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Royal Navy decides to abandon carriers earlier- options?

uk 75

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Many thanks for the way this thread has gone. The contributions are fascinating and contain a lot of useful info.

I think the RAF might have tried to emulate the Soviet long range approach of using aircraft like the Bear for both ASW, missile delivery and targeting. The UK had sufficently good long range platforms for these roles as Chris Gibson's book shows.

The escort cruiser emerged as a cruiser replacement initially. However, Lord Mountbatten was keen on using a carrier style hull as a platform for command, control and long range missilery. The sudden availability of a number of carrier hulls might have encouraged the RN to develope this strand. After all in cancelling the missile cruiser and moving to County DLGs it had effectively removed one rationale for cruisers. A British Kiev design, but looking more like a carrier than a cruiser might have emerged.
 

JFC Fuller

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uk 75 said:
I think the RAF might have tried to emulate the Soviet long range approach of using aircraft like the Bear for both ASW, missile delivery and targeting. The UK had sufficently good long range platforms for these roles as Chris Gibson's book shows.

To target what and to fire what?

The escort cruiser emerged as a cruiser replacement initially. However, Lord Mountbatten was keen on using a carrier style hull as a platform for command, control and long range missilery. The sudden availability of a number of carrier hulls might have encouraged the RN to develope this strand. After all in cancelling the missile cruiser and moving to County DLGs it had effectively removed one rationale for cruisers. A British Kiev design, but looking more like a carrier than a cruiser might have emerged.

The 1957 cruiser was an evolution of the traditional big gun cruiser but with an SAM system grafted on the back- when it was cancelled in 1957 (not because the County's removed its rationale but because the Sverdlov threat was receding and they would have been a massive waste of men and material) it was not replaced. What emerged later was very different and focussed on AAW and ASW. Mountbatten was very keen on lots of things but he didn't get them all.
 

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The anti-surface role would have been taken over by Red Beard. Without a carrier land-based types need to cover the North Sea and up into the Norwegian Sea and perhaps out to Iceland.

If we assume that the RAF decides to/ is forced to keep the Scimitar for its use then that would become the first generation tactical nuclear fighter bomber. The Bucc is probably too refined to the carrier role for the RAF to bother with and of course the RAF is likely to see the anti-ship role as somewhat secondary to its prime concerns. Perhaps another Canberra mark with a nose radar might have been developed as an interim anti-shp bomber tossing Red Beards. That might suffice until 1961-65 and after that some kind of stand-off weapon is needed. Green Cheese was cancelled in 1956, Cockburn Cheese and Green Flash are all milling around but offer not much better capability than a tossed Red Beard and of course the latter is cheaper. Fairey Sea Skimmer either required external stowage or the parent craft's ASV to be retracted on firing if it was behind the bay. Shack might have just managed external stowage but the Gannet seems unlikely to carry it. Guidance problems kill this programme off but the angle of terminal dive and the bunt attack profile were plus points. In the end Scimitar got Bullpup. Would this happen in this AU? Even so Sea Skimmer allowed a 40 miles stand-off range. Perhaps it could have been brought to fruition by 1962?

Its successor requirement OR.1168 is a multi-use tactical missile capable of disabling the air defences of big ships and sinking small ships and submarines. Tychon was certainly multi-role with changable seeker heads and a mix of HE or nuclear rounds. TSR.2 might carry up to four, a Canberra one. A rocket-boosted ship-launched variant was also looked at to use the Sealug launcher, this would have given the RN some useful capability (at the expense of Sea Slug missiles though). RG.10 offered internal stowage and was reasonable small. As it was politics intervened and Martel was born. CR.137 was launched in 1967 for a submarine-fired ASM which bore some fruit in the AS.68 based SSTV. In the AU perhaps the RG.10 could have been the starting point for a similar testbed that could have been in service for the latter 1970s. Active Radar Martel began in 1973 to replace Martel and became Sea Eagle and that arrived in 1985, this weapon is roughly what this AU needs for 1964 not twenty years later. OR.1168 was mainly aimed at land-targets, it lacked the range to penetrate a Soviet battlegroup's defences and it relied on the carrier-borne Bucc to get it there. In this AU there is no carrier attack fleet so either the missile has to follow the logic of Sea Skimmer and become a 40-mile minimum range weapon or a long-range bomber is needed. TSR.2 is not really suited for the anti-ship role. Also in wartime the TSR.2 fleet is going to be tied up in tactical bombing missions over Eastern Europe and its price precludes much larger numbers entering service. Martel could still be procured for the TSR.2 fleet for land-based targets and some kind of larger stand-off weapon would be needed for the Nimrod fleet or the RAF would need to relinquish the role of anti-ship attacks to the RN using some kind of SSTV-based ASM.
 

