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What if there had been a Falklands type conflict at another pivotal point in history?

Volkodav

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There are a number of discussions across various topics that got me thinking of the changes to the post Nott Review RN because of the lessons learned due to the Falklands War and what would have happened had that, or a similar conflict, occurred at various points in history, post WWII.

The same conflict occurring after the retirement of Ark Royal, but before the Nott review for instance, would the Type 43 and Sea Dart MkII proceeded, and an even more enhanced Type 23?

Lets say it was an 84 or 85 event, fought with the two remaining Invincibles but the other already in service in Australia, so a new improved Invincible is required? The Type 23 progressed further along as a simple TA Tug and can not be redesigned in the time available, hence a Batch 4 Type 22?

How about a late 60s war that drives a Batch III County, perhaps solidifies the Escort Cruiser, more Type 82s or even drives the Type 19?

An early 60s conflict saves the carriers forcing the acquisition of something, anything?

Timing is everything, a serious enough conflict will completely deflate cost cutting claims, just as long period of peace, even if that peace is due to effective deterance,
 

Hood

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Opportunities that spring to mind are; Kuwait 1961 when Iraq threatened to invade and Belize 1977 when invasion seemed likely.
But neither offer quite the same threat; Kuwait had already proved the usefulness of Commando carriers for reinforcement to deter an invasion but would have perhaps tested air mobility a bit more. I don't think Guatemala would have given too much trouble to really drive any new requirements.
Even a 1970s Falklands invasion might not have changed too much, an improved Sea Dart would likely materialise given a reliance on Sea Slug and the few early Type 42s, maybe a rethink on Sea Wolf which would not have been ready in time. The need for more aerial tankers would have been an urgent task - sooner VC.10 conversions for a start I guess, if it came just before the 1975 cuts then it might save the Belfast, if it came after it might bring them back. Not sure it would save the Ark Royal though as the carrier fleet and aircraft were running down and there would be no real way accelerate Sea Harrier or the Invincibles and both projects would be too far gone to cancel at that stage if favour of new CTOL carriers and aircraft which would take a decade to acquire.
 

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Well, Indonesia comes closest probably; during Indonesia confrontation over Malaysia. Indonesia was rather well-armed; her arsenal included even Tu-16KS missile-carrying jet bombers, armed with KS-1 "Kometa" missiles, and six modern Project 613 submarines. They were well-trained by Soviet instructors, so would be quite more a threat in 1963-1964, than Argentinean was in 1982.
 

zen

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Falklands War could have erupted in the 70's. It was avoided by some astute action involving visible deployment of a Frigate and the 'leak' of a SSN deployment to the South Atlantic.

But if the complacency had set in earlier then...
The last hurrah of Ark Royal with all sorts of issues thrown up.

A Falklands War by the mid 80's would have all sorts of consequences as this would be well after the Nott reforms.
 

zen

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Thinking about this.
I don't think Type 23 would end up a TAS only unarmed ship with a helipad. That seems to fall apart as a concept at the time.
What it might remain is a 118ft long ship with a sextuple launcher, 4.5" mk8, exocet and divided into just 3 sections. Though one can envision the quadruple launcher being used and some form of semi-automatic loader system.

Had the War happened in the 70's the Type 44 might result with GWS.31 and the Type 1030 STIR.
This would heavily shift things in favour of a much larger production run of Type 22 hull and propulsion setup
.
 

uk 75

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One of the features of the postwar years is that unlike the Army (in action every year except 1968) and the RAF, the Royal Navy plays a mainly supporting role.
In Korea it adds its power to the UN forces but it is not really a naval war as N Korea does not have a fleet.
The Suez invasion of 1956 is unopposed except for one cruiser sinking an Egyptian ship.
Although Indonesia acquires Soviet hardware, it wisely does not take on the pretty formidable joint RN RAF presence.
Most operations are counter insurgency style with some RN support.
The Falklands Invasion of 1982 has been discussed in other threads. Its timing was more to do with Galtieri clinging on to power than any UK action or inaction.
In the operations in the 80s the RN's Armilla patrol in the Gulf might have got in a shooting war with Iran or Iraq but the US fleet in the Indian Ocean and airpower at Diego Garcia would have soon intervened.
None of the world's major navies have fought serious naval wars, which made the Falklands such an exception. India vs Pakistan in 1971 is the only other example I can think of.
Today, as for most of its post WW2 history, the RN's main war role is to deter and if necessary respond to aggression as part of NATO.
 

