How would you improve the Royal Navy

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
dunmunro
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Re: How would you improve the Royal Navy

Post by dunmunro » Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:30 pm

Djoser wrote:
dunmunro wrote:Britain, faced with possible invasion simply couldn't spare the resources to develop FAA aircraft in a more timely fashion, and this had exactly NOTHING to do with the prewar status of the FAA...
NOTHING???

Again we have this curious notion you are apparently espousing, with firm resolve, that the FAA would have been not one tiny bit better had it been fully supported and financed (or barring that, maybe in existence at all), during the inter war period. .
The numbers and type of aircraft in the FAA was a by product of the capacity and capability of the RN's carriers. The number and capability of the carriers was a by product of the development of the RN from about 1916 and the funding that the RN received prior to about 1936,and after that date the RN's expansion was limited only by Britain's industrial capacity. Prior to 1936, expanding the FAA meant contracting some other part of the RN. By 1937 the RN had more fleet carriers under construction than either the IJN or USN, and by Dec 1941, the RN would have had more fleet carriers than either the IJN or USN and would have had comparable numbers of embarked aircraft with equal or superior capability. The fact that the FAA was not allowed to expand to this size, had NOTHING to do with the pre-1937 status of the FAA. There is simply no connection between the pre-war status of the FAA and the outbreak of war in 1939, other than the fact that the entire UK defence establishment had been starved for funding prior to 1936.

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Re: How would you improve the Royal Navy

Post by dunmunro » Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:48 pm

Djoser wrote: Well the fact that the USA wasn't at war until 24 days before that date might have had something to do with it. As well as the fact that the USA was devoting a very large proportion of its military/industrial productive capacity to supplying the embattled British Empire with munitions. Furthermore, I'll take 200 F4Fs over 350 Fulmars on my carriers, anyday.
The Sea Hurricane was the the first single seat, SE, monoplane fighter to score a kill while being based on a CV. The first single seat SE CV based fighter to score a kill was the Gloster Sea Gladiator, and the FAA operated a number of these aircraft during 1939 and 1940. The FAA always had fighters of comparable performance and capability to either the IJN or USN, but it never had them in sufficient quantity but again this had nothing to do with the pre-1937 status of the FAA and everything to do with post Sept 1939 attrition and production priorities.

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Re: How would you improve the Royal Navy

Post by dunmunro » Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:38 pm

lwd wrote:
dunmunro wrote:... The Zero received folding wing tips and never had folding wings, nor armour nor SS tanks. It was actually a very mediocre aircraft that only seemed fearsome because it was fighting against 2nd line western aircraft.....
I take issue with several parts of this. First and foremost that the Zero was a "very mediocre" plane. It had it's flaws but it also had several very important virtues range and endurance being among the most important. It was also quite maneuverable. If you want a carrier based fighter it was certainly far supperoir to the Me109. As for 2nd line western aircraft I wouldn't call the F4F or later the F6F or F4U and such 2nd line by any means.
As for the RN if they had control of their own aircraft development and the budget to buy what they needed then I suspect they would have been in better shape. A serious question though is what do they have to give up to pay for it? Or do we assume that they can take it out of other military and/or civilian budgetary items?
Yes, F6F/F4U pilots flying a 1st line western aircraft did not find the Zero to be particularly fearsome and they slaughtered it.

ZERO: No armour, no SS tanks, no folding wings. Take a Sea Hurricane and/or an F4F and do the same and you end up with at least as good performance and also cause it to be rejected by the FAA and/or USN. Look at scenarios where the Sea Hurricane saw combat, and replace the Sea Hurricane with the Zero. Does this enhance or degrade the FAA's combat capability?

Your final question is very pertinent, and prior to 1936 the RN was operating in a very restrictive budgetary climate.

