No Washington Treaty...

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neil hilton
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Re: No Washington Treaty...

Post by neil hilton » Fri May 21, 2010 10:42 am

The first ship sunk by aircraft while underway was PoW in Dec 41. The vessels sunk by single torpedo hits refered to by lwd were all submarine launched I believe, sunk by ambush were the ship was completely unaware until hit. Not comparable to an airstrike.

I do think it wouldn't actually be that hard to convert a CV to a BB or BC as long as the hull design is sufficiently robust. The hanger deck is basically a big open box and could be relatively easily removed and heavy turrets installed if the hull design has the mountings. It might take a year but that is quicker than building a new BB from scratch. I think the treaty designers thought that navies might try to build carriers just to give hulls that could be converted in time of war and thus applied tonnage limits to carriers to stop such a loop hole.
I know this is reading between the lines and I have no evidence but it does make some sense.

Regarding the torpedo bomber squardon of the RN formed in 1918. Obviously this was an important step in the development of naval aviation, but it was just an experimental thing as far as I know, unproven in battle. With the treaty only 3 years later this experiment recieved a lot more funding and attention.
Without the treaty most of that extra funding would have been allocated to BB development IMO.
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Re: No Washington Treaty...

Post by lwd » Fri May 21, 2010 2:45 pm

neil hilton wrote:The first ship sunk by aircraft while underway was PoW in Dec 41.
I think if you look you will find cases earlier in the war. The Crete and Norway campaigns for instance.
The vessels sunk by single torpedo hits refered to by lwd were all submarine launched I believe, sunk by ambush were the ship was completely unaware until hit. Not comparable to an airstrike.
The point was that torpedoes were know to be leathal to ships in WWI and that airplanes were being designed to carry them and indeed present in operational squadraons assigned to carriers before the treaties.
I do think it wouldn't actually be that hard to convert a CV to a BB or BC as long as the hull design is sufficiently robust.
Depending on your definiton of "hard". If you want a TDS and belt armor you'd probably be better off starting from scratch. Better, faster, and cheaper.
The hanger deck is basically a big open box and could be relatively easily removed and heavy turrets installed if the hull design has the mountings. It might take a year but that is quicker than building a new BB from scratch.
[/quote]
I think you are vastly understimating the problems. It's easier to go the other way and it took the Japanese 2 years to get Shinano mostly converted and they didn't have to do a lot of demolition.
I know this is reading between the lines and I have no evidence but it does make some sense.
Or not.
Regarding the torpedo bomber squardon of the RN formed in 1918. Obviously this was an important step in the development of naval aviation, but it was just an experimental thing as far as I know, unproven in battle. With the treaty only 3 years later this experiment recieved a lot more funding and attention.
or not. The primary drive for carriers was scouting and that would continue to be pushed. Jutland for instance was a battle that was in many ways dominated by the lack of information available to both sides. If one side had had better knowledge of what the other had where it could have been decisive. As long as you are building a carrier for scouting then putting a strike force on it makes sense as well particularly when the same planes can do both. That way you have the potential of fixing your oponent as well as finding him. Even a single torpedo can slow down an opponent and this was particularlyl true of WWI era ships.
Without the treaty most of that extra funding would have been allocated to BB development IMO.
I'm far from convinced. Note that the interwar navies tended to be very competative. If it was reported that one power was building x number of carriers then the others would want at least x as well. That logic is pointed out in some of my previous references. Furthermore big carriers are more flexable than little ones so there would be a push there as well. In a case lke this one power doesn't even have to be building them it only takes a rumor witness the Alaskas.

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Re: No Washington Treaty...

Post by lwd » Fri May 21, 2010 6:18 pm

Through happen stance I ran across an account of Sir Percy Moreton Scott and looked up a bit more about him. I mistakenly posted the following links over on the BCV thread.

http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Percy_Scott
http://www.archive.org/details/fiftyyea ... 00scotuoft

The latter links indirectly to a PDF version of his book written in 1919 where he makes (an admitedly some what flawed) case for the superiority of the carrier and the submarine over the battleship!

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Re: No Washington Treaty...

