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SkyChimp
12-02-2004, 08:16 PM
berg417448 posted this article in another thread. I think he found a very inciteful read. Credit to berg for finding it. Here it is:

Were Armored Flight Decks on British Carriers Worthwhile?
by Stuart Slade and Richard Worth
Updated 14 June 2002
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Armor Protection on American and British Carriers
2000 Stuart Slade



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is a VERY complex design issue that defies easy answers. The question is not so much whether armor is useful (both US and British designs had very roughly comparable armor protection in terms of weight) but where does the designer put it.

US designers treated the entire flight deck, hangar deck and island assemblies as superstructure. The strength deck was the hangar deck and this is where they put the armor. The plusses of this configuration are that it carries the heavy weight of armor low, making stability problems less dreadful, permits a very light deck structure that's easy to repair and allows a long flight deck that makes operating aircraft easy. That light structure also initiates bombs, hopefully ensuring that damage is confined above the armor deck. The big negative is that it means the hangar deck is essentially unprotected.

British design practice with the Illustrious and Implacable classes was to armor the flight deck, making the flight deck the strength deck. The plusses here are that if the armor holds, bombs can be kept out of the ship completely. The negatives are that the size of lifts is restricted, stability problems are hellish and the airgroup capacity is comparatively small.

The US went the way it did because they had plenty of aircraft, used deck parks and envisaged launching mass strikes. They were able to base carrier defense on having fighters. The British were hobbled by the RAF that allocated few resources to the FAA, so the carriers had few and obsolete fighters. They had to build their carriers to take damage.

In fact, the British designs failed. Off Okinawa, the resistance of the British carriers seemed impressive but in reality the damage they took was severe. Having the hangar inside the hull girder made the hull structure weak and the ships were deformed by comparatively minor damage. Note how quickly nearly all the armored carriers were scrapped postwar - surveys showed they had irreparable hull damage. In contrast, the Essex's, which suffered much more severe damage, lasted for decades.

The severe damage suffered by the British armored carriers is documented by their post-war surveys. These surveys were carried out to determine the suitability of the ships for modernization.

Of the British armored carriers, Formidable and Illustrious were write-offs due to war damage. By the end of the war, Illustrious was in very poor condition; her centerline shaft was history due to structural deformation and her machinery was shot. Formidable had raped herself when a Firefly (sic) rolled off a lift and raked the hangar with 20 mm gunfire. This started a very bad fire which was contained within the hangar and acted like a furnace. The heat deformed the hull and that was it.

Indomitable was actually used in the post-war fleet and was modernized (lightly). In 1951 she had a gasoline explosion in her hangar deck. This was actually quite minor (an Essex would have shrugged it off) but the fact it was contained and was within the hull girder caused severe damage. She was patched with concrete for the Coronation Review, then scrapped.

Victorious was surveyed, found to be in reasonably good condition and rebuilt. The rebuild was fiendishly expensive, largely because the flight deck was the hangar deck and partly due to idiotically bad project planning.

The Victorious conversion was one of those tragedies that was almost comical. The original plans did not include re-engining the ship; this was a decision taken late in the rebuild process by which time most of the hull work (about 80 percent) had been completed. A machinery survey showed that the boilers had only about ten years of life left and it was decided they should be replaced. This meant that a lot of work had to be undone and then redone. The awful bit is that she was still within that ten year period when she was prematurely decommissioned. The Ship's Cover is pretty sulphurous in places. Another tragedy is that this monumental mess disillusioned the fleet with any sort of rebuild program (which had echoes in all sorts of places including the Type 15 program).

Another point which should be brought up is that the armored box hangar on the RN CV's was restricted to a height of 16 feet maximum and was as low as 14 feet in the upper hangars on the Indomitable, Implacable and Indefatigable. This restricted the use of the F4U Corsair fighter in the 14 feet hangars. This also hampered the usefulness of the British carriers postwar as aircraft grew in size. By contrast, the USN carriers had a hangar clear height of 20 feet in the Lexington class, 17 feet 3 inches in the Yorktown class and 17 feet 6 inches in the Essex class. This greater height allowed the Essex class to easily adapt to the much larger postwar jet aircraft.

The planned refits of the Implacable and Indefatigable would have seen the two hangars merged into one which would have made these ships much more capable. Sadly, the problems with the Victorious rebuild killed that plan off. In retrospect, they should have gone through the upgrade process first; as ships, they were much better than the first four armored carriers and were in good condition.

We also have to be very careful when looking at apparent ship histories in the 1945 - 1955 period. There is a lot of statistical deceit used here (Eric Grove in "Vanguard to Trident" makes an eye-opening read). Ships that were apparently in good condition and in service were actually laid up or otherwise non-operational. Illustrious is a good example. Her Ship's Cover is quite clear that she had never recovered from the damage she'd taken in WW2 and was limited to around 22 knots for all practical purposes. That's why she was used for experimental purposes - she wasn't much use for anything else. Indomitable is another example of statistical deceit. After her 1950 gasoline explosion (shortly after she finished her refit), she was completely useless and had to be towed to Spithead for the Coronation Review. As soon as that was over, she went to the breakers.

Two books, the Eric Grove "Vanguard to Trident" and Norman Friedman's "British Carrier Aviation" give a feel for this rather depressing period in history. Grove's book in particular is superb for providing a feel for the interplay between technology and politics that went on during this period. One interesting point that he brings out is that a great problem the RN had was in manning ships, even when money was available.

It is also not true that the Illustrious class carriers were worn out by hard war service. The last pair were only used for a couple of years and didn't work that hard. They certainly did not do the long deployments undertaken by the US carriers during the war. Indefatigable and Implacable were badly built (as were most British wartime ships - Admiralty records related to planned reconstructions quoted in Vanguard to Trident implicitly give war-built cruisers a life of only ten years). No criticism intended there - emphasis was on quantity rather than quality.

The Midway class is a much more complex design problem than just the adoption of an armored deck. In fact, the armored deck was not actually adopted - it grew out of other factors in the ship's design. Norman Friedman's "US Carriers - An Illustrated Design History" goes into this in detail, but, in summary, the Midway's were the first non-treaty restricted carrier designs in the US Fleet. British input to the design was actually very mixed - even after the Illustrious bombing (usually quoted as an example of the value of an armored deck), some British comment to the US Navy was very anti-deck armor. Originally, the Midway's were to have had a heavy (8 inch) deck gun battery. Eventually, this was discarded and the weight saved was used to provide two inches of flight deck armor. This was in addition to the 3.5 inches of hangar deck armor sported by the Essex's. The suggestion that they are a response to the UK armored carrier designs is largely a myth - the discussions that lead to the Midway's actually predate the Illustrious class.

Don't get me wrong; the strategic and operational logic that resulted in the Illustrious class was (for the Royal Navy) quite correct - the vulnerability of the ships to internal damage was unexpected and surprising. That vulnerability made their designs essentially failures since the sacrifices made to give them their heavy protection were not fully justified by their performance. That could not have been known pre-war, nor could the rapid escalation in weapons lethality that degraded the value of their deck armor.

The British dumped the armored deck for their last carrier designs and adopted a very Essex-like approach. It is a shame those ships didn't get built - they were really good-looking designs.

I think there is an important point here which should be included. We've been discussing the Essex/Illustrious classes in terms of armored flight deck versus armored hangar deck. In fact, this is not quite the key differential. The real point of difference is that the Essex class had an external hangar, that is, the hangar is located outside the ship's girder while the Illustrious class had an internal hangar; that is, the hangar is contained within the ship's girder.

An external hangar offers large side openings so that aircraft can be warmed up on the hangar deck, loading and unloading aircraft is made easier, underway replenishment becomes easier and safer and, most importantly, flight deck damage and hangar deck fires are outside the main hull and therefore of less structural consequence. Deck edge lifts are also very easy to install.

An internal hangar is contained within the ship's girder and is enveloped by the ship's hull. It is easier to protect, has better access to machinery shops and maintenance facilities and offers much better protection for the aircraft against bad weather. Deck edge lifts are difficult to install, of questionable value and have serious structural implications.

In structural terms, having an external hangar means that the upper strength deck is the hangar deck. This then means that the hull girder is shallower and thus more highly stressed. The best way to offset this is to thicken up the hangar deck so protection (armor) here grows naturally out of the design concept. If the flight deck is to be armored, that armor has to be in addition to the hangar deck protection. It is not often realized that Midway started life as a parallel design to Essex, intended to explore the effect of that extra protection on the Essex design. On 27,000 tons, it was found that deck protection had a disastrous effect on airgroup capacity (as few as 60 aircraft rated capacity at a time when Essex was rated at 110). This bought protection against 250 pound bombs. After 1940, the Midway design went its own way, becoming a quite different program to the Essex class. Note though, that the hangar deck remained the strength deck.

Starting with the Forrestal class, the size of the carriers meant that stress requirements forced the abandonment of the external hangar and hangar deck as strength deck concepts. A shallow hull of that size is a design impracticality. In the Forrestal and after, the flight deck is the strength deck, protection considerations had no influence whatsoever on the flight deck design. In fact, these carriers do not have armored flight decks. By the way, there is a construction trick that allows the Forrestal and later carriers to have their flight decks as strength decks and deck edge lifts without compromising hull strength. That trick is still highly classified.

The advantage of the internal hangar was that, by using the flight deck as strength deck, the British carriers had a much deeper hull girder, so the designers could use substantially lighter hull structural members, giving them a larger carrier for a given displacement. In fact, the Illustrious class are so well designed in weight economy terms that even today it is impossible to find areas to make additional savings. The big problem was that, since the flight deck was the strength deck, holes (lifts, etc.) had to be kept to a minimum, so the internal hangar concept immediately translated into fewer and smaller lifts - compromising the ability to launch and recover aircraft.

Unfortunately, there was a hidden problem that no one realized at that time. The hangar forms a large open void in the ship's hull girder. When faced with shock, this allows the girder to deform and, once deformed, the damage is irreversible. The gravity of the shock problem only became apparent with the magnetic mines used in 1939 and when the ships started taking near misses. In effect, the hulls became progressively twisted and rippled as damage mounted up. This killed Formidable and Illustrious (both ships were surveyed in 1947 to assess the expenditure required to repair them and it was found that both were beyond economical repair. In effect, they needed their hulls completely reconstructed and plans to rebuild them were abandoned). The gasoline explosion on Indomitable had the same effect; again hull damage was beyond economical repair.