uk 75

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Given the presence of RAF Lightnings and Javelins as well as Victor bombers with conventional bombs plus an RN carrier and its air group, the Indonesians focussed on low intensity political warfare on the Maoist model.
 

uk 75

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Just as a rider. The actual Falklands War and the very real Sovietvnaval build up yielded Type 22 batch 2 ships to replace the vessels lost and acceleration of the already planned Batch 3 ships. No change at all to Seadart ships, though the system probably got some mods. Type 23 gained a 4.5 in instead of a 76mm gun. Doubt any of your time adjusted Falklands Wars would have done much more.
The Soviet threat drove the Nott Review and over time it still pretty much happened.
 

Archibald

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Behold - HMS Eagle in the Falklands. https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/hms-eagle-in-the-falklands.447558/

The point of divergence is that HMS Eagle doesn't run aground in October 1970 (I pinpointed that moment somewhere in the thread) and as such, the final excuse to send it to the breakers in OTL 1972 goes by the window.
And since Ark Royal, despite Phantomization, keep falling into pieces, at some point in the late 70's common sense (perhaps helped by the 1977 Falkland first alert) prevails - and Eagle stick in service, if barely, until spring 1982. Basically it puts an OTL HMS Hermes, except of course it still has catapults since it is no commando carrier.

The POD could be defined as a kind of "last ditch / best case" where HMS Eagle fate is a mix of Ark Royal and Hermes - the last Audacious, in far better shape, last just long enough to save its arse thanks to the Falkland crisis.

Also, it is a twist as "Audacious & Phantomization" OTL timeline.

Some facts

- Eagle was in far better shape than Ark Royal
But
- Ark royal got Phantomized instead, for a whole bunch of down-to-Earth but perfectly appaling reasons related to RN issues in the 60's (Victorious fire, Hermes commando carrier...)

- Thus Eagle was retired in '72 and Ark Royal agonized until '78, and by 1982, all that was left was Hermes... without catapults. One unbelievable side effect was that no Gannet AEW could be brought back !

The TL author found a very subtle, clever way of "sabotaging" the above criminal OTL siliness.

With or without Phantomization, fact was that, by 1969-72, Eagle was still there, in better shape than Ark Royal - yet it was send to the breakers, damn it.

The reason was a small grounding in the fall of 1970 that damaged a propeller - and just like the far better known Victorious fire, it was use at THE EXCUSE to finally get ride of Eagle by 1972.

That's the crux of the matter.

Some would say that "An Audacious not Phantomized by the 70's is no good" - oh, really ? Ain't that still better than OTL Falklands fought by SHAR, Invincibles, and an Hermes without catapults and without AEW ? I don't think so.

By the way, there is Phantomization, and Phantomization. In case of Falklands Emergency, a "shitty Phantomization" is still better than "OTL Falklands situation".

Just sayin' !!

Shazam, found it. October 9, 1970 in Devonport.

Captain I. G. W. Robertson.


THIS was the final nail in HMS Eagle coffin and, by ricochet, into British large carrier fleet (since Ark Royal was already doomed, and hermes already lost its catapults to commando carrier).
 
