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The Fleet Air Arm pivots toward Harriers and Escort cruiser - right from 1962

Archibald

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As said in the tin.
When you think about it, it would avoid an immense amount of suffering and money waste.
Kind of
- screw the Tigers
- screw CVA-01
- screw Spey Phantoms

do we agree all three above were expensive boondoggles ? so good riddance (sorry, that's the radical in me... !)

Also allows a smoother draw down of the large carrier fleet. No Phantomization for either Eagle or Ark Royal.

As soon as the "East of suez" dream is dead and buried, retired these two (1969 ?)

As for the Centaurs: convert them into "interim Escort cruisers" with Harriers on the deck. Perhaps keep only two or three of them.

End result a decade later, circa 1972: the pivot from "East of suez" to "NATO ASW" has been acted. The RN now has a mixed fleet of Centaurs and Escort cruisers with ASW helicopters and Harriers on their decks.
Let's say they build three Escort cruisers (= OTL Invincibles) and keep three out of four Centaurs (Albion / Bulwark / Hermes) in the same role: that's six decks.

Thought ?
 

zen

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I must have missed this one!

Anyway it doesn't work for the times unless you mean the P1154 Harrier.

Then it makes some logical sense at the time.

It's only logical if the decisions of '66 were being made in '62.
 

Volkodav

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Light fleet carriers were apparently seen as the post war replacement for cruisers, i.e. a CVL with Sea Furies and Fireflies, escorted by a Daring or even a light cruiser and a couple of fast frigates. Such a group could cover much more territory than a traditional cruiser squadron as well as having much greater versatility and strike potential.

This group could evolve into the 50s with appropriate aircraft being specified to replace the Sea Fury and Firefly, specifically designed to operate from a minimum upgrade of the Colossus and Majestic Class CVLs, with VSTOL / STOVL being the desired endgame. A small carrier of up to Centaur size could even be designed as a successor, or the Centaurs themselves could be redeployed in the role, pending the perfection of VSTOL options. The cruiser / Daring is replaced with a Country DLG and the frigates with Type 12 derivatives.

Once Harrier is on the way the CVL can be replaced with an escort cruiser of sufficient size to operate helos and Harriers, County gives way to Bristol (a smarter one with the RAN configuration Ikara instead of the RN) and the Type 12s to new frigates.

As the Harrier and a helo based AEW is perfected the traditional carriers are retired and the number of escort carrier based groups is increased. Eventually the standard RN group becomes and Escort Cruiser, a DLG and two to four destroyers and frigates.
 

Archibald

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I must have missed this one!

Anyway it doesn't work for the times unless you mean the P1154 Harrier.

Then it makes some logical sense at the time.

It's only logical if the decisions of '66 were being made in '62.
Could it save P.1154 in passing ? Harrier mk.1 only entered RAF service in 1969 and was no SHAR by any mean for sure.
 

zen

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I must have missed this one!

Anyway it doesn't work for the times unless you mean the P1154 Harrier.

Then it makes some logical sense at the time.

It's only logical if the decisions of '66 were being made in '62.
Could it save P.1154 in passing ? Harrier mk.1 only entered RAF service in 1969 and was no SHAR by any mean for sure.
If.....if the P1154RN Harrier was just a marinised RAF version. Then not only would it progress further before the change of government in '65.
But it could then be viewed like the Sea Harrier we know, an extension of the Cruiser's offensive power.
 

uk 75

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P1154RN was like CVA01. It looks impressive in drawings, but would have been a nightmare to get into service.
The closest thing to practical VSTOL combat aircraft in the early 1960s were the P1127 Kestrels operated by the UK/US/German Tripartite evaluation squadron.
The decision to evolve these into the P1127RAF could have been taken in 1962. As a Hunter successor it was far more realistic than the P1154RAF.
To avoid confusion I will call the 1962 P1127RAF Kestrel rather than Harrier (This name was inherited from P1154RAF).
A 1962 decision not to proceed with CVA01 and phase out Ark Royal/Eagle/Victorious might well have come in the maelstrom of Polaris adoption and NATO beginning to question its nuclear-based weapons in favour of "flexible response".
The Escort Cruisers of 1962 were not ordered because of the work required to design Polaris.
The two Commando Carriers (Bulwark and Albion) and the two fixed wing ships (Hermes and Centaur) would provide the RN with a NATO oriented fleet for the late 60s.
The new government in 1964 is able to take advantage of the end of the confrontation with Indonesia to announce a withdrawal from East of Suez by 1969.
The 1966 Fleet Working Group addresses the following:
Replacement of the existing four carriers mentioned above with a class of three to six ships operating P1127 RN (later named Osprey) from 1972 (replacing Sea Vixens on Centaur/Hermes and Buccaneers on Hermes)
New Destroyers (T42) and Frigates (T22)
The introduction of the Seaking for ASW and Commando roles replacing the Wessex.
By 1970 the RN is building the first of its new carriers for service in 1972.
The P1127 Osprey enters service on Hermes replacing Sea Vixens in 1971. Initially it carries two Red Tops or Bullpups but Sea Martel is on development.
 

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