Soviet Union carriers

Naval discussions covering the latter half of the 20th Century.
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marcelo_malara
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Soviet Union carriers

Postby marcelo_malara » Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:07 pm

I was wandering why the Soviet Navy didn´t get interested in carriers until recently, and even then in a very small scale compared with the US. The Argentine Navy received two carriers in the 60´s and managed to develop a small carrier force, so I must assume that it wasn´t for luck of experience that the Soviets didn´t, or luck of resources. Starting in the 50´s they could have built carriers and designed naval aircraft, so that by the 60´s they would have been fully operational. Any ideas?

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Re: Soviet Union carriers

Postby Tiornu » Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:22 pm

In World War I, the Russians probably had the most extensive carrier capability in the world with the sole exception of the RN's. After the Revolution, the veteran admirals were interested in pursuing genuine flattops, and there were plans made to convert the incomplete battlecruiser Izmail and the damaged battleship Frunze. However, industrial and financial restraints prevented such projects, and the navy itself was not popular with the leadership anyway. It wasn't until the mid- to late-1930's that carriers reappeared in Soviet planning. Due in part to a lack of experience, development was slow enough to prevent progress until World War II put a complete stop on things. Planning continued postwar, but the bottom line was that Stalin had no affection for carriers.
I can't address events from later periods, but I think you'll find that the inherent difficulties in forming Soviet blue-water doctrine sapped the enthusiasm out of most aviation proposals.

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Re: Soviet Union carriers

Postby RF » Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:05 am

The Soviets had no real need for carriers until the onset of the Cold War. Even then the ''boomer'' submarine was the chief naval weapon aimed at the US.

Unlike the US and some of its allies the Soviet bloc has not had a record of direct military intervention or direct military commitments in territories far outside the communist bloc, except through the use of client states (such as Cuba sending forces to Angola and Mozambique in the 1970's) so there has been no need for carrier forces.
The one incident that exposed this was the Cuba missiles crisis of 1962, which ultimately lead to the Brezhnev doctrine, ie. build a very large Soviet Navy.
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RF
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Re: Soviet Union carriers

Postby RF » Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:07 am

A more interesting question Marcelo may be to ask this of China, why China has no large navy or carrier forces, given their claim on Taiwan.
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Re: Soviet Union carriers

Postby lwd » Wed Jun 18, 2008 11:54 am

I'm not sure there was any need for one prior to the Communist take over. Afterward the cost/risk/bennefit equaiton would not have worked out well for quite a few years.

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Re: Soviet Union carriers

Postby RF » Wed Jun 18, 2008 12:24 pm

Taking cost/benefit analysis further is the factor of restricted access to the outer oceans foRussian/Soviet forces. In Tsarist times there were two fleets, one Baltic and one Pacific, and the weaknesses were fully exposed in the Russo-Japanese War. Effectively there was no further high seas role for the Russians until the 1950's, when developments in naval technology allowed easier access to the outer oceans. Another factor in this is the development of ship-borne supply facilities.
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Re: Soviet Union carriers

Postby Bgile » Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:25 pm

A truly effective carrier aircraft needs to be designed for that from the beginning. The airframe has to be capable of landing stresses or they won't last very long. All current US naval aircraft fit that mold, and are heavier than an air force plane of the same type would need to be. There just wasn't economy of scale for the USSR to design an aircraft for one or two carriers. They attempted it anyway with the Yak version, but it wasn't completely successful.

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Re: Soviet Union carriers

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:18 pm

I agree with lwd: both Russia or China were in no need of a large naval force until the commie takeover (and their sudden development of global interests). But I believe that their approach to that interest is quite different from our western viewpoint.
Western powers have assumed that the CV battlegroup is the main strategic force of the navies. I believe the ruskies thought quite different given the "boomer" the main role (one which I believe they´re right). The "boomer" is the contemporary "battleship" and the real heir of the capital ship, not the massive CV which could be an easy target to lesser naval (or airborne or subsea threats) unit.
As far as China is concerned they relied on the DDs and small subs for the time being. But which is their real development program? It will be good to know. I still believe that the oil and natural gas reserves near Spratley Islands (and not Taiwan) are their main close interests and seizing them would be their project for the years to come.

Curious about this thread because last Saturday I bought Trumpeter´s 1/350 model for the soviet Kuztnezov CV. Big vessel! :shock:

Kind regards.
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Re: Soviet Union carriers

Postby marcelo_malara » Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:28 am

Thanks for all the answers guys. But there is one think that continues to strike me: if Argentina (which had far fewer reasons to have a carrier force) managed to get two carriers and developed Naval aviation, the Soviet Union must have built a carrier force, at least for the case that things demostrated that it was needed.

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Re: Soviet Union carriers

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Thu Jun 19, 2008 1:06 am

But Marcelo, the USSR had aircraft carrier forces! Here is a list of their modern units:

First date is commision and the second one is decomision:

Admiral Gorshkov (1982–1996)
Admiral Kuznetsov (1985-Present)
Kiev (1972–1993)
Leningrad (1968–1991)
Minsk (1975–1993)
Moskva (1964–1991)
Novorossiysk (1978–1993)
Ulyanovsk (Not commissioned,scrapped)
Varyag (Not commissioned, sold to China)


So far the USSR only has an operational CV. But this demostrates that the commies had an extensive CV program underway since the early 60ies. The complete muster of the actual Russian Navy is:

Submarines:

SSBN: 10 (3 building)
SSGN: 6 (1 building?)
SSN: 15 (1 building)
Conventional Submarines: 20 (2 building)
Auxiliary Submarines: 7

