In August 1953, the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, Nikolai Kuznetsov, presented to the Minister of Defense of the USSR Nikolai Bulganin a report in which he outlined his views on tasks and development fleet, and also formulated proposals for the construction of new warships. The report emphasized that "in the post-war conditions, without the presence of aircraft carriers in the Navy, the solution of the main tasks of the fleet cannot be achieved."
Since that time, more than 50 years have passed, and as part of the national fleet there is the only understaffed aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, and the life time of the Russian military fleet on the high seas in the event of a real war is calculated in minutes. On the tragic fate of the domestic aircraft carrier fleet, Popular Mechanics was told by the chief designer of the 1160 project's atomic aircraft carrier project, deputy chief designer of the aircraft carrier of the 1153 project and heavy aircraft carrier cruisers Arkady Morin.
Appearing in the 20-ies of the last century, aircraft carriers were initially considered solely as a means of supporting combat operations of the main striking force of the fleet - battleships. That was until 7 December 1941, when the Japanese carrier fleet sank the American battleships at Pearl Harbor. Immediately after the attack, the Americans laid a series of 24 aircraft carriers of the Essex type - such a large series of such large warships in stories world shipbuilding was neither before nor after. Seventeen aircraft carriers from the series managed to enter service during the war and allowed the United States to win the battle in the Pacific. It is noteworthy that the most powerful of the battleships ever built, the Japanese Yamato with nine 457-mm guns, which was not able to cause serious damage to the enemy ships during the entire war, was sunk in April 1945 by aircraft from American aircraft carriers.
After the war, it became clear to all countries that new undivided owners — aircraft carriers — appeared in the open sea. Everyone except the USSR. However, Nikolai Kuznetsov, an ardent supporter of the new type of ships, the flagship of the 2 fleet of the Navy, appointed in April 1939 of the Navy Commissar, was in our country. Thanks to his efforts, the plans of the third five-year plan of 1938 – 1942 included the laying of two aircraft carriers, one each for the Northern and Pacific fleets. However, as early as January 1940, the naval plan was cut in half, and there were no aircraft carriers in it. Stalin had an inexplicable passion for huge battleships, and few dared to object to him. But Kuznetsov did not let up - on his instructions in the TsKB-17 under the direction of V.V. Ashika continued development of aircraft carriers. The work was carried out in two directions: a large aircraft carrier with a two-tier hangar on an 62 aircraft (72 project) and a small one-level on an 32 aircraft (71 project). The deck fighter was planned to be replaced by the ship modification of the famous Yakovlev fighter Yak-9K, the Tupolev Design Bureau was to develop the PT-M71 ship torpedo bombers. The main way to take-off aircraft from aircraft carriers was a free run on the flight deck, the use of catapults was provided only with a maximum take-off mass and adverse weather conditions.
Created by Kuznetsov at the beginning of 1945, the commission for choosing the necessary types of ships for the post-war fleet formation came up to the need to create two types of aircraft carriers first: squadrons (large) - for the Northern and Pacific fleets and small - for the Baltic and Black Sea. Based on the findings of the commission, the Main Marine Headquarters, when drafting proposals for a prospective plan for post-war development of the Navy, provided for the construction of nine large aircraft carriers (six for the Pacific and three for the Northern fleets) and six small for the Northern fleet. When considering the number of aircraft carriers in the government reduced to four, and Stalin summed up: "Well, let's build two small pieces." But they also disappeared from the final version of the plan: the leaders of the Narkomsudproma stated that “they are not yet ready to build such fundamentally new ships”. The paradox was that without such ships, the construction of others lost all meaning. So in the USSR began to build a meaningless fleet.
Low cost aircraft carrier
According to the plan of the great strategist, during the ten post-war years it was planned to build four heavy and 30 light cruisers, and in the 1953 – 1956 years to lay three more heavy and seven light cruisers. At the same time, Stalin intended to continue the construction of one of the three battleships of the 23 project that had been laid before the war, and to begin building two more on the more advanced 1955 project in 24. All over the world such plans would be considered as idiotic, in the USSR they were called brilliant.
In this regard, work on the 72 squadron aircraft carrier project ceased, and instead the indefatigable Kuznetsov approved a new technical task for the development of a small squadron aircraft carrier that could perform in the coastal zone the tasks of anti-aircraft defense of the formation, participation in anti-submarine defense, deploying convoys and support the landing of the landing force.
Such a "budget" aircraft carrier had to carry 30-40 aircraft in hangars. To facilitate the launch, it was planned to install one catapult in the nasal extremity. As an option, the completion project was considered as the aircraft carrier of the heavy cruiser Kronstadt or the completion of the captured German aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin. Kronstadt was in low technical readiness (10-15%), its completion required about five years, and as a result, it was scrapped. A German aircraft carrier could have been completed in less than three years, but the allies, in whose area of responsibility there were a lot of ready-made equipment and weapons for "Count Zeppelin," strongly opposed the implementation of this plan and insisted on the destruction of equipment. Negotiations of the tripartite commission did not lead to anything, and the "Count" was shot as a floating target aviation and the fleet on August 16, 1947. Even before that, in January 1947, Kuznetsov was dismissed by the false commander of the Navy for false denunciations, and work on aircraft carriers in the USSR ceased again.
