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Fleet versus Escort Carriers

Discussion in 'Ships & Shipborne Weaponry' started by Bob Guercio, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Sounds reasonable
    They certainly would be easy prey and would have been even worse for the wear had it not for the leadership of Ziggy Sprague and the heroics of Evans, Copeland, Hathaway & Kintberger and their stalwart crews.
    However, I would be remiss to not mention that Taffy 3's carriers would not have been fighting for their lives had Lee's battleships and Davidson's carriers not been sent off by Halsey to chase down Ozawa. Task Force 77.4 was not where they were to fight heavy Japanese surface units, but to support the ground fighting on nearby Samar. I'm not even sure that the carriers carried AP bombs for the aircraft (someone else can address that), but I do not that the initial aircraft attacks on the Japanese ships by TF 77.4 S aircraft were made by HE and antipersonnel bombs that did little more than scatter the topside crew on the Japanese ships.

    I think that smaller carriers made good sense, considering the number of smaller hulls that could be produced by various yards that lacked slips large enough to handle the bigger hulls of the fleet carriers. There simply were not enough shipyards with the capability to build large hulled ships in the numbers needed. As it was, the Essex class ships were not produced fast enough for that reason and battleship construction was limited (among other reasons), also.

    Three small ships now, to support actions that do not require great speed or aircraft capacity, sure beats waiting on shipbuilding space availability to build one big boy.
     
  2. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    While not advocating CVE's as a replacement for CV's, the comments above that some a/c could not operate from CVE's are incorrect. TBF/TBM Avengers were the heaviest of the normal carrier aircraft in the USN inventory and were routinely operated from CVE's. F6F Hellcats were routinely delivered to the fast carriers aboard CVE's and were operated under combat conditions from CVE-69 Kanaan Bay during Operation Dragoon. P-47s were launched from CVE's during the assault on Saipan and flown ashore.
     
  3. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    I don't think anyone is disputing the worth of the CVE's in their designed purpose, but if I understood the OP correctly, it's a debate as to whether the CVE could have replaced the CV. I think not.
     
  4. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    I'm not an expert but AFAIK CVE were built to merchant navy standards, I think this means the hull capability to absorb damage (number of watertight compartments and scantling spacing) and the redundancy of critical systems was not designed with battle damage in mind, this would make them very vulnerable in a high intensity combat situation, a single hit is very likely to disable them if not sink them outright. I think there is a big difference between being able to fly off a lightly loaded plane that is going to land on it's future air base a few minutes later and effectively operating it, IIRC the Wildcat was kept in production at General Motors when Grumann switched to Hellcat production to satisfy the needs of the small carriers.
    IMO the CVE could support the fleet carriers but never replace them, light carriers, built as warhips, are a different proposition, apparently both the British and the Japanese went the light carrier way, there were a lot more Majestics and Colossus than second generation Illustrious and more Amagi than the lone Tahio, I suspect part of the reasoning was that the avgas and bomb filled carriers were very vulnerable to "critical hits", no matter how well built, so having two decks rather than one was a better solution, construction times were also a factor, the fleets needed carriers ASAP and the more sofisticated fleet carriers took longer to build.
     
  5. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Gromit801,

    The USS Santee was not the only CVE to survive a torpedo hit. The HMS Nabob and HMS Thane were each hit in the stern area by German torpedoes and survived. However, the British decided it was not economical to repair them, declared both CVEs to be total constructive losses, decommissioned and placed in nominal reserve. Both ships were returned to US custody after the war and sold for scrap.

    Ironically, the Nabob would be rescued from the scrapper's torch and refurbished for commercial use. She would see long service as a merchantman, before finally being scrapped in 1976-77.
     
  6. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    Certainly there are exceptions, but look what happened to the Block Island. A properly aimed hit by a U-Boat, and down she went. They weren't called Kaiser Coffins for nothing. Exceptions can be found everywhere. The Yorktown and Hornet took a gawd awful amount of punishment before finally going down. Yet just one plane almost sank the Franklin. I mean let's be honest, a CVE will NOT withstand much more than a bomb or two, or a solid torpedo hit.
     
  7. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    I believe the term that must be used is "hits", three of them to be exact, most heavy cruisers could not take that kind of damage and survive.

    Also, worth noting, the USS Block Island was not one of the Kaiser's Coffins.

    To be fair, the Yorktown and Hornet were not caught with fully fueled and armed planes on the flight deck and in the hanger like the Franklin was.

