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Royal Navy decides to abandon carriers earlier- options?

uk 75

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Although 1966 was the date when the British Government abandoned its fixed wing conventional carrier fleet, there were many studies even before this date about what a Royal Navy would need to do to get around the problem of a fleet without its big carriers.

1957 was a significant year for British Defence Policy. Let us assume that the carrier airpower at Suez in 1956 had been found wanting in comparison with the RAF efforts from Cyprus and Malta. The Royal Navy faced with having to order a new generation of carriers in the near future is told by Duncan Sandys to go away and come up with alternatives.

The nuclear submarine is emerging as are the missile boats being developed for Regulus and Rigel in the US.

It would be fun in a what-f world to escape the whole carrier debate and look at alternatives like long range missiles, hoverships, seaplanes even. The fifties were a great period for creative thinking-any takers?
 

Grey Havoc

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The RAF might actually have to consider deploying ZEL capable fighters for one thing?
 

zen

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Not really sure that would work out so.


But move forward from '57 into the early 60's and yes, I think its possible that a government could have decided to move towards the concept of the guided missile fleet. Which is something we have a rough model for in the Soviet Navy.


This of course raises some questions about what sort of systems the RN should persue, and it will rather show that it matters not one jot which option, carriers or missile cruisers, you choose, the costs are still enormous.


And thus we would end up looking, I think, back at the NIGS debate. That really seems more likely to end up as nuclear powered cruisers in all but name.


So if we want to go back to 1957.
Then we have to open the ourselves to either buying into the US efforts or developing something like the naval Green Flax (Thunderbird II) missile.
Now IF (stress 'if' here) we'd developed Green Flax for the County class destroyers. Then we could see a path forward without getting stuck in NIGS and its US parallel.
Again we're looking at cruisers, or hybrid ships.


Now we really did have a study of a hybrid cruiser/carrier. Armed with heavy SAMs, and supposedly chopped in the early 60s. Something which might have developed into a sort of British Kiev type. A bigger Invincible.


Solve this AAW element and a lot flows from it.
 

Hood

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The RN would have kept some kind of Commando Carrier force. Then probably the County Class would have been seen as sufficent and more emphasis would have been made on ASW ships. Probably the early 1960s would see a generation of Ikara-armed frigates and maybe some Sea Dart frigates for area-protection and to replace the Counties. Both are likely to be single-end ships with one or the other system. Certainly Type 82 seems unlikely to be built.

While we get on the subject of NIGS though, I did finally complete a what-if NIGS cruiser for an alternate RN over at Shipbucket. Using the overall Sea Dart layout I evolved a NIGS family, NIGS being a rocket-boosted ramjet SAM (range of Talos), SIGS being the same missile but with a smaller booster (very similar to Sea Dart as we would know it) and Sub-Dart which used the NIGS booster to throw an A/S torpedo a fair way, rather like a surfaced launched Subroc. Supersonic SeaCat 2 is also fitted as is Ongar.

 

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The County class destroyers and Sea Slug become pointless. What's the point of building an expensive ship to defend the fleet against air attack ... when you have no fleet?
 

zen

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The County class destroyers and Sea Slug become pointless. What's the point of building an expensive ship to defend the fleet against air attack ... when you have no fleet?
Because your offensive force is now in the form of large missiles, launched from missile cruisers.
 

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Attacking what?
 

zen

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Errr.... the enemy.
 

CNH

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Apologies for my earlier ambiguity.

What I was getting at was there was little point having the Seaslug destroyers if there was no fleet to defend from air attack.
 

Hobbes

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Jemiba said:
Hobbes said:
rather like a surfaced launched Subroc
Would 'ASROC' be the word you're looking for? B)
He probably meant the UUM-44 Subroc .... ;)

http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/m-44.html
I know what he meant.
Subroc = submarine-launched system to fly a torpedo to a remote destination.
Asroc = surface-launched system to fly a torpedo to a remote destination.
Call me weird, but I'd find it easier to describe Hood's proposal as a 'system like Asroc' than 'a surface-launched version of Subroc'
 

Jemiba

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To compare those systems probably would have got you into trouble with the designers
of the Subroc system, I think ! ASROC was quite primitive in comparison, as far as I know,
using an unguided rocket to launch a guided torpedo. But AFAIK SUBROC was never fitted
with a torpedo, but with a nuclear depth charge.
 

