, but I recall dimly that for much of the period we are discussing the main focus for carriers was ASW and trade protection while the existing large carriers were seen as having a role in East of Suez and similar local wars rather than in "general war".
That sounds about right, though I think in the 50's they were still anticipating a general war with Russia by '57.. I recall that the number of carriers they wanted bounced around a lot so generally I have been working in my mind with the 3 CVL's and 3 CVA one.

I have also been working with these figures for costs which I picked up on a site awhile back:
Some other costs from Royal Navy Aircraft Carriers 1945-1990 by Leo Marriott


£15,795,000 Eagle completed October 1951 - axial flight deck and hydraulic catapults


£21,428,000 Ark Royal completed February 1955 - interim angled flight deck and steam catapults


£10,000,000 average cost of Albion, Bulwark and Centaur completed 1953-54 - axial flight deck and hydraulic catapults


£10,386,250 (that is £A8,309,000 at an exchange rate of one Australian Pound to 1.25 Pounds Sterling) HMAS Melbourne completed November 1955 - interim angled flight deck and one steam catapult


£20,000,000 Victorious 1950-58 refit - fully angled flight deck, steam catapults, DC electrical system replaced by AC, Type 984 radar, CDS and DPT


£37,500,000 Hermes completed 1959 - interim angled flight deck, steam catapults, DC electrical system replaced by AC, Type 984 radar, CDS and DPT


Sticking to a minimal rebuild of Victorious IE JUST raising the hangar height 1.5 feet you can do that for cheap and fairly quick by using the same tricks they did on the Audacious: Thinner flight deck armor and shaving 6 inches out of the beams since they were overly built.. NO other bells or whistles and you can hit your budget and time estimate with no issues. But all you would have is Victorious with a taller hangar, nothing else.

IF, IF.. the yard that is building Hermes is capable of handling a hull of 775 WL and about 104-106 feet beam.. cancel Hermes, do the two Implacable's mostly concurrently and hope to have both of them done by '59. That will essentially give you the 47 aircraft capacity '54 35k ton CV study at 4-6 million pounds less than new construction and the ships should still have a 20-25 year life span after the rebuilds. This gets you to the 3/3 RN hope including Ark Royal.. forgo rebuild on Eagle and lay down a new 52-esque study CV. If we lay it down about the time Eagle was going to be rebuilt, she should come out the barn in '66.

A ship that capable and that new will force them politically to at least maintain the carrier force into the 90s.
 
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uk 75

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Much of the problem is the change from relatively small jets like Seahawks to the Buccaneer/Phantom era.
The 1952 design was too early to take this into account.
Ark and Eagle are the only design in service that can be adapted to fly the new jets.
Only with hindsight can we see that Eagle should have been converted not Ark. But that still gives only one CV for the 70s.
If you want additional ships an improved Eagle might have been easier than CVA01 but:
steam boilered ships
large manning requirement
limited plane numbers and load carry
ASW role in Atlantic takes over after 66
Vulnerable to Treasury cuts
Difficult to build within capacity of UK design teams, metal working and shipbuilder problems
 

kaiserd

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The RN fought tooth and nail to stay in the conventional carrier game until well past when the writing on the wall. I think it’s unfair to suggest that there was some magic alternatives available, or that they somehow didn’t fight hard enough.
Arguably it was a case of too much spent for to little return in capability with little real scope for really getting much more capability from that level spending given the lack of realistically available larger hulls.
Fantasies about how capable the likes of the F-8 actually was or could have been (and I’m a fan of the aircraft), or similar aspirations for some drawing-board great-white-hope design that never really got that close to entering service, can’t hide that the lighter carriers in this period would inevitably suffer from significantly less capable air wings and which made them rather dubious assets from a cost-benefit perspective.
There is perhaps an opportunity-cost argument for saying that less could have been spent for almost as much capability, or in a more exaggerated form an argument could be posited that less should have spent on trying to keep the conventional carrier capability earlier by entirely ditching this capability earlier, with the funds directed to other priorities.
Given the reality of the time period, with the UK recognising the reality of no longer being a world power, and the RN increasing concentration on ASW and it’s Polaris deferent role, it’s conventional carriers were increasingly creaking nice-to-have status symbols rather than core capability that could be sustained.
And the RN’s latest carriers are a greatly delayed product of when it’s ASW role appeared to virtually disappear.
 

