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Inclusa
2014-Mar-24, 12:26 AM
Back in WWII, aircraft carriers weren't as scarce as today; there were way more aircraft carriers than today.
I suspect that they are way more simplistic as well.
Today's aircraft carriers are extremely expensive and sophisticated, and a few of them often take years to build and perfect.
Don't forget that today's generation 4 fighters and bombers are prohibitively expensive, too.

Swift
2014-Mar-24, 12:46 AM
Back in WWII, aircraft carriers weren't as scarce as today; there were way more aircraft carriers than today.

I found this reference for WWII carriers (LINK (http://www.militaryfactory.com/ships/ww2-aircraft-carriers.asp)): they say 31 (mostly the US, the UK, and Japan). But that seems to be total over the course of the war, not necessarily all at one time.

This wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aircraft_carriers_by_country) seems to show a total of 22 currently in service, with another 8 under construction and 3 in reserve. I actually thought there would be more today than WWII, but I call it pretty close to a tie.

Trebuchet
2014-Mar-24, 01:35 AM
Back in WWII, aircraft carriers weren't as scarce as today; there were way more aircraft carriers than today.


Not really. At the beginning of the Pacific war with the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) had 10 carriers, the US had 7, and the UK had 6. The UK had had more, but a couple had been sunk by the Germans before that. To be sure, during the war many more carriers were commissioned. The US has about a dozen carriers today.

And of course they're more sophisticated. It's been 70 years. What isn't? What's the point of the thread?

Hornblower
2014-Mar-24, 02:44 AM
What was remarkable in World War II was the USA's phenomenal flood tide of shipbuilding. We started the war with 7 carriers and lost 4 of them in the Pacific theater within 11 months after Pearl Harbor. By the summer of 1945 we had some 20 fleet carriers, 9 Independence-class light carriers and some 70 small escort carriers, mostly in the Pacific tightening the stranglehold on Japan. Admiral Yamamoto was right when he said he had awakened a sleeping giant. He said he would run wild for about 6 months but had no confidence in the outcome of a long war. There was no way they could keep up with us in building new ships and getting them into action.

Trebuchet
2014-Mar-24, 03:05 AM
What was remarkable in World War II was the USA's phenomenal flood tide of shipbuilding. We started the war with 7 carriers and lost 4 of them in the Pacific theater within 11 months after Pearl Harbor. By the summer of 1945 we had some 20 fleet carriers, 9 Independence-class light carriers and some 70 small escort carriers, mostly in the Pacific tightening the stranglehold on Japan. Admiral Yamamoto was right when he said he had awakened a sleeping giant. He said he would run wild for about 6 months but had no confidence in the outcome of a long war. There was no way they could keep up with us in building new ships and getting them into action.

Yes. This is a subject I've been studying up on for the past year or two. At the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, the Japanese Navy was probably the best in the world and without question the strongest in the Pacific. But the war was lost for Japan the moment the first bomb fell on Ford Island. Japanese leadership knew they couldn't hope to compete with the industrial might of the USA and were counting on negotiated settlement giving them control of the western Pacific. But once they attacked Pearl Harbor, an action seen as despicable by the American people, and by what most Americans then saw as an inferior race, there was never a possibility of negotiation. Even Yamamoto's prediction of six months was too optimistic--the battle of Midway was just five months later.

wd40
2014-Mar-24, 03:57 AM
If Midway had gone the other way, with all 3 US carriers being lost, could the Japanese have taken Hawaii or at least cut it off from the Mainland?

And if so, when would the US realistically have been able to mount an attempt to recapture it?

Inclusa
2014-Mar-24, 06:22 AM
If Midway had gone the other way, with all 3 US carriers being lost, could the Japanese have taken Hawaii or at least cut it off from the Mainland?

And if so, when would the US realistically have been able to mount an attempt to recapture it?

The major issue was that Japanese didn't have the productivity of the USA; losing 3 carriers might not be a huge loss for the USA, but the other way was definite crippling for the Japanese.
In spite of the size, the Chinese parts of the Japanese Empire in World War II didn't have much industries to speak of.

Noclevername
2014-Mar-24, 10:52 AM
If Midway had gone the other way, with all 3 US carriers being lost, could the Japanese have taken Hawaii or at least cut it off from the Mainland?

And if so, when would the US realistically have been able to mount an attempt to recapture it?

Japan had no plans to take Hawaii, and had plenty of good strategic reasons to not divert the necessary forces to do so; cutting it off from shipping would have mostly involved submarines, so the US response could have consisted largely of destroyers and other anti-sub fleets.

Space Chimp
2014-Mar-24, 11:13 AM
It's the opinion of most modern military historians that had Japan won the Battle of Midway at sea, she still likely would have lost it on land. The amphibious forces Japan brought to take the island were woefully inadequate for the task and had none of the specialized landing craft that characterized so many US marine landings later in the war. The troops would have had to disembark at a surrounding reef, and then wade in 2,000 yards to the beach under fire. It likely would have been a Japanese version of Tarawa with the big difference being no further reinforcements waiting on ships to call upon to turn stalemate into victory. Contrary to popular belief, direct amphibious assaults on defended beaches was not a Japanese specialty. The preferred Japanese tactic was to land on an undefended stretch of coastline and then marched overland to their objectives. That was not an option on small islands and atolls, which is why to took Japan two tries to capture tiny Wake Island and even the second try almost failed.

