No RN fleet carriers lost up to 1942

MatthewDB

Banned
HMS Courageous - sunk 17 September 1939
HMS Glorious - sunk 8 June 1940
HMS Ark Royal - sunk 14 November 1941

How is Britain's naval strategy changed if these three carriers survive unscathed to Jan 1, 1942? Just to eliminate any sense of invulnerability in the RN's carrier arm, we can still sink HMS Audacity per OTL on 21 December 1941. Let's assume the torpedoes miss Courageous and Ark Royal, and that Scharnhorst and Gneisenau do not come across Glorious and instead return to their base at Kiel to fight another day.

For starters I'd like to think the Nov 1940 Taranto raid will be larger than the single carrier HMS Illustrious and her 21 Swordfish. What else? Into 1941 the three carriers might be called upon to relieve HMS Illustrious (Jan 1941 hit by eight 500 - 1,100 lb. bombs, out of service until Nov 1941) and/or Formidable ( May 1941, hit by two 2,200 lb. bombs, out of service until Dec 1941). Ideally I'd like to see two carriers sent to Saigon in advance of Japan's planned takeover in Sept 1940.
 
Yes, not that it would have made much difference. Britain could have done nothing to help a Free French Indochina prevent a Japanese takeover.
 

MatthewDB

Banned
Yes, not that it would have made much difference. Britain could have done nothing to help a Free French Indochina prevent a Japanese takeover.
I suppose not in the scope of this thread about carriers, so might as well send them to Singapore. I have another idea for FIC, but don't want to OT hijack my own thread :)
 
OK so Courageous and Glorious are saved. Here's a quick pencilled out timeline of how the rest of the war upto late 41 could go and I finish with a larger force Z being sent.

What's the first butterfly? Well there maybe an extra carrier involved in Norway. Maybe Courageous gets a strike on Scharnhorst and Genesenau early in the campaign that damages them sufficiently that they don't encounter Glorious. Perhaps Courageous will do something else here.

So when Italy enters the war Britain will probably want to send another carrier to the Mediterranean. Let's say Glorious goes to the Mediterranean fleet, Courageous stays in the home fleet and Eagle ends up with Force H instead of the Mediterranean fleet mainly operating as an aircraft ferry.

The boost to the Home fleets scouting means that Operation Berlin is shut down much harder and only one of the twins makes it back to Britanny.

Double down on Taranto with Glorious present. Let's say two extra battleships (including one of the Litorios get torpedoes) and some extra cruisers and destroyers are hit too.

Matapan probably gets cancelled due to the extra Italian losses. Royal Navy manages to restrict Italian lines of supply to a greater extent due to their greater freedom of movement in the Mediterranean.

An extra carrier backing up Illustrious during operation excess may reduce the damage Illustrious suffers.

We can put Courageous with Hood and Prince of Wales in advance of the battle of Denmark strait. Let's say Courageous only gets a torpedo strike off on Bismarck with a single hit that causes some minor flooding damage and a list of 1-2 degree. Minor damage but puts things off so that there's no lucky hit on Hood. Prince of Wales and Hood exchange blows with Bismarck and do significant damage suffering some themselves. They pull away and planes from Courageous deliver the final blow to Bismarck.

Hood probably ends up in refit (as removed from the war for a few years as she would be if she was sunk).

Having an extra carrier or two in the Mediterranean changes Crete (probably doesn't win the battle but can reduce the Royal Navy losses. Historically I believe the Royal Navy lost 4 cruisers and 5 destroyers I think while a carrier 2 battleships and 4 cruisers needed significant yard time.

Then we come to late 41. The war at sea in the Mediterranean seems to have been won while North Africa is being mopped up (breaking Italian supply means more success).

When the need to reinforce Malaya arrives the British send a much larger naval force comprising of 3 carriers (Courageous Glorious and Hermes) 3 fast capital ships; HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Renown and Repulse (sinking of a scharnhorst and survival of Hood {even in refit} leaves the Royal Navy a lot more confident about their position in terms of fast ships) and 3 slow capital ships (Warspite Barnham and Valiant) along with a dozen cruisers and a sufficient destroyer screen.
 

MatthewDB

Banned
Courageous or Glorious sorties with Hood and PoW against Bismarck.

Ark Royal to Singapore in time to escort Force Z.
Can I have Ark Royal arrive earlier, with a deck stuffed with Spitfires?

As an aside, I’ve often wondered why Ark Royal didn’t sail with Force Z in October, with the new HMS Indomitable replacing her at Gibraltar. Indomitable may have survived the single torpedo hit that sunk Ark Royal.
 
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I think if any carrier is sent east with Force Z it would be the Furious as of all the first line carriers she's oldest and least capable and so can most easily be spared from the Home Fleet or Mediterranean.
 

Errolwi

Monthly Donor
Wasn't the Fleet Air Arm chronically short of aircraft and spares early war? e.g. a minimal strike to support Crete because the aircraft they had were clapped out. If they have more flying ops 1939-40, things will hit crisis point sooner. Earlier Sea Hurricanes?
 
