Type 583 vs Phantom (Spey or J79 version)


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4 June 2006
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There is a discussion going on on Warships1 regarding post war RN carriers and the Type 583 has come up as a possible aircraft rtaher than the Phantom.


How do the two aircraft compare?

The Phantom is well known, the Type 583 and 583V possible less well known.


I like the V version.
Twice the chance of an engine failure in jet-borne (when the engines are most stressed) and totally catastrophic, non-survivable result....
I am a great fan of the 583, as it is a typical UK 60s paper project. Great to look at and full of whizzo ideas.

Sadly, reality seems to favour duller and more cost effective solutions.

The RN's carrier force suffered from a lack of clarity about what the carriers were supposed to do in the 60s-70s timescale. The RN did not succeed in selling them on a NATO war role but had to fall back on their flexibility as a limited war asset, notably East of Suez. NATO was much keener on the UK providing ASW support for the big US carriers of the Striking Fleet, hence the saga of the helicopter cruisers.

The problem for the RN was that from the 1950s on it could not afford to build, man and deploy the kind of super carrier (Forrestal equivalent) that was needed for the most effective Airgroup. At best, the UK could afford the equivalent of 2-3 Essex type carriers. This meant that it could not operate aircraft in the Phantom, Tomcat, Vigilante, Intruder range, except by squeezing a few on a small platform like Ark Royal or CVA 01. The costs of such small platforms and their Airgroups, coupled with the lack of a key Defence Role (except for East of Suez), made them a ready target for cancellation.

Ironically, the debate of the 60s: Comforts for British troops (then it was Cyprus, Aden and Malaysia) versus expensive and often unsuccessful equipment (TSR2s, carriers) has now reappeared as the Navy tries again to get a realistic carrier force able to operate with the USN or as an independent intervention force.

583 is very like JSF VSTOL. It looks a good answer to the problem on paper. However, the real plane is expensive and difficult to operate. Worse, it is not the plane that the USN will have on its carriers.

Shame really
UK 75
Don't agree UK75, but its not a simple issue.

Type583 seems a decent enough design, though to be honest I need some better scale drawings to make a reasonable apraisal. Its effectively a British Flogger albeit with two smaller engines rather than one. The Type584 and early Type 585 really do get close to being a UK Flogger (if you ditch the lift jets), but the RN wants twin engine safety.
What it has in potentia is clearly lower Take Off and Landing speeds, along with lower weights. Lower energies at launch and recover in the scale that should permit operations from any of the RN's main CV's down to HMS Hermes.
A private paper of 1963 shows that a Type583 machine should be able to meet AW406 and exceed several parameters.
Looking at dimensions the Type583 wins out over the F4, likely theres a trade off in terms of what you can squeeze into the smaller machine, but its an acceptable one.

F4 with or without the Spey effectively kills the RN's carrier fleet. Energies are too high, size too large and thus the costs to handling them and the size of ship requred too great.
Bigger RN carriers like Malta or the '1952 CV' or CVA-01 are prohibitively expensive, too much to build, too much to run.

'57 kills the P.177, and the radar missile, with these the prolongation of the useful life of the SeaVixen. Indeed it seems funding does'nt come along for the SeaVixen until '57, suggesting its D.Sandys short term cheap option based on the assumption manned fighters will be obsolesent in ten years. It also explains why the options for higher performance are not persued and decisions over the Scimitar.

But lacking the P.177 is also a killer blow, no supersonic fighter would enter service bar the Lightning, which 'as is' was totaly unsuitable for carrier ops. Thus the RN can't pair up its P.177's with SeaVixens to provide a stopgap capability until the latter machine is replaced. So the pressure is on.

RN produces OR.346 trying to get a 'one size fits all' machine, its asked for too much and that becomes clear. So AW406 is writen and this is better, but the need to replace the SeaVixen is rather pressing as Soviet forces display large anti-ship missiles by '64 (or is it '63). Supersonic speed is felt necessary along with long range radar missile combination, but this was already being predicted based on UK technical knowledge of what was possible before the USSR showed it could produce such weapons.
At this time the F4 is the fastest route to get that with twin engines, but F4 'as is' is too marginal for operations from even Eagle and Ark Royal.
I've heard USN cross decking (maybe in the late 60's) showed they had to land on fumes and tank on launch to operate from even the largest of the UK's carriers.
RN is forced to accept NBMR.3 winner the HS1154, and we all know the RN's requirements don't match the RAF's needs.
Spey F4 was felt to be a quick and cheap option to getting the sort of machine the RN needed. It was'nt.

