Keep the Essex class as a strike carrier

SsgtC

Banned
Is there any way to keep the Essex class carriers serving as CVAs into the 1980s? The late 1980s specifically? I know not all were suited for the roll (specifically the SCB-27A ships as they had hydraulic catapults verses steam cats on the -27C ships), but could those that were be retained in a strike roll through, say, 88/89? I know that's pushing, since they'll all be 40+ years old by then, but could they? I'm thinking maybe they get used for police actions/low intensity conflicts or used for convoy escort in a Cold War gone hot scenario.

I'm thinking maybe if there were more brushfire wars around the globe requiring the Navy to keep power projection forces in more places. Conflicts big enough to warrant the deployment or naval air power, but not enough to send a super carrier. Alternatively, a worse Cold War requiring the Navy to keep as many decks as possible could be an option. More foreign navies having an interest in operating one or two decks couple also help. Maybe the US offers a -27A Essex to Australia (with an agreement to upgrade the ship to -27C standard)?

And lastly, could the Essex operate the Hornet if they are retained in service past 1983? OTL, they flew F-8 Crusaders which had a max take off weight of 34,000 pounds. The Phantom and Intruder were considered to heavy to fly from the Essex class at 61,900 pounds. The F/A-18A has a max take off weight from a carrier of 51,900 pounds per the NATOPS manual. However, it also has twice the thrust of the earlier Crusader. Could it safely operate from an Essex? Size wise, the aircraft are similar. The F-8 is 54' long, the F-18 is 56'. Both are just over 15' tall (15'3" for the Hornet, 15'9" for the Crusader). With wings folded, the Hornet is 27'6" wide (only a foot wide than the much smaller Skyhawk).
 

miketr

Gone Fishin'
You need something like the Oriskany reactivation plan in the 1980s go forward. Even then she was to have only A-4Ms as an air wing. They could have dug up some A-7s I guess if they wanted to.

As to F-18s just possible but the flight decks were getting bad. TO keep them in service into the late 80s then I say you are looking at another rebuild / SLEP with the flight deck replaced with a metal one.

Michael
 

Md139115

Banned
This situation isn’t really like the Iowas or the B-52s or the A-10s though. A carrier is not a niche weapon, nor could the Essexs reasonably survive a modern attack/missile strike in the way that even an Iowa could. By the 1970’s, if the Navy is pressing for quantity over quality, then we’re almost certainly going to see a bunch of new light carriers laid down resembling the late Senator McCain’s proposal a few years ago.
 
f4 flew from ark royal which wasn't much bigger then a essex,as the a7 used a spey in later versions,what about the usa buying some spey f4 for the essex class
 

SsgtC

Banned
You need something like the Oriskany reactivation plan in the 1980s go forward. Even then she was to have only A-4Ms as an air wing. They could have dug up some A-7s I guess if they wanted to.

As to F-18s just possible but the flight decks were getting bad. TO keep them in service into the late 80s then I say you are looking at another rebuild / SLEP with the flight deck replaced with a metal one.

Michael
I'm not thinking a reactivation, but have the ships remaining in service as a CVA (maybe reclassified to CVL by the end of the 70s). And yeah, they probably would require replacement of the flight decks with an aluminum one like Oriskany's. Maybe have the ships go in for overhaul and a SLEP starting around 1970? That would put them between 20-25 years old at the time and should give them enough to soldier on through the 80s, with the first SLEP'd ships decommissioning around 85 maybe?

This situation isn’t really like the Iowas or the B-52s or the A-10s though. A carrier is not a niche weapon, nor could the Essexs reasonably survive a modern attack/missile strike in the way that even an Iowa could. By the 1970’s, if the Navy is pressing for quantity over quality, then we’re almost certainly going to see a bunch of new light carriers laid down resembling the late Senator McCain’s proposal a few years ago.
No, they couldn't. But neither can Arleigh Burke TBH. Maybe if the Cold War suddenly spikes a few degrees in the late 60s, early 70s that could force the Navy to keep the Essex class in service while they draw up a new design that's projected to begin entering service sometime in the 80s?

Edit: or they're kept in service as a "cost saving measure" so Congress doesn't cut their funding for more Nimitz class ships.
 
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SsgtC

Banned
f4 flew from ark royal which wasn't much bigger then a essex,as the a7 used a spey in later versions,what about the usa buying some spey f4 for the essex class
That was marginal though. And the Spey powered F-4s had a lot of other differences from USN/USMC Phantoms. I can't really see the Navy buying a specialized fighter just for the Essex class when they already have the F-8 (which is also in service with the French Navy on their carriers).
 
I could see this happening as a compromise where instead of the CVV, the USN decides that it could use a few additional smaller decks for surge capacity, lower intensity missions, etc. From there they decide to keep a small number of ESSEX class ships into the 1980s with a mixed air group of A-4s, Harriers, and maybe some F-8s are kept around (have the AIM-9C get updated for those).
 

