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larce wrote:Maybe I should clarify my criticism of the piece by Slade and Worth. The Armoured Carriers web site has a very detailed analysis of the various hits on the carriers and what conclusions can drawn from those but that is just part of the reasoning that Slade and Worth puts forward. There are more fundamental problems with their piece.
One key argument they put forward is that a large armoured box would be more susceptible to deforming the whole ship than would be a lightly built superstructure. I simply see no basis for that claim, at least not in the general case. It's way more complicated than what they claim. Another key claim is that the armoured flight deck of the Midway class was dictated by the sheer size, and that the usefulness of having armour at the level of the flight deck had no bearing on it. That's just silly. For one, the size of the Midway class did not dictate anything. There were many ships of the time period of similar size (BCs and BBs) where the deck armour was carried quite low in the ship. Had they wanted to do that on the Midway class, they could easily have done it. Secondly, that a major design issue like the placement of the deck armour would just sort of happen to end up at the level of the flight deck, without the designers being very conscious about it, that's just not how the design process works.
Slade and Worth sets out to make point. Why, I don't know but plain old chauvinism is a pretty good candidate. They then proceed to dig up, or simply invent, whatever they can find to back up the point they're trying to make. They dress that up in some general hand-waving in the direction of naval architecture that they simply have no basis for. A lot of people without a background in naval architecture then end up taking their word for it. Not pretty.
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Jan 16 17 11:08 AM
Andy01 wrote:The Essex class benefited from the development of efficient AW centimetric radar and the development of the VT fuze - neither of these innovations could have been foreseen when the ships were being designed yet it was a crucial to their survival in combat.
Many Essex class ships were able to begin flight deck operations within hours of being hit by a Kamikaze but still subsequently needed to retire, for weeks/months, within a day or so of the hit to effect permanent repairs. The exceptionally efficient US shipyards and forward repair bases speeded their return to service, but this was also because large numbers of carriers were not arriving for repairs simultaneously.
At Philippine Sea if the IJNAF had gone straight in, in a single massed strike, it seems likely that far more damage would have been done to the US ships, especially the carriers. At Phillipine Sea if the USN carriers had their strike complements sitting in their hangars even single bomb hits could have caused severe damage, but taking advantage of the long range AW radar and delays in the IJN strikes, they were able to launch their strike complements and direct them to orbit away from the action. When Essex class carriers were caught with aircraft in the hangar the results were catastrophic on Bunker Hill and Franklin.
The USN could have probably have steamrollered the IJN using CVEs alone and if they did would we be arguing that a CVE was preferable to an AFD carrier?
Jan 16 17 11:21 AM
armouredcarriers wrote:Both the RN's Controller of Naval Construction, Admiral Reginald Henderson, and its chief carrier architect, W.D. Forbes, are recorded as saying the Illustrious class was designed for European conditions after the 1935 Abyssinian Crisis scare where RN carriers faced a closed Mediterranean because of Italy's many fast torpedo boats, cruisers and its bombers. HMS Ark Royal was designed before this when Japan was the main threat. This is why they didn't build repeat Ark Royals.
And while it only happened twice, torpedo boat / destroyer / cruisers etc were a very real risk. There were very few battleship versus battleship clashes. There were few carrier versus carrier clashes. But even Operation Pedestal demonstrated the risk was real (look what happened to the cruiser escort once the main fleet turned back) in 'close' waters such as the North Sea, Mediterranean and Philippines.
HMS Formidable was briefly in the battle-line at Matapan (being protected at night by the presence of the fleet's big guns. She even took a shot at Pola with her 4.5s as she hauled out of line)
No armoured warship was invulnerable - beyond propaganda. The idea was for it to outlast its opponent.
And the six kamikaze incidents are well documented, so it is easy to compare like-with-like.
Illustrious represented the British solution to the extreme vulnerability of carriers as was demonstrated by 1930s wargaming. The carrier that got in the first strike almost always won.
The US answer was to disperse its carriers, even when operating in concert, to reduce the chances of them all being found and destroyed. This persisted until 1943.
RN wanted to armour its ships and operate them in an easier to defend tight task force (it expected them to be dashing in and out of formation to launch and land, though - not the much later US responsive fleet formation). This formation was to be supported by a maintenance carrier, like HMS Unicorn.
But losing so many carriers in the opening days of the war, and the multiple fronts it had to fight on, put that idea on hold until the Battle of Ceylon/Madagascar and Operation Pedestal
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Jan 16 17 8:34 PM
IcelofAngeln wrote:May I ask in what sense they were designed for European waters? We have the North Atlantic weather as reason for not having deck parks but that is more doctrine then carrier construction. Then we have limited visibility as areason for armor against surface fire. The Med has nicer weather and better visibility. Could you explain more about the RN thinking here and what was said by Henderson and Forbes?
Being perpetually within range of enemy airbases with no open ocean to run hide in. Any naval force in the Med could expect to be under constant observation, and attacked whenever the enemy chose/had available assets. The Malta convoys were pretty much what the RN had expected a Med war to be like.
As mentioned above, Ark Royal was intended for the Pacific, and was designed for maximum air group (with her armored deck even lower than US practice) She was only retained in the Home Fleet because by the time she was commissioned and worked up war with Germany was looming.
Jan 16 17 8:46 PM
IcelofAngeln wrote (quoting Larce): Butthen there's this: "When 100% of the planes are fighters, you no longer have an effective tool to destroy the enemy fleet.". What a straw man! When did any US carrier operate 100% fighters (except for Enterprise as a CV(N))? And considering what was left of the IJN by the end of the war, "no longer have an effective tool to destroy the enemy fleet" is just silly. Ask the crews of Yamato and Musashi about it. (Incidentally, fighters were NOT just defensive: strike escort was and is a vital fighter role).
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