Royal Navy got Essex carriers - with a twist.

Archibald

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We all agree that second-hand Essex are non-starters for the RN for the following reasons
- they were worn out
- they had wooden decks - no good for Spey Phantoms
- they were manpower intensive (3000 + crews)

So I propose my usual trick - Franklin and Bunker Hill. I was wondering, could you rebuild them to make them "Audacious-class compatible" ?

Plans for rebuild existed, but at USN standards - trying to push them toward Midways capabilities. I suggest instead to strip Ark Royal, Victorious, Centaur-class, anything available, and use that british hardware to make the two US carriers more British like.

The long term goal is to get a three carrier fleet made of Eagle, Bunker Hill and Franklin. F-4K-Phantomized, of course.

In exchange for the carriers, the British get a deal with Allison for more Speys / TF41, for A-7D/E in priority. and then they grow more ambitious, and the F-111, then Tomcat, get TF41s, too.

The USN now understand the value of refurbished Essex and decide to get some British Phantoms under licence, on the deck of the last Essex extended up to 1980, when Reagan 600 ship navy will ensure their future for another decade...

Thought ?
 

Dilandu

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They could at least a bit... but problem is, RN have not exactly much money, and too many priorities like escort fleet and nuclear deterrence.
 

uk 75

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The RN carrier issue is that it only has manpower for one carrier in the 70s and 80s with another sometimes.. The three Invincible CVS were very occasionally all crewed up (or at least photographed together).
The US position is even simpler, nothing except a Nimitz will do (Midway and Coral Sea get a new lease of life with F18s but Essex only useful as training carrier).
 

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SSgtC

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I guess it depends on how "British" you want to make them. To get them anything close to UK standard means an entirely new electrical system to be compatible with British standards. That's probably your most expensive item on the "to do" list. Replacing boilers and engines is pretty much DOA since now you're rapidly approaching the point when building a new carrier is not only easier, but cheaper as well. So the American powerplant stays. They can use the SCB-125 plans for the elevators as a centreline forward elevator was in keeping with UK preference for operations in the North Sea. Instead of two bow C11 cats you probably see two BS5s installed in the traditional bow and waist locations preferred by the RN. After that, you're down to radar and radios and I would assume that whatever kit is RN standard at the time of the refit is what would get installed.
 

_Del_

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I just get a chuckle from the thought of our friends accepting the gift of a ship named for a battle the British won, but basically marked the start of the Revolutionary War in earnest.
 

Archibald

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I just get a chuckle from the thought of our friends accepting the gift of a ship named for a battle the British won, but basically marked the start of the Revolutionary War in earnest.

In the FFO timeline De Gaulle faction blast Petain defeatists and France moves to Algiers to keep fighting in June 1940.
By August after ferocious delaying fights metropolitan France has fallen entirely... minus Corsica island.
To bomb Mussolini the british suggest to base Wellington bombers there... and De Gaulle casually joke "Ok but Napoleon will spin in its grave..."
 

Archibald

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That was brilliant, ain't it ?

Another good one is, the PODs being on June 6 and June 13 (the last date essentially see De Gaulle Free France prevailing over Pétain's Vichy) then De Gaulle never flies to London from Bordeaux on June 17, 1940. To speak on the radio the next day.

Yet ITTL some mysterious guy (out of a TARDIS ?) come to see De Gaulle in Tours (not London !) on June 18, 1940 and ask him "Hey, my General, didn't you have a speech on the radio today ?"

De Gaulle give him a blank stare - as if he was crazy... and guess what De Gaulle says ?

"Why would I speak on the radio today ? On June 14, I explained the French people we will keep fighting from Algiers. Or maybe you want me to commemorate Waterloo battle anniversary ?"
 

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We all agree that second-hand Essex are non-starters for the RN for the following reasons
- they were worn out
- they had wooden decks - no good for Spey Phantoms
- they were manpower intensive (3000 + crews)

So I propose my usual trick - Franklin and Bunker Hill. I was wondering, could you rebuild them to make them "Audacious-class compatible" ?

Plans for rebuild existed, but at USN standards - trying to push them toward Midways capabilities. I suggest instead to strip Ark Royal, Victorious, Centaur-class, anything available, and use that british hardware to make the two US carriers more British like.