uk 75

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There have been various threads recently about what the RN might have looked like if different decisions had been taken in the 50s. This long thread contains some detailed replies, notably from JFC Fuller and Hood.
It might also be interesting to see if any recent research at the NAO adds to our knowledge.
 

zen

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The missing element here is Blue Slug, the much modified anti-ship version of Sea Slug.
Using an x-band ARH seeker, and a Red Angel warhead, with a range of at least 15nm as per Sea Slug mkI.
Being wingless this seems potentially something that could have had an air launched variant.
This is certainly something possible to choose in '57.

Second missing element is the anti-ship version of Sea Dart. Very adaptable for air launch. But this is much more a 1960's option.

These would both have utility and long term consequences had they been developed.
 

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Would Blue Slug be rocket powered? Doesn’t an AShM need power all the way to the target?

Sea Dart as ARH air launched? surely the intake precludes a decent sized radar, unless homing on launch platform TI?

It’s a shame a more meteor style chin/side intakes weren’t adopted as a ramjet does seem a better powerplant, e.g. power all the way to the target and efficiency.
 

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In terms of the thread, perhaps more subs, especially if the RN hadn’t gone down the dead end of HTP and focussed on nuclear earlier.

Although again having now spent even more time with Nelson to Vanguard, Brown makes the point the submarine service was historically weakly represented, not for instance having the institutional place naval aviation did (a full Sea Lord?). Only with taking the deterrent did it leap into prominence and acquire that power.
 
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zen

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Would Blue Slug be rocket powered? Doesn’t an AShM need power all the way to the target?

Sea Dart as ARH air launched? surely the intake precludes a decent sized radar, unless homing on launch platform TI?

It’s a shame a more meteor style chin/side intakes weren’t adopted as a ramjet does seem a better powerplant, e.g. power all the way to the target and efficiency.
Sea Slug would be fast enough. 15nm is inside the horizon.

Sea Dart would need SARH still. Though the speed would offset the risk to the launcher.
 

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I think the RAF might have tried to emulate the Soviet long range approach of using aircraft like the Bear for both ASW, missile delivery and targeting.
Consideration was given to the idea of using Valiants carrying Green Cheese to counter the Sverdlovs.
 

Archibald

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I think the RAF might have tried to emulate the Soviet long range approach of using aircraft like the Bear for both ASW, missile delivery and targeting.
Consideration was given to the idea of using Valiants carrying Green Cheese to counter the Sverdlovs.
I have that vision of Prince Valiant fighting a very angry bear by throwing some glowing rotten cheese in its face...

 

Purpletrouble

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It does seem that airpower would always be the answer to commerce raiders once you have long range maritime patrol aircraft and the carrier is in it’s ascendecy. Relying on a classic gun duel is akin to the Yamoto suicide dash, bit also reflects the RNs weird desire as late as 1945 and after WW2 to still build battleships. I accept there are conditions where that capability is needed, but it is niche and not the existential justification that is needed for such scales of resource.
 

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Consideration was given to the idea of using Valiants carrying Green Cheese to counter the Sverdlovs.


I have that vision of Prince Valiant fighting a very angry bear by throwing some glowing rotten cheese in its face...

I think you must be related to the Secretary of State for Air Lord De L'Isle and Dudley, V.C.
 

Archibald

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Consideration was given to the idea of using Valiants carrying Green Cheese to counter the Sverdlovs.


I have that vision of Prince Valiant fighting a very angry bear by throwing some glowing rotten cheese in its face...

I think you must be related to the Secretary of State for Air Lord De L'Isle and Dudley, V.C.
Dare to explain ? this flew above my head (and understanding)
 

CNH

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Dare to explain ? this flew above my head (and understanding)
"At a recent Air Ministry meeting the Secretary of State for Air Lord De L'Isle and Dudley, V.C. made a statement to the effect that he disliked the code name "Green Cheese” and expressed the wish that it could be changed.
2. It is appreciated that code names for these projects are selected and allocated by the Ministry of Supply and this particular one has been in use for a considerable time. However, in spite of the possible difficulties involved it is requested that due consideration may be given to the Secretary of State for Air's wishes.
3. Should you agree to change the code name for this weapon it is further requested that the alternative names be submitted for approval so as to prevent a re-occurrence of the present situation."