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Archibald

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More details there

Recommissioned in 1964 she was the largest ship in the Royal Navy. Unfortunately one of her propellors grounded on entering Plymouth Sound. (circa Autumn 1970/Spring 1971). It remained unbalanced for her future life and was the cause of her to be decommisioned in 1972 in favour of her sister ship.
This. I'm no conspirationist by any mean, just saying one thing: Victorious 1967 fire, here we go. Eagle was dispatched the same way - as we say in French

"Qui veut noyer son chien, l'accuse d'avoir la rage" (who wants to get ride of a good dog, drawn it pretexting "it had rabbies")
 
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riggerrob

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WI Venezuela tried to seize the oil refinery on the Dutch island of Aruba?
 
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uk 75

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Not so dramatic but there is an easier way to save HMS Eagle.
The RN as always were faced with crew shortages. In order to keep Ark Royal in service beyond 1972 (a Conservative Election pledge) the conversion of Lion to a helicopter cruiser is canceled..
The Government could have gone further and decided to scrap Tiger (still being converted) and mothball the recently converted Blake.
This would have freed up resources to convert Eagle from 1971 to replace Ark in 1974 and operate into the 80s. Ark would have been kept for spares.
To free up more resources the through deck cruisers would not be ordered but a more basic LPH design (ready since 1966) would be ordered to replace Bulwark and Albion from 1975. Hermes would be sold unconverted to LPH and with 3D radar removed to Australia, Brazil or India.
 

zen

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Not so dramatic but there is an easier way to save HMS Eagle.
The RN as always were faced with crew shortages. In order to keep Ark Royal in service beyond 1972 (a Conservative Election pledge) the conversion of Lion to a helicopter cruiser is canceled..
The Government could have gone further and decided to scrap Tiger (still being converted) and mothball the recently converted Blake.
This would have freed up resources to convert Eagle from 1971 to replace Ark in 1974 and operate into the 80s. Ark would have been kept for spares.
To free up more resources the through deck cruisers would not be ordered but a more basic LPH design (ready since 1966) would be ordered to replace Bulwark and Albion from 1975. Hermes would be sold unconverted to LPH and with 3D radar removed to Australia, Brazil or India.
That would imply a possibility of a successor CV.....at least at the start of such a scenario.

Which might have found traction with parallel processes in France over their replacement plans for the Clemenceau class.
 

uk 75

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More details there

Recommissioned in 1964 she was the largest ship in the Royal Navy. Unfortunately one of her propellors grounded on entering Plymouth Sound. (circa Autumn 1970/Spring 1971). It remained unbalanced for her future life and was the cause of her to be decommisioned in 1972 in favour of her sister ship.
This. I'm no conspirationist by any mean, just saying one thing: Victorious 1967 fire, here we go. Eagle was dispatched the same way - as we say in French

"Qui veut noyer son chien, l'accuse d'avoir la rage" (who wants to get ride of a good dog, drawn it pretexting "it had rabbies")
It must be coincidence but looking for something else I found this wonderful old French toy aircraft carrier on Ebay


Never seen one before. Bit too expensive for bathtime but would look nice in a glass cabinet
 

uk 75

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If the Heath Government had been more dynamic than in real life it might have survived an election in 1974/5 and ordered two fixed wing carriers to replace Ark and Eagle. Heath wanted to work with Pompidou. He got on better with him than Nixon/Kissinger.
 

zen

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Wouldn't the French insist on CVN?
 

Arjen

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WI Venezuela tried to seize the oil refinery on the Dutch island of Aruba?
The Lago refinery on Aruba, then property of Exxon, was closed in 1985. Sold to the local government, reopened, changed hands several times, to be offered in 2019 for a 15-year exploitation contract to CITGO.
The Isla refinery on Curaçao has been the property of Petróleos de Venezuela since 1985.
CITGO is a daughter company of Petróleos de Venezuela.
 

