Thoughts come questions.
If CV force retained on CVA-01 and CVA-02, perhaps with a planned CVA-03....
What RAF assets were tasked with say Kola Peninsula, Murmansk et al?
What RAF assets were tasked with Coastal Command?
What was the GIUK Gap assets ?
Do you need RAF to perform these tasks or was the FAA doing them before CV force scrapped?
Another thought. Strike North lives with USN getting real support from CVA-01 and RN.
Lofoten Bastion might be more cramped but more potent a threat.
This sucks Soviet resources to deal with that threat away from elsewhere.
AEW.....this becomes Nimrod and Argus I think it was called?
Imagine all that money sunk into the UK system that never made it beyond development, put into CVA-01 aircraft.......
To answer some of @zen's questions and to show how large the TASMO force was.Air-wing: Between the RN Sea Harrier force and the Buccaneer and Phantom units assigned to SACEUR for TASMO (Tactical Air Support to Maritime Operations) as a direct replacement for the air wings previously assigned to the RN heavy carriers the aircraft, crews, maintainers etc all existed in reality. The ASW component of those air wings would have been the same Sea King Squadrons that operated from the Invincibles in reality. AEW is less certain but far from intractable, for instance helicopter AEW was studied in the UK in the mid-1960s and I'm sure given an incentive industry would have been happy to extract more life from the Gannet.
I don't know.1. What RAF assets were tasked with say Kola Peninsula, Murmansk et al?
In the middle-1960s the RAF had a front-line force of 66 Shackletons in 11 squadrons. That is:2. What RAF assets were tasked with Coastal Command?
- 48 in 8 squadrons of 6 aircraft in Coastal Command.
- 3 squadrons at Ballykelly
- 3 squadrons at Kinloss
- One squadron at St Mawgan plus the Maritime OTU which would be mobilised as 220 Squadron in wartime.
- One squadron at Gibraltar
- 6 aircraft in one squadron was at Malta.
- 4 aircraft in one squadron was at Aden.
- 8 aircraft in one squadron was at Singapore.
- 4 squadrons in 18 (Maritime) Group of RAF Strike Command.
- 3 Squadrons at Kinloss
- One squadron at St Mawgan plus 236 OCU which would be mobilised as 38 Squadron in wartime.
- One squadron at Malta.
- There were also detachments of Nimrods at Gibraltar and Singapore.
45 Nimrod MR.1s survived at this point. 34 were brought up to MR.2 standard which left 11 aircraft available for other uses with what can charitably be described as "unfortunate" consequences.
Maritime Reconnaissance3. What was the GIUK Gap assets ?
In 1965 it was the 6 Shackleton squadrons at Ballykelly and Kinloss. By 1975 it was the 3 Nimrod squadrons at Kinloss and that was the assigned force until the end of the Cold War.
Long-range maritime reconnaissance was provided by the Victor SR.2s of 543 Squadron of No. 1 (Bomber) Group of RAF Strike Command from 1969 to 1974 when the squadron disbanded. It was replaced in this role by the Vulcan B.2 (MRR)s of the newly reformed 27 Squadron until it disbanded on 31st March 1982.
Airborne Early Warning
8 Squadron re-formed at Kinloss on 1st January 1972. It was equipped with 12 Shackleton AEW.2s which were conversions of MR.2s and fitted with APS-20 radars removed from Gannet AEW.3s.
This squadron took over from 849 NAS (which had been at Lossiemouth since November 1970) provided the Gannet AEW and COD flights aboard the strike carriers. However, 849 wouldn't decommission until 15th December 1978.
The Shackletons should have been replaced by the Nimrod AEW.3. According to the Observer's Book of Aircraft 1981 this should have commenced in 1982. However, it didn't. In December 1986 the MoD announced the decision to cancel the Nimrod AEW.3 programme and to order Boeing Sentries instead for delivery in 1990.
In the meantime 8 Squadron continued to operate the Shackleton AEW.2 from Lossiemouth until 30th June 1991 when it disbanded. A new 8 Squadron reformed the next day at Waddington with the Boeing Sentries that were ordered in 1986.
The RN had five Buccaneer S.2 squadrons which in order of decommissioning were:
- 803 NAS which decommissioned on 18th December 1969.
- It had re-commissioned at Lossiemouth on 3rd July 1967 as the Buccaneer Headquarters squadron.
- In August 1968 a detachment of four aircraft (803 Dt4) flew out of via Nicosia, Masirah and Gan to Malaysia to join Hermes in the Indian Ocean and returned in August 1968, using air-to-air refuelling with Victor tankers of 55 Squadron, RAF. This is the operation from British Aircraft Carriers: Design, Development and Service Histories by David Hobbs mentioned in one of my quotes from that book in Post 111.