NA AIR 2/17030. Group Captain RHE Emson, Deputy Director of Operational Requirements. 22 June 1954.

A wonderful example of British Civil Service reticence.
 
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zen

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Nice.
What a scope for future development that would have given.
 

CNH

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Well, by the end of the 50s, commerce raiders were out of date. Nuclear subs, on the other hand ...
 

Purpletrouble

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Exactly, to which the answer is also SSNs.

Interestingly again though the Soviets didn’t have a commerce raiding strategy for its nuke boats as it hadn’t with Sverdlovs.

Is there an element of judging others by our own standards? After all as an Island dependent on seaborne trade are we seeing everything through the prism of what we fear? And of course our history in using seapower so effectively to attack others.

The Soviets as a continental power to whom seaborne trade was never on the same scale as land/domestic (not to say it wasn’t desired hence time immeorial push for warm water port), didn’t have that fear and thus that awareness of the opportunity and our fear?
 

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Well, the Royal Navy took the threat of Russian nuclear submarines very seriously, hence the Type 12 frigates and the Leander class, designed specifically for sub hunting and defence of convoys from America to Europe.
 

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I think the Type 12s were spec’d to hunt fast battery subs, prior to SSNs - PostWar Naval Revolution covers this in detail iirc.

The Leanders were basically obsolete at build weren’t they? Only the rebuilds gave them sensors and weapons that could hunt SSNs surely? Leanders really could have had the T82 designator as a GP ship successor to Tribals.
 

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And that’s the point the RN viewed Soviet ships through what it feared/itself would use them for. It doesn’t seem to have appreciated their actual intended use?
 

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So why where the Soviets building nuclear subs [ignoring the strategic missile ones]?
 

Purpletrouble

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Not for commerce raiding!

Wiki really??

Why do you think they spent a fortune rebuilding them in the 70s? their armament was hoppedsly outdated, having tried since the start of the 60s to get something much better, aka actual Type 82.
 

Hood

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The Leander was a general purpose frigate, it was designed to do everything. It did have to reply on weapons systems and sensors around at the time of its inception and the following generation of systems were hardly simple bolt-on upgrades which hampered refitting these ships to keep them updates.

Limbo was retained for close-in ASW work, evaluations had shown that if MATCH failed (Wasp guided by the ship's sonar and vectored by radar) failed to neutralise the target with a Mk.44 or a WE.177A then Limbo was still useful (the Bidder homing torpedo having been abandoned by then). There was even talk of fitting Terne to the Type 42 for the same reason.
Ikara was the MATCH replacement for the SSN era but it was a bulky system. Ikara could react 30 seconds faster than a Wasp (of course it was much faster to the target too, Wasp took 8 minutes from sonar detection, scramble, take-off, fly to the point and drop the weapon) and offered a good reattack capability. But MATCH was fully evaluated against RN SSNs to determine its effectiveness. Actually a Wessex proved more accurate as it had dipping sonar to get a direct fix. Lynx was hoped to fix that but in the end Lynx never got a sonar in RN service. Of course MATCH and Ikara were only as effective as the homing torpedo used and in this regard until the Mk.46 arrived MATCH was hampered by the Mk.44s poor performance.
 

zen

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Does it matter? In the end the threats to the UK had to be taken seriously. Even if the potential enemy hadn't figured out the weak points yet. You cannot take the risk.
 

Purpletrouble

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You need to look up what commerce raiding was!

The Soviets also prioritised SSNs for bastion defence.

Leander with Limbo is not going to cut it with SSNs - hence Ikara. Building so many was a sign that the RN couldn’t get the weapons it wanted to sea - missiles (SAM, SSM & ASW), the obsolete comment isn’t mine - it’s in pretty much every book I’ve seen of the period. Hence why they sought to rearm all of them in the 70s.
 

CNH

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Sorry to quote wiki yet again, but please do tell me if you feel this is incorrect:

'Commerce raiding (French: guerre de course, "war of the chase"; German: Handelskrieg, "trade war") is a form of naval warfare used to destroy or disrupt logistics of the enemy on the open sea by attacking its merchant shipping, rather than engaging its combatants or enforcing a blockade against them.[1] '

Reference [1] is:
Norman Friedman (2001). Seapower as Strategy: Navies and National Interests. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-291-9.