Post by alecsandros » Fri May 21, 2010 8:29 pm

The book won't open...
It's anyway very interesting to know that someone thought about carrier > battleship in 1919. :D A visionary...

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Re: No Washington Treaty...

Post by neil hilton » Mon May 24, 2010 1:04 pm

When I said PoW was the first ship sunk by aircraft, I meant first BB as that refers directly to the BB/CV limitations imposed by the treaty, the point of this thread. I should have been more clear about that. :oops:

A single unproven operational torpedo bomber squadron is hardly proof of a change in doctrine or naval power projection, it sounds like an experiment still in the R&D phase. And experimental weapon systems are often dropped when funding dries up, just like in the cut backs after ww1.

Consider the tank. At the end of ww1 only Britain had a workable tank and they were all scrapped after the war because the army brass believed they were a peculiararity of the western front. A few visionaries continued development but with little funding and were viewed by the mainstream as eccentric. Only the Germans and USSR ran with the idea of tank warfare because their armies were essentially disbanded after the war (or similar) and they could start again from scratch essentially.

The similarities between tank development and naval avaition as a strike weapon are apparent I think. Whos to say that if the Washington Treaty hadn't happened that naval strike avaition wouldn't have been dropped like tanks were (or at the very least put on the back burner until the next war). Naval aviation proponents as far as I'm aware were treated as eccentrics like the tank proponents.

Regarding the conversion of CVs into BBs, it is the hull that counts as it is the hardest and most complex part of a ship to build. If a 'CV' were designed with a BB/BC hull then later conversion wouldn't be that hard, as stated the hanger is just a big box that could be fairly easily replaced with a conventional superstructure, pre made thicker armour plates could be installed and pre-built turrets put in. This is why I think the gun calibre limits for CVs were made in the treaty, to prevent heavy mounts and pseudo barbette enclosures being installed in the hulls of CVs which would have allowed reasonable conversion.

Regarding the conversion of Shinano, wasn't that when Japan was being bombed all the time, under submarine blockade and her industry was starved of resources and stretched beyond its limits? I'm impressed they managed to finish her at all.

Large carriers are more fexible and their large airgroups are especially effective at overwhelming a target ships/TFs AAA. For scouting and ground support though a large cohesive airgroup is not necessary, a consistent trickle of aircraft is needed providing continuous cover (the CAB rank system of close air support for example). This can be just as easily achieved by 2 CVLs, and if 1 is lost you can still maintain some cover. Thus fleet carriers are good at naval strikes but CVLs are just as good at scouting and ground support but less expensive.
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Re: No Washington Treaty...

Post by lwd » Tue May 25, 2010 6:51 pm

alecsandros wrote:The book won't open...
It's anyway very interesting to know that someone thought about carrier > battleship in 1919. :D A visionary...
It's a very big file and the first several pages are blank and rather yellowed. You may have to give it a fair amount of time. Definitly a visionary but his glasses were somewhat cracked. He also thought subs with battleship caliber guns would be a serious threat to battleships. Still a very interesting read. Try opening it then leave it alone for half an hour or so. Once you get it you may want to save a local copy. He was a very interesting indivdual who had a number of novel ideas and wasn't afraid to make waves.

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Re: No Washington Treaty...