Rn got close to an affordable CV in the form of the Medium Fleet CV study from 1953 to 1956, seems Suez, missiles (probably SeaSlug) and the loss of the P.177 made it hard to restart after the Sandystorm. Displacement is said to be 35,000tons but that seems a standard displacement figure, since power is 135,000shp, the IJN's Akagi gets close to these figures post modernisation and had a full load of around 42,000tons. That ships length is remarkably close to the 1952 CV effort but of narrower beam and lower draught.

A 1959 study, that starts life called a 'guided weapon ship' is 45,000tons, if thats a standard figure its rather bigger, and its name is suggestive it relates to Mountbatten's ideas. Probably has SeaSlug as a SAM system onboard.

To operate the likes of the F4 with J79, or the later F14 seems you need a angled deck of 678 feet a minimum, CVA-01 seems to have one of 700ft length at 3 degrees angle.
Eagle and Ark have usable lengths of angled deck at 625ft, Victorious 544ft, Hermes with the deck edge lift up 566ft, this last ship being I think a 6 degree angled deck instead of a 'normal' 8.5 degree one. (measurements for Hermes and Vicky are such on my plans they may actualy be the same, which would'nt be that much or a surprise considering when they where designed).
It is worth looking at the French, who faced a similar problem, and were prepared to throw a large amount of money and effort at it.

France ended up with two successful medium sized Essex equivalent aircraft carriers operating the Etendard and Crusader as fighter/strike component.

Assuming a successful Type 583 equivalent without the gimmicks (a sort of cross between the Crusader and the Etendard) could have emerged, two ships would have been the probable maximum the Treasury and UK Industry could have managed.

It is clear from all accounts that the Admiralty refused point blank to go down this path at any stage. My account above tries to explain some of the reasons why this was so.

UK 75
We can agree the French tried and achieved more by keeping their sights lower, though but for their own internal politics they could have achieved more.

Alas the Mirage G is clear what the MN wanted, Jaguar was what they thought they could get, Etendard is what Dassault made sure they had.

I suspect at one stage the early Type585 got rather close to being very like the Mirage G (just VG a single turbofan and no lift jets), and thus even more like a Western Flogger.

The Type583 meets the twin engined requirement, carries the 30 inch (or larger) dish, two seats, does'nt use any lift jets or other gimmick bar VG.

So yes, Type583, on anything from Victorious to an Essex is quite a reasonable solution to the RN's needs and quite valid for both EoS and NATO roles. It also should extend the useful life of Hermes.
The simplest option is two variants, one for fighter roles, one for strike, and its quite easy to see this entering RAF service instead of the Jaguar after the cancelation of the P1154 or even instead of the P1154, depending on the time of the decision and other factors. One might even see it as that long hearalded thing the "lightning replacement".

Engine options are available in the periode, RB153 is partialy paid for by the Germans, M45 should be a possible alternative as should the RB172 (which was scaled down to become the Adour, just to be clear).

Scales of production should thus ensue, and potential export and licensing orders emerge.


The RN wanted a 50,000lb VG machine for AW406, its clear from reading a certain paper from the RAE writen that the Admiralty favoured a twin spey VG machine operating from CVA-01, worse the dreaded idea of one machine performing strike and fighter roles was in their thinking, even if by swapped components and weapons packs.....shades of TFX.

RAF would also have prefered the larger machine with a veiw to their needs following the end of the TSR.2 project.

And there in a nutshell is the problem, the bigger machine will cost more to produce, cost more to run, and could suffer function creep. The bigger machine has higher energy requirements and thus needs a bigger carrier, and a bigger carrier costs more to build, burns more fuel, needs more crew to operate, who all need paying, feeding and supporting.
Alas the Mirage G is clear what the MN wanted, Jaguar was what they thought they could get, Etendard is what Dassault made sure they had.

Excellent! ;D
The 583 design was only proposed in 1960 - two years after the Phantom first flew, so they aren't really contemporary. The VG technology in the 583 would have taken a few years to develop and refine - hence the estimated introduction date of 1970. Given a couple of years of delays, it would have been flying in 1972/3 and a contemporary of the F-14 Tomcat. A more apt alternative for the Phantom would have been the Type 576 - supersonic scimitar. The Phantom and 576 looked very similar and would have performed equally badly on the UK's small carriers!!!

The bigger decision however, was which carrier to go with - CVA-01 or Illustrious/Invincible class. Given the government opted for the smaller carriers and cancelled the P1154, I would have accelerated the procurement of the Sea Harrier. The Phantom entered FAA service in 1967 - the Kestrel had been flying for 7 years and the Harrier GR1 would be in RAF service within 2 years. Hawker had proposed a fighter version of the Kestrel in 1960 armed with 2 De Havilland red top missiles and an enlarged radome.

I'm not sure what weapons the Phantom had, but this may have been significant in this very complicated decision?
danielgrimes said:
I'm not sure what weapons the Phantom had, but this may have been significant in this very complicated decision?

