HMS EAGLE in the Falklands

I still think going for the proposed F-15 Silent Eagle is probably the bit more economically friendly and practical option, even if it lacks the gimmicks and fancy stuff the F-35 has. Granted a navalized version will probably throw “economically friendly” out the window.
 
I still think going for the proposed F-15 Silent Eagle is probably the bit more economically friendly and practical option, even if it lacks the gimmicks and fancy stuff the F-35 has.
Heck the USAF is getting the F-15x for these very reasons, that and it makes for a fantastic air defence fighter /Air to Air missile truck and unlike the F-15C/Ds its going replace it can drop bombs and quite a few at that
 
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The C Model is more expensive and it does suffer in performance because it is heavier and has greater drag. Granted ITTL with no B model you could probably get more commonality between the two.

Keep in my WRT the F-4, that plane was a complete accident. It was designed to be a fleet defense interceptor and nothing else. It turned out to be so versatile that it ended up doing everything else. No one intended for that to happen.
The only difference in performance I can see is the G-Rating (A is rated at +9 and the C at +7.5) but since this is not a dogfighter but a stealthy bomb-truck aircraft I am not sure that this is all that relevant.
 
The only difference in performance I can see is the G-Rating (A is rated at +9 and the C at +7.5) but since this is not a dogfighter but a stealthy bomb-truck aircraft I am not sure that this is all that relevant.
It always makes my laugh when I see plus this and plus that G-ratings on combat aircraft.

You won't see many pilots pulling plus 7 G's in a turn in much more than a 'snap' maneuver.

And there's definitely even less who can do it at plus 9 G.

REF: G-Lock (Equinox CH-4)
 
The EAGLE Has Flown
December 1987 HMNB Devonport

Coming here just before Christmas when the majority of people both military and civilian had or were about to leave for Christmas had been the right decision. Reflection and reliving old memories is something that most people prefer to do alone and with the dockyard pretty much empty the suited man was not bothered by anyone and ignored the drizzling rain as he stood on a quay and had his gaze fixed upon the enormous grey hulk out in the Tamar. He wasn’t the sort to shed tears and maintained a neutral expression but deep down he certainly felt something.
To the casual onlooker the mere size of the hulk out in the Tamar would easily be an impressive sight but to the more clued up it was a sorry and to some tragic sight.
The ship was completely deserted and silent, the superstructure and masts looked bare without the various radars, antennas and aerials that had previously adorned it. Furthermore, grass had even begun to grow on the flight deck which was now reddened with rust. Right at the stern just below the quarter deck was the hulks former name. Where the letters on an active ship would be painted bright red, the name had been painted over in warship grey after decommissioning to blend in with the hull. However, if he squinted enough the man on the quay better known as Commodore Alan Grose could make out the name of his former command EAGLE.

