RN Tiger class options

uk 75

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We have often looked at the three Tiger class and what to do with them.
I know Wikipedia is often misleading but the one about the Tiger class is rather interesting:


There are numerous points which can provide an alt history for the class.
 
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Scrap them early and have some of the broad-beam batch be "Sea King Leanders" instead with a hangar big enough for one Sea King. Individually less impressive perhaps but they can be in more places at once.

I was going to suggest an additional Valiant/Churchill named Tiger instead as nominally SSNs are my preferred ASW tool but Tigerfish.....:(
 

zen

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The problem was, that they should have been scrapped in '47 and a new Carrier pursued instead.

By the 50's the Sverdlov Threat meant a perceived need for a counter and Korea made things even more pressing.

Strictly the Cruisers Destroyer would have been cheaper and more flexible.

All that said, it's a shame they didn't get the Type 984 and CDS. Which would have greatly improved radar coverage of a force.
 

Archibald

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Use them as atomic bomb targets for Hurricane in 1952 or at Montebello in '57. It's just like Alien: nuke them, it's the only way to be sure (they will never come back).
 

NOMISYRRUC

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The problem was, that they should have been scrapped in '47 and a new Carrier pursued instead.

By the 50's the Sverdlov Threat meant a perceived need for a counter and Korea made things even more pressing.

Strictly the Cruisers Destroyer would have been cheaper and more flexible.

All that said, it's a shame they didn't get the Type 984 and CDS. Which would have greatly improved radar coverage of a force.
While I don't disagree with any of that my preferred solution is to have them suspended in 1942 and scrapped on the slips soon after the end of the war. The manpower and materials released would be used to accelerate the Colossus and Majestic class aircraft carriers which I'd prefer to have been built as additional Centaur class ships. The money spent 1954-61 to complete them would have been used to build a trio of 1960 Cruisers or 4 County class large guided missile destroyers.

My second choice would be that the Second London Naval Treaty maintained the 10,000 ton cruiser tonnage limit of the earlier Treaties instead of reducing it to 8,000 tons. As far as I know the reduction was at the instigation of the British delegation because the Admiralty who wanted to reduce the cost of individual ships so that they could be built in the numbers required. However, I think it was an own goal because the Colony and Swiftsure classes weren't significantly cheaper than the Edinburgh class and the smaller hull meant there was less space for radar, AA guns and the men required to operate them.

If the Tiger class had been developments of the Edinburgh class instead of the Colony class my guess is that they could have been completed with a Type 984 radar, the largest-track version of CDS and DPT. Plus there might be enough space and margin to mount a sixth turret in "X" position. I can't make up my mind whether it should be a third twin 6" or a fourth twin 3" turret. They might also be large enough to receive two Sea Cats and retain the two 3" turrets that were removed in the "real world".

I don't believe that these ships would have taken longer to complete. However, as a believer in the theory that "steel is cheap and air is free" they'd cost a lot more because of the extra turret and advanced electronics. They'd also need larger crews which would increase their running costs and it would be even harder to find enough men to keep them in service. However, as you wrote the Type 984 et al would have greatly improved the radar coverage of a force and that aught to make them worth the extra financial and manpower costs.

They'd have received a loss less hate if the helicopter carrier conversions had been completed on time and at cost. Then all 3 ships would have been converted by the end of 1971 at less cost than the two conversions that were actually carried out and they'd have been in service in that configuration for longer.
 
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Volkodav

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Instead of Sea King conversions give them Seadart. Cancel Bristol and convert the three Tigers into single ended CGs with The Seadart in B position. Seadart in the fleet in useful number earlier, fewer Seakings unless some money can be found to keep either Albion or Bulwark in service longer, maybe even extend Victorious for ten years until the Invincibles arrive.
 

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If only Seaslug had been smaller......
 

Dilandu

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The problem was, that they should have been scrapped in '47 and a new Carrier pursued instead.
The manpower and materials released would be used to accelerate the Colossus and Majestic class aircraft carriers which I'd prefer to have been built as additional Centaur class ships.
Guys, Royal Navy already have more carriers than it could maintain. It's problem was, that its surface combatant did not looks good in compairson with Sverdlov's, and its air defenses were pathetic to the point of nonexistence.