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Subroc was indeed much more advanced and much longer ranged. It was never fielded with a torpedo, but torpedo armed variants were proposed. The USSR fielded ASW missiles with even greater ranges that did use torpedoes, with the intention that a small forward helicopter would locate the target with enough precision for a torpedo to be effective. I think that's the idea here.
 

Hood

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Yes it would be more like Subroc in the fact that it has much-longer range to exploit the Type 1001 sonar fitted, it is much longer-ranged than ASROC. A WE.177C could be fitted instead but the idea is to use the Sub-Dart as an outer layer allied to the powerful sonar (which was planned to be integrated for ship use but never actually was). MATCH is a back up but for rapid-response its quicker and easier to handle than Ikara and cheaper too.

All fleets need air defence, surface groups of ASW escorts, convoys, Commando Carriers, amphibious forces all need air defence. I just feel that in this scenario the Treasury bean-counters would find the County sufficent for that role. SIGS would still be pursued as a frigate weapon for area defence of small ASW groups and escort forces. An ASW helicopter carrier of becomes more likely, something like the hybrid cruisers at the end of Friedman's British Cruisers book.
 

uk 75

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Thank you all for some interesting and actually real world suggestions.

I chose 1957 rather than a later date because I wanted to give the RN the option of keeping its large cruiser project (much in the same way as in 1966 it kept a cruiser as its large ship), but also 1957 was a time when, despite Suez, Britain still had serious commitments all around the globe. It was also a time when nuclear weapons were seen as a panacea for ills (conventional weapons on the other hand have taken rather a back seat).

Who were the RN fighting? The main role (as in 1966 and 1981) was to defend the North Atlantic Sea lanes and take the war to the Soviet Union's own bases in the Kola Peninsular. Unlike in the 60s, the Soviet Sverdlow cruiser was seen as a serious threat (countered by Carrier born aircraft of course). Air Defence was necessary both against Soviet long range aircraft (Tu16s and even Il28s). Soviet client states in the rest of the world, but of course in the Far East mainly, were seen as being likely to receive similar kit. Indonesia did get a Sverdlow and Tu16s by the early 60s.

In addition to the big cruiser and its missile armament, the UK might also have copied the US and Soviet Union in the following areas:

Long range fighter aircraft capable of ranging further from land bases (some of the projects cancelled in 1957 might have developed) or alternatively slower larger aircraft equipped with long range missiles (as in the Eagle/Missileer combo). Pofflers with loads of both based on the Vickers 1000, Handley Page Victor or later the VC 10 would have had a more urgent role.

The US deployed the Regulus cruise missile on conventional submarines. The UK was looking at nuclear submarines for the 60s, and the US had developments of Regulus (Triton, Rigel etc) which the UK could have imitated from its own resources. Blue Water missiles could have been used to provide accurate nuclear and even conventional fire support.

The success of the US Talos missile over Vietnam shows what a long range missile of this period could do. A UK equivalent could have been used to bring down Iraqi or Indonesian aircraft from offshore in support of British forces.

The Commando Carriers might also have been used as missile platforms (this is suggested in some pamphlets of UK missile systems of the period). Even Ark Royal and Eagle might have been retained as Fire Support/Commando vessels. Their large size would have permitted hovercraft operations (winched down from the deck 50s style).

VSTOL in the 50s was not the sohphisticated 1154/Harrier but rather the Short Bedstead and its US equivalents. A Short aircraft based on SC 1 could have found a home on the Expeditionary Support Ship.

Just some thoughts to get you going again...
 

zen

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Hmmm....


A British Tu148......


The big 6ft+ dish might permit the use of SeaDart in an AAM form.
 