The last time he had been to sea was when he had brought EAGLE back into Devonport for the final time 18 months ago. It felt a lot longer than that though.
His previous appointment before EAGLE had been as Captain of the TYPE 82 destroyer HMS BRISTOL. Though he had felt that he hadn’t really done anything more than any other CO would have been expected to do members of his own crew and CO’s on other ships had sung him praises over his actions and handling of BRISTOL during the Falklands conflict. As well as a DSO someone higher up the food chain had decided that he was a good and safe pair of hands to take over HMS EAGLE from the outgoing skipper the legendary Captain (now Rear Admiral Jock Slater). He remembered the day the day almost 5 years ago when he had assumed command of EAGLE who was tied up alongside at the very quay on which he now stood. He distinctly remembered catching sight of EAGLE’s sister the former HMS ARK ROYAL which had been moored out in the exact spot where EAGLE now rotted. Even in that fleeting glimpse he had remembered being struck by the contrast between the decrepit ARK ROYAL and the newly painted EAGLE. How times had changed!
He remembered being piped onboard and greeted by the outgoing CO. Having commanded HMS BRISTOL and HMS ESKIMO before her Grose had been well used to the privileges that came with being a captain but being piped aboard an aircraft carrier which was now his own had been an unexpectedly stirring experience.
He had accompanied Captain Slater down to his new stateroom in order to fill out and sign the various bits of paperwork required by a change of command but it had also allowed for the outgoing captain to have a frank chat with the new captain about the state of the ship. Having commanded the ship for a total of two years and having taken her to war Slater easily knew the condition of the ship better than his own (something his wife and doctor kept on trying to correct).
Since returning from the South Atlantic the ship had spent most of her time alongside undergoing repair and maintenance work and hosting VIP visitors such as the PM. Slater had only taken her to sea once since the conflict for a few weeks of post maintenance trials and air group training.
Much to his surprise Slater had started by apologising to him for what he had dumped on him. The ship had previously been planned to have been decommissioned by this point with the Falklands conflict having given her an unexpected stay of execution. This life extension however was just as much motivated by political considerations as opposed to practical ones meaning that no one was really 100% sure what the ship was supposed to do for the next few years. This meant that it had been difficult to work out a plan for things like maintenance and training. The only target they really had to work towards was a decommissioning date.
In Slaters opinion this meant that crew motivation would likely be something of a problem going forward.
Mechanically the ship was in a poor state. At this point Slater had recounted a rather frank conversation he had recently had with the MEO who was also departing the ship. There was no getting away from the fact that the ship was old and worn out and that supplies of spare parts and specialist knowledge for the now almost antiquated machinery onboard were now largely exhausted. Slater warned Grose to brace himself for his first set of Captain’s engineering rounds which he reckoned would just be an endless list of equipment that was broken down and unable to be fixed for various reasons and equipment that would break down sooner rather than later.
As an example, Slater pointed out that the ship was no longer capable of reaching her official top speed. He further went on to point out that he wasn’t really sure what the maximum speed the ship could reach was now but recommended that Grose didn’t try to find out.
In Slaters opinion EAGLE had given everything she had left during the long and gruelling time at sea during the Falklands campaign and there was now no question of her taking part in another conflict or doing anything that pushed her machinery hard.
With the paperwork now signed Captain Slater gave one final piece of advice to his successor which was to remember that commanding an aircraft carrier would probably be the highlight of his career and to savour and enjoy every moment of it but also to always remember the enormous weight of the trust and responsibility placed upon him by his superiors, his ships company and their families. With that both men stood up and shaking hands Captain Slater said “You have the ship Captain Grose” to which Grose replied “I have the ship Captain Slater”.
At that point almost as if he had been listening at the door the Master at Arms knocked on the door and informed the old and new Captain’s that the ships company was now mustered in the hangar ready to be addressed. As the outgoing CO Captain Slater had departed his now former cabin to give his farewell address to the crew while Captain Grose now had a few moments to contemplate things.
The violently loud shout of the Chief Gunner bringing the ships company to attention indicated the start of Slaters address.
A few minutes later Captain Grose heard another loud sound, that of applause indicating the end of the former CO’s address. Grose thought about the fact that the crew were cheering the man who had led them to war and brought them back without so much as a scratch (save the one’s on the flight deck from a Phantom crash that he had only recently found out about) and wondered what they would think of this newcomer. He secretly worried about the fact that he would always be compared to Slater and how hard he would have to work to be seen as a worthy successor.
The Master at Arms had reappeared and informed Grose that the crew were ready for him to address.
As he walked into the hangar once again, he heard the Chief Gunner loudly ordering over 2000 men to attention. As he walked past the ranks of men making his way to the podium his nerves evaporated. It had been almost if he had forgotten that he was the man who had taken his ship and two others deliberately into harms way in the Falklands and had given them a nasty and bloody surprise (When HMS BRISTOL in company with HMS EXETER and HMS BRILLIANT had taken up position west of the Falklands and disrupted the Argentine air attacks on the landing force in San Carlos on the 21st of May).
In his address he had praised the hard work and effort they had put in for Captain Slater and reminded them that the nation was now extremely proud of this ship. He had set them the challenge of maintaining that pride and the ships reputation.


Two and a half years later Grose had once again stood in the hangar addressing his 2500 strong ships company. He had thanked them for all of their hard work and told them that he could not have been prouder of them. They had responded by offing caps and giving him three cheers before applauding him as he walked through the hangar to the gangway and departed the ship for the final time. This time however the crew had been dismissed immediately after his departure. There would be no address from a new captain because as of a few days previously HMS EAGLE was no longer a part of the Royal Navy.