Technically speaking, this is also a risk with the Forrestals and their descendants. Two things help out, though. One is the sheer size of the US carriers - they are much bigger in proportion to the void represented by their hangars. Another is the density of construction. The second thing is that US Carriers are built incredibly tough. Not only were they designed to take a terrible battering, but the latest ones were put together by the finest shipyard in the world. In contrast, the Illustrious class were built under treaty requirements and used great weight discipline throughout. This resulted in a lot of design compromises in power train, hull structure, etc., etc. Some of these were put right with the Implacable class.

Ark Royal and Eagle were the last gasp of the British pre-war carrier design. They were effectively enlarged Implacables. By the time their design was finished (1942), the British had realized that the sacrifices they were making for the heavy protection of an internal hangar could not be justified and they went to an external hangar much along the US lines. Okinawa proved this point; although often quoted as pointing to the value of an armored deck, careful analysis does not bear this out. The British carriers never came under the weight of attack that the US carriers suffered and never took the same density of hits. It is not immediately apparent, but most Kamikaze hits bounced off US carriers doing little or no damage - the ones that started the big fires were the exception. A critical factor seems to have been deck parks - if the stricken carrier had deck-parked aircraft, she was in trouble regardless of where her hangar was.

This debate between the virtues of internal and external hangars is history now; structural considerations mean that most modern carriers have to have internal hangars, regardless of their relative merits and limitations. Where and how carrier protection was designed grew out of that debate. What it does illustrate is one very important thing - carriers are unique in that their design is dictated by the aircraft they carry and how those aircraft are to be used. It is not correct to say that the USN was right and the RN was wrong or vice versa or that one design was better than another. The navies used their aircraft in very different ways and their carrier designs reflected that difference. When they started to use their aircraft in the same way, their carrier designs converged.

SkyChimp
12-02-2004, 08:16 PM
berg417448 posted this article in another thread. I think he found a very inciteful read. Credit to berg for finding it. Here it is:

Were Armored Flight Decks on British Carriers Worthwhile?
by Stuart Slade and Richard Worth
Updated 14 June 2002
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Armor Protection on American and British Carriers
2000 Stuart Slade



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is a VERY complex design issue that defies easy answers. The question is not so much whether armor is useful (both US and British designs had very roughly comparable armor protection in terms of weight) but where does the designer put it.

US designers treated the entire flight deck, hangar deck and island assemblies as superstructure. The strength deck was the hangar deck and this is where they put the armor. The plusses of this configuration are that it carries the heavy weight of armor low, making stability problems less dreadful, permits a very light deck structure that's easy to repair and allows a long flight deck that makes operating aircraft easy. That light structure also initiates bombs, hopefully ensuring that damage is confined above the armor deck. The big negative is that it means the hangar deck is essentially unprotected.

British design practice with the Illustrious and Implacable classes was to armor the flight deck, making the flight deck the strength deck. The plusses here are that if the armor holds, bombs can be kept out of the ship completely. The negatives are that the size of lifts is restricted, stability problems are hellish and the airgroup capacity is comparatively small.

The US went the way it did because they had plenty of aircraft, used deck parks and envisaged launching mass strikes. They were able to base carrier defense on having fighters. The British were hobbled by the RAF that allocated few resources to the FAA, so the carriers had few and obsolete fighters. They had to build their carriers to take damage.

In fact, the British designs failed. Off Okinawa, the resistance of the British carriers seemed impressive but in reality the damage they took was severe. Having the hangar inside the hull girder made the hull structure weak and the ships were deformed by comparatively minor damage. Note how quickly nearly all the armored carriers were scrapped postwar - surveys showed they had irreparable hull damage. In contrast, the Essex's, which suffered much more severe damage, lasted for decades.

The severe damage suffered by the British armored carriers is documented by their post-war surveys. These surveys were carried out to determine the suitability of the ships for modernization.

Of the British armored carriers, Formidable and Illustrious were write-offs due to war damage. By the end of the war, Illustrious was in very poor condition; her centerline shaft was history due to structural deformation and her machinery was shot. Formidable had raped herself when a Firefly (sic) rolled off a lift and raked the hangar with 20 mm gunfire. This started a very bad fire which was contained within the hangar and acted like a furnace. The heat deformed the hull and that was it.

Indomitable was actually used in the post-war fleet and was modernized (lightly). In 1951 she had a gasoline explosion in her hangar deck. This was actually quite minor (an Essex would have shrugged it off) but the fact it was contained and was within the hull girder caused severe damage. She was patched with concrete for the Coronation Review, then scrapped.

Victorious was surveyed, found to be in reasonably good condition and rebuilt. The rebuild was fiendishly expensive, largely because the flight deck was the hangar deck and partly due to idiotically bad project planning.

The Victorious conversion was one of those tragedies that was almost comical. The original plans did not include re-engining the ship; this was a decision taken late in the rebuild process by which time most of the hull work (about 80 percent) had been completed. A machinery survey showed that the boilers had only about ten years of life left and it was decided they should be replaced. This meant that a lot of work had to be undone and then redone. The awful bit is that she was still within that ten year period when she was prematurely decommissioned. The Ship's Cover is pretty sulphurous in places. Another tragedy is that this monumental mess disillusioned the fleet with any sort of rebuild program (which had echoes in all sorts of places including the Type 15 program).

Another point which should be brought up is that the armored box hangar on the RN CV's was restricted to a height of 16 feet maximum and was as low as 14 feet in the upper hangars on the Indomitable, Implacable and Indefatigable. This restricted the use of the F4U Corsair fighter in the 14 feet hangars. This also hampered the usefulness of the British carriers postwar as aircraft grew in size. By contrast, the USN carriers had a hangar clear height of 20 feet in the Lexington class, 17 feet 3 inches in the Yorktown class and 17 feet 6 inches in the Essex class. This greater height allowed the Essex class to easily adapt to the much larger postwar jet aircraft.

The planned refits of the Implacable and Indefatigable would have seen the two hangars merged into one which would have made these ships much more capable. Sadly, the problems with the Victorious rebuild killed that plan off. In retrospect, they should have gone through the upgrade process first; as ships, they were much better than the first four armored carriers and were in good condition.

We also have to be very careful when looking at apparent ship histories in the 1945 - 1955 period. There is a lot of statistical deceit used here (Eric Grove in "Vanguard to Trident" makes an eye-opening read). Ships that were apparently in good condition and in service were actually laid up or otherwise non-operational. Illustrious is a good example. Her Ship's Cover is quite clear that she had never recovered from the damage she'd taken in WW2 and was limited to around 22 knots for all practical purposes. That's why she was used for experimental purposes - she wasn't much use for anything else. Indomitable is another example of statistical deceit. After her 1950 gasoline explosion (shortly after she finished her refit), she was completely useless and had to be towed to Spithead for the Coronation Review. As soon as that was over, she went to the breakers.

Two books, the Eric Grove "Vanguard to Trident" and Norman Friedman's "British Carrier Aviation" give a feel for this rather depressing period in history. Grove's book in particular is superb for providing a feel for the interplay between technology and politics that went on during this period. One interesting point that he brings out is that a great problem the RN had was in manning ships, even when money was available.

It is also not true that the Illustrious class carriers were worn out by hard war service. The last pair were only used for a couple of years and didn't work that hard. They certainly did not do the long deployments undertaken by the US carriers during the war. Indefatigable and Implacable were badly built (as were most British wartime ships - Admiralty records related to planned reconstructions quoted in Vanguard to Trident implicitly give war-built cruisers a life of only ten years). No criticism intended there - emphasis was on quantity rather than quality.

The Midway class is a much more complex design problem than just the adoption of an armored deck. In fact, the armored deck was not actually adopted - it grew out of other factors in the ship's design. Norman Friedman's "US Carriers - An Illustrated Design History" goes into this in detail, but, in summary, the Midway's were the first non-treaty restricted carrier designs in the US Fleet. British input to the design was actually very mixed - even after the Illustrious bombing (usually quoted as an example of the value of an armored deck), some British comment to the US Navy was very anti-deck armor. Originally, the Midway's were to have had a heavy (8 inch) deck gun battery. Eventually, this was discarded and the weight saved was used to provide two inches of flight deck armor. This was in addition to the 3.5 inches of hangar deck armor sported by the Essex's. The suggestion that they are a response to the UK armored carrier designs is largely a myth - the discussions that lead to the Midway's actually predate the Illustrious class.

Don't get me wrong; the strategic and operational logic that resulted in the Illustrious class was (for the Royal Navy) quite correct - the vulnerability of the ships to internal damage was unexpected and surprising. That vulnerability made their designs essentially failures since the sacrifices made to give them their heavy protection were not fully justified by their performance. That could not have been known pre-war, nor could the rapid escalation in weapons lethality that degraded the value of their deck armor.

The British dumped the armored deck for their last carrier designs and adopted a very Essex-like approach. It is a shame those ships didn't get built - they were really good-looking designs.

I think there is an important point here which should be included. We've been discussing the Essex/Illustrious classes in terms of armored flight deck versus armored hangar deck. In fact, this is not quite the key differential. The real point of difference is that the Essex class had an external hangar, that is, the hangar is located outside the ship's girder while the Illustrious class had an internal hangar; that is, the hangar is contained within the ship's girder.

An external hangar offers large side openings so that aircraft can be warmed up on the hangar deck, loading and unloading aircraft is made easier, underway replenishment becomes easier and safer and, most importantly, flight deck damage and hangar deck fires are outside the main hull and therefore of less structural consequence. Deck edge lifts are also very easy to install.

An internal hangar is contained within the ship's girder and is enveloped by the ship's hull. It is easier to protect, has better access to machinery shops and maintenance facilities and offers much better protection for the aircraft against bad weather. Deck edge lifts are difficult to install, of questionable value and have serious structural implications.