I think Midway in Japanese hands would have made for a lousy advanced base. It is less than three square miles of land, had zero fresh water, is possessed of only a relatively small harbor, and has room for but one small airfield. At best it could operate an air contingent of about 90-100 aircraft. In other words, there was absolutely no chance of using Midway as the sort of major logistics center (think Truk or Rabaul) for further operations down the Hawaiian chain. Midway was, at best, an outpost.

Second, Midway is too far from Hawaii. Even if the Japanese had been able to install an airgroup at Midway, and keep it supplied, it had no chance of exerting a powerful influence on Hawaii, since it is nearly 1,300 miles from Oahu. During the later Solomons campaign, the Japanese (who had the longest-ranged fighter in the Pacific in the A6M5 Zero) found it nearly impossible to exert air power from Rabaul to Guadalcanal, which was 650 miles away. If seized by the Japanese it likely would have shared the fate of that other US outpost taken by Japan, Wake Island. Isolated and bypassed by war's end with a starving garrison. Even Nimitz didn't use Midway as a base in his Central Pacific Offensive. He usually staged out of Pearl harbor.

Later in the war the US was able to build up Midway into a respectable submarine fueling depot, but only by investing the sort of heavy engineering resources, (bulldozers, dredgers, steam shovels ) that Japan always sorely lacked.

Trebuchet
2014-Mar-24, 03:43 PM
If Midway had gone the other way, with all 3 US carriers being lost, could the Japanese have taken Hawaii or at least cut it off from the Mainland?

And if so, when would the US realistically have been able to mount an attempt to recapture it?

Here is a page (http://www.combinedfleet.com/economic.htm) that provides a good discussion of the subject. The disparity in industrial and military production is staggering. Not discussed in that page, but still very significant, are natural resources and agriculture. Japan has practically no natural resources on the home islands; indeed one of the main reasons for the war was to obtain the oil in the Dutch East Indies. The US, on the other hand, had huge reserves of coal, natural gas, and petroleum as well as iron copper (and uranium!) ores. Aluminum ore was obtained from no farther away than Canada and the West Indies. And don't forget the vast western forests -- wood was still an important strategic material. As for agriculture, Japan is a small mountainous archipelago with little arable land -- a reason for the expansion into Manchuria and China. Japanese agriculture was, and pretty much still is, extremely labor intensive while American agriculture, even in 1941, was the most highly mechanized, with all but the poorest farmers having at least a tractor. Japan was barely able to feed its people during the war, while America fed not only itself but its allies. American troops in WWII, though they'd have disagreed at the time, were probably the best-fed soldiers in the history of warfare.

Trebuchet
2014-Mar-24, 03:45 PM
Oh yes, Hawaii: By the middle of 1942, the islands, especially Oahu, were a fortress. Many troops, many ships, many airplanes. And many thousands of miles from Japan. No chance.

wd40
2014-Mar-24, 05:50 PM
And don't forget the vast western forests -- wood was still an important strategic material.

US forests were an asset that the Japanese hoped to make an impression on using the Jet Stream and their fire balloons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_balloon).

swampyankee
2014-Mar-24, 08:45 PM
If Midway had gone the other way, with all 3 US carriers being lost, could the Japanese have taken Hawaii or at least cut it off from the Mainland?

And if so, when would the US realistically have been able to mount an attempt to recapture it?

This was discussed on another site I frequent. The consensus there was that a) Japan probably couldn't take the Hawaiian Islands and b) couldn't support their troops if they did.

starcanuck64
2014-Mar-25, 12:05 AM
The major issue was that Japanese didn't have the productivity of the USA; losing 3 carriers might not be a huge loss for the USA, but the other way was definite crippling for the Japanese.
In spite of the size, the Chinese parts of the Japanese Empire in World War II didn't have much industries to speak of.

It wasn't just the loss of the Japanese carriers that hurt them so badly, it was the loss of valuable aircrew. The Japanese had a different training system and couldn't produce the same amount of skilled pilots as the Allies. They didn't tend to rotate skilled pilots back to training positions, many flew until they were killed.

At Midway for example, the loss of skilled carrier pilots left a deficit that was never really made up for the remainder of the war. During the US Marianas operation the IJN also took huge pilot losses that decimated a lot of the pilots that had been trained to replace earlier losses. By the time of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Japanese were using their carrier fleet as a diversion for their surface forces, a tactic that almost worked at the Battle of San Bernadino Strait.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Leyte_Gulf#Task_Force_34_.2F_San_Bernard ino_Strait

Inclusa
2014-Mar-25, 06:05 AM
It wasn't just the loss of the Japanese carriers that hurt them so badly, it was the loss of valuable aircrew. The Japanese had a different training system and couldn't produce the same amount of skilled pilots as the Allies. They didn't tend to rotate skilled pilots back to training positions, many flew until they were killed.