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Re: How would you improve the Royal Navy

Post by Djoser » Fri Dec 24, 2010 9:44 am

dunmunro wrote: You keep saying this, but refuse to provide any concrete data as to exactly how the FAA could have obtained better aircraft than it had...
And you keep denying any possibility whatsoever that the nonexistence of a FAA for almost 20 years could have caused the slightest delay in the development of any more effective and/or plentiful naval aircraft. I am saying had it existed for more than only 2 years before the start of the war, the FAA would have done a bit more than sit around for 10-15 years with its thumb up it's collective ass.
dunmunro wrote:...or even how the FAA's aircraft were deficient.
There are any number of references to the deficiency in quality of several of the British naval aircraft in the early war years, by many reputable naval and aviation historians. Since you don't seem inclined to take my word for it :lol:, I will endeavor to find and post some of these references after I get off work tonight.
dunmunro wrote:There was nothing wrong with the FAA's aircraft other than the fact that they were in a shooting war from Sept 1939, and the IJN and USN wasn't...
Spock is leaning over my shoulder in the DJ booth, saying "This is not logical." An aircraft is either good, bad, or indifferent whether it is used in battle or not, or whether the numbers of the aircraft are reduced thereby--though battle is a good test of that quality to be sure.
dunmunro wrote:Britain's aircraft technology led the world in most aspects.
I think you might find some disagreement to that assertion from authorities on German, American, and Japanese aircraft development.
dunmunro wrote:The only problem with the Skua and Fulmar was that there was never enough of them...
So now you are saying they were perfect aircraft, without any flaws whatsoever??? I'm sorry, this is really pushing the limits of your contention (though I repeat, I do respect your intelligence and integrity)
dunmunro wrote:If we give these carriers say a mix of 75 Sea Hurricanes and Fulmars and 150 Albacores does this degrade the USN's capability at Midway? The Albacore was fully capable of operating as a pure dive bomber and unlike the Dauntless also had a radar search capability, with which to find the IJN. It seems likely that flying the exact same mission profiles that more Albacore DBs would have found the KB and then sank all four carriers in the first strike wave, while the Albacore TBs would have suffered a similar fate to the Devastators, with the exception that they would have been dropping a much superior torpedo.


I'm not convinced that the Hurricane was a better fighter than the Wildcat, or that the Albacore was a better dive bomber than the Dauntless. I will try to look up the relative specs and see about that. The quality of the torpedo will not magically improve the quality of the aircraft, which qualities we have been debating--though I will grant you the total package as a means of doing damage might be improved.

There isn't much doubt that that the Wildcat was a much superior fighter to the Fulmar, however.

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Re: How would you improve the Royal Navy

Post by dunmunro » Fri Dec 24, 2010 12:08 pm

Djoser wrote:

1)And you keep denying any possibility whatsoever that the nonexistence of a FAA for almost 20 years could have caused the slightest delay in the development of any more effective and/or plentiful naval aircraft. I am saying had it existed for more than only 2 years before the start of the war, the FAA would have done a bit more than sit around for 10-15 years with its thumb up it's collective ass.



2)There are any number of references to the deficiency in quality of several of the British naval aircraft in the early war years, by many reputable naval and aviation historians. Since you don't seem inclined to take my word for it :lol:, I will endeavor to find and post some of these references after I get off work tonight.



3)Spock is leaning over my shoulder in the DJ booth, saying "This is not logical." An aircraft is either good, bad, or indifferent whether it is used in battle or not, or whether the numbers of the aircraft are reduced thereby--though battle is a good test of that quality to be sure.



4)I think you might find some disagreement to that assertion from authorities on German, American, and Japanese aircraft development.



5)So now you are saying they were perfect aircraft, without any flaws whatsoever??? I'm sorry, this is really pushing the limits of your contention (though I repeat, I do respect your intelligence and integrity)



6)I'm not convinced that the Hurricane was a better fighter than the Wildcat, or that the Albacore was a better dive bomber than the Dauntless. I will try to look up the relative specs and see about that. The quality of the torpedo will not magically improve the quality of the aircraft, which qualities we have been debating--though I will grant you the total package as a means of doing damage might be improved.

7)There isn't much doubt that that the Wildcat was a much superior fighter to the Fulmar, however.

1) You need to do some research into FAA aircraft development. The cancellation and delay of various engine and development programs that were vital to the FAA's new designs was caused by the outbreak of WW2. The RN had a naval air service prior to the FAA's development and the RN was practising multiple CV operations and airstrikes in the mid 1930s. The planning for Taranto was done in 1935. The Skua was ordered in 1935. The creation of the FAA in 1937 was really just an administrative transfer of existing assets. Rather than doing nothing the RN was working out the details of how to use CVs in combat and when war broke out the RN had to learn what worked and what didn't the hard way, but in turn shared everything they knew and learned with the USN, which helped it prepare for war. Your last sentence betrays a deep misunderstanding of interwar RN planning and development.

