What if

Hot Research Topics => Aircraft, Armor, Weapons and Ships by Topic => Topic started by: Archibald on February 20, 2006, 06:03:17 am

Title: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: Archibald on February 20, 2006, 06:03:17 am
Some days ago I was talking on this forum about a hypothetic naval Mirage F1EM
Someone replied something like  " this fighter naval Mirage F1 could havr been a  good solution to replace the Crusaders on the small Essex carriers, along skyhawks attack planes"

This quote gave me an idea : What if the USA sold the Essex carriers to ALL their allies, starting in 1966 to 1985? What about the air groups on the flight deck?

I imagined this...and others stories like this on my website, here http://myparalelworld.populus.ch/ (http://myparalelworld.populus.ch/)

In 1963, Kennedy said that "to defeat communism, america won't hesitate to sell sophisticated armements to his allies". That's why the F5 Tiger was sold in huge numbers in the following years. But another plan was settled for the Navies equipment. The entire Essex class - no less than 27 aircrafts carriers of WWII- was due to scrap starting in 1968. But the US governement change his plans : the Essex carriers would be sold to the US allies, to reinforce their navy!. The US Governement proposed to his allies a "pack" of equipement, sold in FMS :
-   1 Essex class carrier
-   15 brand new A4 Skyhawk (the production line was still open, until 1979).
-   Crusaders interceptors.
-   Trackers (in ASW but also E1 AEW types, and COD.)
-   1 CVL light carrier, to become an assault helicopter carrier
-   a pile of surplus Bell UH-1 to be used from the CVL.
These equipments were really a good bargain, sold at low prices. The success was tremendous and a lot of countries were interested by this pack. Most of them bought the Essex carrier, but not the CVL and UH-1 which were less interesting.
So… in 1966, the RCAN Canadian navy was the first to buy an Essex carrier. Dubbed HMS "Vancouver", the ship entered service in 1967,with CF-5N on the flight deck.
The main problem were the interceptors : the Crusader was the last american fighter able to use this carriers (Phantoms, Tomcats were too heavy and expensive, even the future Hornet was too heavy). Mc donnell Douglas took his chance and refitted an old prototype, Crusader rival, the F5D skylancer. The two prototypes were exellents, and flew with NASA until the end of the 60's. MDD took one of them and promote it as a Crusader replacement. At le Bourget air show, 1971, the Skylancer prototype was exibed, the new version was to be modified with a AWG-10 radar, Sparrow missiles…  Grummann also made the same thing, promoting is old F11-F2 Super Tiger. The trouble with these airplanes was : no production, no airplanes in service in the US Navy.
Northrop also took his chance, promoting a naval version of its Tiger II fighter, the F5N, and a naval P530 Cobra;in the 80's a naval F20 Tigershark was also proposed.  Lockheed proposed a naval CL-1200, the CL-1204. And then come Dassault. Since 1967,and Breguet takeover, the firm had a naval fighter in his inventory : the Breguet/BAC cyclone, which 200 were in service along French and British carriers. It was a true, naval mach2 fighter. It replacement was on the way : the Mirage F1M, naval version of the F1E (with the powerful M53 engine).
Dassault quickly understood the big market of "Essex carrier interceptors". The american, too, and this harsh competition was dubbed "deal of the Century". French and American competitors offered  two ways of having a mdern naval interceptor
-   refitting old interceptors from the end of the 50's. The competitors were the Grumman F11F-2 Super tiger, The Douglas Super skylancer, Dassault Cylcone (even Vought proposed upgraded Crusaders, but could not afford to reopen the production line).
-   Brand new, modern interceptors : the choice was reduced to the F5N Vs F1EM.
The F5N was no match concerning performances, and none of them were in service with the US Navy. The Dassault bid was the most interesting, as the Cyclone and Mirage were very similar. Dassault also proposed to upgrade the Cyclone with F1C stuff (Atar 9K50 engine, Cyrano IV radar), waiting for the F1EM.
Concerning attack planes, Dassault proposed the F1E, too (with air to ground ability) or an upgraded Etendard IV, versus Skyhawk and Harriers. Vought also promote an  A7 Corsair III, with a variable incidence wing to oper from Essex carriers.  
After the RCAN in 1966, the RAN (Royal Australian Navy) also bought Essex carriers.These ships were considered as a deterrent against Indonesia. Dubbed  "Canberra" and "Woomera", they had Skyhawk on the flight deck. Australia elected the upgraded Cyclone; this airplane was very similar to the Mirage IIIO in service with the RAAF.

