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Armored CV vs Unarmored CV?

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So have heard some conflicting info on whether armored CVs or Armored CVs are better. So decided to ask what the differences were here and which were better? Like I know USN CVs would be unarmored or maybe having some armor like Lexington retained at least part of her armor belt from the Battlcruiser to CV conversion. 

The Royal Navy seemed to like having armored Flight Decks as opposed to the USN.

And IJN I am not entirely sure what their views on armored CVs were other than at least 1 of their CVs was rather well armored except that damage control on that one was shockingly incomplete.

So hoping for some good info and discussions that can help me get a better understanding of these CV philosophies. Because at the moment I am admittedly a little short of fully understanding the obvious debate between these design ideals.

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i saw a recent video on this very topic... just can't recall where.. if i can find it will post the link.....     RN needed armored because they were more likely to come under attack from land based aircraft based on their typical deployment areas...   

hmm maybe not the video below sorry.... it may have been a jingles video where he explained it...

May have been this video..

 

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An enclosed, armored hanger was deemed essential to the RN by Vice-Admiral Henderson (controller and responsible for new warship construction planning in the mid-thirties-he had been admiral commanding aircraft carriers earlier and had invented the multiple-CV task force concept before the USN did) because they had no decent fighter aircraft before the advent of radar that could handle land-based bombers (the RAF controlled aircraft allocation and opposed their adoption, plus the Air Ministry said no, too expensive) on combat air patrol and thought that putting their outmoded strke aircraft and poor fighters in an armored hanger would allow them to survive using AA fire and strike back.

The thought process was that the RN CVs could face other CV aircraft because their potential enemies' aircraft had similar performace to their own, but the biggest threat was from high-performance land-based German and Italian aircraft in the Atlantic and Mediterranian. This was true at the time of design because it was believed (wrongly as it happened) that the ships could resist AP bombs of up to 500 lbs, which was the RAF allowed maximum at the time. They did not realize that the USN and the IJN were already using 1000-pounders.

It made the modern (post-Ark Royal)RN CVs tough, suvivable targets against 1000-lb bombs. Best reference for this is Commander David Hobbs' book British Aircraft Carriers, Design, Development & Service Histories. This is available as a Kindle ebook on Amazon at a reasonable price. I had the printed version at one point but gave it (along with many other historical and present-day warship references)to my local Navy League chapter for sea cadet and naval reserve division library use. The printed version (USNI Press) is not cheap, but it contains some superb DNC large general arrangement fold-out drawings from the builders' files  that IMHO are absolutely essential to scale ship modelers wishing to build any RN CV of that era.

Dr. Norman Freidman discusses the issues in several of his specialist works as well, many of which can be had as Kindle books

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The difference is usually that on an armored carrier the hangar and flight deck are part of the armored box, whereas on a non armored carrier at least the sides of the hangar remain relatively unprotected. It comes with some structural advantages and disadvantages, for the carriers that served during WW2 being armored meant that the hangar space would be smaller than that of a conventional carrier of the same country and tonnage, which was the tradeoff for having parts of the deck and sides protected against damage (although the armored sides usually meant nothing, since shellfire was not as much of a threat, but the deck versus bombs did offer more protection).

I think what people can agree on if nothing else that the protection against shellfire proved to be a pointless thing, I don't recall any instance where it came into play. So it comes down to hangar capacity versus the resiliance against bombs, and opinions differ a lot in that regard.

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In WOWs, it doesn't matter much.
In history the RN Aircraft Carriers were better able to shrug-off bomb damage from planes, when compared to IJN and USN designs.

IJN and USN designs were able to carry more planes when compared to an RN CV of similar dimensions, if I recall correctly.
So, there were trade-offs.
But given the RN's operations in proximity to land-based bomber aircraft, the armored decks made sense.

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Drachinifel on Youtube made a video about this very subject a year ago.

A gist of it is that both of them serve different purposes, in different environments, and one isn't better than the other. The armored decks were useful when it was deemed that the carriers were more likely to be struck by enemy attacks, hence designed to withstand some damages... whereas the unarmored decks allowed more space to carry more planes, hence bigger strike potentials, at the expense of being paper thin. Each has their own pro's and con's.

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Armored CV's have a number of benefits and penalties as compared to an unarmored one.

In the long run, armored flight decks are more trouble than they are worth, the smaller better protected air group doesn't benefit the whole fleet as much as a larger more robust CAP, and that's not helped by the poor AA directors the royal navy used at the time.

The other problem comes with damage and refitting. Being able to bounce light bombs and kamikaze's off the flight deck is a nice bonus, at the cost of anything that actually puts a hole in the deck being much harder to patch. With an armored carrier, the flight deck is a strength deck, and is the top of the hull girder. On a carrier with an armored hangar deck, like most US Navy and IJN designs, the main deck (aka, the hangar deck) is the top of the hull girder. A large fire inside hanger of an armored flight deck ship may warp the hull girder by holding in more heat, and it is impossible to repair the damage without rebuilding the entire ship. With an armored hanger, the heat of a hangar fire isn't as contained, and it's much easier to replace the ship from the main deck up if need be. It's also much cheaper to update the armored hangar carriers with angled decks, larger catapults, ect.. as the flight deck is not a major structural element in the ship.