JFC Fuller

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We already know what the RN would have done if it had abandoned carriers in 1957 (Which Sandys actually gave serious consideration to) because the scenario actually occurred in 1966. The fleet would have been reconstructed around frigates, highly capable frigates, but frigates nonetheless. As much as I like the idea of a nuclear powered, NIGS/Type 985, Type 2001 etc equipped cruiser (indeed it was I who pulled those strands together into such a hypothetical ship in the first place) it would never have happened. The big cruiser was cancelled in 1957 because it was extremely expensive in both money and manpower- the anti-surface role instead moved progressively to the fleet submarine (SSN) force- planning for which remained relatively constant throughout the Cold War (although the build schedule was stretched out); as if to underline the point the cruiser design team actually joined the SSN team. It should also be remembered that the Sverdlov programme came to an end before 1957 (no more appeared after 1954 and their numbers actually began to decline), the heavy surface threat that the 1957 cruiser and Buccaneer were originally designed to counter never really materialised and ultimately faded away. Without carriers, an RN equipped with counties and Leanders for most of the 60s seems most likely before moving into the Type 42/22 era in the 70s. Perhaps some of the features left out of those ships on cost/time grounds (Type 984, a second Type 901 and Type 2001 in the Counties / hangar capacity for a whirlwind, ADAWS from the start and a Type 2001 sonar in the Leanders) could have been included.

The elephant in the room is the rest-of-world role, ultimately without a fleet carrier the RN's ability offer much to this would be highly limited and if the UK chose to maintain such a role it would likely have lead to a less savage cut of the RAF in the 57 review, in short, more of the MEAF and FEAF squadrons would have survived longer and there may have been greater investment in transport aircraft (as originally desired and proposed). Possibly the originally desired numbers for TSR-2 (300/200?) could have lasted longer to re-equip the FEAF/MEAF Canberra squadrons) and additional Hunter FGA.9/FR.10 (and P.1154 as their replacement) could have been procured but ultimately it would all have been for nought as none of it would have survived the crunch that came in the mid 60s.


To summarise, if carriers go in 1957 then the same thing that happened in 66 would have happened in 58 as far as the RN is concerned. The funds would simply have been diverted to sustaining the RAF's overseas forces at a higher level and for longer, possibly with some supporting Army infrastructure. No spectacular cruisers or missiles.
 

uk 75

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Sealord

Your excellent account of what would have happened based on real life history is as usual highly accurate, but isnt one of the points of this site to play around a bit with things that did not happen.

I chose 1957 because the RN did not give up planning a large ship fleet and the Nuclear Submarine had not yet shown its potential as a weapons system. By 1966 there was no doubt that the SSN was a capital ship.

Even in real life the RN looked at procuring about 4 -5 cruiser or helicopter carrying ships. It also explored hybrid missile/helicopter ships, something yet to be covered in any depth in books but alluded to in Wettern, Grove and Friedman.

The big cruiser platform offered anti-air defence, shore bombardment capability as well as anti-Sverdlow capacity. It was an excellent vessel to replace the carriers with, probably on a one for one basis. The long range missiles needed for this role already existed in the US either in reality or as projects. The UK was well able to develop similar systems. In the absence of carrier aviation it would be a fun way to go.
Alternate history should allow some playing around with reality, otherwise one might as well stick to what actually happened.
 

JFC Fuller

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The big cruiser would not have replaced the carriers- it was cancelled, fundamentally, because on closer analysis the counties offered better value for money and manpower*: thus it was cancelled in 1957 never to return. The helicopter carrier/cruiser hybrids are different animals all together and indeed that is precisely the line followed from 1966 culminating in the Invincible class. So it is logical to follow that route, and the first thing that comes to mind is the number of light fleet carrier hulls around that could in the interim be used as ASW ships with the Short Seamew, Bristol Type 191 or Westland Whirlwind.


* Sea Slug, not the hull, provided air defence capability- thus the counties had that covered, the Sverdlov threat never emerges as expected and peaks in 1954/5 before going into decline and submarines (particularly but not specifically the nuclear variety) provide plenty of ASuW capability anyway. As for Shore bombardment, definitely not worth it- unless you are going to use something with a nuclear warhead (not really practical) a cruiser has very little to offer (in this time-frame) except for its guns and they do not reach very far beyond the shore. If we are really worried about ASuW (and I think we have no reason to be) then another alternative is Green Cheese/Flash surviving and the Medium Bomber Force keeping the originally considered ASuW role- maybe Blue Boar survives to give them a precision conventional capability.


If you wish to have an alternate history discussion that is devoid of reality then I will put my vote in for the UK to build a death star, however, to me it is far more interesting to look at what could have been done within the confines of reality. And with that in mind this conversation is particularly interesting for two reasons- the scale of the policy changes made and considered in 1957 (Sandys disliked carriers and considered terminating them) and the fact that ultimately the RN merely postponed the inevitable.
 

zen

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Like I said, Green Flax seems one of the components for an alternative RN and is I think a component that needs to be decided uppon prior to the '57 POD, so in essence your POD is off. But it does rather alter the later landscape in that SeaDart is less pressing.