Very small aircraft carrier
In 1951, Kuznetsov was again appointed naval minister of the USSR, and he again revives the aircraft carrier theme. But all his reports have no success either before or after Stalin’s death. The only thing he managed to achieve was to save a light aircraft carrier (project 85) in terms of ship design for 1955 – 1960 years.
Meanwhile, the era of jet aircraft. The projected light aircraft carrier had to carry 40 fighter jets, two helicopters, have a standard displacement of 24 000 t and a cruising range from 5000 miles. But the creation of such a ship required the pooling of resources not only from the Ministry of Food Industry and Mintyazhmash, but also from Minaviaprom, which sabotaged the project. In April, 1955, Kuznetsov, directly addressed Khrushchev with a request to involve Yakovlev, Mikoyan and Sukhoi in the project. This was Kuznetsov’s last attempt to save an aircraft carrier — a month later he collapsed with a heart attack, and then was removed from his post by Defense Minister Zhukov “for poor naval management” and demoted. Only after 14 years after the death, the talented naval commander was returned to the rank of Admiral of the fleet of the Soviet Union.
Carriers were left without protection. The new commander in chief of the Navy, Admiral Gorshkov, was completely absorbed in the only task - to keep his own seat (and he succeeded - he remained commander in chief for exactly thirty years), so he preferred not to quarrel with anyone. And when Khrushchev rocket came into vogue weapon, which was designed to solve almost all tasks - from the destruction of enemy ships to air defense. Work on aircraft carriers was interrupted, but instead TsKB-16 was entrusted with the development of an air defense missile ship (project 81), which, by the way, was also not built. The military shipbuilding program developed by Gorshkov for 1958 – 1965 provided for the protection of ships from enemy aircraft in the ocean with rocket weapons only. The military-ignorant program was brilliant in terms of career — Khrushchev was crazy about missiles. The word "aircraft carrier" fell into the category of taboos.
Nevertheless, there were people who understood that without aircraft carriers, the fleet was nowhere. In 1959 – 1960, TsKB-17 (now Nevskoye PKB), on behalf of the State Committee for Shipbuilding, carried out a design study of the “fighter aircraft’s floating base” (PBIA), since it was easy to lose work by using the term “aircraft carrier”. The operation of the PBIA was to be paired with the air defense ship, mutually complementing each other. The base with a displacement of about 30 000 T carried 30 fighters, four aircraft of the radar patrol and two helicopters and performed the following tasks: search for connections of enemy ships, destruction of enemy aircraft on long-range approaches, detection of low-flying targets over the horizon. However, the study had no support from related industries and rather served as a trainer of design personnel for further work on aircraft carriers, the appearance of which most naval experts had no doubt. But they underestimated Gorshkov - this prominent strategist in his publications smashed aircraft carriers as a “weapon of aggression”, inflating, on the one hand, their exorbitant cost, and on the other, attributing to them imaginary vulnerability from missiles, including ballistic ones. The main stake in his doctrine was made on the underwater strategic fleet and naval strategic aviation.
Unlucky Boat Hunters
15 November The 1960 of the year, on its first combat patrol, was the nuclear submarine "George Washington" armed with the 16 nuclear ballistic missiles Polaris A1, the first in the eponymous series of American missile-carrying submarines. Given the short range ("Polaris A1" - 1200 miles, "Polaris A3" - 2500 miles) flight of missiles, patrol areas were in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean. To fight with them, according to Gorshkov's idea, search and attack groups were created consisting of patrol ships, submarine hunters, and missile destroyers whose task was to protect the patrol ships. Gorshkov’s special pride were the 58-series rocket destroyers - “Grozny”, “Admiral Fokin”, “Admiral Golovko” and “Varyag”, the will of the commander-in-chief renamed to “cruisers”, which gave the right to declare the creation of “the first and the world of missile cruisers who had no foreign analogues ". By the way, the American destroyers 1970-x surpassed our cruisers in displacement almost twice. But this is not the main thing - the patrol did not cope with their task chronically.
By this time, Khrushchev replaced Brezhnev and Andrei Grechko became Minister of Defense. Gorshkov immediately changed his course to 180 degrees and returned to the ideas of Kuznetsov to create an ocean-going fleet, albeit in a peculiarly truncated version. In 1967, the Black Sea Fleet was replenished with the next “unparalleled in the world” creation of Gorshkov - the anti-submarine cruiser (ASM) “Moscow”, the anti-submarine defense ship of the remote zone with group-based helicopters. The underdeck hangar accommodates 14 helicopters that coped with the tasks of finding submarines much more efficiently than patrols. The main task of “Moscow” was the round-the-clock search for boats, for which four helicopters were constantly in the air, at a distance of 50 km from the ship. A year later, the flag was raised on the same type of anti-ship missile "Leningrad". The very first long hikes of “Moscow” and “Leningrad” showed that these ships were not able to counteract American submarines due to the increased combat qualities of the latter. In addition, the American aircraft carrier groups in the Mediterranean Sea behaved extremely arrogantly, defiantly performing flights over the very deck of our helicopter carriers, and even provoking direct collisions of ships.