- 801 NAS which decommissioned on 21st July 1970.
- This was Hermes' squadron from May 1968 from May 1968 to June 1970.
- It had re-commissioned as Buccaneer S.2 squadron in October 1965 from a nucleus of 700B Flight and was embarked on Victorious from May 1966 to June 1967 when Victorious began her ill-fated refit.
- 800 NAS which decommissioned on 23rd February 1972. This was Eagle's squadron.
- 736 NAS which decommissioned on 25th February 1972. This was the training squadron and was at Lossiemouth at the time.
- 809 NAS which decommissioned on 15th December 1978. This was Ark Royal's squadron.
- 12 Squadron re-formed at RAF Honington on 1st October 1969. It moved to Lossiemouth in 1980 where it disbanded on 1st October 1993. On the same day a new Tornado equipped No 12 took over the numberplate in the same role and is still based at Lossiemouth.
- 208 Squadron re-formed at Honington on 1st July 1974. It moved to Lossiemouth in July 1983 where it disbanded on 31st March 1994.
- 216 Squadron re-formed at Honington on 1st July 1979. It took over the aircraft that had belonged to 809 NAS. However, 216 Squadron disbanded at Lossiemouth on 4th August 1980 after just over a year's existence. (See below.) However, the squadron would re-form as a Tristar tanker-transport unit on 1st November 1984.
- No. 15 which re-formed at RAF Honington on 1st October 1970 and moved to Germany in January 1971. It converted to the Tornado GR.1 in 1983.
- The second was 16 Squadron (which had been one of the Canberra interdictor squadrons) which re-formed at RAF Laarbruch on 1st October 1972 as No. 16 (Designate) squadron and declared operational on 8th January 1973. It converted to the Tornado GR.1 in 1984.
The OCU took over the training of RN Buccaneer crews from February 1972 (when 736 NAS decommissioned) until December 1978 (when 809 NAS decommissioned). 237 OCU was not assigned a reserve squadron number so my guess is that it would not have been mobilised in the event of war and instead would have been broken up to provide reinforcements for 12 and 216 Squadrons.It reformed again, this time at Honington on 1 March 1971 as the Buccaneer OCU in No 1 Group. It moved to Lossiemouth on 11 November 1984 in No 18 Group, where it disbanded on 1 October 1991, its tasking being taken over by the Buccaneer Training Flight attached to No 208 Sqn.
The Buccaneer was grounded for a period in 1980 due to suspected metal fatigue problems and about half were withdrawn. (Source: the Putnams book on RAF aircraft since 1918.) This resulted in the number of Buccaneer units being reduced from five to four. The short-straw was drawn by 216 Squadron which as related above disbanded on 4th August 1980 after just over a year's existence as a Maritime Strike squadron.
Fighters - Royal Navy
The RN had six fighter squadrons in the late 1960s. Which in order of decommissioning were:
- 893 NAS which decommissioned on 14th July 1970.
- This was Hermes' squadron from May 1968 from May 1968 to July 1970.
- It had re-commissioned as Sea Vixen FAW.2 on 4th November 1965 and was embarked on Victorious from May 1966 to June 1967 when Victorious began her ill-fated refit.
- 766 NAS which decommissioned on 10th December 1970. This was the Sea Vixen training squadron and would have decommissioned around this time anyway if all operational fighter squadrons had converted to Phantoms.
- 890 NAS which decommissioned on 6th August 1971.
- It had been in existence since 14th August 1967 for operational trials and training. It later absorbed the aircraft of 766 NAS and became the Sea Vixen Headquarters squadron until its decommissioned.
- It's previous incarnation had been from 1st February 1960 until 7th October 1966. It had initially been the fighter squadron aboard Hermes, but from 1963 it had usually been Ark Royal's fighter squadron until that ship paid off for its Phantomisation refit in October 1966.
- 767 NAS which decommissioned on 1st August 1972.
- This was the Phantom squadron which had re-commissioned on 14th January 1969 from a nucleus of 700P NAS.
- The Phantom crews of 892 NAS were trained by the RAF's Phantom OCU for the remainder of its existence.
- 899 NAS which decommissioned on 26th January 1972.
- This was Eagle's fighter squadron.
- It was also the last operational Sea Vixen squadron.
- 892 NAS which decommissioned on 15th December 1978. This was the only operational Phantom squadron in the RN.
- It de-commissioned as a Sea Vixen squadron on 4th October 1968.
- It re-commissioned as a Phantom squadron on 31st March 1969.
- The squadron operated from Eagle for five days in September 1969, a detachment operated from USS Saratoga for seven days in September 1969 and another detachment was aboard Ark Royal for 16 days from 30th April 1970 to 15th May 1970.