I might note that the Counties are viewed as more cost effective in the RN of real history, with its still continuing Carrier fleet, that wouldn't be chopped until 1966/67. A major shift to an alternative changes the calculus.


But if you intend to chop the CV force and replace it with something else, the answer is large surface to surface missiles (not even modest ones enter RN service until Martel) and a more substantial AAW system than that based around the SeaSlug missile.


If one wishes to see the Counties continue, we must look at additional vessels for the long range surface to surface weapon. Either County variants or some other ship.


Chief issue, as the Soviets found, is over the horizon targeting, and that still needs something aloft.


So if one stands back, one might see a process that leads to an earlier ASW focused CV, than the Invicibles, equipped with just such OTH aircraft as well.


That rather takes us towards the questions over what would constitute the OTH sensor aircraft.
 

JFC Fuller

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Green Flax does nothing that Sea Slug does not, I am constantly bemused by the notion that a switch from Sea Slug to Green flax some how magic's away a whole range of problems- it does not, it merely replaces one bulky first generation missile with another, arguably more successful, one.


The answer is not "large surface to surface missiles" as there is very little to fire them at, few ways to find targets for them and hardly any data-links with which to guide them. In reality the UK abandoned both its AShM's in this period, Blue Slug and Green Cheese and stuck with the partial capability provided by Sea Slug and far more importantly the submarine force.


The loss of the carriers does not demand some more substantial SAM capability just as it did not in 66, it potentially means more counties but it does not drive something like NIGS.
 

zen

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As I said Green Flax delays things in terms of a successor, and not its not NIGS and it will not become NIGS.
And no its not a panacea, its a component in a different RN.


Reality as it happened is not what we are talking about, we are talking about an alternative reality, a close one to ours, yet clearly different.


So to follow this one must look at the path forward and that includes surface to surface missiles from a warship as an alternative to Strike and Attack aircraft from an aircraft carrier. Submarines do not really contribute to the surface to surface role, until the arrival of Polaris, and then only for the worst case scenarios around WWIII.

One should not confuse 'surface-to-surface' with the more precise term 'anti-ship' as the former is clearly a wider term that tends to be used for weapons aimed at landbased targets, and no guns, nice and capable though they are, do not reach inland far enough to compensate for the lack of Attack aircraft.
 

JFC Fuller

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Green Flax does no such thing, there would still be a requirement, in the same timeframe for Sea Dart.


Submarines most certainly do contribute to the surface to surface role, it was one of their primary roles throughout the Cold War- not to mention the sinking of the Belgrano. They were and still are a major pillar of the RN's anti-surface capability, and surface to surface generally refers to the anti-ship role. If your reference is to land attack then there is no way that you are going to gets credible conventional missile capability for that role at least until the 80s: there is nothing that is going to give the capability you want.


As for reality, if we are ignoring it then I am advocating death stars.
 

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Taking the premise a bit further, if Khrushchev had been removed from office in the late 50's, the Project 63 cruisers would have likely been built, causing the RN more than a few sleepless nights. Heck, even Stalingrad might have been completed in some form (her hull proved surprisingly tough against first generation anti-ship missiles).
 

uk 75

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It is worth noting that in the same period the US Navy deployed a number of cruiser conversions and one nuclear cruiser with the excellent long range Talos missile. The missile could also be used against ships and surface installations with both a nuclear and conventional warhead.

I continue to think (Sealord, I note your factual points) that a UK purchase of Talos or development of a similar UK system would have been necessary in the late 50s without carriers, as well as a related long range aircraft programme. In the 60s it was different and the East of Suez role goes, and the emphasis is on ASW and limited air defence.

However, lets agree to disagree on this one.
 

JFC Fuller

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Talos "could" be fired against surface targets- so could Sea Slug, and indeed it was, but that is a very marginal capability and of dubious utility.


There would be no need for a Talos like system in the late 50s/early 60s just as there was not in the mid/late 60s, and why a long range aircraft programme? To do what?


