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What if UK postponed the decomissioning of the Ark Royal class, would it change the outcome of the Falklands?

_Del_

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Legend has it it was so foggy one SHar landed at one end of Hermes and the deck crew didn't realise......

But generally while such weather systems do have zones that proscribe flight operations, those zones are much less in size than the system. Meaning operations can be conducted outside those zones.
In the end, even if one believes this is a major detraction for the conventional carrier, there is nothing preventing the RN from making room to deploy a handful of SHar or RAF Harriers on the cruise if deemed necessary, either.
 

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I also note that, had Centaur been converted in 1966, once again that Hermes conversion wouldn't be needed...
Centaur was paid off at the end of 1965 which happened to be the year when Blake's conversion to a helicopter cruiser began. I think the Royal Navy of the 1970s would have been a lot better off had Centaur had been converted to a commando carrier instead of rebuilding Blake. They would have cost about the same to run as Blake had a crew of 885 after rebuilding and Bulwark had a crew of 980.
 

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the Falklands war occurred in 82
Ark Royal (or another ship of the same class?) was decommissioned in 79

What if they had opted to delay the decommissioning by a few years
but then the Falkland war occurred anyways

Would the Ark Royal have been sent?
would it have contributed differently than the Invincible?
and how would its impact affect the future of the RN?
Ark Royal was the wrong ship, that it lasted until 1978 is kind of "red herring" here.
Better to bet on sister ship HMS Eagle which was in far better shape but was retired earlier (d'oh !)
To make the above happen something along the lines of the below would have to happen.

The decision to buy the Spey-Phantom is brought forward from 1964 to 1962. The whole aircraft (not just the engines, some of the airframe and some of the avionics) would be built in the UK under licence. The aircraft was to be built by Hawker Siddeley for the RAF and RN instead of the P.1154.

Or to put it another way the British Government decides to buy Phantoms built in the UK with Spey engines in 1962 instead of its real world decision to buy the abortive Hawker P.1154.

The first Royal Navy aircraft flew in June 1964. Deliveries to the FAA began in April 1966 and No. 700P the Phantom trials squadron formed the next day. 767 Squadron the Phantom training unit formed in January 1967. The first operational squadrons formed in March 1967 and September 1967 that is 2 years before the formation of the real world 892 Squadron (for Ark Royal) and 43 Squadron RAF (that had the Phantoms intended for Eagle).

The history of the RAF version was: the aircraft flew in February 1965; the first delivery to RAF Aldergrove was in July 1966; the OCU received its first aircraft in August 1966; and the first operational squadron formed in May 1967.

Jane's Fighting Ships 1969-70 says that Eagle was refitted at Devonport between September 1966 and April 1967 with more powerful catapults and arrester gear to receive the Phantom and that she re-commissioned on 6th April 1967. It also has a photograph dated 1969 showing a Phantom coming into land on Eagle. Marriott in Royal Navy Aircraft Carriers 1945-1990 says that Eagle started a 6-month refit in October 1966 but doesn't say that it allowed the ship to operate Phantoms. However, he does say that she paid off for another refit in September 1968 and had her catapults and arrester gear modified to allow trials with the Phantom and that the aircraft made 81 touch-and-go landings aboard the ship in March 1969.

Eagle was two-thirds to three-quarters of the way through her 1959-64 refit when the decision to buy the Phantom was made ITTL. Therefore I think there would have been time "Phantomise" her as part of this refit and to complete it in time for the ship to re-commission on the same date as OTL, i.e. 14th May 1964. The first flight of the F-4K was advanced from June 1966 to June 1964 so I think the Phantom trials of the real world would have been advanced from March 1969 to September 1964. 767 Squadron's Phantoms would be operating from Eagle as part of their crews training course from January 1967. Phantoms of the first operational squadron would be operating from the ship as part of its working up programme from March 1967, but it would be several months before the squadron was fully worked up and declared operational.

IOTL plans to rebuild Ark Royal along the lines of Eagle were abandoned because Eagle's refit cost a lot more than estimated and took a lot longer than expected. However, as the Phantom was expected to be in service by 1967 ITTL it was decided to postpone the refit of Hermes that was scheduled to begin after Eagle's rebuild was completed and Phantomise Ark Royal instead.

Hermes arrived at Devonport for her refit in February 1964 and re-commissioned in September 1966. Ark Royal's arrived at Devonport for her real world Phantomisation refit in October 1966, but it didn't begin until March 1967 and the ship re-commissioned in February 1970. Therefore, we're looking TTL's refit being completed between March and September 1967. The latter date is around the time the RN's second operational Phantom squadron was formed so it would be able to do it's working up on Ark Royal instead of doing it aboard an American aircraft carrier while it waited for Ark Royal to commission, which is what happened IOTL.

It would be nice if this refit had included fitting a Type 984M radar, Action Data Automation (the British equivalent to NTDS) and converting the electrical system from DC to AC, but that would have increased the cost and it might have taken longer too. However, the new carrier refit schedule meant that more money would be spent 1964-67 and it would be a nice twist if the planned reconstruction of the 3 Tiger class cruisers had to be postponed to help pay for it and then abandoned altogether in the defence cuts of 1966-68. That would in turn provide two thirds of the crew needed to keep Eagle in commission from her OTL paying off date of February 1972 to 1978 the OTL paying off of Tiger and Blake in 1978-79.

Ark Royal and Eagle were Phatomised before the 1968 decision to advance the paying off of the strike carriers from 1975 to the end of 1971. So when the Heath Government comes to power in June 1970 it's feasible for it to decide to run Ark Royal AND Eagle on until 1978. (It would also help if Eagle's grounding was avoided.) However, you've then got to find a plausible reason for the Second Wilson, Callaghan and Thatcher Governments to provide the money needed to keep them in service until 1982.

