HMS EAGLE in the Falklands

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by flasheart, Jul 14, 2018.

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  1. Threadmarks: Whitehall 31st March 1982

    flasheart Well-Known Member

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    31st March 1982

    Whitehall

    Pausing only to make a quick phone call to get a quick update on the disposition and readiness of his fleet and having found the defence secretary not in his office but at an emergency meeting to discuss the imminent invasion the fully and glitteringly bemedaled uniformed figure set out in pursuit of him.

    Annoyed at being stopped by a policeman he was forced to send a message to the meeting to announce his arrival. He noted that the messenger moved with slightly more of a hurry than normal almost as if he wanted to be away from this imposing figure sooner rather than later.

    A slight smile crept across his face and inside the First Sea Lord Admiral Henry Leach enjoyed this moment and in certain a way looked forward to what was about to come.
    He’d always thought that deep down the Defence Secretary John Nott was slightly intimidated by if not scared of him. Certainly, following the previous year’s defence review which had savaged the navy there wasn’t much love lost between the two.
    He wished that he could see the look on Nott’s face when the news reached him that the one person who could make this meeting more even more uncomfortable than it already was for him was waiting outside. His thoughts were interrupted by the messengers return and invite to enter.

    Upon entering he saw the Defence Secretary talking with the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who seemed to be trying to impress on her his opinion that there was no likelihood of a successful military response to the crisis. After taking a brief moment to observe the apparent haplessness of Mr Nott and assembled others (some of whom had clearly been subjected to some very awkward questioning) and completely ignoring his superior the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff the decisive First Sea Lord veteran of numerous conflicts made himself known to the PM directly.
    Earlier he had thought to himself “What the hell’s the point of having a navy if you’re not going to use it?” he would now find out if that question would be answered.


    PM: Admiral with all the risks that we have discussed are we able to carry out such an operation to recover the Falkland Islands?

    1SL: Yes, we can and we must.

    PM: What makes you say that we must?

    1SL: Because if we do not or if we pussyfoot in our actions and do not achieve complete success in another few months we shall be living in a very different county whose words count for little.

    PM: If we commit to this course how soon can we begin preparations?

    1SL: The light carriers INVINCIBLE and the HERMES can be ready to sail within a few days, I can build an amphibious group around them and 3 Commando Brigade to be carried on the FEARLESS and INTREPID. Some ships already at sea can be ready to move even sooner. But we must start now

    PM: What about our big carriers, surely, we must still have some of them left to send?

    1SL: Prime minister we still have one.
     
  2. HMS queen Elizabeth Admiral vasieo Ignite the inferno.

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    I can see John Notts face sink at those words.
     
  3. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    The more modern Eagle was Phantomised instead of Ark Royal I take it?

    As it should have been!
     
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  4. HMS queen Elizabeth Admiral vasieo Ignite the inferno.

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    Sort of seconded
     
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  5. NOMISYRRUC He isn't the best, but he is in the top one...

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    Are Albion, Bulwark and Triumph still around? This reads like a no 1974 Defence Review thread.
     
  6. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    Eagle was in better shape than Ark Royal (even after her and Eagle could probably have lasted into the early 80s with less grief

    Another Pod is the Victorious refit goes smoother than OTL and Eagle gets her Victorious style rebuild with Steam Turbines and stretched hull and one would hope an AC main in place of her DC main.
     
  7. Threadmarks: Argentina's decision to invade March 1982

    flasheart Well-Known Member

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    The timing of the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands has since become a topic of debate among historians and military men. Many point out that had they held off for even a year the Royal Navy would no longer have been able to mount an operation to recapture the islands. Even Admiral Leach years later remarked in an interview that had they waited a bit longer there would have been no question of who would win the war because there simply wouldn’t have been one. Rumours persist that off camera he also remarked that John Nott would probably have gone down in history as a great Argentine military hero.

