back to article And then there were two: HMS Prince of Wales joins Royal Navy

HMS Prince of Wales, second of the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, has been commissioned today at Portsmouth Naval Dockyard. Dignitaries gathered in Portsmouth for the warship’s formal commissioning ceremony, the vessel having been formally handed to the Royal Navy by her builders yesterday. The Prince of Wales …

  1. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Not true to say the RN hadn't realised battleships were vulnerable to air attack, they had after all carried out several practical demonstrations against the Germans and Italians. The PoW and Repulse lacked air cover because a) there wasn't a lot around and b) the Admiral in charge of the task group assumed the staff in Singapore would realise his intent and therefore didn't break radio silence, consequently no one knew where to send what there was. The Japanese only found the pair* by luck on the way back from where they thought they'd be, hence a number of the attackers were low on fuel in the first wave.

    *There were also two destroyers but they managed to survive and rescue the survivors from the battleships.

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Thank you. Accurate and informed comment.

      1. noboard
        Trollface

        quick, to the downvotes

        1. OssianScotland Silver badge

          No, this isn't the Daily Fail

    2. GrumpyKiwi

      Bloody Shambles

      I've just been re-reading Bloody Shambles, a history of the air war in SE Asia during 1941 and 1942.

      The RN had realised a year back that only a minimum of three battleships, a carrier, three heavy cruisers and at least ten destroyers would represent a serious and viable task force against the Japanese. However almost none of that was available at the time, and those that were, were not necessarily the best choices for the role.

      For example HMS Prince of Wales had been designed from the start for service in European waters. Her cooling was entirely inadequate for tropical service and among the first things to break from the heat were her radar systems. HMS Repulse on the other hand was designed to serve anywhere in the British empire - conditions onboard her were significantly more comfortable than on PoW. When other ships of the KGV class were sent to the Pacific in 1944, they were first given a major upgrade of air conditioning systems (and a nice "harmless" protective layer of asbestos).

      The RAF had offered to have a CAP of 6 Buffalo aircraft overhead during daylight hours at all times. This was turned down by Admiral Philips because he was a desk jocky with zero recent experience of ship operations and didn't understand the need for top cover. He probably would have done equally poorly had a carrier been available. Even just 6 fighters could have caused a lot of havok with the unescorted Japanese torpedo bombers.

      Finally the IJN pilots of the time were first class while the training of the RAF pilots in the region ... left a lot to be desired. (For example there was almost no aerial gunnery training as it wore out the guns and required more maintenance than was available).

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: Bloody Shambles

        Also worth noting the decision to send the PoW and Repulse to Singapore was entirely Churchill's against the advice from the RN who'd wanted them at Ceylon. This would have held them as a fleet in being, complicating Japanese plans, because as you say, on their own they weren't considered sufficient.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: Bloody Shambles

          Churchill's fears for Singapore were well founded, as the world found out just a few weeks later.

          Politicians have different priorities from military commanders, which is why they get to "outrank" them.

          1. GrumpyKiwi

            Re: Bloody Shambles

            Singapore was a mixed of a military and a civilian screw up.

            For example the military wanted to employ a whole lot more dock workers to get goods off supply ships as quickly as possible when they arrived. The Governor General of Malaya was opposed as it would almost certainly raise the wages of the people working in the rubber plantations and tin mines - the owners of which were his golfing chums. The result - a number of freighters loaded with urgently needed supplies were sunk at their berth, still unloaded.

            On the other hand the military was also being run on a peacetime basis, even after the Japanese attacked. A story is told of an Australian unit that tried to get mines and barbed wire to help protect the shore they were guarding. A unit was sent to the supply depot to get some - it was closed because it was Saturday.

            It was not the Empire's finest moment. The US at least could point to Bataan holding out until April - exactly what it was supposed to do under the old War Plan Orange. Singapore, "the Gibraltar of the Far East" lasted a week.

          2. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: Bloody Shambles

            Singapore could have been defended, but the plans would have to have been entirely different and laid years before.

            Number one priority: massive air cover. They needed a LOT of modern fighters, preferably long-range types capable of shooting down Japanese bombers before they got near. Also bombers and fighter-bombers to destroy troop transports before they reached the beaches. And good reconnaissance aircraft.

            To back those up, a fleet would have been nice to have - but hardly essential. And the 250,000 soldiers weren't really much use either.

            1. SkippyBing Silver badge

              Re: Bloody Shambles

              Unfortunately the RAF insisted on hoarding Spitfires in the UK* and using them for fighter-sweeps over the Continent a task for which they were ill suited. As opposed to intercepting enemy bombers which would have been useful in say, Singapore. But then some of the Air Ministry's pre-war doctrine was worse than the RN's when it came to the test.

              *I think they had ~100 squadrons of them at the time.

              1. Outski

                Re: Bloody Shambles

                Ironically, at the outbreak of hostilities in Europe, colonialists/ex-pats in Malaya were raising funds to pay for squadrons in Blighty: my grandfather's squadron was 38 (Straits Settlement) Squadron, the Straits Settlement referring at the time to Penang, Malacca and Singapore (38 was part of bomber command).

              2. GrumpyKiwi

                Re: Bloody Shambles

                Don't know why you got downvoted. Leigh-Mallory should have been awarded the Iron Cross for his services to Germany while in charge of Fighter Command. The Middle and Far East were crying out for good aircraft and crew while he was wasting them in pointless sweeps.

                That being said, when Spitfire pilots did first clash with Zero's, they got the same bloodied nose as everyone else who tried to dogfight with a Zero.

                1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

                  Re: Bloody Shambles

                  The Spitfires tried to dogfight with the Zeroes. This had originally been tried by the American Volunteer Group/"Flying Tigers", but they found that their P-40s were consistently out-turned by the nimble Zeroes. So after some failures, the Flying Tigers settled on the tactic of attacking Zeroes from high altitude and then diving away from them. The Zeroes were not all that fast, and had what by American standards were underpowered fuel pumps, which made it impossible for them to keep up with the P-40s in climbs or dives. The P-40s then regained altitude and repeated the same tactic against the lightly armored and vulnerable Zeroes.

                  The Flying Tigers passed this info along to both the British and U.S. Air Forces (The Flying Tigers were not part of the U.S. Air Force until a few months after Pearl Harbor, but were instead a mercenary air force created to help the Chinese and protect the Burma Road to China). Both air forces ignored the advice until they learned the same lessons the Flying Tigers did, at much cost.

              3. ITMA

                Re: Bloody Shambles

                Lack of aircraft was not always the issue.

                Malta, for instance, had aircraft to provide air cover, just almost no fuel to fly them. Until the somewhat daring dash (some would say running battle) by the SS Ohio (the fastest tanker the Allies could lay their hands on) to resupply them (Operation Pedestal).

                It made it - just.

                http://www.usmm.org/malta.html

        2. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Bloody Shambles

          As of 1941 no number of battleships constituted a fleet.

          Unless accompanying (note: rather than "accompanied by") several fleet carriers, they were already nothing more than a liability.

          And, as the Battle of Midway demonstrated, even four large fleet carriers sailing together under unified command were not sufficient protection unless very carefully handled.

          (To be fair, the Japanese were trying to occupy Midway Island, and weren't even sure if there were any US carriers in the vicinity).

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Bloody Shambles

            Archtech,

            As of 1941 no number of battleships constituted a fleet.

            Depends what you mean by a fleet. And depends what you wanted them to do. Although airpower was very important, it was also very short range.

            So where you had land based airpower available, you didn't need carriers. Equally there were plenty of situations where airpower was limited and then a battleship could still be a perfectly acceptable and survivable choice of ship for a particular role.

            AA fire was reasonably effective - as the heavy losses of carrier planes in many engagements would attest. One of the early war Japanese advantages was there preponderence of fast battleships - which meant that the US carriers always had to worry about where the Japanese might get to at night - when their planes didn't fly. And also at the end of a battle, when the air groups were tiny due to combat losses and planes damaged beyond repair.

            One of the unappreciated things that enabled to the RAF to win the Battle of Britain was that our fighter production was way higher than the Germans even by 1940. And that RAF doctrine was to try to have about 15 pilots and 20-odd planes per squadron - but only ever fly 12 at a time. Thus the fewer squadrons of Fighter Group 11 were replenished at night - and also moved to rear areas to rest and replaced by those from quieter sectors in the Midlands and North.

            Whereas the German staffel often had more pilots than planes and flew in nines. But maybe with 20 pilots and 12 planes.

            Military Intelligence ("a contradiction in terms" as the old joke goes) on both sides fucked this up. The RAF looked at the Germans and saw all these squadrons and assumed there were 20 planes in each - and were all depressed. The Germans looked at the smaller number of RAF squadrons and assumed we probably had loads of pilots but many fewer planes. So were overconfident. Hence that awful raid on Newcastle they launched with unescorted bombers in daylight in August 1940 - assuming that all the fighters must have been drawn down South by now - only to find fully operational squadrons up there that shot most of the bombers down.

      2. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Bloody Shambles

        For example HMS Prince of Wales had been designed from the start for service in European waters.

        The last oil fired French aircraft carrier has the same problem - could hardly raise steam in the Persian Gulf. Also Trafalgar class SSNs were apparently pretty toasty inside in Gulf waters, but at least they could still operate.

        This was turned down by Admiral Philips because he was a desk jocky with zero recent experience of ship operations and didn't understand the need for top cover.

        Sharkey Ward, RN Harrier pilot in the Falklands War grumbled about the fleet’s Admiral who was a submariner and not deeply involved in the nuances of air combat. The opening phases of the war were all about maritime air combat... Without wishing to open up that particular minefield of debate too much, I have always wondered about the RN, nay, the entire HMG’s view that above a certain rank / grade everyone is equally competent in all fields. Don’t know if it pervades Gov/Mil to this current day.

        1. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Bloody Shambles

          "I have always wondered about the RN, nay, the entire HMG’s view that above a certain rank / grade everyone is equally competent in all fields".

          In my experience exactly the same prevails (mutatis mutandis) in the world of business. Managers who believe that "management" is a sublime talent, and those who possess it can manage anything.

          Utter rubbish, of course.

          1. Drat

            Re: Bloody Shambles

            "In my experience exactly the same prevails (mutatis mutandis) in the world of business. Managers who believe that "management" is a sublime talent, and those who possess it can manage anything."

            Managing is an art form for for sure. However the best managers know they have to take counsel from experts

            1. Archtech Silver badge

              Re: Bloody Shambles

              "Managing is an art form for for sure. However the best managers know they have to take counsel from experts".

              Some of whom will be their own employees.

              The best manager I ever worked for described himself as an equal member of the team, whose focus was on administration. He was one of those who saw a large part of his job as being to remove obstacles from his people's path before they tripped over them - not after.