Along the years, Essex carriers buyers were :
-   Netherlands, in 1969, to replace their old "Karel Doorman" and Hawker Seahawks. The ship was dubbed "Amsterdam".
-   Italy in 1970 ("Leornado Da Vinci")
-   Brazil in 1973, to replace the ageing Minas Gerais. ("Rio de Janeiro")
-   Japan in 1974 ("Takahata")
-   Greece in 1975, after the Cyprus crisis ("Andreou Papadopoulous")
-   South Korea ("Incheon")
-   Iran bought no less than three carriers  in 1973 ("Pavlhavi" "Teheran" "Busher")
-   Argentina in 1973 ("Eva Peron")
-   Chili in 1975 ("Simon Bolivar")
-   Spain in 1977 ("Cervantes")
-   Israel in 1981 ("Weizman")
-   Saudi Arabia ("Ryiad") in 1983.
-   Germany in 1985 ("Munchen").

Most of the airplanes on the flight deck were Skyahwks, along F5N or Cyclone (and, later, F1EM).
The most promising market was the assault and antiship, light attack plane. Many projects were set up, with various sizes forms and weights.
In 1981, Republic proposed an antiship, naval version of his A10A, the A10N. Boosted by unreheated F100 with 6000kgp of thrust, it could carried up to  six AGM-84 Harpoons on its underwings pylons. Of course, the terrible GAU-9 gun was maintened. Saudi Arabia, Israel and South Korea bought A10N. This aicraft was extremly efficient, but was highly specialised and vulnerable.  Dassault replied by making an Exocet capable version of his F1EM, and also an antiship, naval Alpha Jet, with Atlis pod and AS-30L. To counter that, the Cessna A37N was armed with AGM-65 mavericks.
These two contenders demonstrated that light trainers or attack plane could be used in the naval assault role from the deck of an Essex class carrier, and right from this moment, the number of projects skyrocketed. Nearly every country making training jets or dedicated light attack aircraft proposed naval assaut version, with armement ranging from dumb  bombs and rockets pods to heavy anti-ship missiles (Iae Pampa and Pucara, CASA
 C-101 Aviojet, MB-339, Pilatus PC-9, Sea Harrier, SeaJaguar and SeaHawk with Sea Skua missiles…). And for the COD market, it was the same thing…
Three class of combat aircrafts were proposed.
-   Interceptors; this market was led by Dassault. Its F1E could land on Essex carriers, whereas the Hornet was too heavy. Of course, Northrop replied with  F5N and F20N, but the first was very limited, and the second aircraft was not built for the US Navy, (as a consequence, it had little chance of success).
-   Attack and antiship  planes : A7 Corsair III (with VI wing) Etendard IVNG, Sea Jaguar, Harriers, Skyhawk  and  A10N SeaWarthog were fighting bitterly.
-   Training and light attack: A37N, Alpha Jet N, SeaHawk, C-102 AviojetM, MB-339M etc.