During Captain Grose’s tenure as CO of HMS EAGLE the ship had mostly operated in and around home waters with short stints further afield to conduct foreign port visits and exercise with NATO allies in Norway.
Grose had been charged with keeping the ship operational and maintaining warfighting capabilities until the new INVINCIBLE class carrier HMS INDOMITABLE came online and replaced her.
It was recognised however that there were limits to what the ship was still capable of and in many ways, she was more of a platform for trials and training than a frontline fighting ship. Even her wartime role in the event of conflict with the Soviet Union had been changed. Whereas previously the ship had been planned to sail up into the arctic circle and launch airstrikes against the Soviet naval and air bases on the Kola Peninsula (admittedly this would have likely been a suicide mission) the ships deteriorated material state meant that she would instead have been employed closer to home providing air cover to convoys approaching Europe.
The Falklands Campaign had been the last major voyage that the ship had undertaken as it was felt that she would not have been able to endure another long period away from home. There had been plans for a 6 month Atlantic deployment over to the US east coast to exercise with the US Navy. However it had been decided that the costs and potential risks weren’t justified by the potential gains of such a deployment given the ships limited remaining lifespan. Instead HMS INVINCIBLE had been sent over to the US as she and hr sistership would be the sum total of RN fixed wing flying for the next decade or so. The furthest Captain Grose had taken EAGLE away from home had been a 2 month Mediterranean voyage which had been more of a showing the flag trip with plenty of high profile port visits (and good runs ashore). In Malta it was estimated that more than 10,000 people had turned out to see the ship depart from Valletta for the final time. The last few months of the ships life had been largely a series of farewell visits to ports around the UK with a more limited tempo of flying operations.
The only significant thing to happen to the air group had occurred in late 1984 with the replacement of the Gannet AEW.3 with the newly developed AEW version of the Westland Sea King dubbed the ASaC Mk7.
As a cost saving exercise the elderly Fairey Gannet had been withdrawn from service after more than 30 years of service. This was a result of not wanting to pay the expense of keeping such a limited number of elderly aircraft in service just for EAGLE and the superior capability offered by the Searchwater radar carried by the new Sea King variant compared to the old AN/APS-20 radar carried by the Gannet’s.
849 Naval Air Squadron had been disbanded but was slated to reform in future to operate the E2C Hawkeye that the RN was planning to purchase to operate from the new generation of carriers.

Regarding the Phantoms and Buccaneers things on that front had been wound down. About the same time as HMS EAGLE had been withdrawn from service these aircraft too had been withdrawn. Of the aircraft themselves all remaining examples belonging to the RN had been passed over to the RAF.
The Phantoms being of a different variant to those used by the RAF would never fly again and instead were in a hangar somewhere being cannibalised over time for spare parts for the RAF’s Phantoms.
The Buccaneers however were still flying. For this reason while the type had remained in service with the RN the RAF had gone out of their way to try and limit the amount of time these aircraft were deployed at sea aboard HMS EAGLE as they wanted to make sure that the aircraft they inherited still had as many flying hours as possible left in them. The result of this was that EAGLE’s last days of flying operations had mostly been competed with Phantoms.
Even while they were still flying from her deck an increasing proportion of EAGLE’s aircrew were actually RAF officers. With the previously planned retirement of EAGLE in 1982 and ARK ROYAL having retired in 1979 the RN had stopped training aircrew for the Phantom and Buccaneer in 1977 planning to rely on the remaining pool of pilots for the next few years. EAGLE’s unexpected life extension had thrown up problems which had been solved by seconding RAF aircrew to fill the gaps. Of the RN aircrews they still comprised half of EAGLE’s final air group. Some had left flying duties as a result of retirement or career progression, some had moved away from frontline duties into instructor roles as the MOD was keen to capitalise on the experience these man had gained in the Falklands and a select few were over in the US gaining experience on the F/A-18 Hornet which the RN was going to operate in future. The majority of the pilots who would remain on flying duties were going to or were already converting onto the Sea Harrier.
The Observer’s however were facing an uncertain future. With the withdrawal of the Buccaneer and Phantom there was no longer a role for fast jet Observers in the RN as with the exception of trainers it would no longer operate twin seat fast jets. The only options this cadre of airmen had was to either transfer over to the RAF and keep flying in fast jets or to retrain for helicopters or switch branch entirely.

