Author Topic: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options  (Read 7331 times)

Offline Volkodav

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Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« on: November 23, 2013, 07:46:54 PM »
Part 1, options for the initial acquisition of the capability
1. Jellicoe recommended the Australia procure a number of carriers to support the two proposed Fleet units
2. Australia builds a small carrier instead of the Seaplane Carrier HMAS Albatross
3. Australia obtains or orders a carrier as part of a pre-war rearmament program
4. The UK loans or transfers one or more carriers to the RAN during the war
5. The RAN provides the personnel to crew one or more UK carriers during the war
6. The UK transfers a surplus carrier or two to the RAN post war
7. Australia buys a still in build carrier or two from the UK post war (as actually happened)

Part 2, options for the retention of the capability through the Cold War
1. Modernise existing carrier(s) to operate modern aircraft (planned, did not happen)
2. Modify carrier(s) still in build (as actually happened)
3. Order new build carrier(s) incorporating improvements (proposed)
4. Purchase already modernised / modified carrier(s) (proposed and preferred option)

Part 3, retention of or replacement of the capability late / post Cold War to present day
1. Decide CTOL or STO/VL
2. Modify existing carrier(s)
3. Purchase existing suitable / modernised ship
4. Build suitable design

Over arching requirement is for Australia to develop a grand strategy and stick to it.  Assume carriers are determined as required to fore fill the objectives of the strategy.

Bits and pieces I have picked up over the years (some read some heard and unconfirmed)
1. UK intended to transfer HMS Hermes to the RAN during WWII prior to her loss to the Japanese
2. UK considered transferring or at least employing Australian crews on Implacable and Indefatigable
3. UK considered transferring a Colossus Class CVL (as part of a balanced squadron) to Australia
4. Australia initially planned to upgrade HMAS Sydney upon the delivery of HMAS Melbourne
5. The UK offered HMS Hermes (in her CTOL configuration) to Australia in the mid 60s :)
6. The RAN wanted the F-4J Phantom and lobbied for the acquisition of a modernised Essex to operate them. :o
7. Options besides a modernised Essex considered included a new build Essex or CV01 ???
8. Australia was postulating a two ocean navy in the late 1960s and would require three carriers as part of this plan ;D
9. HMS Hermes, Victorious and Eagle were all available at various points from the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s 8)
10. Following the Falklands the UK proposed that Australia would build two replacement LSL for them following on from Tobruk and they would build us a modified Invincible in a barter deal
11. The cost of a replacement carrier (or, depending on the option selected, two) to operate the RANs existing Sea King and Wessex helicopters was less than the cost of buying the Seahawks and modifying the first three FFGs to operate them
12. Hermes / Viraat will likely remain in service in India until the mid 2020s
13. The RN determined that HMS Hermes could operate 20 Skyhawks in addition to AEW/COD Gannets, ASW Sea Kings and SAR Wessex.

As an aside, had Australia bought Hermes in 1968 how would the RN have faired in the South Atlantic in 1982 without her?  Could Ark Royal have been retained longer to cover the gap?
« Last Edit: November 23, 2013, 07:49:21 PM by Volkodav »

Offline PR19_Kit

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2013, 08:59:49 PM »
As an aside, had Australia bought Hermes in 1968 how would the RN have faired in the South Atlantic in 1982 without her?  Could Ark Royal have been retained longer to cover the gap?

I doubt the Task Force would have sailed with only one deck to fly from. The Hermes carried a lot more aircraft than the Invincibles did, and even if they'd rushed the Illustrious through to an operational state there wouldn't have been a lot of Harrier capacity down South with just the two of them.

If the Ark was still in service in 1982, doubtful but possible with a LOT money being spent on her, I doubt Argentina would have even thought about invading the Falklands. With the Ark's air group of Phantom FG1s, Buccaneer S2s and Gannet AEW3s their Air Force and Navy wouldn't have stood a chance. Buccaneer strikes against the mainland would have been a strong possibility I'd have thought too.
Regards
Kit

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Offline Volkodav

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2013, 10:20:07 PM »
Pretty much what I was thinking too.
I read an account that mentioned that Bulwark was surveyed with the intent of reactivating her for the Falklands but she was in too poor a condition.