Deck elevators are another problem, armored decks are more difficult to install deck edge elevators as large holes in the side of the ship aren't good for supporting an armored deck, and likewise, large elevators in the flight deck are doubly problematic as large holes in the top of the hull girder are bad for structural integrity, and the elevator itself must be armored, as it's a big hole in the armor protection of the ship.

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Well, first it is a misconception that carriers were either armored or not armored.  The difference is in how the armor is arranged.

The British opted to armor their flight deck and sides of the hanger along with more conventional belt armor.  The US and Japan went with armor lower in the ship with the flight deck and hanger bay being superstructure.

The result was British carriers had more weight higher in the ship and difficulty with meeting stability requirements.  The US by comparison had open hangers and a flight deck that was superstructure.  This meant that even though a US carrier had about as much deck armor as a British carrier, the armor was on the hanger deck and below in a more conventional hull armor design than what the British were doing.

In actual combat, the British armored flight deck proved a mistake.  It could be penetrated by heavy bombs and could never be thick enough to prevent that given its high location in the ship.  The enclosed hanger bay(s) proved to only enhance damage by containing blast--something the Japanese learned the hard way too.  In fact, it became RN official operating doctrine to lower one or two elevators during air attacks on armored carriers to vent the blast because of how much damage would otherwise occur.  This compromised the armored flight deck by leaving large gaps in it.

Yes, the armored flight deck worked exceedingly well against Kamikaze that had little penetrating power, but that's really sour grapes to the overall picture.

US carriers on the other hand proved relatively tough targets.  Yes, their flight decks could be easily damaged, but they were easily repaired too.  The armored deck lower in the ship worked well because any bomb penetrating the flight deck went through enough structure to initiate the fuze meaning the armor deck was rarely penetrated.  This armored deck also proved highly useful in containing fires to the superstructure and leaving the machinery spaces intact.

The USN was also correct in its assessment that the largest air wing possible should be carried.  British carriers with smaller air wings proved to have less flexibility and ability to set a really large CAP to defend the carrier.  Early war RN policy with carriers under air attack was to strike the planes down to the hanger and rely on AA fire alone for defense.  That proved completely wrong.

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45 minutes ago, Murotsu said:

The USN was also correct in its assessment that the largest air wing possible should be carried.  British carriers with smaller air wings proved to have less flexibility and ability to set a really large CAP to defend the carrier.  Early war RN policy with carriers under air attack was to strike the planes down to the hanger and rely on AA fire alone for defense.  That proved completely wrong.

Not really.

 

RN carrier were designed to operate in area where land base aircraft would be the opposition, and in such environments you cannot hope to have a cap large enough to counter that. In that sense, they were fairly well designed for operation in the European theater. After all, RN cv dis shrug of 2000 pounds bombs, something American carrier couldn’t have achieve.
 

The pacific did not have such land base aircraft problem, thanks to the distance and the war between the Japanese navy and the army. 

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1 hour ago, Blorgh2017 said:

Drachinifel on Youtube made a video about this very subject a year ago.

A gist of it is that both of them serve different purposes, in different environments, and one isn't better than the other. The armored decks were useful when it was deemed that the carriers were more likely to be struck by enemy attacks, hence designed to withstand some damages... whereas the unarmored decks allowed more space to carry more planes, hence bigger strike potentials, at the expense of being paper thin. Each has their own pro's and con's.

IIRC, there was some comment or observation by some WW2 naval officer that for a USN CV, kamikazes were a real threat to hit and pierce the flight deck and cause major damage inside the hanger that'd require considerable time in a shipyard to repair, whereas for a Royal Navy CV, a kamikaze might damage some planes on the flight deck wouldn't penetrate to the hanger deck.  And after the crash, the RN deck crews could just push the kamikaze wreckage over the side, sweep the flight deck clear of debris, and they'd be pretty much good to resume operations.

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20 minutes ago, Y_Nagato said:

Not really.

 

RN carrier were designed to operate in area where land base aircraft would be the opposition, and in such environments you cannot hope to have a cap large enough to counter that. In that sense, they were fairly well designed for operation in the European theater. After all, RN cv dis shrug of 2000 pounds bombs, something American carrier couldn’t have achieve.
 

The pacific did not have such land base aircraft problem, thanks to the distance and the war between the Japanese navy and the army. 

Really.

RN carriers were designed supposedly to survive behind hit in air attacks.  Didn't work.  The RN doctrine pre-WW 2 was that the fleet would defend itself against air attack using AA guns and maneuvering.  Didn't work either.

RN carriers didn't "shrug of 2000 pounds bombs (sic)" either as the damage to Illustrious shows:

https://www.armouredcarriers.com/battle-damage-to-hms-illustrious/

In fact, Illustrious was nearly lost in that bombing attack.

Formidable was another case:

https://www.armouredcarriers.com/operation-maq3-may-26-1941

Unlike RN doctrine, the USN figured out in the immediate pre-war years that AA fire was overrated thanks to using target drones.  That saw major revisions to USN AA doctrine and expected effectiveness.  The USN carrier doctrine was CAP was the primary defense--as with the Japanese too-- but the difference was the USN quickly increased the size of theirs, as well as added fighter direction and radar moving the CAP further and further out from the carrier.  This resulted in an enemy raid coming under attack as much as 75 miles from the carrier and being thoroughly decimated before it arrived.  The few survivors could then be shot down by AA fire.