Grose now thought about the final time EAGLE had been at sea. Her last “Foreign” run ashore for the men had been in Gibraltar where number of men brought before him for disciplinary reasons had been testament to the crew having enjoyed themselves. The ship had then proceeded to make its final UK port visit to Liverpool where her sister HMS ARK ROYAL had been built. It was a shame that she could not have visited her own birthplace in Belfast one last time but with the security situation being what it was there was no way that could ever have been considered a good idea. In Liverpool thousands had taken the opportunity to visit the ship when she had opened the doors to the public for the final time.
After departing Liverpool for home another significant milestone marking the end of the ships life occurred. Hundreds of members of the ships company had crowded onto the flight deck to witness what would not only be the final fixed wing catapult launch from the ship but also the last that would be conducted by the RN for many years. A joint RN/RAF crew comprising of Flt Lt Macleod in the front seat and Lt McCallum in the rear seat were catapulted from the deck in a Phantom using the waist catapult. With this done the crew had decided to celebrate this milestone by indulging in seemingly their favourite pastime of finding whatever they could to catapult off of the flight deck. As demanded by tradition the wardroom piano found itself strapped to the bow catapult and flung into the sea along with other bits of furniture and equipment. This time however much to the relief of those in the accounting office none of it would be getting replaced.
During EAGLE’s final voyage preparations had been underway by some members of the ships company to ensure that naval charities would cash in on the public interest in the ship. Ashore a number of company’s had been producing souvenirs such as prints, T shirts, mugs, ect. One businessman in the Midlands had reportedly invested £16,000 in wall plaques which provided some income for naval charities. Onboard members of the ships company were ordered to search the ship for redundant copper, brass and easily removable woodwork which was to be remodelled into traditional naval rum jugs and other souvenirs which were to be sold to raise funds for naval charities.
As well as this there was also a great deal of souvenir hunting by members of the ships company which often crossed into the territory of outright thievery and criminal damage as fittings and anything bearing the ships crest “went missing”. Even the ships senior officers got in on the act with Captain Grose reminding everyone that the Captains chair on the bridge was for the Captain only and would be leaving the ship with him and the XO laying claim to the ships motor launch.

The end had finally come on the morning of the 4th of June 1986 as the ships company had manned the side one final time for Procedure Alpha. As she had slipped past Plymouth Breakwater the ships 450ft paying off pennant had flown from her lattice mast gently fluttering in the breeze. As she had made her way up the notorious passage into Devonport thousands had turned out to welcome her home despite the early hour. Commodore Grose remembered how that had been the only time during his tenure as CO where during the passage into Devonport they had been exactly on the navigational track all the way through with every fix bang on.
Once EAGLE had been secured alongside Grose had ordered the engines to ring off for the final time at 08:50am thus bringing an end to his own naval career as a ships captain and that of HMS EAGLE.

After EAGLE had arrived in Devonport there had been a wardroom ball for current and former officers of the ship. Before the ball had started Grose had held a dinner for the former Captains of EAGLE in the admirals cabin while the XO had held a dinner for former Executive Officers in his cabin. There was a feeling amongst those present who had also been present at the 1979 decommissioning of HMS ARK ROYAL that EAGLE’s decommissioning was more poignant as when ARK ROYAL had paid off there was still a limited period of fixed wing flying left for the RN whereas the demise of EAGLE meant a major change of life for many within the Fleet Air Arm.
The organization for the event had started months ago but even at this late stage the unexpected had occurred. To stop ladies’ long dresses getting dirty the hangar deck had been repainted. A local MP had found out about this and had decided to make a fuss about the cost of the paint. Captain Grose’s response had been to point out that the paint was expired anyway and had come from the ships own stores and so hadn’t actually cost anything. Other than that, the MP was given a stiff ignoring.

Grose wondered if the MP had gotten that upset over £100 worth of expired paint what would he have done if he had found out that Grose had personally ordered that the ships remaining funds be spent on one hell of a party for the ships ratings the evening following her decommissioning complete with a free bar. The XO had walked around the ship the next morning and observed the scenes of devastation with empty beer cans, glass bottles and not quite dead yet bodies littering the ship. Whereas his normal reaction would have been to have become apoplectic at the state of the ship he had instead decided that seeing as the ship was no longer a part of the RN and he probably wouldn’t like what he found if he ventured into the mess decks to get people out of bed to clear up he might as well let someone else deal with this.

