A reader tips me off to this discussion on Warship Projects Discussion Boards 3.0 about the idea of submarine aircraft carriers. The lead post includes this pic:
This is different than most plans for this idea, as it is not merely a helicopter carrier, a seaplane carrier, or a VSTOL carrier, but, in fact, a full flight deck flat-top. That submerges.
According to the drawing, the boat is 500 feet long and displaces 12,000 tons. (For comparison, an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine is 560 feet long and displaces 16,000 tons.) Now, using MS Paint, I determined that the drawing is 974 pixels in length, meaning that each pixel is about 0.51 feet. That makes the planes drawn on the flight deck about 21 feet long (41 pixels) with a wingspan of about 23 feet (45 pixels). For comparison, the A-4 Skyhawk was 40 feet long with a 27 foot wingspan. The earlier straight-winged F-9 Panther was 38 feet by 38 feet. Even the F4U Corsair from World War 2 was 33 feet long with a 41 foot wingspan. The point is, don’t look at the little planes drawn on the flight deck and think that it represents how much room there really would have been.
It seems to me that a sub operating a 20-30 naval aircraft would not be smaller than a sub carrying two dozen missiles to be launched from vertical tubes. It would have to be, in fact, much larger. I know that there are a lot of proposals out there for various STOL aircraft, and maybe this design planned on using one of them. The discussion board, in fact, has some in for on a proposed Douglas Attack Airplane Model 640 that might have fit the bill. Still, this looks pretty shaky to ol’ Murdoc.
The flight deck would be about 413 feet long 81 feet wide ( 809 pixels by 158 pixels). By comparison, Independence-class light carriers from World War 2 had flight decks 552 feet by 73 feet and they were not really usable for fixed-wing aircraft in the post-war period as the first jets were coming on line.
And can you imagine the sonar signature of this puppy when submerged? The whole idea behind submarines is that they hide underwater and cannot be found. And it says it has a submerged speed of 35 knots. Who do they think they’re kidding? Cavitating props? Super-cavitating props? How about super-duper-cavitating props? Kids building sandcastles on the beach could probably hear this thing rumbling past.
So you were right. This drawing appears to be a total crock.
Still, I’ve always liked the idea of a submarine carrier, no matter how unfeasible it probably is. I went rooting around MO for something I knew that I had written some time back, but finally found it in the comments section of a Hell in a Handbasket post on this subject. I’m going to reproduce two of my comments on that post here, and I suggest checking the whole thing out.
When I was a kid I used to use my dad’s old drafting stuff to design all sorts of weird things.
One of the things I worked on for a while was a modified GEORGE WASHINGTON class Polaris/Poseidon missile boat (this was before the Tridents were in service) modified to carry and operate this fancy-schmancy British VTOL aircraft called the Harrier. I recall that I managed to fit either five or seven of the things inside the hull, along with room for supplies and an elevator to a little one-plane launch/recovery deck.
I wish I still had all those drawings.
Yes, I was a weird child…
I remember not being sure how to deal with stowage of the aircraft, since it was a first-in-last-out thing as they only fit one wide and there was only one “door” for them to enter/exit. And that was if there was a way to fold the wings down somehow.
Not such a problem unless a damaged plane came back after the healthy ones, which would leave the good ones stuck behind the sick one. I recall lying awake at night trying to come up with a solution. I used little F4s from a plastic model kit of the USS INDEPENDENCE on a paper diagram to “simulate” operations. Man, was I WEIRD.
This was back when I figured a shooting war (toe-to-toe with the Rooskies, so to speak) would put a lot of our carriers on the ocean floor within a few weeks and we’d need a viable back-up plan to put planes out over the North Atlantic.
I really wish I had those drawings to see how far off from reality I was.
To be honest, at first glance I seem to think that my plans “looked” more reasonable than this drawing here. Still, who knows? I sure wish I had saved them.