My ideal would be that the RAN transitions from Melbourne and an upgraded Sydney to Hermes and Victorious with the earlier CVLs being retained as training and commando carriers.  As much as I would have loved to see Sea Vixens, Bucks and AEW Gannets in the RAN FAA I think Australia would have been better served with Skyhawks, Trackers and maybe Tracers, especially if the Skyhawks received a suitable upgrade incorporating a radar.

The other thought I had was that instead of ordering the second batch of Skyhawks in 1970 Australia ordered a batch of AV-8A to serve on Melbourne and possibly Sydney as well as with the RAAF.  Another story I heard was that Australia came close to ordering a mix of F-15s and Harriers to replace the Mirage and the Skyhawk.

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2013, 11:01:11 PM »
I could see your starting point being a RAN purchase of 2 Hermes class carriers in the mid-1920's as part of the 2 ocean navy concept, with the option to build a 3rd (not taken up due to the Depression) & the construction of dry-dock & repair facilities in Port Adelaide, chosen because it is roughly midway between Sydney & Perth, & is relatively stratigically secure from both directions (not completed due to the Depression).

In the late-1930's construction of the dry-dock & repair facilities is completed, & construction begins on a more modern carrier of either Australian design (based on experience with the Hermes class ships) or of a simplified Illustrious class.

Just an idea. ;)

:)

Guy
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2013, 07:00:06 AM »
I could see your starting point being a RAN purchase of 2 Hermes class carriers in the mid-1920's as part of the 2 ocean navy concept, with the option to build a 3rd (not taken up due to the Depression) & the construction of dry-dock & repair facilities in Port Adelaide, chosen because it is roughly midway between Sydney & Perth, & is relatively stratigically secure from both directions (not completed due to the Depression).

In the late-1930's construction of the dry-dock & repair facilities is completed, & construction begins on a more modern carrier of either Australian design (based on experience with the Hermes class ships) or of a simplified Illustrious class.

Just an idea. ;)

:)
A modified Ark Royal with a single instead of double hanger?

Guy

Offline Volkodav

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2013, 09:02:13 AM »
Whoops stuffed up there!

A favourite, pre-war, carrier option would be a County Class cruiser hull and machinery used for a light carrier or flight deck cruiser.
For pre-war re-armament, a repeat Ark Royal.  This ship and its crew would be loaned to the UK for the early part of the war but return to Australian waters following Pearl Harbour.

Offline Volkodav

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2014, 01:51:00 AM »
What was Australia's financial position in the late 40s? 

What state was the economy in, were there funds available to do more than was actually done in defence i.e. follow through with existing plans vs. the cuts that happened or were the original plans actually too modest in the light of the Korean war and we could and should have expanded them? 

What were the options to expand them, i.e. Centaurs instead of Majestics, or even a pair of Audacious class CVs to operate proper strike groups instead of ASW groups? 
Were the cancelled Centaurs and Audacious Class ships actually available for completion, what was the cut off date to order them? 
Would the UK have some them or even the actual completed ships and then built something new for themselves?
Could Australia have afforded the cost of operating and then modernising Implacable and Indefatigable?
Could Australia have afforded cruisers in addition to destroyers and frigates to escort the carriers?
Could the Majestics have been converted and retained as strike carriers and additional ships acquired to serve as CVS (possibly with straight decks to keep costs down)?

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2014, 03:36:41 PM »
Late-1940's Australia was still recovering from the war, not so much financially (we were actually quite well off in this respect) but had to rebuild its farming base (1944/45 the 2nd AIF was repatriating soldiers from the war effort to try & maintain food production & Australian rationing was actually tighter than the UK's - despite/because of the amounts we were exporting to our allies & their armies) & there was a major need to rebuild basic infrastructure which had been neglected in the post-recession/WW2 period.