2) Compare the aircraft that the FAA had in its inventory with comparable aircraft in other navies in 1939. You appear to be trying to compare what the IJN/USN had in 1942, with what the RN had in 1939. But you are correct that there is a lot of poorly written material available, that tends to make editorial comments rather than doing solid research and comparative study.

3) Instead of watching Star Trek re-runs, perhaps you should do some research in naval history starting with a comparative study of the aircraft types actually in CV service in the RN/IJN/USN during the same time frame.

4) No doubt, but the RAF won the BofB and the USAAFs best fighters had Merlin engines...

5) ?. Mission capable does not imply flawless.

6) As I've pointed out, the FAA plan was to have the Firefly and Barracuda in service in late 1941/early 1942. These plans were disrupted by the outbreak of war in 1939 but even so the FAA stayed competitive in terms of in-service aircraft.

7) In Sept 1940 the Fulmar was the best naval fighter available, the fact that future designs surpassed it as a point defence fighter is hardly surprising. The Fulmar was still superior as a long range recon aircraft, and was fully stressed for Dive Bombing, although this potential was never fully developed.

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Re: How would you improve the Royal Navy

Post by Djoser » Fri Dec 24, 2010 12:38 pm

dunmunro wrote:...the development of a navalized Hurricane was probably possible sooner than historically occurred...

...again, imagine the FAA having large numbers of Fulmars available during the German invasions of Norway and Crete...
Now you are being a bit more reasonable.

The point I was trying to make, in the post that started this somewhat overblown debate, was that if someone had instituted a FAA even a year earlier than '37 (since the question postulated '36 as a starting point), and taken swift and strong measures to compensate for the lack thereof for the 10-15 previous years, that there might have been more and better aircraft available to fly off the Royal Navy's high quality carriers in the first couple years of the war. In my mind this would have been one of the two best improvements to be made in the Royal Navy, had they done so in 36 (or preferably even sooner). The other being more escorts.
dunmunro wrote:...the biggest problem with the Fulmar was that there simply wasn't enough of them.
The biggest problem with the Fulmar was that it was a thoroughly mediocre aircraft, and certainly no match for a zero, no matter whether the zero had no armor to protect the pilot, or self-sealing fuel tanks--they could easily fly rings around the relatively clumsy Fulmars, which were also considerably slower.

However, much as we may disagree about the quality, we could possibly agree that had a push been made in '36 to improve the supply of naval aircraft--as I was suggesting--that there could at least have been more of the damned mediocre (or not as you insist) Fulmars, and the Royal Navy would still have been considerably better off. As you say, the invasion of Crete possibly being thwarted!

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Re: How would you improve the Royal Navy

Post by José M. Rico » Fri Dec 24, 2010 12:52 pm

Ok, Djoser and dunmunro, you both have made your points clear and I don't want to end up closing this thread. It's time to move on.
Any other suggestions as to how would you improve the Royal Navy?

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Re: How would you improve the Royal Navy

Post by Djoser » Fri Dec 24, 2010 1:34 pm

José M. Rico wrote:Ok, Djoser and dunmunro, you both have made your points clear and I don't want to end up closing this thread. It's time to move on.
Any other suggestions as to how would you improve the Royal Navy?
Thank you Jose.

While I do not appreciate being told repeatedly what kind of research I need to do, or that I should do any kind of research instead of watching Star trek reruns (I haven't watched Star trek in 20 years, and was never a particularly big fan--I never, ever watch television lol!); I do admit to continuing the Star Trek joke started by Bgile in an attempt to inject a little humor into an increasingly (and needlessly) acrimonious dispute, increasingly tangential to my ideas for improving the Royal navy in '36. But of course it takes two to tango, and it would be a shame for Dunmunro and I to think any less of each other over such a relatively minor historical dispute.