In structural terms, having an external hangar means that the upper strength deck is the hangar deck. This then means that the hull girder is shallower and thus more highly stressed. The best way to offset this is to thicken up the hangar deck so protection (armor) here grows naturally out of the design concept. If the flight deck is to be armored, that armor has to be in addition to the hangar deck protection. It is not often realized that Midway started life as a parallel design to Essex, intended to explore the effect of that extra protection on the Essex design. On 27,000 tons, it was found that deck protection had a disastrous effect on airgroup capacity (as few as 60 aircraft rated capacity at a time when Essex was rated at 110). This bought protection against 250 pound bombs. After 1940, the Midway design went its own way, becoming a quite different program to the Essex class. Note though, that the hangar deck remained the strength deck.

Starting with the Forrestal class, the size of the carriers meant that stress requirements forced the abandonment of the external hangar and hangar deck as strength deck concepts. A shallow hull of that size is a design impracticality. In the Forrestal and after, the flight deck is the strength deck, protection considerations had no influence whatsoever on the flight deck design. In fact, these carriers do not have armored flight decks. By the way, there is a construction trick that allows the Forrestal and later carriers to have their flight decks as strength decks and deck edge lifts without compromising hull strength. That trick is still highly classified.

The advantage of the internal hangar was that, by using the flight deck as strength deck, the British carriers had a much deeper hull girder, so the designers could use substantially lighter hull structural members, giving them a larger carrier for a given displacement. In fact, the Illustrious class are so well designed in weight economy terms that even today it is impossible to find areas to make additional savings. The big problem was that, since the flight deck was the strength deck, holes (lifts, etc.) had to be kept to a minimum, so the internal hangar concept immediately translated into fewer and smaller lifts - compromising the ability to launch and recover aircraft.

Unfortunately, there was a hidden problem that no one realized at that time. The hangar forms a large open void in the ship's hull girder. When faced with shock, this allows the girder to deform and, once deformed, the damage is irreversible. The gravity of the shock problem only became apparent with the magnetic mines used in 1939 and when the ships started taking near misses. In effect, the hulls became progressively twisted and rippled as damage mounted up. This killed Formidable and Illustrious (both ships were surveyed in 1947 to assess the expenditure required to repair them and it was found that both were beyond economical repair. In effect, they needed their hulls completely reconstructed and plans to rebuild them were abandoned). The gasoline explosion on Indomitable had the same effect; again hull damage was beyond economical repair.

Technically speaking, this is also a risk with the Forrestals and their descendants. Two things help out, though. One is the sheer size of the US carriers - they are much bigger in proportion to the void represented by their hangars. Another is the density of construction. The second thing is that US Carriers are built incredibly tough. Not only were they designed to take a terrible battering, but the latest ones were put together by the finest shipyard in the world. In contrast, the Illustrious class were built under treaty requirements and used great weight discipline throughout. This resulted in a lot of design compromises in power train, hull structure, etc., etc. Some of these were put right with the Implacable class.

Ark Royal and Eagle were the last gasp of the British pre-war carrier design. They were effectively enlarged Implacables. By the time their design was finished (1942), the British had realized that the sacrifices they were making for the heavy protection of an internal hangar could not be justified and they went to an external hangar much along the US lines. Okinawa proved this point; although often quoted as pointing to the value of an armored deck, careful analysis does not bear this out. The British carriers never came under the weight of attack that the US carriers suffered and never took the same density of hits. It is not immediately apparent, but most Kamikaze hits bounced off US carriers doing little or no damage - the ones that started the big fires were the exception. A critical factor seems to have been deck parks - if the stricken carrier had deck-parked aircraft, she was in trouble regardless of where her hangar was.

This debate between the virtues of internal and external hangars is history now; structural considerations mean that most modern carriers have to have internal hangars, regardless of their relative merits and limitations. Where and how carrier protection was designed grew out of that debate. What it does illustrate is one very important thing - carriers are unique in that their design is dictated by the aircraft they carry and how those aircraft are to be used. It is not correct to say that the USN was right and the RN was wrong or vice versa or that one design was better than another. The navies used their aircraft in very different ways and their carrier designs reflected that difference. When they started to use their aircraft in the same way, their carrier designs converged.

fordfan25
12-02-2004, 08:42 PM
nice find chimp.I have always been fascinated by cap ships from all era's from pirate ships to star trek lol. even more so than air craft "airwolf not counting". one thing i can say about some of the brit ships. unlike there fighters coughspituglycough thay were very nice looking ships. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

SkyChimp
12-02-2004, 09:11 PM
I didn't find it.

berg417448 found it.

A.K.Davis
12-02-2004, 10:04 PM
Get the most recent issue of WWII History
and read the article on the Royal Navy in the Pacific, paying special attention to what happened when kamikazes hit the British carriers.

RAF74_Buzzsaw
12-02-2004, 10:07 PM
Salute Chimp

While your argument is interesting, its logic has a number of serious flaws.

First of all, the issue is not whether a Carrier could be refitted to take aircraft 5 years after the war was finished, but rather how it functioned in 1945. Ie. whether or not it could survive the battle at that point in the war.

If you could actually go ask a member of the Franklin whether he thought where the Essex class armour was situated was a better choice, then I think his answer would be clear.

The facts are, that British carriers were hit with Kamikazes in the center of their flight decks, and shrugged the result off, in fact in several cases continued to operate in the battle zone.

American Carriers which took those types of hits were not capable of continuing.

May 11th, 1945. U.S.S. Bunker Hill:

At 1002, radar detected planes inbound, some of which were identified as friendly, including Marine Major James Swett's Corsair. But at 1004, Swett frantically radioed "Alert! Alert! Two planes diving on the Bunker Hill!" A minute later, an A6M Zero came in low and fast, dropped a 550 pound bomb and dived into the 34 planes parked on the flight deck. The burning Zero set fire to the fully armed and fueled planes, as it skidded along the deck and over the side. The bomb passed through the flight deck and exploded alongside.

Seconds later, another kamikaze, a D4Y Judy dive bomber, pulled up and dived at the carrier. Although hit by the Bunker Hill's gunners, the Judy's bomb hit the after flight deck and exploded in the gallery deck below. Scores of crewmen were blown overboard and flames covered the whole after deck. In the midst of this carnage, a third plane was spotted diving for the ship, but the gun crews remained at their stations and splashed this attacker into the sea.

Of the Bunker Hill's crew, 373 perished, 264 were wounded and 43 were missing. Hundreds of crewmen had been either blown overboard or were forced to jump to escape the fires. Adm. Mitscher's staff lost thirteen officers and men, and he was forced to relinquish command of Task Force 58.

Bunker Hill Photo:

http://history.acusd.edu/cdr2/PATCH/NA/ww266.jpg

March 19th 1945, USS Franklin:

A single enemy plane pierced the cloud cover and made a low level run on the ship to drop two semiarmor piercing bombs. One struck the flight deck centerline, penetrating to the hanger deck, effecting destruction and igniting fires throughout the second and third decks, and knocking out the combat information center and airplot. The second hit aft, tearing through two decks and fanning fires which triggered ammunition, bombs, and rockets. Franklin, within 50 miles of the Japanese mainland, lay dead in the water, took a 13 degree starboard list, lost all radio communications, and broiled under the heat form enveloping fires. Many of the crew were blown overboard, driven off by fire, killed, or wounded, but the 106 officers and 604 enlisted who voluntarily remained saved their ship through sheer valor and tenacity. The casualties totaled 724 killed and 265 wounded, and would have far exceeded this number except for the heroic work of many survivors.

Franklin Photo

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/2b/USS_Franklin_list-700px.jpg

Franklin was badly damaged in March of '44 by another Kamikaze and had to be returned to the States for repairs.

There were many other American Essex Carriers damaged and forced to be repaired. And many American Light and Escort Carriers sunk.


On the other hand, British Carriers were hit many times by Kamikazes and continued in action:

HMS Indefatigable:

She was the first British ship to be hit by a Kamikaze when serving with the British Pacific Fleet on 1 April 1945. However, however she quickly recovered and became fully operational within 1 hour. She subsequently took part in further strikes against Sakishima Gunto in May 1945. By the end of these operations Indefatigable had contributed one-third of the Fleet Air Arm sorties flown between 26 March and 25 May 1945.

HMS Victorious:

She was hit by a Kamikaze on 9 May 1945 - no damage.

HMS Indomitable:

Indomitable launched air strikes against Sakishima Gunto and Formosa in March-April 1945. On 4 May she was hit by a Kamikaze - but received no damage -the Kamikaze aircraft simply slid up the armoured flight deck and over the side.

HMS Illustrious:

On 9 April 1945, she received underwater damage from a Kamikaze attack, and was forced to undertake temporary repairs at Leyte, and further repairs in Sydney in May 1945, and repairs and alterations in the UK from June 1945-June 1946. This was the only British CV to be seriously affected.

HMS Formidable:

She took part in air strikes against Sakishima Gunto between April-May 1945. Between 4-9 May 1945 she was hit by Kamikazes - yet was able to operate aircraft within a few hours of attack, her aircraft later took part in air strikes against Japanese home islands between July-August 1945.

By the way, for anyone who is interested, the Kamikazes achieved the following results:

2,314 sorties
1,228 aircraft/pilots expended
34 ships sunk including 3 CVEs and 13 DDs
288 ships damaged including 16 CVs, 3 CVLs, 17 CVEs and 15 BBs

actionhank1786
12-02-2004, 10:24 PM
who says a carrier "Raped" itself in a professional paper!?

SkyChimp
12-02-2004, 10:29 PM
Buzz, re-read the article, then re-read what you wrote. The article addresses your concerns.

Bunker Hill was hit with armor piercing bombs, AND a kamikaze into a loaded flight deck.

Franklin was hit by multiple Kamikazes, AND armor piercing bombs, and also had planes on the deck.

Do you really think a British carrier could have handled that unscathed?

Japanese armor-piercing bombs, designed to penetrate to the gun magazines of battleships, would have scarecly noticed British carrier deck armor.

Your reads indicate the British carriers were each hit by one kamikaze. No mention of the damage done to any planes on board.

Poor comparisons IMO. As the article states, British carriers never endured the intensity of attack American carrier did. Your post reaffirms that.

hobnail
12-02-2004, 10:31 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by actionhank1786:
who says a carrier "Raped" itself in a professional paper!? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Rrg that, I thought I was reading a Counterstrike tournament blog for a second there...