              1. BigSLitleP Silver badge

                Re: Bloody Shambles

                I once lead a team of engineers on a project for HMG. We switched to a new project manager who then asked for a list of staff and their job titles with a description of what they did. When the list was sent round, i saw my name with a title and description of "Team Manger, problem solver". Considering it was one of my underlings that wrote the list, i was pretty chuffed with myself :)

                I take and ask for advice from people that are above and below me in the pay grades. My job is to keep the wheels turning, not get snobby about where the info comes from.

              2. sandman

                Re: Bloody Shambles

                I had one of those managers. Keeping with the military theme here, he provided top cover for us. To quote him. "I'll protect your backs and then bask in the reflected glory of your successes."

                1. Stork Silver badge

                  Re: Bloody Shambles

                  I had one of those too - absolutely wonderful.

                  What made it even better was the the client was quite formal and pushy, and this guy had a rather relaxed appearance (~ Mr. Johnson, without tie). But it happened a few times there were exchanges with the client along the lines:

                  Client: why have you not done this?

                  Project Manager: because you at the meeting dd/mm agreed to XXX

                  - and he could tell people they were wrong without offending them.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bloody Shambles

          entire HMG’s view that above a certain rank / grade everyone is equally competent in all fields

          I believe that within government itself, that statement is true. Unfortunately the level of competence which everyone reaches equally is particularly low.

          1. A Nother Handle
            Holmes

            Re: Bloody Shambles

            You only need to look at cabinet reshuffles to find the evidence.

        3. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Bloody Shambles

          'I have always wondered about the RN, nay, the entire HMG’s view that above a certain rank / grade everyone is equally competent in all fields'

          I wouldn't say that's true, i.e. a logistics officer of any rank will never have command of any type of ship, never mind an aircraft carrier. That Admiral Philips had been working in a staff job is to a certain extent typical, people with operational experience need to cycle in to HQ jobs to ensure the knowledge there is relevant and at some point they may come back out and go to another front line role. Plus you can't leave people on the front line forever, they burn out.

          Philips knew there was a need for air cover, but he assumed the staff in Singapore would divine his movements in response to the signals they were sending him. Therefore he trusted wouldn't need to call for it in advance and potentially give his position away to the enemy. The Hunting of Force Z by Richard Hough has quite a good insight into the whole situation based on the survivors recollections.

        4. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Bloody Shambles

          One other point about Admiral Philips, he was sent at Churchill's insistence and not at the choice of the Admiralty. One of many cases, in both wars, of Churchill micro managing things that he should have kept out of.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Bloody Shambles

            SkippyBing,

            The loss at the battle of Coronel was at least partly Churchill's fault. He got all over-excited about forming this hunting group to sort out the German cruisers - including sending a battleship - but it as a crappy Canopus class one (the actual Canopus as I recall) that was basically obsolete within four years of being produced - when Dreadnought was launched. And it basically wasn't fit for duty. The only modern ship in the force, the light cruiser Glasgow, survived and was there for revenge at the battle of the Falklands - when the RN sent the ships they should have bloody sent in the first place. i.e. Battlecruisers. The battlecruiser was designed for protecting the imperial sea lanes from commerce raiding - as it was vastly more dangerous than anything that could catch it and fast enough to run away from anything that could easily kill it. Sadly they were so expensive and shiny that they got used in the main fleet - where they were then often badly used by Beatty., who didn't seem to know when to run away.

            1. SkippyBing Silver badge

              Re: Bloody Shambles

              Canopus actually didn't make it to the Battle of Coronel, having failed to get around Cape Horn in time.* She ended up being grounded in Port Stanley harbour to act as a fixed battery, with a phone line over the hill to an observation post. Consequently when von Spee's task group turned up she actually scored the first hit while the Battlecruisers were getting steam up, having just finished coaling.

              Oddly the choice of Sturdee as the Admiral in charge of Invincible and Inflexible was also Churchill's choice, although this was mainly to get him out of the Admiralty where he didn't get on with his immediate boss Fisher.

              The Battle of the Falklands may indeed have been about the only occasion Battlecruisers were used properly!

              *There's a line of thinking that her Captain knew it would be a suicide mission but no real proof.

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                Re: Bloody Shambles

                Surely if you needed to get people out of the Admiralty every time they'd fallen out with Jackie Fisher, there'd be nobody left. The man may have been a genuis, but you must have needed the patience of a saint to deal with him.

        5. x 7

          Re: Bloody Shambles

          Where's Lewis Page when you need him?

    3. Mooseman Silver badge

      My old languages teacher won the DFC for sinking the Italian "Trento".

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Trento

        That was one huge mother of a cruiser! As big as the Hippers or the largest Japanese cruisers.

        Of course, to a Beaufighter or a sub, that just made it an easier target...

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. WolfFan Silver badge

      Re: History repeats itself

      Sigh. Error #1: the old PoW was a superdreadnought battleship, not a carrier.

      Error #2: British major fleet operations in the region resumed in 1944, less than two years after old PoW was sunk, with the arrival of British Far East Fleet, later British Pacific Fleet. BPF was the single most powerful British fleet ever and included multiple aircraft carriers, none of which were sunk by the Japanese. Every one of the fleet carriers was hit at least once by kamikazes off Okinawa in 1945; all were conducting flight operations within 90 minutes of being hit. American carriers which got hit were severely damaged and put out of operation, in one case having to be towed back to Pearl Harbor and then to San Diego for repairs. Of course, the Americans had a lot more carriers than did BPF, BPF was effectively the strength of a single task group.

      Error #3: the last air-to-air kill of WWII as made by a New Zealander flying a Seafire off one of BPF’s carriers on the morning of 15 August 1945; BPF was then roaming up and down the coast of the Japanese home islands, doing what the Royal Navy has done to enemy coasts for 300+ years: shooting the shit out of it. Far from being sunk, they were trailing the White Ensign and daring the Japanese to come and do something about it. As most of the Japanese navy was sunk and the air forces were very low on fuel and even lower on trained aircrew, BPF owned the water.

      Error #4: British carriers would return to the region in 1950. Four Sea Fury piston-engine fighters on their way back from an airstrike were jumped by eight MiG 15 jets. The RN fighters killed two MiGs in return for one Sea Fury damaged. The North Koreans/Chinese/Russians declined to contest the airspace near British carriers thereafter.

      In short, the RN saw considerable action in the region after PoW was sunk, but did not lose a carrier there (one carrier, with no aircraft embarked, was sunk by the Japanese in the western Indian Ocean in 1942; it was running for East Africa and didn’t make it and got whacked by the air groups from six Japanese carriers)but rather came as close to ruling the waves as any British force ever has.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: History repeats itself

        "...the old PoW was a superdreadnought battleship..."

        True, but why use the prehistoric term "superdreadnought"? In 1900 all battleships were what came to be called "predreadnoughts" after the launch of HMS "Dreadnought" in 1906. Her "ultra-modern" layout featured a single calibre of main armament in dual turrets, and strictly limited secondary armament.

        The term "superdreadnought" came into vogue about 1912-14 when much larger ships of the dreadnought type were built - such as the Royal Navy's "Queen Elizabeth" class. After 1918, the term became redundant as, apart from one or two museum pieces, all battleships were "superdreadnoughts".

        That said, PoW and her sister ships were "austerity" battleships. Laid down in the 1930s when the British government was desperately short of cash, they embodied many undesirable compromises - although not as many as HMS "Nelson" and "Rodney", which looked for all the world as if their back third had been chopped off with shears. (Rather like a Smart Car).

        PoW had 14-inch guns, whereas new German and Italian battleships had 15-inch, and of course the Americans had 16-inch. (Always one up!) The best that could be said of the "KGV" class - like so much British equipment - was that they were serviceable. One of the last messages from the German battleship/battlecruiser "Scharnhorst" before she was sunk on Boxing Day, 1943 stated that she was engaged with a "heavy battleship" - meaning "King George V" herself. Mind you, "Scharnhorst", like "Bismarck" before her, was mobbed by RN ships, like a stag at bay, as none of them could match her for both speed and fighting power.

        1. OssianScotland Silver badge

          Re: History repeats itself

          IIRC the 14" main battery was mandated by the then current Second London Treaty - original designs included 15" (3x3?). The original KGV design was for 3x4, but this was thought to be too top heavy and the final (2x4 & 1x2) design was adopted.

          The treaty had an "escalator clause" which allowed bigger designs with up to 16" guns - the US used this for the NC and SoDak classes. The RN had already ordered guns (treaty compliant) and the delay in building 16" guns and mounts would have been too much.

          1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

            Re: History repeats itself

            The Japanese made a couple of battleships with 18" guns. One was sunk at sea by US aircraft. I no longer remember what happened to the other.

          2. ITMA

            Re: History repeats itself

            Rodney and Nelson (Nelson class launched 1925) both had 16" guns - three turrets each mounting three 16" guns. Albeit in a rather "odd" arrangement for the time.

            Firing broadsides from such armaments did, however, have a tendency to cause appreciable damage to the firing vessel, particularly at low elevations.

        2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: History repeats itself

          Archtech,

          The problem with the KGVs, as has already been stated was that they were treaty compliant. Which compromised their design. Whereas the Germans, Italians and Japanese didn't have that problem, since they simply broke the treaty. I seem to recall the official displacement of Bismarck was 32,000 tonnes - rather than the 40,000+ that it actually was.

          Also I'm not sure you're totally correct about the super-dreadnought thing. There were still quite a lot of older sub 25 knot battleships hanging around by WWII - that weren't a great deal more capable than their dreadnought counterparts from WWI. Whereas 30 knot fast battleships were at a premium - and included only the most modern or the ones that had been fully refitted between the wars. Like at least some of the Queen Elizabeth class - which were still pretty effective having served in both wars.

          1. Robert Sneddon Bronze badge

            Re: History repeats itself

            Re: the speed of pre-WWII battleships

            A statement, possibly apocryphal, attributed to a USN senior officer was that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had done the Navy a service, turning it from an 20-knot Navy into a 25-knot Navy by sinking a couple of the obsolete WW1-era battleships still in service.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: History repeats itself

              Robert Sneddon,

              I was going to type something like that about the US battleships in Pearl. But couldn't remember how many of them were old and slow, and how many modern. However from memory quite a few of them were pretty short range, as well as slow - and were pretty much useless at Pearl Harbour. The US Navy was not forward-deployed to protect the Philipines - something that had been discussed pre-war but not done for various reasons. But that's where those battleships would have needed to be based, to be useful. However that would have meant the ground troops (and more importantly) large airforce reqired to protect them - which the US simply didn't have. Which I'd imagine is why they didn't do it.

              This wouldn't have made much difference to the fate of the battleships, but would have made saving the carriers a much more uncertain proposition in 41.

              1. Robert Sneddon Bronze badge

                The speed of the slowest ship

                The USS Arizona, sunk at its mooring in the Pearl Harbor attack was commissioned in 1916 and had a theoretical maximum speed of 21 knots but given its age and the general lack of maintenance expected of a peacetime navy it would probably struggle to maintain 20 knots over a period of a few days of hard pursuit or evasion of a more modern enemy force.

