CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

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SKB
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CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

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Image
^ Note the island is positioned to allow taxiing around it.

Introduction
The CVA-01 aircraft carrier was to be the first of a class of two fleet carriers that would have replaced the Royal Navy's existing aircraft carriers, most of which had been designed prior to or during World War II. The name CVA was derived from the US classification Carrier Vessel Attack.

Due to the 1966 Defence White Paper the project was cancelled, along with the proposed escort Type 82 destroyers. Inter-service rivalries, the huge cost of the proposed carriers, and the difficulties they would have presented in construction, operation, and maintenance were prime reasons for cancellation. Had these ships been built, it is likely they would have been named HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Duke of Edinburgh.


Origin
In the 1960s, the Royal Navy was still one of the premier carrier fleets in the world, second only to the US Navy which was in the process of building the 80,000 ton Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carriers. The fleet included the fleet carriers Ark Royal, Eagle, and two much smaller carriers, the completely reconstructed Victorious, and the much newer light carrier Hermes both with 3D 984 radar and C3 but limited to air groups of 25 aircraft, at the most 20 fighters and strike aircraft and 5 helicopters or alternatively 16 fighters and strike aircraft and 4 AW Gannets turboprops and 5 helicopters. A fifth carrier, Centaur, was modernized to the minimum standard to operate 2nd generation Scimitars and Vixens in 1959, but was never satisfactory or safe for operating nuclear strike aircraft and was a purely interim capability, while Eagle was refitting.

While all four of the Navy's large carriers were capable of operating the S.2 version of the Blackburn Buccaneer strike aircraft, only Ark Royal and Eagle were realistically big enough to accommodate both a squadron of Buccaneers (up to 14 aircraft) and a squadron of F-4 Phantoms, which the Royal Navy intended to procure as its new fleet air defence aircraft. With the remainder of the air group this would give a total of approximately 40 aircraft, which compared poorly to the 90 available to a Kitty Hawk class ship. The increasing weight and size of modern jet fighters meant that a larger deck area was required for take offs and landings. Although the Royal Navy had come up with increasingly innovative ways to allow ever larger aircraft to operate from the small flight decks of their carriers, the limited physical life left in the existing ships (only Hermes was considered capable of reliable and efficient extension past 1975), and the inability of both Victorious and Hermes, the most effectively and expensively modernized of the carriers, to operate the F-4 or an effective and useful number of Buccaneers, made the order of at least two new large fleet carriers essential by the mid 1960s.


Design considerations
Once the Chiefs of Staff had given their approval to the idea of new carriers being necessary, in January 1962, in the strategic paper COS(621)1, British Strategy in the Sixties, the Admiralty Board had to sift through six possible designs. These ranged from 42,000 to 68,000 tons at full load. The largest design, based on the American Forrestal class, had space for four full sized steam catapults, but was rejected early on as being significantly too costly, particularly in terms of the dockyard upgrades that would be needed to service them. However, the advantages of size were immediately apparent. A 42,000 ton carrier could only hold 27 aircraft, whereas a 55,000 ton carrier could carry 49. This represented an 80% increase in the size of the airgroup for a 30% increase in displacement. Even with these smaller designs, however, cost was already becoming a serious issue. The Treasury and the Air Ministry were pushing for a new set of long-range strike aircraft operating from a string of bases around the globe. For the former this appeared a cost effective solution for the East of Suez issue, and for the latter it meant that the Royal Navy would not get a majority of the defence budget. This meant that by July 1963 it was announced that only one carrier would be built.


Design
The CVA-01 would have displaced 54,500 tons (although the ship was said to displace 53,000 tons "in average action condition"), with a flight deck length (including the bridle arrester boom) of 963 ft 3 in (293.60 m). The size of the flight deck, combined with steam catapults and arrester gear would have enabled the carriers to operate the latest jets. The aircraft complement would have included 36 Phantom fighter/ground-attack aircraft and/or Buccaneer low-level strike aircraft, four early-warning aircraft, five anti-submarine helicopters and two search-and-rescue helicopters. The large 'Broomstick' radar dome above the central island on the carrier was planned to be a Type 988 Anglo-Dutch 3D radar, which would subsequently be fitted on the Royal Netherlands Navy Tromp-class frigates, although this would not have been fitted to the final carrier as Britain pulled out of the project.