SsgtC

Banned
I could see this happening as a compromise where instead of the CVV, the USN decides that it could use a few additional smaller decks for surge capacity, lower intensity missions, etc. From there they decide to keep a small number of ESSEX class ships into the 1980s with a mixed air group of A-4s, Harriers, and maybe some F-8s are kept around (have the AIM-9C get updated for those).
That's kind of what I was thinking. That the Navy decides to keep the SCB-27C ships around for low intensity conflicts that don't require a super carrier or for convoy escort if the Cold War went hot. I'm thinking their air wing would be two squadrons of F-8Js, two squadrons of A-7Es (probably upgraded to a hypothetical A-7F), two to three EKA-3s, 3 Turbo Tracer aircraft for AEW, and a handful of helicopters. The reason I went with A-7s over A-4s is that gives the Navy very close commonality with the F-8s if the fighter squadrons and saves money on spare parts and training. Then starting in 1983, the F-8s and A-7s are traded in for F/A-18s.

Edit: I believe that the Crusader and Corsair could use the AIM-9L, so no need to keep the C model around.
 
That's kind of what I was thinking. That the Navy decides to keep the SCB-27C ships around for low intensity conflicts that don't require a super carrier or for convoy escort if the Cold War went hot. I'm thinking their air wing would be two squadrons of F-8Js, two squadrons of A-7Es (probably upgraded to a hypothetical A-7F), two to three EKA-3s, 3 Turbo Tracer aircraft for AEW, and a handful of helicopters. The reason I went with A-7s over A-4s is that gives the Navy very close commonality with the F-8s if the fighter squadrons and saves money on spare parts and training. Then starting in 1983, the F-8s and A-7s are traded in for F/A-18s.
Edit: I believe that the Crusader and Corsair could use the AIM-9L, so no need to keep the C model around.
I don't see them getting Hornets, even if they can operate them. The super carriers will have priority and they had not fully swapped out their A-7s for F-18s until the early 1990s. The A-7's last USN deployment was on the JFK for DESERT STORM. I agree they will probably transition the A-4s to A-7s throughout the 1980s as the squadrons on the super carriers take on the F-18s and A-7s become available.

I was only thinking upgrades to the C model of the AIM-9 if they want a radar guided missile for the F-8s. Not so much because it is more capable but because it takes a different kind of counter measure to beat it.
 

SsgtC

Banned
I don't see them getting Hornets, even if they can operate them. The super carriers will have priority and they had not fully swapped out their A-7s for F-18s until the early 1990s. The A-7's last USN deployment was on the JFK for DESERT STORM. I agree they will probably transition the A-4s to A-7s throughout the 1980s as the squadrons on the super carriers take on the F-18s and A-7s become available.

I was only thinking upgrades to the C model of the AIM-9 if they want a radar guided missile for the F-8s. Not so much because it is more capable but because it takes a different kind of counter measure to beat it.
Gotcha. Actually, I think the Essex air wings would get Hornets well before the super carriers did. IOTL, the first ships to get Hornets were the Midway class to replace their F-4s and A-7s. I think the Navy would do something similar here. The remaining Essex decks get the first Hornets to replace their rapidly aging F-8s and A-4/7s.

Though I will admit, I'm leary if they actually can operate them. The Essex had C11-1 catapults, which had a track of 225' and a stroke if 211' verses the C7 on the Midway which was at 253' and 276' respectively. So it may not be possible to fly Hornets from them unless the remaining Essex decks get C7 (or even C13) cats during a SLEP in the 70s.
 
The Essex class were pretty much wore out by the '70s.
Rebuilding '40s ships wasn't the best use of funds.

A follow on to the Iwo Jima Assault ships, using the new gas turbine and large marine diesels for low speed ops. Gas Turbines can be fitted with a heater section to provide steam for catapults.

Do in the late '60 to fly craft the size of the F-8 and A-4, keep them around 24,000 tons
 

SsgtC

Banned
The Essex class were pretty much wore out by the '70s.
Rebuilding '40s ships wasn't the best use of funds.

A follow on to the Iwo Jima Assault ships, using the new gas turbine and large marine diesels for low speed ops. Gas Turbines can be fitted with a heater section to provide steam for catapults.

Do in the late '60 to fly craft the size of the F-8 and A-4, keep them around 24,000 tons
It's possible they do that. Unless Congress won't give them the funds to build new light carriers and super carriers. Plus, the Iwo Jima class can only make about 22 knots. That's not fast enough to safely launch fast, heavy fighters like the F-8 or A-7. Plus, you'd need to drastically alter the ship to provide much larger hanger spaces, aviation fuel storage, ordinance, and install an angled deck. By the time you do all that, you've got a ship pushing 40-45,000 tons.
 
Actually, the F-18s first cruise was onboard USS CONSTELLATION in 1985, first combat was on CORAL SEA in 1986 (Libya). MIDWAY didn't get F-18s until late 1986.

This is a big part of why I don't see these refurbished ESSEX class ships getting them. They didn't start deploying with the fleet until 1985, I see other decks having priority and I don't see the USN spending money in the 1970s so these old ships can operate a plane they won't be operational until the mid-1980s. Also, I don't see CORAL SEA and MIDWAY as an apples to apples comparison. Those ships were part of the first string until the end with MIDWAY even deploying for DESERT STORM. The ESSEX class ships in this scenario are meant to be part of the junior varsity, mainly existing to so the varsity team doesn't wear itself out playing second and third rate opponents. No way they get the newest and shiniest toy.
 