If carriers go in 1957 (which is not inconceivable and was argued in some quarters) it would not result in large cruisers or big missiles, it would result in a shrunk down navy with a pivot towards more RAF capability but limited to squadron retention in FEAF/MEAF beyond what occurred in reality and perhaps additional investment in the medium bomber force to provide a greater conventional capability from that force. Additional aircraft for Transport command is also likely.
 

zen

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The Royal Navy faced with having to order a new generation of carriers in the
near future is told by Duncan Sandys to go away and come up with
alternatives.
They would indeed go away and produce options, and the government of the day would indeed examine them. The suggestion they would not, does not stand up to scrutiny. What is chosen however is indeed likely to reflect the priorities of the times.
Really we need to go back and ask, when is the CV fleet being run down in this scenario?
HMS Victorious is returning to service from '58, but future modernisations and maintenence of the other ships might well be canceld. As they drop out of service a great deal of manpower and funds will be released. What happens to them and that?
Of course the negative and downbeat answer is they will all be laid off and the monies disappear back in No.11's coffers.
 

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I am sure zen's last is right. Admiralty did a remarkable job in keeping a hefty blue water Force after BPF was decommissioned. There's an Attlee 1946 quote: "who is there to fight at sea?" Yet the Strike carrier Task Forces were funded. So: Korea and Suez answer Attlee's Q. Now, early-1957, PM Macmillan believes "we get no defence from defence" and it's his sacrifice to hold down taxes so he wins 1959's Election - "most of our people have never had it so good". So POD: he chops Deterrence (after ordering Skybolt, 1960, he did in 1961 contemplate no follow on. After all what's the point: from 1958 the weapon was no longer "independent"). What he actually did, though, was to continue the White Man's Burden, of "defending" the Indian O. Quite why we subsidised our competitors is baffling. So your options are: even more, dearer, longer East of Suez, maritime and air; or scuttle sooner, confining UK to Saclant convoy protection, to slowing armour on the N.German Plain, and to cheering up Norway and Greece/Turkey on the flanks. Not a lot of Power Projection Navy.
 

uk 75

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Thank you for another batch of interesting and informed comments on the thread.

As ever, my aim is to try and encourage as many different angles of ideas and info as possible. So, I accept that my 1957 starting point needs amplification and the thread has developed these.

Sealord My mention of long range aircraft was prompted by Denis Healey's comment in the 60s that a single Victor sortie in the Med could locate the whole Soviet fleet there, or something of the sort. You have already mentioned that the RAF would be the likely beneficiary of a decision to remove fixed wing carriers. Either additional V bombers or Poffler airliner conversions would be one way of deploying additional missiles.

I understand your frustration at ideas that depart from the "strict" bounds of what we know to have happened. But this site also has a lighter hearted side, as evidenced by the existence of this thread separate from the more constrained subject threads. The weapons that I have mentioned were looked at and discussed. As far as I know not even the RAF advocated "Death Stars".
 

Hood

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As a scenario here are my thoughts;

HMS Vanguard scrapped in 57

Carriers
Victorious is cancelled during her refit, perhaps completed for another Commonwealth Navy if RCN or RAN can afford it.
Unicorn and Indefatigable scrapped 1957
Colossus, Theseus, Ocean decommissioned in 57, Perseus kept as a maintainece depot ship as is refitted Triumph
Eagle has only received a partial angled deck in 55 so perhaps keep her operational until 58. Ark is only two years old but her forward turrets and deck-edge lift are handicaps to air operations. She too only has a partial angled deck so either both are refitted to full standard and transferred to RCN and RAN if they can afford it or scrap both 58-60. A lot of work on Vic, Ark and Eagle though is wasted by a 57 cancellation, money down the drain. Selling Ark and Eagle to other nations seems unlikely due to their size and cost and concerns about them falling into the wrong hands.
Centaur and Albion continue as Commando Carriers, Bulwark could be retained as a training ship or with Hermes both become ASW carriers with a deckload of Wessex (Bristol 193 seems unlikely).

Cruisers
All 8in cruisers gone, all surviving Southamptons and Fijis should be retired from 57. Blake, Defence and Tiger should be halted. Superb, Swiftsure and Belfast to be refitted for serivce into the 60s as basic shore-support and anti-Soviet cruiser protection only. Prepare planning for four new cruiser-helicopter carriers with Seaslug and 9 Wessex/ Seakings. These would be built in the 1960s, perhaps as through-deck types like Study 21.