Tiger's - more or less - could solve both problems, providing RN with at least SOMETHING to hide their rather slow, 25/28-knots carrier behind in case of surface actions (which was perfectly possible in Eastern Med), and SOMETHING to ward off Il-28T jet bombers. Yes, they weren't particularly good in either, and they came too late to be of much use (Project 57 destroyer could blow them out of water from standoff range, and Tu-16 with KS-1 missiles have no reason to even came in their range). But without them there would be literally nothing at all.
 

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The problem was, that they should have been scrapped in '47 and a new Carrier pursued instead.
The manpower and materials released would be used to accelerate the Colossus and Majestic class aircraft carriers which I'd prefer to have been built as additional Centaur class ships.
Guys, Royal Navy already have more carriers than it could maintain. It's problem was, that its surface combatant did not looks good in comparison with Sverdlov's, and its air defenses were pathetic to the point of nonexistence.

Tiger's - more or less - could solve both problems, providing RN with at least SOMETHING to hide their rather slow, 25/28-knots carrier behind in case of surface actions (which was perfectly possible in Eastern Med), and SOMETHING to ward off Il-28T jet bombers. Yes, they weren't particularly good in either, and they came too late to be of much use (Project 57 destroyer could blow them out of water from standoff range, and Tu-16 with KS-1 missiles have no reason to even came in their range). But without them there would be literally nothing at all.
Guy you're missing my points which are:
  • I wasn't saying build three more light fleet carriers. I was saying use the resources released by suspending the Tigers in 1942 to complete the 16 ships laid down 1942-43 faster so more would be completed in time to serve in World War II.
  • Spend the money used to complete the Tigers 1954-61 on a trio of 1960s Cruisers.
  • Or if some or all of them had been built as Centaurs that could carry more and better aircraft than the Colossi and Majestics there'd be no need to complete the 4 Centaurs laid down 1944-45 or start them in the first place.
    • That would save the British taxpayer about £50 million between 1944 and 1959.
    • It would also be a boon for the other navies that operated British light fleet carriers like the Dutch and French. The French
    • in particular would be keen to acquire more ships of this type to compliment the ALT-Arromanches instead of the pair of Independence class light fleet carriers lent to them by the Americans under MDAP. For that matter I think they'd accept the real Hercules and Leviathan over Bellau Wood and Langley if they were available.
 
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Dilandu

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I wasn't saying build three more light fleet carriers. I was saying use the resources released by suspending the Tigers in 1942 to complete the 16 ships laid down 1942-43 faster so more would be completed in time to serve in World War II.
And what benefits it would bring?

Spend the money used to complete the Tigers 1954-61 on a trio of 1960s Cruisers.
So until at least mid-1960s, Royal Navy would not have any kind of surface combatants and no kind of air defense?

Or if some or all of them had been built as Centaurs that could carry more and better aircraft than the Colossi and Majestics there'd be no need to complete the 4 Centaurs laid down 1944-45 or start them in the first place.
But what the point of building more Centaurs, if they could not be provided with any sencible escort?
 

NOMISYRRUC

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I wasn't saying build three more light fleet carriers. I was saying use the resources released by suspending the Tigers in 1942 to complete the 16 ships laid down 1942-43 faster so more would be completed in time to serve in World War II.
And what benefits it would bring?
Tactical.

They'd be better than the escort carriers the RN had to use as attack carriers for want of anything better. The same number of aircraft on a smaller number of faster ships and possibly lower manpower requirements.
Spend the money used to complete the Tigers 1954-61 on a trio of 1960s Cruisers.
So until at least mid-1960s, Royal Navy would not have any kind of surface combatants and no kind of air defence?
Re surface combatants. The RN had five battleships and about two dozen Town, Colony, Swiftsure and Dido class cruisers in the 1950s.

Re air defence: No change there. Except three 1960 Cruisers begun in 1954 would have been completed 1959-61 like the Tigers.

Or if some or all of them had been built as Centaurs that could carry more and better aircraft than the Colossi and Majestics there'd be no need to complete the 4 Centaurs laid down 1944-45 or start them in the first place.
But what the point of building more Centaurs, if they could not be provided with any sensible escort?
More Centaurs and less Colossi/Majestics = the same number of hulls! Which I made abundantly clear in the Post 6 and you quoted in Post 11. Viz.
The manpower and materials released would be used to accelerate the Colossus and Majestic class aircraft carriers which I'd prefer to have been built as additional Centaur class ships.
In fact it might be less hulls because 20 were laid down in the "real world" comprising 16 Colossus/Majestic laid down 1942-43 and 4 Centaur 1944-45. In this ALT-history it might be 16 Colossus class laid down 1942-43 and no light fleet carriers laid down 1944-45.
 