At Midway for example, the loss of skilled carrier pilots left a deficit that was never really made up for the remainder of the war. During the US Marianas operation the IJN also took huge pilot losses that decimated a lot of the pilots that had been trained to replace earlier losses. By the time of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Japanese were using their carrier fleet as a diversion for their surface forces, a tactic that almost worked at the Battle of San Bernadino Strait.

The war was lost when the battle began.
Even with the greatest efficiency, the Japanese couldn't possibly win the war.
The debate has been: if the Japanese didn't agitate the Americans and fully focused on China, what might have happened?
The safest bet is: the Japanese probably still couldn't control interior China, and they didn't fully control the occupied areas, either, with a generally hostile population.
Let's go back to the initial topic: Are current carriers tougher to build than WWII carriers? Some countries still run World War II equipments (I nickname them "museum military"), though.
We call the Rwandan Civil War and Congolese Civil War primitive (machine guns and machetes mostly), but both were the bloodiest wars in the last 20 years.

Noclevername
2014-Mar-25, 11:06 AM
Let's go back to the initial topic: Are current carriers tougher to build than WWII carriers? Some countries still run World War II equipments (I nickname them "museum military"), though.

They are apples and oranges. Of course WWII carriers were easier to build, they were the ones built fastest for just that reason. The designs and manufacturing methods chosen were the ones that could get the most carriers on water in the least amount of time, using wartime urgency.

Today's carriers are not designed for ease of manufacture. They are designed for maximum military effectiveness and crew support, longer missions, and contain vastly more advanced technology, including things that either didn't exist or weren't necessary on earlier carriers. To say that they are different from WWII carriers is to say that today's fighter jets are faster but more expensive than WWII prop fighters.



We call the Rwandan Civil War and Congolese Civil War primitive (machine guns and machetes mostly), but both were the bloodiest wars in the last 20 years.

What do land wars in Africa have to do with naval aircraft carriers?

wd40
2014-Mar-25, 11:50 AM
Unlike the US & Japanese, British WW2 aircraft carriers had
armoured flight decks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armoured_flight_deck#Post_war_analysis) which reduced their aircraft carrying capacity, but enabled them to better resist bombs and kamikazes.

Are today's carriers armoured at all?

WW2 warships were designed with armoured belts to maximise resistance to armour-piercing naval gun fire and they would probably resist better than today's ships the initial impacts of Exocet-type missiles.

Noclevername
2014-Mar-25, 11:55 AM
But today's naval vessels have point defense; that means less missiles actually get close enough to do damage.

Space Chimp
2014-Mar-25, 12:35 PM
Are today's carriers armoured at all?


The more recent Nimitz class were completed with 6.4cm plates of Kevlar armor over their vital areas and have improved hull protection arrangements. The Kevlar armor has been retrofitted to the earlier Nimitz carriers, as have many of the advanced systems built into the newer ships.

Nick Theodorakis
2014-Mar-25, 12:52 PM
...
The debate has been: if the Japanese didn't agitate the Americans and fully focused on China, what might have happened?
...
They would have run out of fuel and supplies, assuming the US still embargoed them. The Chinese occupation was the root cause for the Pacific war.

Nick

starcanuck64
2014-Mar-25, 10:07 PM
Let's go back to the initial topic: Are current carriers tougher to build than WWII carriers? Some countries still run World War II equipments (I nickname them "museum military"), though.
We call the Rwandan Civil War and Congolese Civil War primitive (machine guns and machetes mostly), but both were the bloodiest wars in the last 20 years.

They're certainly more complex and expensive to build, all modern US Carriers are nuclear powered and have capabilities that go far beyond WW II carriers.

Trebuchet
2014-Mar-25, 11:02 PM
They're certainly more complex and expensive to build, all modern US Carriers are nuclear powered and have capabilities that go far beyond WW II carriers.

Of course. And modern fighter aircraft are vastly superior to those of WWII, modern tanks are vastly superior to those of WWII, modern missiles are superior to the V-2, and on and on. It's 70 years. What's the point of comparing? You might as well compare modern cars to those of 1941, modern computers to the earliest ones, and so on.

Ok, let's do a comparison on a cost basis. The 1939 federal budget was 9,141,000,000 -- about 9.14 billion. The cost of the USS Hornet, CV-8, commissioned in that year, was $32,000,000. That's 0.35% of that budget.

The 2006 federal budget was 2.7 trillion -- 2,700,000,000,000. The cost of the USS George H.W. Bush, commissioned in that year, was 6,200,000,000 -- 6.2 billion. That's 0.23% of that budget. Which was more expensive?

(No, of course those ships weren't paid for just out of that year's budget. Just a means of comparison.)

pzkpfw
2014-Mar-25, 11:11 PM
...
WW2 warships were designed with armoured belts to maximise resistance to armour-piercing naval gun fire and they would probably resist better than today's ships the initial impacts of Exocet-type missiles.

The armoured belts were more water-line to resist torpedos, I believe. Naval fire tended to be at range and come down - so decks were armoured.

So I'm not sure "Exocet-type" resistance is that different; and from Space Chimp, post #19, probably better now.

starcanuck64
2014-Mar-25, 11:23 PM
Of course. And modern fighter aircraft are vastly superior to those of WWII, modern tanks are vastly superior to those of WWII, modern missiles are superior to the V-2, and on and on. It's 70 years. What's the point of comparing? You might as well compare modern cars to those of 1941, modern computers to the earliest ones, and so on.