One reason might be that the Heath Government decides to build 3 strike carriers instead of the Invincible class and the decision isn't reversed by any of the succeeding governments. If the strike carriers take as long to build as the through deck cruisers the situation in April 1982 could be that the ship built instead of Invincible is refitting, the ship build instead of Illustrious is nearing completion and the ship build instead of the third Invincible is fitting out, which leaves Ark Royal and Eagle as the only operational strike carriers.

In the scenario I'm describing the 1964-66 refit of Hermes is postponed to 1967-70 and the Heath Government decides to run her on as a strike carrier until the first ship of the new class is completed instead of converting her into a commando carrier. As a result she remains in service as a strike carrier until 1978-79.

The 1971-73 refit of Hermes is replaced by a SLEP refit of Ark Royal to enable her to remain in service until the early 1980s. The refit would include converting her electrical system from DC to AC, fitting ADAWS Mk 3 and if it can be afforded a Type 984P or Type 988 radar.
 
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uk 75

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Oh dear. I know that posters here hate "real world" politics intruding on dream scenarios.
1962 is a bad year to pick for changing UK procurement. It is the year when Polaris submarines replace the ill-fated Skybolt ALBM in the UK's plans for its nuclear deterrent.
As a result the Escort Cruiser programme had to be ditched in favour of converting Tiger class cruisers to carry ASW helos.
The RN has only just managed to keep CVA01 alive.
UK carrier aircraft are in transition with uninspiring early variant Sea Vixens and Buccaneers proving disappointing.
P1154 should have given way to F4 for the RN at least (and arguably for the RAF) in 1962 but the chaotic Macmillan government was not up to the task.
The RN carriers were in better shape by 1966 with Eagle and Hermes getting Sea Vixen and Buccaneer Mk2s. F4s were on order.
The problem for the RN is that it has justified its carriers not for NATO but for the commitment "East of Suez".
The confrontation with Indonesia and the withdrawal from Aden in 1967 coincide with economic panic at home.
The RAF takes the first hit, losing P1154, HS681 and TSR2. The RN wanted Polaris but it had not expected to have to pay for it.
CVA01 the new carrier and two existing carriers (Eagle and Hermed) fail to convince the new government (Denis Healey) that they are justified by the East of Suez commitment.
The RAF get their own back on the RN by pushing its 50 F111Ks as a cheaper and more flexible solution. The carriers are axed.
By the end of 1967 the Pound has been devalued, F111 is toast and withdrawal from East of Suez by 1971 is the new policy.
The post 1966 RN is driven by its NATO role of providing ASW assets to help bring US convoys and its Carrier Striking Fleet across the Atlantic.
The Heath Government responds to NATO pressure to keep Ark Royal in service till 1979 (instead of 1972) but the UK economy remains on life-support.
The Heath Government did look at keeping Eagle in service and ordering new aircraft carriers. But it does neither. The first Invincible (still called a Through Deck or Command Cruiser) takes ages to get ordered.
Sorry for the history lesson (I was a schoolboy at the time) but the UK was in a bad way and aircraft carriers were not a high priority.
 

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The RN wanted Polaris but it had not expected to have to pay for it.
The weapons were being carried in RN submarines; who the hell did they THINK was going to pay for it? Or did they expect only to have to pay for the subs, with the money for the missiles being assigned to some other corner of the budget and leaving them with a bit more to spend on the rest of the fleet?
 

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Well that was three-and-a-half hours that I could have spent doing something else.

I'm not sorry, but I didn't need the history lesson because I knew all of that it in the first place.

Furthermore, I'm well aware of the state the UK was in. You're not the only person who was a schoolboy at the time.
 
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zen

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From a thread of mine that has some relevant dates.
‐-------
Full joint service OR.356/AW.406 was issued in April 1962.
Earlier on April 13 1961 we have a decision to proceed with the preliminary design of the P1150 to NMBR.3
decree on joint service aircraft is 6 December 1961.
Hawker deliver submission 8 Jan 1962

Deck trials of the P1127 on Ark Royal between 8 to 13 Feb.
New submission of revised P1154 21 August 1962.
October Chief Scientist's Committee recognises joint service machine is unsound.
29 Oct 1962 MoD and CoS agree to proceed with two versions.
Hawker learn to concentrate on RAF version on 18 November.
29 Jan 1963 Minister announces development contract for single service P1154 for RAF.
-----
So 1962 is not unreasonable nor beyond financial approval AT THE TIME....even if it is then subject to the vagaries of the Wilson era from 1965.
In fact an order for F4K in '62 would be much harder to cancel in '65.
 

uk 75

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The RN wanted Polaris but it had not expected to have to pay for it.
The weapons were being carried in RN submarines; who the hell did they THINK was going to pay for it? Or did they expect only to have to pay for the subs, with the money for the missiles being assigned to some other corner of the budget and leaving them with a bit more to spend on the rest of the fleet?
The question of how the Deterrent is paid for is pretty tangled
 

_Del_

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That was a waste of three-and-a-half hours then.

And I'm aware of the history
...

I'm not sorry, but I didn't need the history lesson because I knew all of that it in the first place.

Furthermore, I'm well aware of the state the UK was in. You're not the only person who was a schoolboy at the time.

My two cents is not to take the things in "Alternate History" too seriously. Everybody has their own working definitions of "plausible" down here. If you had fun digging, and found it interesting, then it isn't a waste of time -- even if you were the only one who enjoyed it (and I'd guess you weren't)!

The entire premise of the section is for #'s and giggles. I "wasted" an entire lunch hour looking at Dutch naval aviation and service histories of the Colossus class in various countries because of another thread a few weeks ago. Enjoyed it and found it interesting. No regerts!