Archibald

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Wouldn't the French insist on CVN?
PH75 was to be a nuclear powered LPH - as bizarre as it seems, it would essentially operates like the Arromanches did at the end of its life. Also Jeanne d'Arc.
- hospital ship in case of a cataclysm in the DOM-TOM (french overseas territories)
- LPH
- commando carrier
- ASW
For all these missions it was to go into circles off a remote, devastated coast for a very long time, hence nuclear power would free it from the tiranny of oil replenishing at sea.
The basic concept was essentially what the Mistral did off the coast of Lybia in 2011: a crisis, yes, but not worth sending an extremely expensive carrier like Foch, Clem' or CdG. Something cheaper and more flexible. Arromanches, Jeanne d'Arc did that, too.

The point I wanted to make - PH75 was not nuclear at the beginning, circa 1970. at the beginning it was to have the F67 frigates conventional powerplant.

I think nuclear power come in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis. Related to a similar shift on the solid ground, when 58 reactors were build.

 
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Archibald

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what is really funny (never thought about this before !) is that PH75 started very much as a French Invincible and later become PA75, that is... the Charles de Gaulle.

thus this peculiar alt-history could work in two opposite directions:
- either the French jumps into the 18 000 tons Invincible (from their "1970 PH75") to complement Foch and Clemenceau
- or the British jumps into the the 1980 "PA75" and get a 42 000 tons full-blown carrier to complement or replace the Invicibles... (in the case of course where PH75 doesn't drag PA75 down the nuclear rabbit hole).
 
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uk 75

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If I remember right CdG uses the same reactor as the French subs but possibly too few. The UK had its own reactors so a joint Nuclear Eurocarrier programme would have been possible. Of course if Wilson takes over in 1974 forget it. Still if Heath stays in power till at least 1979... (No Mrs T perhaps but also probably no Falklands, Heath was more interested in foreign affairs than she was, so would have reacted like Owen and sent subs, and HMS Eagle of course
 

Archibald

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Yup, the boomer subs reactors - not very good for a carrier (submarines are Ethiopian marathon runners, carriers are closer from Usain Bolt) but well... End result, 80 000 hp and 27 kt instead of Clem' 130 000 hp+ and 32 kt. But some would say, the time of ultrafast cruisers and battleships is long gone, carriers no longer have to run along them.

Best case would be, nuclear or not, French and British start learning building carriers together by blending together PH75 and Invincibles. Eventually, the Spanish and Italian join the party, each with a single unit, two for the French, three for the British.
Once the European have learned how to build 18 000 tons "Harrier carriers" together, time is ripe to try a 42 000 full-blown CATOBAR. Not sure the Italian and Spanish would follow there, even not nuclear. So the anglo-french would have both options on hand.
 

uk 75

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It is a shame that the real Heath government was a total fiasco. But for counterfactual purposes he serves in his Doppelganger as a dynamic PM who uses the drift of the Nixon years to make common cause with Post De Gaulle France. Germany under Willy Brandt and then Helmut Schmidt might not have been so keen on this.
 

Archibald

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Most people don't like Nixon for obvious reasons (Watergate, hint). As far as I'm concerned, the real miserable SOB was Kissinger. That guy is disgusting only by looking at him. Still alive and still unpunished for his many crimes (I have a theory, the worst men live the longest, the good men die early, so there must be some kind of genetic correlation between nastiness and old life... hint, Jean Marie Le Pen, hint. Also Montgomery Burns, ROTFL).
As for Nixon, - I grew with The Simpsons and Futurama in the 90's (that weird Matt Groening obsession with the man - WTH ?), and then switched to AH.com in the 2000's. I discovered Nixon antics this way and LMAO. Enough said.
 

Volkodav

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Not so dramatic but there is an easier way to save HMS Eagle.
The RN as always were faced with crew shortages. In order to keep Ark Royal in service beyond 1972 (a Conservative Election pledge) the conversion of Lion to a helicopter cruiser is canceled..
The Government could have gone further and decided to scrap Tiger (still being converted) and mothball the recently converted Blake.
This would have freed up resources to convert Eagle from 1971 to replace Ark in 1974 and operate into the 80s. Ark would have been kept for spares.
To free up more resources the through deck cruisers would not be ordered but a more basic LPH design (ready since 1966) would be ordered to replace Bulwark and Albion from 1975. Hermes would be sold unconverted to LPH and with 3D radar removed to Australia, Brazil or India.
Or even simpler, Ark runs aground or has a fire before her modernisation, leaving her uneconomical, even for the most imaginative and ideologically blinded politician to consider repairing her.
 