Ok, let's do a comparison on a cost basis. The 1939 federal budget was 9,141,000,000 -- about 9.14 billion. The cost of the USS Hornet, CV-8, commissioned in that year, was $32,000,000. That's 0.35% of that budget.

The 2006 federal budget was 2.7 trillion -- 2,700,000,000,000. The cost of the USS George H.W. Bush, commissioned in that year, was 6,200,000,000 -- 6.2 billion. That's 0.23% of that budget. Which was more expensive?

(No, of course those ships weren't paid for just out of that year's budget. Just a means of comparison.)

I'm not sure what the point is, I keep having this image of a Tomcat pulverising Zero fighters with its vulcan cannon in the movie The Final Countdown. We've come so far in technology that it's hard to make any comparison.

pzkpfw
2014-Mar-25, 11:49 PM
Which was more expensive?

Which budget was funded more by debt, adding interest costs to be factored in?

Swift
2014-Mar-26, 01:15 AM
Which budget was funded more by debt, adding interest costs to be factored in?
I think that might be getting a little too off topic and a little close to politics. Let's stick with history and naval design. Thanks,

Inclusa
2014-Mar-26, 03:48 AM
Of course. And modern fighter aircraft are vastly superior to those of WWII, modern tanks are vastly superior to those of WWII, modern missiles are superior to the V-2, and on and on. It's 70 years. What's the point of comparing? You might as well compare modern cars to those of 1941, modern computers to the earliest ones, and so on.

Ok, let's do a comparison on a cost basis. The 1939 federal budget was 9,141,000,000 -- about 9.14 billion. The cost of the USS Hornet, CV-8, commissioned in that year, was $32,000,000. That's 0.35% of that budget.

The 2006 federal budget was 2.7 trillion -- 2,700,000,000,000. The cost of the USS George H.W. Bush, commissioned in that year, was 6,200,000,000 -- 6.2 billion. That's 0.23% of that budget. Which was more expensive?

(No, of course those ships weren't paid for just out of that year's budget. Just a means of comparison.)

Don't forget the tremendous growth in productivity over the last 70 years as well.

NorthernDevo
2014-Mar-26, 07:11 AM
I'm not sure what the point is, I keep having this image of a Tomcat pulverising Zero fighters with its vulcan cannon in the movie The Final Countdown. We've come so far in technology that it's hard to make any comparison.

I'm pretty sure that's not the point; though that is the coolest dogfight ever filmed (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyjNInIH4Hw). :dance:
I think the question refers to the relative cost-benefit ratio of WWII carriers in their age vs. the Supercarriers of today. Either way; no contest. WWII Carriers were (based upon my own imperfect understanding) ships that launched planes. They formed the core of of battlegroups that could carry the war to the enemy with a great deal of independence; just like modern Carriers.

But modern Carriers are a whole different animal. Not just ships that carry planes; Supercarriers are vast mobile military bases that carry a staggering amount of personnel, materiel and firepower to any place on the globe. Mentions have been made about the armour belt of WWII carriers; a Supercarrier's armour isn't a simple band of metal a meter or so thick; it's a flexible, tightly co-ordinated machine of ships, subs, aircraft and weaponry a hundred kilometers thick. It's not perfect of course; it's always tactically possible an enemy could penetrate a CV's defenses but -especially in times of war - it would be incredibly difficult.

Thus; modern supercarriers are certainly much more expensive in terms of money and materiel than their WWII ancestors; but make up for it in huge effectiveness, flexibility and diplomatic power. A CVBG is easily the single most powerful military unit on Earth.

swampyankee
2014-Mar-26, 10:08 AM
Unlike the US & Japanese, British WW2 aircraft carriers had
armoured flight decks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armoured_flight_deck#Post_war_analysis) which reduced their aircraft carrying capacity, but enabled them to better resist bombs and kamikazes.

Are today's carriers armoured at all?

WW2 warships were designed with armoured belts to maximise resistance to armour-piercing naval gun fire and they would probably resist better than today's ships the initial impacts of Exocet-type missiles.

Submariners who post online claim any of the WWII-era ships would be sunk by one, or at most two, modern heavy torpedoes. Heavy armor actually makes the ships more vulnerable to shock damage.

Space Chimp
2014-Mar-26, 10:26 AM
Submariners who post online claim any of the WWII-era ships would be sunk by one, or at most two, modern heavy torpedoes. Heavy armor actually makes the ships more vulnerable to shock damage.


Indeed. A good example of how armor can't always save you was the Japanese carrier Taiho. Commissioned in 1944, she had ample protection (over 8,000 tons of armor), including a thickly armored flight and hangar decks designed to stop a 1000 lb (500 kg) bomb, and she achieved this without sacrificing speed. The antiaircraft battery was probably the best in the Imperial Navy. Her air group, while not quite as large as the previous Shokaku class, was still ample at 60 aircraft, and her flight deck was the longest of any Japanese aircraft carrier to see service.