Everybody is just shooting the bull down here. Imagine us all as boors with niche knowledge and adult beverages, and you'll have better time.
 

uk 75

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IF Eagle and Ark Royal had been in better material shape they could have served till the end of the Cold War as Midway and Coral Sea did in the USN.
Having both ships available in 1970 able to operate Phantoms and Buccaneers with one in service and one in refit/standby might have led the Heath Government to cancel the Invincibles (which had not yet been ordered) and begin studies on two successors to enter service in the 1980s.
To keep the two carriers some other sacrifices would have been necessary.
The newly converted Blake would be kept in service initially but Tiger's protracted conversion stopped and Lion not started.
Hermes would not be converted to an LPH but offered for sale to Australia or India as an aircraft carrier
Albion and Bulwark would be replaced by a new class of LPH to give work to the yards hoping to build Invincibles. The ships would also serve as ASW carriers.
This would have given the RN a coherent carrier programme into the 80s.. Two real world snags:

Both Ark and Eagle were not as well built or reliable as Midway and Coral Sea
CV85 and 87 would probably not have survived the Callaghan and Nott cuts.

There would have been no Sea Harrier.
 

zen

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If there is full licence build of F4K in the UK. What is the reason for continuing with the supersonic trainer with France?
 

uk 75

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The 1962 F4 buy might also have involved Canada. I remember reading somewhere that Canadair were looking to licence build.
The Anglo French deal on Jaguar and AFVG was so closely tied up with Healey/Messmer that it might still have happened.
The RAF had only just got the Gnat and as Hawk's development showed, a successor was hardly an urgent requirement. So Jaguar not necessary.
F4s do rather make Jaguar and AFVG unnecessary.. Combined with Buccaneer S2s they could have given the RAF/RN a common two ship combat line up (Bye Bye Canberra, Vulcan and no Harriers or Jags).
Like the US we could decide between F15 or F18 for the 80s.
 

uk 75

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The ships the UK could have designed in the 70s would have looked pretty much like the US CVV design
A major difference would have been in the powerplant.
The ship would have needed some steam power but like the County class destroyers would have been mixed.
Real world experience with CVA-01, Invincible and CVF suggests that getting CV85 and CV87 would have taken some serious miracles.
 

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the Falklands war occurred in 82
Ark Royal (or another ship of the same class?) was decommissioned in 79

What if they had opted to delay the decommissioning by a few years
but then the Falkland war occurred anyways

Would the Ark Royal have been sent?
would it have contributed differently than the Invincible?
and how would its impact affect the future of the RN?
Ark Royal was the wrong ship, that it lasted until 1978 is kind of "red herring" here.
Better to bet on sister ship HMS Eagle which was in far better shape but was retired earlier (d'oh !)
To make the above happen something along the lines of the below would have to happen...
With one exception, the changes that I suggested for the period 1962-70 don't cost more than what was done in the real world.
  • Spey-Phantoms built in the UK under licence wouldn't cost any more than the P.1154 and American-built Spey-Phantoms of the real world. They might cost less because they wouldn't be as badly affected by the devaluation of Sterling.
  • The aircraft carrier refits are done in a different order i.e. Eagle - Ark Royal - Hermes instead of Eagle - Hermes - Ark Royal.
    • The refits of Ark Royal and Hermes are not as extensive as their real world refits so they would be no more expensive.
    • And some money will be saved in the period 1965-72 by not converting Tiger and Blake.
    • However, Phantomising Eagle as part of her 1959-64 refit will cost more.
Keeping Eagle in service from 1972 to 1978 is feasible.
  • Most of the air group existed in the real world.
    • The RAF had one squadron of Phantoms operating the F-4Ks and two Buccaneer maritime strike squadrons.
    • So Eagle's Phantom and Buccaneer squadrons existed. It was only a matter of changing the colour of the uniforms from light blue to navy blue.
    • The helicopters operated by Tiger and Blake would provide Eagle's helicopter squadron.
    • So money has to be found for her flight of Gannets.
  • Two thirds of her crew existed because Ark Royal had a crew of 2,640 in the 1970s and Tiger & Blake had a combined crew of 1,770.
The hard part is keeping Ark Royal and Eagle in service from 1978 to 1982.

Edit 01/05/21
Since writing that I've remembered that the RAF formed 8 Squadron in 1972. It was equipped with 12 Shackleton AEW Mk 2s which were MR Mk 2s fitted with radars taken from Royal Navy Gannets.

If the Heath Government decided to run Ark Royal and Eagle on for as long as possible there's no need for 8 Squadron and the money saved can be used to maintain a larger 849 Squadron. As there's no need for the Sea Harrier the money saved could be used to buy some Greyhounds and Hawkeyes to replace the Gannets in the AEW and COD roles.

Also if the Royal Navy's AEW capability isn't replaced by shore-based RAF aircraft there's no need for the AEW Nimrod which would save a huge amount of money between the late 1970s and its cancellation in 1986.
 
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NOMISYRRUC

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The 1962 F4 buy might also have involved Canada. I remember reading somewhere that Canadair were looking to licence build.
Yes it was the aircraft that the RCAF wanted to replace its Starfighters. It was allowed to have the F-5 Freedom Fighter.

I've been told that the purpose of Canadian defence industry is to prevent Quebec from seceding. If that's correct the only way to have Phantoms built for the RCAF instead of Freedom Fighters is to make the Canadian Government think it has to spend more money in Quebec.
 

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The Anglo French deal on Jaguar and AFVG was so closely tied up with Healey/Messmer that it might still have happened.
The RAF had only just got the Gnat and as Hawk's development showed, a successor was hardly an urgent requirement. So Jaguar not necessary.
F4s do rather make Jaguar and AFVG unnecessary.. Combined with Buccaneer S2s they could have given the RAF/RN a common two ship combat line up (Bye Bye Canberra, Vulcan and no Harriers or Jags).
Like the US we could decide between F15 or F18 for the 80s.
Before the 1965 cancellations (of the HS.681, P.1154 and TSR.2) the RAF was planning for a force of Lightings for air defence, TSR.2s for long-range strike & long-range reconnaissance and P.1154s for ground attack & shorter-range reconnaissance in the middle of the 1970s.