Post by lwd » Tue May 25, 2010 7:25 pm

neil hilton wrote:When I said PoW was the first ship sunk by aircraft, I meant first BB as that refers directly to the BB/CV limitations imposed by the treaty, the point of this thread. I should have been more clear about that.
On the otherhand it was already known that torpedoes could sink battleships and indeed Bismarck was dissabled and sunk as a consequence of a torpedo hit from an aircraft before POW and threre was the Toronto and later the PH raids. So it was widely acknowledge in 41 that a torpedo plane could sink a battleships. The opertunity just hadn't shown up yet. Nor is sinking a battlship all that important a step. Damaging battlehips or sinking or even damaging smaller vessels was considered a very useful thing.
A single unproven operational torpedo bomber squadron is hardly proof of a change in doctrine or naval power projection, it sounds like an experiment still in the R&D phase. And experimental weapon systems are often dropped when funding dries up, just like in the cut backs after ww1.
Well it wasn't only a torpedo squadron but there existed a plan to use them vs the High Seas Fleet. Experimental perhaps but clearly an indicator that they were considered potentially leathal to battleships even then. Indeed for the squadron and carrier to exist at that time the arguments as to their utility must have been won some time before.
Consider the tank. At the end of ww1 only Britain had a workable tank and they were all scrapped after the war because the army brass believed they were a peculiararity of the western front. A few visionaries continued development but with little funding and were viewed by the mainstream as eccentric. Only the Germans and USSR ran with the idea of tank warfare because their armies were essentially disbanded after the war (or similar) and they could start again from scratch essentially.
I don't think that's accurate. One need only look at all the developmental tanks in the 30s. The tanks of WWI were any many ways outmoded by the end of the war. It took some time for the lessons to sink in and people to think about them. The same case can be made for aircraft in general and carrier aircraft in particular.
The similarities between tank development and naval avaition as a strike weapon are apparent I think. Whos to say that if the Washington Treaty hadn't happened that naval strike avaition wouldn't have been dropped like tanks were (or at the very least put on the back burner until the next war). Naval aviation proponents as far as I'm aware were treated as eccentrics like the tank proponents.
While naval strike aviation may in some ways have parralled the tank naval aviation had huge promice in the scout roll. Note the proliferation of scout planes and sea planes in the worlds navies. In such a roll the carrier had a huge advantage over other aviation technologies. For one thing a carrier promised to allow one to deny via fighter aircraft your opponets ability to scout from the air. Furthermore it was obvious that you could gain a strike component almost for free. A bomber (of any flavor) with a small or no bomb load makes a pretty good scout. Once you've located the enemy it then gives you the potential of softening him up and/or fixing him for you surface ships. Indeed the fact that they were limited in the treaty and to such low levels shows how important they were considered at the time.
Regarding the conversion of CVs into BBs, it is the hull that counts as it is the hardest and most complex part of a ship to build. If a 'CV' were designed with a BB/BC hull then later conversion wouldn't be that hard, as stated the hanger is just a big box that could be fairly easily replaced with a conventional superstructure, pre made thicker armour plates could be installed and pre-built turrets put in. This is why I think the gun calibre limits for CVs were made in the treaty, to prevent heavy mounts and pseudo barbette enclosures being installed in the hulls of CVs which would have allowed reasonable conversion.
I'm not at all convinced. Do you have anything to support this?
Regarding the conversion of Shinano, wasn't that when Japan was being bombed all the time, under submarine blockade and her industry was starved of resources and stretched beyond its limits? I'm impressed they managed to finish her at all.
Her keel was laid in May 1940. Work was stopped for a while due to other demands. Her hull was well underway at the time of Midway when it was decided to finish her as a carrier. She was launched in October of 1944 but wasn't really complete at that time. Let's take a look at another example Ise from:
http://www.combinedfleet.com/Ise.htm
August 1942: To partially compensate for the loss of carrier strength at Midway, the Navy Aircraft Department begins plans to convert the ISE-class battleships to full-sized carriers each carrying 54 planes. This concept is abandoned due to lack of time and resources and the hybrid battleship/carriers concept is adopted.
...
29 November 1942: Undocked.

23 February 1943: Second Reconstruction: Kure. Registered as a 4th rank (lowest) Reserve ship. This date marks the official start of the rebuild.

The ISE is drydocked and begins conversion to a battleship/carrier. Her aft 36-cm. (14-in.) turrets Nos. 5 and 6 and their barbettes are removed, as is her 140-mm. (5. 5-in.) secondary casemate armament. A hangar surmounted by about a 70 meter long flight deck is added to handle and launch aircraft, but not for landings. ...
ISE, as now modified, can carry 22 aircraft. .... The aircraft cannot not take off from, or land on, the small flight deck; rather, they are to be catapult-launched and land either on conventional carriers or land bases. ....
10 August 1943: Kure. ISE's Second Reconstruction is completed. Reassigned to BatDiv 2, First Fleet.
So here we have a pretty minimal conversion in arguably the easier direction. It takes a year from the planning phase to completion and 6 months of construction. I just don't see going the other way as something you can do in less than a couple of years.