US carriers could survive severe damage mostly because it rarely penetrated the armor system and took out the machinery spaces meaning the ship had the means to fight the damage and later be repaired.

https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/w/war-damage-reports/uss-franklin-cv-13-war-damage-report-no-56.html

 

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9 minutes ago, Crucis said:

IIRC, there was some comment or observation by some WW2 naval officer that for a USN CV, kamikazes were a real threat to hit and pierce the flight deck and cause major damage inside the hanger that'd require considerable time in a shipyard to repair, whereas for a Royal Navy CV, a kamikaze might damage some planes on the flight deck wouldn't penetrate to the hanger deck.  And after the crash, the RN deck crews could just push the kamikaze wreckage over the side, sweep the flight deck clear of debris, and they'd be pretty much good to resume operations.

Yeah, that's actually covered in the video that I posted. It seems that some kamikaze strikes damaged some USN carriers enough to completely take the ships out of action, whereas the British can just shrug it off and fight on.

 

7 minutes ago, Murotsu said:

Really.

RN carriers were designed supposedly to survive behind hit in air attacks.  Didn't work.  The RN doctrine pre-WW 2 was that the fleet would defend itself against air attack using AA guns and maneuvering.  Didn't work either.

RN carriers didn't "shrug of 2000 pounds bombs (sic)" either as the damage to Illustrious shows:

https://www.armouredcarriers.com/battle-damage-to-hms-illustrious/

In fact, Illustrious was nearly lost in that bombing attack.

Formidable was another case:

https://www.armouredcarriers.com/operation-maq3-may-26-1941

Unlike RN doctrine, the USN figured out in the immediate pre-war years that AA fire was overrated thanks to using target drones.  That saw major revisions to USN AA doctrine and expected effectiveness.  The USN carrier doctrine was CAP was the primary defense--as with the Japanese too-- but the difference was the USN quickly increased the size of theirs, as well as added fighter direction and radar moving the CAP further and further out from the carrier.  This resulted in an enemy raid coming under attack as much as 75 miles from the carrier and being thoroughly decimated before it arrived.  The few survivors could then be shot down by AA fire.

US carriers could survive severe damage mostly because it rarely penetrated the armor system and took out the machinery spaces meaning the ship had the means to fight the damage and later be repaired.

https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/w/war-damage-reports/uss-franklin-cv-13-war-damage-report-no-56.html

 

But some kamikazes still punched through all that CAP defense to hit the carriers. Some USN carriers took such damages from the kamikazes that they and their whole air groups were pretty much out of the fight... whereas some RN carriers just shrugged it off to keep fighting. The video that I posted talks about this.

I think it's better to still give credit where it is due, instead of just saying that one was completely superior than the other. The video author also speaks of this at the beginning of the video.

 

As for the 2000 lb bomb hitting Illustrious, I'm not sure if the USN's armor systems would've fared any better. I don't think this is a fair assessment.

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1 minute ago, Murotsu said:

RN carriers were designed supposedly to survive behind hit in air attacks.  Didn't work.  The RN doctrine pre-WW 2 was that the fleet would defend itself against air attack using AA guns and maneuvering.  Didn't work either.

That was the doctrine from any navy pre WW2. The idea of mass CV operating together came with the Kido Butai, the American where not planing such configuration before that.

2 minutes ago, Murotsu said:

RN carriers didn't "shrug of 2000 pounds bombs (sic)" either as the damage to Illustrious shows:

https://www.armouredcarriers.com/battle-damage-to-hms-illustrious/

In fact, Illustrious was nearly lost in that bombing attack.

The key word is: nearly lost. She got 6 direct hit and did not sink, which is in itself an evidence of a well designed armor. And the 2000 pounds bomb barely passed through the armored deck and exploded in the hangar. An American carrier or a Japanese would have that bomb more likely explode in the machinery space.

 

9 minutes ago, Murotsu said:

Unlike RN doctrine, the USN figured out in the immediate pre-war years that AA fire was overrated thanks to using target drones.  That saw major revisions to USN AA doctrine and expected effectiveness.  The USN carrier doctrine was CAP was the primary defense--as with the Japanese too-- but the difference was the USN quickly increased the size of theirs, as well as added fighter direction and radar moving the CAP further and further out from the carrier.  This resulted in an enemy raid coming under attack as much as 75 miles from the carrier and being thoroughly decimated before it arrived.  The few survivors could then be shot down by AA fire.

Yes, but again the context is central.

CAP fighter works well in CV vs CV action, which was the core of the combat in the Pacific. Even land base aircraft in that area where never in number strong enough to overpower the CAP. Meanwhile in Europe, it was not such case. Royal Navy CV (and AA doctrine) was base on the idea that they would not have air superiority, even if they tried it. So again, they planned for 2 different war, and the Royal Navy CV were more adapted to the European theater than the American one.

12 minutes ago, Murotsu said:

US carriers could survive severe damage mostly because it rarely penetrated the armor system and took out the machinery spaces meaning the ship had the means to fight the damage and later be repaired.

It helped that the Japanese also use smaller bombs (1100 pounds) instead of the 2000 pounds of the German.

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5 hours ago, Admiral_Thrawn_1 said:

So have heard some conflicting info on whether armored CVs or Armored CVs are better. So decided to ask what the differences were here and which were better? Like I know USN CVs would be unarmored or maybe having some armor like Lexington retained at least part of her armor belt from the Battlcruiser to CV conversion. 

The Royal Navy seemed to like having armored Flight Decks as opposed to the USN.