Dilandu

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Tactical.
Fail to see what exactly.

They'd be better than the escort carriers the RN had to use as attack carriers for want of anything better. The same number of aircraft on a smaller number of faster ships and possibly lower manpower requirements.
Considering that those ships would be ready at most by 1945, they probably would never see any combat. Do not forget, that while several "Colossus"-class were finished before the war, no one of them saw any action. So there would be another carrier or two, which would reach Pacific too late for anything.

Re surface combatants. The RN had five battleships and about two dozen Town, Colony, Swiftsure and Dido class cruisers in the 1950s.

Battleships were in reserve, and it was obvious that inactive reserve is just one big target for nuclear attack. Old WW-2 era light cruisers weren't exactly comparable to much larger - and significantly more advanced - "Sverdlov"'s.

Re air defence: No change there. Except three 1960 Cruisers begun in 1954 would have been completed 1959-61 like the Tigers.
Most likely no. Their readiness would be linked with the readiness of important components, which would took time.

More Centaurs and less Colossi/Majestics = the same number of hulls! Which I made abundantly clear in the Post 6 and you quoted in Post 11. Viz.
Again, what's the point of building more carriers, when the problem of RN wasn't the lack of carriers? The problem is lack of escorts and defensive weapons for those carriers. Fielding more unprotected targets for Tu-16 bombers is hardly an efficient way to put resources in.
 
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EwenS

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They'd be better than the escort carriers the RN had to use as attack carriers for want of anything better. The same number of aircraft on a smaller number of faster ships and possibly lower manpower requirements.
Considering that those ships would be ready at most by 1945, they probably would never see any combat. Do not forget, that while several "Colossus"-class were finished before the war, no one of them saw any action. So there would be another carrier or two, which would reach Pacific too late for anything.

The RN didn't HAVE to use escort carriers in the East Indies for want of anything better. They CHOSE to use them over the available light fleets.

The first three completed Dec 1944 / Jan 1945 worked up in UK waters until March 1945 then left for a further work up in the Med. In April / May 1945 Mountbatten wanted them (and Glory which completed April) for use in Operation Zipper then planned for Aug 1945, while Fraser wanted them for the BPF for strikes in Chinese waters. The Chiefs of Staff decided that the BPF should have priority even though the BPF wouldn't have enough of a Fleet Train to support them until Aug / Sept. So the work up of the first 3 in the Med was extended until they finally left at the end of May for Sydney via Trincomalee (and another wait) arriving at the end of July. Glory was a couple of weeks behind. Had the war not ended they would have gone into action in late Aug. As it was they were ready to sail on 15 Aug.

So they could have been in action in June at the latest in the East Indies had the Chiefs of Staff really wanted. For the work that was carried out in the East Indies in 1945, the escort carriers proved more than adequate. It was a source of great frustration to the aircrews in 11th ACS that they had been training and training from squadron formations in mid-1944 without seeing any action.

We have had the discussion on another thread about Colossus v Centaur. Had wartime build rates been maintained then it is entirely possible that another 4 Colossus could have been completed by the end of 1945. IMHO any product from a switch to Centaur would have been even later in arriving.
 

Foo Fighter

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TBH, I cannot see a role for them that they are not hamstrung by their origin. Save the money and build something with an actual purpose that can be performed properly. Or perhaps I am just being a miserable old git today.
 

Dilandu

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TBH, I cannot see a role for them that they are not hamstrung by their origin. Save the money and build something with an actual purpose that can be performed properly.

Problem was, that Royal Navy did not have anything better in mid-50s. They spend so much money & efforts trying to preserve far larger reserve fleet that they could afford - due to "broken backed warfare" doctrine, that essentially boiled down to "after both sides exausted their supplies of those newfangled atomic bombs it would be the time to fight good ol' fashioned naval war with good ol' convoys, raiders and destroyers, like in good ol' times". Suez was the rude awakening that came too late.
 

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Scrap them early and have some of the broad-beam batch be "Sea King Leanders" instead with a hangar big enough for one Sea King. Individually less impressive perhaps but they can be in more places at once.
Was that inspired by the Sea King carrying Leanders that the Indians built?