On the Quay side in Plymouth Commodore Grose smiled as he thought about a rather amusing incident which he had recently found out about that had taken place aboard the ship during this wild party. It seemed that the KGB had been operating an agent in the area. The agent in question was a rather gorgeous young woman who worked in a pub just outside the dockyard gate and was well known and liked amongst the junior rates. It seemed her way of gathering intelligence had mostly consisted of seduction and honey trapping people and forming relationships with unsuspecting sailors who thought that it must have been to good to be true. Amazingly it seemed she had actually been aboard his ship during the ratings party. Grose smiled when he thought about the KGB agent trying to give her date the slip and fruitlessly searching the ship for any classified material (Which Grose knew had already been removed by that point) while trying to avoid the attention of any one of the thousands of drunken sailors onboard.
She had later been compromised and picked up by an MI5 counter intelligence operation who had then tried to determine who or what had been compromised.
Grose had laughed out loud when he had heard the story of how a room full of sailors who were known to have come into contact with the woman in question were asked to put their hands up if they had not had intimate relations with her at some point. A rather dejected looking few had done so.
What was interesting and also rather worrying was the fact that a number of other “barmaids” in both Portsmouth and Plymouth had disappeared not long afterwards.

With EAGLE’s days under the white ensign now behind her and his own departure imminent Grose’s task had become the destoring and deammunitioning of the ship and removal of any equipment that might still have some potential reuse value.
This task had started almost as soon as the officers and ratings had finally sobered up after their respective party’s and continued long after Captain Grose’s departure. The 1st Lieutenant had taken charge after the departure of the CO and XO along with a significant chunk of the crew. The manning pool had been desperate to have as many men released from EAGLE’s crew as soon as possible to fill gaps elsewhere. The majority of the men initially released in this first wave had found themselves joining the new HMS INDOMITABLE. Though the new carrier was significantly smaller than EAGLE the contrast between a brand new state of the art ship and the decrepit EAGLE was like night to day. Back aboard EAGLE the process of “putting the ship to bed” had begun. Barges came alongside the ship to pump out fuel and remove ammunition for transport to their respective storage facilities elsewhere within the harbour. To speed up the enormous task of destoring the millions of items onboard Sappers from the Royal Engineers had been brought in to build a huge temporary ramp from the dock up to the flight deck to enable lorries to drive straight onboard where they could be lowered into the hangar on the aircraft lifts, loaded up and driven out again.
While all of this was underway the army Sappers had decided to indulge in a little bit of advertising. On of the items held onboard was a huge banner which said “Fly Navy” and was displayed whenever the ship was open to visitors or conducting a high profile port visit. While the ship was being destored this banner had been attached to the side of the ramp that the sappers had built. The officer of the day onboard EAGLE had been very surprised one morning to receive an angry phone call from a furious naval base commander in the base wardroom ashore demanding to know why this banner had been replaced with one that now said “Sail Army”.
With the job destoring the ship continuing and more members of the ships company departing it was time to ensure that some parts of the ship found a new home. The ships bell and crest were removed and put on public display at the Royal Navy Museum and Fleet Air Arm Museum. These items were only on loan on the understanding that they would be returned if and when they were needed again. Also going to the Fleet Air Arm Museum was one of the ships anchors which along with an anchor from HMS ARK ROYAL is now displayed at the entrance to the museum.
In one of his final acts before departing the ship Captain Grose had presented the chairman of Harland & Wolff with EAGLE’s engineering number plate and a small section of deck tread plate in a small ceremony attended by a number of the men who had helped to build her all those years ago.
Gradually more and more of the ships company including the First Lieutenant departed and more and more compartments were sealed. The ship was eventually handed over to the care of the Fleet Maintenance Unit who towed her out into her present position in the Tamar where she had remained undisturbed ever since.