SkyChimp
12-02-2004, 10:38 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by actionhank1786:
who says a carrier "Raped" itself in a professional paper!? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Maybe someone who knows RAPE also means to damage by force or violence?

Athosd
12-02-2004, 10:53 PM
Thanks for sharing guys - very interesting reading.

Concerning Kamikaze attacks, bombs and specially HE loaded aircraft notwithstanding, a plane would seem to make rather an inadequate missile for causing damage to a target with any kind of armour. It seems that most damage caused by the actual aircraft impact was due to burning fuel.
IMHO an order for volunteers to fly suicidally close to the target before releasing bombs would have been more productive - as some of the pilots would have survived to repeat the exercise.
Also, the pilots may then have considered attacking the equally (some would say more) important transport and support vessels of the allied fleet. Blowing yourself to bits against a Battleship has more of a romantic flair to it than diving into an Oiler.

Cheers

Athos

RAF74_Buzzsaw
12-02-2004, 10:56 PM
Salute Chimp

First of all, there is no proof of what type of bomb was used on the Kamikaze that hit the Franklin. There is no way to say whether it was armour piercing or normal.

In either case, it would have penetrated the Franklin's deck.

In the case of the British CV's, they definitely would withstand a non-armour piercing 1000 lber. And there are cases where British Carriers in the Mediterranean were hit by 550kg armour piercing bombs from Stukas, and the bombs bounced off. So the suggestion that Japanese armour piercing bombs would penetrate their decks is questionable. Perhaps in some situations they would. Historically, they didn't.

The British carriers which were hit in the Pacific were targetted by bomb carrying aircraft. Once again, whether those aircraft were carrying armour piercing bombs or normal varieties is unclear.

What is not in doubt, is that the British Carriers survived Kamikaze hits with minimal damage. The worst case casualties were in the order of 20 killed and 20 wounded.

The damage to the British Carriers that the article makes a point of mentioning was entirely self inflicted. Ie. not a result of something penetrating the flight deck, but rather a result of an accident below decks.

So that has no bearing on the viability of the armour on the deck.

Further, in regards to the British not enduring comparable intensity of attacks as the Americans, most of the American ships seriously damaged were hit by a single kamikaze.

In the case of the Bunker Hill, 99% of damage was done by the Judy which hit her. In the case of the Franklin, a single aircraft did all the damage.

actionhank1786
12-03-2004, 12:04 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SkyChimp:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by actionhank1786:
who says a carrier "Raped" itself in a professional paper!? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Maybe someone who knows RAPE also means to damage by force or violence? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Well i never knew that!
You learn something new every day

hobnail
12-03-2004, 12:36 AM
Next thing we know someone will have a quote from Descarte with the word "ownage" in it http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/59.gif

Mr_Nakajima
12-03-2004, 01:16 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by actionhank1786:
who says a carrier "Raped" itself in a professional paper!? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I don't think it is a professional paper - 'her centerline shaft was history ' does not sound very academic either. It reads like a summary (and one with a fairly obvious pro-American bias) of the two books he quotes.

A good book comparing the reasons why British and US carrier design differed is:

"American and British Aircraft Carrier Development: 1919-1941"
Thomas Hone, Norman Friedman, Mark David Mandeles
ISBN 1557503826

WOLFMondo
12-03-2004, 01:18 AM
Nice write up but some of it really contridicts whats written elsewhere, like the Illustrious only being able to take 250lbs bombs, thats wrong, it was rated to survive 500lbs bombs. And as pointed out, it survived multiple stuka raids in the Med. I dare say that HMS Illustrious, one of the most decorated ships of WW2 saw more action and took more damage, sailed more miles than any US carrier so the comparison with what they took and survived can't really be fair.

It also completely fails to mention how much action the other British carriers saw action 2 years before the US even join the war, apart from mines it fails to mention the sheer amount of action and miles those ships sailed. Comparing designs is one thing but missing out major events like that isn't going to make a fair comparison.

"The second thing is that US Carriers are built incredibly tough. Not only were they designed to take a terrible battering, but the latest ones were put together by the finest shipyard in the world"

National bias? :P I think theres some ship builders in Belfast and Liverpool that will contest that.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by actionhank1786:
who says a carrier "Raped" itself in a professional paper!? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Exactly, you'd get marked down if you submitted that to a university for poor and inappropriate use of language.

Daiichidoku
12-03-2004, 01:23 AM
Also remember that both US and UK carriers recieved few sucessful kamekaze attacks, in relation to picket destroyers...armoured flight deck or no, any class of carrier would had had slim chances of survival had most kamekaze pilots both ignored picket ships, supply vessels, etc AND made it through AAA and CAP


A quote from your post, SkyChimp...and one that is most curious..."By the way, there is a construction trick that allows the Forrestal and later carriers to have their flight decks as strength decks and deck edge lifts without compromising hull strength. That trick is still highly classified."

Is there that many carriers being built or even refitted anywhere aside from perhaps USA in the world that could actually benefit from this info? IMHO seems silly to keep this a secret...only reason I can think of is perhaps it could be applied to other areas of construction, or gaive away good pointers to attack certain parts of an existing carrier?

tHeBaLrOgRoCkS
12-03-2004, 01:43 AM
Interesting read Chimp. I am not realy sure what the author is trying to prove though ?

Sure the British ships were in a pretty poor state , post war, but surely the point is they did the job for which they were intended and did it very well.

The fact that they could not be serviced or repaired after the war is not realy relevant is it? The real fact is Britain was stone broke and had other issues to deal with after 6 years of war and the service and maintenance of aircraft carriers in peace time was hardley a priority.

If the point was purely being made from an enginering perspective then sure fine they may well have been badley designed for long term service but as others have said that is not what they were designed for.

None the less an interesting and thought provoking read.

tHeBaLrOgRoCkS
12-03-2004, 01:51 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>
National bias? :P I think theres some ship builders in Belfast and Liverpool that will contest that.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Aye and there may be 'Just a Few' up in Scotland who might too http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Freycinet
12-03-2004, 02:48 AM
Hmm, the "inciteful" article is just that, rather than insightful. It comes across as biased, he seems to have his conclusion ready by the beginning of the article. Not the way a balanced exposition would be written.

Not saying it is wrong, I'm no expert, but it just doesn't come across as a balanced analysis.

Abbuzze
12-03-2004, 04:54 AM
Hmm it seems, for such a great nation of mariners, the design of british warships was not that good.

If you also look back to the Skagerrak battle in WWI. three battlecruiser simply explode... like the Hood 25 years later (to be fair, which also was a WWI design).

WOLFMondo
12-03-2004, 05:06 AM
On the contrary, they did pretty all considering the British were probably the only nation to actually follow any of the treaties signed after WW1 about ship size and weight. Don't you think if they did the carriers and BB's would have been bigger? The KGV class certainly would have been.

You might note that HMS Warspite was a WW1 BB and that ship did amazingly well in WW2 despite its age and the punishment it recieved. It walked all over anything put in front of it, even at night. A number of WW1 designed battleships fought in WW2 with distinction.

I think it depends on the author of the facts on how good British ships were, this article seems to avoid major facts like just how long these ships were in service, the damage and mileage they did etc when comparing them to US carriers which did'nt see half the service these ships saw. Its not the first time or the last you'll see a paper on people trying to put down the British naval power without considering all the facts.

The British carriers served the purpose they were designed for admirably, as did the Battleships, light and heavy cruisers and destroyers and frigates.

tHeBaLrOgRoCkS
12-03-2004, 05:21 AM
Well considering that the German Surface navy never realy showed it's face on open water again after the battle of Jutland.

I would say that despite casualties again the British ships although admitedly not all of long lasting quality did their job and served their purpose admirably.

You build ships to fight battles not look pretty in dry dock or harbour.Or for that matter skulk about in some Norwegian fjord.

WTE_Konigwolf
12-03-2004, 05:48 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Abbuzze:
Hmm it seems, for such a great nation of mariners, the design of british warships was not that good.

@ Abbuze - This Was not really a fault of the RN or the Admirilty but more the polititions and many of the between war treaty's

@ Skychimp
The lack of damage causing hull warpage in the yorktown and essex classes wasnt so much beacuse of the great american armor designs but two other things playing large factors,

1-the hanger bay doors, first instigated in the yorktown (btw this is my favourite ship i have 4 models of 4 different yorktowns) and are still used in the current nimitz classes, these allow for better use of the hanger deck (and also allow use of deck edge lifts) and better ventellation of the hanger deckhelp damage controll (please dont give me **** about extra oxygen for more fires as the hanger doors allowed toxic smoke to escape, and with this smoke much heat as well)

2-The USN filled the fuelling lines with Carbon Dioxide when possible before recieveing an incoming attack to help stop extra damage from leaking av gas

Konigwolf

RAC_Pips
12-03-2004, 06:33 AM
An interesting article. And some points are well made.

US Carriers on the whole were far more effecive than British ones. Even Japanese Carriers were superior. But it wasn't a case of 'quality' of workmanship. The Britsh built as good as anyone.

Where both the IJN (lesser) and the USN (more so) achieved superiority lay in quality of aircraft, numbers carried, tactics, deck efficiency, captians and admirals with wing qualifications and most important of all for the USN...the amazing support fleet that kept Carriers provisioned with everything from ice-cream to replacement aircraft.

But I would suggest that anyone who is interested in a more indepth approach to the subject would do well to read "The Aircraft Carrier Story 1908-1945", by Guy Robbins. ISBN 0 304 35308 6

Another excellent book worth reading is "They Gave Me A Seafire", by Mike Crosley. ISBN 0905-78-68-5. A great read, sad and funny, but very critical of British Carrier Admirals and 'Their Lordships'.

WOLFMondo
12-03-2004, 06:46 AM
The Admiralty were a mixed bag, some were good and earned there titles, some were nothing more than hereditory aristocrats. Read up on the story of HMS Manchester and the way they treated the Captain, who saved the crew (including one of my Grandfathers and great Uncle)and scuttled the Manchester. The Captain was treated like a coward by the Admiralty but he was a hero to the crew.