Archibald

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Ark runs aground
Look at the first link I provided: freakkin' Ark Royal actually grounded at the exact same Devonport place, except it did in 1962.
If only they had grounded in "reverse order" - Ark Royal first, later Eagle. The goal obviously being Ark never recovering and going to the breakers ASAP (ha ha). Ideally, before 1966 decision to Phantomize that lemon instead of Eagle.

(not only was my link broken, but that "^pa^à)"io)i-)i"-i)a)(" did not allowed cut-and-paste. )

1591006694880.png
 
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Archibald

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Hey, can you believe that ? in the 60's, the Devonport / Plymouth sound "harbour master" hold the fate of the British carrier fleet in his hands - because he was clearly unable to get his freakkin' buoys in the right place. o_O

Congrats to that man, he managed the very unenviable "feat" of grounding the two Audacious class carrier RN flagships 8 years apart. Also damaging them further at a crucial moment - the days of the CVA-01 nightmare followed by the cautious transition to the Invincible class "through deck cruisers".:rolleyes::rolleyes:

How about that, for a start !! If that man had been born a girl, or tripped into stairs, or embraced a different job, RN late carrier history including the Falklands might have been very different.

 
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zen

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If only Ark had been more severely damaged by that, her assessment in '63 might suggest just scrapping her altogether. She was in poor state as it was by then.

This would exert a sever pressure on commitment to CVA-01 or it's abandonment. But Tory government was headed to loose late 64 election. So temptation to hand poisoned chalice to incoming Labour government early '65.
Shifts decision on CV Fleet and EoS presence earlier.
But if pressure too sever in '62-'63, then commitment prior to election. CVA-01 under construction by early '65. Unions pressure makes Ark and Vicky disposals easier path for minister.....
 

Volkodav

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If only Ark had been more severely damaged by that, her assessment in '63 might suggest just scrapping her altogether. She was in poor state as it was by then.

This would exert a sever pressure on commitment to CVA-01 or it's abandonment. But Tory government was headed to loose late 64 election. So temptation to hand poisoned chalice to incoming Labour government early '65.
Shifts decision on CV Fleet and EoS presence earlier.
But if pressure too sever in '62-'63, then commitment prior to election. CVA-01 under construction by early '65. Unions pressure makes Ark and Vicky disposals easier path for minister.....
The forced retirement of Ark in 62/3 could have seen either an earlier end to the carrier force, an interim option to cover the gap, or an accelerated permanent replacement.

With Ark out of the picture the carrier fleet may have been run down earlier than reality, or possibly the weak excuses for the retirements of Vic and Eagle would have been dropped allowing one or bother to serve into the mid to late 70s, even without Phantom.

The obvious answer would have been the Phantomisation of Eagle and the retention of Vic to cover the loss of Ark, the carrier force still winding down in the late 70s, early 80s.

Finally either bite the bullet and order CVA01 in 62/3, alternatively dust off an earlier design (assuming it can get to a point that materials and equipment can be ordered), resilting in a brand new carrier in the early 70s, hence a carrier force into the 90s.
 