Archibald

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Basically what it takes to repeal Tu-22M /AS-6 attacks is loads of F-14 Tomcats armed with AIM-54s. In turn this needs Forrestal / Kitty Hawk / Nimitz size carriers: +60 000 tons.

And this is completely unaffordable for everyone even the Soviets.

In turn this mean that all carriers below 60 000 tons are for land attack - let's say Hermes to Clemenceau to Essex to Midway size : 25 000 to 55 000 tons. In this case, air defence is better served by AEGIS-like missiles.

Same for the even smaller "Harrier carriers", ASW or not.

Truth is, in case of WWIII, Invincibles and Clemenceau and Midways would have needed AEGIS and Tomcat / Phoenix cover to survive the Soviet Navy onslaught in the North Atlantic.
 

JFC Fuller

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It is while since I read Grove and Wettern on postwar British naval policy, but I recall dimly that for much of the period we are discussing the main focus for carriers was ASW and trade protection while the existing large carriers were seen as having a role in East of Suez and similar local wars rather than in "general war".
This is a genuinely fascinating topic. Officially, the Navy and the Cabinet Defence Committee accepted in 1957 that, having abandoned the striking fleet role, the two broad roles of the UK big carrier fleet were:

1) EoS 'limited war' - 1 carrier with 2 x strike, 2 x fighter and 1 x ASW squadrons
2) WoS ASW in 'general war' - 2 carriers each with 1 x strike, 1 x fighter, 3 x ASW

However, I have yet to find an instance (if someone else has, please let me know) of any Royal Navy heavy carrier operating with such an ASW orientated air wing, and neither does such a configuration appear in any of the CVA01 studies I have found. Furthermore, the entire organisational edifice to support the offensive Norwegian-Barents Sea naval operation against Russia proper appears to have remained intact, including RN involvement in nuclear targeting, the designation of NATO Commander Carrier Strike Group 2 (COMCARGRU 2) remained with the RN Flag Officer Aircraft Carriers and Amphibious Ships (FOCAS) and RN heavy carriers continued to be involved in NATO exercises in the Norwegian Sea. Finally, the then 1SL told the Cabinet Defence Committee in 1963 (when offering up the Buccaneer 3 for sacrifice) that the UK subscribed to paying "lip service" to the role, which seems like an effective admission that it had actually never been abandoned despite what Sandy's appears to have thought he agreed to in 1957. Equipping for the role, having the organisational structure to conduct the role, and exercising to conduct the role seems like an elaborate way of paying "lip service" to it. Equally, it is hard to envisage the combination of CVA01 (with Sea Dart, Sea Cat, torpedo protection, armour etc.) and requirements like NIGS, OR.346/AW406, AST.1193, and (I forget the designation) whatever lead to the Blackburn P.139B being proportional to the EoS role or WoS ASW mission.
 
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Hood

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I would 100% agree with your JFC. I don't think its a coincidence that in 1960 the Escort Cruiser began precisely as a way to keep the carrier flightdeck clear of helicopters. Admittedly the RN was always wary of operating fixed and rotary wing on the same deck, but clearing the carrier decks had the very handy side-effect of making sure the carrier airgroup could be optimised for air defence and strike. Surely somebody at the time most have realised the "lip service" was actually a deep-rooted commitment or they simply turned a blind eye, after all it did boost Britain's contribution to NATO without having to invest in other contributions.
 

zen

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This reminds me of working through the numbers on CVA-01 and their estimation for a Tactical Air Unit to prosecute EoS war.
Basically the TAU didn't fit CVA-01 nor did half a TAU, only a third.
Which implies you need 3 CVA-01s to operate the TAU and in turn that needs a fleet of 5 CV minimum in total to sustain it.
This is rather more than stated aim of just 2 CVA-01 types to be built or the stated objective of just 4 Fleet CVs.

And officials from No.11 would see through the numbers and conclude the same.
 

uk 75

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In the same timescale the US Navy started using its Essex class ships as ASW carriers with S2 Trackers and Canada did the same with Bonaventure. I have seen no equivalent use of Gannet ASW on RN ships though the Germans had land based ones.
Gannets and the unsuccessful Seamew were planned for trade protection/ASW but once the H bomb made the broken backed war envisaged before 1957 impossible the plans were dropped.
I agree with KaiserD that the RN couldnt digest Polaris and a new carrier programme at the same time. If Macmillan had followed his inclination to drop the UK deterrent things might have been different.
 

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Basically what it takes to repeal Tu-22M /AS-6 attacks is loads of F-14 Tomcats armed with AIM-54s. In turn this needs Forrestal / Kitty Hawk / Nimitz size carriers: +60 000 tons.