I wonder how the unarmoured US carriers would have stood up in the Malta convoys, under constant dive bombing attack with little or no escort carriers to take there planes low on fuel needing to land while they repaired battle damaged deck that took days to fix instead of hours like British carriers? Or in the Baltic, south Atlantic etc.

Aaron_GT
12-03-2004, 07:45 AM
"Where both the IJN (lesser) and the USN (more so) achieved superiority lay in quality of aircraft, numbers carried, tactics, deck efficiency, captians and admirals with wing qualifications and most important of all for the USN...the amazing support fleet that kept Carriers provisioned with everything from ice-cream to replacement aircraft."

Many of the aircraft types carried on RN aircraft carriers were the same ones carried by the USN, though: F4U, F4F, F6F, TBM, TBF.

The differences are mostly:

Sea Gladiator and Hurricane (intermediate types to cover a gap early on).

Fulmar (not that great - underpowered).

Barracuda (fine as a strike plane).

Seafire (tricky landing, but a good point defence fighter)

Firefly (excellent long range strike plane, if rather delayed into service).

I don't think the quality of FAA aircraft was too bad.

Numbers and size of carriers are another matter and represent Britain's initial requirement for carriers for service near to the UK rather than the Pacific theatre which was still in the future and a desire to save money and material initially.

JonHal
12-03-2004, 10:48 AM
As a big fan of all Aircraft Carriers I€m always intrigued by threads like this.
I think one must look at the big picture. Carrier design has always been one of Trade-offs. Under the Treaty limits there was no way to incorporate large air wings with armored flight decks. Even the later Essex class carriers, though not built under the Naval Limitation Treaties, were affected by it. The Essex is basically an upgraded Yorktown class, which itself was limited under treaty.

I think people have a tendency to look at just the Kamikaze attacks late war and declare the armored deck superior to the Essex class. One must also take into account one of the primary missions of a Aircraft Carrier in World War 2. And that was to sink the opposing Carriers. People should look at the Five great Carrier battles of the Pacific Theatre and ask themselves how would the British CVs have faired if they had replaced the US CVs? No British Carrier flight deck (armor or no) could stop the penetration of a Japanese 250kg AP bomb. The bomb typically carried by Vals. Evidence would seem to indicate that British Carriers would have suffered the same amount of damage as their US counterparts. The poster who claims the British Carriers shrugged off damage that knocked out US CVs for weeks is perhaps not looking at the big picture. Lexington, Yorktown and even the Enterprise all took heavy damage to flight decks, were able to repair them and recover aircraft during the same battle. An 250kg bomb penetrating an armored flight deck would have resulted in massive deck bulges, something not as easy to fix with an armor flight deck as with wood. Someone posting mentioned the attack on the HMS Illustrious by German Stuka dive bombers. They Did NOT mention The Illustrious was hit by 5 bombs, 1 penetrating the flight deck, This damage put her out of the war for almost a year.

If you substituted the Ark Royal or Illustrious for the Yorktown here is my hypothesis. If the Ark Royal suffered the Damage that the Yorktown suffered at Coral Sea I see no way that the Ark Royal or Illustrious could have been repaired in time to be involved at Midway. Same with the Battle Damage sustained by the USS Enterprise at Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz.


If anything the British Carriers were more prone to torpedo damage. The Ark Royal succumbed to one Torpedo. The Lexington took several and still didn€t sink by Torpedo Damage but by fire. The Yorktown was hit multiple times before being put down, As well as Hornet. Saratoga survived the war despite being torpedoed several times.

If you substituted the Ark Royal for the Yorktown here is my hypothesis. If the Ark Royal suffered the Damage that the Yorktown suffered at Coral Sea I see no way that the Ark Royal could have been repaired in time to be involved at Midway.

Starting with Coral Sea US Devastators were obsolete by the beginning of World War 2 but compared to the Swordfish embarked on British Carriers they were pretty advanced.

One half a of Carrier is its ability to take damage. The other side of the equation is the Air Wing embarked on an aircraft Carrier. Both factors have to be combined to gage the effectiveness of a Carrier. Here I think that US and IJN carriers had the edge over the British designs. In €42, when most of the great carrier battles occurred (4 out of 5) the USN CVs embarked almost twice as many aircraft as their British counterparts. In €42 the British were still flying Swordfish and Fulmar€s only towards the end of €˜42 did Marlets show up in numbers on British carriers.

In June of €42 a Yorktown class CV would embark 27 F4F-4, 36 SBD-3 and 15 TBD. Not until Sept of €˜42 would the Illustrious embark 21 Marlets, 6 fulmar and 15 Swordfish. Instead of the over 100 SBDs and 45 TBD thrown at the Japanese fleet at Midway the British would have only been able to put 18 Fulmars and 45 Swordfish up against the four Japanese Carriers.

The much smaller British strike groups would have been hard pressed to make it though Japanese CAP, much less hit their targets.

It€s next to impossible to say which carrier design was better. However you could put yourself into 1942 and ask yourself if you were going up against Japanese CVs what Carrier would you want? I think that the only choice would be the USN CVs in this case.

Now on to the Kamikaze attacks. Here things are still a bit murky. The evidence indicated that the British Carriers withstood the Kamikaze attacks better then USN CVs. However again you have to factor in the air groups into the equation in 45 during the heyday of the Kamikaze attacks an Essex class CV would embark on average two squadrons of fighters (close to 70) on of Dive Bombers (15) and one of Torpedo bombers (TBF). The Illustrious would carry 36 corsairs and 15 avengers. If the Allied fleets had been defended solely by British Carriers the CAP numbers would have been almost half of what they were historically. The British Carriers received the little damage they did because US CVs (along with the British) were able to put up a massive wall of CAP. Halve your CAP numbers and statistically you might double the amount of damage a British CV would take. Or to look at it another way had the US adopted the British carrier designs the limited number of aircraft embarked would have prohibited the carrier Raids on Japan.

I think it€s a great disservice to the history of World War 2 to make a blanket statement that Brit CVs are better then US CVs or vise versa. You can€t look at just the damage sustained and say with authority that armored decks were superior. The ultimate carrier would be the later Midway class, with a heavily armored deck and a massive Air Group. Both US and British carriers are constrained by the times they were designed and all offered trade-offs.

Personally I would give the nod to the US CVs however that is strictly my personal opinion of the matter after a large amount of research. hypothetically if the British and US CV faced off agaisnt each other in equal tonnage I would have to go with the USN again. British CVs were tough, excellent ships hobbled by their limited air group capacity. The USN Carriers had the largest Air Wings afloat and were awesome weapons, but when the Japanese could penetrate the massive CAP and massive amounts of Flak it could be hurt worse then it€s British counterparts.

Sorry to ramble on!
jon

k5054
12-03-2004, 11:57 AM
It's likely that where the british ship designers could envisage being under cruiser fire or attack by land-based air, they never in their wildest dreams planned for having the money to buy a 70 aircraft air wing. The heart of the differences here is money. And different requirements.

Had there been no treaties, and navies allowed to build what ships they liked, would carriers have been built at all in the inter-war years? Or would the big-gun lobby rule all?

Aaron_GT
12-03-2004, 01:32 PM
JonHal wrote:
" No British Carrier flight deck (armor or no) could stop the penetration of a Japanese 250kg AP bomb."

They seemed to be able to survive that size (and larger) AP bombs from the Luftwaffe, so I don't see why they would be susceptible to the IJN bombs.

Aaron_GT
12-03-2004, 01:43 PM
JonHal wrote:
"Starting with Coral Sea US Devastators were obsolete by the beginning of World War 2 but compared to the Swordfish embarked on British Carriers they were pretty advanced."

But then the Swordfish was almost entirely restricted to European and Mediterranean theatres, so the comparasion isn't particularly relevant to the Pacific. It was the Barracuda that saw the action in the Pacific. The Barracuda and Devastator compare fairly well in terms of performance, with the Barracuda having about 30mph superior speed. Also extensive use was made of the Avenger.

tora-2
12-03-2004, 02:18 PM
Have to say the Swordfish is an interesting aircraft and one I'd personally love to see as flyable in the game. As an aircraft thats pretty much obsolete its all too easy to make blanket statements that compare it less than favourably with other more "modern" aircraft.

Yet the successes and battle honours of the stringbag surpass many of these others. Taranto ( to a large extent leading on to Pearl Harbour ), Bismarck and so forth.

The Swordfish was in many ways a greater success than either the Albacore or the Barracuda. And at least it was in service and in action right from the start of the war. Not much point comparing it to later models.

Perhaps one of the lessons of the Swordfish were that being slow doesn't always matter , and can be an advantage in a carrier torpedo attack aircraft. Any torpedo bomber caught by a fighter was in trouble , I don't see that as changing throughout the war really.

JonHal
12-03-2004, 02:30 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Aaron_GT:
JonHal wrote:
" No British Carrier flight deck (armor or no) could stop the penetration of a Japanese 250kg AP bomb."

They seemed to be able to survive that size (and larger) AP bombs from the Luftwaffe, so I don't see why they would be susceptible to the IJN bombs. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I think there is a little debate as to what type of bombs the Luftwaffe used on the Illustrious. Stuka's operating out of Greece more then likely would have been carrying GP bombs and not armor pearcing. especially if their targets were thin skinned transports. AP bombs could go straight through a Transport. Regardless of the type of bomb the Illustrious was knocked out for a year. for a comparision the Yorktown took 3 at Coral Sea, still managed to make Midway, took another three bombs and was still able to land planes until torpedoed. quite a difference in damage absorbtion, don't you think?

TigerStolly
12-03-2004, 02:30 PM
On the 10th of Jan 1941 Illustrious received the attention of 30 Ju87's dropping 1,000lb AP bombs. Seven hit and exploded, one penetrated the armoured portion of the deck. An unknown number hit and rolled off the deck, it was obviously hard to count these.

If it wasn't for the deck, she wouldn't have survived long enough to be denigrated for the worthless nature of the deck.