Destroyers
Refit all eight Darings 1959-61 with Type 199 VDS, Match and two Sea Cat, four Battle pickets alongside four properly refitted Weapon pickets to serve with the ASW forces operating above the GIUK line. Rest of Type 15 and 16 refits as planned.
Eight Counties should be enough for aerial defence of Commando Carriers and ASW forces. Batch II to go ahead as planned.

Frigates
All Type 12 to eventually be refitted with MATCH. Type 61 and 41 probably ok for limited Med Fleet use and convoy escorts in wartime.
Leander to be the ideal frigate to rebuild the force, 1959 4 ordered under 59/60 programme, 4 60/61, 4 61/62, 4 62/63 (these four would have mini-ADA, Type 184 sonar and some other changes and would be the first Broad-Beam) and these would be followed by 4 under each of the 63/64, 64/65 and 65/66 programmes and two in 66/67 to give a total of 30 Leanders (18 of them Broad-Beam). Given a more radical alt-history perhaps we could see all the Broads getting Ikara from the start along with MATCH and no Limbo.
From 66/67 the plan would include the first two of a new class of new destroyers/ frigates. These would be something like 381 and 382 being single-end ships with either Ikara or Sea Dart. Programmes from 67/68 onward would consist of one 381, two 382 and two corvettes (being something like DS 363 but with Sea Cat added with perhaps MATCH, kind of a mini-Tribal. Perhaps a COGOG machinery layout too. I would think eight Sea Dart Ships and 12 Ikara ships would suffice alongside the 18 Broad Leander Ikara-armed ships as the main ASW component with the eight refitted Darings offering some measure of surface protection (until about 1970). That would take the 381/382 funding plan to 1974. From then the Counties would either retire and then I suppose another class would be launched to replace the Leanders from 1975 to 1983.

Submarines
Five Resolutions and the SSN programme unchanged.
 

Grey Havoc

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Maybe we might see a dedicated anti-air frigate class derived from the Type 12, armed with a single arm SeaDart Launcher, along with Seacat and later Seacat 2 (link/link). Perhaps even a lightweight installation of the Vickers 3"/70?

The last three units of the Salisbury class (Type 61) which were cancelled would have likely made a good basis for initial units of such a class, IMO.

Another possibility might be the Stretched Type 82:

 

JFC Fuller

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Hood,


An excellent post from somebody who clearly gets the utility of looking at alternative history. I actually agree with everything you have written and IMO that is the most likely outcome.
 

zen

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Hmmm....


Pulling the plug on the CV Fleet there and then in '57, means no further funding for Buccaneer, or purchase orders for Scimitar, or indeed Sea Vixen. TSR.2 becomes even more the 'be all and end all' of new fast jet projects and only Lightning remains.


That's a lot of savings, and a lot of jobs down the tube unless the industry is turned over to some other tasks.
There is the question of whether shorn of the stigma of an RN order, the Buccaneer can garner some RAF orders, arguably as an 'interim' solution. But that seems to detract from their wonderplane, so seems unlikely.


Well we have the various missile projects, the later PT.428.
Lacking Scimitar could we see the Fairey Sea-Skimmer anti-ship missile?
We also have the various surface-to-surface missiles, and air-to-surface missiles for the RAF, mainly centered around the Deterrent.
Then we have the ABM studies.


We have various transport aircraft, including the rotordyne.


And we have the Hypersonic research studies. Notably Er.181. But also the whole P.10 saga.


Oh and something called the P1127.....


Anything else?


Well it does seem a shame the 3"/70 did'nt see a single gun turrent variant for example, and there is the CFS mk2 which was interesting.


Oh yes, the 'legal' bit, which is that I'm not saying any or all of this will be forthcoming, however it will be looked at at the time and considered in the light of the lack of the RN CV fleet and the released funds and industrial capacity.
 

JFC Fuller

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RN Scimitar/Sea Vixen/Buccaneer production was ultimately puny and the resources saved from them would soon be gobbled up trying to keep FEAF/MEAF/MBF squadron numbers up and then re-equipped with P.1154s/TSR-2s/V-bomber B.2s (of which potentially twice as many may have been required). Certainly nothing there to fund a hypersonic programme or ABM project (especially given what was happening to UK air defence at the time, not to mention it was reckoned to cost as much as Blue Streak or more to develop). Additional transport aircraft may well be a probability depending on what happens to the amphibious fleet.
 