Cancellation
By early 1963 Minister of Defence Peter Thorneycroft announced in Parliament that one new aircraft carrier would be built, at an estimated cost of £56 million, although the Treasury thought that the final cost was likely to be nearer £100 million. This was based on the carrier using the same aircraft as the Royal Air Force, the Hawker P.1154 supersonic V/STOL aircraft (a larger version of what would become the Hawker Siddeley Harrier). However, after the General Election of October 1964, the new Labour Government wanted to cut back defence spending, and the RAF attacked the Royal Navy's carrier in an attempt to safeguard first its BAC TSR-2 strike/reconnaissance aircraft and then its proposed replacement, the General Dynamics F-111, from the cuts.

The new Government, and by extension Treasury, were particularly concerned about the size issues involved, as these were fluctuating quite frequently. They therefore demanded that the Admiralty keep to 53,000 tons. With the navy unwilling to alter the size of the carrier and its airgroup accordingly the difficulties spiralled, and the final tonnage was much more likely to be nearer 55,000 tons. The design issues also increased, including dramatically reduced top speed, deck space, armour and radar equipment. When the Cabinet met in February 1966, the new Secretary of State for Defence, Denis Healey, strongly supported the RAF and their plan for long-range strike aircraft, by now the F-111, largely due to the costing issues of running fleet carriers. This meeting resulted in the 1966 Defence White Paper. In this paper the CVA-01 was finally cancelled, along with the remainder of the Type 82 destroyers that would have been built as escorts, of which only HMS Bristol was eventually completed. Instead plans were made for the modernisation of Eagle and Ark Royal. The final chief designer of CVA-01 said that by the time project was cancelled, so many design compromises had been made because of size and budget restrictions, that the whole project had become risky. The following year, a supplement to the review marked the ending of a global presence with the withdrawal of British presence East of Suez. The year after, the cancellation of the F-111.

One story about the cancellation of CVA-01 states that the RAF moved Australia by 500 miles in its documents to support the air force's preferred strategy of land-based aircraft. Regardless of the story's veracity, the principal reason for the cancellation was that the Defence Review believed adequate cover could be better provided East of Suez by RAF strike aircraft flying from bases in Australia and uninhabited Islands in the Indian Ocean, than by a small carrier fleet in the 1970s which would have still included Hermes. The Review asserted the carrier's only effective use was to project British power east of Suez. The Review asserted, without evidence, that the RN carriers were too 'vulnerable' for the RN's other major theatre in the North Atlantic. When the British government decided later in 1967 that it would withdraw from east of Suez, the case for carriers weakened further in its eyes, and the actual 1966 Review stated that the ability of RAF to cover 300 miles offshore was enough for the 1970s, regardless of whether the Air Forces claim to be able to provide air cover out to 700 miles was contested, and without the 150 TSR2 aircraft, cancelled by Labour in mid 1965, which were the real RAF argument for the island hopping strategy.


Eagle and Ark Royal
The cancellation of CVA-01 was planned to be compensated for by the minimum updating of both Eagle and Ark Royal to enable them to operate the 52 F-4 Phantoms ordered to fly from CVA-01 and Eagle. However, a later decision was taken to completely phase out fixed-wing flying in the Royal Navy by 1972 in line with withdrawal from "East of Suez"; Victorious was withdrawn just prior to the start of what was intended to be her final commission in 1969, while Hermes was paid off for conversion to a "commando carrier" in 1971. At the time of the announcement, Ark Royal was beginning a reconstruction with an austere refit of radar systems, communications, partial electrical rewiring and fittings needed to allow operation of the Phantom, and it was deemed unacceptable either to cancel the much needed work, or to spend such a large amount of money (approx £32m) for less than three years continued use. A change of government led, as a consequence, to retain Ark Royal following her 1967-1970 refit, but not to proceed with a refit of Eagle, in spite of the estimated cost of providing her with fittings and blast deflectors to operate Phantoms being £5m. Eagle decommissioned in 1972, partially due to damage inflicted in a partial grounding a year before and would have probably required a minimum 18-month refit in 1972-3 at a cost of around £40 million to operate till 1977. Many of the second squadron of F-4 Phantoms intended for Eagle were immediately transferred to the RAF. Eagle remained officially in reserve as a source of spares to maintain Ark Royal until 1978, but could never have been brought back into service.