Also the the St Laurent and Annapolis classes which were the Canadian cousins of the Leander class could operate a Sea King helicopter.
I was going to suggest an additional Valiant/Churchill named Tiger instead as nominally SSNs are my preferred ASW tool but Tigerfish.....:(

Costs of the first seven British SSNs
£18,455,000 Dreadnought - completed 1963​
£25,300,000 Valiant - completed 1966​
£21,455,000 Warspite - completed 1967​
£24,780,000 Churchill - completed​
£29,319,000 Conqueror - completed 1971​
£24,858,000 Courageous - completed 1971​
£37,100,000 Swiftsure - completed 1973​

If your suggestion is instead of the helicopter cruiser conversions of Blake and Tiger that would at most cover three-quarters of the cost of a SSN.
 

GK Dundas

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The this is
TBH, I cannot see a role for them that they are not hamstrung by their origin. Save the money and build something with an actual purpose that can be performed properly.

Problem was, that Royal Navy did not have anything better in mid-50s. They spend so much money & efforts trying to preserve far larger reserve fleet that they could afford - due to "broken backed warfare" doctrine, that essentially boiled down to "after both sides exausted their supplies of those newfangled atomic bombs it would be the time to fight good ol' fashioned naval war with good ol' convoys, raiders and destroyers, like in good ol' times". Suez was the rude awakening that came too late.
Scrap them early and have some of the broad-beam batch be "Sea King Leanders" instead with a hangar big enough for one Sea King. Individually less impressive perhaps but they can be in more places at once.

I was going to suggest an additional Valiant/Churchill named Tiger instead as nominally SSNs are my preferred ASW tool but Tigerfish.....:(
The Canadian DDHs were only practical because of DAF Indal / the NRC's development of the BearTrap system.
Landing a large helicopter on a tiny flight deck in the middle of heavy seas...is in the words of a friend of mine. "An acquired taste."
 
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Was that inspired by the Sea King carrying Leanders that the Indians built?
No, I simply like frigates with big ASW helos. I'm from the Type 23/Merlin school of thought.
If your suggestion is instead of the helicopter cruiser conversions of Blake and Tiger that would at most cover three-quarters of the cost of a SSN.
Yes, I am aware. The idea was greater up-front cost but a better return on investment in the long-term than a pair of manning-sinkhole white elephants. However, you'll note I ruled out said suggestion as the poor performance of Tigerfish largely invalidates said return on investment - with the benefit of hindsight. I could though, well imagine a timeline where this notional Tiger gets a full load-out of Spearfish only to be paid off the next day. :rolleyes:
 

NOMISYRRUC

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Was that inspired by the Sea King carrying Leanders that the Indians built?
No, I simply like frigates with big ASW helos. I'm from the Type 23/Merlin school of thought.
Fair enough. However, it does prove that your idea is feasible.
If your suggestion is instead of the helicopter cruiser conversions of Blake and Tiger that would at most cover three-quarters of the cost of a SSN.
Yes, I am aware. The idea was greater up-front cost but a better return on investment in the long-term than a pair of manning-sinkhole white elephants. However, you'll note I ruled out said suggestion as the poor performance of Tigerfish largely invalidates said return on investment - with the benefit of hindsight. I could though, well imagine a timeline where this notional Tiger gets a full load-out of Spearfish only to be paid off the next day. :rolleyes:
For what it's worth it's probably the other way around for operating costs. One Tiger class in its helicopter carrying configuration had the same crew as 8 or 9 British first-generation SSNs.
 

Hood

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I know he is not a naval historian, but Max Hastings in his most recent book Pedestal says that for all navies the light cruiser proved a disappointment, if not a waste, given that few of them ever really performed their intended roles and more often than not became victims to aerial and submarine attack.

It's hard to argue against this hypothesis given their war records. After the bulk buy of Fijis was there really any pressing need for more 6in cruisers to be built post-1942? I don't think that there was and the mind-boggling switching of names and slips and lack of resources makes you wonder why they bothered with the Tiger-class at all. They would have been better off building another batch of War Programme Didos or going for N2s instead. Neptune was a fine looking 12-gun 6in cruiser but realistically an anachronism even for 1944.
Now I'm not saying those resources should necessarily have been funneled into the Light Fleet Carriers - unless they could be built in 18-24 months flat it doesn't matter how much effort you put in they won't be ready in time (3 or even 5 Colossus in the BPF is chickenfeed compared to a US task force in 1945).