Hood

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My thoughts on the air side;
As will repeat what I said regarding the Ark Royal and Eagle, a 1957 decision comes at the wrong time, vast amounts of money are already tied up in recent refits of Ark and Eagle and the rebuilding of Victorious and of course the development and testing of the aircraft aboard them. How much will be saved in the end is open to question and whether the effects would in effect worse than the real Sandys Paper is a worthy question too.

Sea Vixen, the third navalised prototype flew June 55 and not due to enter service until 59, but hopefully earlier. By the time its ready the carriers won't need them so its a scrapped. The RAF won't want them given they have Javelin (which has its own flaws). Had the Admiralty not faffed about so much between 1950-55 then DH.110 might have been ready by 55 in which case the problem doesn't arise. The thin-wing work is wasted though.

Scimitar, only just flown 19th Jan 56, the first service example in Jan 57. What to do? Most likely outcome is cancellation as the FAA jet squadrons are wound up. Its possible the RAF continues to buy the type as a shore-based anti-ship bomber or perhaps as a dedicated ground-attack fighter and giving the RAF a tactical nuclear bomber for service in West Germany by 1960 and of course extending production to beyond the 76 built. Perhaps to the full 100 originally intendd and perhaps beyond. Supersonic developements might be followed but seems unlikley.

Hunter, the supersonic P.1083 should be completed to complement the Scimitar fighter-bomber force in Western Europe. Likely exports to Belgium and Netherlands in 1960-62.

F.155T, does this go ahead? Thin-Wing Javelin cancelled as not really going anywhere quickly and the basic design has shortcomings. The Navy still has SAM capability for self-defence but no carrier force to augment Fighter Command and of course AAM-armed fighters still needed for FEAF and MEAF. F.155T is too advanced for those areas and too expensive for mass production. I can't see the removal of the carriers to seriously impair defence of Britain as the RN is protecting itself more than the nation so the manned aircraft versus missle debate goes on. One side-effect of this scenario is that the Fleet is now protected by missiles only, so logically Sandys can argue a stronger case for SAMs over manned fighters. So F.155T seems doomed still. Out of the carnage perhaps P.1121 can be saved as a timely replacement for the Scimitar in the tactical nuclear role.

F.177D, the Saro P.177 is nearing first flight as the axe falls on the carrier fleet. Out goes the P.177 immediately. 150 P.177N chopped leaving just 150 P.177R for the RAF. If P.1083 has been followed the RAF might see the need to replace the Hunters as less important and Lightning coming on stream. Could the MoS justfiy the P.177 programme on the basis of 150 aircraft? Would W.Germany and Japan see the writing on the wall sooner and look at Starfighter earlier? I see P.177 being cancelled too, any need for a hybrid rocket-jet fighter seems much less important than an all-round supersonic fighter-bomber for FEAF and MEAF. Again P.1121 family might be salvaged.

Future Fighters, I see P.1121 as entering service in two forms, a nuclear bomber for RAFG and basic Red Top fighter-bomber for FEAF and MEAF and to replace Javelin serving alongside Lightning. The shift to tactical roles and the need for a long-range interceptor will probably lead to AW.406 becoming a pure land-based VG interceptor. The P.1127/1154 saga is simpler given the removal of a naval need unless the lack of a protective fighter for the ASW carriers is ever raised again in the mid-60s. Phantom seems unlikely given the lack of a naval need, BAC might proceed with a Type 583-esque fighter for entry into service in 1967. RAF likely to get cheaper Harrier too for RAFG with P.1121 soldiering on with Lightning until a 70s fighter is ready, perhaps Jaguar, perhaps something slightly like a Super-Jaguar. An improved Harrier like HS.1184 might be likely in the 70s if funds allow but TSR.2 will probably eat those funds during the early 70s. EFA then replaces all come 1990s.

Nimrod, would replace the Shacks, perhaps more of them to compensate for the loss of the carriers and to augment the ASW carrier fleet. A Comet or Nimrod based AEW seems more likley slightly earlier, perhaps operational in the early 70s.

Gannet, would continue in order to equip the Hermes and Bulwark until the mid-late 60s. There would still be a shore-based role for them across the world.