"Through Deck Cruiser" (Invincible Class)
The Royal Navy did not however completely surrender aircraft carrier capability, despite the eventual withdrawal of Ark Royal in 1978. The concept of the "through-deck command cruiser" was first raised in the late 1960s, when it became clear that there was a good chance of the Fleet Air Arm losing fixed-wing capability. The "through-deck cruiser" name was chosen to avoid the stigma of great expense attached to full-size aircraft carriers, with these three 20,000 ton ships having significantly less fixed-wing aviation capability than the planned CVA-01 carriers. However, they were to function as part of combined NATO fleets, with a primary mission of providing Cold War anti-submarine patrols in the north-east Atlantic Ocean, in support of the American carrier battle groups. The through deck cruisers were designated as Invincible, Illustrious and Indomitable (Indomitable name later changed to Ark Royal).

In order to ensure the safety of the battle group around the "cruiser", the facility to carry the Sea Harrier was added at a late stage of development, the intention being that it could give the battle group the capability to intercept Soviet aircraft without having to rely either on land based or US Navy interceptors. The ultimate result of this was the Royal Navy being able to deploy carrier-based aircraft during the Falklands War. One officer who worked on the CVA-01 believed, however, that had the United Kingdom "built two or three ships to this design, they would now [in 1999] be seen to have been the bargain of the century and they would have made the Falklands War a much less risky operation" due to greater functionality.


CVF (Queen Elizabeth Class)
The United Kingdom has returned to the fleet carrier idea, with the construction of a new generation of aircraft carriers (CVF - Carrier Vessel Future) larger than the cancelled CVA-01's. The two new carriers are to be named HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. The contract for these vessels was announced on 25 July 2007 by the then Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne, ending several years of delay over cost issues and British naval shipbuilding restructuring.


CVA Carriers
1. HMS Queen Elizabeth (probably R01) Never built. Cancelled 1966.
2. HMS Duke Of Edinburgh (probably R02) Never built. Cancelled 1966.

Displacement: 54,500 tons, 63,000 at full load
Length: 925 ft (282 m)
Beam: 184 ft (56 m)
Draught: 10.2 m (33 ft)
Propulsion: 6 Admiralty boilers with 3 Parsons steam turbines providing 135,000 hp (101,000 kW) to three shafts
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h)
Range: 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km)
Crew Complement: 3,250 plus airgroup
Armament: 1 twin Sea Dart Guided Weapon System 30 launcher, 4 × Sea Cat GWS 20
Armour: unspecified for side and underwater protection
Aircraft carried: Up to 50 aircraft, with the planned airgroup having 18 × Phantom FG.1; 18 × Buccaneer S.2; 4 × Gannet AEW.3; 4 × Sea King HAS.1; 2 × Wessex HAS.1 (SAR), probably with 1 × Gannet COD.4
Aviation facilities: 2 catapults (reduced from 4), 2 lifts, 1 hangar 650 ft (200 m) by 80 ft (24 m)

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SKB
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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

Post by SKB »

Why the CVA-01 carriers were cancelled.

(Ignore the idiot at 1:39, he clearly never knew that the Falklands took place!)

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carriers (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

Post by R686 »

At one time GoA expressed interest in the project as replacement's for Sydney and Melbourne, but like most things a silly little thing called money gets in the way.

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was CVA-01 program capable of producing a viable vessel

Post by marktigger »

There is allot talk and what if's had various British projects gone ahead like TSR2 & Nimrod MR4 but what about the CVA 01 program could they have produced a viable carrier or would the treasury restrictions have delivered a white elephant?

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Re: was CVA-01 program capable of producing a viable vessel

Post by WhiteWhale »

I haven't read up on the CVA in a long time but if memory serves it was never really a definitive project. Moving goal posts, vague terms and requirements for a carrier of some sort to be used eventually for some aircraft that we will figure out later. The whole project was quite wishy-washy and reads like it had no real direction. You could say that the project never actually stopped until we REALLY needed a carrier and it morphed into the CVF, which in itself was also almost undone by vague decisions and requirement changes.