Hit by a single torpedo from the US submarine Albacore at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, she was only lightly damaged, but inept damage control spread explosive fumes from gasoline and fuel oil throughout the ship. The subsequent blast from a spark blew out the flight deck and the bottom of the ship, which quickly sank. Poor damage control was an Achilles Heel of the Japanese navy throughout the war, but was a particularly egregious example as the Taiho was a brand new ship in a shrinking Japanese navy.

wd40
2014-Mar-26, 10:37 AM
.
It's not perfect of course; it's always tactically possible an enemy could penetrate a CV's defenses but -especially in times of war - it would be incredibly difficult.


Depiction of US carrier being destroyed by Russian missiles despite CIWS guns from "The Sum of All Fears" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhj8ITvp-pw), it always being Russian policy to fire salvoes at a single target to overwhelm the defence.

Space Chimp
2014-Mar-26, 11:00 AM
Back in WWII, aircraft carriers weren't as scarce as today; there were way more aircraft carriers than today.
I suspect that they are way more simplistic as well.

To be fair, in contrast to the more established and orthodox battleship fleet, the aircraft carrier in WW2 was the Wild West of the world's major navies. It was an immature weapons system, being created out of whole cloth in front of everyone's eyes. Conceived in the 1920s and 30s as a raiding/scouting ship nobody really quite knew how carriers were supposed to fight or how they would be integrated within their respective naval forces. Both the ships and their aircraft underwent frantic, fast-paced technological change, and their capabilities improved at phenomenal rates. This, in turn would open up new tactical and operational possibilities. Under such circumstances, carrier doctrine was a slate that constantly had to be written, erased, and then rewritten as new technological imperatives outmoded yesterday's beliefs. Given the speed with which lessons were learned, no two carrier battles in the war were fought quite the same. Not surprisingly these dynamics attracted the more maverick individuals of the US and Japanese navies who were comfortable with a certain degree of ambiguity and had the ambition to put their stamp on the emerging carrier arm.

Probably the best example was the carrier Lexington's first refit in April 1942. The first things yanked off the ship were the eight-inch cruiser guns. It was readily apparently even then that any carrier that was in a position to have to use such a surface weapon was being used improperly and the space was urgently needed for other things.

Noclevername
2014-Mar-26, 11:02 AM
Depiction of US carrier being destroyed by Russian missiles despite CIWS guns from "The Sum of All Fears" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhj8ITvp-pw), it always being Russian policy to fire salvoes at a single target to overwhelm the defence.

A scene from a fictional movie is hardly a viable reference.

Swift
2014-Mar-26, 01:20 PM
To be fair, in contrast to the more established and orthodox battleship fleet, the aircraft carrier in WW2 was the Wild West of the world's major navies. It was an immature weapons system, being created out of whole cloth in front of everyone's eyes. Conceived in the 1920s and 30s as a raiding/scouting ship nobody really quite knew how carriers were supposed to fight or how they would be integrated within their respective naval forces. Both the ships and their aircraft underwent frantic, fast-paced technological change, and their capabilities improved at phenomenal rates. This, in turn would open up new tactical and operational possibilities. Under such circumstances, carrier doctrine was a slate that constantly had to be written, erased, and then rewritten as new technological imperatives outmoded yesterday's beliefs. Given the speed with which lessons were learned, no two carrier battles in the war were fought quite the same. Not surprisingly these dynamics attracted the more maverick individuals of the US and Japanese navies who were comfortable with a certain degree of ambiguity and had the ambition to put their stamp on the emerging carrier arm.

Probably the best example was the carrier Lexington's first refit in April 1942. The first things yanked off the ship were the eight-inch cruiser guns. It was readily apparently even then that any carrier that was in a position to have to use such a surface weapon was being used improperly and the space was urgently needed for other things.
My imperfect understanding was that Midway was the first true carrier battle. The two carriers groups were never close to each other, but basically fought air group versus air group (and air group versus carrier). This was completely different from the tactics for a battle group centered around a battleship.


But modern Carriers are a whole different animal. Not just ships that carry planes; Supercarriers are vast mobile military bases that carry a staggering amount of personnel, materiel and firepower to any place on the globe.
I think that is an excellent description.

It will be curious to see how this evolves over the next 50 years. I suspect that we will not see carrier groups disappear, but I suspect we will see fewer, particularly for nations like the US that have multiple ones. I suspect we will see more "rapid deployment" forces, inserted by aircraft for brief missions, and more use of drones and electronic warefare. The carrier groups will be retained for medium term projections of force into a region.

primummobile
2014-Mar-26, 01:28 PM
Depiction of US carrier being destroyed by Russian missiles despite CIWS guns from "The Sum of All Fears" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhj8ITvp-pw), it always being Russian policy to fire salvoes at a single target to overwhelm the defence.

That scene was one of the biggest blunders in the entire movie. You can't sneak up on a carrier battle group. You also can't fly "under" their radar because they have airborne radar 24 hours a day. The cruisers and destroyers in the group have Ageis missile defense systems. Even at that, anything less than a nuclear strike has little chance of sinking a ship displacing over 100,000 tons of water.

Space Chimp
2014-Mar-26, 01:44 PM
My imperfect understanding was that Midway was the first true carrier battle. The two carriers groups were never close to each other, but basically fought air group versus air group (and air group versus carrier). This was completely different from the tactics for a battle group centered around a battleship.


