Author Topic: Australia's First Aircraft Carrier??  (Read 551 times)

Offline Old Wombat

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Australia's First Aircraft Carrier??
« on: May 28, 2019, 12:16:28 PM »
I'm in a space where the left hemisphere of my brain, the right hemisphere of my brain & my wallet are in a constant state of turmoil & conflict.

The latest is:

I have a Trumpeter 1/350 1918-era HMS Dreadnought headed my way in the mail (should be here Thursday). The plan is to build her as a What If "Australia's first major warship" (HMAS Australia) but, already, before she's even in my hands, some deep, dark place in my brain has spoken up with "Well, if she's going to be a Whif, why not go all the way & convert her to a post-WW1 aircraft carrier?"

I'm figuring the young Commonwealth decides to upgrade its navy immediately & buys a Dreadnought-class off the plans in 1905 (commissioned 1909), then decides to upgrade the Australia Squadron with an Indefatigable-class in 1909 (commissioned 1913).

I'm thinking the ships would be HMAS Australia & HMAS Imperial in that order, with a modified Hood-class HMAS Canberra joining their ranks post-WW1, being commissioned in 1922 (&, maybe, a 2nd Hood-class ship after that, to replace HMAS Imperial).

The next bit is the worrying bit:

The theory is that after serving her country well before & during WW1 the Dreadnought-class HMAS Australia is due to be de-commissioned & scrapped. The RAN is replacing her with another battle-cruiser but wants to try out an aircraft carrier (having seen benefits to them being operated by the RN during WW1). However, they don't have the money to build one outright, although they can scrape together the funds to refurbish & convert Australia. The plan to, later, convert Imperial never occurs due to the Great Depression.

The bit my wallet's protesting about is that that same dark place is suggesting that I buy a 1906-era Dreadnought to build the first incarnation of the Whif HMAS Australia! :o

Aircraft are, obviously, going to be the biggest issue in bringing this plan together.



Any suggestions? Apart from going to see a psychiatrist, I mean!
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Australia's First Aircraft Carrier??
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2019, 01:16:36 PM »
Well, they might seek advice from the USN who, at that time, are in the process of converting two battlecruiser hulls (Lexington and Saratoga) to aircraft carriers and could probably advise them.  Similarly, the RN's conversion of HMS Furious to a full aircraft carrier could advise them.  I suppose it all depends on who they seek advice from.  Considering some of the other ships converted to early aircraft carriers, a Dreadnought-class would seem quite suitable.  One thing they might do, money permitting, is at least upgrade the propulsion plant as part of the rebuild.

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Australia's First Aircraft Carrier??
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2019, 10:27:35 PM »
Thanks, Evan! I'll have a look at those to get an idea on how to proceed. :smiley:
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Australia's First Aircraft Carrier??
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2019, 03:35:54 AM »
I would probably go with the HMS Furious as the basis for the conversion, both because of the British/Royal Navy historical connection but also because at the time it would have been seen as the one of the leading examples of an aircraft carrier.  One could either do it as per 1918:



Or perhaps more in line with the latter conversion (done in the mid-1920s I understand):



Another option might be to follow the HMS Eagle line since this was originally a Dreadnought (the Chilean Almirante Cochrane -  see below what her sister ship looked like):



This was converted to an Aircraft Carrier post war and ended up having a long career until sunk in 1942.  Some photos below:

During early trials:


As completed:


After 1930s refit:



As far as aircraft go, you could probably plan on the following (based upon HMAS Eagle):

Fairey Flycatcher fighters:



Blackburn Blackburn reconnaissance aircraft:



Supermarine Seagull flying boats (Australia did actually operate these in the real world):



Blackburn Dart torpedo bombers:



Latter on, these could be replaced by other, more modern types.  The possibilities are endless.
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Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Australia's First Aircraft Carrier??
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2019, 09:42:49 AM »
Thanks, Greg! :smiley:


I've been looking at British & American carriers of the era & will probably base the conversion on the later two Courageous-class carriers wit some US influences thrown in (primarily; full-length flight deck with squared ends & better AA armament).


Flycatchers - yes, they seem to have been suitable to the role.

Seagulls - qualified "yes", but we'll keep the original HMAS Albatross as a seaplane tender.