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Re: No Washington Treaty...

Post by neil hilton » Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:27 pm

Yes, it was widely known in 1941 that airborne torpedoes could sink ships. Was this known in 1921 before the Washington Treaty?

Regarding the RN plan to air-torpedo the HSF during 1917/18, armies and navies are always coming up with wierd and wonderful plans to end the war by christmas and some of them actually work. Do you know why the plan was never carried out?

Another point is that the RN, USN and the IJN all converted BCs to CVs after the treaty. Why? Was it because they saw CVs as the future or was it to keep a few more ships on the inventory and out of the treaties clutches.
Also when were the first purpose built CVs built? Hermes 1919, Hosho 1922, both CVLs. The first purpose built fleet CVs were only bulit in the mid/late 30s. All of these long after the treaty had effected naval developmant.
Without the treaty those BCs wouldn't have been converted and its arguable whether any of the fleet CVs ever would have been. Thus naval aviation may well have been stunted at the level of Hermes and Hosho and others like them for a long time.

Regarding the possible conversion of treaty CVs into BCs during wartime. If all the heavy duty work (construction of turrets and armour plates etc) and planning was done at the same time as ship construction (ie part of the architects original plan because conversion would be his intention) then the actual conversion could be done in only 6 months to a year.

Tanks went through a lot of development in the 30s, true. So did naval aviation, after the treaty.

My entire theory here is just that.Theory, speculation, hypothesis, conjecture and reading between the lines at possible hidden meanings. Military budget cuts after wars is usual and the military brass are often forced into making hard decisions regarding funding and such, it would be IMO perfectly reasonable for them to cut R&D into naval aviation to the bone, just like they did with tanks post ww1. However the treaty saved naval aviation and doomed the battlefleet to a slow death IMO.
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Re: No Washington Treaty...

Post by lwd » Tue Jun 01, 2010 3:06 pm

neil hilton wrote:Yes, it was widely known in 1941 that airborne torpedoes could sink ships. Was this known in 1921 before the Washington Treaty?
Almost assuredly. Some of the early arial torpedos were used on surface ships as well. The delivery mechamism is more or less irrelevant.
Regarding the RN plan to air-torpedo the HSF during 1917/18, armies and navies are always coming up with wierd and wonderful plans to end the war by christmas and some of them actually work. Do you know why the plan was never carried out?
The war ended before they were ready to launch the attack, at least that's what the reference stated.
Another point is that the RN, USN and the IJN all converted BCs to CVs after the treaty. Why? Was it because they saw CVs as the future or was it to keep a few more ships on the inventory and out of the treaties clutches.
It was because the hulls were already under construction and they were close to what they wanted in terms of size and speed. Note that it wasn't completed BCs that were converted but ships under consturction. I.e. a money saving device.
Also when were the first purpose built CVs built? Hermes 1919, Hosho 1922, both CVLs. The first purpose built fleet CVs were only bulit in the mid/late 30s. All of these long after the treaty had effected naval developmant.
But so had the lessons learned from the first carriers. Indeed the first purpose built US CV was smaller than desired (ie the lessons learned from the Langley and the Lexingtons) it was limited by the treaty and the US desire to have the same number of carriers as the Japanese. The clear implication is that it would have been larger in the absence of the treaty.
Without the treaty those BCs wouldn't have been converted and its arguable whether any of the fleet CVs ever would have been. Thus naval aviation may well have been stunted at the level of Hermes and Hosho and others like them for a long time.
There is indeed a good chance that the BCs would not have been converted. The case that can be made against CV's is much weaker. The clear trend was that larger faster carriers were much more effective. If you compare CVs vs CVLs it's pretty clear. Let's take the Essex vs the Independence. The Essex is faster and has a longer range. She carrys 3 times (90-100 vs 30) planes on about 2.5 times the displacemsent and has 2 times the compliment. There are also the not inconsiderable logistics advantages.
Regarding the possible conversion of treaty CVs into BCs during wartime. If all the heavy duty work (construction of turrets and armour plates etc) and planning was done at the same time as ship construction (ie part of the architects original plan because conversion would be his intention) then the actual conversion could be done in only 6 months to a year.
I seriously doubt it and even if it could it would result in a compromised carrier.
Tanks went through a lot of development in the 30s, true. So did naval aviation, after the treaty.
And during the treaty as well.
My entire theory here is just that.Theory, speculation, hypothesis, conjecture and reading between the lines at possible hidden meanings. Military budget cuts after wars is usual and the military brass are often forced into making hard decisions regarding funding and such, it would be IMO perfectly reasonable for them to cut R&D into naval aviation to the bone, just like they did with tanks post ww1. However the treaty saved naval aviation and doomed the battlefleet to a slow death IMO.
IMO it simply doesn't stand up. Possible yes, likely no. Certainly applying Occam's razor would indicate otherwise.