1950's & Australia started to kick ahead with a bang, largely based on mining & other primary industries, which had recovered to full production. However, our manufacturing base was still suffering from its first post-war down curve, as there was so much ex-WW2 stuff floating around on the market.
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2014, 04:26:45 PM »
During my apprenticeship I did some repairs on a radial arm drill that had been bought second hand in 1948 from the UK and I am not sure but I believe it was surplus there because it was pre War, possibly even WWI vintage, we had a lot of old machines like that operating side by side with near new CNCs etc.

Its a shame we had to invest so much in primary industry when the creation of the EU ripped the heart out of the market just over a decade later.  A smarter move would have been to build on our hard won heavy engineering and manufacturing and become a global exporter before Korea and China took off. instead we killed much of what we had built through tying support to jobs, not innovations.

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2014, 06:29:18 PM »
Australia's economy in the 1940s and 50s was severely hampered by a lack of foreign exchange.  It was why Petrol Rationing was still in force in 1949 and removing it was one of Menzies' key platform promises in that election.  When he carried through with it, it resulted in a small recession.  Throughout the 1950s, Menzies never really had a grasp on the economy.  The Korean War wool boom however helped him to hide a lot of the deficiencies and by the time that finished we saw another recession in agriculture.    Somehow this reminds me of today...

Anyway, as Guy suggested, we came out of the war reasonably well off.  We had a massive lend-lease credit (most nations had deficits which took decades to pay off), because of our agricultural exports.  We basically fed, along with the US and Canada Western Europe.  We also fed a large part of Japanese occupied Asia.   This all told in our favour but there still wasn't much in the way of cold foreign exchange coming in.  Hence the proposal to nationalise the Commonwealth Bank which doomed Chifley in 1949.    People were fed up with austerity and so they voted Ming the Merciless in.

What you really need to provide funds for massive naval expansion is a mining boom.  Something that everybody needs but can't get very easily and which can only be found here really cheaply.

Then you have to address the manpower problem.  The RAN was strapped for manpower throughout the late 1940s and 50s, much for the same reasons it is today.  Why go to sea when you can work in civilian industry (and that was without a boom!)?  Civilian full employment makes life very hard for a military relying on volunteers.   While National Service was introduced in the late 1940s, it wasn't efficient, particularly as far as the Navy was concerned.   

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2018, 03:44:34 AM »
A tease for the concept of a RAN Essex:   A Royal Australian Navy Douglas A-4G Skyhawk of 805 Squadron on deck of the U.S. Navy anti-submarine aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge (CVS-33)

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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2018, 01:42:17 AM »
Speaking of RAN Essex class, here is part of the Navy Report into it.  I have the full report too if anyone wants it.
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Offline M.A.D

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2019, 03:37:40 AM »
I very much enjoyed your topic and post thanks Volkodav

M.A.D

Offline Volkodav

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2019, 10:31:54 PM »
I very much enjoyed your topic and post thanks Volkodav

M.A.D

Your welcome.

An extra fact I was not aware of when I wrote this post, Air Vice Marshal Stanley James Goble, a WWI Australian born RNAS fighter ace, was the RAN representative on the conference that established the AAF (RAAF) and alternated as Chief with Williams throughout the 20s and 30s, recommended that Australia form a separate Fleet Air Arm on multiple occasions (successfully opposed by Williams).

Offline M.A.D

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2019, 08:28:10 AM »
I very much enjoyed your topic and post thanks Volkodav

M.A.D

Your welcome.

An extra fact I was not aware of when I wrote this post, Air Vice Marshal Stanley James Goble, a WWI Australian born RNAS fighter ace, was the RAN representative on the conference that established the AAF (RAAF) and alternated as Chief with Williams throughout the 20s and 30s, recommended that Australia form a separate Fleet Air Arm on multiple occasions (successfully opposed by Williams).

😯, how interesting!!
It's little snippets of historic information, which comes to one's attention and is shared to all, which makes this forum great!!