Realising he had been stood staring at his old ship for quite a long time now Commodore Grose was thankful that there had been no one around to see him and wonder if he was ok. As he made his way back through the empty dockyard he noticed a conspicuously empty looking 5 Basin.
After leaving HMS EAGLE he had been promoted to Commodore and appointed to the position of Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Operational Requirements) in Whitehall. This meant he was well aware of what was really going on behind closed doors and of the story’s behind the official announcements.
A recent departure from Devonport Dockyard was that of the former LPH HMS HERMES. The ship had been decommissioned in 1984 as a result of the previous years defence review in order to relieve a burden on the RN’s finances and manpower.
Rather than being stripped for parts and then scrapped the ship had instead been offered for sale to India after the Indian’s had expressed an interest in purchasing her and a number of Sea Harrier’s.
Unfortunately, things had not gone smoothly with the Indian’s. It had been recognised by both sides that the ship would need a deep refit to extend her life and enable her to operate Sea Harrier’s the most noticeable modification being the addition of a ski jump. The deal offered to India was that the ship itself would be given to them for a token sum and the refit which would be conducted in Devonport would be paid for by them. Along with this they would also pay a discounted rate for a number of Sea Harrier’s. These would be of the older FRS1 type modified to Indian specifications as the RN was developing a newer version which would likely be new build aircraft (and which they were not comfortable about sharing with India).
Unfortunately, the MOD had found that Indian Government bureaucracy and decision making had a well deserved reputation for being slow and inefficient. Grose couldn’t believe some of the issues the Indian’s were having. First, they had wanted to conduct the necessary refitting work in an Indian Dockyard despite their own government documents acknowledging that this wasn’t technically feasible. Then they had decided that the Falklands Campaign had in fact demonstrated the supremacy of larger CATOBAR aircraft over the STOVL Sea Harrier and had wanted HERMES to be reequipped with catapults and wires and wanted Buccaneers instead of Sea Harriers despite protestations from the British that it was simply no longer possible for the ship to be modified in this way on the budget the Indians had in mind and that the Buccaneers were simply never going to happen.
The British had found themselves increasingly frustrated at how they seemingly could never get the Indian’s to commit to even the simplest thing or make any kind of decision. While this was going on the former HMS HERMES was in the basin in Devonport Dockyard where the RN was having to pay for the preservation of the ship for its increasingly unlikely transfer to India. A task made all the more difficult by the slow but steady dismantling of the ship for spare parts for EAGLE.
Eventually things had come to a head in early 1987 when the British Government had presented the Indian Navy with an ultimatum that they either commit to the original deal immediately or the British Government would withdraw the offer of the ship. When as expected the Indian’s had not provided them with an answer the British had formally walked away from the deal and HERMES had been ultimately sold for scrap departing Devonport in November 1987 for the breakers yard in Cairnryan in Scotland which had already been ripping apart HMS ARK ROYAL.

Quietly though many in the MOD were quite pleased that the sale of HERMES to India had fallen through. The plan was to retire HMS INVINCIBLE and HMS INDOMITABLE when the 62,000 ton ships of the CVF-90 program entered service and offer them for sale. India was now a prime candidate for taking over one of the ships which would be a deal worth rather more than simply refitting the old HERMES.

Talking of the INVINCIBLE class Grose had also heard a lot of complaining about the Australians. The RAN had taken over the brand new HMS ILLUSTRIOUS which they had renamed HMAS AUSTRALIA. The RAN were currently operating the ship as an ASW helicopter carrier operating Westland Sea King helicopters.
When the RN had realised that they would have to spend a decade with the Sea Harrier as its only fixed wing combat aircraft they had decided that it needed some serious capability upgrades. The Australians not being happy with what they felt was the limited capability offered by the current FRS1 variant had indicated that they would not procure harriers for their new aircraft carrier until the newer more capable variant which had been dubbed the Sea Harrier FA2 was available.
Officially the upgrade project was a joint British and Australian project. In reality this was a British project with the Australians footing some of the bill in exchange for some subcontracting work.
The program had produced quite an impressive aircraft equipped with a much more powerful radar and Skyflash air to air and Sea Eagle air to surface missiles. The first of these new aircraft had recently entered frontline service with the RN.
The Aussies however had shocked everyone including their own delegation in the UK by having a sudden change of heart. They had announced that their preference was now to procure the American’s McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II instead of the British Sea Harrier. To say that this was a controversial decision in Australia would be an understatement and in Britain the government was understandably dismayed and wondered if the Americans had somehow got to the Aussies. The Australian argument was that as good as the Sea Harrier FA2 may be it would in their opinion still be inferior to the land based supersonic aircraft that it was considered most likely to come up against. Instead they argued that the AUSTRALIA should be a strike carrier as opposed to an air defence ship. The AV-8B offered a greater ground attack capability than the Sea Harrier. Furthermore, they made the argument that with a greater number of AV-8B’s in the world than there ever would be Sea Harriers it would be cheaper to purchase and operate the American aircraft. This argument was rather less than watertight on basis that the Australians had already paid a significant amount of money towards the development of the Sea Harrier FA2 and the British had made it extremely clear that there would be no refunds.
Grose was good friends with a certain Commodore Thomas Dadswell RAN who had commanded Australia’s fleet of A4 Skyhawks and was too have been in charge of introducing the Sea Harrier into Australian service when he took assumed command of the RAN’s Fleet Air Arm as was planned. He had been an extremely vocal critic of the Australian Government’s decision to switch to the American Harriers and in an extremely controversial and damaging move had found his distinguished career come to an abrupt end.
Thankfully while annoying the Australian decision to not purchase the Sea Harrier had very little affect on them apart from maybe pushing up the individual aircraft price a little seeing as the development costs had already been paid.