Typical load would be Four AIM-7 Sparrows, four AIM-9M Sidewinders and a lot of bombs...

starviking said:
danielgrimes said:
I'm not sure what weapons the Phantom had, but this may have been significant in this very complicated decision?

Typical load would be Four AIM-7 Sparrows, four AIM-9M Sidewinders and a lot of bombs...


If the phantom package involved sparrows and sidewinders, then this would have loomed large in the procurement decision? I'm preparing to be corrected, but until recently, guided missiles was never the UK'S strong point!!
From my reading of the Mirage G its landing speed was around 110kts, which if you factor in the WOD of 25kts makes for 85kts relative speed. Considering the weight at landing a machine like the Mirage G is well within the entry speeds for the uprated mk13 arrestor gear.

F4 may predate the Type583, but for the RN a comparison was done so I understand and found the Type 583 superior. However at the time it was thought the F4 even with a Spey would enter service years earlier and be cheaper to persue.
In terms of their longterm ambition it seems they had a preference for the heavier Spey powered VG machine, likely developments of the Type589, operating from CVA-01.

At that point they did'nt know they would have the troubles they did end up having with the Spey F4, in hindsight the Type583 seems a reasonable option to choose. The only factor that would really worry the RN about it is the vexed question of the radar/missile combination.

So yes radar/missile combination is rather important, the UK's efforts where behind and would've been rather exepensive. Cheapest option would be radar Red Top, and development of the Red Top II missile body.
The Aspinal CW radar was expected to be available in '72, which is too late, I have however, a nasty suspicion this is a FICMW type like the AI.24, considering the designation of that it may even BE the AI.24 in very early form, which really does not bode well for the effort.

On a side note, considering the actual performance of the Sparrow, I'm starting to wonder if the UK's assesments of its own efforts where realistic and the perception of US efforts too coloured by salesmanship and hyperbole.

Its interesting to read of the French efforts and how close at times they seem to the UK's.
There really was scope it seems for a collaborative effort on a VG fighter/attack type for both countries navies and quite possibly their airforces too. But the TSR.2 type requirements of the RAF so distort this that the AFVG was pretty much doomed from the start.
The other aircraft Vickers proposed for OR346 are worth a mention.

The Type 582 housed 8 small engines in its wings and was able to deflect the thrust down the flaps to achieve a 120mph landing.

Vickers also proposed 3 'Type 577' TSR2 derivatives. The first (A) (attached) was a scaled down TSR2 (66ft long as opposed to 89ft); the second (B) was more or less the smaller of the two Vickers Type 571s with two engines, and the third (C) was the a hybrid between the two - a Type 571 with TSR2 shaped wings.

Whilst the 582 and 583 required the development of totally new components, the 577 airframe was pretty conservative and could have done the trick?


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In terms of achievability with existing technology the Type582 seems a valid idea, the biggest issue is likely to be the effects of reheat on the rear structure.

However OR346 was too demanding, TSR.2 performance, plus fighter ability, all for a weight limit of 50,000lb and demanding limits on take off and landing speeds.
The spectre of TFX looms over this.

Note how long even the Type 577 is, this is influencing the efforts on a new CV, some designs have lifts 90ft long!
The sheer area taken up by such machines drives up the size of the deck park and hanger, far beyond the limits of what the UK can persue as a CV.

The F14 gets closest to being the actual machine that meets those requirements bar the internal carridge prefered. Even CVA-01 would've been marginal with this, and likely you need a CVV type (58,000tons).

Now AW406 is far more practical, limits being:-
ROA with 4,000lb bombs 250nm
CAP minimum 2.5 hours
Weight limit all-up 40,000lb.
Operational requirements for use of uprated BS mk4 catapults and mk13 arrestor gear, WOD limits 25kts.

While the Lightning VG offering is problematic its achievable but the Type583 is far more attractive.

Length is just 53ft, the nosefold could take this below 48ft.
Swept back the wing is just 27ft span, oversweep seems to take this to below 22ft.
In terms of area taken up, and even the very shape of the machine, its really does ease the deck parking requirements and use of hanger space.

Makes it an ideal successor to the SeaVixen in terms of size.

The size and performance specs suggest operation from ships down to HMS Hermes, in short the existing CV fleet, and it permits an affordable CV design for the future to be far less expensive.

Outside of this the HSA (brough) P141 is the most logical alternative from the stock of UK designs I've seen.
Am impressed! - you know all this stuff backwards - did you work at BAe? or do you have some suggestions for good books?
I have my books nearby;-)

Well Tony Butlers books of course, Norman Friedmans Royal Navy Carrier Aviation, and D.K.Brown and Moores Rebuilding the Royal Navy, all come in useful.