The laurels for the first carrier battle pretty much go to the Coral Sea action of 7-8 May 1942. It cost the United States one aircraft carrier (Lexington), a destroyer and one of its very valuable fleet oilers, plus damage to a second carrier. However, the Japanese were forced to cancel their Port Moresby seaborne invasion. In the fighting, they lost a light carrier, a destroyer and some smaller ships. The carrier Shokaku received serious bomb damage and the carrier Zuikaku's air group was badly depleted. Most importantly, those two ships were scrubbed from the upcoming Midway operation, contributing by their absence to that terrible Japanese defeat.

Incidentally, it was the loss of the Lexington that instigated the practice of purging aviation fuel lines on US carriers with CO2 when not in use. One of those small vital lessons that along with other practices began dramatically lengthening the odds of US carrier survival.

swampyankee
2014-Mar-26, 03:26 PM
One of the reasons the USN uses JP-5 is because JP-5 has much lower vapor pressure and higher flashpoint than JP-4, which used to be the fuel preferred by the USAF. I got to do an engine test with Jet-B, which is basically the civilian version of JP-4, and we had to be much more careful than testing with Jet-A.

Trebuchet
2014-Mar-26, 04:11 PM
Incidentally, it was the loss of the Lexington that instigated the practice of purging aviation fuel lines on US carriers with CO2 when not in use. One of those small vital lessons that along with other practices began dramatically lengthening the odds of US carrier survival.

You beat me to the Coral Sea reference! Japan, as noted above, didn't learn the whole damage control lesson very well and had more than one carrier lost due to explosion of gasoline vapors. Their practice of surrounding Avgas tanks with concrete didn't help much.

wd40
2014-Mar-26, 05:26 PM
Japan, as noted above, didn't learn the whole damage control lesson very well and had more than one carrier lost due to explosion of gasoline vapors.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_aircraft_carrier_Taih%C5%8D#Fate
Meanwhile, leaking aviation gasoline accumulating in the forward elevator pit began vaporising and soon permeated the upper and lower hangar decks. The danger this posed to the ship was readily apparent to the damage control crews but, whether through inadequate training, lack of practice (only three months had passed since the ship's commissioning) or general incompetence, their response to it proved fatally ineffectual. Efforts to pump out the damaged elevator well were bungled and no one thought to try and cover the increasingly lethal mixture with foam from the hangar's fire suppression system.

Because Taihō's hangars were completely enclosed, mechanical ventilation was the only means of exhausting fouled air and replacing it with fresh. Ventilation duct gates were opened on either side of hangar sections No. 1 and No. 2 and, for a time, the carrier's aft elevator was lowered to try and increase the draught. But even this failed to have any appreciable effect and, in any case, air operations were resumed about noon, requiring the elevator to be periodically raised as aircraft were brought up to the flight deck. In desperation, damage control parties used hammers to smash out the glass in the ship's portholes.

Taihō's chief damage control officer eventually ordered the ship's general ventilation system switched to full capacity and, where possible, all doors and hatches opened to try and rid the ship of fumes. Unfortunately, this simply resulted in saturation of areas previously unexposed to the vapors and increased the chances of accidental or spontaneous ignition. About 14:30 that afternoon, 6 hours after the initial torpedo hit, Taihō was jolted by a severe explosion. A senior staff officer on the bridge saw the flight deck heave up. The sides blew out. Taihō dropped out of formation and began to settle in the water, clearly doomed. Though Admiral Ozawa wanted to go down with the ship, his staff prevailed on him to survive and to shift his quarters to the cruiser Haguro. Taking the Emperor's portrait, Ozawa transferred to Haguro by destroyer. After he left, Taihō was torn by a second thunderous explosion and sank stern first at 16:28, carrying down 1,650 officers and men out of a complement of 2,150.

NorthernDevo
2014-Mar-26, 05:55 PM
The carrier groups will be retained for medium term projections of force into a region.

"Projection of Force" was the term I was looking for, thanks :)


That scene was one of the biggest blunders in the entire movie. You can't sneak up on a carrier battle group. You also can't fly "under" their radar because they have airborne radar 24 hours a day. The cruisers and destroyers in the group have Ageis missile defense systems. Even at that, anything less than a nuclear strike has little chance of sinking a ship displacing over 100,000 tons of water.

Agreed on all points; except the last, I wonder about that. I'm not arguing; genuinely wondering what would happen if an Akula somehow did manage to get through a Supercarrier's defences and slam a couple of Type 53's into the forward hull of an 1100-foot-long ship moving at 33 knots?
How much effect would that much mass and momentum have on a sudden hole in the bow?

Space Chimp
2014-Mar-26, 07:16 PM
You beat me to the Coral Sea reference! Japan, as noted above, didn't learn the whole damage control lesson very well and had more than one carrier lost due to explosion of gasoline vapors. Their practice of surrounding Avgas tanks with concrete didn't help much.

Ironically, there was a postwar assessment that maybe American damage control got a little too good by 1945. Some 21 US warships hit by kamikazes in the last year of the war were saved from sinking by heroic damage control work, only to be ruled constructive total losses, or too damaged for economic repair. These were scrapped or sunk as practice targets or, in one case, towed into the combat zone as a decoy. It was assessed that maybe the effort put into "saving" these ships might better have been employed getting the crews off as safely as possible.