Making his way back to his car Commodore Grose thought about what the future held for his own ship. Deep down though he knew but still didn’t quite want to accept what was going to happen. Various proposals had been put forward for EAGLE’s preservation as a museum and the MOD in recognition of the ships status in the public consciousness was publicly happy to entertain any serious proposals. An HMS EAGLE Preservation Trust had been formed and put forward a number of proposals after being invited to tour and inspect the ship.
The trust had put proposed to moor EAGLE in at Greenwich as a museum and centre for education and nautical research as part of the national maritime museum. The plan would involve towing the stern first through the Thames Barrier without any power or control of her own which would be an extremely risky undertaking. The ship was now completely dead which meant that if she made it as far as becoming a museum at Greenwich major work would be needed to bring connect her to power and water supplies from ashore to say nothing of the internal work required to make her safe and accessible for members of the public.
While a nice idea running a ship the size of EAGLE as a museum was unlikely to be financially viable due to the cost of carrying out restoration and preservation work to say nothing of the disruption caused by parking such a large ship in the busy waterway that was the Thames at the time. There was certainly no question of any government or MOD subsidy money and the ship would have to attract a ridiculously large number of visitors paying high ticket prices to stay afloat financially.
Though this wasn’t public knowledge it had been all but decided that the only viable bids for the ship were those from the ship breakers. Unless someone somewhere pulled off something spectacular EAGLE would more than likely be towed up to the Scottish yard where her sister had met her end.

Now driving home Commodore Grose thought a bit more about things. Though he was based in Whitehall his family home was out here near Plymouth hence he had come back for Christmas Leave and stopped off on the way home where his family were already. His wife Gillian mostly lived down here while he lived in an official flat in London and came home for the weekends on those rare occasions where the trains were not on strike and were actually running on time. The last time he had seen his wife on a weekday was back in October when she had accompanied him to a very special event.
He had been present at Cammell Laird’s yard in Birkenhead near Liverpool for the keel laying ceremony of the first ship of the new CVF-90 aircraft carrier program. The monsters that this program would produce would dwarf his old ship in every possible way.
Tradition demands that the first capital ship of a monarch’s reign be named after them. Hence Commodore and Mrs Grose had witnessed the keel laying for the new HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH.
Though he wasn’t on the ship naming committee he knew enough people who were to know the reasonings behind most of their decisions. Many on that committee had remembered when the previous generation of carriers of the CVA-01 program also to have been named the QUEEN ELIZABETH class had been cancelled. In a way they had felt that reusing the name was the right thing to do.
First ship aside there had been much speculation of what names should be given to the others. There were plenty of good and proud names currently available. HERCULES, LEVIATHAN, PRINCE OF WALES, KING GEORGE V, BELLEROPHON and many others had been considered. A surprising front runner had been for the second ship of the class to be named HMS THUNDERER. If nothing else those would be some pretty impressive cap tallies.
Grose however was of the opinion that if his HMS EAGLE were to meet her end then the name EAGLE should live on. He wasn’t alone in thinking this.