Some countries also bought CVL converted into carrier helicopter, with UH-1H on the flight deck and hangar. The aim of the Essex carrier sold with it was to assure air cover. This was a cheap and practical way of making an assault on an ennemy coast. That's why Iran also bought four CVL with 200 surplus UH-1H in 1977. In May 1986, starting from the CVLs, these helicopters were used to make a tremendous asssault on the Foa peninsula. They were protected by F5N from "Teheran" and "Khomeini" (former "pavlhavi") aircraft carriers, along with Skyhawks for the close air support. The attack was totally successfull,  but the "Teheran" was hit and  sunk by 4 Exocets launched from iraqis F1EQ. On those days, a badly damaged Tomcat made an emergency landing on the "Teheran" breaking the myth that these heavy fighters were unable to use small aircrafts carriers like the Essex class.

So the good old Essex class permitted to many navies to have good aircrafts carriers, with a life up to 2010.
Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: PolluxDeltaSeven on February 20, 2006, 02:28:04 pm
Fabulous ideas here, Archibald!!

I'm happy to see a Alfa Jet N because I was planned to draw my own version of the Alpha Jet proposed to the US Navy and armed like some prototypes, with a full load of Exocet!!

And all the Essex you proposed to send in those countries could have there own stories and adventures... Very interresting!

I always thought that a lot of points in the story of heavy military materials always depends on the Chaos Theory, or if you prefer the Butterfly or Domino Effect...

I mean, for example: if Iran bought an Essex, Saudi Arabia will do it to prevent from the iranian one... And later, Israel will bought one or two to counter both those countries... etc etc...
Idem for the heavy fighters: if Greece bought the Mirage 4000, Turkey could be tempted by buying F-15 or similar aircraft...

With a very located details, we could have a very modified world today! That is GREAT whatif!!
Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: dexter059 on February 20, 2006, 03:13:33 pm
Chili in 1975 ("Simon Bolivar")
Great idea Archibald, and really nice and believable backstory, a little correction though: "Chile" instead of "Chili" and name it "O´higgins" instead of "Simon Bolivar", just because Bolivar it´s not a chilean referent in the Emancipation process, in fact, Bolivar did nothing to ensure chilean independence, only worried about Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador, and after Chile and Argentina defeated Spain in Peru, and feeling that their new power could be threatened by O´higgins and San Martin, he became involved in the independence of Peru and the creation of Bolivia.

Cheers  :cheers:  
Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: Archibald on February 21, 2006, 05:39:50 am
Ah... sorry dexter!! "O'higgins" if you want... That was hard to find names of cities or historic peoples for each countries  :lol:  :lol: !!!
PD7 I know this theory well and I like it. It's like the murphy law (I mean : if a bread slice fall from the table to the ground, it always fell on the side were the butter (or the jam or whatever you want) is.  
 I saw a post over the Mirage IVK and this gave me many ideas so i will probably ad a new rubric to my website or a new thread here...
Thank you PD7!!
There was 27 Essex carriers, and I just "sold" around 15 of them. So, if you have any idea for 12 others countries (they must be US allies, and not having their own carriers otherwise the Essex in unuseful).
I thought that an A10N would be impressive. A SeaWarthog (this sound ridiculous...!!!). The A10 has straight wings (so it could fly very slow, to land on a small carrier), a strong structure. With better engines, I think it could carry a big stockpile of AGM-84 Harpoons.
The russians didn't hesitated to navalise the Warthog counterpart, the Frogfoot for training on the Kuznetsov.

Remember the "Hunt for Red October"? (the book, not the movie...) In the book the russian fleet lost his best submarine, "red october". The captain, Marko Ramius want to seek asilum in the USA. The Russian fleet follow him and stop 100miles of the East Coast of the USA.
 The two countries are nearly at war after a Yak-36 Forger badly damage a Tomcat with an Atoll missile. So, the USAF decide to launch a fake attack  against Soviets nuclear cruiser Kirov. The plane elected to do that is  the A10 ...

Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: Bryan H. on February 21, 2006, 09:33:44 am
There was 27 Essex carriers, and I just "sold" around 15 of them. So, if you have any idea for 12 others countries (they must be US allies, and not having their own carriers otherwise the Essex in unuseful).

