This is intended for people interested in the subject of military guns and their ammunition, with emphasis on automatic weapons.
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Long time lurker - thought I would throw in my tuppence worth.....
For me the thing that should be recognised is that the carrier needs to be bigger - 28,000 tons standard displacement - this totally assuming that the 2nd London Treaty is going to fail and 4 units laid down from April 1937 with 4 more as soon as possible
I am thinking a Shokaku sized ship - with a double hanger at least 62 foot wide and 20 foot high - with 3 large lifts.
While I would robustly defend Adm Henderson's decisions regarding the armoured box design, with hindsight have, like Shokaku, the main armour on the floor of the lower hanger protecting the machinary, magazines.
So like the Japanese design have the main hull of the ship as a very heavily armoured citadel with a less armoured double hanger and flight deck
While I understand the decision to have cruiser levels of protection on the sides of the hanger - sacrifice this on the altar of carrying more aircraft for a given tonnage with hanger spaces and lifts capable of managing increasingly heavier and larger aircraft.
A 3" 3/5th armoured deck will cover the hangers but this should be considered as a 'decapping' layer against anything larger than 500 pound / 227 kg bombs.
Have the design use a 4 shaft propulsion and utilise good compartmentalisation
I am an admirer of the Shokaku's design to absorb damage and be very quickly repaired as witnessed by Shokaku's heavy damage @ Coral Sea repaired in less than a month (main damage took 10 days to fix) and surviving up to 6 x 1000 pound bomb hits at Santa Cruse which took a little longer.
Add to this the need to have redundancies for power generation to prevent what happened to Ark Royal and POW when Dynamo power was lost hampering Damage control efforts and in POWs case robbing her of 3/4s of her heavy AAA guns.
AAA should be the Twin 4.5" as per OTL with 4 directors each directing a pair of twin gun turrets
Light AA should be the improved Pom Pom system (or bofers if production mature) and the 20mm Oerlikon guns should be used instead of the quad Vickers .50 (again if production is mature).
A 2nd line Austere 'light' fleet carrier design of 18,000 tons standard should be built around a single long hanger of the same dimensions of the main fleet carrier serviced by 2 large lifts, twin shafts.
Like the light fleets of OTL these would only have armour over the machinary, fuel and ammunition spaces and intended to be built at civilian yards.
Unlike the above heavy fleet carrier design these could be laid down earlier than April 1937, not 'clogging up' Naval slip ways and adding several Austere but useful carriers earlier.
Escort carriers and CAM ships should be planned for but I doubt that beyond a handful if any could be realistically laid down before war is declared.
Aircraft repair ships - OTL far too much angst was expended on HMS Unicorn in case she was seen as a proper aircraft carrier. The irony was that her first real use was to operate Seafires off of Italy as a proper carrier.
My suggestion is that forget Unicorn, the 3 follies be tasked with this role once the Fleet carriers become available and they can double up as aircraft transports when not needed to be acting as a support carrier to the main fleet.
And of course can always revert to their role as a fleet carrier.
Good to hear from you.
I don't have much argument with the points you make, except that I would reverse the priorities and build the "quality" fleet carriers first while there is more time pre-WW2 and follow-up with hostilities-only "economy" carriers which will be much faster to build.
The CAM ships would not be needed, since large numbers of MACs are an utterly essential part of the strategy and should be ready in quantity soon after the start of the war.
I entirely agree about compartmentalisation. There is a problem to be faced in putting the armoured deck below the hangars, however - the degree that the hangars need to be subdivided, otherwise the danger would be that a bomb hit which explodes in a hangar could create mayhem throughout the length of the ship.
Hello Tony I hope you are well?
Building the 28,000 ton Fleet ships 'is' the better choice, however unless the UK abandons the expected restrictions of the 2nd LNT which was expected to limit Aircraft carriers to 23,000 tons standard down from 27,000 tons although as I understand it total limits (135,000 tons for the UK) of the WNT were being abandoned. (Yes the Naval treaties give me a headache as well)
So by all means simply build the new Fleet CVs as 27,000 ton 'honest guv' sized ships but build that into the proposed 2nd LNT instead of the 23,000 that we and our throw back, all know is pointless anyway.
This of course runs afoul of the not inconsiderable 'disarmament' portion of the peoples in the democratic nations who were pushing for greater disarmament, but knowing what's coming, that can be dealt with in the short term until it becomes obvious that war is looming.
As for sub dividing the hangers that was achieved in the Armoured Box carriers with metal 'concertina' roller shutter curtains that were replaced in 1941 with asbestos curtains (the roller shutters failed on Illustrious and the metal shutter was basically turned into shrapnel) that were stored in the deck head and with a 4.5" door at each end (leading to the lifts) effectively sealing off both end. This coupled with the very well thought out fuel and oil drainage points around the hanger space that allowed the aircraft to be rapidly 'defueled and de-oiled' along with a comprehensive sprinkler system
No reason why the same thing cannot be done with the HMS Shokaku class style 'armoured' carriers and the 'light' fleets I proposed.
Like I said before the Armoured box design designed by Adm Henderson 'without hindsight' makes a lot of sense from 1936 but by 1943 'our' throwback is going to know that the Germans will have MCLOS guided 3000 pound armour piercing bombs (and even then he will be wrong as they have them in 1940 in the book) killing post treaty Battleships.
And they are going to defeat any level of Armor up to battleship levels of deck protection far beyond what an aircraft carrier can realistically carry.
Best protection is compartmentalisation, multiple redundancies to allow the ship to survive such an attack and enough planes to shoot the bastards down before they drops the bombs in the first place.
There will obviously never be a compromised combination of Rock Paper Scissors that will please everyone when it comes to aircraft carrier designs especially those built still paying lip service to the Pre war treaties.
But the Shokaku came the closest for me.