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Re: How would you improve the Royal Navy

Post by lwd » Mon Dec 27, 2010 4:02 pm

dunmunro wrote: ... The best way to test FAA aircraft capability is too imagine them being used by the USN or IJN in lieu of what they historically had during the Battle of Midway, for example. If the USN was equipped with Sea Hurricanes, Albacores and Fulmars could they have defeated the IJN at Midway? It seems very likely that they could have, and in fact would have probably done rather better than historically: The USN had about 225 aircraft on three carriers at Midway. If we give these carriers say a mix of 75 Sea Hurricanes and Fulmars and 150 Albacores does this degrade the USN's capability at Midway? The Albacore was fully capable of operating as a pure dive bomber and unlike the Dauntless also had a radar search capability, with which to find the IJN. It seems likely that flying the exact same mission profiles that more Albacore DBs would have found the KB and then sank all four carriers in the first strike wave, while the Albacore TBs would have suffered a similar fate to the Devastators, with the exception that they would have been dropping a much superior torpedo.
Well there is the problem of the range of the aircraft. Sea Hurricane is what 500 miles vs well over 700 for the F4F. The Albacore is also shorter ranged than the US bombers and a lot slower. The latter could have considerable impact as it would give the Japanese CAP a lot more time to react and indeed might allow for more evasive maneuvers of the carriers. Remember that the US dive bombers weren't really spotted until they were in or about to enter thier dives. Now if you start talking about torpedos indeed the RN ones were better at that point as were their release mechanisms I believe. Seem to recall several US torpedos were released when the arming switches were thrown well before they had any hope of doing anything.

But back on topic a vital question is are additional funds availble and if so where do they come from and what magnitude are we talking about? There's also a question of when we want the improvements to start showing up. For instance could the RN limit the acquisition of aircraft early on and put the money in to development of better planes and facilities to produce them? This would lead to a weaker RN for a while but a stronger one in the long run. How about "mothballing" some of the WWI battleships and using the savings for the fleet air arm or additional DDs or DEs?

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Re: How would you improve the Royal Navy

Post by dunmunro » Tue Dec 28, 2010 6:11 am

I'll put some comparative range and performance data in a new thread in the Naval History (1922-1945) section to demonstrate that FAA aircraft had the range to carry out the same attacks as historically occurred at Midway. It was several SBD-3 DBs that lost their bombs due to faulty arming switches.

The problem is that the RN couldn't afford to be weaker at any point and certainly could not afford a reduction in any category of BB, CA/CV or DD strength. However a very mild reallocation of RAF aircraft production priorities could have resulted in a radical increase in FAA aircraft production and R&D and no overall reduction in UK/Commonwealth air strength.

BTW, 0n Dec 26 1941, upon first commissioning, USS Hornet carried four Squadrons of aircraft: One Squadron of F4F-3 fighters, two Squadrons of SBC Helldiver biplanes and a squadron of TBD Devastators.

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Re: How would you improve the Royal Navy

Post by lwd » Tue Dec 28, 2010 3:34 pm

What about the possibility of under writing some of the construction cost of Cargo ships desingned to be easily converted to CVEs? Still leaves the problem of where the money is to come from but as this would support domestic ship builders at a time when more work would be appreciated it might be politically feasable. Certainly giving the fleet air arm a bit more of the budget that the RAF got looks promising as well. Both services could do with upgraded training establishments as well as better aircraft. Perhpas some funds could also be generated or used more effectivly by encourageing some other members of the Commonwealth to reallocate some funds? (I know very little about this aspect asside from the fact that Canada became a major manufacturer of smaller combatants.)

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Re: How would you improve the Royal Navy

Post by Djoser » Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:44 pm

lwd wrote: Well there is the problem of the range of the aircraft. Sea Hurricane is what 500 miles vs well over 700 for the F4F. The Albacore is also shorter ranged than the US bombers and a lot slower. The latter could have considerable impact as it would give the Japanese CAP a lot more time to react and indeed might allow for more evasive maneuvers of the carriers. Remember that the US dive bombers weren't really spotted until they were in or about to enter thier dives. Now if you start talking about torpedos indeed the RN ones were better at that point as were their release mechanisms I believe. Seem to recall several US torpedos were released when the arming switches were thrown well before they had any hope of doing anything.

But back on topic a vital question is are additional funds availble and if so where do they come from and what magnitude are we talking about? There's also a question of when we want the improvements to start showing up. For instance could the RN limit the acquisition of aircraft early on and put the money in to development of better planes and facilities to produce them? This would lead to a weaker RN for a while but a stronger one in the long run. How about "mothballing" some of the WWI battleships and using the savings for the fleet air arm or additional DDs or DEs?
Of course spending more of a severely limited budget on any one or two areas of research, design, development, construction, and/or maintenance is going to hurt the others, with possible negative effect on the ultimate combat effectiveness of the navy involved. Nonetheless, as you say, I feel pretty sure that this would have led to a RN better prepared for WWII. Which was the point I was trying to make, before we got bogged down in petty minutiae.