    The sequence of events leading up to the invasion are myriad and complex but can be simplified for ease of understanding. Argentina had been in the midst of economic stagnation and large scale civil unrest against the military junta that had ruled the country since 1976. Argentina had a long-standing claim towards the islands and Argentine president Lt General Leopoldo Galtieri hoped to be able to use the strength of Argentine patriotic feeling towards the issue as a way of rallying the nation and diverting attention away from the chronic economic problems and numerous human rights violations of the dirty war that were threatening to topple the military government.
    Examinations of Argentine government archives indicate that the plan for the invasion had been in the works for sometime but was never able to get the go ahead and was repeatedly pushed back. There are indications that the latest provisional date had been set for late 1983 or early 1984.
    With the regime increasingly threatened it was decided to green light the plan and bring the date forward to April 1982. This caused some unease within the junta as many felt it would be better to wait another year until the defence cuts laid out in the UK’s 1981 defence white paper could be implemented reducing the UK’s ability to respond.
    In the end it was the head of the Argentine Navy Admiral Jorge Anaya who won the argument. He reasoned that with the ongoing rapidly political unrest in the country if they waited a year there would be no guarantee that the regime could survive that long. He also pointed out that the UK was clearly now divesting itself of the assets necessary to oppose them and numerous British politicians were talking about how the British armed forces would no longer take part in out of area operations and would instead be fully committed to the defence of Europe. Indeed the RN was rapidly divesting itself of any meaningful fixed wing aviation capability and there were rumours that it’s LPD’s and possibly the entire Royal Marines Corps were in jeopardy. The rapidly dwindling military presence on the islands including the withdrawal of the ice patrol ship HMS ENDURANCE showed that the UK cared little for them. If the operation could be conducted with the minimum of casualties to UK forces would there really be the political will in Whitehall to spend money and lives to recover islands that were a drain on Britain anyway?

    While he agreed that from a purely military point of view it would be better to wait time was a luxury they simply did not have.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2018
  8. Óstöðvandi Banned

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    Eagle as was could operate Phantoms. Granted not to the level of Ark Royal.



    Phantoms, led by AEW and presumably gifted the latest Sidewinder and Sparrow AAMs from NATO store, would have cleared the skies. Meanwhile her Bucaneers would have been a nightmare for those on the ground. How many aircraft can be stuffed into Eagle?

    So, can we keep Eagle secret? Perhaps she strikes the AAF on the mainland?
     
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  9. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    There were a number of changes necessary to successfully operate Phantoms - primarily the blast deflectors needed to be changed - Eagle had to have a metal plate chained to the deck and a hose down after each launch due to the jets after burners

    As for Air Groups - according to the internet's Ark Royals last Airgroup was as follows

    Final air wing 1970-1978
    Squadron Aircraft type Number of aircraft and Role
    809 NAS Buccaneer S2 14 Strike
    892 NAS Phantom FG1 12 Fleet Air Defence
    849B NAS Gannet AEW3 4 Airborne Early Warning
    Gannet COD4 1 Carrier On Board Delivery (later replaced by a 5th AEW 3)
    824 NAS Sea King HAS2 7 Anti-Submarine Warfare
    Ship's Flight Wessex HAS1 2 Search and Rescue

    It's possible that a few more aircraft could be shoehorned in - OTL I believe that by 1979 - 20 of the original 28 Phantom FG1s were still airworthy - so it is possible that 824 NAS Seakings are removed allowing for a few more Phantoms to be carried with the burden for ASW falling on Illustrious and or Hermes.

    So it is possible that the airgroup might contain up to 20 Phantom FG1, 14 or more Buccs, 5 AEW and 2 Helicopters for SAR.

    Certainly one of Ark Royals mission's in a WW3 scenario in the late 70s was a death run at the Kola Peninsula taking out the Long Range Soviet maritime strike bomber bases there so a conventional attack on an Argentine Airbase could certainly be conducted

    My suggestion would be the most southernmost base

    NAS Almirante Quijada, Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego

    As this was the base of the Exocet carrying Super Etendards and the Navys A-4Q Skyhawks (which might be on the carrier) as well as the SP-2H neptunes but IIRC they were on their last legs anyway and a single squadron of Daggers

    IAI Dagger - Las Avutardas Salvajes Squadron
    A-4Q Skyhawk
    Super Étendard
    SP-2H Neptune

    Approach from a Southeastern direction and launch from several hundred miles out

    I cannot find a decent pic or link to a map but this might work?

    The Targets would be the red roofed buildings just below the Western end of the Runway (The Navy base), possibly the munition 'farm' to the north of the runway, and any parked military aircraft on the Apron as well as the large hanger just west of the civil terminal building which is likely to house any of the Super Etendards not on the apron.

    So 8 Buccs - 2 to target the Main Hanger with 500 KG retarded bombs, 2 to target the Navy base with the same - 2 to target the runway with delayed fuse bombs and 2 to attack aircraft on the apron with cluster munitions and rocket pods.

    The remaining Buccs would be used as refueling aircraft for the inbound and outbound strikes as well as the CAP and escorting F4s

    Conduct the attack at dawn which is about 08.30 mid April this done to reduce the chances of Civilian losses but being light enough to attack the target

    The attack would have several aims

    Degrading the Argentinian ability to seek and attack the British task force - by degrading those units that specialise in finding and attacking ships
    Weakening the Argentine military in the South of the country in an area where Argentina and Chile had very nearly gone to war
    Sending a very strong 'message' to the Argentine Government that they can be attacked anywhere at any time
    Forcing the Argentine military to hold back forces at their other principle airbases in case of another attack.