With all of the "foreign" operators getting good use out of the "old" Essex/SCB-127's, the US might consider dusting off the Essex blueprints.  As the older Essex hulls reach the end of their useful lives, new (and improved) Essexes would be constructed.  Much of the design work was done previously.  They could be customizable for the needs of different navies and incorporate a higher degree of modularity than the original Essex-class.  

The "new" Essexes would incorporate new propulsion (perhaps even nuclear), new electronics, improved internal structural arrangement (for better safety, damage control and utility), the SCB-127 improvements (hurricane bow, angled metal deck) and modern defensive armament (Phalanx, Goalkeeper or 40mm Dardo, RAM or Sea Sparrow missiles...)

The renewed production might reduce the unit price, provide useful (large-ish) carriers for allied nations and allow the US to have a larger number of carriers available.

Potential customers might be...  the Royal Navy, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, India? and of course the US Navy.

With better availability of modern, lightweight fighters (ie. the Mirage F1EM), a rational for new, build "Essex" carrier can be made.  

 :cheers: Bryan
Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: Archibald on February 22, 2006, 05:32:26 am
Very good idea!! fantastic...
sorry but in my altrenate world British have 4 CVA-01 in a joint program with France. France stay with the Foch and Clemenceau, and so the country had three or four carriers.
That gave 5 (or 6) CVA-01, 2 clemenceau and 5 essex carriers (greece, netherlands, germany, spain and italy) for Europe, which means a total of 12 carriers for the CEE!!!  :lol:
Your idea of making customized Essex is very good...
Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: Archibald on May 27, 2006, 01:25:22 am
I've got other ideas but prefered resurected this thread instead of creating another...
I red that the CVN Enterprise had some troubles when it was built, in the early 60's
- The nuclear propulsion system is very heavy and bulky
- At the time, Aircraft carriers were not fashionable; they were threatened as too expensive or vulnerable.
More, the Enterprise sisterships were never built...

so whatif the Enterprise, (and also the Kennedy and America) didn't exists?
I mean, the USN jump directly from the Forrestals to the Nimitz...
This mean that the Essex-carriers are not scrapped...on the contrary, they all are modernized to SBC-125 standard. They also have a SLEP program to extend their life up to the 90's, when a sufficient number of Nimitz would be available.
This mean no less than 24 modern carriers for the USN, at the beginning of the 60's!
Unfortunately, the Phantom could'nt operate from the Essex (too little).
So I thought about a competition between Douglas, Vought and Grumman for anaval LWF.
- F-5D Skylancer (with J-79)
- Crusader IV (with J-79)
- Grumman F-11F-2 Super Tiger
The Grumman fighter won the competition, mainly because the Crusader was in production and Douglas had too much Navy planes in order (no monopole)

So the 24 Essex Carriers were defended by Crusaders and Super Tigers. The ASW role goes to the Tracker, as usual.
AEW was assumed by the E-1B Tracer, even after the arrival of the Hawkeye. The latter was unable to operate from the small Essexs...
As the Essex were due to scrap in the 90's, a modernization of the E-1B at the beginning of the 80's was unavoidable. So the E-1B received APS-125 radar and P&W Canada PW-119 turboprops. this boosted performances, particularly ceiling speed and take-off/landing distances which were the main weaknesses of the Tracer. The plane was name E-1C TurboTracer...The Super Tigers were modernized in the late 70's with APG-66 radar and Sparrow missiles, because the new Hornet was unable to operate from the Essex...
Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: Son of Damian on May 27, 2006, 01:54:14 am
Germany in 1985 ("Munchen").

Sort of off subject here, but the Munchen was a merchant ship back in the 70's, and on it's maiden vouyage it was sunk by what was most likely a killer wave of about 100ft. in hight. So, considering how supersisious sailors are..............