The long term goal is to get a three carrier fleet made of Eagle, Bunker Hill and Franklin. F-4K-Phantomized, of course.

In exchange for the carriers, the British get a deal with Allison for more Speys / TF41, for A-7D/E in priority. and then they grow more ambitious, and the F-111, then Tomcat, get TF41s, too.

The USN now understand the value of refurbished Essex and decide to get some British Phantoms under licence, on the deck of the last Essex extended up to 1980, when Reagan 600 ship navy will ensure their future for another decade...

Thought ?

Great topic!

As I recall, the Essex proposed for the RN were ships that were not rebuilt to SC-27 or SC-125, with little service time on them. The idea was giving the RN the base Essex, they could rebuild them as they liked, without having to conform or alter what the USN had already done. Franklin and Bunker Hill would have been good candidates. Leyte or Princeton might be a third. But the RN had doubts about the rebuilt ships lasting 18 years. Most of the American rebuilds lasted that long, so in hindsight that would not have been an issue.

Oriskany
had part of her flight deck replaced with metal, and the ships are to be rebuilt in any case, so I don't see the wood as an issue. With the hangar floor as the strength deck, the old flight deck is stripped and a new superstructure, including metal flight deck added. I would note as well, trials for the E-2 Hawkeye were conducted aboard Oriskany. The Phantom and the Hawkeye are close in Maximum Take-Off Weight, so I thihk with the right arrestor gear and the right catapult length, Phantoms would be possible, though it would be tight.

My thoughts,
 

uk 75

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An alt timeline that would make an Essex class deal possible is one in which Ark Royal and Eagle are never completed and the RN has only Victorious, Hermes, and Centaur in service as carriers by 1962.
In the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Nixon (yes he won in this alt) is persuaded to offer PM Macmillan the Essexes mentioned above as a sweetner for scrapping Skybolt. In this alt, there is no Polaris programme. TSR2 development to carry Blue Water (already entering service with BAOR and UKLFFE) is the replacement, with V bombers getting the weapon too.
Mountbatten persuades a reluctant PM to accept the Essex deal. The ships are extensively rebuilt by John Brown, Harland and Wolff and Cammell Laird.
Nixon and Curtis Le May's ultimatum to Kruschev (Missiles out or we start bombing round the clock) means that MAD rather than Flexible Response is NATO doctrine. France stays in NATO and is later offered Essexes too.
The RN ships carry nuclear capable 1154 Ospreys and Buccaneers.
 

kaiserd

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An alt timeline that would make an Essex class deal possible is one in which Ark Royal and Eagle are never completed and the RN has only Victorious, Hermes, and Centaur in service as carriers by 1962.
In the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Nixon (yes he won in this alt) is persuaded to offer PM Macmillan the Essexes mentioned above as a sweetner for scrapping Skybolt. In this alt, there is no Polaris programme. TSR2 development to carry Blue Water (already entering service with BAOR and UKLFFE) is the replacement, with V bombers getting the weapon too.
Mountbatten persuades a reluctant PM to accept the Essex deal. The ships are extensively rebuilt by John Brown, Harland and Wolff and Cammell Laird.
Nixon and Curtis Le May's ultimatum to Kruschev (Missiles out or we start bombing round the clock) means that MAD rather than Flexible Response is NATO doctrine. France stays in NATO and is later offered Essexes too.
The RN ships carry nuclear capable 1154 Ospreys and Buccaneers.
in your scenarios probably more than 50/50 that the Cuban Missile ends “less than ideally” (we all end up dead). Hence transfers of carriers, not so much.....
 

Archibald

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We all agree that second-hand Essex are non-starters for the RN for the following reasons
- they were worn out
- they had wooden decks - no good for Spey Phantoms
- they were manpower intensive (3000 + crews)

So I propose my usual trick - Franklin and Bunker Hill. I was wondering, could you rebuild them to make them "Audacious-class compatible" ?

Plans for rebuild existed, but at USN standards - trying to push them toward Midways capabilities. I suggest instead to strip Ark Royal, Victorious, Centaur-class, anything available, and use that british hardware to make the two US carriers more British like.

The long term goal is to get a three carrier fleet made of Eagle, Bunker Hill and Franklin. F-4K-Phantomized, of course.