                The problem is that if the Arizona or battleships like her were part of an battlegroup then that group could only manoeuvre at the best speed of the slowest ship present. Contemporary capital ships like the fleet carrier USS Wasp (CV-7) could manage 29 knots, cruisers and destroyers ditto. It was believed that contemporary Japanese battleships could manage 26 knots meaning they could choose to engage or evade a slower USN battlegroup hobbled by its 20-knot battleships, a major tactical advantage on their part.

                In the end it was moot, carriers ate the BB's lunch all over the Pacific, even the faster more modern ones. There were few Big Iron vs. Big Iron engagements and they were mostly sideshows to the carrier fleet actions. The 27-knot Musashi and Yamato were sunk by air power even after a mid-war refit to cover them with AA guns, replacing a couple of triple 8" wing turrets meant to defend against torpedo-firing destroyers and cruisers which, it turned out were not the real threat.

        3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: History repeats itself

          The major engagement that caused Sharnhorst's demise was with KGV. At the time, the British ships were doing what they had done before with Bismark, keeping tabs on where the enemy was, and trying to get the major units, in this case KGV to a position to attack.

          Because the British had more functional radar, this could be done in all weather and at night. IIRC, the accounts I read, Scharnhorst had radar, but it was either non-functional or had been damaged by Norfolk.

          I can't remember the exact track, but I believe that Scharnhorst was attempting to get back to where there was air cover under the cover of darkness, and was caught completely by surprise by the night action where KGV engaged in the dark with radar controlled gunfire.

          The initial damage that would lead to the sinking was done by the 14" guns of KGV (which were a significant advantage compared to the 11", or strictly speaking 28cm guns of Scharnhorst), both in terms of range and destructive power, although the battle was fought at relatively close range compared to other big ship engagements.

          Sufficient damage was done in the initial couple of skirmishes that it became possible for the cruisers and even destroyers to get involved as Scharnhorst's offensive capabilities dropped due to damage.

          But like Bismark before it, gunfire alone proved unable to sink the German ship. She was in no way a functional ship towards the end, and given the state of the German war machine, would never fight again, but it was important to the British that Scharnhorst was sunk, so the swarm was really the cruisers and escorts closing in to try to strike with torpedoes after the main damage had been done. KGV had ceased attacking once it was likely that the smaller ships could get in to torpedo range.

          I believe that there was some concern about either the amount of shells left on board KGV, or that the wear on the guns themselves was becoming significant, but KGV broke off before Scharnhorst was sunk,

      2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

        Re: History repeats itself

        The British carriers were harder for a kamikaze (or plain old bomb) to damage, for they had steel flight decks. The downside to this was greater weight and a shorter range on equivalent fuel. I believe this was because the British anticipated carrier operation would mostly take place within range of land-based aircraft. Of course, it was was not possible to support landings on Okinawa (or Leyte) without coming into range of land-based aircraft, and the US carriers and other craft suffered.

        My impression is that Seafire was not at fault for maneuverability or speed, but had too high a landing speed to be a good carrier plane. The critic Frank Kermode, an officer in the RNVR during WW II says that it was unfortunately common to see one go into the water after takeoff or landing. The USN kept control of its aircraft procurement, and favored rather stubby planes with rotary engines, as easier to get off and on a deck.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: History repeats itself

          The other problem with the Seafire was difficulty in landing the aircraft partly due to the comparatively narrow track of the landing gear, which made damage during landings in heavy sea conditions more likely.

          If you look at the landing gear of the US planes designed principally for carrier operations, the wheels swung outboard from the middle of the plane, meaning that the distance between the wheels when down was much wider than the Seafire, which had wheels that swung inboard towards the middle. This made the Seafire much less stable, and more prone to damage.

          Also the view of the flight desk was poor when landing due to the nose-up landing attitude, where the long nose of the Seafire, with it's upright Merlin, blocked the pilot's view as the plane came in.

          There were several other design features of the Spitfire that made it's marine version difficult to operate from carriers. The first really excellent British carrier based aircraft was the Hawker Sea Fury, which was too late for WWII, but proved superb in the Korean police action.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: History repeats itself

            Even the land version of the Spitfire was pretty notorious for being hard to land - and dangerous to inexperienced pilots. I guess there's only a limited number of faults you can iron out when navalising an aircraft.

            Also Britain suffered (and benefitted) from a wartime philosphy of picking a weapons system that was "good enough", and then producing lots of it. This meant we had more stuff than the notorious tinkerers in Germany (who produced a million versions of everything) and had a much simple supply chain. But chose sub-optimal solutions to do it - where thee Americans had the resources and factory capacity to take the middle ground and allow more complexity (without going as mad as the Germans).

            Eric Brown said that taking off from a carrier when trying out the Mosquito was almost as dangerous as landing it where stall speed was 100-ish and the maximum speed the arrestor wire would accept without breaking was 75mph. So he was forced to land it at slower than stall speed by what he described as "hanging it off the propellers"! I think over-flaring on landing and using the props to generate lift - phew what a loony!

            Anyway he had to take off on full rudder because the twin engine plane didn't use contra-rotating props - like the US and German ones did. That meant you could just use the same Merlin engine as a Spitfire / Hurricane, without having to botther with a complex gear system or having special left and right engines. But meant he almost fell off the left side of the flight deck.

            Did I mention that the man had giant brass balls and nerves of steel - not to mention an amazing bunch of maths guys backing him up and making sure the stuff he did was at least theoretically possible?

    2. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: History repeats itself

      The Japanese sank no British aircraft carriers in the South China Sea.

      They did sink one, the Hermes, but that was just off Sri Lanka, half an ocean away from the sea in question.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Coat

      The lesson here

      Never mess with history buffs unless you like getting spanked. Hard.

      1. Benson's Cycle

        Re: The lesson here

        Sadly I realise that the joke, if joke it was, fell extremely flat.

        1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

          Re: The lesson here

          Sadly I realise that the joke, if joke it was, fell extremely flat sank without a trace.

          FTFY

          1. Benson's Cycle

            Re: The lesson here

            In future I shall not do Catullus-based posts on the Reg., nor shall I allude to the fact that a PM who thinks he is Churchill II has a remarkable lack of knowledge of history. I shall in fact follow a strict policy of not casting layered calcium carbonate deposits of marine origin in front of beasts considered unfit for Hebrew consumption.

            I'm not quite sure what I did to offend you and Monett, though.

  3. EvilDrSmith

    "The old PoW was sent by British admirals into an area of the South China Sea without adequate air cover, along with battlecruiser HMS Repulse. At the time the British hadn’t realised that surface ships were very vulnerable to air attack from large numbers of modern, fast aircraft"

    To be fair, the ships were supposed to have an aircraft carrier as part of the force, but it ran aground and required dry-dock repairs.

    Also to be fair, there appears to have been minimal co-operation between the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, and it really should have been better.

    To be fair #3, I'm not sure that any large capital ship had been sunk by aircraft while free to manoeuvre in open water at the time: the Italian losses at Taranto weren't free to move about, Bismarck was damaged by aircraft but ultimately done in by surface warships.

    1. WolfFan Silver badge

      The carrier which was supposed to be with them ran aground on a reef near Kingston, Jamaica, harbour, after her captain refused assistance from a local harbour pilot, saying, and I quote: “The Royal Navy has no need for interference from damn nigger pilots.” Yeah. Right.

      Her air group included Fulmars and Sea Hurricanes and would have made things interesting for the unescorted Japanese Army land-based torpedo planes. Right until some Hayabusas showed up to escort the bombers. The Sea Hurris would probably hold, but the Fulmars would be toast. The Japanese would then press the attack, and would have added a carrier to their bag unless the force commander showed sense and ran away really fast. And even that wouldn’t save them once Kido Butai showed up and showed the Army how to sink ships. Kido Butai was the best trained, best equipped, most experienced, and most powerful naval air force in the world at that time, its Zeros would have eaten the Sea Hurris alive, and its torpedo planes and dive bombers would have wiped out the entire force. That’s what they did in the Indian Ocean not even a month later, after all.

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Carrier/No Carrier

        The question of the importance of having a carrier present during the events of 1944, South China Sea, Battleships 'n' Dreadnoughts the sinking of, are of little interest as they include no tanks whatsoever. What good a superdreadnought class ship absent the mighty Cromwell, doubty Churchill or the redoubtable Panther ausf G?

        1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Re: Carrier/No Carrier

          Split the difference and send in the old TOG II. Never a finer ship did sail the plains of northern France.

        2. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Carrier/No Carrier

          I don't think tanks would have helped to crap during sea battle. Or am I missing something?

          1. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: Carrier/No Carrier

            Well, the Panther Ausf G (beautiful beast that it is) was never sunk by the Royal Navy, the US Navy or any of the Anzac forces. That immediately puts it ahead of the entire German and Imperial Japanese fleets.

            1. James Ashton
              Mushroom

              Re: Carrier/No Carrier

              The Royal Navy definitely did destroy some German tanks though. A WWI-vintage destroyer tied up Boulogne evacuating troops in May 1940 used 4.7" guns very effectively on tanks advancing on the quay.

            2. Archtech Silver badge

              Re: Carrier/No Carrier

              Ironically, the superb German 88mm anti-tank gun, which was later fitted in the Tiger and other armoured fighting vehicles, was originally based on a naval weapon. As were certain Soviet anti-tank guns.

              1. Benson's Cycle

                Re: Carrier/No Carrier

                I believe it was originally an AA gun.

                1. Archtech Silver badge

                  Re: Carrier/No Carrier

                  I didn't want to get into too lengthy an account.

                  But I think it was a naval gun as early as WW1; then it was brought ashore as a Flak gun; then people like Rommel noticed that, though incredibly clumsy and heavy, it was very useful for blowing the turrets off enemy tanks at long range.

                  At the battle of Arras (1940), an attack by Matilda IIs cut right through the advancing German forces like a knife through butter. Although tiny by modern standards, the Matilda II has been described as "the Tiger of 1940": it could easily knock out any German tank, and was invulnerable to their guns. The Matildas were stopped only when Rommel creatively requisitioned a battery of 88mm Flak which smashed the Matildas.

                  The Germans took note and began to cart 88s around with them, although weighing 5 tons or so this was no easy task. It was natural to think of making them self-propelled, and the first implementation was the huge "Ferdinand" (later "Elefant") SPG, followed by the Tiger E, Tiger B, and Jagdpanther.

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arras_%281940%29

                  1. Benson's Cycle

                    Re: Carrier/No Carrier

                    Apparently 88mm was a common bore of the German Navy. The original AA gun was to be 75mm bore but as it was developed it migrated to 88mm because that was a standard. The 88mm gun bore no other relation to naval guns.