Before reaching his home however there was one last thing that played upon Grose’s mind. Back when he had been CO of HMS BRISTOL in the Falklands Campaign, he had started having these very vivid weird dreams about his ship and crew having been transported back in time to the second world war. The dreams had included things such as him having conversations with Churchill, his men introducing future technology and the second world war having ended in 1941 as a result. He had kept on having these dreams intermittently ever since. It had at times almost been like he was living in two worlds. The reality he inhabited and the alternate post war world of his dreams.
Not long after returning from the Falklands he had actually consulted a doctor about them who had put them down to a result of the stress he had obviously been under during the conflict. Grose had accepted this explanation at the time but when the dreams had continued to persist, he had decided against seeking further advice in case he ended up derailing his career by getting himself labelled insane.
He had in secret started writing all of this down into what he described as an “alternate history novel”. Using a pseudonym, he had sent extracts to publishers and reviewers and received extremely positive feedback.
Later that night after waking up from yet another such dream he had laid awake mucking it over trying to find some explanation. As he drifted to sleep again his last thought was that maybe rather than this other Alan Grose’s WWII universe being an alternative to the “Prime” universe where he had been the final commander of HMS EAGLE they perhaps were both living a sort of alternate history to that of a very different world.
 
Before reaching his home however there was one last thing that played upon Grose’s mind. Back when he had been CO of HMS BRISTOL in the Falklands Campaign, he had started having these very vivid weird dreams about his ship and crew having been transported back in time to the second world war. The dreams had included things such as him having conversations with Churchill, his men introducing future technology and the second world war having ended in 1941 as a result. He had kept on having these dreams intermittently ever since. It had at times almost been like he was living in two worlds. The reality he inhabited and the alternate post war world of his dreams.
Not long after returning from the Falklands he had actually consulted a doctor about them who had put them down to a result of the stress he had obviously been under during the conflict. Grose had accepted this explanation at the time but when the dreams had continued to persist, he had decided against seeking further advice in case he ended up derailing his career by getting himself labelled insane.
He had in secret started writing all of this down into what he described as an “alternate history novel”. Using a pseudonym, he had sent extracts to publishers and reviewers and received extremely positive feedback.
Later that night after waking up from yet another such dream he had laid awake mucking it over trying to find some explanation. As he drifted to sleep again his last thought was that maybe rather than this other Alan Grose’s WWII universe being an alternative to the “Prime” universe where he had been the final commander of HMS EAGLE they perhaps were both living a sort of alternate history to that of a very different world.
Is this a hint?
 
Wonderful update and I love the way you have integrated a possible spin off in the narrative. Also crab air playing their tricks is all too believable.

Now, the procurement choice by Australia to purchase AV 8B Harriers in lieu of Shars seems all too believable and I will also be using it for my TL. The reason I suspect also extends to operability with USMC & USN and fulfilling an equivalent carrier role to the Yank Gator fleet. I'm sure the Defence Minister will be on Boeing's Australian board post retirement, but that is the cynical part of me.

Although given the lower capabilities the upgraded SHAR may have been a better fit. Would be unsurprised if the RAN ends up with the AV 8B + in due course.
 
Wonderful update and I love the way you have integrated a possible spin off in the narrative. Also crab air playing their tricks is all too believable.

Now, the procurement choice by Australia to purchase AV 8B Harriers in lieu of Shars seems all too believable and I will also be using it for my TL. The reason I suspect also extends to operability with USMC & USN and fulfilling an equivalent carrier role to the Yank Gator fleet. I'm sure the Defence Minister will be on Boeing's Australian board post retirement, but that is the cynical part of me.

Although given the lower capabilities the upgraded SHAR may have been a better fit. Would be unsurprised if the RAN ends up with the AV 8B + in due course.
I do get the Australian decision from a logistics stand point though. More US airframes in service longer means more spare parts and spare airframes. It will also make it easier for Australian pilots to train with US squadrons on US decks when their ship is in refit.
 
I do get the Australian decision from a logistics stand point though. More US airframes in service longer means more spare parts and spare airframes. It will also make it easier for Australian pilots to train with US squadrons on US decks when their ship is in refit.
Yeah. It has a certain logic to it.
 
Excellent chapter there.

Hope EAGLE can find a home, but yeah very likely it will be the breakers for her. Unless she is in London I can’t see her pulling in the tourist numbers anywhere else.

Like the AH nod at the end.

Is the defence of the Falklands post war any different to OTL?
 
Excellent chapter there.

Hope EAGLE can find a home, but yeah very likely it will be the breakers for her. Unless she is in London I can’t see her pulling in the tourist numbers anywhere else.

Like the AH nod at the end.

Is the defence of the Falklands post war any different to OTL?
No mount pleasant airfield, instead they upgraded Port Stanley for fast jets. That said the big new airfield was a bit of a pork barrel anyway and the Argentine military has been even more thoroughly dismantled than OTL.
 
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