And IJN I am not entirely sure what their views on armored CVs were other than at least 1 of their CVs was rather well armored except that damage control on that one was shockingly incomplete.

So hoping for some good info and discussions that can help me get a better understanding of these CV philosophies. Because at the moment I am admittedly a little short of fully understanding the obvious debate between these design ideals.

From what I've heard, Armored CVs benefits are they operate FAR better in storms then unarmored CVs.  However in combat, Armored CVs are more vulnerable to damage because of the way the armored deck will arms the dive bombs.  With radar equipped Swordfish biplanes, an Armored CV could potentially remain combat capable in a storm whereas a conventional unarmored CV with monoplanes could not, but the trade off is that biplanes aren't effective in CV vs CV combat.

Edited by Sventex

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Always felt that a larger air wing was a lot more useful.  Larger CAPs, more powerful strikes.

 

AA guns can only reach so far.  Stronger, larger fighter CAP is better.

 

The larger air wing on a CV is only made even stronger when multiple CVs of such capacity are brought into play.

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway

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4 hours ago, Blorgh2017 said:

Drachinifel on Youtube made a video about this very subject a year ago.

A gist of it is that both of them serve different purposes, in different environments, and one isn't better than the other. The armored decks were useful when it was deemed that the carriers were more likely to be struck by enemy attacks, hence designed to withstand some damages... whereas the unarmored decks allowed more space to carry more planes, hence bigger strike potentials, at the expense of being paper thin. Each has their own pro's and con's.

:cap_like:

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1 hour ago, Sventex said:

From what I've heard, Armored CVs benefits are they operate FAR better in storms then unarmored CVs.  However in combat, Armored CVs are more vulnerable to damage because of the way the armored deck will arms the dive bombs. 

The difference of storms/not is more about having a hurricane bow and how much of a deck load of aircraft you mean. The British unarmored (or no deck armor) carrier Ark Royal had a hurricane bow:

Spoiler

image.thumb.png.daeb187b43eca9d0051ced67c848bfd3.png

While the US Yorktown class did not:

Spoiler

USS Yorktown (CV-5): How a Badly Damaged Carrier Turned the Tides ...

But the Lexington and Saratoga did:

Spoiler

020313a.jpg

From NavSource

So armor and bow design are generally not tightly twinned design features.

 

The bomb fusing is not really the case. The US carriers still had armor, they just had it on the deck of the hangar rather than the flight deck, the bombs are going to hit similar armor, and even if they don't the machinery rooms are full of heavy kit to plate them. The odds of a bomb passing right through the ship are pretty slim, and even if they did you have a hole punched in the bottom.

The RN deck armor may have had an advantage in fusing bombs sooner, making them blow up higher in the ship which is hard on your hangar and aircrew, but not as bad as the hit disabling machinery which may lose the ship. In the example of Illustrious' hit No. 6 as described https://www.armouredcarriers.com/battle-damage-to-hms-illustrious the bomb defeated the deck armor and exploded in the hangar. A corresponding hit on a Yorktown may not have fused on the flight deck, penetrated the hangar deck armor and exploded lower in the ship with potentially negative consequences.

 

37 minutes ago, HazeGrayUnderway said:

Always felt that a larger air wing was a lot more useful.  Larger CAPs, more powerful strikes.

 

AA guns can only reach so far.  Stronger, larger fighter CAP is better.

Part of the problem for the British early and mid-war was poor aircraft availability. Although nominally capable of carrying 33 aircraft Formidable was hit in May 1941 with just 25 serviceable on board.

There's also a difference in the trade between '50% more Zeroes or Wildcats vs. armor' and '50% more Fulmars (or worse, Skuas...) vs. armor'. If you take the heavy damage to Illustrious as an example her CAP of 5 aircraft was lured away, and her relief fly-off was both too small (4 planes) and too ineffectual to protect her. The Fulmar climbed very slowly, had a low top speed, and 0.303 machine guns didn't cut the mustard in 1941. The combined Fulmar/AA defense took down 3 Stukas, while 1 Fulmar was shot down in turn.

Double, or triple the numbers and you're probably still not that well off against that raid of 43 Ju-87's, 18 He-111's and 10 Bf110's.

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5 hours ago, Y_Nagato said:

That was the doctrine from any navy pre WW2. The idea of mass CV operating together came with the Kido Butai, the American where not planing such configuration before that.

The key word is: nearly lost. She got 6 direct hit and did not sink, which is in itself an evidence of a well designed armor. And the 2000 pounds bomb barely passed through the armored deck and exploded in the hangar. An American carrier or a Japanese would have that bomb more likely explode in the machinery space.

 

Yes, but again the context is central.

CAP fighter works well in CV vs CV action, which was the core of the combat in the Pacific. Even land base aircraft in that area where never in number strong enough to overpower the CAP. Meanwhile in Europe, it was not such case. Royal Navy CV (and AA doctrine) was base on the idea that they would not have air superiority, even if they tried it. So again, they planned for 2 different war, and the Royal Navy CV were more adapted to the European theater than the American one.

It helped that the Japanese also use smaller bombs (1100 pounds) instead of the 2000 pounds of the German.

None of this is really true.

The USN found in repeated Fleet Problems in the 30's that a single carrier was very vulnerable to air attack and that they should operate in at least pairs.  That was USN doctrine prior to the commencement of the Pacific War.  The USN also singularly developed tactics and steaming formations specifically to maximize air defense (the ring formation).  No other navy in 1939 was practicing something like that.