The National Archives document that I read the above in said that they were thinking of replacing the Lightnings with an AD version of the P.1154, but I don't remember if the document was written before or after the P.1154 RN was cancelled.

As I understand it the the sequence of events after the cancellation of the TSR.2 was...
  • The TSR.2 was to be replaced by a mix of F-111Ks & AFVGs.
  • When they were in turn cancelled the UKVG which evolved into the Tornado.
That sequence of events won't be changed by deciding to buy Phantoms in 1962 instead of the real world decision to buy the P.1154.

As I understand it the sequence of events after the cancellation of the P.1154 was...
  • The P.1154 was replaced by a mix of Harriers and Phantoms.
  • The Phantom was in turn to be replaced in the ground attack and reconnaissance roles by the Jaguar.
  • The displaced Phantoms would replace the Lightnings in the air defence squadrons.
  • Most of the 202 Jaguars to be purchased for the RAF were to be trainers (I think it was to be 90 single-seat and 110 two-seat aircraft) but this was changed to 165 single-seat and 37 two-seat aircraft.
  • I have no proof, but I suspect that the two-seat Jaguars were intended to replace the Hunters that the RAF was using as weapons trainers. The Hawk (which as far as I know was started after the alteration of the Jaguar order) replaced these Hunters as well as the Gnats.
In the scenario I'm proposing the Phantoms were originally bought to replace the Hunters. Therefore...
  • There won't be a Harrier and by extension AV-8A, AV-8B or Sea Harrier. That is, unless the RAF changes it's mind in February 1965 and decides that it wants a mix of Phantoms and an aircraft developed from the P.1127.
  • All other things being equal RAF discussion documents about the future size & shape of the Service written in 1964 would show that the long-term plan was to buy more Phantoms to replace the Lightnings.
  • If the above happens the British Government will purchase more Phantoms from Hawker Siddeley instead of 202 Jaguars from BAC/SEPECAT, which will mean fuller Hawker Siddeley factories and emptier BAC factories.
  • However, the RAF still has ASR.362 for a new advanced trainer so my guess is that the Jaguar still happens.
  • What I can't make my mind up is what happens when the RAF decides that it doesn't want/can't afford it as a trainer? Does the British Government pull out of the project or does it decide to continue with its commitment to buy 202 aircraft and use them as ground attack aircraft?
  • If they decide upon the latter course of action Jaguar still replaces the Phantom in the ground attack & reconnaissance squadrons and the displaced aircraft in turn replace most of the Lightings in the air defence role.
 
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Archibald

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The 1962 F4 buy might also have involved Canada. I remember reading somewhere that Canadair were looking to licence build.
Yes it was the aircraft that the RCAF wanted to replace its Starfighters. It was allowed to have the F-5 Freedom Fighter.

I've been told that the purpose of Canadian defence industry is to prevent Quebec from seceding. If that's correct the only way to have Phantoms built for the RCAF instead of Freedom Fighters is to make the Canadian Government think it has to spend more money in Quebec.

A lot of people hate Diefenbaker for one big and obvious reason I don't need to remind: but as a matter of fact, when I red Hellyer decisional process in buying the CF-5s, I was left shaking my head in disbelief.

First result of a Google search "CF-5 + hellyer" is this http://www.journal.forces.gc.ca/vo7/no3/stouffer-eng.asp

And boy, what an idiotic and flawed way of buying the all wrong (for your air force need at least) combat aircraft.
Make no mistake, the F-5 was a very fine aircraft - but in that peculiar case of the RCAF, it more looked like
"They want a fighter with two engines for the sake of pilot safety when flying over desolated artic landscapes; but we won't allow Phantoms, too expensive. What other US (or Western) combat aircraft has two engines ?
"Forget the French or the British or the Swedes. As for the americans: only the F-5 Tiger. For recent types at least.
"Good. Is it cheap ? and supersonic ?
"Yes.
"Ok, problem solved. Next !"

Reminds me of Monty Pythons way of (nonsense) reasonning - dead parrots, albatross, witches... well, you know.

"You burn witches, like wood, wood floats on water, like ducks, so if the witch weight the same as a duck, then she floats on water like wood, and thus you can burn it."

Sure, dude...
 
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starviking

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Oh dear. I know that posters here hate "real world" politics intruding on dream scenarios.
1962 is a bad year to pick for changing UK procurement. It is the year when Polaris submarines replace the ill-fated Skybolt ALBM in the UK's plans for its nuclear deterrent.
As a result the Escort Cruiser programme had to be ditched in favour of converting Tiger class cruisers to carry ASW helos.
The RN has only just managed to keep CVA01 alive.
Not sure if this aids earlier Phantoms, but perhaps we could posit a more realistic look at programmes when Polaris comes into the picture, taking both design resources and cash.

It's unlikely, but perhaps the RN takes a look at the carriers, shipyards, and thinks - we need more time for these new ships?

Both CVA01 and the Escort Cruiser get delayed, EC moreso than the CVA. The Navy doesn't want to run the risk of the existing carriers being run out before the CVAs hit the water, so in addition to only a short delay on the CVAs, the existing carriers get refitted for '1970s' aircraft. This means different things for different ships, but Eagle, Ark, and Victorious (?) are updated for Phantom-equivalents. Can Hermes meet this standard? Hobbs in British Aircraft Carriers makes an offhand remark that the Spey-Phantom was designed to launch from that ship, but IIRC the question is not clearly answers.
 

Archibald

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As a result the Escort Cruiser programme had to be ditched in favour of converting Tiger class cruisers to carry ASW helos.
The RN has only just managed to keep CVA01 alive.

Now this is quite interesting.


It was the starting point for the 1966 designs which led to the Invincible class CAH.

Eureka !