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Re: How would you improve the Royal Navy

Post by dunmunro » Tue Dec 28, 2010 8:24 pm

Djoser wrote:
lwd wrote:

But back on topic a vital question is are additional funds availble and if so where do they come from and what magnitude are we talking about? There's also a question of when we want the improvements to start showing up. For instance could the RN limit the acquisition of aircraft early on and put the money in to development of better planes and facilities to produce them? This would lead to a weaker RN for a while but a stronger one in the long run. How about "mothballing" some of the WWI battleships and using the savings for the fleet air arm or additional DDs or DEs?
Of course spending more of a severely limited budget on any one or two areas of research, design, development, construction, and/or maintenance is going to hurt the others, with possible negative effect on the ultimate combat effectiveness of the navy involved. Nonetheless, as you say, I feel pretty sure that this would have led to a RN better prepared for WWII. Which was the point I was trying to make, before we got bogged down in petty minutiae.
The major reason that the RN consented to mixed control of the NAS was that most of the costs involved, in terms of training, R&D and procurement were taken from the RAF budget. It was cost considerations that led to joint control and the massive increases in defence spending prior to WW2 that led to the formation of a purely RN FAA. It is actually pretty easy to make a case that RN control over the NAS prior to 1937 would have weakened the RN.

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Re: How would you improve the Royal Navy

Post by Djoser » Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:11 am

And it's pretty easy to make a case that if the Royal Navy had had a FAA before '37 it would have been strengthened.

Certainly there is no lack of qualified naval and aviation historians who have done precisely this.

But I suggest we follow Jose's advice and stop bickering about it.

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Re: How would you improve the Royal Navy

Post by Gator » Sat Jan 01, 2011 12:18 pm

If I can add a bit to this conversation my understanding is that in the interwar years the naval air service of the RAF was severely impacted by the prejudices of the RAF to such an extent that the RN’s air capability had a different approach to aircraft development than the US or Japan – or at least was so delayed in reaching the same point that WW2 impact left the FAA behind those nations that had another 2 years to develop in peace. The RAF always said that they gave the RN the aircraft it was asked for and I think this is true, but since it was the RAF’s warped thinking about aircraft that guided the RN in what to ask for namely that:

Carrier aircraft would under no circumstances need to engage with land based fighters and so would not need the same performance.

That the bomber would always get through and that fighters were of only marginal use (have a look at the disparagement that bomber command held fighter command – Dowding really struggled to get fighter command into a position to be of use for 1940

That carrier fighters should not be single seat but two seat because it was more too complex for one crew to fly the aircraft and also navigate.

When the FAA was finally formed all the good air people operating with the Royal Navy stayed with the RAF which did a lot to gut the FAA of quality people which would also have slowed the ability to develop ideas on how carriers and their air wings should be used. It took years to really recover and by then the FAA was at war and it had to take what it could get.

And the FAA was fatally flawed in its approach to multi tasking aircraft in an attempt to get as much out of limited numbers as possible. The Skua was not just a dive bomber it was supposed to be a fighter as well, with the result it did neither role very well. The Barracuda was both a torpedo plane and a dive bomber and was a also underpowered, with the result it performed as a very mediocre aircraft. I also think the Fulmar was in some part dual purpose but not sure about that. Multi tasking was a good idea but the tech wasn’t in place to achieve it (at least not without taking from the RAF which rightly had the priority in the lead up to war.

My own view as to how things might have been improved is perhaps less about the aircraft but about the organisation of the FAA as if the organisation was got right ultimately it would begin to make the right decisions for itself over the equipment it needed. I would suggest that rather than just an FAA being given to the navy I would have given Coastal Command to the navy with a remit to defend the nations and the key imperial possessions coats from sea attack. That would have given the RN a true Royal Naval Air Service with a carrier and land based role which would have required the organisation, freed it from the strange thinking of bomber command, and given RN control of S&R, sea patrol, ASW and also of a land based fighter and ship attack roles. That might have done a good job for instance in defending Ceylon , Singapore etc.

However if the RN had been given that remit and capability it would have needed industrial resources which would have been retasked from building the RAF fighter and bomber commands which may have left those commands with inadequate capability come WW2, especially fighter command given the pre war priority given to bombers. That could have lost Britain the BoB.

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