I find it hard to quibble over such good DC training. ;)

Trebuchet
2014-Mar-27, 12:00 AM
Ironically, there was a postwar assessment that maybe American damage control got a little too good by 1945. Some 21 US warships hit by kamikazes in the last year of the war were saved from sinking by heroic damage control work, only to be ruled constructive total losses, or too damaged for economic repair. These were scrapped or sunk as practice targets or, in one case, towed into the combat zone as a decoy. It was assessed that maybe the effort put into "saving" these ships might better have been employed getting the crews off as safely as possible.

I find it hard to quibble over such good DC training. ;)

Not just by the end of the war. There were a number of ships hit in the Pearl Harbor attack that were saved and returned to service but probably not worth the massive effort it took. The best example is probably West Virginia, which was sunk, burned out, and had much of her port side blown up. She returned to service in the latter part of 1944, by which time battleships were not of the value they had once been.

wd40
2014-Mar-27, 12:39 AM
Built in 1980 HMS Invincible (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Invincible_(R05)) was devoid of amour and would have faired very poorly if hit by an Exocet, although Argentinian depictions to have hit her in the Falklands War as below were found to be fake

http://img15.imagevenue.com/loc78/th_877284968_HMS_Invincible_hit_122_78lo.jpg (http://img15.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=877284968_HMS_Invincible_hit_122_78l o.jpg)

Delvo
2014-Mar-27, 01:56 AM
What strikes me most about carrier evolution is not the ships but the seemingly increasing degree of specialization in the planes and their dependence on the ships' features. The original carriers had no arresting cables or catapults, which was OK because the planes' required runway length was shorter and it didn't take much to make a plane able to take off & land in the available distance. Some could even be launched from a relatively short rail tacked onto the side of a battleship, not even a carrier! (They'd come back down on the water and be retrieved with a crane.) The earliest equipment on carriers to help the planes was a set of ropes or cables with weights on each end, which a plane's tail hook would catch when landing like a modern arresting cable, so the friction of the weights dragging across the deck would help it slow down faster than it could with its wheels' brakes alone.

Today, typical runway lengths for an unassisted military plane in conventional forward flight would be several thousand feet, so it doesn't seem possible to operate on a ship where you get several hundred feet at most, without either of two types of tricks. One is a catapult & cables, which still call for some modification in the plane including lower-than-average runway requirements anyway; the other is STOL, VTOL, or STOVL aircraft, which don't need help from the ship but do mean the planes must be even more radically modified to try to briefly impersonate helicopters when launching & landing. And even then, the ship usually still has a ramp in the front.

But there's one plane I can't make sense out of in that paradigm. Su-33 doesn't have any apparent STOVL features like a Harrier or F-35B (thrust outlets distributed around the center of gravity), but Russian carriers are said not to have catapults either (although cables seem to be a possibility). It does have a few carrier-specific modifications compared to the rest of the Su-27/30/33/34/35/37/J-11 family, including beefier landing gear (for hitting the deck harder on a faster descent) and bigger wings (to generate more lift and allow flight at a lower minimum speed). But those are only the same differences that F-35C (carrier version) has compared to F-35A (conventional airbase version), and F-35C still needs a catapult. Its engine power is nothing out of the ordinary. I've seen it suggested that Su-33 cheats on its thrust-to-weight ratio by taking off much lighter than its upper weight limit, but that seems pointless because then it would have practically no fuel or weapons, and refueling in flight would depend on a tanker taking off from the same no-catapult carrier. (I don't believe Russia has such a thing. Even the USA doesn't yet, although some of its fighters can refuel each other and there are plans for a tank kit to be carried by a V-22, and it wouldn't make sense to require that on practically every mission.) And that explanation also implies that a nearly empty F-35C could also take off from a ship without using a catapult, in which case the point of using the catapult is not that it's absolutely required to fly but just that it boosts the weight limit. But that isn't something I've heard despite following F-35 stuff for a while now, and doesn't seem consistent with the large gap in runway lengths between even the largest carrier and an Air Force base.

So what's going on here? Is Russia trying to fake us out with a plane that can technically fly on & off of a carrier but can't do anything else during the flight? I'm more inclined to suspect they're using catapults and we just don't know it. (The sources saying they don't seem to have catapults don't seem sure about it.)

wd40
2014-Mar-27, 02:05 AM
The British do not currently have any aircraft carriers nor a "Fleet Air Arm". It will be interesting to see, given the hiatus in training the breed of pilot who can take off and land on a moving ship, how they will manage with the two new 70,000 ton Queen Elizabeth class (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Elizabeth-class_aircraft_carrier) carriers they are building.

And also how the Chinese will manage pilot training from scratch with their new carrier, since I doubt that the US or Russia will offer them landing-deck training at any price

http://img120.imagevenue.com/loc76/th_587936019_c_122_76lo.jpg (http://img120.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=587936019_c_122_76lo.jpg)

Swift
2014-Mar-27, 02:37 AM
The British do not currently have any aircraft carriers nor a "Fleet Air Arm". It will be interesting to see, given the hiatus in training the breed of pilot who can take off and land on a moving ship, how they will manage with the two new 70,000 ton Queen Elizabeth class (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Elizabeth-class_aircraft_carrier) carriers they are building.