This exactly mean that at some point in the 60's the RN had (give or take) the following options for its future helicopters / fixed wing platforms

- Audacious: Eagle and Ark Royal
- the Centaur fleet - commando carriers ? ASW carriers ? attack carriers ?
- the Tigers
-----
- the Invincible ancestors (= Escort cruiser)
- CVA-01

I know, the way I present it is kind of a hodgepodge but I needed a list of all of them.

Another way of listing them might be

- Attack carrier options "East of Suez"
a) CVA-01
b) 2*Audacious + 1*Victorious
c) Centaurs

- ASW for NATO with helicopters
a) converted Tigers
b) converted Centaurs
c) Invincible ancestors (= Escort cruiser)

What a mess, really. I readily understand why and how were some bad decision (in hindsight) taken.
 
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Archibald

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Archibald

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Can't help thinking about the Tigers being scrapped long before 1960.

And thus, when Escort cruiser would fall victim of Polaris in 1962, what would replace it ? more converted Centaurs ? Can't see any other option... there, Centaur may come in handy (instead of being retired in 1966). Also, Hermes may lose its attack carrier status earlier than 1970...
 

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Can't help thinking about the Tigers being scrapped long before 1960.

And thus, when Escort cruiser would fall victim of Polaris in 1962, what would replace it ? more converted Centaurs ? Can't see any other option... there, Centaur may come in handy (instead of being retired in 1966). Also, Hermes may lose its attack carrier status earlier than 1970...
I think the escort cruisers were a very bad idea and am rather pleased that none were built. They were very expensive for what they could do and more guided missile destroyers or a smaller number of proper aircraft carriers would have been a better investment if the money had been available.

I think that the Tiger rebuilds weren't worth the effort because 4 helicopters wasn't worth the loss of the 3 out of 5 gun turrets. The Royal Navy still had Magnificent (in reserve for disposal) and the incomplete Powerful when the decision to convert the Tigers was made and these would have put more helicopters to sea with crews that were not much larger. I've already mentioned keeping Centaur as a helicopter carrier/3rd commando carrier instead of paying it off at the end of 1965.

However, I wouldn't have minded the Tiger rebuilds as much if the Royal Dockyards had completed them on time and at cost.

Edit: As pointed out by @EwanS in Post 65 it was Leviathan was incomplete, not Powerful, which he quite rightly says was completed for the RCN as HMCS Bonaventure.
 
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Archibald

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They still had unfinished Colossus / Magestic in the early 60's ??!! readily agree they would be more capable ASW LPH but... how weird is the thought of "fresh" Majestics that could potentially last even longer than Hermes with foreign navies... India or Brazil...
 
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EwenS

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Can't help thinking about the Tigers being scrapped long before 1960.

And thus, when Escort cruiser would fall victim of Polaris in 1962, what would replace it ? more converted Centaurs ? Can't see any other option... there, Centaur may come in handy (instead of being retired in 1966). Also, Hermes may lose its attack carrier status earlier than 1970...
I think the escort cruisers were a very bad idea and am rather pleased that none were built. They were very expensive for what they could do and more guided missile destroyers or a smaller number of proper aircraft carriers would have been a better investment if the money had been available.

I think that the Tiger rebuilds weren't worth the effort because 4 helicopters wasn't worth the loss of the 3 out of 5 gun turrets. The Royal Navy still had Magnificent (in reserve for disposal) and the incomplete Powerful when the decision to convert the Tigers was made and these would have put more helicopters to sea with crews that were not much larger. I've already mentioned keeping Centaur as a helicopter carrier/3rd commando carrier instead of paying it off at the end of 1965.

However, I wouldn't have minded the Tiger rebuilds as much if the Royal Dockyards had completed them on time and at cost.
Magnificent had been in unmaintained reserve since her return from the RCN in mid 1957, tied up to buoys on the River Tamar. That decision ties into the decision that Glory, Ocean and Theseus no longer had a place in the fleet in the late 1950s, with all being disposed of in the early 1960s.

Leviathan (not Powerful which had become HMCS Bonaventure) had never been completed. Although used for various purposes in Portsmouth DY during the 1950s, Hobbs (British Carrier Aviation) notes that no preservative work was carried out on her and her material state declined beyond the point where it would have been economical to complete her. In the early 1960s she was moored out in Fareham Creek. Legend has it that she was then plundered, officially and unofficially, by other ships for spares, that was even before the boilers and turbines were removed in 1966 for the Karel Doorman.

Both ships had been on the disposal list since about 1961.

Trying to resurrect this pair of 20 year old unmaintained hulls would have been an even more expensive, and longer, task than converting Tiger & Blake.
 
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NOMISYRRUC

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Can't help thinking about the Tigers being scrapped long before 1960.

And thus, when Escort cruiser would fall victim of Polaris in 1962, what would replace it ? more converted Centaurs ? Can't see any other option... there, Centaur may come in handy (instead of being retired in 1966). Also, Hermes may lose its attack carrier status earlier than 1970...
I think the escort cruisers were a very bad idea and am rather pleased that none were built. They were very expensive for what they could do and more guided missile destroyers or a smaller number of proper aircraft carriers would have been a better investment if the money had been available.

I think that the Tiger rebuilds weren't worth the effort because 4 helicopters wasn't worth the loss of the 3 out of 5 gun turrets. The Royal Navy still had Magnificent (in reserve for disposal) and the incomplete Powerful when the decision to convert the Tigers was made and these would have put more helicopters to sea with crews that were not much larger. I've already mentioned keeping Centaur as a helicopter carrier/3rd commando carrier instead of paying it off at the end of 1965.

However, I wouldn't have minded the Tiger rebuilds as much if the Royal Dockyards had completed them on time and at cost.
Magnificent had been in unmaintained reserve since her return from the RCN in mid 1957, tied up to buoys on the River Tamar. That decision ties into the decision that Glory, Ocean and Theseus no longer had a place in the fleet in the late 1950s, with all being disposed of in the early 1960s.