And this is completely unaffordable for everyone even the Soviets.

In turn this mean that all carriers below 60 000 tons are for land attack - let's say Hermes to Clemenceau to Essex to Midway size : 25 000 to 55 000 tons. In this case, air defence is better served by AEGIS-like missiles.

Same for the even smaller "Harrier carriers", ASW or not.

Truth is, in case of WWIII, Invincibles and Clemenceau and Midways would have needed AEGIS and Tomcat / Phoenix cover to survive the Soviet Navy onslaught in the North Atlantic.
Lot of things to reply to in the thread.. just a quick one here.. Midway could operate F-14s, the problem is maintaining them; her hangars were to low to do some maintenance. Other than that her size is fine. Edit If she had 22 foot hangars she would be good.

Edit: The RN is going to lose carriers, that is certain, the ask was could they maintain a force and therefore a skill set either to present or at least much longer. The answer to that is yes since the French were capable of doing it, sure it was only 2 carriers but they had them and a viable nuclear strike capability from them.

Now the question is how to get them there with as little hindsight as possible.

UK75's points:
Much of the problem is the change from relatively small jets like Seahawks to the Buccaneer/Phantom era.
The 1952 design was too early to take this into account.
Ark and Eagle are the only design in service that can be adapted to fly the new jets.

I generally agree with point one, though I will note it is not so much a factor of physical size as it is weight.. and I make this note primarily for any future reader who comes across this from a google while doing research/learning.. The Seahawk and Sea Venom were 36-39 feet in length and 13-23 feet wide folded up, and given the work done on an F-11 for the AN-1 project you CAN get a Tiger folded down to that. Problem is that her empty weight is just about the MTOW of the Seahawk! But lets put a pin in that for a moment...

Yes the 52 carrier ideas were made before they fully grasped all the implications.. which dove tails into a point I made in another thread about Victorious's rebuild: It starts going off the rails with the requirement that she handle 40,000 pound aircraft. That requirement shows that they KNOW that aircraft are going to be getting THICK! Being more cautious and only going for a 30,000 flight deck and NOT extending her life by 20 years is easier, cheaper and doesn't marry you to a hull that may become to small to quickly. Use the time she is building to evaluate and plan. Put that into the Implacable's to buy you at least some time as they are the next largest hull you got.

The final point is valid mostly. The Implacable's could be but with a bit more work than the initial draft calls for, I have detailed that.

Now comes the pin.

Bulwark' final fixed wing group was 40 AC..as embarked in 1957 (the Gannet squadron was dropped in 1958), was as follows:
801 Naval Air Squadron & 898 Naval Air Squadron – 16 Sea Hawk FGA6 fighter-attack
891 Naval Air Squadron – 8 Sea Venom FAW21 night/all-weather fighter
820 Naval Air Squadron – 6 Gannet AS4 anti-submarine warfare
849 Naval Air Squadron – D flt. 4 Skyraider AEW1 airborne early warning
845 Naval Air Squadron – 5 Whirlwind HAS7 helicopter anti-submarine warfare
Ships Flight 1 Dragonfly HR5 helicopter search and rescue

The weight of 12 empty Sea Vixens is the same as 24 empty Super Tigers, and the AN-1 wing fold and the nose brings those in about the size of a Seahawk....about 38.5x10 feet. Not as good as a phantom I grant you.. but they work just fine from Centaur, Hermes and Victorious, and Buccaneer works just fine from the last two. The being married to 2/2 really killed them in retrospect.
 
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bobtdwarf

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Now the fun part, at least for me is.. IF they had built my version of the Implacable's.. do they sell one to India in the 80's?
 

Grey Havoc

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With Nott in the driving seat? Quite possible.
 

zen

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So the deep thoughts.....

IF.....if only they had funded even a single new military drydock in the UK, say on the north shore by Davenport during the 20's and 30's.
One 1,500ft by 140ft by 32ft dock would permit a Forrestal scale CV and support a fleet of 4 at least. Coupled with the docks at Cairo and in Australia they could have had their Malta.

IF....if only the RN had run a treaty busting CV design before WWII. They'd hit their practical limits as I've outlined earlier. But the resultant CVs have a greater future proofing and could be run on Implacable propulsion.

IF......if only there had been a UK Skyhawk-type solution to N/A.39.
Sadly they started the 1952 effort on the basis of a navalised Canberra.