In exchange for the carriers, the British get a deal with Allison for more Speys / TF41, for A-7D/E in priority. and then they grow more ambitious, and the F-111, then Tomcat, get TF41s, too.

The USN now understand the value of refurbished Essex and decide to get some British Phantoms under licence, on the deck of the last Essex extended up to 1980, when Reagan 600 ship navy will ensure their future for another decade...

Thought ?

Great topic!

As I recall, the Essex proposed for the RN were ships that were not rebuilt to SC-27 or SC-125, with little service time on them. The idea was giving the RN the base Essex, they could rebuild them as they liked, without having to conform or alter what the USN had already done. Franklin and Bunker Hill would have been good candidates. Leyte or Princeton might be a third. But the RN had doubts about the rebuilt ships lasting 18 years. Most of the American rebuilds lasted that long, so in hindsight that would not have been an issue.

Oriskany had part of her flight deck replaced with metal, and the ships are to be rebuilt in any case, so I don't see the wood as an issue. With the hangar floor as the strength deck, the old flight deck is stripped and a new superstructure, including metal flight deck added. I would note as well, trials for the E-2 Hawkeye were conducted aboard Oriskany. The Phantom and the Hawkeye are close in Maximum Take-Off Weight, so I thihk with the right arrestor gear and the right catapult length, Phantoms would be possible, though it would be tight.

My thoughts,

I was self-obsessed with the two crippled WWII veterans sitting in mothballs (BH & Franklin). Now if more Essex can join the party, then - the more the merrier.
 

uk 75

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An alt timeline that would make an Essex class deal possible is one in which Ark Royal and Eagle are never completed and the RN has only Victorious, Hermes, and Centaur in service as carriers by 1962.
In the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Nixon (yes he won in this alt) is persuaded to offer PM Macmillan the Essexes mentioned above as a sweetner for scrapping Skybolt. In this alt, there is no Polaris programme. TSR2 development to carry Blue Water (already entering service with BAOR and UKLFFE) is the replacement, with V bombers getting the weapon too.
Mountbatten persuades a reluctant PM to accept the Essex deal. The ships are extensively rebuilt by John Brown, Harland and Wolff and Cammell Laird.
Nixon and Curtis Le May's ultimatum to Kruschev (Missiles out or we start bombing round the clock) means that MAD rather than Flexible Response is NATO doctrine. France stays in NATO and is later offered Essexes too.
The RN ships carry nuclear capable 1154 OspreyIs and Buccaneers.
in your scenarios probably more than 50/50 that the Cuban Missile ends “less than ideally” (we all end up dead). Hence transfers of carriers, not so much.....
I really must stop taking these Alternate History subjects so lightly.. Had thought the clue to how likely it was is in the idea of Nixon R winning. I would rate the whole of my scenario as less than 25/100.
 

lordroel

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I was self-obsessed with the two crippled WWII veterans sitting in mothballs (BH & Franklin). Now if more Essex can join the party, then - the more the merrier.

As u recall, the 1965 proposal was to send three of the un-rebuilt Essex class to the RN.

Regards,

Wonder what they could be name, something that reflects UK-US relations.
 

zen

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Oh for the wonder if hindsight! If only it was foresight......

But at the time....
Aircraft looked like they were getting bigger, heavier and needing a lot more of everything.
CVA-01 studies assumed aircraft like the Vigilante and future TFX (F111B) were the way forward, and domestic studies to OR.346 rather showed this.
F4 on a modernised Essex looked like a limited solution. How would thry operate the next generation of wonder weapons?

If only......
If only they'd have known the future was A7 and ultimately F/A-18?
The the F111B was doomed, the F14 was insanely expensive and that the next generation would die after the Cold War ended. Leaving just a scaled up Hornet and a certain Joint Strike Aircraft......

But then had they known all that, the 42,000ton study would've been developed and never bust the budget......
 

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Oh for the wonder if hindsight! If only it was foresight......

But at the time....
Aircraft looked like they were getting bigger, heavier and needing a lot more of everything.
CVA-01 studies assumed aircraft like the Vigilante and future TFX (F111B) were the way forward, and domestic studies to OR.346 rather showed this.
F4 on a modernised Essex looked like a limited solution. How would thry operate the next generation of wonder weapons?