    It is not so much a matter of how many "bombs and/or torpedoes" strike a ship, as opposed to the circumstance surrounding the damage is done by those hits. For instance, the USS Liscome Bay was lost to a single torpedo hit that detonated her after bomb magazine, the resulting explosion severed her stern aft of frame 118. The Japanese Akagi was lost because of 1 bomb hit that exploded in the hangar deck amidst aircraft being rearmed & refueled, destroyed her amidships fire curtain and disabled her hanger deck fire mains, the resulting fire caused the ship to be abandoned and later scuttled.

    I believe this to be a gross misstatement, however, by their size alone, the CVE will likely be less resistant to damage than their larger brethren.
     
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  8. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    It has far less to do with their size, than the prefabrication methods Kaiser used to build the Casablanca Class. In the best of times, they creaked and groaned. My uncle described them as sheet metal ships before he died, in a letter he wrote to my grandmother.
     
  9. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    The big difference is in how you could operate an air wing from them. Escort carriers were not just limited to fewer aircraft but, because of their slower speed, smaller deck and, having only one less efficent catapult they were limited to the types of aircraft that could be flown from them. For example, while the regular carriers by late 1944 were flying F6F Hellcats and F4U Corsair most escort carriers still had F4F or FM 2 Wildcats aboard simply because they couldn't handle the F6F or F4U aboard. The same goes with still flying the SBD in many cases.
    Their deck spot was smaller and their launch cycle cooresponding smaller too. Typically, an escort carrier had maybe 6 to 8 aircraft airborne. That is far fewer than a fleet carrier would have had up at any given time.
    Another difference is that the escort carrier had far less capacity to maintain and repair aircraft aboard compared to a fleet carrier. The aviation shops were far more limited and more sparsely equipped.
     
  10. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    IIRC modern military ships are designed to survive havig 3 contiguous flooded compartments, does anyoe have the corresponding figure for CVEs.
     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    My understanding is that when operating the newer heavier aircraft from CVE's they suffered from a number of constraints. I.e the fighters might not be able to be launched with a full load of fuel and or underwing ordinance and the Avengers might not be able to be launched with the heaviest bombs or a torpedo and a full load of fuel. For some duties these limitations weren't all that important for others they might have been.
     
  12. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    The CVE's were fitted with the H4C hydraulic catapult that was rated to accelerate 16,000 lbs to 85 mph over its 72 foot length. That could handle the maximum takeoff weight of an F6F-5 in no wind condition. It came about 2,000 lbs short of maximum takeoff weight of the TBF, but put a bit of wind over the deck and a fully loaded TBF should have been able to launch.
     
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  13. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Weren't the Casablanca Class fitted with the H2-1 catapult?

    The H2-1 initially operated at 2600psi, but was downrated in mid-'43 to 1900psi. The maximum downrated capacity was 8,800lbs. as opposed to full rated at 11,000lbs. Also, any failure of the catapult limits the CVE to just her Wildcats for operations, since they were the only aircraft that could takeoff unassisted.

    It wasn't just take-offs that posed a problem either, landings were also a major problem with the slow CVEs in no/low wind conditions.
     
  14. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    Fully loaded TBF's could and did launch form CVE's. Several TBF's from Taffy 3 did have torps aboard.

    Takao is correct about landings being an issue. Killed my uncle in the Atlantic coming in on the USS Guadalcanal.
     
  15. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    Acc. to Friedman the CVE´s had catapults that allowed them to lauch fully fueled TBF armed with heavy anti-ship torpedoes, as opposed to the much lighter ASW-fish.

    With regard to Wildcats, wasn´t their use on CVE the result of all Hellcats being needed for the fleet carriers?
     
  16. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Depends on the type of CVE.

    The nod is given to the Kaiser-built CVEs, with their slight 2-knot speed advantage & longer flight deck, as opposed to the C-3 type. The book also mentions the need for a 30-knot relative wind over the flight deck to launch a fully loaded Avenger.
     
  17. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    For some reason I thought CVE's didn't even have torpedo magazines. If Taffy 3 launched some with torpedos loaded then I guess that's wrong too.
     
  18. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    AFAIK, all the CVEs carried torpedoes. You're probably thinking of the USS Ranger, which had been built without torpedo storage, although it was added at a later date. IIRC, the USS Wasp operated for a time without torpedoes, but I can't recall where I read that.
     
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