Argus took over a lot of secondary roles, filling in. Without needing to do so, she would carry on her main role whilst the carrier she took over from did the fleet thing
 
CVs surviving is actually not that hard

The German G7 torpedo's had a poor reputation early war so 1 more not working very well saves Courageous leaving her damaged but salvageable - or even better the near miss by U39 on Ark Royal on the 14th Sept puts the wind up the admiralty and they with draw all carriers from HK mission earlier and so Courageous is not in harms way on the 17th Sept to be torpedoed in the first place.

Glorious not forgetting she is a man o war and/or a better commander and/or the Twins getting a bigger kicking from HMS Renown on the 9th April 1940 probably saves her.

The fish that did for Ark Royal seems to have run deep and struck her keel directly under the machinary spaces. Have that fish run a tad deeper missing her entirely and/or without the loss of Courageous (who capsized very quickly with heavy loss of life) perhaps the Ark Royals Captain does not prematurely abandon ship (leaving all of the water tight doors open as the crew did so) fearing a similar fate and damage control efforts are enough to allow her to be towed to Gib and saved.
 
Wasn't the Fleet Air Arm chronically short of aircraft and spares early war? e.g. a minimal strike to support Crete because the aircraft they had were clapped out. If they have more flying ops 1939-40, things will hit crisis point sooner. Earlier Sea Hurricanes?
The Coventry bombing managed to destroy one of the main spares depots for the FAA making the Fulmar shortage for example far worse.

Formidable was not actually ready for war during the Crete ops (my understanding was that she was ready for a minor refit?) and went to war with a scratch understrength air group basically all that was in Alex at the time.
 

MatthewDB

Banned
Wasn't the Fleet Air Arm chronically short of aircraft and spares early war? e.g. a minimal strike to support Crete because the aircraft they had were clapped out. If they have more flying ops 1939-40, things will hit crisis point sooner. Earlier Sea Hurricanes?
Ark Royal and Courageous had full CAGs when they were sunk. If we can save those aircraft, spares, flight crew and mechanics/handlers we have a good starting point. How about the Eastern Fleet carriers transit Panama and sail to San Diego to take up Martlets (non-folding). Or to Vancouver to load up on early (still non-folsing) Canadian-made Sea Hurricanes?

PacOps is the one place the Skua might continue to be relevant. This is important as Ark Royal can’t operate non-folding types. For this reason I’d leave Ark Royal at home until folding Martlets or Seafires are available.
 
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HMS Courageous - sunk 17 September 1939
HMS Glorious - sunk 8 June 1940
HMS Ark Royal - sunk 14 November 1941

How is Britain's naval strategy changed if these three carriers survive unscathed to Jan 1, 1942? Just to eliminate any sense of invulnerability in the RN's carrier arm, we can still sink HMS Audacity per OTL on 21 December 1941. Let's assume the torpedoes miss Courageous and Ark Royal, and that Scharnhorst and Gneisenau do not come across Glorious and instead return to their base at Kiel to fight another day.

For starters I'd like to think the Nov 1940 Taranto raid will be larger than the single carrier HMS Illustrious and her 21 Swordfish. What else? Into 1941 the three carriers might be called upon to relieve HMS Illustrious (Jan 1941 hit by eight 500 - 1,100 lb. bombs, out of service until Nov 1941) and/or Formidable ( May 1941, hit by two 2,200 lb. bombs, out of service until Dec 1941). Ideally I'd like to see two carriers sent to Saigon in advance of Japan's planned takeover in Sept 1940.
NAGUMO has a field day off Sri Lanka on 5 April 1942.
 
NAGUMO has a field day off Sri Lanka on 5 April 1942.
Or he doesn't make contact like OTL due to his inadequate air search methods which would continue to fail at Midway.

The Easter raid was a defeat for Britain but in Naval and air losses alone it was hardly crippling by WW2 standards
 
Or he doesn't make contact like OTL due to his inadequate air search methods which would continue to fail at Midway.

The Easter raid was a defeat for Britain but in Naval and air losses alone it was hardly crippling by WW2 standards
Bigger target, easier to find (Nagumo did find assorted targets, remember?) and I have no confidence at all in Somerville... NONE.
 
Bigger target, easier to find (Nagumo did find assorted targets, remember?) and I have no confidence at all in Somerville... NONE.
But he did not come close to finding Somerville and 'your' low opinion of him does not change that

Having more ships in a given fleet does not appreciably make it easier to find particulalrly if they are not looking in that direction - and I have no confidence at all in Nagumo... NONE

He was not expecting the British to be attacking from the direction that they attempted so was not looking in that direction in the same way that the British did not expect Nagumo to attack the Island from the direction he did so were not searching in that arc.

It would take another year or so before decent air search methods were perfected - the US at Midway had enough intel to predict almost to the grid reference where Nagumo would turn up - their air search methods were otherwise no better than Nagumo's or the British
 
Or more fleet carriers and planes off Ceylon means Nagumo gets woken up in the middle watch to be told his fleet is under air attack :p
 
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