It could be that Friedman doesn't know what he's talking about, but, on the other hand ...

It's extraordinary that the UK managed to sell so many obsolete frigates to such countries as India, New Zealand, Chile, the Nederlands, Pakistan, Ecuador and Indonesia.
The poor suckers, buying all these obsolete warships.
 

uk 75

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For my two penneth I would have put Seakings on Leanders like the Canadians did on their frigates. They could then have avoided the 8 single role Ikara conversions.
Seawolf and Exocet were too much for the Leanders. The conversions were costly and lengthy. Exocet was never used in action but I cant help thinking 8 T21s and 4 Countys were sufficient for the threat. Seawolf needed a better and lighter launcher.
An over the horizon missile to replace Buccaneer came in the form of Harpoon.
 

Dilandu

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Exactly. Commerce raiding.
No. Commerce raiding is the hunt against commerce shipping. Destruction of military convoys is NOT a commerce raiding, it's an interdiction operation (like ambushing supply column in ground warfare)
 

CNH

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From your original post:

'For interdiction of NATO convoys in Atlantic in wartime'
 

Purpletrouble

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Check how your definition uses the word “combatants”.

Convoys by definition have combatants.

Read up on Graf Spee and Kormoran to understand wait commerce raiding means. Hell look up Francis Drake!

You prove the point with your list of nations - only the Netherlands could be considered a first rate navy wanting to hunt newer SSKs and SSNs and they put their own kit and system on. The rest just wanted a fighty looking gray thing. Leander’s hull wasn’t overly obsolete, but the weapons and systems were.

The reconstructions are hard in my view to justify or criticise - ferociously expensive (and specialised) yet new construction was already maxxed in terms of what would be acquired, and the Leanders were near useless for hot war yet not even half life.

Without the distraction of carriers and trying for all purpose T82 the RN may have been more able to go down the Sea Dart and Ikara versions of DS381?, an earlier T42/22 combo. Thus Leanders would have ceased at 10-15 ships which is far more appropriate.
 

Purpletrouble

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For my two penneth I would have put Seakings on Leanders like the Canadians did on their frigates. They could then have avoided the 8 single role Ikara conversions.
Seawolf and Exocet were too much for the Leanders. The conversions were costly and lengthy. Exocet was never used in action but I cant help thinking 8 T21s and 4 Countys were sufficient for the threat. Seawolf needed a better and lighter launcher.
An over the horizon missile to replace Buccaneer came in the form of Harpoon.
The Canadians seem to have got it quite right with their approach, although the helicopter bit has gone quite badly awry for some time...

T21s didnt get Exocet for some time? needing strengthening?

The RN had a baked in small ship small helo, big ship big helo thing that it still hasn’t shifted from.
 

CNH

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Convoys by definition have combatants.
So the U boats in the Atlantic weren't commerce raiders? What were they?
And the Graf Spee didn't attack convoys because at the stage of the war, convoys hadn't started. However, you could look at the career of The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau
You prove the point with your list of nations - only the Netherlands could be considered a first rate navy wanting to hunt newer SSKs and SSNs and they put their own kit and system on. The rest just wanted a fighty looking gray thing. Leander’s hull wasn’t overly obsolete, but the weapons and systems were.
'a fighty looking gray thing'
You realise how ridiculous that sounds?
.
[/QUOTE]
 

uk 75

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The armament of most NATO frigates until the arrival of Harpoon and Sea Sparrow is pretty much like a Leander. A gun and a helicopter with some primitive AA.
The T82 saga and the lengthy gestation of T22 are covered at length in other threads.
The impact of getting rid of carriers was eased by retaining Ark Royal until 1979 and using Hermes/Bulwark to carry ASW Sea Kings. But the necessary surface to surface missile fit to tackle Karas, Krestas and Krivaks takes a long time to arrive. But there were also SSNs to torpedo them.
Seadart and Seaslug destroyers could cope with the 70s Soviet air threat as this was mainly directed at the big US carriers.
 

Dilandu

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So the U boats in the Atlantic weren't commerce raiders? What were they?
When they hunted individual merchant ships, they were commerce raiders. When they attacked convoys, they were warships commencing the interdiction operation.
 
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