Dart - probable verging on maybe, but I was pondering the idea of an Australian developed torpedo bomber evolved from the Brisfit

Blackburn - although it has some good qualities, I think we'll stick with the Fairey III-series
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Australia's First Aircraft Carrier??
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2019, 02:07:54 AM »
That makes sense.  what era are you planning on making the build?  Original 1920s?  1930s?  WWII?

If original and you wanted Flycatchers, you might try going here.  Although these are 1/700, he might be willing to do some in 1/350 for you.
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Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Australia's First Aircraft Carrier??
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2019, 08:53:01 AM »
I'd like to build her as shortly post-rebuild, so about 1925-ish.

I should actually start hunting down some aircraft to put on her, shouldn't I. ::)
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Australia's First Aircraft Carrier??
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2019, 03:06:14 AM »
1/350 Bristol F2B:  https://www.shapeways.com/product/JWM4NC7Y9/1-350-bristol-f2b?optionId=40882852&li=marketplace

Other than that and my earlier suggestion, it may be difficult.  It appears that finding 1/350 kits of aircraft from that era is exceptionally difficult.  Pre 1920s, no problem.  1930s onwards easy.
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Offline tankmodeler

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Re: Australia's First Aircraft Carrier??
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2019, 03:12:25 AM »
I should actually start hunting down some aircraft to put on her, shouldn't I. ::)
Frankly, I'm gonna bet that the availability of aircraft is what will, eventually, set the time frame of your build.

Unless you have a hankering for scratchbuilding 5 or 6 1902's biplane carrier aircraft...

Offline apophenia

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Re: Australia's First Aircraft Carrier??
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2019, 06:01:10 AM »
For the shipboard Brisfits, what about re-engining with radials? The Bristol Type 22 was to be an F.2 with a radial (or rotary) until it evolved into the Bristol Badger. The Badger had a Jupiter - as did the Type 76 Jupiter Fighter F.2B conversions.

https://1000aircraftphotos.com/Contributions/FarnikClement/9306.htm

Alternatively, you could go with a Jaguar IV for commonality with the Flycatchers.

Having written this, it occurs to me that multiple engine-swaps performed at 1/350 scale might not be so much fun ...  :icon_crap:
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Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Australia's First Aircraft Carrier??
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2019, 10:05:09 AM »
Greg: Thanks for that link! :smiley:

tankmodeler: You're probably right but I'm gonna try! ;)

apophenia: That last sentence ... Oh, yeah! :o
                 Mind you, the Jaguar engine gives an extra 100hp in the time-frame, which gives enough power to carry an 18-inch torpedo or a better bomb load, & do I really need to put a full squadron on deck? No! :D


Guess I'll just have to gird my loins & dive into the world of Shapeways. ???
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Online jcf

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Re: Australia's First Aircraft Carrier??
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2019, 01:57:31 AM »
Go full Akagi with the Forth Bridge ironmongery for the flight-deck support.  ;D

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And we, till now unmatched in ill,
Must leave successors more corrupted still."
Horace, 65BC - 8BC. Marsh translation.

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Australia's First Aircraft Carrier??
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2019, 02:23:42 AM »
Akagi didn't look like that until the late 1930s though.  Before that she looked like this:




Still very cool though with three superimposed flight decks.  Mind you, if you do want the "ironmongery for the flight-deck support" look, it was still there to a degree with the HMS Courageous look:




or with the HMS Eagle I proposed earlier.


Or a slightly different tangent, I may have found another aircraft option for you (thanks in part to Jon's mention of Akagi):  the Gloster Gambet (Nakajima A1N) from the mid 1920s.  This was essentially a carrier-based version of the Gloster Gamecock manufactured under licence by the Japanese.  One could have Australia doing something similar.




One can get a Shapeways model in 1/144 and 1/285 but maybe it could be scaled down if you ask the producer.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2019, 02:25:16 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Online jcf

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Re: Australia's First Aircraft Carrier??
« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2019, 11:16:36 AM »
The stern flight deck ironmongery on the Akagi was the same throughout it's life.  ;)

Kaga went through a similar evolution, plus originally she had those funky
exhaust trunks down the sides.
 ;D
Interestingly the battleship based Kaga was slightly smaller than the battle-cruiser based Akagi.

"Evil our grandsires were, our fathers worse;
And we, till now unmatched in ill,
Must leave successors more corrupted still."
Horace, 65BC - 8BC. Marsh translation.

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Australia's First Aircraft Carrier??
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2019, 01:31:52 AM »
Fair enough.
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