HMS Invincible

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Lord Wyclif, Mar 18, 2015.

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  1. Lord Wyclif Well-Known Member

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    In November 1921 delegates from the British Empire, the United States, the empire of Japan, France and Italy met in Washington DC to discuss the prevention of an arms race by limiting wRship construction.
    Prior to this in August the design for the new G3 battlecruiser had been approved by the Admirility and orders place with Swan Hunter at Walsend, William Beardmore at Govan, Fairfields at Govan and john brown Clydebank.
    Arthur Lee, First Lord of the Admirality ordered the construction to commence as a matter of urgency, but as part of the Treaty they were to be disposed of. but a reprieve was found, two were to be converted to aircraft carriers along similar lines as two American vessels.
    HMS Invincible was launched by Queen Mary on Saturday 10th October 1925 in Walsend. Her sister HMS Illusterious slips into the river Clyde at Govan on Monday 15th February 1926 after being named by Edward the Prine of Wales.
    On Monday 15th November 1926 HMS invincible set sale down the Solent, captained by Andrew Cunningham, his first big ship! with Commander william Dickson as 'air boss'. The air group consisted of 12 Fairley Flycatcher fighters, 24 Avro bison scout aircraft and 12 Blackburn Dart light bombers.

    NB several leading RNAS personnel opted to keep their commission with the navy as opposed to RAF in OLT.
     
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  2. NOMISYRRUC Putting a banging donk on it!

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    V. Good in principle, but there's the M-word. That is, where does the money come from? Or what does the Admiralty spare less on. One of these is going to cost as much as 2 or 3 County class cruisers. And a converted battlecruiser would make less efficient use of the available tonnage. Can you tweak it so that they were bespoke carriers that happened to have the same names as the G3s?

    Though to be fair I have a Money No Object history of the RN 1919-39 on my laptop.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015
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  3. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    I imagine that they would make better carriers than the 3 Follies

    Perhaps built instead of them and the follies scrapped?
     
  4. NOMISYRRUC Putting a banging donk on it!

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    If you mean convert them instead of Courageous, Glorisous and Furious that's a great idea in princible. Courageous and Glorious will have to be sacrificed anyway to avoid breaking the 135,000 ton limit. Unfortunatley that will only save enough money to build one G3 based ship. The later Ark Royal cost £3,215,639 (Source Jane's Fighting Ships 1939). As she displaced 22,000 tons my guess is that a 33,000 ton ship will be at £4-5 million. However, according to my copy of Jane's Fighting Ships 1939 the costs of the conversions were as follows:

    £2,025,800 for Courageous
    £2,137,374 for Glorious

    It doesn't give the cost of 1921-25 refit of Furious, but as it began in 1921 the conversion might be too far advanced to be abandoned. Which is not necessarily a bad thing because the displacements of Furious, Argus, Eagle and Hermes plus a pair of 33,000 ton carriers adds up to 136,000 tons which nearly fits the 135,000 ton limit. The British delagation at the Washington Conference might be able to get a few thousand tons added to the British Empire's tonnage quota. That might also help the Americans by allowing them to build Ranger and Wasp to better designs.

    However, as I (and others) have said on other threads the RN wanted to scrap Argus, Eagle and Hermes and keep the follies, but the Government could not and/or would not provide the money. However, if we can somehow find the money The Three Follies (67,500 tons) and 2 G3 conversions (66,000 tons) would be a much better fleet than 2 G3s, Argus, Eagle and Hermes.

    However, my personal preference is still for a trio of 22,000 ton carriers to be laid down in 1925, 1929 and 1932. I want them to be Ark Royals with better lifts, but that might be ASB territory.
     
  5. Redbeard Banned

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    UK wasn't short on money in 1922, but there was a distinct political ambition to drastically lower to taxes to get closer to the pre-war level and spend more of what was available on social programs - taking home the peace dividend.