Dilandu raises a good point. To combat a Sverdlov needed either Red Beard to shatter it or rapid-fire automatic guns. The only ships that could realistically take such weapons were the uncompleted Tiger hulls. But the snag was that it took until 1954 to approved the planned 1949 design with auto guns and that 6in auto and 3/70 auto development took so long that its 1960 before they are ready and by then they are obsolete - KS-1, Sea Slug, Terrier, Regulus, Rb08 et al are already the new game in town and yes even by then Sverdlov is old hat with a bunch of them rusting on slipways uncompleted. If you could complete 3 Tigers with auto weapons by 1954 then its maybe worth it.

A Dido fitted as FADE proved a tight fit for all the kit needed so a conversion was never done, a Tiger FADE might be possibility but its expensive to run and man and perhaps a tad too slow.

So my choice is, 1942 stop messing about and forget about 6in cruisers. 1960 "oooh a dozen shiny missile destroyers".
 

Archibald

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Just get a Toulon like scuttling to get ride of the old hulls... sometimes it helps cleaning the house and starting from scratch.
 

Tony Williams

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To take a different view of the opportunities:

1. Fit the automatic six-inch guns in new lightweight single mountings, should be possible at around 60 tons (slightly more than the 4.5 inch twin). That would provide some decent anti-ship and shore bombardment capability for destroyers.

2. Do the same for the three inch 70 cal, producing a rival to the 76mm OTO for frigates.
 

EwenS

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I know he is not a naval historian, but Max Hastings in his most recent book Pedestal says that for all navies the light cruiser proved a disappointment, if not a waste, given that few of them ever really performed their intended roles and more often than not became victims to aerial and submarine attack.

It's hard to argue against this hypothesis given their war records. After the bulk buy of Fijis was there really any pressing need for more 6in cruisers to be built post-1942? I don't think that there was and the mind-boggling switching of names and slips and lack of resources makes you wonder why they bothered with the Tiger-class at all. They would have been better off building another batch of War Programme Didos or going for N2s instead. Neptune was a fine looking 12-gun 6in cruiser but realistically an anachronism even for 1944.
Now I'm not saying those resources should necessarily have been funneled into the Light Fleet Carriers - unless they could be built in 18-24 months flat it doesn't matter how much effort you put in they won't be ready in time (3 or even 5 Colossus in the BPF is chickenfeed compared to a US task force in 1945).

First up let’s get the programming right here.

The last of the Fijis were Bermuda and Newfoundland in the 1939 Programme and ordered 4 Sept 1939.

The next cruisers ordered, the original Minotaurs, were part of the 1941 and 1941 Supplementary Programmes.
1941 Programme (approved April 1941 and ordered May 1941)
Swiftsure
Bellerophon (completed eventually as Tiger)
Minotaur (completed as the Canadian manned Ontario)

1941 Supplementary Programme (approved 24 Nov 1941 and ordered 18 Dec 1941).
Defence (completed as Lion)
Superb
Tiger (never laid down and reordered as a unit of the Neptune class).

In late 1941 the RN was only in the early stages of designing the light fleet carrier that became the Colossus class in the 1942 Programme with the first 3 ships ordered in March 1942 before the design had been finalised. This is all before the big carrier battles of 1942. Radar and aircraft had not yet fully taken over the traditional cruiser roles of trade protection, scouting for the fleet, and fleet protection. A lot of old WW1 vintage ships remained in the fleet. And RN cruiser losses 1939-41 were heavy, especially amongst the more modern units and this continued into 1942. As time went on in WW2 their role changed. They became essential heavy AA escorts to the carrier groups. That was especially so given the generally light AA armament of British destroyers until the Battle class came along.

Completion dates were initially planned to be from late 1943 to early 1945

The USN certainly didn’t think the cruiser dead. Just look at the numbers of ships authorised in 1940 and later years that they continued to lay down into 1945.

So saying the cruiser was dead in 1941/42 is pure hindsight. That only becomes clear postwar.

The 1942 Programme initially included 7 Minotaurs. Only 3 were ordered and 5 were cancelled in Aug-Nov 1942, being replaced in the same yards with orders for Colossus class carriers. The two that remained were:-

Blake (ordered May 1942. Completed as Blake)
Hawke (Ordered Oct 1942 from Portsmouth DY, laid down July 1943, cancelled Oct 1945 without much work being done)

I’m really not sure just how much in the way of resources could have been freed up for use elsewhere due to competing interests in the yards they were built in.