And also how the Chinese will manage pilot training from scratch with their new carrier, since I doubt that the US or Russia will offer them landing-deck training at any price

http://img120.imagevenue.com/loc76/th_587936019_c_122_76lo.jpg (http://img120.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=587936019_c_122_76lo.jpg)
I assume they'll learn like past generations did, by practicing on short landing fields on land, then on carriers in very good weather, and so on. I suspect the flight simulators can do carrier landings too. And they'll have a pilots who will have mishaps, and will lose aircraft or their own lives. Unfortunately that happens all the time too.

Delvo
2014-Mar-27, 02:51 AM
The type of plane they'll be using is new, but there have been dozens of American test pilots and the first operational Marine squadron flying exactly the same model of plane for a few years already, joined within the last year or so by the first Brit (and maybe a few more since then), including repeatedly using the STOVL features. The first deployments for days or weeks to a ship have also already happened, including multiple flights per day under various conditions throughout. Foreign pilots will be trained in the USA by experienced Americans, at least at first, although they can shift it to their home countries later if they want. The process starts on land and only goes to ships after they've repeatedly shown that they can do it accurately on a marked ship-sized spot on the base. Everybody who's flown this kind of plane and its STOVL predecessor remarks on how much amazingly easier it is: just point it where you want it to go, and it goes there, so there's practically no extra skill needed.

Jens
2014-Mar-27, 03:24 AM
Depiction of US carrier being destroyed by Russian missiles despite CIWS guns from "The Sum of All Fears" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhj8ITvp-pw), it always being Russian policy to fire salvoes at a single target to overwhelm the defence.

This is a question really, but is that really a Russian policy or just good combat strategy? Isn't it fairly common generally to focus target on a single target, and then shift targets when the first is disabled?

Inclusa
2014-Mar-27, 03:30 AM
Just a silly question: is the airborne carrier in science fictions even possible? If it is developed, it would be a significant air power edge.
Never mind; we have difficulties making the larger passenger planes, let alone the gigantic space cruisers or carriers in science fictions.

NorthernDevo
2014-Mar-27, 04:16 AM
Just a silly question: is the airborne carrier in science fictions even possible? If it is developed, it would be a significant air power edge.
Never mind; we have difficulties making the larger passenger planes, let alone the gigantic space cruisers or carriers in science fictions.

Well, unless it looks like this (http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130508014302/alienfilm/images/a/a3/City_Destroyer_%282%29.jpg); an airborne carrier would be largely pointless. You want a carrier big enough to carry a capable force and secure enough not to be destroyed; hence the CVBG. An airborne carrier would be a big fat slow smokin' target for any air or ground launched missile that wants an easy kill. CVBG's and airborne tankers provide more than enough tactical support for modern fighters. Besides;I can't imagine the technology required to actually build one. :) I may be wrong but if we had the technology to do so; we'd certainly have the technology to build much more efficient suborbital aerospace strike craft.

swampyankee
2014-Mar-27, 03:47 PM
The British do not currently have any aircraft carriers nor a "Fleet Air Arm". It will be interesting to see, given the hiatus in training the breed of pilot who can take off and land on a moving ship, how they will manage with the two new 70,000 ton Queen Elizabeth class (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Elizabeth-class_aircraft_carrier) carriers they are building.

And also how the Chinese will manage pilot training from scratch with their new carrier, since I doubt that the US or Russia will offer them landing-deck training at any price

http://img120.imagevenue.com/loc76/th_587936019_c_122_76lo.jpg (http://img120.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=587936019_c_122_76lo.jpg)


The RN has a carrier on order. They still have a Fleet Air Arm, too, although they are not currently flying fixed wing aircraft.

publiusr
2014-Mar-29, 08:27 PM
This article churned up a lot of interest: http://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2011-05/twilight-uperfluous-carrier

I sometimes wonder if the ARSENAL ship idea may replace the carrier for some tasks. IIRC, China's anti-ship missiles can reach out at sea farther than carrier-based assets could move inland. A boxer's reach isn't all important to be sure, but it helps.

wd40
2014-Mar-29, 10:28 PM
Leaving Norway in 1940, the radarless HMS Glorious (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlTwQv9yUWU) was surprised by two German batttleships.

If it had been able to launch even a handful of its 48 bombers or even its fighters, they would quickly have been able to deter the Germans. But they were just too late and it went down with most of its crew.

Trebuchet
2014-Mar-29, 11:15 PM
Leaving Norway in 1940, the radarless HMS Glorious (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlTwQv9yUWU) was surprised by two German batttleships.

If it had been able to launch even a handful of its 48 bombers or even its fighters, they would quickly have been able to deter the Germans. But they were just too late and it went down with most of its crew.

Not one of the RN's better moments. The Captain, who IIRC was a submariner, asked for and received permission to proceed independently back to the UK so he could be present at the court martial of a former air group commander who had disagreed with him. Even a scout aircraft or two would have allowed them to evade the Germans.