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US vs UK Carriers ?

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Lone Wolf, Aug 18, 2006.

  1. Lone Wolf

    Lone Wolf New Member

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    Hi

    I read that the British aircraft carriers used in the far east were far more resistant to damage when attacked and hit than US carriers. This was because British carriers were more heavily armoured than their US equivalents - particularly the decks - the British decks were armoured whilst the American decks were wooden. At Okinawa, for example, I read that when a kamikaze plane hit an American carrier great damage was caused whereas the British carriers survived such hits relatively easily.

    I'm most interested in the thought processes behind these two different approaches to aircraft carrier design - that is, maybe the Americans saw their carriers as just mobile airstrips within a fleet of warships whilst the British saw carriers as warships in their own right - required to absorb and survive direct attack. The British experiences in the Mediteranean where they were often within reach of land based aircraft may account for this.

    These are not necessarily my opinions but I thought it may make an interesting topic.

    Any thoughts ?

    :smok:
     
  2. Ossian phpbb3

    Ossian phpbb3 New Member

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    That seems to match things I remember reading on the subject. There was a joke that, when a Kamikaze hit a carrier, the tannoy was:

    US: "All hands, man the pumps"
    UK: "Sweepers, man your brooms"

    IIRC the armoured deck carriers actually suffered long term damage as the hull became twisted out of shape due to explosion damage. This was ignored during war-time but is why most of the CVs did not last too long after the war. Also the UK carriers had a far lower aircraft capacity than their US equivalents.

    Tom
     
  3. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    The Armoured carriers had the following flaws:

    1) smaller aircraft capacity
    2) the armour simply did not protect against bombs or shells, just planes
    3) any damage took much much longer to repair
     
  4. FNG phpbb3

    FNG phpbb3 New Member

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    repair times was the biggest problem. An armoured deck is great but if it gets damaged you need a ship yard, tonnes of steel and skilled workers to fix it.

    The US used to just put decking on theirs that could be replaced by any DIY bloke with access to some planks

    FNG
     
  5. Quillin

    Quillin New Member

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    i'm not aware of the armoring of flightdecks on UK and US CV's. i knew that the British had armored deks but i'm amazed to find out that the americans only used wooden decks.

    i go with FNG. seeing america's mass production and the idea behind it it seems logical to use wood. how faster it's repaired, the faster it is back in service, the more you can use for the next battle.

    say, if a planes crashes in on a British CV, can planes still take off and land. if not, then you're better of with wood cause the effect would be the same. no planes that can use the carrier.
     
  6. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    The British carriers had to be more resistant to damage because they were far more likely to be hit. If the British carriers had been subjected to the same intensity of kamikaze attack as the American carriers, some might have been sunk.
    I have an essay on the subject of the armored carriers' war record located on the tech page at Navweaps. I wrote it to clear up some common misconceptions on the subject--for example, that the armor forced the carriers to have only a few planes when in fact the carriers were designed to carry few planes in the first place, even before the armor worked its way on board--so feel free to give it a look.
     
  7. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    Given what HMS ILLUSTRIOUS survived at the hands of Fliegerkorps 10, are you so certain of #2, Ricky? And did not INDOMITABLE survive a similar attack in 1942? There would seem to be some advantage in an armored flight deck. I have read, however, that the armored flight decks of the British carriers were designed to withstand bombs up to 500 pounds only, this being the prewar design requirement.
     
  8. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    Ah, you haven't read "The Armored Box: The War's Verdict" yet, have you?
     
  9. Ome_Joop

    Ome_Joop New Member

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  10. Lone Wolf

    Lone Wolf New Member

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    A very interesting article - thanks.
     
  11. churchill17sp

    churchill17sp New Member

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    Yes Illustrious took a lot of damage from Stukas early in the war, and still steamed away, and it took bomb hits, not Kamikazes. One description detailed how the Stukas struck with such daring that some leveled off thier dives below the height of the superstructure masts. Don't know if this was after dropping bombs or strafing runs; or maybe both were combined.
    I had read that the deck armor was intended to defeat 500lb bombs, and the side armor (of the original fully-armored design Illustrious, Formidable and Victorious at least) of 4"+ was to protect against cruiser gunfire. Essentially the aircraft complement was enclosed in an armored box. Scharnhorst & Gneisnau were scary because they were faster than these carriers!
     
  12. churchill17sp

    churchill17sp New Member

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    I referred to the armored sides of the British CV's; the armored deck of the Illustrious class was for operations within range of land-based aircraft, i.e. Mediterranean.
    The armored deck concept could be so beneficial, that the Midway-class carrier was infuenced by it.
    "Operations within range of land-based aircraft" was the spcific reason I know of for the British armored deck.
     
  13. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    A survey of bomb damage to the armored carriers shows that the armored box was all but useless against bombs.
    Midway was twice the size of Illustrious, but even so, her flight deck armor was probably a waste, if not an outright mistake. I think there some chuckles inspired by the armored deck above an open hangar.
     
  14. churchill17sp

    churchill17sp New Member

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    Yes the side armor was intended for protection from cruiser gunfire; I don't know of any incidents where gun hits were scored against these ships
     
  15. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    The closest any of the armored carriers came to getting shelled was at Matapan when Formidable was tracked as a target by one of the British battleships. Fortunately, nothing came of it.
     
  16. Ebar

    Ebar New Member

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    Bottom line they were an interesting idea and not entirely without virtue but ultimately a step in the wrong direction.
     
  17. Hoosier phpbb3

    Hoosier phpbb3 New Member

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    I would expect a substantial weight-increase due to an armored flight-deck... as compared to both the economy--and lighter weight--of a corresponding wooden American flight-deck.
    Wood also not being considered a critical war material as compared to steel-alloy.
    Wouldn't designers need to make major structural changes to their blueprints to compensate and support the added weight to keep the carrier from becoming "top-heavy?"

    Tim
     
  18. Ebar

    Ebar New Member

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    I believe that at least some American Carriers had just as much armour but it was laid out very differently. Lower in the hull it was there to protect the bits of the ship that kept it afloat and moving.
     
  19. churchill17sp

    churchill17sp New Member

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    Due to the armored flight deck, the height of the ship deck-to-water had to be lower, with corresponding lower hangar height. On Indomitable, Indefatigable, Implacable, the SECOND hangar level meant that both hangar heights were particularly low, so much so that the ships had little use postwar.
    We hear a lot about how the armored deck was "useless" or whatever, but they all survived the war; Illustrious most notably.
     
  20. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    There was a fundamental difference between the design of American and British fleet carriers. In American ships, the flight deck was superstructure; in British ships, it was the strength deck. The addition of armor was thus more "natural" than in the case of Midway.

    "We hear a lot about how the armored deck was 'useless' or whatever, but they all survived the war"
    More wooden-deck carriers survived than armored-deck carriers. (Hee!)
     

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