Major surface combatants:

Aircraft Carriers (CV): 1 (1 type in development, planning 6 of them in all)
Battlecruisers (BCGN): 2 (Kirov class 2 +(1 in reserve) (Cruiser Nakhimov returned to service in 2005)
Cruisers (CG): 3 (Slava class cruiser 3 )
Destroyers (DDG): 26 (Kashin 6,Udaloy class destroyer 8 ,Sovremenny class 10 ,Kara class cruiser 2) + (Gorshkov class 2 ships u/c ,planned 19+ [2])
Frigates (FFG): 16 ( Krivak class frigateI 4,Krivak class frigateIII 7, Neustrashimy class frigate 3 , Gepard class frigate 1 , Novik 1 + (5 ships building))
Light Frigates (FFL): 45 ( Steregushchy 6 + 5 under construction,planned 50 in total))[3]

Patrol ships:

Missile Corvettes (FSG): 41
Patrol Boats (PCF): 21
Patrol hydrofoils (PTF): 5
Missile hovercraft: 2

Amphibious ships:

Landing ship dock (LSD): 1
Landing ship tank (LST):18
Landing ship hovercraft:8

Mine warfare:

Minesweepers: 56

Support ships:

Fleet oilers (AOR): 15
Surveillance ships: 66
Logistic support: 29

Maritime Border Guard:

Maritime Guard of the Border Service under Federal Security Service. This performs the role of a coastguard.
Frigates (FFG): 6 (1 reserve)
Light Frigates (FFL): 12
Offshore Patrol Vessels: 27
Patrol Icebreakers: 6
Patrol boats (PCF): 66
River craft: 22
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marcelo_malara
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Re: Soviet Union carriers

Postby marcelo_malara » Thu Jun 19, 2008 3:07 am

Yes, Karl, I know about Moskva and Leningrad, but they were not conventional aircraft capable!!! And those that were, only see the light in the 80´s. Besides, what I envision, is a force of about 10 carriers by the late 60´s.

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Re: Soviet Union carriers

Postby RF » Thu Jun 19, 2008 8:04 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
The "boomer" is the contemporary "battleship" and the real heir of the capital ship, not the massive CV which could be an easy target to lesser naval (or airborne or subsea threats) unit.


I don't necessarily think so, as the ''boomer'' is still a large target for anti-sub forces and of course the hunter-killer sub.
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Re: Soviet Union carriers

Postby RF » Thu Jun 19, 2008 8:26 am

marcelo_malara wrote: But there is one think that continues to strike me: if Argentina (which had far fewer reasons to have a carrier force) managed to get two carriers and developed Naval aviation, the Soviet Union must have built a carrier force, at least for the case that things demostrated that it was needed.


But Argentina has or had different strategic priorities to countries such as Russia.

Russia has always been primarily a land power, with a vast hinterland to develop and access to the sea being difficult due to physical climate. Part of its maritime interests - Alaska - was even sold to the US back in 1867. The strategic position of the USSR would have been different and far stronger if the frontier state had been part of the USSR....

Argentina has a long coastline with easy access to Atlantic. Like Russia it had an underdeveloped hinterland, but unlike Russia no serious external land threat. Russia has been involved in countless land wars, usually on the losing side (in that I include the First World War which for Russia ended with the treaty of Brest-Litovsk).

Argentina has only been involved in one land war, in the 1860's, which took place outside most of its territory.

Argentine leaders therefore placed greater importance on a maritime tradition and development than Russia - trading relationships were almost exclusively seaborne, unlike Russia, predominently a land-borne trader for whom railways were more important than ships.

Possession of large naval forces for countries such as Brazil and Argentina would be in their strategic interests, particulary for Argentina with its ambitions on the Malvinas, Georgia and Antarctica, and carriers would be the appropriate weapon.
Whilst Argentina lacked the wealth and industrial power to possess a navy of NATO standards I think that better use and more forward planning with the resources they did have could have yielded better results, and the Argentines could have collaborated with other navies such as the French Navy more than they did.
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Re: Soviet Union carriers

Postby lwd » Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:28 pm

For a signifcant period in the cold war the Soviet thinking may have been: If we need carrriers we are probably fighting the US. In which case 2 or 3 or even more carriers wouldn't be much more than targets.
I think they recognized that developing a CV force that would be useful and viable would be a very long and expensive process and that during that process it would be extremely vulnerable. Indeed I'm not sure how viable CVs are without a good sized contingent of carreer sailors and especially NCOs. Using the officer to sailor ration that the Soviets did on their subs on a CV would be prohibitivly expensive in several ways. And of course they didn't really have much of a roll for CVs. The latter ones were I think intended primarily for prestig but to a lesser extent to force a reaction from the USN. The Soviet Union in the 40's and 50's was also pretty ancious to avoid a war with the west. Given some of the games that the subs played CVs playing the same sort of game in a much more visisble arena could have let things get out of hand.

It may also have been internal politics to a large extent. CVs are expensive and the Soviet Navy was not the first priority. The AF, Army, and strategic forces would have viewed money spent on CVs as money they could have used. Even in the navy the sub force would have had similar feelings.

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Re: Soviet Union carriers

Postby tameraire01 » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:21 pm

If you change the soviet command structure then it might be possible.If bismarck or tirpitz head towards the baltic or the artic then it could be possible for the soviet navy to push for CVs to protect the motherland from the nazis then the americans after the war.
Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas. Joseph Stalin


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