RAC_Pips
12-03-2004, 02:38 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by JonHal:

One must also take into account one of the primary missions of a Aircraft Carrier in World War 2. And that was to sink the opposing Carriers. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Good point in retrospect, but in fact only Japan had grasped that fact in 1941, and even then only partially. That strategic direction only came about because the USN lost it's battleship fleet at the start of the war. In Britain the Admiralty was ruled by 'battleship' Admirals, and the carrier was seen as a support to the battlefleet, not the leader. Which has a big bearing on some of the doctrines that the FAA operated under.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>People should look at the Five great Carrier battles of the Pacific Theatre and ask themselves how would the British CVs have faired if they had replaced the US CVs? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Due to their much smaller aircraft capacity, lack of radar and more importantly ADR control, antiquated aircraft in 1942 there is no doubt that, amroured deck or not, the British carriers would have been defeated.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>No British Carrier flight deck (armor or no) could stop the penetration of a Japanese 250kg AP bomb. The bomb typically carried by Vals. Evidence would seem to indicate that British Carriers would have suffered the same amount of damage as their US counterparts. The poster who claims the British Carriers shrugged off damage that knocked out US CVs for weeks is perhaps not looking at the big picture. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

The first amroured carrier of the RN was the Illustrious. It's 3 inch deck armour and 4 1/2 inch side armour was designed specifically to withstand 250kg semi armour-piercing bombs. And it did so in the Med when bombed by Stukas.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Someone posting mentioned the attack on the HMS Illustrious by German Stuka dive bombers. They Did NOT mention The Illustrious was hit by 5 bombs, 1 penetrating the flight deck, This damage put her out of the war for almost a year. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

It did, but even so it managed to continue to sail under her own steam until it reached the port of Malta. No US carrier would have survived that attack - nor earlier RN carriers eg Ark Royal, for that matter.


<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>One half a of Carrier is its ability to take damage. The other side of the equation is the Air Wing embarked on an aircraft Carrier. Both factors have to be combined to gage the effectiveness of a Carrier. Here I think that US and IJN carriers had the edge over the British designs. In €42, when most of the great carrier battles occurred (4 out of 5) the USN CVs embarked almost twice as many aircraft as their British counterparts. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Absolutely correct.

It's amazing to think that Britain lead the way in almost every major development of carrier design and yet, by 1930, she had fallen far behind both the USN and IJN. And that was due to a combination of strategic blindness on the part of several individuals within the Admirality, the financial constraints placed upon the Royal Navy by both a succession of labour Governmenst and the Treasury, and bitter political in-fighting on the part of the Air Board (which controlled the RAF) to maintain control of all aircraft, yet at the expense of the FAA.

In 1918 the RNAS (forunner to the FAA) had over 2,500 frontline operational aircraft. Even by war's end in 1945 the FAA only had just over 1,400 frontline aircraft. A very sad and frustrating tale.

JonHal
12-03-2004, 04:03 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>One must also take into account one of the primary missions of a Aircraft Carrier in World War 2. And that was to sink the opposing Carriers. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Good point in retrospect, but in fact only Japan had grasped that fact in 1941, and even then only partially. That strategic direction only came about because the USN lost it's battleship fleet at the start of the war. In Britain the Admiralty was ruled by 'battleship' Admirals, and the carrier was seen as a support to the battlefleet, not the leader. Which has a big bearing on some of the doctrines that the FAA operated under. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Not really true. during the 30's the "big gun club" still ruled the USN and IJN. Carriers were seen as a useful adjunct to the main battle line, the main use of a Carrier's aircraft being spotting and recon. Even the Battleship Admirals of the day realized the massive tactical advantage if they alone had aircraft aloft. Aircraft attacking Battleships was unthinkable, but Aircraft eliminating the oposing forces carriers was seen as a nessicary step in securing air superiority over and enemy battle fleet and an advantage in an Battleship vs. Battleship engagement.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Someone posting mentioned the attack on the HMS Illustrious by German Stuka dive bombers. They Did NOT mention The Illustrious was hit by 5 bombs, 1 penetrating the flight deck, This damage put her out of the war for almost a year. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>It did, but even so it managed to continue to sail under her own steam until it reached the port of Malta. No US carrier would have survived that attack - nor earlier RN carriers eg Ark Royal, for that matter. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Very true.. But it brings up a delema. Perhaps no US carrier would survive that number of Hits but a US CV would have had a much larger CAP overhead and heavier AA. Perhaps preventing those bomb hits from even happening.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>It's amazing to think that Britain lead the way in almost every major development of carrier design and yet, by 1930, she had fallen far behind both the USN and IJN. And that was due to a combination of strategic blindness on the part of several individuals within the Admirality, the financial constraints placed upon the Royal Navy by both a succession of labour Governmenst and the Treasury, and bitter political in-fighting on the part of the Air Board (which controlled the RAF) to maintain control of all aircraft, yet at the expense of the FAA.

In 1918 the RNAS (forunner to the FAA) had over 2,500 frontline operational aircraft. Even by war's end in 1945 the FAA only had just over 1,400 frontline aircraft. A very sad and frustrating tale. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Can't argue with you there. Designing carriers under the Treaty restrictions of the '30s lead down only two paths, Heavy Armor or Large air groups. Both have their pros and cons. But I don't think anyone can argue with the deplorable state of British Naval Aviation at the Start of World War 2.

Regards,
jon

k5054
12-03-2004, 04:18 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Due to their much smaller aircraft capacity, lack of radar and more importantly ADR control, antiquated aircraft in 1942 there is no doubt that, amroured deck or not, the British carriers would have been defeated. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

The RN pioneered radar and fighter direction in battle. Maybe the sets were mounted on cruisers, but what difference did that make. The USN took a lot of advice from the RN on this front.
The RN would never have split the carriers as the USN did at Midway, splitting the CAP, not allowing one ship to cover the other, spreading out the strike wings so as to not overwhelm the target. The USN got very lucky that day, the battle might have gone the other way just like that.
RN carriers were not intended to take on other carriers, there were no enemy carriers in their expected combat area. They were intended to defend fleets form shadowing and land-based attack, to attack surface units of all kinds, and to raid land targets.

Oh, and better to have a torpedo that works on a slow plane than one which doesn't on the best plane in the world. Which the TBD was not.

Nimits
12-03-2004, 04:54 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by TigerStolly:
On the 10th of Jan 1941 Illustrious received the attention of 30 Ju87's dropping 1,000lb AP bombs. Seven hit and exploded, one penetrated the armoured portion of the deck. An unknown number hit and rolled off the deck, it was obviously hard to count these.

If it wasn't for the deck, she wouldn't have survived long enough to be denigrated for the worthless nature of the deck. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

On the other hand, had she had the larger air-wing allowed by an un-armored flight deck, it is probable that the number of bomb hits she suffered would have been greatly reduced (Stukas were reportedly easy meat for anything more advanced than a Sopwith Camel). Had she only suffered one or two bomb hits, she might have been back in service in two or three months. Had it been 3 Illustrious class at Midway instead of the 3 Yorktowns, the Japanese carriers would have probably been unscathed, their air groups able to overwhelm the Illustrious CAPs and then pick them off at leisure; armored flight decks or know, a torpedo or two would doom any of the RN armored CVs (as opposed the US CVs which could generally survive at least 2 if not 3 or 4 torpedo hits).

FYI, it should be pointed out that many US CVs did take kamikze hits and remain in service or return to service after only brief repairs. At the same time, the anemic airgroups on the Illustrious class, despite their ability to remain on station for a long time, minor players in Okinawa campaign.

Snootles
12-03-2004, 05:25 PM
Interesting, the difference in design emphases among carriers.

The main focus of British designs was protection against bombing attacks. Hence armored decks and hangars at the expense of a great deal of potential hangar space and fuel storage.

The main focus of American designs was aircraft capacity and extra aviation fuel reserves. It's pretty impressive just how many planes and how much avgas they could cram into a relatively limited space. It also really helps to have industries that can just crank out masses of these ships.

The main focus of Japanese designs was speed. This led to very light designs that could fit a good deal of aircraft on board in theory, but whose operational complement was limited by the smaller aviation fuel reserves on board and the limited space. Scant armor and generally poor damage control.

RAF74_Buzzsaw
12-03-2004, 08:58 PM
Salute

Lots of inaccuracies being put forward here.

First of all, the Stuka was a highly effective dive bomber. Captain Eric Brown had the opportunity to test the Dauntlas, Helldiver and Stuka, and rated the Stuka as the best of the bunch. Compared to the Val, it easily comes off as superior, since it had much better armour protection, self sealing tanks and a better defensive armament.

Certainly it was not wonderful in air to air combat, all dive bombers were poor in this situation. Although Hans Ulrich Rudel would have us believe that it was better than most give it credit for.

How well US aircraft carriers would have done in the Mediterranean during 1942 is open to question. Certainly the attack gruppes of Ju-87's and Ju-88's were highly effective.

Second point would be that the British Fighter aircraft used on Carriers in the Med were nothing to scoff at.

In 1942, these fighters included the Marlet, (F4f4 Wildcat), Sea Hurricane I and II's, (including cannon armed variants) and the Fulmar. The Fulmar has been denigrated by some, but against unescorted enemy attack aircraft, its FOUR 20mm cannon and big ammo load were extremely effective. Put a Fulmar up against a Val and after a 1/2 second burst, you have flaming wreckage. The Fulmar was not great in air to air versus fighters, it was quite slow, although it turned well.

In regards to the suggestion that the British Carriers would not have done well in the Pacific, that is speculation.

Certainly the British Carriers were not designed to operate in the Pacific with its huge spaces. They were designed to operate in the narrow confines of the Mediterranean and the North Sea, where it was not possible to hide. Without the ability to hide, the possibility of being hit by airstrikes becomes an expected occurrance. Since it is not possible to prevent every aircraft from getting through, armouring must be a priority.

US Carriers were designed to operate in the Pacific, against their expected adversary, the Japanese. It is far easier to hide in the vast areas of the Pacific. The tactics of "Launch and Scoot" were typically used by both sides. In many Pacific Battles, aircraft would be launched on attack strikes and fail to locate their targets, unlike the Mediterranean where airstrikes invariably found the target.

For the above reasons, the US designers made the decision to go for less armour to allow larger airgroups. More aircraft allowed for more aircraft which could be sent out to to search for and strike the enemy. If one group failed to locate the enemy, another might.

The Japanese made the same design choice, again, likely because they knew the Pacific enviroment.