Leviathan (not Powerful which had become HMCS Bonaventure) had never been completed. Although used for various purposes in Portsmouth DY during the 1950s, Hobbs (British Carrier Aviation) notes that no preservative work was carried out on her and her material state declined beyond the point where it would have been economical to complete her. In the early 1960s she was moored out in Fareham Creek. Legend has it that she was then plundered, officially and unofficially, by other ships for spares, that was even before the boilers and turbines were removed in 1966 for the Karel Doorman.

Both ships had been on the disposal list since about 1961.

Trying to resurrect this pair of 20 year old unmaintained hulls would have been an even more expensive, and longer, task than converting Tiger & Blake.
My bad (if that's the right expression) about confusing Powerful with Leviathan.

However, I got the idea for bringing the two Majestics into service instead of converting the Tigers after reading British Carrier Strike Fleet after 1945 by Hobbs.
 

EwenS

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Hobbs seems to have forgotten what he wrote in his earlier book. And he seems to be the only one over the years who considered it a good idea because I’ve never seen it mentioned anywhere else in print.

But think about it for a moment. With Tiger & Blake you are starting from the position of an admittedly equally old hull but one that had been completed to a fairly modern standard and had been maintained plus the operations facilities needed etc, capable of 30 knots so able to keep up with the carriers.

In the Majestics you have an old 25 knot unmaintained hull of a WW2 era austerity design, which would have needed much more electric generating capacity added to cope with the demand of modern radars, HVAC etc and the wiring to go with it (DC to AC), new radars, greatly increased operations room space, increased weapons storage space, completely new crew accommodation to meet the standards of the 1960s. Where does the list stop. You are virtually rebuilding these ships internally from the keel up.

While you might get a better ship at the end of the day, I can’t see how it could possibly be cheaper than a Tiger conversion. And if you are going to spend all that money to get that increased capability, surely it would be better to spend it on a new purpose designed ship.

By the way I’m not saying that the Tigers were a good use of the available money. But using the Majestics would have been an even worse choice.

Edit - and one more change needed. Stripping out the old petrol tanks and their associated compartments and providing new tankage somewhere for the fuel for turbine powered helicopters. And does that mean using ships fuel tanks thereby reducing her range?
 
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uk 75

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I think the main problem faced by the RN with these ships is pretty hard to work around.
Ark Rpyal and Eagle were impossible to keep in service together because of the spares situation and the poor material state of Ark.
Events conspired to have Eagle hulked to keep Ark going until 1979. If the reverse had happened Eagle might have been in better shape. But 1979 brings John Nott and his view that SSNs are the key weapon against the Sovs (Ironically the same conclusion reached by Denis Healey in 1966).
Hermes cant operate Phantoms so is pointless. She should have been sold to India or Australia in 1971.
Bulwark and Albion are old and expensive to.iperate. An LPH similar to the Invincibles but better than Ocean should have replaced them.
The various Light Fleets are just too old and tired.
Tiger, Blake and Lion should probably have joined Swiftsure and Superb and been scrapped.
A helicopter carrying County class with 4 Sea Kings aft and Seaslug forward could have replaced the last two (Norfolk.and Antrim) instead.
The three Invincibles are a poor political compromise starting life as the Escort Cruiser to avoid jeopardising CVA01 and then in 1966 becoming a face-saver to give the RN a large surface unit.
Despite the fame of the Sea Harrier in the Falklands it was a poor substitute for Phantoms and later on F18s.
If only Ark and Eagle had been in as decent shape as Midway and Coral Sea...
.
 

uk 75

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The idea behind an RAF equipped with just TSR2s and P1154s used to grab me, hence my Nick of UK 75.
Many years ago I had an orbat of both types plus F6 Lightnings (it was pretty clear that single seater P1154RAF was only viable as a Hunter replacement).
Trouble was that neither aircraft could be in service in time or on budget and the Phantom and Buccaneer were a better bet.
Jaguar actually evolved into the aircraft P1154 should have been and served with the three RAF squadrons dedicated to supporting the UK Mobile Force. It also stood in until MRCA Tornado arrived in the 80s
Opinions differ on whether it was better than the Phantom in this role.
It turns out (covered in detail in a thread some years back) that the RAF wanted Phantoms to replace its Lightnings all along.
Everyone in the 60s wanted supersonic trainers thanks to the T38 Talon. By the 70s it was clear that Hawks and Alpha Jets were a better bet (except for the USAF, Luftwaffe and Portugese AF).
 

griml0ck122

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What is really insane is that ARK ROYAL was given the above upgrades but not EAGLE which was in MUCH BETTER MATERIAL SHAPE.
First time I red that at AH.com I shook my head in disbelief. There are still questions about that decision taken circa 1967 by the british military and government. Was it sabotage to finish the carrier fleet for good ? or just plain siliness ?
Prestige reasons perhaps? The RN has an affinity for Flagships being named Ark Royal for a few centuries so maybe that won out over sense i guess.

I doubt it would effect the outcome of the conflict, as the Argentine reasoning was more they thought they could get away with it, and one CATOBAR carrier would probably not change the outcome (no way would two be able to make it). Maybe the Brits would loose less ships because of the enhanced air wing, but I doubt they would come out of the conflict with no losses. Argentina would certainly loose more aircraft, and the ground war would end quicker, but the net result would be the same.
Then there is the possibility the the ARK ROYAL/EAGLE isn't ready and doesn't make the conflict. Then the Argentinians may hold some form of control after all, even if there is a nominal return to British possession
 

timmymagic

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Phantoms with Gannet would have have been able to provide a far more capable CAP. TV guided Martel would enable Radar, Command posts and AA missiles to be eliminated before strikes with rockets and 1000lb bombs by Buccaneers & Phantoms.
Don't forget Martel also had a Anti Radiation version that was in service. Had to be set for the radar to be targetted prior to launch.