    That was feasible because there really wasn't a realistic threat to the British Empire by 1922 that couldn't be met by low level spending.

    If we instead of OTL have a situation where say more prominent US politicians were very explicit anti-Empire and expressing it as a US task to help "liberate" the colonies/dominions I'm absolutely sure that the British in very short time could have raised a naval programme exceeding that from pre WWI (as happened in OTL 1938).

    British politics for centuries had been focussed on one thing - keeping the Empire. Low threat = small cost; big threat = high cost. A 1920's naval programme is unlikely to economically break the British like WWII did, but I sometimes wonder how a naval race in the interwar years could influence the effects of depression?

    If most is spent before the crisis starts I guess it would just add to overheating the economy and the magnitude of the crash, but if it goes on afterwards it might lessen the depression in a kind of pre-Keynesian doctrine.

    Anyway it would leave the Anglo-Saxons firmly in rule of the seas - if they will still be allies...
     
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  6. Lord Wyclif Well-Known Member

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    Re the costs. Four G3's were ordered in October 1921 therefore the money was already allocated for 4 BC's. Argus, Hermes & Furious were othside the tonnage of the Washington limits. Without the further conversions there is still plenty of cash for two large purpose built carriers & still give savings back to the Treasury.
    Money spent in construction gives back through taxes & keeps people in employment
     
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  7. NOMISYRRUC Putting a banging donk on it!

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    1924 Modernisation Programme

    I thought this would be of interest. It is from British Naval Policy Between The Wars, Volume I, The Era Of Anglo-American Rivalry by Stephen Roskill.

    The 10-Year Modernisation Programme of 1924

    Submarines

    80 to be built over 10 years. Of which 60 would be overseas patrol boats, 12 would be cruiser boats and 8 would be fleet boats

    Aircraft Carriers

    4 of 17,000 tons

    3 of 10,000 tons for trade protection in narrow seas. These used the loophole in the Washington Treaty that allowed unlimited construction of aircraft carriers that displaced less than 10,000 tons each.

    Cruisers

    70 of which 10 could be more than 15 years. It was planned to build 40 County class at the rate of 8 per year starting in 1924.

    Destroyers

    135 (15 flotillas of 9 ships) to be built 1926-27 to 1935-36. That is two flotillas per year to 1930-31 and one flotilla per year subsequently.

    Minor War Vessels and Auxiliaries

    An experimental anti-submarine vessel was proposed. The number needed in the event of war with France was 100.

    40 Ocean Minesweepers by 1939.

    2 minelayers, 5 destroyer depot ships, 4 submarine depot ships, 2 tanker-netlayers and one depot ship for the Mobile Naval Base.

    There was a requirement for a considerable number of armament, victualling, stores issue ships and fleet repair ships similar to the USN fleet train.

    Cost

    The total cost as originally estimated as £262½ million.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015
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  8. NOMISYRRUC Putting a banging donk on it!

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    The 1924 Programme Part 2

    When I looked through my notes for the previous posts I found the following notes that I made from Air Power and the Royal Navy 1914-45, A Historical Survey by Geoffery Till.

    The 4 carriers of 17,000 tons each planned in the 1925 programme were to be laid down in 1926, 1929, 1932 and 1935 respectively. The first ship would take 3 years to build an the others 4 years.

    In 1939 the RN would have 7 aircraft carriers (the four 17,000 ton ships, Courageous, Glorious and Furious. With 242 aircraft between them.

    I also found some notes that I found from Roskill's Volume 2 which includes the RN's plans in 1929, the year before the First London Treaty placed quantitative and qualitative restrictions on submarines, cruisers, destroyers and minor war vessels.

    60 submarines, which were to be large boats for overseas patrol and fleet work, to be built at a rate of 6 per year.

    There were 5 aircraft carriers in full commission and one in reserve. The new ship planned for the 1929-30 Estimates had been deferred. The number of carrier aircraft was to be increased from the 141 in service in 1929 to 251 in 1938. There was to be a reserve of 50% of aircraft and 150% of engines.