If only......
If only they'd have known the future was A7 and ultimately F/A-18?
The the F111B was doomed, the F14 was insanely expensive and that the next generation would die after the Cold War ended. Leaving just a scaled up Hornet and a certain Joint Strike Aircraft......

But then had they known all that, the 42,000ton study would've been developed and never bust the budget......
To be fair, had the Cold War not ended, carrier aircraft would have continued on the trend of bigger and more expensive. They only went the F/A-18 route due to cut backs after the Cold War. And even then, carrier aircraft have already stated to go back up in size. The Super Bug is the size of a damn F-15
 

uk 75

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Crewing carriers was the growing problem for the RN, which just got worse as the years rolled on.
By the end of the Cold War it could barely keep 2 Invincible class CVS in commission at the same time.
A single carrier force had become inevitable by 1970.
As France demonstrated, building a new aircraft carrier required drastic reductions elsewhere in the fleet. The RN found the same thing with CV (F).
 

A Tentative Fleet Plan

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Oh for the wonder if hindsight! If only it was foresight......

But at the time....
Aircraft looked like they were getting bigger, heavier and needing a lot more of everything.
CVA-01 studies assumed aircraft like the Vigilante and future TFX (F111B) were the way forward, and domestic studies to OR.346 rather showed this.
F4 on a modernised Essex looked like a limited solution. How would thry operate the next generation of wonder weapons?

If only......
If only they'd have known the future was A7 and ultimately F/A-18?
The the F111B was doomed, the F14 was insanely expensive and that the next generation would die after the Cold War ended. Leaving just a scaled up Hornet and a certain Joint Strike Aircraft......

But then had they known all that, the 42,000ton study would've been developed and never bust the budget......
The A-7 and F/A-18 were never going to be the future. The former was a single-engined single-sear light attacker with very limited all-weather capability, geared primarily for CAS in limited-wars, whilst the former was a interim aircraft designed to fill the gap between the F-14 and A-6 and their eventual intended successor A/F-X. The F/A-18 was not the best option available, nor is it's continued service well into the 2050s a desirable course of events. This a capability gap brought about by the Peace-Dividend and Post Cold-War complacency, and has nothing to do with the performance of the F/A-1 as a combat aircraft (beyond having "good-enough" performance in the 1990s when the USN did not expect that they would end win any future confrontations with a peer opponent).

Surface ship cost is never directly linked to size, so the 42,000-ton ship is as likely to break the budget as the 53,000-ton, or even the 55, 58 or 68,000-ton designs. It would almost certainly cost .ore per ton than the larger designs, and you would still have to pay for the same combination of ADAWS 3, Type 988, Sea Dart and Ikara (+associated sonars) combination. I doubt maintainence cost would be much cheaper, at the cost of a fairly significant cut in capability, not to mention growth.
 

zen

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Ahh memory.

Wish I had time and access to counter such wonderful assertions.

But 45 million is not 55 million.
ADAWS is developed anyway.
988 will be abandoned after the Dutch ditch Sea Dart.

The F4 Is not OR.346 size.
And 42,000tons can be driven by just two sets of machinery.

Oh and maintenance can be done on existing military drydocks. So no need to modify say one in Rosyth, risk civilian KGV, or build a new one.
 

uk 75

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The size of the single carrier is immaterial. Unless you change the UK Economy and find a magic way of recruiting more RN crews, the single carrier, be it Improved Hermes, CVA01, Shagrila (sorry), Ark Royal, Hermes or an Invincible, is pretty much all the RN can keep at sea. 1982 was a lucky exception which only happened a few times in the 80s and 90s.
 

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The size of the single carrier is immaterial. Unless you change the UK Economy and find a magic way of recruiting more RN crews, the single carrier, be it Improved Hermes, CVA01, Shagrila (sorry), Ark Royal, Hermes or an Invincible, is pretty much all the RN can keep at sea. 1982 was a lucky exception which only happened a few times in the 80s and 90s.
I’d say it would be more contingent on the British governments of the time seeing the geopolitical utility of a global carrier-equipped RN. If the political will was there recruitment would not be the problem it was. It would also have been useful if the RN was not betting everything on CVA01 being available in the early 70s - Sea Vixen and Buccaneer-equipped carrier could still do a lot through the 70s, though a light fighter would have been a useful addition to the stable.
 