The American design philosophy worked well for them until 1944/45 when they found themselves tied to a particular area, in the case of Okinawa, or in a more confined sea area, as when they operated off Japan.

In both of these situations, the Japanese were able to pinpoint their position exactly, and direct their strikes accordingly. Hence the large number of damaged and nearly destroyed Carriers.

3rd, in relation to the claim that US Carriers often took hits and returned to action.

They may have returned to action, but that was usually after major repairs and several months. This is what happened with the Franklin the first time it was hit by a Kamikaze. It had to to return to the US for repairs. It then re-sortied to the Far East and its fate off Japan.

Buckaroo_VF6
12-03-2004, 09:06 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by WOLFMondo:
I think it depends on the author of the facts on how good British ships were, this article seems to avoid major facts like just how long these ships were in service, the damage and mileage they did etc when comparing them to US carriers which did'nt see half the service these ships saw. Its not the first time or the last you'll see a paper on people trying to put down the British naval power without considering all the facts.

The British carriers served the purpose they were designed for admirably, as did the Battleships, light and heavy cruisers and destroyers and frigates. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

At an informal board request (june 30th, 1941) BuShips looked at converting or building some Essex Class carriers into an Armored Deck configuration. Here is a partial quote from BuShips, from Norman Friedman's excellent US Aircraft Carriers :an illistrated design history.

"The question is often asked as to what the results would have been if a ship of the CV-9 class had been subjected to the same attack as the Illustrious...Assuming the hits to have occured in approximately the same locations in CV9 , as in the Illustrious, there seems no reason to believe that the CV9 would not have survived." Small scale testing was done on the CV9 Essex design. Unless massively uping the tonnage of the carrier (which was done in the later Midway class) BuShips determined that offiensive power was more important then defensive as no amount of armor could render a carrier impervious to Bomb damage.

SkyChimp
12-03-2004, 10:40 PM
Buzzsaw, the USN didn't "go with less armor." They placed it in a different areas. British flight decks were armored, but their hangar decks weren't. American flight decks weren't armored, but their hangar decks were.

Reread the original piece.

And you still seem to be under some impression that kamikaze planes didn't do damage to British carriers. Not true. In some instances, minor hits ruined them.

Again, reread the article.

====

Here's some information from that site regarding British armor:

Editor's Notes
1) The armor protection for the Illustrious class was as follows:

The Flight Deck over the hangar consisted of structurally worked 120 lbs. NC armor (3 inches), which was considered proof against 6 inch (100 lbs. projectiles) plunging fire below 23,000 yards and 500 lbs. SAP bombs dropped from 7,000 feet. The hangar sides were 180 lbs. C armor (4.5 inches) and the hangar bulkheads were of 80 lbs. NC plating. This was considered adequate to protect against 6 inch gun fire at ranges over 7,000 yards.

The armor protection for the magazines was 180 lbs. C armor on the ship's side and 120 and 100 lbs. NC armor on the hangar deck.

The side protection system was design to withstand a 750 lbs. TNT contact charge and consisted of an air-liquid-air "sandwich" system with a depth of 14 feet and ran between stations 61 and 121, 240 feet in all, and continuous from outer bottom to 9 inches above the main deck.

The Indomitable class had similar protection except that the hangar side protection was reduced from 180 lbs. to 60 lbs. C armor (1.5 inches).

The protection in Implacable and Indefatigable was also similar to the Illustrious class except that the hangar side and end protection was reduced to 60 lbs. NC while the lower hangar deck (top of citadel) was 60 to 100 lbs. NC armor. Protection to the steering gear was 120 lbs. NC. As a result of trials on Job 74 a protective bulkhead of 55 lbs. was fitted in lieu of the 60 lbs. bulkhead on previous ships.

2) It should be understood that of the eight hits suffered by HMS Illustrious off Malta and the further two hits inflicted while at Malta, only one struck the armored box and that one penetrated the 3 inch deck armor and exploded in the hangar, causing serious damage to the forward lift and a bad fire which destroyed several aircraft. According to D.K. Brown RCNC, writing about the damage in his Warship Issue No. 28 "Attack and Defence" article:

"It is interesting to note that the armoured hangar, provided at such great expense, proved of no value . . . The ship was also lucky in that several hits were close together so that the later ones added little to the earlier damage. On the other hand, to withstand 8 hits and 2 near misses from 500 kg bombs was a great achievement. Her designer, W.A.D. Forbes, Captain Boyd and the crew all had reason for pride in their work."
The armored decks of these carriers were intended to resist 500 lbs. bombs, not the 500 kg (1,100 lbs.) bombs that the Germans used during these attacks. The failure of the armored deck on HMS Illustrious to resist the much larger bomb is thus not so surprising.
Tony DiGiulian

SkyChimp
12-03-2004, 10:45 PM
Here you go, Buzzsaw. This should address further your concerns.

The Armored Box: The War's Verdict

2002 Richard Worth

In Nelson to Vanguard, D.K. Brown critiques the choices made by designers of aircraft carriers. €œI would suggest that both the RN and USN were right for the wars they planned to fight, the RN in narrow seas, facing shore-based aircraft while the USN expected to engage the Japanese fleet in the open Pacific.€1 Defenders of the armor-box carriers inevitably cite these differing scenarios as justification for the Illustrious design, yet they do so without Brown€s support - his comment was directed toward the question of open hangars versus enclosed hangars, and he is no defender of the armored box. He states outright that his choice for a British carrier design in that period would be an improved Ark Royal.2 The armor-box hangar, for all its legendary virtue, never justified the legend.

The box armor requirement dragged a crowd of design burdens on its coattails. Stuart has addressed the unforeseen structural issues. Lift configuration, freeboard, habitability, ship€s speed - the box restricted them all. But the salient fact, overshadowing all others, was the limit it imposed on air complement. Here, however, a fundamental misconception has clouded the armor debate; the leadership€s decision for smaller air groups preceded the flight deck armor, a feature subsequently superimposed on the preliminary design work.3 These two steps, though distinct, became inseparably meshed in the design€s wartime shortcomings and thus must be considered together. The small-group specification put the ships at an initial disadvantage, and the armor then canceled any hope for a remedy, cramping the hangars and reducing the space available for deck parks.

Wartime exploits in the Mediterranean have given a false impression that the armored carriers were intended specifically for that narrow-seas setting, but Britain had worldwide commitments. The Admiralty€s eyes, roving over the vastness of the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, never myopically fixed on a European land-based air threat. Difficult negotiations with Japan raised the immediate prospect of a Far East war, and Greene and Massignani specifically link this threat to the Admiralty€s prevailing battle doctrine.4 Fleet projections in the mid-1930€s revealed the true priorities, calling for the deployment of eight fleet carriers - five of them to the East.5 The narrow European seas, often touted as the reason for the armored box, exerted minimal influence. The Mediterranean hadn€t suddenly shrunk after Ark Royal was designed.

But something had indeed changed - the treaty situation - and this, rather than geography, gave birth to the armor-box carrier. As the treaty expiration date drew near, the British foresaw their freedom to build multiple carriers, which led them to think they need not crowd each individual ship with a powerful air complement6 - the dubious decision that made the armored carrier possible. It paralleled the navy€s willingness to build small but numerous cruisers, though along a different line of thought - design studies revealed that small carriers would prove cost-ineffective and operationally inferior; yet small air groups had an allure in placing few FAA eggs in any one basket, however large the basket might be.7 While no one dared apply such logic to battleships€"arguing for only two or three guns per ship - it had some validity as applied to carriers in view of the limited FAA resources at the time. However, it forfeited the potential impetus for increased procurement inherent in a fleet of half-empty carriers,8 and it neglected any consideration of wartime mobilization.

The Illustrious project gestated amid unprecedented haste and informality in the British design bureau,9 permanently masking much of the designers€ rationale, yet hints have survived. The RAF mantra that €œthe bomber will always get through€ certainly played a role.10 Given the contrasting €œneeds€ for a small air group aboard a large carrier, the option to devote a hefty tonnage to protecting the air group seems an obvious one; and to armor the flight deck against the sort of weapon carried by the newest FAA bomber (the Skua€s 500-lb SAP bomb) indicates balanced thinking, if not foresight. Clues like these provide only a partial picture of the design process, but World War II would precisely gauge the design results.

As things turned out, the Mediterranean Campaign failed to fulfill its billing as the quintessential narrow-sea setting complete with a high incidence of bomb hits. During the entire war, only fifteen bombs scored hits on Allied carriers in the Mediterranean, a number surpassed in the first year of the fight against Japan. Of the fifteen hits, the Illustrious class flight deck armor defeated only one - Victorious shrugged off an anti-personnel bomb dropped at low altitude by an Re.2001 fighter.11 Indomitable took two 500-kg hits, but both of them avoided her armor which thus did nothing to preserve her flight deck; the ship was non-operational for the remainder of the action. Of the two 500-kg bombs dropped on Formidable, one struck her deck armor and sent pieces of it shooting all the way down into the ship€s machinery spaces. In the most famous Mediterranean incident, Illustrious survived numerous hits, but only one 500-kg bomb found her deck armor.12

So the armored box€s primary achievement in this narrow-sea setting was to detonate the two Formidable and Illustrious bombs high in the hull, which certainly enhanced survivability, though not in the way the designers intended. The hangars and their planes suffered increased damage, but crippling damage to the vitals became less likely. There€s no debating the advantage of this; yet debate continues, and properly so, because of the extra ounce of prevention the ships could have enjoyed with a larger CAP. Accepting a small fighter group meant accepting a greater probability of bomb hits, with the hopes of minimizing the damage those bombs caused - a strange set of priorities. Of course, the carrier€s escorts might dispute the entire notion of minimizing the damage - the armored box did them no good, in contrast to the universal blessing of a hefty CAP. And hangar armor, unlike fighters, could never counter a flight of torpedo planes. However, British planners had not foreseen that fighter interception would become an effective defense against fast, modern aircraft.

Apart from this self-defense issue, a Yorktown-sized air group would have greatly increased the ships€ offensive capability. With a larger airgroup, how much more could the British have accomplished at Taranto? Would Vittorio Veneto have survived Matapan if attacked by twice as many Albacores? Throughout the campaign, British carriers suffered from limited offensive muscle, which in turn allowed the enemy to retain a greater ability to strike back. The armored carrier design seemingly argued that the best defense was a weak offense.