M.A.D

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2019, 10:14:02 AM »
An extra fact I was not aware of when I wrote this post, Air Vice Marshal Stanley James Goble, a WWI Australian born RNAS fighter ace, was the RAN representative on the conference that established the AAF (RAAF) and alternated as Chief with Williams throughout the 20s and 30s, recommended that Australia form a separate Fleet Air Arm on multiple occasions (successfully opposed by Williams).

I wonder what difference a success by Goble in forming a FAA would have had at the beginning of WW2?

Would Australia have followed the British path & handed control of the FAA to the RAN shortly prior to WW2?

Would one, maybe two, RAN aircraft carriers in the Indian/Pacific region have been enough to influence the early years of the war?

Would Australia have increased their number during the war?



My own scenario has the RAN (& RAM) maintaining control of its air service post WW1 & never losing it to the RAAF, with the Army regaining its own air corps in 1937/38 for tactical purposes & the RAAF becoming a strategic air force (offensive & defensive). However, I'm basing a lot of that on significantly greater post-WW1 immigration & industrialisation.
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2020, 06:59:36 PM »
Revisiting this topic based on the information contained in David Shackleton's paper on the Perth Class DDGs, that the RAN were aware before the delivery of HMAS Melbourne II (and possibly Sydney) that the Majestic Class carriers were too small to operate the combat aircraft due to enter service in the mid to late 50s.

So lets say, just as HMAS Sydney was proving herself off Korea, the RAN comes clean and tells the government that neither Sydney, now Melbourne will be able to operate a new generation of aircraft, leaving the RAN unable to meet the strategic requirements of the government.  The situation, carriers have just been proven (yet again) the Australian economy is in ok shape, Melbourne has yet to be delivered and could be sold to a number of potential operators, there are multiple suitable ships available to replace the two majestics.

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #17 on: May 25, 2020, 03:43:05 AM »
Speaking of RAN Essex class, here is part of the Navy Report into it.  I have the full report too if anyone wants it.

If anyone wants to read this you can here by searching for "RAN proposal for a replacement aircraft carrier and fixed wing aircraft"
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: Realistic alternative RAN FAA options
« Reply #18 on: May 25, 2020, 04:20:49 PM »
Speaking of RAN Essex class, here is part of the Navy Report into it.  I have the full report too if anyone wants it.

If anyone wants to read this you can here by searching for "RAN proposal for a replacement aircraft carrier and fixed wing aircraft"
Very interesting read, did some further checking when I saw how biased and wrong the assistant Secretary of the Dept of Prime Minister and Cabinet, one John Enfield AO, was.  Turns out he was an engineer and cut his teeth on a UK guided missile project in the 50s, including traveling back to Australia to test said missile at Woomera, i.e. likely to have been the Sea Slug.  He joined the public service in 1962 and became a defence acquisition expert, spent some time in treasury, then PM&C, some less important posts (after pissing off the Silver Bodgey) before dying at the age of 57 in 1992.  So one of the key personalities in the RAN getting out of the carrier business was a 47 year old public servant who cherrypicked reports to side with the minority view of the Chief of Air Staff, that the Harrier / Sea Harrier sucked and had no future, helicopters flying from FFGs were more flexible and capable than larger more capable helicopters flying from a carrier, dunking sonar would soon be obsolete, and the money was better spent on replacing the P-3B with extra P-3Cs, as the Orion was more flexible and capable than a carrier.

In a nut shell Australia couldn't afford both ten additional P-3Cs and a new carrier and PM&C rated ten C model Orions, supplementing an existing ten and replacing ten B model ones, more highly than the existing Sea Kings, Trackers, Skyhawks, P-3Bs.  Apparently the B model was so totally useless that it wasn't worth having.  And here I was thinking cherry picking and willfully crafting information to suit an agenda was a modern thing.  I suppose the only real difference is its in public now.

All of this was written in Jan / Feb 1982, just before the Falklands war proved how totally wrong the assessments were.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 04:48:30 PM by Volkodav »