For example work on Bellerophon, laid down Oct 1941, at John Brown was at a standstill for almost a year in 1942/43 because the labour in the yard was being prioritised on Vanguard, Indefatigable, Nairana and destroyers. At one point much of the material gathered for her was transferred down the Clyde for use in Defence at Scotts. That was why it took 4 years from laying down to launch. JB were not involved in the light carrier programme.

Compare the length of time the Fijis spent on the slips and contrast that with time for Bellerophon, Defence and Blake spent. They were clearly not a high priority.

There were several 8” & 6” cruiser designs 1940-43 but there were other higher priorities so none proceeded.

The N2 was intended for the 1944 Programme. The design wasn’t approved until July 1943. The plan was to lay 5 of them down from Dec 1943-Sept 1944 with all completed by Sept 1947. So continuing with them is no help at all in WW2 given predicted build times of 28-36 months. But a new First Sea Lord, Cunningham, wanted 6” cruisers not 5.25”, hence the Neptune class.

Ultimately the Didos were too small. Their ability to carry a heavy light AA armament and radar fit was limited and they were very cramped for the crew and short ranged when it came to fighting in the Far East. Postwar only Royalist received any kind of modernisation.
 

Dilandu

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1. Fit the automatic six-inch guns in new lightweight single mountings, should be possible at around 60 tons (slightly more than the 4.5 inch twin). That would provide some decent anti-ship and shore bombardment capability for destroyers.
I doubt that destroyer's hulls would handle the recoil.
 

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Just to expand on the RN WW2 cruiser position.

At Sept 1939 the RN and Commonwealth nations had 64 cruisers in service. 27 of those were WW1 designs (Adelaide/C/D/E/Elizabethan) that were mostly used to patrol the sea lanes in the further flung parts of the Empire. 6 of these had been or were being modernised as AA ships. It estimated its requirement at a minimum of 70.

Ordered and / or already building in the 1936 to 1939 War Programmes totalled 16 Didos and 11 Fijis. What with suspensions, delays etc the last of these, Diadem, didn’t complete until 6 Jan 1944. After that the only other wartime completions were Swiftsure (6/44) and Ontario (ex Minotaur, 4/45) from the 1941 Programme.

Those completions break down:-

1940:- 7
1941:- 6
1942:- 6
1943:- 7
1944:- 2
1945:- 1

Cruiser losses (including ships deemed irreparable) split between WW1 classes and post WW1 ships were:-

1940 - 3/0
1941:- 2/8
1942:- 3/10
1943:- 1/1
1944:- 2/3

And from late 1943 the older ships began to be withdrawn to second line roles and then reserve. The result is that in Aug 1945 the RN and Commonwealth nations had only a single Polish manned WW1 ship and 43 of the post WW1 classes in front line service or refitting with only the prospect of Superb as a early completion. At least some of those could not be made suitable for use in the Far East (e.g. Kent and Arethusa classes for example).

10 were with the BPF and 8 with the EIF with more scheduled to go out as refits completed, with at least 4 due by the end of 1945.

So the RN was not particularly flush for modern cruisers on the outbreak of war and, despite gains and losses and reductions in traditional cruiser roles, remained so in 1945. So it becomes easy to see why the RN remained attached to the cruiser into the post war years. Particularly when the only prospect was of ships that were warmed over versions of a 1937 design that was overweight and bursting at the seams.
 

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The last of the Fijis were Bermuda and Newfoundland in the 1939 Programme and ordered 4 Sept 1939.

The next cruisers ordered, the original Minotaurs, were part of the 1941 and 1941 Supplementary Programmes.
1941 Programme (approved April 1941 and ordered May 1941)
Swiftsure
Bellerophon (completed eventually as Tiger)
Minotaur (completed as the Canadian manned Ontario)

1941 Supplementary Programme (approved 24 Nov 1941 and ordered 18 Dec 1941).
Defence (completed as Lion)
Superb
Tiger (never laid down and reordered as a unit of the Neptune class).

In late 1941 the RN was only in the early stages of designing the light fleet carrier that became the Colossus class in the 1942 Programme with the first 3 ships ordered in March 1942 before the design had been finalised. This is all before the big carrier battles of 1942. Radar and aircraft had not yet fully taken over the traditional cruiser roles of trade protection, scouting for the fleet, and fleet protection. A lot of old WW1 vintage ships remained in the fleet. And RN cruiser losses 1939-41 were heavy, especially amongst the more modern units and this continued into 1942. As time went on in WW2 their role changed. They became essential heavy AA escorts to the carrier groups. That was especially so given the generally light AA armament of British destroyers until the Battle class came along.