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Re: No Washington Treaty...

Post by lwd » Tue Jun 01, 2010 3:26 pm

It's also worth noting that the first US torpedo plane was contracted for in April of 1921. See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_DT
http://www.aviastar.org/air/usa/douglas_dt.php
and these were tested on the Langley as were the follow on T2D's which were significantly heavier. Empty weights were for the DT-2 (the immediate successor to the DT-1) 2,054kg vs 2,726kg and loaded 3,308kg vs 4,773kg according to Wiki above and: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_T2D
Here's a photo of the DT-2 launching from Langley
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... angley.jpg

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Re: No Washington Treaty...

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Jun 05, 2010 6:43 pm

If no treaty and we consider the vessels the naval powers had in their design board it is quite easy to determine that the real struggle was between UK and Japan. You can check that in R&R adn G&D books.
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Re: No Washington Treaty...

Post by neil hilton » Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:09 am

lwd wrote:
Tanks went through a lot of development in the 30s, true. So did naval aviation, after the treaty.
And during the treaty as well.
But very little before the treaty. Which is my point.

From what I've seen naval aviation development as a naval strike weapon was proceeding apace up until the end of ww1 and was then almost abandoned. No new carriers were planned or converted, TBD squadrons were disbanded etc. Typical of post war budget cuts just like in all the other armed services (tanks were also almost abandoned up until the 30s) The major navies all planned for heavier and heavier BBs and BCs (no CVs).
And then the Washington Treaty came into effect in 1922. Planned BBs and BCs were all either scrapped, cut down in size or converted into CVs. Over the course of the 20s naval aviation development began to pick up a bit, a few new naval specific aircraft were designed, existing BBs were refitted to include spotting aircraft. All while the treaty was in effect. It was only in the 30s however when naval aviation development really began to take off. New dedicated CVs designed and built, improved naval aircraft designed and tactics on how to use them etc.
From this timeline its seems pretty clear that most of the significant naval aviation development occured after the Washington treaty came into effect and after it was abandoned.
If the Washington Treaty had never happened where would the limited amount of navy funding of the major navies have gone? The initial post by IronDuke stated that the BBs and BCs already on the draughtboards would have been built, no CVs. There would be very little left for anything else for quite a while.
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Re: No Washington Treaty...

Post by RF » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:33 am

lwd wrote:
neil hilton wrote:The first ship sunk by aircraft while underway was PoW in Dec 41.
I think if you look you will find cases earlier in the war. The Crete and Norway campaigns for instance.
The USS Panay, sunk by the Japanese in 1938, was I believe the first.
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Re: No Washington Treaty...

Post by RF » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:38 am

neil hilton wrote: If the Washington Treaty had never happened where would the limited amount of navy funding of the major navies have gone? The initial post by IronDuke stated that the BBs and BCs already on the draughtboards would have been built, no CVs. There would be very little left for anything else for quite a while.
Given the financial constraints I am inclined to agree with the last sentance. Those powers who would have gone for an unlimited size navy largely disregarded the Washington Naval Treaty anyway.....
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Re: No Washington Treaty...

Post by lwd » Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:50 am

That may have held in the early 20's but I'm not sure it would have after that. The Japanese in particular were looking for a way to overcome the advantage of the British and US in terms of BBs and they simply couldn't have built enough to do it. The carrier promised to be a possible edge. Early on scouting was probably considered as the most important but attack aircraft were clearly a consideration at the time.

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