IF....if only they'd started the Medium Fleet CV studies concurrently with the Large Fleet Carrier in 1952.....

IF....if only the 30 inch diameter light turbojets had been funded instead of the cheap option of the Gyron Junior.

IF....only they'd not spent precious time and money on the flexible deck concept.

But the simplest option is that treaty buster CV.
Length: 850ft fd, 800ft wl, 770ft lbp.
Width: 120ft-130ft fd, 104ft wl.
Draught: 28-33.5ft.
Displacement: 45,000tons deep load and about 35,000ton standard.
Give it 144,000shp and it's good enough for 30kts clean and 28kts d&d or thereabouts. But as long as it cruises at Fleet Speed......

Because a fleet of 4 such would rapidly be repeated instead of the Irresistible-Audacious process and Malta would quickly die off as soon as they hit the drydock problem.
Having gotten used to such ships, the next gen would be preceded by modernisations and the transition to new ships of similar dimensions but perhaps just three sets of the new Y300 plant.

Voila! No Victorious rebuild, no disparate force of Implacable and Audacious types.
Centaurs likely cut at 3.
1952 effort gets cut short by '54 (N/A.39 relieving the pressure) if not by '53..Medium Fleet CVs proceeded with by '55.
And next gen is dominated by the need to fund a larger military drydock from 1940. While the implications for plant, props and shafts also triggers finding for propulsion upto 60-70,000shp per unit.

However by the 1960's the next gen effort will likely be cut and the RN will have to soldier on with it's Meduin Fleet CVs......into the 1990's that is.

Irony of ironies, such a size of flat top would be fine for STOVL aircraft, though at the smaller end of CVF studies.
 
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kaiserd

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So the deep thoughts.....

IF.....if only they had funded even a single new military drydock in the UK, say on the north shore by Davenport during the 20's and 30's.
One 1,500ft by 140ft by 32ft dock would permit a Forrestal scale CV and support a fleet of 4 at least. Coupled with the docks at Cairo and in Australia they could have had their Malta.

IF....if only the RN had run a treaty busting CV design before WWII. They'd hit their practical limits as I've outlined earlier. But the resultant CVs have a greater future proofing and could be run on Implacable propulsion.

IF......if only there had been a UK Skyhawk-type solution to N/A.39.
Sadly they started the 1952 effort on the basis of a navalised Canberra.

IF....if only they'd started the Medium Fleet CV studies concurrently with the Large Fleet Carrier in 1952.....

IF....if only the 30 inch diameter light turbojets had been funded instead of the cheap option of the Gyron Junior.

IF....only they'd not spent precious time and money on the flexible deck concept.

But the simplest option is that treaty buster CV.
Length: 850ft fd, 800ft wl, 770ft lbp.
Width: 120ft-130ft fd, 104ft wl.
Draught: 28-33.5ft.
Displacement: 45,000tons deep load and about 35,000ton standard.
Give it 144,000shp and it's good enough for 30kts clean and 28kts d&d or thereabouts. But as long as it cruises at Fleet Speed......
Meant in good humour;

1st IF: Why would they have - no UK capital ship (or civilian ships) even in remotely realistic conception at that time even approached that size. And the 20’s & 30’s weren’t exactly times of plenty re: hard to justify military spending.
Highly fanciful.

2nd IF: How or why would that have done that? The UK was one of the primary architects of these treaties and was the slowest to abandon them and suggesting they would/ could is deeply unrealistic.

3rd IF: the Buccaneer was an excellent aircraft, one of the few UK produced post-war naval aircraft that wasn’t substandard or so-late so to be borderline obsolescent when entering service. A UK Skyhawk equivalent wouldn’t meet RN requirements and wasn’t wanted and appears to be another case of “halo-ing” an unbuilt concept into something it could never have realistically been.

4th IF: ...they would have rapidly abandoned them because of the relative lack of capability of such carriers, the escalating weight and size of carrier aircraft, and the impossibility of funding them as well as larger carriers.

5th IF: ....isn’t this a bit late to really make much difference re: almost anything? Early Buccaneers have a bit of a better engine but still need/ get Speys?

6th IF: ... money and time wasted certainly but given the unconnected almost glacial development of the likes of the Sea Vixen and Scimitar, and that I don’t know of any indication that it delayed parallel developments like angle decks, don’t know what else it actively delayed or otherwise impacted. More of another symptom of the same underlying issues rather than a cause of them.
 

zen

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Well on the big drydock issue, these where built in Australia and I think Cairo. As for a ship, in the early phase that would be some form of super battleship/battlecruiser.