                    A pity really, because if it had been a development of the naval 88mm the Allies might possibly have stepped in to prevent its development and history could have been very different.

            3. OssianScotland Silver badge

              Re: Carrier/No Carrier

              I don't know if any Panthers were involved, but the naval bombardment during / after the Normandy landings definitely did some damage to German armour.

              1. Mooseman Silver badge

                Re: Carrier/No Carrier

                My old man was there doing just that.

                1. Benson's Cycle

                  Re: Carrier/No Carrier

                  My father's LCT had its tanks firing before he reached the beach, So I guess technically tanks have been used as naval weapons.

                  1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                    Re: Carrier/No Carrier

                    I'm pretty sure that during the PQ17 arctic convoy screw up at least one of the merchant ships armed the tanks on deck with the aim of using their guns for defence.

              2. Archtech Silver badge

                Re: Carrier/No Carrier

                Yes, even the Tigers weren't designed to soak up the impact of a one-ton high explosive shell...

          2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

            Re: Carrier/No Carrier

            I remember watching something on the beeb a few years ago about the Arctic convoys (I think it was a Jezza Clarkson job). There was a story about how a lone merchant ship was on the run from German ships through an ice floe. The captain took the rather brave decision to stop next to a nice large flat iceberg, unload his cargo of tanks and line them up with guns pointing towards the enemy.

      2. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Sea Hurricanes and Fulmars were also outclassed by the aircraft of the Italian and German Air forces in the Mediterranean. They still prevented ships being sunk, indeed during Op Pedestal no ships were sunk by aircraft while they had a carrier escort. The key was breaking up the incoming raids making it easier for the ships to take out the individual aircraft and preventing coordinated strikes. The key to this was radar and fighter control. So the outcome is nowhere near as certain as your top trumps analysis would suggest.

        Also I'm fairly sure all the aircraft involved were from the Japanese Navy who had an extensive range of land based attack aircraft. It would have been impressive if the Kido Butai had turned up as at the time they were on the way back from Hawaii, which is quite a long way from Malaysia. I doubt the PoW task group would have hung around waiting for them.

        Have you got a source for your quote by Indomitable's Captain? I haven't come across it in anything I've read about her.

        1. WolfFan Silver badge

          The aircraft which killed PoW and Rep were Japanese army twin-engined bombers, Betty and Nell types flying out of Saigon. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinking_of_Prince_of_Wales_and_Repulse Nells are Army aircraft. It was torpedoes from Nells which got both ships, the Bettys were next to useless.

          My source for the quote by the great captain who didn't need a nigger pilot is the nigger pilot. It was quite well known in Jamaica for a very long time. I met his son when I was in Jamaica far too many years ago, and then I met him. The great man was not the first, nor the last, to come to grief near Kingston harbour. There are numerous wrecks still hard aground, what's left of them, on reefs and sandbars and the Palisadoes itself. Exactly how the hell they managed to hit the Palisadoes is left as an exercise for the student. Apparently map-reading is a forgotten art. https://www.google.com/maps/place/Palisadoes/ Those who recall old movies should know the Palisadoes from the first Bond movie. Yeah, several someones managed to hit that instead of the entrance to the harbour, at full speed, at least one driving the ship up on the beach and breaking its back. I guess he didn't need a pilot either.

          It's one thing for Sea Hurris and Fulmars to hold off Bf 109s and assorted Italian bi and mono plane fighters while hunting Ju-87s and -88s and assorted Italian trimotors. It's a whole other thing to go toe to toe with Kido Butai's air group. For one thing, there were over four hundred aircraft embarked aboard Kido Butai's carriers at that time, or more than ten times the total that Indomitable carried at the time. The Sea Hurris and Fulmars would have tried, and would have been swamped by sheer force of numbers, never mind that Zeros were superior to both of them.

          1. SkippyBing Silver badge

            Sorry even Wikipedia says Nells and Bettys were naval aircraft, the Nell's specification even being drawn up by Admiral Yamamoto. They were being operated by the Genzan and Mihoro Kokutais.

            How many aircraft do you think the Germans and Italians had in the Med?! Again the Kido Butai's ability at that point is irrelevant as they were halfway across the Pacific and it's unlikely the RN would have stayed in place to oppose them without significantly more ships. e.g. What Somerville had in '42 in the Indian Ocean.

            1. Cederic Silver badge

              Axis air power in the Med varied through the course of the war but in mid 1942 they added around 800 aircraft to the existing forces, so a reasonable number. Those aircraft included Bf109s and also the Italian Macci C.202 which achieved over 4:1 kill ratios against allied aircraft, so that clearly wasn't the war's worse aircraft.

              The sheer number of aircraft available to the enemy in the Mediterranean region can be easily summarised by one simple stat: A single man personally destroyed over 200 of them.

            2. Marketing Hack Silver badge

              The sad fate of PoW and Repulse in 1942 was just plain indicative of the clusterfuck that was the British defense of Malaya in 1941-1942. The PoW and Repulse sailed to attack Japanese landings near the Malay/Thai border, but then were re-routed twice because of bad intel on where the landings were. Then there was no air cover because of poor coordination between the RAF and RN, plus poor protection of RAF fighter fields that the Japanese had started to bomb. Plus British intelligence completely missed the mark on the well-known very long operational range of Japanese Nell and Betty bombers (Really only American B-17s/B-24s and B-29s ever had comparable combat range to the Nells and Bettys)

              So the British army was not telling the RN where the Japanese assault convoys were really landing, the British Navy was not telling the RAF where the only two British capital ships in Southeast Asia were going, the RAF was not telling the RN what the availability of air cover was and British intelligence was not giving any of the armed forces accurate info on the operational range of Japanese air forces. The best thing that you can say about it is that the RN did make a major effort to not leave the British army "on the beach"

              1. Archtech Silver badge

                Fundamentally arrogant and racist

                The British establishment in those days was grossly arrogant and racist. There were remarks made - publicly - about how the bandy-legged, stunted, near-sighted Japanese could never pilot fighters and bombers successfully. Even Churchill seems to have hoped that the approach of British capital ships would cause the Japanese to flee in dread - instead of, as actually happened, licking their lips and rolling up their sleeves.

                Taken all in all, war appears to be God's most successful way of teaching people that they are NOT superior to other people.

                As Benjamin Franklin observed mournfully, "Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other".

                1. Benson's Cycle

                  Re: Fundamentally arrogant and racist

                  It is extremely odd because around the turn of the century the UK had supplied a number of naval craft to the Japanese, trained some of their officers, had an observer at Tsushima, and the Times had strongly approved of the Japanese attacking Russia without warning. I do wonder what happened between about 1920 and 1940 to give the Establishment such a false notion of Japan. Was it the growing influence of Americans? Their racism is well attested, including by American historians.

                  1. x 7

                    Re: Fundamentally arrogant and racist

                    "I do wonder what happened between about 1920 and 1940 to give the Establishment such a false notion of Japan. "

                    Public awareness of what the Japanese were doing in China and Manchuria, thats what happened

                2. Stevie Silver badge

                  Re: Fundamentally arrogant and racist

                  During wartime *everyone* is arrogant and racist. The term "cheese scarfing surrender monkeys" was coined on a comedy show, but was soon being bandied about by anyone in the US with strong feelings about the French holding back from Operation Democratic Freedom of Democracy.

                  And the Senate really did have their French Fries renamed Freedom Fries in the canteen.

                  By my calculations at the time this meant that the despised French were now the only native speakers of Freedom (formerly thought to be the prerogative of American Blowhard Politicians on The Make).

                  That aside, I cannot feel sorry about "racism" against WWII era Japan. I saw firsthand what the cost of a stay in a Japanese prisoner of war camp would be like - a neighbour's wounds hadn't properly healed by the end of the 1950s. I believe myself that the Axis nations led the world in Xenophobia.

                  Why so many are bound and determined to have another go at implementing those views is a source of bewilderment to me. Just think: this time the bad guys are *us*, and we'll know it when it all comes to a sorry end.

                  Oh well.

                  1. Benson's Cycle

                    Re: Fundamentally arrogant and racist

                    During wartime too every country involved gives rise to its worst instincts. The Japanese army in Manchuria bears comparison with the worst the Germans ever managed, a fact we in the West tend to either forget or not know about. But when it comes to atrocities the Americans, British and French are in glass houses even if the stones they throw are a bit bigger than the incoming ones. In Okinawa and Bengal the US and the UK did not exactly cover themselves with glory.

                    The point with Japan was that the anti-Eastern racism began to be overt when the US and the UK blocked the declaration of equality at the League of Nations. I think the UK would have agreed but for the US. Once the Japanese had been told by the WASP powers that they were second class citizens, the scene was set for an eventual WW2. It is a long stretch from 1920 to Pearl Harbor, but the long line of petty insults, sanctions and mocking representations of the Japanese in the Press preceded WW2. In hindsight we were extremely lucky that the US produced people like Eisenhower and Marshall who rose far above the level of their politicians and media and laid the foundations of the long peace.

                    1. Stevie Silver badge

                      Re: Fundamentally arrogant and racist

                      I'm sorry - are you equating the nationalistic fervour that fuels the will to go to war with the sadistic culture evinced by the Japanese toward their captives and the Nazis toward "undesirables"?

                      *My* point was that I wasn't going to give arguments such as yours any weight in the "we should feel bad for what we did in WWII - especially the Little Boy and Fat Man events" debate.

                      For all the stories you can dredge up of bad behaviour by Allied occupation troops, no-one was herded into cattle cars for a Xylon-B shower or starved and beaten to death during forced labour. Dresden burned? So did large parts of London and Coventry. Hiroshima? The Batan Death March and the events in China.

                      Save your sympathy for those that deserved it.

                      As for the sadism in Japanese Culture, it predates contact with "WASP" Europe (actually Catholic Spain but let's not split hairs).

                      But I'll readily concede that many times in the past Britain - England really, hasn't covered its reputation in glory, and that America has a past it would today rather hadn't happened the way it did.

          2. GrumpyKiwi

            It wasn't the Kido Butai that the PoW and Repulse were up against, but land based naval bombers.

            I do totally agree that had pretty much any force in the RN at the time come up against the Kido Butai they'd have come off second (if not third) best. The RN's carriers could probably have survived a dive bombing attack, but the IJN's torpedo bombers and torpedoes were top notch and very few ships survive multiple torpedo strikes.

      3. baud Bronze badge

        Would the HMS Indomitable have been able to join the PoW and Repulse in time to help them not being sunk?

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          I looked into it a while ago. Theoretically it could have met them in South Africa on the timeline PoW and Repulse followed, however I suspect if she hadn't run aground they would have got to Singapore a bit later having waited for Indomitable either there or in Ceylon*.

          *I keep using Ceylon, I know it's called Sri Lanka but I've written a load on the Second World War recently and it's easier using the place names in use at the time.