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I came across an interesting reference that could be a viable POD here.. during WW2 the US made an offer to swap existing RN carriers for future Essex construction, this would probably not included the Implacable's with their 14ft. hangars and possibly Indomitable; but the rest replaced 1-1 with new construction later. The month the RN said "thank you no" they canceled the flight of Essex contracts post Oriskany.

Let's say they said "sure lets do it!" Leave the RN with the Implacable's and the US on the hook for building 3-4 CV's post war.

At the very worst you get an RN Oriskany but built from the keel up with the 106 foot beam. At the best you get something interesting.
 

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Interesting read. Assume for a moment that this happens and Shangri-La goes to the RN, with CVA-01 still being cancelled. According to this article that could leave Shangri-La as the only RN carrier by the late 70s, just in time for CVV as a joint RN-USN project. I wonder if that would increase the likelihood of CVV production happening with maybe a total of 4-6 split between the two navies.
 

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Interesting read. Assume for a moment that this happens and Shangri-La goes to the RN, with CVA-01 still being cancelled. According to this article that could leave Shangri-La as the only RN carrier by the late 70s, just in time for CVV as a joint RN-USN project. I wonder if that would increase the likelihood of CVV production happening with maybe a total of 4-6 split between the two navies.
Unlikely. The USN could build a repeat JFK for something like only 100 million more than the CVV would cost. And that 100 million allowed an airwing almost twice as big as that on a CVV
 

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Interesting read. Assume for a moment that this happens and Shangri-La goes to the RN, with CVA-01 still being cancelled. According to this article that could leave Shangri-La as the only RN carrier by the late 70s, just in time for CVV as a joint RN-USN project. I wonder if that would increase the likelihood of CVV production happening with maybe a total of 4-6 split between the two navies.
It gets even more complex. I came across a reference to this program in reference to possible involvement of Britain in Vietnam, the got wind that the RN was on the verge of getting out of the carrier game and offered TO PAY for the conversion of two Hancock conversions. The US was serious, the UK did not think they were being so, and were worried about it coming with strings vis a vis putting a battalion in South Vietnam.
 

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Interesting read. Assume for a moment that this happens and Shangri-La goes to the RN, with CVA-01 still being cancelled. According to this article that could leave Shangri-La as the only RN carrier by the late 70s, just in time for CVV as a joint RN-USN project. I wonder if that would increase the likelihood of CVV production happening with maybe a total of 4-6 split between the two navies.
Unlikely. The USN could build a repeat JFK for something like only 100 million more than the CVV would cost. And that 100 million allowed an airwing almost twice as big as that on a CVV
a good point. only problem here is that $100 million. Post Vietnam looking to cut costs to the bone, that additional amount might be a much harder lift congressionally.

Could off load the FDR to the RN instead of the breakers though.. she was not in as bad condition as was made out at the time.
 

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a good point. only problem here is that $100 million. Post Vietnam looking to cut costs to the bone, that additional amount might be a much harder lift congressionally.

Could off load the FDR to the RN instead of the breakers though.. she was not in as bad condition as was made out at the time.
IIRC, Congress is the one that pointed it out. They wanted to know why CVV ex so damn expensive compared to a conventional super carrier
 

zen

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Does the RN have spare carriers in WWII?

Any Essex class conversion to RN standards is potentially going to spiral out of control.

Had the FAA opted for Spey Twosaders instead of Spey F4s, this might make more sense.

Had the RN and RAN talked about such Essex options together......this might work better.
 

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Does the RN have spare carriers in WWII?

Any Essex class conversion to RN standards is potentially going to spiral out of control.

Had the FAA opted for Spey Twosaders instead of Spey F4s, this might make more sense.

Had the RN and RAN talked about such Essex options together......this might work better.
I don't know if they did have any "spare" ones but they did have ones that they could swap, the question is how much of an impact would it have on RN combat operations?

Your last two points should be taken as a whole... The RAN did pursue at least looking at an Essex, and valid AF point about the RN and RAN needing to talk more about such things.. but you are missing the hidden chestnut here: The Essex could operate up to 16 F4's....the RAN plan (and god that is fun to say), has nice notations from the USN on what is needed to do that. RN has already got the bird in hand to do it.