The threat of which could be argued as persuasive of others to agree the treaties.

I seem to recall that the US expanded a number of facilities during the 20's and 30's giving them much more scope.

As I've said earlier, the RN had no military drydock to dock an Essex length CV.
 

zen

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On the aircraft front the Westland W.37 to N113. seems with hindsight to offer a much better evolvable platform than the Scimitar.

Though that whole area is a deep topic itself.
 

Hood

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I think from all the posts in this thread, and in other similar threads, its clear that to get a better (whatever you wish to classify 'better' as) outcome to the real-world history some very convoluted assumptions, hand-waving and borderline fanciful ideas are required.
I'm not saying that what happened was optimal or the only likely outcome, but its difficult to foresee drastic improvements in the carrier fleet.

The required infrastructure to operate large modern fleet carriers was not there and was never close to coming to fruition, unlike the sizeable investment in facilities for nuclear submarines (US co-operation and dollars help here).

Aircraft development outstripped ship development. Yes the angled deck, steam catapult and mirror aid were quickly invented but they were own their own not able to optimise older ships to handle new jets.
The British ended the war with a stash of uncompleted ships, it was wasteful and too expensive to start afresh. Perhaps this was a wrong move, but as we've seen bigger ships of Malta or 1952 CV size were non-starters so starting afresh was less appealing. The unfinished ships were gradually knocked into shape but it took too long and the results were imperfect. The US had completed most of their Essexes and Midways and when the time came had ample cash and facilities to build the next generation from the mid-1950s, Britain had no such luxury.

The wartime (pre-war design) ships were designed for Stringbags and Fulmars, rebuilding looked attractive as there was no other choice for an interim solution but again the results would never be stellar and as with all such large projects unforeseen snags could rack up the costs alarmingly and focusing on rebuilding the I's cut resources for finishing the Arks and Centaurs and vice versa. A balance had to be found.

CVA-01 is an odd beast. Its constrained by the existing dock infrastructure and money, it was designed to successfully operate mid-50s jets into the 1970s (Phantom and Bucc both are 50s designs remember) on a small footprint. It had modern new features; water-assisted arrestor gear, SAM defence and 3D radar, but it was still essentially a more fancy modern Audacious at heart. We don't know how successful it would have been in the longer term. Sure the RN could have kept the Phantom and Bucc going until the early 1990s like the RAF did but it would hardly of been a cutting-edge airgroup by that time. The manpower and engineering drain of the steam powerplant would not have been easy to cope with either. Its seems unlikely even if the withdrawal from EoS had not killed it entirely, that more than one would have been built it would unlikely have been completed until around 1973. By then even the newest late-war carriers had been around for 30 years (admittedly 10 of those years spent on the stocks).

Maybe the best solution would have been something of CVA-01 size and capability a decade earlier, but that too would involve some handwaving. While we might be critical of the 'Sea Canberra' idea, at that time the US had the Savage the Douglas XA3-D1 had already flown so it didn't seem impossible that this would offer the sole naval nuclear bombing capability. Polaris was still 7 years from conception.
 

Anderman

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So the deep thoughts.....

IF.....if only they had funded even a single new military drydock in the UK, say on the north shore by Davenport during the 20's and 30's.
One 1,500ft by 140ft by 32ft dock would permit a Forrestal scale CV and support a fleet of 4 at least. Coupled with the docks at Cairo and in Australia they could have had their Malta.
The C and D lock in Portsmouth became operational in 1914, the dry dock at Rosyth was commonced in 1909 so if somebody in the RN looked at dimensions
of the locks of the Panama Canal or the locks of the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal buildng at the same time and decided that the new docks match their dimensions.
 

zen

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On the CVA-01 design.
No it's not constrained by drydock, they relaxed rules and accepted using a civilian drydock for at least the interim.
Plans were assessed for a new drydock at Pompy.

No it's not Audacious. It's far more than that and not constrained to 1950's aircraft but designed to take expected OR.346 aircraft. Nothing precludes the likes of the F14 on her.
 

uk 75

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We tend to forget how busy the RN was in the period we cover here. Any available ships were better than none.
At the same time our industry and infrastructure were not as developed as the US.
The RN in the seventies had Phantoms and Bucs but they were never used in anger. Hermes and Bulwark were probably more essential in the commando and asw roles for NATO.
The choice for the 80s was dominated by the Atlantic ASW role.
 
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