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

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WhiteWhale wrote:I haven't read up on the CVA in a long time but if memory serves it was never really a definitive project. Moving goal posts, vague terms and requirements for a carrier of some sort to be used eventually for some aircraft that we will figure out later. The whole project was quite wishy-washy and reads like it had no real direction. You could say that the project never actually stopped until we REALLY needed a carrier and it morphed into the CVF, which in itself was also almost undone by vague decisions and requirement changes.
CVA-01 was concrete enough by 1965, I've seen the designs. Her biggest problem was that she was limited to 55,000 tons and certain dimensions because a ship any larger would have required the construction of significant new infrastructure and much dredging (as we're seeing now with CVF). To get a ship with the required capabilities within the limits set required a lot of innovative ideas. The "Alaskan highway" starboard of the island, creative deck arrangement and simply squeezing all the required equipment into a hull that was probably too small undoubtedly drove up the projected costs. Louis Rydill, the chief designer on the project was reportedly relieved when CVA-01 was cancelled, he absolutely believed in the utility of carriers but ultimately he saw that too many compromises had been made, and too many arbitrary restrictions imposed, to achieve the capabilities required with the money available.

It's a sad story, that had dire repercussions for the future of the RN and the UK's ability to project power. In the case of CVA-01 the right decision was made for all the wrong reasons.
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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

Post by R686 »

Engaging Strategy wrote: CVA-01 was concrete enough by 1965, I've seen the designs. Her biggest problem was that she was limited to 55,000 tons and certain dimensions because a ship any larger would have required the construction of significant new infrastructure and much dredging (as we're seeing now with CVF). To get a ship with the required capabilities within the limits set required a lot of innovative ideas. The "Alaskan highway" starboard of the island, creative deck arrangement and simply squeezing all the required equipment into a hull that was probably too small undoubtedly drove up the projected costs. Louis Rydill, the chief designer on the project was reportedly relieved when CVA-01 was cancelled, he absolutely believed in the utility of carriers but ultimately he saw that too many compromises had been made, and too many arbitrary restrictions imposed, to achieve the capabilities required with the money available.

It's a sad story, that had dire repercussions for the future of the RN and the UK's ability to project power. In the case of CVA-01 the right decision was made for all the wrong reasons.
its a pity as it could have became the Commonwealth carrier, UK,AU, CA and maybe BR.

I know the RAN was quite keen for a replacement for Melbourne

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

Post by R686 »

Here is the then secret 1964 report into RAN replacement carrier with references to CVA01, which was brought up in the other forum.

I havnt read it all but remember reading high lights of it a couple of years ago. It also had some interesting gems hidden away in it for ASW work and how aircraft were expected to perform in there role, remember its 1964 not 2016 but you know the old saying about how some things stay the same, some of it you could be mistaken for 2016

Page 17 
ASW and role of aircraft

Cost of uk carrier page 27/28 and time line

Page 30 a comparison of Melbourne CV01 and  Oriskany 

http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNR ... ?B=1565492

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

p.30 is really interesting. Oriskany has twice the endurance of the other two
- a navy that possesses enough carriers can actually afford to plan for how they would be used operationally?
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

Post by R686 »

ArmChairCivvy wrote:p.30 is really interesting. Oriskany has twice the endurance of the other two
- a navy that possesses enough carriers can actually afford to plan for how they would be used operationally?
It's also interesting to note its the start of the less armoured design compared to there WWII vessel's. CVA 01 was to be only built up to splinter protection, I would imagine CVF would also have the same

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

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Image

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

Post by Scimitar54 »

K for Kenya?

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

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Kueen Elizabeth?! :mrgreen:

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

Post by Scimitar54 »

Or K = Hong Kong? following R = Ark Royal pattern? :mrgreen:

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

Post by SKB »

Then again, its a scratch built model of a ship that was never built, the K letter could be invented or just wrong.

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

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could be King George VI i.e the second in the class

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

Post by serge750 »

Nah, that's the latest model of a Russian carrier, Kara !!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

Always liked the look of the CVA01. would of looked good with Hornets on, or maybe a upgrade buccaneer with tormado avionics....sorry brains gone into a alternate timeline... :D

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

Post by seaspear »

Another defence forum using SKB,s above post has also gone into this suggesting the development of the Harrier could have been affected , then would this have affected the eventual f35b

t68
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Ah a nostalgic look at what could have been for the RN and nearly the RAN, pity we don’t have alternative history on what they may have put on them in RN/RAN & RCN?