Buccaneer, due to fly in 1958, does the lack of carriers kill this before first flight? Probably I see no real RAF desire to take on the plane as it doesn't really fit as a Canberra replacement and thoughts towards TSR.2 are looking a generation ahead. Probably the end of Blackburn.

GOR.339, likely as not B.103A, DH.110 derivative, P.1121, Type 565 in the early stages of the GOR in an attempt to save these products. B.108 likley to follow and is likely to be a fresher design unconstrained by current production practice laid down by Bucc production and perhaps a freer hand to redesign. P.17 probably still the best contender. I'll leave the question of the EE Vickers merger alone for another what-if another day but TSR.2 seems certain to go ahead without any meddling from Mountbatten etc. I'll also leave aside any financial and political considerations of TSR.2 alone but certainly the lack of the carrier force makes it more certain TSR.2 will be brought for a global power-projection role although by 1970 its doubtful wheter there would be a FEAF and so numbers probably would be around the 90-100 mark. Of course there is no OR.346 afterwards.

Blue Envoy still seems likely for cancellation given the RAF's misgiving of its low-level aircraft performance. Another couple of batteries of Bloodhound seem likely.

Blue Water, might be more likely if no Scimitar or Bucc, less likely if the RAF used either of those as a tactical nuclear bomber. That would open the door for PT.428 which might still happen if the funding is freed for it by less Naval expenditure, itself a what-if given the ASW needs. An air-launched long-range ASM based on Blue Water sounds crazy but its an odd little what-if I'll throw in here.

Green Cheese looks likely to be cancelled, it can't fit Gannet and that platform is not a serious bomber and there is no RAF to operate it. Red Beard seems more likely, perhaps Tychon in the 60s until Martel ready.
 

zen

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Hmmm....


First off from memory the orders and payments for the Sea Vixen and Scimitar are part and parcel of the '57 review. Change the decisions and you change that.



RAF did consider the Scimitar and were trying to interest government in this as an alternative to Buccaneer. There is a case where one can say this is a faster to service solution for nuclear delivery than the likes of the P1154 or some supersonic Hunter.


Speaking of which yes, without the RN involvement or with only marginal involvement, the P1154 is likely to be reach a definitive design earlier and progress at a more rapid rate.


P1121 still doesn't quite fit any role defined by the RAF. Its not the F155T, and its not their ideal for nuclear delivery MRI or LRI. The P1154 fills the former and the TSR.2 fills the latter.


F155T is dead, we've not changed the conclusions by axing the CV fleet here. The concept of Red Barrel seems stronger.


F.177 Was continued for the RN for a short periode after '57's conclusions. So cut the RN CV fleet and this is dead earlier.


AW.406 is a product of OR.346, and that might still happen, but the whole RN involvement is either very minor or non-existent. If this OR does occure, its the RAF looking for a BARCAP machine, and likely asking about fighter variants of the GOR.339.
So if in turn AW.406 emerges at all, its a cheaper quicker solution, but the driver for this is now gone. No matter the Soviet anti-ship missiles displayed in '63, the answer will have to be either SAMs or nothing.


Of course the presence of the USN does not mean the Soviets will drop their efforts in anti-ship weapons just because the RN pulled out of the carrier game.


I do rather think something like PT.428 is a strong contender for funding, if the RN can accept it in some form.
 

Grey Havoc

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Hood said:
Nimrod, would replace the Shacks, perhaps more of them to compensate for the loss of the carriers and to augment the ASW carrier fleet. A Comet or Nimrod based AEW seems more likely slightly earlier, perhaps operational in the early 70s.
Alternatively, with the much greater coverage that the RAF would be expected to provide in such a timeline, the HS1011 proposal might have been seen as a better bet, operationally speaking. Modified drawing by Jemiba.



Here's an illustration from the December 1974 edition of Air International (thanks to Overscan):

 

CNH

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Why would one wnat a supersonic anti-sub patrol aircraft?
 

Grey Havoc

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For ASW, faster transit times to and from patrol areas, and coverage of a larger area in less time at high subsonic speeds. Also better ability to escape threats, e.g. being 'bounced' by enemy fighters.

Same applies to Maritime Reconnaissance, although depending on mission profile, you might be spending more time at supersonic speeds.

Also very handy for various ASuW scenarios.
 
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