Completion dates were initially planned to be from late 1943 to early 1945
Ok, I will admit that my hindsightism is probably feeding my skepticism. The Minotaurs were ordered at a time when the heaviest fighting and losses hadn't had time to bite and indeed losses were heavy so there is a case of growing/maintaining fleet strength.

The USN certainly didn’t think the cruiser dead. Just look at the numbers of ships authorised in 1940 and later years that they continued to lay down into 1945.
True, probably overkill in their case too, the IJN was largely impotent or sunk before most of them were completed and a lot of them never completed until 1944/45 with some being completed post-war.
When you consider the Axis threat it was probably overkill, the IJN was probably just as short of cruisers as the RN was and almost all theirs were heavy cruisers (majority of the lights were 1920s stock of WW1-era layout and armament and used as destroyer flotilla flagships or submarine flotilla flagships). Germany had no success with wartime cruiser building. Italy did but they didn't like using the ones they already had.

I’m really not sure just how much in the way of resources could have been freed up for use elsewhere due to competing interests in the yards they were built in.

For example work on Bellerophon, laid down Oct 1941, at John Brown was at a standstill for almost a year in 1942/43 because the labour in the yard was being prioritised on Vanguard, Indefatigable, Nairana and destroyers. At one point much of the material gathered for her was transferred down the Clyde for use in Defence at Scotts. That was why it took 4 years from laying down to launch. JB were not involved in the light carrier programme.

Compare the length of time the Fijis spent on the slips and contrast that with time for Bellerophon, Defence and Blake spent. They were clearly not a high priority.
Exactly. British shipyards were too congested with work. They were not high priority but they were a burden once they had been laid down in some form of resource drain (whether its slip occupation or painters having to spend time slapping on oil rustproofing). I'm not talking about the Light Fleets - I don't think their material condition could be drastically improved.
For what its worth I think that the RN probably went overboard on destroyer and sloop production post 1943 too: Battles (2 flavours thereof), Weapons for those slips unsuited to Battles, Darings, Gallants, Bays, Lochs. A lot of these never reached laying down and many were cancelled - ironically being the bigger and better ships most suited to the RNs postwar needs.
I think there is a case to be made that the RN, and the USN, in their haste to make up pre-war shortages and early war losses harnessed too much in an early war splurge in 1941-42 that rammed the yards full until 1945 meaning that 1943-44 orders for ships with wartime experience added into their design had no room and were easy meat to trim off in the rapid cutoff in 1945.
It's like the interminable Centaur arguments we have - yes they were pukka but it takes a hell of a lot of AH hand waving to get them any sooner. Neptunes were pukka too but ain't ever gonna happen.

But a new First Sea Lord, Cunningham, wanted 6” cruisers not 5.25”
He did yes, quite baffling really since air power and submarines sunk more cruisers in the Med than surface ships ever did. The early war surface battles with the Italians were classic actions, but they were rather rare post-1941.
So it becomes easy to see why the RN remained attached to the cruiser into the post war years.
Psychologically yes they were wedded to them, even the Escort Cruiser of the early 1960s was built around interpretations of the classic cruiser power projection role. GW96 was likewise an odd hybrid for a new-build design of the late 1950s.

1. Fit the automatic six-inch guns in new lightweight single mountings, should be possible at around 60 tons (slightly more than the 4.5 inch twin). That would provide some decent anti-ship and shore bombardment capability for destroyers.

2. Do the same for the three inch 70 cal, producing a rival to the 76mm OTO for frigates.
The RN wanted the 5in/70 single (or even a 5.5in single auto) as fitted to the Cruiser-Destroyer, same concept but with US ammo commonality.
The 3/70 seems a flop, the Canadian's went for them but the RN didn't, preferring 4.5in for the frigates plus finding enough space/weight for the necessary 3in ammo to feed the RoF was difficult. Victorious ended up with US-supplied 3/50s and only Tiger and Blake ever got 3/70s.
But yes I do agree that a single mount would have been good. I think the Cruiser-Destroyer was meant to have a couple of singles but the mount was never designed AFAIK. In my AU musings I went with a lighter unmanned twin with a GRP covering but I do think a single makes a lot of sense and would have been a good OTO rival especially with US ammo commonality behind it.
 