I know all this because I saw a show about killer waves on the science channel last night.  :lol:  
Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: Archibald on May 27, 2006, 02:05:40 am
I saw it too!!! Sorry for the Muchen name... maybe Berlin or Hindenburg would be better.
My plan is to make a E-1C in French aeronavale markings, with CL-415 turboprops...  
Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: dragon on May 27, 2006, 08:18:22 am
I saw it too!!! Sorry for the Muchen name... maybe Berlin or Hindenburg would be better.
Wasn't Hindenburg the name of something that went boom in New Jersey sometime between WWI and WWII?  That's really going to reassure the sailors! :lol:

Perhaps Frederick the Great, Clausewitz, Siegfried...
Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: Archibald on May 27, 2006, 08:26:50 am
Joder!!! XMEPEKDSDKSIQQ!!!!! Berlin would be good...  
Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: Nils on May 27, 2006, 09:54:35 am
i always thought it would be cool to see a Belgian Navy aircraft carrier, i was thinking the following.

in 1956, Belgium decided to buy 1 of the Ex-US NAVY essex class carriers. in 1960 the ship was delivered to the harbour in Zeebrugge. on board there were 16 F-7 cutlass fighters, 8 A-1E Skyraiders, 2 S-2B Tracker AEW aircraft and 6 S-55 Helo's.
in Belgian service, the carrier was known as "BNS Koning Albert I".

this carrier was used for operations in the Belgian Congo, assisting army troops in the jungles. it was also used for operations in africa, in support of UN peacekeeping operations, humanitarian operations and in Indonesia during the civil war, supporting Dutch troops on the island together with the dutch carrier "Karel Doorman".
Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: Archibald on May 27, 2006, 10:20:06 am
The Cutlass was crap... why not some Furys instead? Much better...
and later, Grumman SuperTigers in land and naval versions for the two armies...  
Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: JoeP on May 28, 2006, 03:17:12 pm
How about the LPH versions? With the straight deck, they couldn't operate modern jets, but they'd be useful as helo ships, or perhaps a mixed-use ship.

Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: Archibald on May 28, 2006, 10:11:56 pm
If I understand well, 14 Essex had a abgle deck in the SBC-125 mofication in the mid-50's. The 10 others were used as LPH, with the straight deck...and 6 more had been scrapped at the end of WWII!!  It's apity so much good aircrafts carriers were stricken in the late 60's... just imagine how cool It would be if the 24 had been reffited to the SBC-125 standard, and modefnized to last until the 90's...
I thought about Argentina having some of them... different falkland war!!! Of course, Great Britain had the CVA-01 to counter that...

Why not E-1B Tracer for everyone? after all, an aircraft-carrier need an AEW aircraft, but the E-2 Hawkeye was much too expensive and heavy...
so upgraded Tracers taken out of storage at Davis Monthan would be nice! Their APS-96 radar replaced by the APS-125 (similar to the early E-2C and AEW Orion of the american customs). As the R-1820 are insufficient, the Tracer follow the path of the Turbo Tracker, becoming the Turbo Tracer :P ...  
Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: roughneck06 on December 27, 2006, 10:02:31 pm
I had read recently somewhere that the USS Franklin ( CV 13) and USS Bunker Hill ( CV 17 ) had been held in reserve for years pending conversion into the " Ultimate Essex" CV. Does anyone know any details as to what this conversion would have entailed?

Also- a Wif- say @ 1968 both Cv 13 and CV 17 are available and work proceeds to bring them back as " Ultimate Essexs"- any thoughts as to conversion work, upgrades, air groups, defensive weapons? Say that new in service date is early 1970s plus work done will enable AV-8s and F/A 18s can operate off them and the USN operates them thru the end of the Cold war. Follow-up.... other navies aquiring them after the USN delete them?

Looking forward to all thoughts/ideas/scenarios and any drawings as well!
Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: JoeP on December 28, 2006, 10:00:03 am
Brasil, Australia, Canada, Argentina, Japan. Heck, even the RN might have, to replace Eagle and Ark Royal.

Weapons would have been the standards: Sea Sparrow, Phalanx. Modern radars, EW, communications.