On the other hand, the RN lacking a strong Fleet Air Arm went with the concept that a heavy AA battery and independent maneuver was the best defense against air attack.  The RN also was the only navy to operate carriers singularly and they got away with it most of the time only because their opponents didn't have carriers.

As for Illustrious...  Remember, no US carrier was sunk by bombing alone either so the fact that Illustrious survived isn't evidence of success in design, particularly when you look at the ship having to come to the US for an extended repair in port.  Britain didn't have the resources to do the job anywhere near as quickly.  In fact, I can't think of a single US fleet carrier that took a bomb hit that entered the machinery spaces...

Context is nothing here.  CAP is the most effective means of countering an air strike there is.  If you want the math on that, Kimball and Morse provide it in Methods of Operations Research.

https://archive.org/details/methodsofoperati030158mbp/page/n6/mode/2up

Both the US and Japanese CAP at Midway was quite effective, the difference being the Japanese one got distracted because there was no central overall control on it like the US had.  Hiryu's strikes on Yorktown show that the US CAP did most of the job slaughtering the attacking aircraft.  By the end of the second strike, Hiryu's air group was so decimated there was no possibility of a third strike even if the carrier survived.

As Mofton points out a good portion of the RN's problem here was their carriers carried fewer aircraft and what fighters they did have were of crappy design until the middle of the war.  That made CAP operations for them far less effective.  When you couple that with the use of a single carrier, like say Formidable at Crete, the attackers win by overwhelming the small CAP and taking out the only carrier present.  After that, the land based planes can have their way with the rest of the fleet.

Land based aircraft also proved no alternative to carrier aircraft in a naval war.  There are a few exceptions, but when land based aircraft attacked a carrier defended naval force the land based planes usually lost and lost bad.  One reason is that they were rarely escorted by fighters and consisted of large twin engine bombers that were very vulnerable on their own.

As for bomb size, the Luftwaffe generally didn't have an armor piercing bomb available simply because they saw no need for it.  Their focus was on land warfare, not naval actions.

 

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1 hour ago, Murotsu said:

None of this is really true.

The USN found in repeated Fleet Problems in the 30's that a single carrier was very vulnerable to air attack and that they should operate in at least pairs.  That was USN doctrine prior to the commencement of the Pacific War.  The USN also singularly developed tactics and steaming formations specifically to maximize air defense (the ring formation).  No other navy in 1939 was practicing something like that.

And yet they didn't include a proper mass aircraft carrier in their planing. Even both CV was just for somewhat defense, they were not able to properly attack together until the aftermath of Midway.

 

1 hour ago, Murotsu said:

On the other hand, the RN lacking a strong Fleet Air Arm went with the concept that a heavy AA battery and independent maneuver was the best defense against air attack.  The RN also was the only navy to operate carriers singularly and they got away with it most of the time only because their opponents didn't have carriers.

Yes and no. It was base on the idea that they would be deployed mainly in area where land base aircraft would operate, thus making it impossible to get a proper air superiority. And sure their opponent did not had carrier, they got land base aircraft instead.

 

1 hour ago, Murotsu said:

As for Illustrious...  Remember, no US carrier was sunk by bombing alone either so the fact that Illustrious survived isn't evidence of success in design, particularly when you look at the ship having to come to the US for an extended repair in port.  Britain didn't have the resources to do the job anywhere near as quickly.  In fact, I can't think of a single US fleet carrier that took a bomb hit that entered the machinery spaces..

Japanese did use quite a lot of torpedo plane, while land base aircraft from the Luftwaffe used mainly dive bombers. And Lexington did get her boiler damaged due to a 550kg bombs 2 times (Coral sea and Midway), kinda showing the danger that bombs were for that class. And sure Cap is the best way. That is if:

1: you get radar to launch them in time.

2: you got enough flat top to achieve an air superiority or, at lest, close to it.

Against land base air craft, the last part couldn't be achieve. And at the time of their design, radar was still not central in tactics.

1 hour ago, Murotsu said:

Both the US and Japanese CAP at Midway was quite effective, the difference being the Japanese one got distracted because there was no central overall control on it like the US had.  Hiryu's strikes on Yorktown show that the US CAP did most of the job slaughtering the attacking aircraft.  By the end of the second strike, Hiryu's air group was so decimated there was no possibility of a third strike even if the carrier survived. 

At that time Hiryu was already greatly depleted. If the first wave was a standard one for Japanese CV (34 planes, roughly half of what she can handle), the second one was only 16 planes. That lack of plane was not due to Yortown, but to the effect of the defense at Midway, and the Japanese CV not being at full complement.

 

1 hour ago, Murotsu said:

As Mofton points out a good portion of the RN's problem here was their carriers carried fewer aircraft and what fighters they did have were of crappy design until the middle of the war.  That made CAP operations for them far less effective.  When you couple that with the use of a single carrier, like say Formidable at Crete, the attackers win by overwhelming the small CAP and taking out the only carrier present.  After that, the land based planes can have their way with the rest of the fleet.

Which is true, Japanese showed that the use of vast carrier forces was the best way to use it. But before that no country use large combined force of carrier, and even the ''2 carriers tactics'' of the US was mainly defensive and not offensive (Midway show how amateur they looked in that regard). But even by massing them it is not clear the success that could be achieve: even the 3 Yorktown had only 240 planes together (with roughly 90 fighters), and couldn't launch them at the same time. Against coordinated air base attack, equipped with generally better fighter, chances are the Cap wouldn't have been better.