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1. Fit the automatic six-inch guns in new lightweight single mountings, should be possible at around 60 tons (slightly more than the 4.5 inch twin). That would provide some decent anti-ship and shore bombardment capability for destroyers.
I doubt that destroyer's hulls would handle the recoil.
The USS Hull (a destroyer of 2,800 tons standard displacement) was successfully tested with a Mk 71 8 inch high-velocity gun, generating far more recoil than the RN 6 inch: see http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNUS_8-55_mk71.php

"When the ship modifications were being designed to permit installation of the Mark 71, special attention was given to the stresses that would result from the firing loads. Later, during the structural firing tests, the Ships Engineering Center installed several hundred strain gages in the bow of the ship. The data collected during these tests showed acceptable stress level in all locations."
 

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The USS Hull (a destroyer of 2,800 tons standard displacement) was successfully tested with a Mk 71 8 inch high-velocity gun, generating far more recoil than the RN 6 inch: see http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNUS_8-55_mk71.php
This 8-inch gun wasn't dual-purpose, and have smaller deck penetration.
The mounting had a maximum-range elevation of 41 degrees, which was certainly good enough for the anti-ship and shore bombardment roles.
 

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It's been bad mouthed by various people and agencies. A lot of them with either agendas or lacked information.
A missed opportunity if ever there was one.
 

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The mounting had a maximum-range elevation of 41 degrees, which was certainly good enough for the anti-ship and shore bombardment roles.
Problem is, that RN's 6-inch QF was designed as dual-purpose gun, and required much higher elevation to hit planes.
I don't think that anyone rated the AA capabilities of any single 6+ inch gun in the jet age - the rate of fire is too low, so it would be for surface targets only and 40 degrees elevation would be fine for that.
 

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I don't think that anyone rated the AA capabilities of any single 6+ inch gun in the jet age - the rate of fire is too low, so it would be for surface targets only and 40 degrees elevation would be fine for that.
It's so absolutely impractical that there is no need to even consider this. Destroyer with a single 6-inch QF gun would have zero chances in action against Sverdlov-class cruiser. Even if single QF would be able to produce 20 rounds per minute, twelve guns of Sverdlov, firing 6 salvoes per minute, would still get 3.5-to-1 advantage. Considering that rather massive Sverdlov is a MUCH better and stable gunnery platform than small and narrow destroyer... Most likely single-6-inch gun destroyer would be sunk before managing to get a single hit back.
 

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What you have is a situation where slow and poor decision making ended up giving the RN an obsolescent ship when built. The Tigers were designed as weight critical 1940's gun cruisers would be. That is, they have a relatively small hull volume that is filled with heavy (guns, ammunition, and armor) stuff that doesn't really take up a lot of space.

In the late 1940's and into the '50's this was rapidly changing to ships becoming volume critical. That is, the new systems ships needed like electronics, sensors, and missiles all took up a lot of space but didn't weigh much compared to guns, ammo, and armor.

So, the RN really needed to go one of two directions:

Either all-in on rebuilding these ships for a AAW / ASW role with some surface capacity or lay them up / scrap them.

For the former, the RN needed a SAM asap to stick on the ships. Seaslug aft was clearly a doable solution, but the system needed to be available and operational. Giving these ships a good helicopter capacity--say, two of them-- with a hanger and flight deck for ASW operations would be another alternative.

It seems the RN split the difference and ended up with a ship that was no good at anything in particular but was kept in service because it'd look bad that it was being scrapped so soon after building it.

Maybe the RN could have worked on and put in service a SSM instead to give these ships some better ship killing firepower than obsolescent 6" guns.
 

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I don't think that anyone rated the AA capabilities of any single 6+ inch gun in the jet age - the rate of fire is too low, so it would be for surface targets only and 40 degrees elevation would be fine for that.
It's so absolutely impractical that there is no need to even consider this. Destroyer with a single 6-inch QF gun would have zero chances in action against Sverdlov-class cruiser. Even if single QF would be able to produce 20 rounds per minute, twelve guns of Sverdlov, firing 6 salvoes per minute, would still get 3.5-to-1 advantage. Considering that rather massive Sverdlov is a MUCH better and stable gunnery platform than small and narrow destroyer... Most likely single-6-inch gun destroyer would be sunk before managing to get a single hit back.
The Cruiser Destroyer was 3 single rapid fire guns and intended to work in groups when needed.
So no Sverdlov would have to independently target 3+ such ships coming on different bearings.
Stabilisation of the guns was definitely a significant factor in their weight.
 
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