Take a look as USS Lexington (CV-16), the last Essex class in service, and the USS Oriskany, last to receive the SCB-125 upgrade. You could look here to see the plans for the 1980s:

Essex class on GlobalSecurity.org (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ship/cv-9.htm)

Likely the forward elevator would have been moved outboard, like the Midways, since that big hole in the deck was a weakness.

Air groups: A-4, A-7, later F/A-18, maybe AV-8. The USN experimented and decided that the Harrier didn't fit into the working pattern of a fixed-wing carrier, so the AV-8s would probably not have been on board. S-2, S-3, E-1 (don't know if they could operate the E-2), SH-3, SH-60. Perhaps in the 1990s the USN adapted their new Goshawks as armed trainers that could also serve as light attack.

Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: anthonyp on December 29, 2006, 06:41:28 am
I was working up some Essex refits for The Manifesto of carrier airwings I posted sometime earlier this year (I think, may have been late 2005).  I gave Canada three of them, and actually did some pics of what they might look like.

The first one is more of a minimum refit proposal.  I was thinking the same way Joe was in that they received mini-Midway refits.  The forward center lift would be moved to the starboard deck edge.  There's not much room there, but it gets it out of the centerline and actually makes it useful.  I also moved the port lift to the aft part of the ship, and flared out the deck edges a little.  The second pic is akin to the Coral Sea refit, in that it's not as flared as the other refit, but does pretty much the same thing.



I can see Spey engined Phantoms operating off the deck, as well as updated Crusaders, some A-7's, A-4M's, maybe a naval F-16 or straight naval F-17 interceptor (not as rugged or robust as an F/A-18), or maybe a naval A-9 (great, just gave myself an idea).  Definately S-2's, possibly S-3's and assorted ASW helos.  

I see these ships as ASW carriers with integral air defense, really, so the majority of the airwing would be S-2's (S-3's?), helos, with maybe half a dozen to a dozen fighters, and maybe two to three AWACS aircraft.

I read in I think Friedman's carrier book that the Essex could land and launch C-2's, so maybe a lightened E-2 might be feasible.  If not, an EH-53 or an EH-3 would probably be something to consider.
Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: JoeP on December 29, 2006, 10:52:34 am
The USN never moved the port elevators on the Midways or the Forrestals, despite their poor location, so its likely they wouldn't have done so for the Essexes either.

I found another note that the "ultimate Essexes" were meant as escorts for the USS United States, and so would have been flush-decked, like the USS US, no island at all.

If USN kept the A-4 and A-7 in service longer for these ships, I can see them keeping a set of E-1 and S-2, with some modest upgrades to keep them capable.

In the 1980s, the proposal was for a deckload of refurbished A-4Ms and helos - no real fighters. I suspect they would have added a small contingent (4-6) of fighters, F/A-18A/Bs, to give all-weather and Sparrow capability.

Title: Re: Essex class aircraft carriers
Post by: anthonyp on December 29, 2006, 01:04:17 pm
The USN never moved the port elevators on the Midways or the Forrestals, despite their poor location, so its likely they wouldn't have done so for the Essexes either.
They never refit the Forrestals to move the port elevator, but they did on both the Midway and the Coral Sea (the FDR was scrapped after only receiving the SCB.110 refit, as the SCB.101.66 or the SCB.110A were deemed too expensive after Midway's 101.66 refit).  

At the time the Midways received their refits, the Forrestals were under 10 years old, while the Midways were veterans at that point.  Why the elevators on the Forrestals weren't moved aft during the 80's SLEPs is a mystery.  Interesting note about the Forrestals is they were originally designed like the USS US, ie, flushdeck.

Below is a link to a collection of plan drawings showing Midway's original configuration, after the SBC.110 and then in her final configuration (101.66 refit).  Coral Sea's profile was different, but the port elevator was relocated aft as was Midway's.

Link to Midway plan views on midwaysailor.com (http://www.midwaysailor.com/midway/specs02b.jpg).