    The plan was still for 70 cruiers of which 10 could be over age. However, the average replacement rate was now 3 per year so the service life of a cruiser must have been increased from 15 to 20 years.

    144 destroyers (16 flotillas of 9) to be built at the rate of 9 per year

    53 sloops, "for their various duties including minesweeping," to be built at a rate of 7 per year.
     
  9. Aelita In ur means of production...

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    They could just do what the Americans did and use some "creative accounting" to ensure the G3 conversions fit within treat limits.

    The Lexington and Saratoga were closer to 40,000 tons in displacement. They still managed to pull a fast one on the rest of the signatories.
     
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  10. jsb Well-Known Member

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  11. Lord Wyclif Well-Known Member

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    NOMISYRRUC thanks for the information.
    jsb thanks for the drawing & reference to shipbuckets. Was actually looking for someone to do a drawing for a G3 carrier; however unlike Krakatoa's I'd use the final design as the basic resulting in the funnels being about 100 m from the stern & an island similar to the shipbuckets drawing of HMS Howe by bombhead & Hood.
    was toying with the idea of2x G3's as carriers then 2 as BC's using spare 15 inchers but changed my mind as 6 15" on such a large vessel would be daft.

    More later on the design & why.
     
  12. jsb Well-Known Member

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    I think you could easily fit 4x2 15' on a G3 (as a BC) but you would end up with a slightly better Hood, the real G3 was 3x3 16' due to having to live in a world with potentially 18' guns and wanting to be a massive generational jump with all the lessons of WW1.
     
  13. Lord Wyclif Well-Known Member

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    Post WW1 was a troublesome time, the shortcomings of several capital ships had been exposed and new battleships and battle cruisers had to be designed & constructed plus now aircraft carriers plus the tactics to which they would be employed. The Royal Naval Air Service had been retained, but only just from the formation of the new RAF, another competitor for precious Treasury funding. The Royal Marines were now shouting above their place, no longer happy with manning ships guns, they were flying about in aeroplanes, driving armoured cars and playing soldiers in Russia, Somalia and other places.
    The RNAS had managed to keep in their ranks Richard Bell Davis, Fredrick Bohill, Ray Collingshaw, William Dickson and Arthur Longmore among others and they with their former friends Oliver Locker Lampson MP, Murry Sueters MP, Winston Churchill and the Duke of Westminster were forming a powerful lobby group to persuade the Admiralty the future lay in naval aviation & not big gun capital ships.
    The big breakthrough came with the Treaty in 1922. They Royal Navy could turn two of their new Invincible class battlecruisers into aircraft carriers. Since only two keels had actually been laid Sir Eustace Tennyson d'Enyncourt and his team had almost a clean sheet to begin with. Under Alan Payne the team designed a sleek 856' long ship. The Admiralty believed that no matter how big the defensive air group was enemy bombers would get through. Still clinging to the old two fleets rule gave the European threat of France & Italy so the battlefleet would be under threat from land based bombers so the all or nothing defences of the battle cruisers was continued. It was successfully argued that the air group was her primary weapon system so it was natural that the hanger should be protected as a magazine. The carriers had to not only survive a sustained heavy air attack, but had to be able to continue air operations after taking a large amount of battle damage.
    A 527' long 12" belt protected the ships machinery with a further 4" plated double hull underneath. Bulk heads were 10" and a 6" sloped deck completed this enclosed space. Above this was a single 17'2" high 527' long and 71' wide hanger. Side protection was 4.5" and a 3.5" armoured deck was installed above. From the hanger to the stern & bows the deck was unarmoured, since it was considered that 500' was plenty of room to manoeuvre landing & launching aeroplanes.
    Andrew Cunningham was given command of the Invincible with William Dickson command of the air group. Lumley Lyster got the Illustrious along with Arthur Longmore as air boss. The new First Sea Lord Leo Amery was so impressed with the design he actually wanted one for each of the battle squadrons.
     