It should be noted that the armored box was intended to defeat not only bombs but cruiser shells as well.13 Yet the €œnarrow sea€ never proved so narrow as to force an armored carrier into the line of 6-inch gunfire. Naturally, the designers can€t be blamed for lacking postwar hindsight at a time when some carriers still sported cruiser-caliber guns, but war experience revealed that the compromises they accepted were unnecessary to the ships€ eventual mission.

It was in the open waters of the Pacific, late in the war, that the armored flight decks encountered a threat they could defeat - the kamikaze.14 The ensuing €œsweepers, man your brooms€ publicity properly underscored the potential benefits of flight deck armor, but also obscured the actual record; the Royal Navy€s own survey cited the flight deck armor as instrumental in defeating only one kamikaze. Even so, popular acclaim singled out the armor factor when the full story was much more revealing.

The British received relatively tame treatment from the kamikazes, as noted in David Hamer€s overview of the Okinawa campaign: €œThe Americans were operating four times as many fast carriers as the British, and the weight of Kamikaze attacks against them was many times greater again: ten Kikusui (massed suicide attacks) being flung against them whereas there were no such attacks on the British carriers.€15 A tally of Japanese aircraft lost during this time illustrates the disproportionate burden; the American TF 58 (including fifteen fast carriers) destroyed 1,908 Japanese planes, while the British TF 57 with its four fast carriers managed only 75 kills.16 Despite this glaring disparity, kamikazes damaged four carriers in each task force - every British carrier suffered at least one hit. The only armored carrier to reach war€s end without kamikaze damage was Implacable, which arrived on station at the end of the Okinawa campaign. What would have become of the British carrier fleet if it had faced the same intensity of attack as the Americans? The prospects are sobering.

The frequency of hits on British carriers did not equate to extensive casualties, and the hangar armor certainly saved lives once a plane actually struck, at least in one instance.17 But again, armor was not a solitary factor in limiting the casualties. The British never faced the prospect of a kamikaze hit amid an American-sized crowd of armed and fueled aircraft.18 The restricted air group had this ironic side-benefit; it provided less kindling in case of fire. Avgas storage, a proven killer of carriers, was severely limited19 as was aircraft weaponry.20 In this case, the fact that Illustrious presented a lesser threat to the enemy also made her a tougher target - analogous perhaps to sending a battleship into action with only a few rounds of ammunition in hopes of preventing a magazine explosion. Unlike a battleship, though, a fully stocked aircraft carrier can shoot down the enemy €œshells€ before they reach striking range.

So the Mediterranean experience recurred in the Pacific, with the ships showing occasionally increased resistance to hits that an enlarged fighter group might have prevented altogether. By this time, however, no one doubted the value of fighter interception. Brown puts it in simple terms: €œMore fighters would have been better protection than armour.€21 Without an advantage in defense, the armor-box layout could not justify its weaker offense. British planners, seeing the correlation of America€s open hangars and offensive muscle, turned about-face in their final fleet carrier design of the war, the Malta project. Initially featuring the hangar armor of its predecessors, Malta eventually abandoned not only the armored box, but all flight deck armor and even the enclosed hangar itself.22

Debates over the armor-box carriers can take many forms, focusing on the flight deck in particular, the armored box in general, the very concept of an enclosed hangar, or the entirety of the ship design. Discussions can account for external factors such as FAA mismanagement and radar advances, while noting the ships€ commendable war record and their inglorious postwar lingering. While the Illustrious design within its 1930€s context remains subject to varying critiques, it€s clear that in wartime the armored box limited the ships both offensively and defensively - and found no vindication during World War II.

Footnotes

Nelson to Vanguard: Warship Design 1923-1945 by D.K. Brown, page 56 (henceforth listed as "Nelson to Vanguard).
Ibid.
The Design and Construction of British Warships 1939-45: Major Surface Warships by D.K. Brown, page 53.
The Naval War in the Mediterranean by Jack Greene and Alessandro Massignani, pages 38-9. See also The Royal Navy and the Capital Ship in the Interwar Period by Joseph Moretz: War with Japan was €œthe one encounter the Royal Navy had consistently trained to meet,€ page 239.
British Carrier Aviation by Norman Friedman, page 132.
Ibid.
The Illustrious specification for thirty-six planes represented the larger of two options under consideration. British Carrier Aviation, page 132.
Brown relates Illustrious project decisions to an increase in defense spending. Nelson to Vanguard, page 49.
Air Power and the Royal Navy 1914-1945 by Geoffrey Till, page 77. The design leadership managed to €œcut the usual stately progress of carrier design from three years to three months.€
American & British Aircraft Carrier Development 1919-1941 by Thomas C. Hone, Norman Friedman, and Mark D. Mandeles, page 93.
The intended war load, a 630-kg AP bomb, was not available to the Italian squadron at that time. The Naval War in the Mediterranean, page 248.
For a full description of these hits, see British Carrier Aviation, page 147.
The Illustrious hangar had 4.5-inch thick side armor, subsequently reduced to 1.5-inch for Indomitable and the Implacable class. Nelson to Vanguard, pages 50-51.
€œThere was one [kamikaze] hit on the armour deck where the fleet thought the protection had been invaluable; in the others it was thought that the structure of an unarmored deck would have resisted the glancing blow.€ Nelson to Vanguard, page 56.
Bombers versus Battleships by David Hamer, page 323.
Ibid, page 367.
The one attack in which the deck armor proved important - on 9 May 1945, Victorious endured three kamikaze hits, the second of which dished in a section of the flight deck and managed to pierce it. The ship remained in action. Nelson to Vanguard, page 205.
Brown€s survey of the armored carriers notes only one instance of a serious kamikaze-induced fire among parked aircraft, aboard Formidable on 9 May 1945. Nelson to Vanguard, page 205.
Illustrious, though larger than Ark Royal, carried only about half as much petrol - 50,540 gallons versus 100,000 gallons. British and Empire Warships of the Second World War by H.T. Lenton, pages 101, 103.
Bomb and torpedo stowage went from about 225 tons in Ark Royal to about 175 tons in Illustrious. British Carrier Aviation, page 134.
Nelson to Vanguard, page 56.
British Carrier Aviation, pages 287-296; also Nelson to Vanguard, page 54.

SkyChimp
12-03-2004, 11:20 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by k5054:
The RN pioneered radar and fighter direction in battle. Maybe the sets were mounted on cruisers, but what difference did that make. The USN took a lot of advice from the RN on this front.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Not as much as you might think.

The USN had radar on their carriers and battleships before the "big technology transfer" from the Brits to the Americans in 1940. Even at the time of that "transfer", the British were apparently surprised that Americans already had radar sets equal in capability to their own. Where the Brits exceeded America was in the number of sets, and the fact that they had been used operationally in wartime conditions.

I suggest perusing this work:

History of
Communications-Electronics in
the United States Navy

http://earlyradiohistory.us/1963hw.htm

Further, you will see that the transfer of radar technology was hardly a one-way street. The Brits gave us the "gift of the cavity magnetron" (actually a US invention), but in return got access to US duplexing technology, which the Brits did not have, that allowed sets to be made smaller and useful on aircraft.

fordfan25
12-03-2004, 11:57 PM
dang chimp. i could use your resourceing skill in my ford VS chevy debate with a friend of mine lol

woofiedog
12-04-2004, 01:20 AM
http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif Very interesting reading material Sky Chimp.
In all my books... I haven't read any Post-War data on their War Time Damage Inspections and results of these test and inspections after the War... outside of the regular press release.
It would be great if the Data of Japanese Carriers could have been added to that article. But none had survived the War.
Thank's for the Info Sky Chimp.

Aaron_GT
12-04-2004, 01:58 AM
" (Stukas were reportedly easy meat for anything more advanced than a Sopwith Camel)"

Only the B vesions (with weak armour). The D and later versions were pretty decent.

Skychimp wrote:
"The USN had radar on their carriers and battleships before the "big technology transfer" from the Brits to the Americans in 1940."

Radar was initially patented in 1904 by the Germans as a method for ships to detect other ships. Marconi proposed it as ship radar in 1922, but it wasn't until 1930 that it was noticed (by the US Navy) that it could detect planes. Maybe the USN just had more planes with significant metal content that could be detected. The French seem to have been first in actually deploying radar in ships, though, in 1935. That was largely intended to enable it to avoid running into the coast in fog, though.

The Royal Navy didn't prioritise airborne detection radar on ships as surface radar had the priority. The expected attack was in Western Europe and Chain Home, etc provided cover for ships in the Channel, but didn't provide detection of surface vessels. Given the limitations of being able to plan for multiple radar installations suface radar (ASDIC) received the priority for the Royal Navy. They also fitted surface radar in landbased FAA aircraft from 1939 which ultimately spawned AEW during WW2.

Mr_Nakajima
12-04-2004, 02:44 AM
Some people are suggesting that if RN carriers had met Japanese carriers in the Pacific War carrier battles they would have been sunk. But they did meet them, and were not.

In early 1942 the IJN raided into the Indian Ocean and raided Ceylon. Admiral Somerville was quite aware of the strengths and weaknesses of his carriers and avoided combat during daylight in favour of a night attack, a particular strength of RN carrier aviation. The Japanese saw no reason to risk night combat and withdrew, just as Somerville had during the day. The result was no carriers lost on either side. Hardly a Nelsonian victory, but Somerville preserved his carriers to fight another day.

There is a great deal of detailed information about the performance of RN carriers off Okinawa above. But the fundamental question is €" did any have to withdraw due to battle damage? I know that USN carriers were so badly damaged they were no longer combat effective and had to return for repairs straight away, but I am not aware of any RN carrier having to do so. They remained on station.

The RN chose the route it did because of the particular circumstances of geography, technology, finance and politics (especially in the fight for control of aircraft with the RAF) it found itself in in the 1930s and 1940s. Hindsight showed that some of those choices were wrong, but there is a tendency among people posting here (hardly surprising, given the game this forum supports) to assume that the Pacific is the natural home of the WW2 carrier and judge their designs accordingly.