Essex is an F4/F-18 platform as much as the USN was saying to congress they weren't. LOL
 

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a good point. only problem here is that $100 million. Post Vietnam looking to cut costs to the bone, that additional amount might be a much harder lift congressionally.

Could off load the FDR to the RN instead of the breakers though.. she was not in as bad condition as was made out at the time.
IIRC, Congress is the one that pointed it out. They wanted to know why CVV ex so damn expensive compared to a conventional super carrier
Well then it ain't going to be a problem.. The US was willing to pay the costs to convert two Hancock'... you should be able to build a JFK for that or damn near.

Name it Churchill.. fitting since he had an American mother.
 

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16 F4s........just 16?
Rather crippling if so when compared to Ark Royal or projected CVA-01.
 

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let me add to that Zen... the Oriskany reactivation plan of the Reagan era was going to be $500 million, and that included bringing her hull life up to a 15-20 year to make it cost effective. If the US is willing to foot the bill to do that to Leyte or Shangri-La... call it 1970, projected hull life to '85-'90.

Of course the RN is not going to be believe for a hot second that steel is going to last that long at the time of the offer... and tragically we know in hindsight based on the hull survey of Oriskany in the early 80's it was more than possible.

Okay my bad the 16 F-4 figure is the one I remember from the RAN proposal and that was including space for S-2's etc. so no Bucc's

1640121787731.png
The figure for an Essex in RN service is 12 F-4's and 18 Bucc's
 
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16 F4s........just 16?
Rather crippling if so when compared to Ark Royal or projected CVA-01.
Based on USN spot factors, an Essex class could carry a theoretical airwing or 20xF-4, 24xA-7, 4xE-2, 6-8xEA/KA-6, 4xSH-3/60 and 1xC-2.


Essex is an F4/F-18 platform as much as the USN was saying to congress they weren't. LOL
It's not that the class COULDN'T operate them. It's that they had such restricted fuel and ammo storage that it was considered impractical given the level of tanker and resupply ships needed to keep the airwing operational
 

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note I believe the best possible POD for "RN gets an "Essex" is the swap during WW2 of some number of RN CV's leading to not an Essex post war but something other, some kind of new build CV incorporating an angled deck etc. What kind I don't know but I doubt it would be an Essex given the era and new stuff
 

uk 75

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If the UK economy and political priorities had been different in 1966 there were four British built carriers available for service into the 70s with refurbishments.
Hermes
Eagle
Ark Royal
Victorious
plus Commando Ships
Bulwark
Albion
Centaur

So no need for any Essex loans.

Cancelling CVA01 would have freed up resources to keep a force of 2 fixed wing and 2 Commando ships taken from the above through to 1980.
Instead of the Through Deck Cruisers a Hermes size gas turbine powered VSTOL carrier could have been designed to operate an improved P1127 design and AEW VSTOL/help platforms.
 

bobtdwarf

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If the UK economy and political priorities had been different in 1966 there were four British built carriers available for service into the 70s with refurbishments.
Hermes
Eagle
Ark Royal
Victorious
plus Commando Ships
Bulwark
Albion
Centaur

So no need for any Essex loans.

Cancelling CVA01 would have freed up resources to keep a force of 2 fixed wing and 2 Commando ships taken from the above through to 1980.
Instead of the Through Deck Cruisers a Hermes size gas turbine powered VSTOL carrier could have been designed to operate an improved P1127 design and AEW VSTOL/help platforms.
well Victorious was supposed to have a 20-25 year hull life after the rebuild and Hermes the same after completion.... I even know the perfect fighter for them... oh wait the GD USN won't let Grumman sell it to anyone!

No I am not bitter...nahhhhhhh
 

zen

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The short of it is, even giving the RN some Essex class carriers for free, and funding conversion to RN equipment and standards. Doesn't solve the problem.

0. Numbers
1. Lifespan
2. Drydock
3. Aircraft

0. Numbers indicate a continuing desire for a total of 5 CVs.

1. Lifespan makes this a gap cover during transition to new CV production.

2. Drydocks, RN military drydocks aren't long enough to Essex class modernised. Gladstone was out of the running by the 60's.

3. As iterated before the whole F4K saga is viewed as an 'interim' solution pending OR.346 which is TFX sized aircraft and their arrival to service. It remains that with the shift to (memory) VFX and the F14.
 
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