1 hour ago, Murotsu said:

Land based aircraft also proved no alternative to carrier aircraft in a naval war.  There are a few exceptions, but when land based aircraft attacked a carrier defended naval force the land based planes usually lost and lost bad.  One reason is that they were rarely escorted by fighters and consisted of large twin engine bombers that were very vulnerable on their own.

The problem with  the land base aircraft is that many of those attack where done in the pacific, by the Army. The lack of coordination between the Japanese Army and the Japanese Navy is notorious, which showed in the lack of information going from one branch to the others. But regardless of that, nothing stopped land base aircraft to be escorted with fighters. That the Japanese failed to do so is not an evidence that it cannot be done, especially in an area like the Mediterranean where Fighter could reach almost anywhere.

 

1 hour ago, Murotsu said:

As for bomb size, the Luftwaffe generally didn't have an armor piercing bomb available simply because they saw no need for it.  Their focus was on land warfare, not naval actions. 

And still the had some. You design ships for the worst, and hope for the best.

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43 minutes ago, Murotsu said:

 

As for Illustrious...  Remember, no US carrier was sunk by bombing alone either so the fact that Illustrious survived isn't evidence of success in design, particularly when you look at the ship having to come to the US for an extended repair in port.  Britain didn't have the resources to do the job anywhere near as quickly.  In fact, I can't think of a single US fleet carrier that took a bomb hit that entered the machinery spaces...

 

And yet Illustrious survived where an equivalent carrier could have easily ended up incapacitated and scuttled/sunk after failing to leave the combat area. Not many carriers were subjected to that amount of bomb damage, and there aren't many good comparisons to be made (Franklin or Kaga perhaps?). With no Essex-spam to make up for any losses taken, I'm quite sure that surviving to fight again a year later is preferable to the Admiralty than the option that has far more risk of the ship being lost for good. Given the aforementioned relative ineffectiveness of the RN's CAP and the theater of operations, it's the right call to have 3+1 Illustrious' instead of 4 more Ark Royals or Yorktown type carriers. 

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1 hour ago, Y_Nagato said:

The problem with  the land base aircraft is that many of those attack where done in the pacific, by the Army. The lack of coordination between the Japanese Army and the Japanese Navy is notorious, which showed in the lack of information going from one branch to the others. But regardless of that, nothing stopped land base aircraft to be escorted with fighters. That the Japanese failed to do so is not an evidence that it cannot be done, especially in an area like the Mediterranean where Fighter could reach almost anywhere.

Land variant planes are superior to navy variant planes simply due to a studier construction (fixed wings are stronger than folding wings and less complex) and fewer restrictions with design in anycase.

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3 hours ago, Y_Nagato said:

And yet they didn't include a proper mass aircraft carrier in their planing. Even both CV was just for somewhat defense, they were not able to properly attack together until the aftermath of Midway.

 

Yes, the US did properly use carriers in their planning and operations.  During Coral Sea, there were two US carriers present, both operating within support distance of each other as separate task groups.  The Japanese had three present, two fleet carriers and a light carrier which they used by their doctrine to operate ahead of and separately from the two fleet carriers as a scout.

The light carrier got found and sunk operating on its own.  The two fleet carriers on both sides exchanged air strikes with damage and losses to both sides.

At Midway, the US carriers were spread apart but within supporting distance of each other.  That made it harder to find all of them unlike the Japanese who operated theirs in a traditional column of divisions formation as if they were battleships or something.  That's why when the Kido Butai was found all of their carriers came under attack.  The Japanese never located Enterprise and Hornet at Midway, just Yorktown and when the Japanese strikes were inbound for Yorktown they were intercepted by fighters from all three carriers, not just Yorktown.

So, US doctrine for carrier operations insofar as formations, steaming, and relative placement was way ahead of the IJN by 1942.

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Yes and no. It was base on the idea that they would be deployed mainly in area where land base aircraft would operate, thus making it impossible to get a proper air superiority. And sure their opponent did not had carrier, they got land base aircraft instead.

The RN never faced a situation in the North Atlantic or Mediterranean where their carriers were faced by serious fighter opposition.  Instead, they faced only attacks by bomber aircraft.  Their problem in defeating these was simply the lack of sufficient fighter aircraft on their carrier(s) to engage the attackers fully.  Most of the time they had fewer than 10 fighters available and those were often mediocre types that didn't help the situation.  HMS Eagle for most of her early operations in the Med had a single Sea Gladiator assigned for example.

The land based aircraft the RN carriers faced were usually longer ranged bomber types that far exceeded the carrier's own aircraft's range of operation.  So, the carrier couldn't project power against the bases these planes were from.  But, in the Italian case, the Italian Air Force proved singularly inept at naval aviation operations.

 

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Japanese did use quite a lot of torpedo plane, while land base aircraft from the Luftwaffe used mainly dive bombers. And Lexington did get her boiler damaged due to a 550kg bombs 2 times (Coral sea and Midway), kinda showing the danger that bombs were for that class. And sure Cap is the best way. That is if:

1: you get radar to launch them in time.

2: you got enough flat top to achieve an air superiority or, at lest, close to it.

Against land base air craft, the last part couldn't be achieve. And at the time of their design, radar was still not central in tactics.