uk 75

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It is a shame that Friedman's British carriers book has not been updated (though this site serves as an update).
The poor performance of the British economy and mismanagement of industry, which included atrocious industrial relations, is the bacjground here.
The UK tries after WW2 to cling on to its world role, and then in the 60s tries to join the Euripean Community for the whole decade, having scorned it in the 50s.
The Soviet Navy does not really become a serious threat to NATO until the end of the 60s with better submarines and surface ships.
This confused state is reflected in the mismatch between ambitions (Skybolt, CVA01, TSR2) and resources/actual requirements.
The RN has only the Suez debacle and the 1982 Falklands as shooting wars. Even in the awful Korean war it is only a supporting player. The Kuwait operation in 1961 and the confrontation with Indonesia, followed by sanctions patrols against Rhodesia from 1965 show that carriers are useful, even essential. But they do not loom large in politicians' minds.
Polaris and later Trident are a mixed blessing for the RN. It gets back its place from the RAF as the big stick wielder. But the price is (as the RAF had with the V force) less money for its other forces. Losing the deterrent (including TSR2-the 4th V bomber) allows the RAF to get better equipment elsewhere.
The same is true of the RN. It loses the carrier replacements but in the Type 22 and the SSN force gets the weapons needed to help the USN contain the Soviet naval build up.
1966/7 is pivotal. The RN switches from a global police force to an ASW force in the N Atlantic. Nott's Review in 1981 is as scorned as Sandys 1957 paper, but both reflect the above.
Alertken's excellent timeline summarys are one of the most useful things on this site. It is worth checking them all out.
The aircraft carrier saga has come full circle. We are out of Europe and have a carrier force again.
 

zen

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So there are two alternative options in '63 to proceed with beyond the process that delivered the CVA-01 design.

The first is to scale back on next generation aircraft, such that a smaller ship fitting Davenport No.10 will do. This comes at the expense particularly of catapult length and aircraft numbers. But in context it's limitations are imposed on OR.346, and would not be felt with F4 or Buccaneer or indeed the P1154.
The upper end is 50,000tons and the lower is the Civil lord of the Admiralty's proposal for a 40,000ton ship with 24 fast jets. With the intention that initially these would be Sea Vixen and Buccaneer and succeeded by P1154, though F4 is still possible.

The second option is to accept a much more limited solution based around the P1154 on ships that might range down to 15,000tons (4 by jets plus 6 helicopters). The stronger case being 9 by jets, and 12 helicopters on something over 20,000tons but under 30,000tons.

However the 1960 study did throw up a 42,000ton ship which held 31 fast jets (Buccaneer was used as the metric) and operating at a lower tempo the OR.346 of which just 18 would fit.

Arguably this option could be explored as a solution since at 112ft beam and 750ft LWL, this fits more drydocks.

But at cost of either moderate tempo ops with Buccaneer and F4 or low tempo ops with OR.346.
 
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riggerrob

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Dear Archibald,
WI one of the CIA's meddlings in South America failed during the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s?
 

zen

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Could have failed in Chile, the ensuing Civil WR sucking in Argentina....
 

Archibald

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Dear Archibald,
WI one of the CIA's meddlings in South America failed during the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s?
Guatemala Jacobo Arbenz aplauds loudly, from his grave.

So there are two alternative options in '63 to proceed with beyond the process that delivered the CVA-01 design.

The first is to scale back on next generation aircraft, such that a smaller ship fitting Davenport No.10 will do. This comes at the expense particularly of catapult length and aircraft numbers. But in context it's limitations are imposed on OR.346, and would not be felt with F4 or Buccaneer or indeed the P1154.
The upper end is 50,000tons and the lower is the Civil lord of the Admiralty's proposal for a 40,000ton ship with 24 fast jets. With the intention that initially these would be Sea Vixen and Buccaneer and succeeded by P1154, though F4 is still possible.

The second option is to accept a much more limited solution based around the P1154 on ships that might range down to 15,000tons (4 by jets plus 6 helicopters). The stronger case being 9 by jets, and 12 helicopters on something over 20,000tons but under 30,000tons.

However the 1960 study did throw up a 42,000ton ship which held 31 fast jets (Buccaneer was used as the metric) and operating at a lower tempo the OR.346 of which just 18 would fit.

Arguably this option could be explored as a solution since at 112ft beam and 750ft LWL, this fits more drydocks.

But at cost of either moderate tempo ops with Buccaneer and F4 or low tempo ops with OR.346.
PA58 Verdun checks all these boxes - like a glove.