It's possible they do that. Unless Congress won't give them the funds to build new light carriers and super carriers. Plus, the Iwo Jima class can only make about 22 knots. That's not fast enough to safely launch fast, heavy fighters like the F-8 or A-7. Plus, you'd need to drastically alter the ship to provide much larger hanger spaces, aviation fuel storage, ordinance, and install an angled deck. By the time you do all that, you've got a ship pushing 40-45,000 tons.
Oriskany was SBC-125 angled deck with SCB-27A mod package plus steam cats on 30k tons. Turbines and diesels would cut down on tonnage, but have similar deck length as Oriskany
 

SsgtC

Banned
Actually, the F-18s first cruise was onboard USS CONSTELLATION in 1985, first combat was on CORAL SEA in 1986 (Libya). MIDWAY didn't get F-18s until late 1986.

This is a big part of why I don't see these refurbished ESSEX class ships getting them. They didn't start deploying with the fleet until 1985, I see other decks having priority and I don't see the USN spending money in the 1970s so these old ships can operate a plane they won't be operational until the mid-1980s. Also, I don't see CORAL SEA and MIDWAY as an apples to apples comparison. Those ships were part of the first string until the end with MIDWAY even deploying for DESERT STORM. The ESSEX class ships in this scenario are meant to be part of the junior varsity, mainly existing to so the varsity team doesn't wear itself out playing second and third rate opponents. No way they get the newest and shiniest toy.
Hmmmmm. That makes sense. Depending on the size check the Navy gets, they may or may not replace the cats during a SLEP. Depends on how much work is required to do it. If it's minimal, I could see it being a, "why the hell not?" type deal. But if it's gonna take too much, I don't think they do it. And I think you're right. If the Essex class operates Hornets, they'll probably be on their final cruise or two. Barring something catastrophic happening to the F-8s.
 

SsgtC

Banned
Oriskany was SBC-125 angled deck with SCB-27A mod package plus steam cats on 30k tons. Turbines and diesels would cut down on tonnage, but have similar deck length as Oriskany
30,000 tons was "as built." Meaning a straight deck carrier. After her SCB-125A rebuild, she was over 46,000 tons.
 
Hmmmmm. That makes sense. Depending on the size check the Navy gets, they may or may not replace the cats during a SLEP. Depends on how much work is required to do it. If it's minimal, I could see it being a, "why the hell not?" type deal. But if it's gonna take too much, I don't think they do it. And I think you're right. If the Essex class operates Hornets, they'll probably be on their final cruise or two. Barring something catastrophic happening to the F-8s.
Possibility for the final cruise of a couple but definitely not sooner. Check out this site https://www.navysite.de/carriers.htm and look at the deployment logs. I think there is an incorrect assumption out there that the carriers starting getting their Hornet squadrons a lot sooner than they did in reality. A lot of them did not deploy with Hornets until 1988-1990.
 
30,000 tons was "as built." Meaning a straight deck carrier. After her SCB-125A rebuild, she was over 46,000 tons.
Where did you find that?
She was never bulged like the later rebuilds, and didn't have a lot of the other bits that added so much weight to the other
 

SsgtC

Banned
Possibility for the final cruise of a couple but definitely not sooner. Check out this site https://www.navysite.de/carriers.htm and look at the deployment logs. I think there is an incorrect assumption out there that the carriers starting getting their Hornet squadrons a lot sooner than they did in reality. A lot of them did not deploy with Hornets until 1988-1990.
Ok. I knew Hornets went operational in 83, and I assumed (bad idea on my part) that that meant they were deployed in 83 on a carrier. Looking at that, at best, their final cruise or two would have Hornets (assuming they can handle them).

Where did you find that?
She was never bulged like the later rebuilds, and didn't have a lot of the other bits that added so much weight to the other
Here ya go. And I was off a little bit. She was 44,700 after SCB-125A.
 
The Essex class was very expensive in manpower to operate, especially when measured against the size air group embarked. That was one of the big problems in the '70s, the Navy did not have enough sailors to man the fleet it had. They were actually taking sailors who had just come back from deployments, giving them 30 days leave and transferring them to ships going out on deployment. The Navy was trying to get rid of oilfired steam plants because of the maintenance and manning requirements. I was stationed at Langley AFB in the late 70s and remember the stories in the news in the Tidewater area about the shortages ( we had our own shortages of manpower in the Air Force) At this same time the Navy very quickly scrapped the FDR rather than mothball her or refit her. That was a very political decision. The Navy Brass wanted new carriers for various reasons and having a moderately capable carrier hull available for upgrading would get in the way of that.

Add to that the fact that the F-8s were at the end of their service life and the Essex could not operate F-4s for several reasons the biggest one was hanger deck height. Others were catapult capability and elevator capacity. Upgrading catapults is very expensive (it almost always involves lengthening them). With Vietnam over there was not a desperate need for CVA flight decks so the problems of keeping the Essex around wasn't worth the cost (and in the mid to late 70s military dollars were hard to justify)
 
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