      4. Archtech Silver badge

        Pour encourager les autres

        That captain should have been shot - and not for racism, although that just adds to the picture of a bloody arrogant fool.

    2. b0hem1us

      on contrary

      Yamato, the largest capital ship ever built was sunk on an open sea by a carrier aircraft in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ten-Go

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: on contrary

        Yes, but that was in 1945, at the point PoW and Repulse were sunk it was the first time that any battleship manoeuvring on the open seas had been sunk entirely by aircraft action.

      2. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: on contrary

        And the American carrier planes sunk the Yamato's sister ship Musahi at sea the previous year in the battle of Leyte Gulf. However, by late 1944 and 1945, the U.S. navy had so many carrier aircraft that they might have just been able to sink the Yamato and Musahi by landing on them and capsizing the Japanese BBs under the combined weight of all the American aircraft that were now aboard. Both the Yamato and Musahi were swarmed by hundreds of American dive and torpedo bombers when the end came.

      3. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: on contrary

        Actually, Yamato was (eventually) sunk by over 100 aircraft. A real "test to destruction".

  4. Imhotep

    And All Who Sail In Her

    Was the ship's bell actually made of steel?

    What makes pre-nuclear steel valuable?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And All Who Sail In Her

      >What makes pre-nuclear steel valuable?

      Because it's never been contaminated by radioisotopes from atmospheric bomb testing so it's an excellent reference material.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-background_steel

      1. MJB7 Silver badge

        Re: And All Who Sail In Her

        It was pre-nuclear steel that kicked off the Falklands war too. Argentinian scrap merchants landed with the intention of taking the pre-nuclear steel from Leith whaling station on South Georgia.

        (It was a *bit* more complicated actually, with some significant support from incognito Argentinian Marines.)

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: And All Who Sail In Her

      Nonono dear boy, the bell wasn't attacked by thieves, the wreck was.

      1. Imhotep

        Re: And All Who Sail In Her

        Oh dear, it appears my cognitive skills are degenerating. Yes, that makes much more sense.

        I remember reading about another group going back to survey a wreck, and it had dissappeared for the same reason - scavenging the steel. I don't believe there was any mention of the pre-nuclear aspect in that article, so I wondered what made it economically worthwhile.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: And All Who Sail In Her

          Several Dutch ships in the Java sea have been removed and all were listed as war graves. Here's a link: https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2017/nov/03/worlds-biggest-grave-robbery-asias-disappearing-ww2-shipwrecks

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: And All Who Sail In Her

            Those grave robberies strained the already not so good relations between the Dutch and Indonesian governments for a while. One of the ships stolen was the flag ship of admiral Karel Doorman, who choose to go down with his ship there in 1942.

        2. sbt Silver badge
          Headmaster

          cognitive skills

          Don't feel too bad; I had to read it twice, despite being aware of the value of pre-atomic age steel. The wording is awkward.

          1. Bonzo_red

            Re: cognitive skills

            I guess the 2WW ships sunk at Bikini Atoll are not too valuable though.

            1. Mooseman Silver badge

              Re: cognitive skills

              "I guess the 2WW ships sunk at Bikini Atoll are not too valuable though"

              One of the propellers from the Prinz Eugen was lifted from Bikini and installed as a monument at the Naval memorial in Laboe in Germany.

              Have they stopped using the German Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow for pre-atomic steel now then?

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: And All Who Sail In Her

      When this is sunk by a Chinese anti-ship missile do they get to recycle the bell again ?

      Wouldn't it be simpler to keep the bell somewhere safe on land ?

      1. Imhotep

        Re: And All Who Sail In Her

        I would like to see the US fleet safely birthed on the Nebraska prairie. Too many ships sinking when their out on the water. I don't think they thought things out very well ahead of time. Not pointing fingers, just commenting.

        1. Paul Herber Silver badge

          Re: And All Who Sail In Her

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Nebraska_Sea

          1. Imhotep

            Re: And All Who Sail In Her

            I'm always amazed at the esoterica known by ElReg readers.

          2. Gene Cash Silver badge

            Re: And All Who Sail In Her

            > The_Great_Nebraska_Sea

            Damn it. That sounds like an excellent book, and I'll never be able to find a copy.

            1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: And All Who Sail In Her

              One of the world's shortest books--"Great Beach Vacations in Nebraska"

              1. OssianScotland Silver badge
                Coat

                Re: And All Who Sail In Her

                Closely followed by "Swiss Naval Victories"

                (Before anyone jumps in, yes, I know there is a flotilla of patrol boats on Lake Geneva - and probably others)

                ...yes, the anorak please....

                1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                  Re: And All Who Sail In Her

                  Closely followed by "Swiss Naval Victories"

                  That still outweighs the thinnest book ever published: 100 Years of German Humour.

                  That one is just a front and back cover.

                  1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                    Re: And All Who Sail In Her

                    And the German vote is in ;)

                    1. Benson's Cycle

                      Re: And All Who Sail In Her

                      And a vote from an English person who actually knows some Germans. Christian Morgenstern alone could provide a good few pages, of which the most famous is Es war einmal ein Lattenzaun.

                      In fact the shortest book on record is Good Parts of the Saudi Judicial System. In this case the front and back cover are glued together.

                      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                        Re: And All Who Sail In Her

                        It is just a joke about the Germans not having a sense of humour, something they use themselves without shame, see:

                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imJNAhljVh4

            2. SundogUK Silver badge

              Re: And All Who Sail In Her

              https://archive.org/stream/Galaxy_v21n06_1963-08#page/n15/mode/1up

            3. Kibble 2

              Re: And All Who Sail In Her

              @Gene: You can find an audible copy at https://www.audible.com/

            4. Danny 2 Silver badge
      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: And All Who Sail In Her

        "When this is sunk by a Chinese anti-ship missile"

        *sigh* - why can/'t you just say it's a really cool ship of the line, and it's making UK look good?

        I find it interesting that they use non-nuclear propulsion. But apparently it's almost as large as a U.S. Nimitz class carrier. No angled flight deck, though. Apparently designed specifically for STOL and vertical take-off aircraft.

        Other specs look pretty good

        Oh, and China wouldn't *DARE* sink your carrier. Seriously.

        1. hoofie

          Re: And All Who Sail In Her

          The problem with nuclear propulsion was cost, complexity and manning requirements. Since they are using F35 there is no need for steam for catapults [the US are going down the route of electromagnetic catapults].

          Cost was probably the biggest issue - whilst they are eye-wateringly expensive as they stand, if we had gone down the nuclear route there would only have been one. Two carriers offer much more flexibility than a single hull [ask the French...]

          It's hard enough getting Nuclear qualified engineering staff for the underwater brethren - add two Nuclear carriers on top of that and it's a no-go. Also some friendly ports [e.g. New Zealand] aren't so friendly if nuclear boats are asking to come alongside.

          From that what I gather the whole nuclear propulsion question was seriously considered - the UK has the technology to do it - but was ruled out early on as just not a good choice.

          The US supercarriers are impressive but apparently envious glances are being stolen from across the pond at the non-nuclear option plus the very high levels of automation on the QE class carriers means the manning requirements are much, much lower than the US - the latter is especially relevant as the US Navy tends to train a sailor for one job only whereas the RN has always worked on the basis of multi-skilling the crew e.g. a steward or chef would also be first-aid trained and act as a medic or damage control crew member.

          It's really great to see the Senior Service sailing the world's oceans again with a proper maritime strike force - suitable for putting the frighteners on uppity foreign types, annoying the French [which I'd suggest has ALWAYS been the purpose of the RN] and delivering exceptional cocktail parties.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: And All Who Sail In Her

            >It's really great to see the Senior Service sailing the world's oceans again with a proper maritime strike force - suitable for putting the frighteners on uppity foreign types, annoying the French [which I'd suggest has ALWAYS been the purpose of the RN] and delivering exceptional cocktail parties.

            That flight deck also makes a great platform for staging a production of "H.M.S. Pinafore", is Sideshow Bob on parole yet ?

        2. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: And All Who Sail In Her

          "Oh, and China wouldn't *DARE* sink your carrier. Seriously".

          Not unless it wanted to.

          Which would only be if it made an unbearable nuisance of itself.

          The key perception, however, is that an aircraft carrier is useless for anything except seriously hurting an enemy in wartime.

          And should the UK go to war with China - which it would have to initiate, as the Chinese won't - any RN ships within a few thousand miles of China will be sunk.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: And All Who Sail In Her

            Archtech,

            The thing about this trope about carriers not surviving anti-ship missiles is that it's just that. Nobody's put it to the test yet. And most of the navies that make the most noise about it do so because they're suffering from "carrier envy". Although in the case of China they think that carriers are so unsafe to operate in a modern missile environment that they're currently building one (some) and busily devoping the tech and doctrines required to operate them.

            Carrier operating navies also know this, and you know might have just considered the possibility a time or two...

            Carriers carry aircraft. It's the whole point. And move, and have protective surface-to-air missile ships. And often submarines as part of their task forces. Any enemy that wants to shoot them has got to find out where they are. Which means getting into radar range. Which means not being shot by thos pesky aircraft or sunk by those naughty submarines.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: And All Who Sail In Her

              Any enemy that wants to shoot them has got to find out where they are. Which means getting into radar range. Which means not being shot by those pesky aircraft or sunk by those naughty submarines.

              Ever heard of satellites? Those can currently transmit real-time images (with position) of fleets. Hypersonic missiles with smart guidance can be fired from way out of radar detection range. Add a couple of missiles homing in on radar emissions and it is curtains.

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                Re: And All Who Sail In Her

                Veening,

                Satellites have a known flightpath and to some extent can be evaded. They can of course also be shot down or jammed (in some cases).

                You also need to get within firing range - and any missile that can be fired at the carrier is vulnerable to the carrier group firing at it. The US have Tomahawk on a lot of their surface ships - and a carrier full of aeroplanes. That obviously leaves subs - but wartime carrier task forces will have their own subs.

                My point is that this trope of carriers being unuseable in modern warfare is unproven and relies on believing everything the Russian propogandists say and assuming all carrier operating navies are fucking stupid. NATO navies have been worrying about saturation missile attacks since the 1970s at least - and yet 1980s doctrine was to send a large US carrier group to the North Cape of Norway to keep the submarines occupied and not shooting the re-supply convoys to Europe.

                I think sea skimming missiles are always going to be a harder interception problem than anything on a balistic trajectory - because the curvature of the earth means you can't pick them up from as far out - and they're harder to intercept. Making those hypersonic is going to be a lot harder - and possibly require the sort of nuclear rocketry technology the US abandoned in the 60s and the Russians blew up in testing a coupe of months ago. The US SM3 has been designed and tested in the ABM role - and the European Aster is supposed to have similar capabilities - though it's a lot less tested.