Obviously Phantom’s and Buccaneers for the RN

If they had a 50 year service plan the last of them would have only been retiring about now



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1/700 model of CVA-01

Royal Navy conventional aircraft carrier project cancelled in 1966 - would probably have been named HMS Queen Elizabeth

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Redlands18
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t68 said:
Ah a nostalgic look at what could have been for the RN and nearly the RAN, pity we don’t have alternative history on what they may have put on them in RN/RAN & RCN?

Obviously Phantom’s and Buccaneers for the RN

If they had a 50 year service plan the last of them would have only been retiring about now



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1/700 model of CVA-01

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Click to expand...For the RN, would have needed to replace the Jets by the early 90s and the only real options then would have been either Hornet C/Ds or develop a Strike Fighter from scratch. Hawkeye’s to replace the Gannets by the early 90s at the latest. The big question of course is how do they effect the Falklands War, would have been a major game changer.
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StobieWan
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Redlands18 said:
For the RN, would have needed to replace the Jets by the early 90s and the only real options then would have been either Hornet C/Ds or develop a Strike Fighter from scratch. Hawkeye’s to replace the Gannets by the early 90s at the latest. The big question of course is how do they effect the Falklands War, would have been a major game changer.

The follow on fighter question is an interesting one as it's possible it would have changed the course of Eurofighter- Germany and the UK both wanted a large aircraft for fuel and stores but the French wanted something that would have fit on their carrier - and that differing requirement did drive some of the reasons for France pulling out.

Could we have seen an Anglo-French jet on the decks I wonder?
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John Fedup
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Would Italy have bought into a Anglo-French naval jet? Possibly both Italy and Spain might have then considered CATOBAR carriers. Had this all occurred, would the US still have built a B version of the JSF? Interesting what if scenarios.
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John Fedup said:
Would Italy have bought into a Anglo-French naval jet? Possibly both Italy and Spain might have then considered CATOBAR carriers. Had this all occurred, would the US still have built a B version of the JSF? Interesting what if scenarios.
It's probable that the other reasons France abandoned the Eurofighter program would still come into play - workshare and program lead.

From a practical point of view, buying F18 as a stop gap and sticking with the F35C for carrier ops would have made much more sense.


The B model was always safe as houses as it was the USMC's bird and they have a looooot of pull on the hill.
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It's probable that the other reasons France abandoned the Eurofighter program would still come into play - workshare and program lead.

From a practical point of view, buying F18 as a stop gap and sticking with the F35C for carrier ops would have made much more sense.


The B model was always safe as houses as it was the USMC's bird and they have a looooot of pull on the hill.
I’m not so sure, if CVA-01 came to fruition what would have happened to the Harrier, would the STOVL programme continue?

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

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The Aircraft put on the RN vessels would all have been FAA. They at least knew where Australia was! :mrgreen:


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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

Post by SKB »

Image
(Source: Shipbucket)
Found a nice drawing of CVA-01 class "Queen Elizabeth". Note that the angled deck was only a few degrees off the ship's centre line.

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

Post by serge750 »

Wow Great diagram ! is that a S 3 viking on deck aswell by the bow cat ?? :D

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

Post by KiwiMuzz »

serge750 wrote:Wow Great diagram ! is that a S 3 viking on deck aswell by the bow cat ?? :D
That's the "never was" Hawker Siddeley P139 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawker_Siddeley_P.139B

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

Post by Jensy »

KiwiMuzz wrote:
serge750 wrote:Wow Great diagram ! is that a S 3 viking on deck aswell by the bow cat ?? :D
That's the "never was" Hawker Siddeley P139 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawker_Siddeley_P.139B
Following in a long line of 'challenging looking' Fleet Air Arm aircraft!

Always liked the idea of a carrier-capable HS.125 derivative:

Image
(Source: Secret Projects)

Had CVA-01/2 entered service I've always assumed that the aft Sea Dart would have been binned (as with the Invincibles) and the flight deck extended to the full length.

Interesting to see how much the design had in common with CVF (dimensions, parallel runway, air group size) and how much better use of deck space that the QE Class has (no: 'Alaskan highway', centre-line lifts, huge single island and eccentric catapult layout).

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Re: CVA-01 Aircraft Carrier Project (Cancelled 1966) (RN)

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