- The whole squadron finally embarked on Ark Royal as an operational unit on 14th June 1970.
- It had been intended to form a second Phantom FG.1 squadron in the RAF with the redundant aircraft. Instead they were used to re-equip 111 Squadron and the displaced FGR.2s were pooled to support the other existing squadrons.
According to Plan P of March 1964 RAF Fighter Command had had 88 fighters in 7 squadrons at 31st March 1964. That is:
- 28 Javelin FAW.9 in 2 squadrons of 14 that were due to disband by 30th September 1967.
- 60 Lighting F.1, F.1A and F.2 in 5 squadrons of 12. These were due to convert to the Lightning F.6 by 30th June 1967.
The squadrons in the overseas commands brought the RAF's total to 156 aircraft in eleven squadrons. That is 60 Lightnings in five squadrons and 96 Javelin FAW.9 in six squadrons. At the time the plan was for this to reduce to 120 aircraft in 10 squadrons by 31st March 1968. Two of the squadrons would have the Lightning F.2A and the other eight would have the Lightning F.6. The long-term plan at this date was...
The present authorised purchase of Lightnings is sufficient to back this force until 1972/73. By the mid-1970s, a replacement will be required which could be either a variable geometry aircraft for joint use by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy or a derivative of the P.1154. Whichever aircraft is finally ordered this minimum force of 10 squadrons must be replaced on a one-for-one basis and the overall U.E. should thus remain as 120 aircraft.
According to the Defence Costings 1966 (WF 1/66) dated March 1966 the RAF had 140 fighters in 10 squadrons on 31st March 1966. This was made up of 56 Javelins in three squadrons and 84 Lightnings in seven squadrons. This would reduce to 120 Lightings in ten squadrons by 31st March 1969. This would transform to 120 Phantoms in 10 squadrons between 1st April 1972 and 31st March 1977.
The Aircraft Requirements section shows 38 Phantoms On Requisition and Further Requirement for 110 for a Total Requirement for 148. If the 2 YF-4Ms are added that makes a total of 150 which happens to be the number of Phantoms originally ordered for the RAF. The Aircraft Programme section shows them being delivered between April 1967 and March 1970.
The Phantoms would initially form seven ground attack squadrons with 84 aircraft which would form between April 1968 and March 1971. These squadrons would convert to the Jaguar between April 1972 and March 1976.
This is significant because March 1966 is the month after the decision to cancel CVA.01 and to phase the existing strike carriers out by 1975. Seven of the ten Phantom fighter squadrons were listed as Phantom (Fighter) and the other 3 as Phantom (Maritime) with two in Fighter Command and one in FEAF. The first Maritime squadron was to be the FEAF squadron which would form in 1972/73 and the two Fighter Command squadrons would be formed between April 1975 and March 1977. My guess is that the redundant FGR.2s would be used to form the seven terrestrial fighter squadrons and the thee maritime fighter squadrons would be formed from the survivors of the 59 FG.1s that were ordered for the RN and transferred to the RAF after Ark Royal and Eagle were paid off.
Incidentally it also says that a force of 36 Buccaneers in three squadrons of 12 would be formed between April 1974 and March 1977. Two squadrons would be in Bomber Command and the third would be in FEAF. As already explained the the RAF did form three Buccaneer squadrons for Maritime Strike operations, but not until 1979 and one of them had to be disbanded a year later due to the aircraft's metal fatigue problems.
However, it didn't happen exactly like that.
The Phantom order was cut from 209 to 170. As far as I know this was done after the Sterling Devaluation of 16th November 1967. According to Phantom A Legend in its Time by Francis K. Mason this was done because it was a fixed-price contract so presumably the Devaluation reduced the number of Phantoms that could be purchased for the fixed-price. Including prototypes the FG.1 order was cut from 59 to 52 and the FGR.2 order was cut from 150 to 118. Mason wrote that most of the 39 aircraft were cut from the FGR.2 order because some of the FG.1s were transferred from the RN to the RAF.
(The number of Phantoms ordered was actually 223 made up of 59 FG.1 and 164 FGR.2. But that's another story.)
The RAF actually had ten fighter squadrons between March 1967 to May 1968 when the last Javelin squadron finally disbanded. The other nine squadrons had Lightnings and consisted of five in No. 11 (Fighter) Group of the newly formed RAF Strike Command, two in RAF Germany, one in Cyprus with NEAF and one in Singapore in FEAF.