At that time Hiryu was already greatly depleted. If the first wave was a standard one for Japanese CV (34 planes, roughly half of what she can handle), the second one was only 16 planes. That lack of plane was not due to Yortown, but to the effect of the defense at Midway, and the Japanese CV not being at full complement.

 

The Luftwaffe didn't have a torpedo bomber until 1942.

As for Lexington, her boiler damage was due to a torpedo hit on the starboard side below the island, not bomb damage.  In the Yorktown's case two boiler rooms were abandoned because of smoke from a bomb hit that didn't penetrate the armored deck which the crew in those spaces took for a fire.  There was no damage and once that was sorted out the boilers were put back online.  Lexington wasn't at Midway...

CAP is normally put up in rotation while the carrier is in a combat zone.  That is, some aircraft are aloft all the time.  There are additional planes ready on deck to supplement those if an enemy raid is detected.

In the US case, radar was in use and did detect raids at Coral Sea and Midway--and beyond.  

You don't need air superiority.  You need your CAP to effectively engage at the longest range from the carrier possible.  Kimbal and Morse (cited earlier) show that the minimum optimal range is about 40 miles.  If you can engage beyond that, it's even better.  Since the IJN was relying on their own pilots to spot and engage attacking aircraft they rarely got engagements beyond about 20 miles from their carriers, and often less.  That means the strike gets through most or all of the time.

In the US case, the strike gets decimated.  For example, the first Japanese strike on Yorktown was intercepted at 25 to 30 miles out by 17 F4F and 13 of 18 attacking torpedo and dive bombers were shot down.  The second Japanese strike lost 5 of 10.  The A6M Zeros are irrelevant to offensive operations as they are purely there to engage the CAP if and when it shows up.  The US pilots tried to ignore the Japanese fighters where they could and engage the bombers as these were the dangerous planes present.

The USN started using fighter direction aboard carriers prior to Coral Sea and with each engagement had improved the system.  For example, at Midway there were now two radio channels per carrier versus one.  Radar operations and reporting had improved.  Radar and radio were central to US tactics.  They weren't to the Japanese.

The RN by the way, actually had a better fighter control system on their carriers in 1942 than the US.  They had learned what was needed and copied the RAF one more or less.  Their problem was they had few and crappy fighter planes to use with it.

Quote

Which is true, Japanese showed that the use of vast carrier forces was the best way to use it. But before that no country use large combined force of carrier, and even the ''2 carriers tactics'' of the US was mainly defensive and not offensive (Midway show how amateur they looked in that regard). But even by massing them it is not clear the success that could be achieve: even the 3 Yorktown had only 240 planes together (with roughly 90 fighters), and couldn't launch them at the same time. Against coordinated air base attack, equipped with generally better fighter, chances are the Cap wouldn't have been better.

The Japanese system and doctrine were outdated at Midway.  Their carriers steamed in traditional formations meant for surface ships in a surface engagement.  They lacked a sound doctrine to control their CAP.  In fact, many Zero pilots had their radios removed because they felt the extra weight of an often unreliable radio wasn't worth it.

Japanese deck operations on carriers was clumsy  and slow compared to US operations.  The US deck park of aircraft became the norm for everybody and has been used ever since.  The ring formation is now a worldwide naval standard.

As for attacking land bases with carriers, the USN did that in November 1943 at Rabaul.  The number of carrier planes the US used was about equal to the Japanese planes defending the base.  The carrier planes heavily damaged 6 of 7 cruisers present along with 3 destroyers and mopped the floor against the IJAAF and IJNAF defending aircraft.  The Japanese did send about 120 planes to attack the US naval forces losing 35 and failing to do any significant damage to any US ships.

 

Quote

The problem with  the land base aircraft is that many of those attack where done in the pacific, by the Army. The lack of coordination between the Japanese Army and the Japanese Navy is notorious, which showed in the lack of information going from one branch to the others. But regardless of that, nothing stopped land base aircraft to be escorted with fighters. That the Japanese failed to do so is not an evidence that it cannot be done, especially in an area like the Mediterranean where Fighter could reach almost anywhere.

By the Army?  Do you mean the IJAAF, Japan's Army Air Force?   They almost never attacked naval targets.  The IJNAF had land based bombers that did that pretty regularly, primarily the G3M and G4M.  These were the planes that attacked Force Z off Malaya sinking Prince of Wales and Repulse.  These same types were used in the Solomons extensively.

Speaking of the Solomons, even when escorted, Japanese land based bomber aircraft took a regular beating when they ran into defensive fighters be they from a ship or land airfield.

In the Mediterranean land based fighters couldn't "reach almost anywhere."  In fact, most of the Med is out of range for fighters common in the 1939 to 1943 period and that's true for Axis fighters for the entire war.  Off Crete for example, the Luftwaffe was operating mostly bomber types along with some Me 110 but the Me 109's didn't have the range to escort the bombers to most of their targets.  It was a lack of defensive fighter planes on the British part that let the Luftwaffe dominate the sky.

As I already stated, the Italian Air Force proved singularly inept at attacking ships.  Those big red and white stripes on Italian ships were put there after their own air force bombed them (without success) on several occasions...

 

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7 hours ago, Murotsu said:

So, US doctrine for carrier operations insofar as formations, steaming, and relative placement was way ahead of the IJN by 1942.

Yorktown was too far to get support in time from the other 2. The main presence of the CAP from Enterprise and Hornet came after the first strike in order to protect her.

And if the American did get a better tactics on the defensive, the offensive of the American carrier was horrendous and chaotic. 