    There would not be another attack on the mainland of course unless desperate measures were called for but the Argentine Military could not take that risk and this would reduce the number of aircraft that could oppose any landing attempt and such an attack might even end the war principally among their Dagger and Mirage III squadrons.

    Meanwhile Eagle disappears back into the southern ocean and regroups several days later with her tanker to refuel and then meets the task force and conducts CAP ops thereafter a well as ground attack missions with her Buccs on the island

    And if a Black buck raid can bomb Port Stanley runway at the same time - then double bubble!
     
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  10. NOMISYRRUC He isn't the best, but he is in the top one...

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    There are also the survivors of the 20 F-4Ks delivered directly to the RAF in the late 1960s and IIRC operated by No. 43 Squadron since 1969. The RN might borrow some of them.
     
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  11. NOMISYRRUC He isn't the best, but he is in the top one...

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    According to Friedman this is the air group for Eagle in 1963 as projected in October 1956.
    12 SR.177
    12 Buccaneer
    10 Sea Vixen
    8 Gannet ASW or ASW helicopters
    6 Gannet AEW
    2 SAR helicopters

    50 total​
     
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  12. RodentRevolution Chewer of Wires

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    Seriously though if the POD that preserves the Eagle can also save the Gannet AEW then really who cares how many Phantoms*? Not that they are not nice to have but airborne early warning, even if just some of the time...

    *very nice
     
  13. r1ncewind Well-Known Member

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    so they invade a month later than OTL, is that the POD?
     
  14. StevoJH Well-Known Member

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    If that is the case, then Eagle may not be able to operate for long down south before the Weather stops operations. HMS Hermes and Invincible will not have that problem as much.

    If the RN enforce a submarine blockade over the winter and then head south in Spring, that alters the order of battle a little.

    Illustrious, Sea King AEW, Sea Harrier, Type 22 and Type 42 availability all increase.
     
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  15. r1ncewind Well-Known Member

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    OTL argentina invaded in april, TTL seems like may of the same year
     
  16. StevoJH Well-Known Member

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    Same time frame. What was the POD for Eagle to still be around?

    And then why was she kept past the point when Ark Royal was scrapped?
     
  17. NOMISYRRUC He isn't the best, but he is in the top one...

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    Not my thread, but...

    IIRC under the 1966 Defence Review the existing fixed wing aircraft carriers were to be phased out by the end of 1974 BUT it was still planned to "Phantomise" Eagle as well as Ark Royal.

    AFAIK plan this wasn't affected by the decision to withdraw British forces from "East of Suez" by the end of 1974. I don't know the exact date when it was decided to withdraw from "East of Suez," but I think it was sometime in 1967.

    However, the worsening economic situation led to the withdrawal date being brought forward to the end of 1971 and the withdrawal date for the strike carriers was also brought forward to the end of 1971.

    AFAIK that decision was taken late 1967/early 1968 which is several months after Ark Royal began her "Phantomisation" refit. AFAIK this is when it was decided to cancel Eagle's "Phantomisation" which I suspect was on the grounds that the time and cost of converting the ship to operate Phantoms and the time and cost required to convert a second Sea Vixen squadron to Phantoms wasn't worth it for a ship which IOTL was paid off in 1972.

    My guess is that Ark Royals "Phantomisation" would have been cancelled at the same time as Eagle's had it not already been in progress. It's also possible that it had to be kept going to keep the voters in the parliamentary constituencies around Devonport happy.

    Once again I don't know the exact date, but at some point Ark Royal was given a reprieve to the end of 1978.

    Therefore I think the best POD is to have Eagle fully "Phantomised" as part of her 1959-64 refit. Then she can embark a Phantom squadron in 1969 using the aircraft operated from No. 43 Squadron, RAF IOTL. Then there's the possibility that Ark Royal gets paid off in 1972 and Eagle is run on beyond 1978.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
  18. NOMISYRRUC He isn't the best, but he is in the top one...

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    Is this the Eagle completed in 1951 or is it the other Eagle which was laid down at Vickers-Armstrong's Tyne yard in 1944 and cancelled in February 1946 when 23-25% complete?

    It's a pity that she wasn't suspended in February 1946, resumed in 1953 and completed in 1959 like Hermes was.
     
  19. corditeman Relatively Sane and Unique

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    Don't under-rate the RAF...

    ...Which has loathed the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm from the start. I dimly recall reading 'The Times' in my teens, with remarks that the scrapping of the carriers was driven by the RAF. 'The Times', note, NOT 'The Daily Telegraph '.

    There are Harriers with downrated engines at an RAF station for training aircraft handlers. Hamstrung, so they cannot fly.
     
  20. JudgeKing Logical Alcoholic

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    Because Eagle was been in much better material condition than Ark Royal when it was decommissioned in OTL.
     
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