There are some other bits to get, Bil Gunston may over favour the P1154 but its worth reading his take on events and the machine. There's a nice long description of the whole P1154 saga in one book, I've photocopied the whole thing years ago, but can't remember the name.

Then take a look on this site and see the Saunders Roe P.177 tunnel data from a RAE paper, pay especial attention to projected take off and landing speeds and weights.

Also see a released RAE paper (not actualy the RAE but an RN admiral using their data) circa 1963 on comparision between four aircraft types to AW406, catapult projections are for the BS mk4 151ft uprated catapult.
A fixed wing Spey powered machine, the P1154, a VG spey powered machine and a scaled down Spey powered machine (each engine is 0.68% of a Spey). Do play with the figures and a calculator, note how a fixed wing scaled spey machine is so marginal (not in the paper to a producable aircraft E from the data extent), but affordable, the scaled spey VG machine is pretty much the ideal, though its clear the admiralty favoured the larger VG machine.

Now spend some time gaining and examining the deck plans of Hermes, Victorious, Eagle, Ark Royal and CVA-01. Go back the Norman Friedmans book and pay attention to the section dealing in Malta, the 1952 CV, the post 1952 CV studies and CVA-01. In the book pay attention to the notes in the margins!

Note how the angled deck width is really determined not by aircraft wingspan but by the safety line of the wires.

Also play around with the area aircraft take up, my minimum factor for hangered aircraft is 2ft clearence between each folded up machine, but it might be more in reality, as personnel need to move between each aircraft. In a deck park assume aircraft are unfolded in length but folded in span, but also take care to consider you need machines to be ready in a line behind the catapult for the ship to function (such as launching a strike or CAP), so they won't be in oversweep or folded span at that stage. Do think about how aircraft move around a crowded deck, leave the lifts clear for access, leave at least one catapult clear and make sure its also clear of the angled deck.

In fact playing around with deck designs is quite educational as I've found.

All these components can been drawn together to get a picture of what was achievable for the RN and what was not.

A machine like the Type 583 or the P141 is operable in reasonable numbers per RN doctorine of the times, from a CV the RN could afford. For the 60's we're talking two CV's of a total of (not including AEW, ASW, COD or SAR) 64 operational fast jets and thus 5 CV's all told.

In terms of the carrier, Suez and the '57 defence review is the first crunch point, '65 the second, and '67 the last. If a new design is being built by 1965 then its too late to cancel, especialy if its a second or third of class started in 1956/57.

In terms of aircraft the Type583 is offered twice, the last time in 1964 I think.

Alas for Dassault he did what he could to undermine an anglo-french effort (not the first time) and yet in the form of the Mirage G showed just what was possible.
Twin Spey installation for 583 is illustrated here:



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overscan said:
Twin Spey installation for 583 is illustrated here:


I would think that this diagram might have been representative of a twin Spey instalation in the RN P.1154 as well?

Fascinating technical stuff. Were you involved in the carrier flight decks for CVs that appeared a few years ago on the Warships of the World Discussion Boards?

The problem with the UK is that politics play a more important role than technical suitability. The main problem is that shortage of money in the period covered, followed by the poor industrial capacity of the UK (lack of shipyards able to build big carriers on time, the various steels necessary).

The Maltas were not far enough advanced to surivive the Post War austerity, the remaining carriers in service too difficult to refurbish.

As things stand, the RN were lucky to get the use out of the Ark Royal/Eagle combination plus Hermes for effective fast jet operation.

I don't think any of the options proposed for planes and carriers can match to capacity of Ark in service through the lean years of 1970-1979. The RN were probably right to prefer Phantoms to any of the alternatives on offer.

I sympathise with the RN over CVA 01. It was the only way at the time of getting a reasonably sized Phantom carrying ship with modern capabilities. Trouble was that the money and political background could never run to two such ships. Given that, the Ark/Eagle was the only option left.

The Admiralty looked closely at the Essex class offered by the US, but I suspect that they realised that the problems of operating such old ships, with all their foreign built systems, in small numbers (only 2-3 were affordable), was not much of an improvement on Ark/Eagle.

In answer to your question I'd need to be remineded rather more precisely than that, but its possible.

It is all rather dependant on so much, that I'm not going to suggest too much of anything, since to cover any alternatve properly requires a very long post indeed.

Sufffice to say, there is a window in time when things could have been different, likely starting in 1943 and ending in frankly 1957, though technicaly later in 1966.

The F4 as a solution is highly constraining, CVA-01 seems pretty doomed IMO from the start, the 1952 effort seems far more likely.
A machine like the Type 583 is less constraining, and far more supportive of the UK as a independant state.

You have to think not about a desire for the F4 but the process by which things happen, one after another. One also has to see the basis for planning, by what criteria etc....
In there are possibilties, some came very close to happening.
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