        3. RancidRodent

          Re: And All Who Sail In Her

          "*sigh* - why can/'t you just say it's a really cool ship of the line, and it's making UK look good?"

          Because we've had to run the surface fleet down to the point we can't escort one carrier effectively - let alone two in order to pay for them. Complete waste of time - but then the whole QE class + F35B fiasco was devised under Labour, so what do you expect?

      3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: And All Who Sail In Her

        Wouldn't it be simpler to keep the bell somewhere safe on land ?

        You can always trust the internet to have half-remembered trivia - if only you can find the right search term.

        See Wiki article on Unsinkable Sam.

        He was the Bismarck's ship's cat (or a ship's cat I don't know how many they had). Rescued by HMS Cossack. Then when that was sunk - after a brief trip to Gibraltar - he became the cat on Ark Royal.

        I like the fact that HMS Legion was on hand to rescue said cat twice, from Cossack and then Ark Royal.

        After which the cat was beached. Clearly a Jonah.

        Though whatever spoilsport wrote the Wiki article then goes on to suggest the story might not be wholly true...

  5. spold Silver badge

    The question being....

    ....will it also need to be more than 70 years old before it gets to do what it was designed to do?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think it was a mistake not to use nuclear power for these.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      If they were nuclear we (the builders) wouldn't be able to flog them to foreigners

      We only make the first decade of annual bonuses on the sale to HMG, once they have paid the development costs the real bonuses are all the follow up sales of copies.

      Luxury yachts aren't cheap you know ! (except when compared to warships)

  7. Vaughtex

    Air Cover?

    And when exactly will we have adequate numbers of a viable aircraft to operate off this target for an "Eagle Strike"? (Look it up)

    Let alone enough crews and ships to provide a task group to surround it and it's sister ship at the same time?

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Air Cover?

      How about never? Is never good for you?

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Air Cover?

        It isn't good, but it is the correct answer.

    2. IHateWearingATie
      Mushroom

      Re: Air Cover?

      Never, thanks to a combination of stupidity in MoD's procurement department and larceny by the ship builders. We're stuck with two floating gin palaces as they don't have cats and traps, so we have to buy the massively complex and expensive F-35B VTOL capable plane, rather than a mixture of expensive and cheaper fixed wing aircraft.

      And don't get me started on the lack of radar aircraft that can use it (again because of the lack of cats and traps). - even an old P-3C Oriion would be better than using either a helicopter or basically having to sail with the Americans using their E-2C Hawkeyes..

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: Air Cover?

        I mean good luck ever getting a P-3 on or off a carrier. Not sure what good an anti-submarine aircraft would be for AEW either to be honest.

        1. Chicag0_Red
          Go

          Re: Air Cover?

          Actually it would be the E-2c Hawkeye

          Now the E-2d Advanced Hawkeyes are coming aboard.

          Good Carrier Grade AWACs are so hard to find these days.

          1. SkippyBing Silver badge

            Re: Air Cover?

            Yes but the poster I was replying to was claiming a P-3C would be more use than an AEW helicopter for AEW. Which seems unlikely given the sensors on a P-3C.

        2. Mooseman Silver badge

          Re: Air Cover?

          "good luck ever getting a P-3 on or off a carrier"

          I bet Winkle Brown would have given it a go.

      2. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: Air Cover?

        Maybe if you ask Trump nicely and come up with a bit of cash, The US Marines will sell your Harriers back to you thereby allowing The Donald to brag about what a great deal he has struck.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Air Cover?

          how about if we purchase MORE Harriers, and you guys get the economic boost?

          F35 could be a blueprint for the next gen Harrier, maybe? [you can fix the bugs in the newer line]

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Air Cover?

            What was wrong with P1154?

            1. x 7

              Re: Air Cover?

              The P1154?

              The heat from the plenum chamber exhaust would on landing be so fierce that it would

              1) destroy any surface the aircraft landed on

              2) bounce back and melt the aircraft

              3) get reingested and destroy the engine

              One of the Harrier test pilots, John Farley related on PPRUNE how he regarded the P1154 as a death trap and refused to have anything to do with it

        2. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Air Cover?

          Unlikely, they were stripped for parts and sent to the Boneyard. There were too many differences between the US and UK versions to make operating them practical fro the USMC.

          1. RancidRodent

            Re: Air Cover?

            "Unlikely, they were stripped for parts and sent to the Boneyard. There were too many differences between the US and UK versions to make operating them practical fro the USMC."

            True for the GR7s, however, the Americans were so shocked at the excellent condition of the recently refurbed GR9s they DID put them into service after fitting US electronics packages. Remember, Harrier is not a fly-by-computer plane so pilot training isn't really an issue - if you can fly a Harrier you can fly any Harrier. We spent billions refreshing FA2 and the GRns, then the idiot Labour party retired Sea Harrier (FA2) - left without her fighter escort, there was no point keeping the GR7 and GR9 as they could not be flown in contested airspace - and we had other ground attack options anyway. What we should have done is copied the US and spent the recent refurb money combining GR9/FA2 into a single type. Unlike the US we didn't have any other sea-borne fighters, so flying the ground attack variant of Harrier on its own was a pointless waste of money. The Tories got the blame for scrapping Harrier - but Labour made them pointless by retiring Sea Harrier.

            1. SkippyBing Silver badge

              Re: Air Cover?

              Not according to the USMC in 2012.

              1. RancidRodent

                Re: Air Cover?

                The US won't admit to flying "foreign" aircraft easily - I also expect they were contracted to keep schtum if they intended to fly them for (UK) political reasons as well as their usual relutance to fly non-US produced military aircraft. Either way the GR9s were as good as new aircraft.

                1. SkippyBing Silver badge

                  Re: Air Cover?

                  I think the appearance of two new USMC squadrons would kind of give it away as no one has made new Harriers since 1997. But sure a conspiracy of silence makes more sense.

    3. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Air Cover?

      By what, I'm sure, is entirely a matter of coincidence, Boris has made it clear he wants more people in prison. Having a couple of over-sized and under-used hulks available to moor on the Thames might help him deliver on his promises, in the unlikely event of that being his intention.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Air Cover?

        I thought the plan was to moor them sideways across the Thames and make his new bridge

  8. N2 Silver badge

    I wonder

    How many of you armchair Admirals have actually served in the Royal Navy?

    1. b0hem1us

      Re: I wonder

      We don't have a naval force in middle Europe. Maybe some river boats but that's about it.

    2. defiler Silver badge

      Re: I wonder

      I was on HMS Alliance. Got the full tour and everything! ;)

    3. gerdesj Silver badge

      Re: I wonder

      I know lots of pinkies, brownies and grubbers.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: I wonder

      "How many of you armchair Admirals have actually served in the Royal Navy?"

      I was in the U.S. Navy - does that count?

      Also visited the China Fleet Club in Hong Kong (1985 ) and went on both A and B tours while I was there. Didn't meet any Royal Navy sailors, though. DID get some nice dishes and a tailored suit.

    5. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: I wonder

      N2, have you ever designed a microprocessor? Yet here you are typing away on a computer keyboard, quite competently.

      1. defiler Silver badge

        Re: I wonder

        I don't worship Thor, but here I am using a Thursday!

    6. Imhotep

      Re: I wonder

      I've read and reread the 20 volume Aubrey/Maturin series, so I consider myself quite an expert on the Royal Navy. Although I am puzzled why you would ever consider sending a carrier to the far side of the world instead of blockading France.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: I wonder

        Great books those

  9. genghis_uk

    Pondering

    As I'm staring out of the window at Portsmouth harbour I wonder. If the first one is generally known as "Big Liz" is this one going to be "Big Charlie"? Maybe "Big Leek"? Or for the Private Eye readers, "Big Brian"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pondering

      Thought it was going to be Chunky Charlie.....

    2. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Pondering

      Taking the cue from "Private Eye", shurely "Big Brenda"? [- Ed]

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Pondering

      Why wasn't it Large Liz?

      But I'd have thought the appropriate shortening of Charles would be Chas (like my Grandad) or Chuck.

      Chunky Chas?

  10. Scott Broukell
    Joke

    What they are keeping quiet about is the fact that each of these vessels is in fact two, yes, two warships! Notice how each has two superstructures on the flight deck, well hidden below decks is the ingenious mechanism for separating each of them into two very capable warships, with one superstructure each! Now that's really going to confound and confuse the enemy!

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Do they also fly, Avengers stylee?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Digitaries gathered"

    Does this mean, the ship is digital, too?

    Or are these persons (politicians?) who can count to 10 (or perhaps to 20)?

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: "Digitaries gathered"

      Make that 21 for most of the males ;)

  12. Rich 2 Silver badge

    Prince of Wales

    Is this the one they had to (quite literally) cut in half when they were building it because they forgot to put the prop shafts in? Or was that the sister ship?

    And guess who paid for this f*** up? That's right - you and me :-)

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Prince of Wales

      No to either ship being cut in half to install prop shafts as far as I'm aware. One of QE's props ended up slightly out of alignment for a combination of reasons* which led to some of the bearings needing to be repaired and strengthened but that was a relatively easy job. Possible we didn't pay for it as we didn't even own it at the time so it would have been up to BAE to deliver a working warship. For example I was shocked when I found out a whole load of modifications to an aircraft were being funded by the manufacturer as otherwise they wouldn't be able to meet a key performance requirement.

      *It was in the first documentary series the BBC did on her, I think the prop got fouled and that exacerbated something that hadn't been installed correctly.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Prince of Wales

        I think they miscalculated the loading on the prop shaft mountings - so one/several sheered and had to be re-done and of course strengthened. Which came up during full speed sea trials - the reason you muck about doing sea trials for so long with new classes of ship.

        However both ships were the opposite of cut in half. They are modular built (5 or 6 sections from memory?) - then the modules have been glued together. Or it might have been done with gaffer tape?

        1. Stork Silver badge

          Re: Prince of Wales

          That is in fact quite standard.

          From what I know, the first were the Liberty ships in WWII, a few of which broke apart due to the steel going brittle at low temperatures at the welds. Rather unfortunate at sea.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The new one will probably get sunk in the same place...

    But by the Chinese this time.

    Selling out to China may just end up being the single most stupid decision made by the Western powers in the last 50 years.

    Handing over everything to a Communist dictatorship? What could possibly go wrong!

    1. Claverhouse Silver badge

      "I could walk in and take the whole lot this afternoon"

      The redoubtable socialist Governor, Murray MacLehose, Baron MacLehose of Beoch, introduced a lot of Welfare into the colony, but not direct democracy since he thought that would crash when the Chinese took over; he had to start the Talks, but wanted to continue the British administration over both the Island and the extended Treaty bound parts,whilst the sovereignty of China over the New Territories at least would go back to [ the New ] China.