7 hours ago, Murotsu said:

The Luftwaffe didn't have a torpedo bomber until 1942.

Which explain why RN carrier mainly suffered from bomb hit.

 

7 hours ago, Murotsu said:

As for Lexington, her boiler damage was due to a torpedo hit on the starboard side below the island, not bomb damage.  In the Yorktown's case two boiler rooms were abandoned because of smoke from a bomb hit that didn't penetrate the armored deck which the crew in those spaces took for a fire.  There was no damage and once that was sorted out the boilers were put back online.  Lexington wasn't at Midway...

I meant Yorktown, sorry. But still, those 500 pounds were enough to dive to the 4th deck and force the engine to shutdown, something that Royal Navy carrier would not have to do by any mean.

 

7 hours ago, Murotsu said:

You don't need air superiority.  You need your CAP to effectively engage at the longest range from the carrier possible.  Kimbal and Morse (cited earlier) show that the minimum optimal range is about 40 miles.  If you can engage beyond that, it's even better.  Since the IJN was relying on their own pilots to spot and engage attacking aircraft they rarely got engagements beyond about 20 miles from their carriers, and often less.  That means the strike gets through most or all of the time.

Well, yes you do need air superiority, or at least air parity. Sending 20 cap against a wave of 40 escort will not be enough to stop the attack.

To intercept at a range of 40 miles you need radar. You cannot have enough CAP in the air to cover such radius, nor use your optical solution to spot them at such range. Also, the IJN rely more heavily on the escort ships to spot aircraft, firing salvo in the direction of the incoming planes to alert their own CAP.

7 hours ago, Murotsu said:

The Japanese system and doctrine were outdated at Midway.  Their carriers steamed in traditional formations meant for surface ships in a surface engagement.  They lacked a sound doctrine to control their CAP.  In fact, many Zero pilots had their radios removed because they felt the extra weight of an often unreliable radio wasn't worth it.

From the defensive point, sure. From the offensive point, no. The American strike were chaotic and lack in coordination in comparison with the Japanese strike on Midway the same day.

 

7 hours ago, Murotsu said:

As for attacking land bases with carriers, the USN did that in November 1943 at Rabaul.  The number of carrier planes the US used was about equal to the Japanese planes defending the base.  The carrier planes heavily damaged 6 of 7 cruisers present along with 3 destroyers and mopped the floor against the IJAAF and IJNAF defending aircraft.  The Japanese did send about 120 planes to attack the US naval forces losing 35 and failing to do any significant damage to any US ships.

The number of plane on US carrier was greater, and Rabaul was under constant attack from land base B-25 since a few days.

 

7 hours ago, Murotsu said:

In the Mediterranean land based fighters couldn't "reach almost anywhere."  In fact, most of the Med is out of range for fighters common in the 1939 to 1943 period and that's true for Axis fighters for the entire war.  Off Crete for example, the Luftwaffe was operating mostly bomber types along with some Me 110 but the Me 109's didn't have the range to escort the bombers to most of their targets.  It was a lack of defensive fighter planes on the British part that let the Luftwaffe dominate the sky.

And yet squadron of BF 109 was present. In such circumstance, more CAP could have helped, but the Luftwaffe reaction could have been to simply send more escort and at that time British fighter planes were quite bad in comparison. Plus, RN carrier were made to operate in area where storing plane on the deck was not viable, making the difference in capacity between the Yorktown and the Illustrous not that big, nor did the British had the production of plane to swarm the enemy like the US did. In such circumstance, their armored deck were quite appropriated and prove to make their carrier far more sturdier than the American one,  despite a doctrine that was not up to date.

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7 hours ago, Murotsu said:

In the Mediterranean land based fighters couldn't "reach almost anywhere."  In fact, most of the Med is out of range for fighters common in the 1939 to 1943 period and that's true for Axis fighters for the entire war.  Off Crete for example, the Luftwaffe was operating mostly bomber types along with some Me 110 but the Me 109's didn't have the range to escort the bombers to most of their targets.  It was a lack of defensive fighter planes on the British part that let the Luftwaffe dominate the sky.

While single engine fighters were restricted in the Med, Crete is a fairly poor example as the '109's did have the legs to operate north of the island where the RN had to run. The Warspite was bombed by a fighter bomber variant NW of Crete, and Fiji hit and badly damaged by the same type (later sunk) SW of Crete.

The Luftwaffe dominated the sky because the German Fliegerkorps XI had (per Correlli Barnett's 'Engage the Enemy More Closely') a tactical air force of 228 bombers, 205 dive bombers, 233 fighters and 50 reconnaissance aircraft. The Italians (as usual) apparently don't warrant a mention, but were certainly present, sinking destroyer Juno on 21 May.

Despite holding Crete and Maleme airfield the Allied order of land based air power at the outset of the Battle of Crete was 3 RAF Hurricanes, 3 RAF Gladiators and 3 Fulmars. No carrier could expect to provide decent fighter protection to itself and the rest of the RN forces around Crete against that level of air power, with that little support, and in fact Formidable wasn't even on station until 25 May. The Luftwaffe did dominate the sky due to lack of defensive planes, but no carrier would be capable there. The problem for the RN was that the RAF was playing its normal game of building up huge numbers of Spitfires in England against an invasion that will never come, and bombing the German countryside at night. Nine shore based fighters of dubious value against ~716 German aircraft.

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