Le Conseil supérieur de la Marine délibère enfin du sort du Verdun dans sa séance du 6 mai 1958. Le secrétaire d’état à la Marine Alain Poher impose la solution d'une variante extrapolée du Clemenceau, pour des raisons budgétaires (35 milliards de francs au lieu de 45 à 47 pour le Verdun note 1). Cette variante est désignée PA59.

Mais la priorité donnée par la Ve République à la force de frappe enterre définitivement le projet. La Marine conserve pendant quelque temps encore l’espoir de le faire reprendre : elle envisage, dans le cadre de la loi de programme 1960-1964, une mise sur cale en 1962, avec admission au service actif en 1967. Le projet est finalement abandonné en 1961 au profit de SNLE supplémentaires2.

Le délégué ministériel à l'armement tient des propos analogues lors de la mise à l'eau du Foch, le 28 juillet 1960. L'espoir de réaliser ce bâtiment semble avoir perduré dans la marine jusqu'en 1961.
Note that PA59 went back to "Clemenceau clone, 36000 tons" in desperation, to try and lower the cost. PA58 was 45000 tons. You british carrier falls right between the two.
 
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zen

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It's odd in a way since from '57 to '60 it seems that the plan was for laying down a 45,000ton CVA although this doesn't seem to be communicated to the MN. Even though the MN are using British catapults, arrestor gear, Colossus/Majestic CV and cross deck, train with and have served with at Suez.....
Then again it might be that since this was a GWS with a hefty SAM system and possibly getting sucked into NIGS. The MM felt it was doomed to failure or massive delays and not compatible with Masurca armed ships?

Or maybe that's part of why Verdun was being driven along by the MN? Knowing that the RN is about to order new catapults and arrestor gear for their CV and perhaps hoping to tack on their own order at the same time?

This might explain why Verdun is abandoned even as a third Celemanceau around the time CVA became ever larger, ever more expensive and critically ever more late as far as France was concerned?
 

Archibald

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According to Wiki, Suffren entered service with MASURCA in 1967. It took 8 years since 1959 to make the beast work properly.
I think Verdun was to have MASURCAs, indeed. Which is completely overkill for a carrier - but then again, Doria, Venetto and even early Invincible designs also had big SAMs.

As for you are suggesting - I really don't know. Most realistic explanation seems to be, despite what you and I listed (Suez , catapults, and the kitchen sink) nobody on both sides of the Channel ever thought of makin Anglo-French carriers before 1998 and CVF...

Well, it would make the alt-history even more funny, to break that deadlock. Start with some low level bureaucrat slapping his forehead and suggesting "how about a 42 000 ton anglo-french carrier" - just kidding, but then the idea snowball out of control to finally reach Ministry level... and from there, it can't be stopped.

The way I would pull it out... while planning PA54 (= Clemenceau) circa 1953, a french engineer or bureaucrat goes shopping for BS-5A catapults only to realize the British are planning, too, a 40 000 ton carrier. Later on, Suez goes slightly differently and cements the two navies alliance. Plus Arromanches, aquilons, and many others things.

A striking OTL example: when Concorde costs started ballooning out of control, the British, facing their usual economic hardships of the 60's and 70's, looked for an escape clause in the November 1962 agreement. Some kind of breech to get away without too much political damage (hint: De Gaulle, EEC...)
Bad luck: there was none. It had been completely forgotten. They were committed to the train wreck and had to stay onboard until 1977, including forcing their national airline to take the unwanted machines at bargain price.
 
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uk 75

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Courtesy of a wonderful French language book Prototypes Experimentaux Dassault 1960-1988 by Herve Beaumont (sorry to leave off accents, I am using a phone) are drawings of the naval version of the Anglo French Variable Geometry Aircraft and how it would have fitted on MN and RN carrier lifts IMG_20200602_195224~2.jpg IMG_20200602_195152~2.jpg
 
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