      However Dementia, when she became Prime Minister in the traditional Tory fashion, by knifing one's predecessor in the back, was no more skilled in brains, defence or courage [ relying as she did on a few shop-worn mantras to carry her though any challenge ] than at the Falklands --- kicked off by her breaking with the traditions of the socialists Harold Wilson and James Callaghan ( incidentally an ex-Navy man ) and withdrawing ship protection from the area --- caved in before the Chinese Communists' masterful whining about 'Unequal Treaties' [ as if China was some tiny bullied state with not enough people to defend herself and as if she hadn't forced treaties on lesser folk often enough ] and gave away the shop.

      .

      .

      Of course had Britain remained as a steward, there'd still be a lot of snivelling and attacks from the Left. And the Right would be unhappy had further regulations [ which had rarely protected the population that much, any more than in most parts of the Empire, until the Empire was dying ] impeded Hong Kong's reputation as a beggar-my-neighbour libertarian paradise where the poor slept in chests-of-drawers and the wealthy of Hong Kong are in fact quite rich: Amerika's Gingrichian Future.

      1. GrumpyKiwi

        Re: "I could walk in and take the whole lot this afternoon"

        Interesting - especially as the "nothing East of Suez" dated long before Thatcher - back to the 1960's and was used to justify the end of the RN's carrier fleet. And was exactly the reason why there wasn't any significant RN presence in HK.

        Then you have the small fact of the treaty that had only a 99 year lease on most of Hong Kong. The UK could have ignored/broke it. All that would do is demonstrate an utter lack of respect for treaties. There is no possible way that could rebound right?

        I think you are perhaps misremembering things.

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: "I could walk in and take the whole lot this afternoon"

          @Claverhouse, @GrumpyKiwi - I'd say you're both right and wrong...

          MacLehose wanted UK to continue as Steward of HK, but the idea depended on the willingness of China to accept a foreign administration.

          When they refused, splitting HK on the 99 year lease / permanent line was simply unworkable: Boundary Street runs through the heart of Kowloon. Keeping the lot wasn't a matter of RN presence or honouring treaties; much of HK's water comes from the Mainland. It doesn't matter how many ships you have when the populace is dying of thirst.

          Arguably, if the Stewardship plan had been accepted, it might be exactly the same people in Government: most of the current government, from Chief Executive Carrie Lam down, were colonial bureaucrats. Whether they would be acting differently, under the "benign and enlightened" guidance of Westminster is a matter for speculation.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "I could walk in and take the whole lot this afternoon"

          The ar a covered by the 99 year lease was the area which supplied the non-leased bit with water - so come 1997 the latter would not have been viable.

    2. RancidRodent

      Re: The new one will probably get sunk in the same place...

      Indeed, in order to make the rich people even richer, to drive down the production cost of consumer goods we have given our technological secrets to the rest of the world - particularly China.

      China has thousands of hypersonic anti-ship missiles - and they are relatively cheaply available to anyone who wants to buy them. Nothing the west has now - or in the foreseeable future will stop a hypersonic missile.

      1. EvilDrSmith

        Re: The new one will probably get sunk in the same place...

        Pretty much all ships can stop a hypersonic missile - that's the point of the hypersonic missile (to be stopped, rather dramatically, by a ship)

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: The new one will probably get sunk in the same place...

        How do these magic hypersonic missiles turn corners? Otherwise they'll struggle to hit anything but sea...

        Modern surface to air missiles have been successfully used to shoot hypersonic warheads from ballistic missiles - as well as being designed to deal with anti-ship missiles. Although that's not really been put to the test in real life.

        1. RancidRodent

          Re: The new one will probably get sunk in the same place...

          "How do these magic hypersonic missiles turn corners? Otherwise they'll struggle to hit anything but sea...

          Modern surface to air missiles have been successfully used to shoot hypersonic warheads from ballistic missiles - as well as being designed to deal with anti-ship missiles. Although that's not really been put to the test in real life."

          Hypersonic missiles are generally ballistic missiles which will be programmed in their downward trajectory to already be pointing towards the target, from then they will only require gentle steering which can be achieved by disrupting the airflow around the missile, the simplest way is to fire compressed air at various points from the missile body - but there are other methods.

          So you think that steering one of these things is hard? Think how hard it is to detect something moving so fast, once you have actually detected it (it has moved miles within a single sweep of your search RADAR) you then only have a few seconds to find it in the beam of a tracking RADAR, arm your defence system, get a missile actually launched against gravity and then somehow get it in the same airspace of the object doing over seven thousand five hundred miles per hour. By the time your air defence missile has launched and actually got into the steering stage post takeoff - you're too late - and even if you do, by some miracle, hit it (you won't), the kinetic energy left in the bit and bobs you just hit will more than likely still hit what it was aiming at causing substantial damage. The only hope of hypersonic missile interception is laser based - and we're a long way from generating the sort of energy required to stop a missile hardened enough to survive mach 10 at range.

          So no, we haven't got any anti-missile system capable of hitting a hypersonic missle in the real world. If anyone has managed to hit one it was a carefully constructed "test" with known timings etc. - ie the interception was carefully pre-calculated to the last detail.

          Crickey, the US couldn't even intercept a subsonic Iraq Silkworm heading for USS Missouri that they saw coming in good time! Luckily for them an ancient Type 42 (HMS Gloucester) was part of the escort - engaging the lumbering 1st gen sea-skimmer with her Sea Dart while USS Jarret's CIWS "goalkeeper" engaged Missouri's chaff instead of the target!

  14. Muscleguy Silver badge

    I used to wargame, including WWII naval battles. British warships have TERRIBLE air defences. US ones by contrast had incredible air defences. Though when wargaming that can get tedious. I played against one guy, I was commanding the Japanese fleet, who insisted on firing ALL the weaponry, including the AA guns at my surface ships, to little avail. My destroyers still sailed up and let go torpedoes.

    BTW some armoured carriers were armed like cruisers with 8inch guns, under the flight deck.

    I still have the 1/3000 die cast models on their painted bases. I have the Yamato in the Japanese fleet.

    1. Robert Sneddon Bronze badge

      Nice model

      There's a rather nice scale model of the Yamato in a museum in Japan. 1:10 scale, that is.

      https://deepkure.com/yamato-museum/

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Nice model

        Slightly off-topic, but as museums have come up, I can recommend the Vasa Museum in Stockholm with as major show piece the resurrected Vasa.

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      Maybe

      "BTW some armoured carriers were armed like cruisers with 8inch guns, under the flight deck."

      If I recall correctly, in the 1930s there was some sort of weird deal that capped US, British, and Japanese Pacific fleet battleships in a 5:5:3 ratio. I believe that the Japanese response to that was to build aircraft carriers -- which weren't capped -- with the plan of ripping the flight decks off when/if war came. Result -- near instant cruisers/battleships. Except it turned out when war came that the carriers were far more useful as carriers than as battleships.

      I could have that all wrong. I'm not a naval warfare buff.

      1. GrumpyKiwi

        Re: Maybe

        Not quite. Aircraft carriers were part of the 5:5:3: ratio. They were also limited to 8" guns just in case anyone decided to build disguised heavy cruisers. It turned out that 8" gunfire and aircraft are not a happy mix and most such carriers never fired their 8" guns in anger. Only the Japanese and USN even bothered to fit such weapons - probably on the principle that the most likely foe for an aircraft carrier in the Pacific was an enemy cruiser.

    3. Archtech Silver badge

      "British warships have TERRIBLE air defences. US ones by contrast had incredible air defences".

      But faced with a shower of hypersonic ship-killers, it doesn't make any difference.

      So at least we saved some money.

  15. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Y'know what the PLAN call the new HMS PoW? A target.

    1. GrumpyKiwi

      If the Chinese really thought that carriers were obsolete they wouldn't be busy building their own fleet of them.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        There's a subtle difference...

        ... between sailing a carrier or two to the other side of the world to attack the world's richest and most populous nation, and building a few carriers to help defend against such harebrained attacks.

        In the event of a naval battle in the South China Sea, both the NATO and the Chinese carriers would be under the Chinese air defence umbrella.

        So the Chinese carriers would be fairly safe, and the NATO ones would be sunk.

        1. Imhotep

          Re: There's a subtle difference...

          "world's richest and most populous nation"

          The richest by some measures and not by others, and relatively soon it won't be the most populous (1.4 billion versus India's 1.3 at present).

          I'm not sure what reason could justify a NATO force in the area. This would appear to be more a SEATO area, and those countries (also Viet Nam) are concerned with China's military buildup in those waterways.

          As for the outcome, no one really knows how China would perform.

    2. OssianScotland Silver badge

      No, that is what submariners (of any nationality) will call her

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The big question, of course, is are they going to inexplicably sack the captain this time?

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Nelson was lucky he didn't drive

      Only if he drives the wrong car on the wrong occasion.

  17. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Back to the Future, Her Majesty's Edition

    "old PoW was sent by British admirals into an area of the South China Sea without adequate air cover"

    Today, there aren't nearly enough operational surface and attack submarine combatants in the RN to provide PoW and Queen Lizzy a suitable escort group against an opponent with a capable navy, plus keep control of the commercial sea lanes that Britain is just as reliant on today as it was vs. Napoleon or der Fuhrer, protect Britain's ballistic missile subs and any potential British amphibious or troop convoys that are needed for operations. Never mind trying to also send a couple British attack subs to play hell with enemy commerce or naval operations.

    Basically, the RN can provide 2 or 3 surface escorts and an attack sub for the one carrier that will probably be operational at a given time. That's fine if you want your air wing to bomb terrorists and insurgents in some impoverished nation, but I wouldn't even suggest sending that force into the Persian Gulf if Iran starts grabbing large numbers of British-flagged merchant ships.

  18. sbt Silver badge
    Trollface

    Just as well there weren't three in the class

    HMS Duke of York could have been a bit embarrasing. Nickname: The Pizza Express.

    1. OssianScotland Silver badge

      Re: Just as well there weren't three in the class

      Special delivery for Scharnhorst... 14" Hot 'n' Spicy

      1. sbt Silver badge
        Joke

        It's not the length, it's the girth, or, Should have gone to Sub-way.

        But 14', Shirley? No, you're right, carry on, I was thinking of tor-paedos.

        Also, f*ck. Embarrassing. Typographical determinism.

        1. OssianScotland Silver badge

          Re: It's not the length, it's the girth, or, Should have gone to Sub-way.