The Sterling Devaluation also resulted in the decision to bring the East of Suez withdrawal forward from 1975 to the end of 1971. This also resulted in Eagle's Phantomization being cancelled because she'd be in service until 1972 instead of 1975 so the cost of the refit wasn't worth it. The redundant Phantom FG.1 aircraft were passed to the RAF which used them to form 43 Squadron on 1st September 1969. This brought the number of RAF fighter squadrons back up to ten and as far as I know it was the first TASMO fighter squadron.
However, the number of fighter squadrons was soon back down to nine because No. 74 Squadron disbanded in Singapore on 1st September 1971 as part of the accelerated withdrawal from East of Suez.
The Phantom FGR.2s were initially used to form five ground attack and two reconnaissance squadrons which formed between and April 1972. No. 38 (Tactical) Group of RAF Strike Command had two and one while RAF Germany had three and one. These squadrons converted to the Jaguar GR.1 between April 1974 and April 1977. This allowed six Lighting squadrons to convert to the Phantom FGR.2 between October 1974 and April 1977.
My guess is that the Phantom order hadn't been reduced from 209 to 170 in 1968 the 39 extra aircraft would have allowed the conversion of all eight Lightning squadrons to the Phantom between April 1974 and April 1977.
Back in March 1966 the plan had been for ten Phantom fighter squadrons in April 1977 made up of five in No. 11 Group, two in RAF Germany, one in NEAF and two in FEAF. The actual total was nine squadrons and as explained in the previous paragraph two of them were still equipped with Lightnings.
- There weren't any squadrons in FEAF because of the 1967 and 1968 Defence Cuts.
- There weren't any squadrons in NEAF because its fighter squadron was transferred to 11 Group on 21st January 1975 as part of the Mason Defence Review of 1974-75
- RAF Germany had two Phantom squadrons as planned in April 1966.
- 11 Group had five Phantom squadron as planned in April 1966. It also had the two fighter squadrons that in April 1966 had been planned for FEAF, but as already explained the reduction in the Phantom order meant they were still equipped with Lightnings.
This was the situation until October 1984 when 74 Squadron re-formed on the F-4J (UK). This increased the total number of fighter squadrons to ten including eight equipped with Phantoms.
The first Tornado ADV squadron was formed in April 1987 and the there were seven of them by the end of January 1990.
- Four of the eight Phantom squadrons converted between April 1987 and January 1990.
- The two Lightning squadrons converted to the type between January and April 1988.
- No. 25 Squadron which had been a Bloodhound SAM squadron from 1962 or 1963 (depending upon whether Lake or RAFWEB is correct) to 2nd July 1989 reformed as a Tornado ADV squadron on 1st January 1990.
How many of the above squadrons were assigned to the TASMO Force?
Two according to the article that begins on Page 116 of the PDF that can be reached by clicking on the link above. That is the Phantom FG.1s of 43 Squadron from its formation in 1969 and the FGR.2s of 29 Squadron from 1980.
I expected it to be at least three. That's because the March 1966 Plan included three squadrons and also because three Maritime Strike squadrons were formed, although as already related one of them was only in existence for a year.
I also expected and at a faster rate than actually happened. I though the second squadron would have been assigned after Eagle was withdrawn and the third after Ark Royal paid off. A second squadron wasn't added after Eagle paid off. A squadron was added after Ark Royal paid off, but I was surprised that it was one of the FGR.2 squadrons and not 111 Squadron as that would have created a homogenous force.
I also thought that the Tornado ADV was built to replace the Phantom in the TASMO role. As already related seven Tornado squadrons were formed by the end of January 1991 and I expected that more than two of them would have been assigned to the TASMO force. But it seems that my expectation was wrong. Does anyone know better?
No because the CV force did this before the force was scrapped.4. Do you need RAF to perform these tasks or was the FAA doing them before CV force scrapped?
As already explained I think it will be CVA.01, 02 and 03 or nothing with one ship in refit/reserve and two operational so the USN would receive "real support" from two CVA.01 class aircraft carriers and the RN.5. Another thought. Strike North lives with USN getting real support from CVA-01 and RN.
See Point 5.6. Bastion might be more cramped but more potent a threat. This sucks Soviet resources to deal with that threat away from elsewhere.
However, shouldn't that be, "This sucks more resources to deal with that thread from elsewhere," because as I understand it that was one of the objectives of Strike North.
I think the money spent on Nimrod AEW.3 in the "real world" will be spent on building CVA.02 and CVA.03.7. AEW.....this becomes Nimrod and Argus I think it was called? Imagine all that money sunk into the UK system that never made it beyond development, put into CVA-01 aircraft.......
Or instead of that the money spent on Nimrod AEW.3 would be spent on a replacement for the Gannet. Probably the HS. Brough P.139. It would be cancelled in 1986 and the money spent on the Boeing Sentry in he "real world" would be used to buy some Grumman Hawkeyes and Greyhounds.