Buccaneer was also the only UK platform that was set up and trained for Paveway self guidance and delivery with Pave Spike pods....that would have been a massive difference. The Roland missile system covering the airport at Port Stanley wouldn't have lasted long.
 

Archibald

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I think the escort cruisers were a very bad idea and am rather pleased that none were built. They were very expensive for what they could do and more guided missile destroyers or a smaller number of proper aircraft carriers would have been a better investment if the money had been available.

I won't dispute these facts because only two days ago I was blissfully unaware of that ship project existence.

However flawed it might have been, one Escort cruiser approved in 1962 and build afterwards, provides a proto-Invincible 10 or even 15 years ahead of OTL.
Meanwhile the basic Harrier concept (P.1127) is available since 1960 and practicing deck trials since, what, 1963 ?

See where this is going ? I want a proto-Invincible with Harriers (even RAF ones) on its deck long before 1975 or 1980.

On top of that, having one Escort cruiser build - even if it is a not very good ship - screws the Tigers, and that's can't be a bad thing ROTFL.

The deal is
a) to screw the Tigers and
b) get a proto-Invincible ready a decade ahead, with Harriers on its deck.
 

Archibald

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So, I wonder about the following whatif...

Whatif "escort cruiser with Harriers on deck" circa 1964-68 become a poor's man "Plan B" to
a) P.1154 on CVA-01 (the horror, the horror)
b) Phantoms on CVA-01 / Eagle & Ark Royal / the last Centaurs (none of these tree carriers being a satisfying answer)

Fundamentally, Harriers-on-Invincibles replaced Phantoms-on-large-carriers because "NATO ASW" become far more important than "East of Suez"

So in a sense, not only CVA-01 doomed the British carrier fleet, but East of suez" agony and death was perhaps a larger nail in the coffin. The economy was the death knell, too.
Whatever the main cause, Phantoms on large carriers were doomed: future belongued to "Harriers on small ships".
Well, instead of waiting for Invincibles-and-SHARs after 1975;
how about
"P.1127 / Harrier Mk.1 on Escort cruiser" right from 1966 ?"
 

JFC Fuller

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Before the 1965 cancellations (of the HS.681, P.1154 and TSR.2) the RAF was planning for a force of Lightings for air defence, TSR.2s for long-range strike & long-range reconnaissance and P.1154s for ground attack & shorter-range reconnaissance in the middle of the 1970s.

The National Archives document that I read the above in said that they were thinking of replacing the Lightnings with an AD version of the P.1154, but I don't remember if the document was written before or after the P.1154 RN was cancelled.

As I understand it the the sequence of events after the cancellation of the TSR.2 was...
  • The TSR.2 was to be replaced by a mix of F-111Ks & AFVGs.
  • When they were in turn cancelled the UKVG which evolved into the Tornado.
That sequence of events won't be changed by deciding to buy Phantoms in 1962 instead of the real world decision to buy the P.1154.

As I understand it the sequence of events after the cancellation of the P.1154 was...
  • The P.1154 was replaced by a mix of Harriers and Phantoms.
  • The Phantom was in turn to be replaced in the ground attack and reconnaissance roles by the Jaguar.
  • The displaced Phantoms would replace the Lightnings in the air defence squadrons.
  • Most of the 202 Jaguars to be purchased for the RAF were to be trainers (I think it was to be 90 single-seat and 110 two-seat aircraft) but this was changed to 165 single-seat and 37 two-seat aircraft.
  • I have no proof, but I suspect that the two-seat Jaguars were intended to replace the Hunters that the RAF was using as weapons trainers. The Hawk (which as far as I know was started after the alteration of the Jaguar order) replaced these Hunters as well as the Gnats.

Over the years we have chased this down through several threads, prior to February 1965 the plan was to replace the Canberra and SACEUR assigned V-bombers with TSR-2, and the Hunter FGA.9/FR.10 in the ground attack role with the P.1154. Studies were under way for a Lightning replacement in the mid-1970s with VSTOL and VG variously considered - hence the document in the National Archives looking at the P.1154 for that role.

A February 1965 Cabinet meeting effectively cancelled the P.1154 and TSR-2 (the TSR-2 decision was deferred but the end was in sight). At that point, the Phantom was chosen as the new Hunter FGA.9/FR.10 replacement and the F-111 (110 aircraft) as the new Canberra and SACEUR assigned V-bomber replacement. A small number of P.1127s were to be ordered, essentially to keep Hawker Siddeley busy and in case it turned into an export success, these would compliment the Phantoms. The AFVG MoU was signed with France in May 1965 at which point AFVG was, for the British, the planned Lightning successor.

By November 1965 this new plan was becoming unaffordable, so the February 1966 Defence White Paper officially reduced the F-111 order to 50 aircraft and replaced the remainder with AFVGs, which would now be procured as strike aircraft. In order to provide a new interceptor, the Jaguar was now to replace the Phantoms in the short-range attack and reconnaissance role allowing the Phantom to replace the Lightning in the interceptor role.

The AFVG programme collapsed with formal French withdrawal on 1st June 1967 and was followed by the decision to cancel the 50 F-111Ks at a Cabinet meeting on 4th January 1968. The 1968 Defence review brought about the accelerated withdrawal of the RN's carriers so the RAF's long range strike capability gap was to be filled by a combination of ex-RN Buccaneers and life-extended Vulcans.

The switch from Jaguar to a subsonic trainer doesn't seem to have happened until later, around 1970.
 
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NOMISYRRUC

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The idea behind an RAF equipped with just TSR2s and P1154s used to grab me, hence my Nick of UK 75.
Many years ago I had an orbat of both types plus F6 Lightnings (it was pretty clear that single seater P1154RAF was only viable as a Hunter replacement).
Compiled from an official document dated March 1964 that I read at the National Archives.