          No, I was thinking in terms of calibre

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BL_14-inch_Mk_VII_naval_gun

  19. Aseries

    RN was particularly ham-handed with Carrier operation. Primary was leadership. RN was ruled by Big Gun admirals who believed enough guns would always clear the air for their ships. Over and over they had to find otherwise. Carrier groups were commanded by non-flying Admirals with no sensitivity to the complications of air ops such as sailing into the wind and sufficient CAP. During the 1920s the USN was ordered to organize carrier operations with only commanders that were trained Naval Aviators. RN AIr Arm had this weird condition where flight operations leaders were often "observers" with little feeling for actual naval aviation. The Seafire was a poor carrier fighter with weak landing gear and short range that required they spend much of their CAP re-fueling. The RN Far East Fleet that operated with the USN was mostly populated with Lend-Lease US Hellcats, Corsairs and Avengers for more effective operations and RNFAA pilots trained in the USA. With the known state of RNFAA operation and available aircraft any RN carrier would have been meat on he table to the superior IJN aircraft, naval aviators, tactics and large modern carriers.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      The RN was hampered by naval aviation belonging to the RAF throughout the inter-War period. Observers were in fact the only bit of naval aviation they had complete control over, ie they were all naval officers, were only in Fleet Air Arm squadrons, and didn't lose seniority which naval pilots did when they went through flying training etc. Observers had plenty of feeling for naval aviation, you have to if you're the one who navigates back to the ship!

      Unfortunately because of the dual control of the air arm in the interwar period there weren't any officers of flag rank with recent aviation experience (a few from WW1 were serving but having not transferred to the RAF in 1918 were a bit out of date). And of course with the Air Ministry controlling aircraft production the RAF's ideas on the capability of naval aircraft preveiled.

      A good read on this, and the Fleet Air Arm's success despite the odds in the opening stages of the war is 'The Dawn of Carrier Strike' by David Hobbs.

  20. RancidRodent

    Two white elephants.

    In order to afford these two white elephants - we've had to run the surface fleet down to the point that we have insufficient vessels to form one proper carrier group - let alone two - and then there are other duties to be done besides!

    F35B is an expensive catastrophe - and the QE class is designed such that proper navel aircraft cannot be flown from her (no cats or traps) - so we're tied into a disaster called the F35B with no operational aircraft to deploy now and insufficient surface vessels to escort either effectively.

    This disastrous situation is all Labour's doing by the way, the format of the carriers, the cast iron contracts that meant we couldn't switch to F35C or we'd effectively have to pay for the carriers again - the decision to go F35B - All Labour. In a rare moment of clarity by the Tories when they took power, they looked at switching to F35C, but then after studying the small print they realised there was no way out and the white elephants are here to stay.

    Of course the Chinese have had a cheap volume-produced hypersonic anti-ship missile for years - the DF-21D - the improved longer range version (DF-26) is already in service - anyone who wants them can buy them - they could sink our entire navy in hours.

    We had the balance right with the Harriers and attack helicopters with Type 45 providing air-defence- now we've even sold off HMS Ocean and will have nothing service-ready for years to fly off the elephants. Our Navy is a joke.

    1. RancidRodent

      Re: Two white elephants.

      PS apologies for "Navel" dunno whether it was brain fart or finger trouble!

      1. Sanguma Bronze badge

        Re: Two white elephants.

        You do know that a navel destroyer is a hula hoop with brass tacks facing inwards, don't you?

    2. headrush

      Re: Two white elephants.

      When you say labour, you're presumably referring to the Blair govt, in which case you may as well say tory.

      1. RancidRodent

        Re: Two white elephants.

        "When you say labour, you're presumably referring to the Blair govt, in which case you may as well say tory"

        They left the economy the in the typical post-Labour state - a burned-out-husk - looked like Labour - smelt like Labour. They doubled spending on the NHS but managed to lose 33,000 beds. They doubled spending on "education" (indoctrination) but 1 in 5 school leavers are still functionally illiterate. They unleashed an immigration tsunami on the country and then blamed "austerity" for everything when the real issue was the predictable unfunded subsequent population explosion.

        But they did do Labour proud in one way - putting housing back in the hands of the rich meant workings class people were once again trapped in poverty welded to the teat of the state with no means of escape - how very Labour - ensuring a generation of supporters fooled by their politics of envy rather than giving them a genuine way out. As as certain famous hard-left Labour MP once said "Bloody grammar schools - they turn perfectly good Labour stock into Tories". That's all you are to them - stock. Stalin had a more accurate term "useful idiots".

        1. Mooseman Silver badge

          Re: Two white elephants.

          "They left the economy the in the typical post-Labour state - a burned-out-husk - looked like Labour - smelt like Labour. They doubled spending on the NHS but managed to lose 33,000 beds. They doubled spending on "education" (indoctrination) but 1 in 5 school leavers are still functionally illiterate. They unleashed an immigration tsunami on the country and then blamed "austerity" for everything when the real issue was the predictable unfunded subsequent population explosion."

          Oh look, the usual right wing nonsense. The 2008 crash was not caused by labour, rather by very dubious practices by banks here and in the USA. Education is not indoctrination unless you live somewhere like N Korea. The NHS and education still need more money, its an endless cycle. An immigration tsunami? Wow, we have been reading the boys bumper book of Brexit party bollocks haven't we?

          So, an international crisi caused by...banks propped up by right wing governments. Labours handling of it was praised by many countries. Personally Id have let them all crash and arrested the directors like Iceland did, but hey.

          They spent money on schools and the health service - something the tories claim to do but somehow don't. Terrible, eh?

          Migrants to the UK contribute more in tax revenues than the entire cash cost of being an EU member. Let alone the doctors, nursing staff, academics and those willing to do menial labour the british are too idle to do.

          Austerity? That was a tory assault on the poor, while the rich have got richer year on year, and yet despite all the "savings" - you know, useless things like the police, nurses, social care, health - the national debt is now bigger than under every labour government ever, combined.

          Read a book.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Last information I saw about F-35 operations, six of them on an American carrier - so probably full per aircraft support and an unusually large share of per squadron and per ship resources - managed to generate 2 sorties per day over a bit less than two months.

    This was in an environment without meaningful opposition to the air strikes.

    In turn, this suggests that you need something like 3 to 9 times as many F-35s as you would other aircraft to achieve the same number of sorties.

    Oh dear.

  22. osakajin

    Any planes on this one?

  23. Milton Silver badge

    Are lessons ever learned in time?

    Thanks to the many posters (I skimmed this lot, TBH) offering informed comment, triggered it seems by a reference to the dreadful loss of the previous Prince of Wales in WWII. I read somewhere that Churchill was profoundly depressed by the news, as well he might have been: terrific speech-maker and motivator he may have been, but his strategic blunders and interference with military decisions cost the UK very dearly. Perhaps his support for Bletchley Park and sensible advocacy for Magic/Ultra is some compensation.

    My point to topic, though, is whether politicians and defence planners are making the same mistake now, with regard to aircraft carriers, that was made before and during WWII with regard to battleships. Overly influenced by Mahanist doctrine (the assumed critical importance of a decisive naval battle between powers equipped with the most and biggest battleships, to over-simplify horribly) and a seeming vindication thereof at Tsushima Strait, the Great Powers cruised well into the early years of WWII still wedded to battleships, unaware that they had been rendered almost obsolete by carrier air power. The war in the Pacific theater might have proceeded very differently if the Nips had sunk American carriers at Pearl Harbor, instead of battleships. (I know the carriers weren't there on the day of the attack, but my point is that strategic priorities and planning might have brought about a different type/timeline of attack, with a very different result.)

    Now, these vast and majestic carriers may in their turn be frighteningly vulnerable in an age when adversaries like China and Russia (and even potential ones like India) have fielded super- and hypersonic anti-ship missiles and have an abundance of conventionally powered, quiet submarines. Not to mention the rising threat of drones: it simply doesn't take that much well-placed HE on a busy flight deck to ground a carrier's air wing for a day or two. The CAPTOR equivalent of an underwater drone can lurk for weeks until it hears the unique sound of a supercarrier's screws overhead, follows its programming and detonates half a tonne of HE under the ship's keel: or among its rudders.

    I nurture the suspicion that we are indeed repeating exactly the battleship mistake, spending vast sums on assets which will prove remarkably vulnerable to new technologies and ways of war-fighting. If I am right (and scared as I am of China, I hope I am wrong) then the inevitable collision in the Pacific is going to turn into a shockingly rude awakening for the USA ... which, if it were 'lucky', would get a bloody nose-cum-reality-check from Iran, giving it time to adjust its strategy and procurement policies before the whole house is bet on a conflict with China.

    There is perhaps some evidence of a gradual awakening, like the recent order for a bunch of extra SSNs for Pacific duties, but then again, I wonder too; have we really thought through the survivability of these boats, if pitted against an opponent who can, for the price of a single nuclear hunter-killer, deploy 5,000 passive- and active-sonar drones above and below the inversion layer, each of them ready to phone home at a moment's notice?

    Like generals, admirals have a habit of fighting the last war, and it may be cause for grave concern.

    1. EvilDrSmith

      Re: Are lessons ever learned in time?

      All good points, but then the question is, what should we do?

      In the first instance, perhaps, stay out of other people's (nation's) business.

      Except the 'bad guys' (whoever they are / however they are defined) can't be relied upon not to intervene in the affairs of our friends, who may be too small to defend themselves against all potential aggressors.

      And unless we want every country to act like North Korea, we are all tied together via various trade links.

      As a result, it's probably sensible to have an ability to deploy military power away from our immediate borders.

      Plus, in respect of the carriers at least, they are useful outside of war: evacuation and disaster relief operations are not uncommon for the Royal Navy.

      So, as I said, good questions, but with no easy answers.

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: Are lessons ever learned in time?

        Obviously not - they let a French spy onboard disguised as an ambassador ... :-)

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Are lessons ever learned in time?

      Churchill undoubtedly made mistakes - but he also made very good decisions against military advice too. And he also often took military advice. Admittedly often much to the frustration of the military advisors who had to spend/waste hours persuading him that they were right. Alanbrooke's diaries are a good source of this. Like Marshall in the US he sacrificed his chance of field command to play politics instead - and in both cases to often very good effect.

      There's a whole chapter in his WWII history called "The Squandering of the Royal Soveriegns" which involves his hairbrained scheme to refit these obsolescent battleships with massive anti-air defences and send them into the Baltic to help the Finns against the Russians and stop Swedish iron ore shipments to Germany. It would also mean specially worked up escorts and special floatation systems to get them through the straits around Denmark - as the Kiel canal was not going to be available to them.

      It was a completely hairbrained idea, and goodness knows how much effort it would have cost. Or how many hours they've have survived before the Luftwaffe sank the lot of them. Or how long it took to persuade him to stop being silly.

  24. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Admiral Kuznetsov on fire

    Russia's only aircraft carrier is currently on fire in Murmansk. When it was towed through the English Channel on it's way to Syria I observed we wouldn't have to sink it, we'd just have to sink it's tug boat.

  25. ThorWarhammer

    My old friend from Dubai, Daniel with some diving friends from Thailand researched and found HMS Repulse after years of trying

    It also unfortunately killed him, he went down on his own for one last dive & didn't surface

  26. Blake St. Claire

    What about the double decker buses?

    It just doesn't seem right that the RN didn't park 470 buses on PoW like they did for the HMS QE.

    Or paint it with 1.5 million m² of paint covering 370 acres.

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