  14. Lord Wyclif Well-Known Member

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    On Friday July 1st 1927 another special service squadron set sail down the English Channel. Vice Admiral Alfred Chatfield had his flag onboard the battlecruiser Hood which was commanded by Captain Wilfred
    French. The two big fleet carriers Invincible and Illustrious along with two battleships Warspite and Valiant formed the core of the squadron. A further three cruisers and six destroyers completed the show.
    On a gloriously sunny Sunday morning they arrived in Gibraltar. A magnificent fly past over the Rock by forty Flycatchers impressed the locals as the fleet was welcomed by a Royal Marines band playing typically patriotic hymns.
    A two day rest to gather supplies was followed by a peaceful steam across the Mediterranean, with the usual '20s style colonialism for the watching French and Italian navies. After sailing through the canal, the fleet arrived in Dar-es-Salaam on the 29th. A weekend was spent and most of the 30,000 inhabitants were suitably impressed by the display of British naval power. Two weeks later they arrived in Durban. Here tragicty struck when Able Seaman Wullie Broon of the Invincible was attacked by a shark and later died of his injuries.
    Refuelled the fleet set sail for Singapore. Sir Hugh Clifford and Govenor Robert Fullerton greeted the fleet on arrival at the new sprawling naval base at Sembawang on Saturday September 17th after brief but uneventful visit to Tricomalee.
    The fleet steamed from Singapore on Saturday October 1st for Fremantle, then Melbourne where during a slight swell the Invincible struck one of the escorting destroyers. Damage was slight but the press made much of the incident when reported back in the UK. November saw the fleet in Aukland, New Zealand. After an impressive display of aeronautics a Blackburn Dart from the Illustrious got into difficulties and crashed approaching a nearby airfield. The crew survived but two civilians were killed by rescue vehicles responding. This again caused the fleet bad publicity back in Britain.
    From New Zealand the fleet steamed to Esquimalt, then the West Indies via the Panama Canal and finally returning to Britain on Tuesday April 24 1928.
     
  15. NOMISYRRUC Putting a banging donk on it!

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    Very interesting so far.

    You haven't mentioned Nelson and Rodney yet, which were both completed towards the end of 1927. Are these aircraft carriers built in their place? If that is correct it sorts out the money problem because they cost £7½ million each which I think would buy 3 of your G.3 based aircraft carriers.

    The surplus could be used to accelerate the completion of the conversions of Courageous and Glorious to aircraft carriers. In the real world financial stringency meant they took much longer to convert than intended.
     
  16. Lord Wyclif Well-Known Member

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    No Nelson & Rodney as yet. Trying to keep RN BB's with 15" main guns. Will back date to 1924 to build 4 CVL,s under 10,000 tons Vengeance, Venerable, Victorious and a new Vindictive. Fleet carriers, Invincible, Illustrious, Eagle and Furious. 1930 London Treaty to be changed due to more RNAS with RN.
     
  17. Some Bloke Well-Known Member

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    Now this is intriguing.
     
  18. Lord Wyclif Well-Known Member

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    Forgot to say Argus & Hermes now as training carriers.
     
  19. Some Bloke Well-Known Member

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    Leo Amery as First Sea Lord? Don't you mean First Lord of the Admiralty?
     
  20. e of pi Layers on Top of Layers

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    Hmm. Wikipedia has the G3s at 48,000 tons, which would make the listed fleet carriers add up almost dead on to the OTL Washington-allowed 135,000 tons. Not much room for growth unless TTL's London treaty ups everyone's aircraft carrier tonnage.

    The CVLs are also interesting--sort of jeep carriers a lot early. I'd think that the US and Japan (who also face very widely spread Pacific operations) might be inclined to copy that themselves.
     
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