Plan P March 1964.png
 

NOMISYRRUC

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a) P.1154 on CVA-01 (the horror, the horror)
I have no problem with that as long as it's the twin-Spey version and it's developed as an interceptor for the RAF and RN from 1962 to replace the Lightning and Sea Vixen with the P.1127 Harrier developed as the Hunter replacement.

The proposed twin-Spey P.1154 was the same length as a Phantom because both had noses that folded so they could fit the lifts of the existing strike carriers. It also had a folded wingspan of 22 feet v the 27 feet of a Phantom so it absorbs less flight deck and hangar space. Unfortunately, the hangars of the existing aircraft carriers weren't wide enough to allow either to be stowed three abreast.

It might also have lower take off and landing speeds which might make possible for the existing aircraft carriers to operate them without expensive modifications. However, I'm not banking on that.

Neither am I banking on it being developed in the same amount of time and at the same cost as the real world P.1154, F-4K and their engines. £21 million was spent on P.1154 and the R&D bill for Spey-Phantom was £100 million (about half of which was the engine) which was about double what was estimated in 1964.
 
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NOMISYRRUC

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Over the years we have chased this down through several threads, prior to February 1965 the plan was to replace the Canberra and SACEUR assigned V-bombers with TSR-2, and the Hunter FGA.9/FR.10 in the ground attack role with the P.1154. Studies were under way for a Lightning replacement in the mid-1970s with VSTOL and VG variously considered - hence the document in the National Archives looking at the P.1154 for that role.

A February 1965 Cabinet meeting effectively cancelled the P.1154 and TSR-2 (the TSR-2 decision was deferred but the end was in sight). At that point, the Phantom was chosen as the new Hunter FGA.9/FR.10 replacement and the F-111 (110 aircraft) as the new Canberra and SACEUR assigned V-bomber replacement. A small number of P.1127s were to be ordered, essentially to keep Hawker Siddeley busy and in case it turned into an export success, these would compliment the Phantoms. The AFVG MoU was signed with France in May 1965 at which point AFVG was, for the British, the planned Lightning successor.

By November 1965 this new plan was becoming unaffordable, so the February 1966 Defence White Paper officially reduced the F-111 order to 50 aircraft and replaced the remainder with AFVGs, which would now be procured as strike aircraft. In order to provide a new interceptor, the Jaguar was now to replace the Phantoms in the short-range attack and reconnaissance role allowing the Phantom to replace the Lightning.

The AFVG programme collapsed with formal French withdrawal on 1st June 1967 and was followed by the decision to cancel the 50 F-111Ks at Cabinet meeting on 4th January 1968. The 1968 Defence review brought about the accelerated withdrawal of the RN's carriers so the RAF's long range strike capability gap was to be filled by a combination of ex-RN Buccaneers and life-extended Vulcans.

The switch from Jaguar to a subsonic trainer doesn't seem to have happened until later, around 1970.
So what I wrote was essentially correct.
 

NOMISYRRUC

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So, I wonder about the following whatif...

What if "escort cruiser with Harriers on deck" circa 1964-68 become a poor's man "Plan B" to
a) P.1154 on CVA-01 (the horror, the horror)​
b) Phantoms on CVA-01 / Eagle & Ark Royal / the last Centaurs (none of these three carriers being a satisfying answer)​

Fundamentally, Harriers-on-Invincibles replaced Phantoms-on-large-carriers because "NATO ASW" become far more important than "East of Suez"

So in a sense, not only CVA-01 doomed the British carrier fleet, but East of Suez" agony and death was perhaps a larger nail in the coffin. The economy was the death knell, too.
Whatever the main cause, Phantoms on large carriers were doomed: the future belonged to "Harriers on small ships".
Well, instead of waiting for Invincibles-and-SHARs after 1975; how about "P.1127 / Harrier Mk.1 on Escort cruiser" right from 1966 ?"
I think that's a very bad idea.

The P.1127 in 1966 was a much inferior aircraft to the Harrier that would appear at the end of the decade and the Sea Harrier that would appear at the end of the 1970s.

The current version of the Escort Cruiser was smaller than the Invincibles, so less aircraft and a shorter take-off run on the flight deck reducing the P.1127s payload. The fixed armament (Seaslug or Sea Dart), radars, sonars, ADAWS, flagship facilities and other electronics were comparable to an Invincible (and CVA.01) so as a believer in the theory that "steel is cheap and air is free" it will cost the same as an Invincible (and the thick-end of a CVA.01) while being a worse ship at the same time.
 

Archibald

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Oh well, if you say so... no problem, really. Feel free to comment on the thread I split from this one related to the Escort cruiser.
I see that ship had a severe case of "gold plated requirements" and thus would have been insanely expensive.

The RN really was really trapped into a corner. Political storms, never-ending budget troubles, changing requirements, old WWII hulls... what a mess, really.
 
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EwenS

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Studies for the “escort cruiser” varied widely over time.

1958 - 19,000 ton carrier for 18 Wessex
1959 - 5400 ton 8 Wessex destroyer type vessel
1960 - 5940 ton 8 Wessex 26 knots Seaslug (24 rounds) or Tartar forward and 2xSeacat. It looked a bit like one of the Italian cruisers of the period.
1961 - 11500-13550 ton through deck escort cruiser. 28 knots. 9 Sea King. Seaslug (28 rounds), 2xSeacat plus twin 4.5” gun.

There was some expectation that such a ship might be ordered 1962/63 but nothing happened. Then Tiger/Blake.

The design process was still ongoing in 1966 with 6000 ton helicopter missile escort cruiser, a 12500 ton flight deck aft conventional cruiser (6 Sea King) and a 17500 ton through deck cruiser. After enlargement to 19500 tons the latter became the Invincible which was formally approved in May 1970. At that point some Harrier capability seems to have been in mind but it was 1975 before that amendment was finalised.

Details from Friedman British Carrier Aviation.
 
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