In July, an amazing device was shown at the air show at Domodedovo Airport in July, which was first seen not only by ordinary citizens, but also by many military men - the Yak-1967 vertical take-off and landing aircraft, the successor of the 36’s experimental “turbo-guns.” Initially, the Yak-1950 was developed as a front-attack attack aircraft, which could provide support to troops in the conditions of destroyed front-line airfields, taking off directly from the forest glades. The aircraft did not satisfy the army aviation, and Yakovlev tried to attach it to the fleet, since even in 36 the pilot Bill Bralford made a vertical landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier “Arc Royal”, which plied the waters of the L-aircraft, on an experimental Hawker Siddeley P.1963. Manche. Yakovlev was supported by Dmitry Ustinov (at that time deputy chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers), and Gorshkov could not resist - the construction of the third ship of the Moscow series (they had already begun to cut the metal under him) in Nikolaev was suspended. Instead, it was decided to start the construction of the 1127 "Kiev" series of missiles with vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL). Moreover, six launchers of the P-1143 "Basalt" giant anti-ship missiles were provided to scare away American aircraft carriers. The technical project of the new ship was made as soon as possible by April of the 500 of the year, and in December of the 1970 of the year “Kiev” was launched. Gorshkov invented a new ship and a new name - a heavy aircraft carrier, TAVKR. Needless to say, the USSR created the world's first TAVKR. And in the summer of 1972, this TAVKR with five combat serial VTOL Yak-31976M and one training Yak-36MU made the transition around Europe to the place of its deployment in the Northern Fleet. The first Yak-36M flights outside the USSR took place in the Mediterranean Sea near the island of Crete. The Americans this time kept away from the ship - they were warned that there might be special combat units for the "Basalts".
Three years later, a twin went to the Pacific Ocean bypassing Africa - TAVKR “Minsk” with more advanced aircraft - the Yak-38. Flights in the tropics finally dispelled the myths about the aircraft VTOL - in conditions of high temperature and humidity of the air lift engines stopped running. And even when they were launched, they could only fly with the weapon removed and incomplete refueling. Nevertheless, the construction of these expensive ships continued: in the 1982 year, the Novorossiysk TAVKR was launched, and in Baku, the 1987. Only Ustinov’s death in 1984 and the resignation of the great naval commander Gorshkov, which followed a year later, led to the cessation of the production of TAVKRs, the Soviet miracle ships.
1927 year. The project of conversion of the training ship "Komsomolets" into an aircraft carrier
Back in 1925, the command of the Naval Forces of the Red Army proposed to convert the unfinished battle cruiser Izmail and the battleship Poltava into aircraft carriers. However, for the post-war country, this was not possible. The ship was supposed to carry in the hangar and on the flight deck to 42 fighters and bombers. The project remained on paper.
The 71 aircraft carrier project on the basis of a light cruiser. In February 1938, the Navy General Headquarters approved the requirements for a future Soviet aircraft carrier to operate on the open sea and off the coast of the enemy with reconnaissance, bomber and anti-aircraft targets. He had to carry 45 fighters and light bombers, eight 130-mm guns and eight twin anti-aircraft guns. For these TTX TSNII-45 has prepared a draft small aircraft carrier 71.
Light cruiser aircraft carrier 71 project
In February 1938, the Navy General Headquarters approved the requirements for the future Soviet aircraft carrier for operations on the open sea and off the coast of the enemy with reconnaissance, bomber and anti-aircraft targets. He had to carry 45 fighters and light bombers, eight 130-mm guns and eight twin anti-aircraft guns. For these TTX TSNII-45 has prepared a draft small aircraft carrier 71.
1942 year. German aircraft carrier "Graf Zeppelin" Founded at the end of 1938, the German aircraft carrier was quite different from its counterparts. The ship had a “cruising” armored deck with bevels, the constructive inclusion of the flight deck in ensuring the overall strength of the hull and a lengthy vertical reservation of thickness along the hull. The launch of deck vehicles was supposed to be carried out exclusively with the help of two polyspast-pneumatic catapults located in the forward part of the flight deck.
1942 year. German aircraft carrier "Count Zeppelin"
Founded at the end of 1938, the German aircraft carrier was quite different from its counterparts. The ship had a “cruising” armored deck with bevels, the constructive inclusion of the flight deck in ensuring the overall strength of the hull and a lengthy vertical reservation of thickness along the hull. The launch of deck vehicles was supposed to be carried out exclusively with the help of two polyspast-pneumatic catapults located in the forward part of the flight deck.
1944 year. The 72 aircraft carrier projectThe heavy aircraft carrier project was developed by the TsKB-17 in the middle of the war, taking into account the performance of serial 1943 front-end machines for the fighter and foreign counterparts for the deck-mounted torpedo bomber. In the role of a fighter, a modification of the Yak-9K was planned, and the PT-M71 ship torpedo bomber was to develop the Tupolev design bureau. A two-tier hangar would allow an 62 aircraft to be placed on the aircraft carrier.
1944 year. Project aircraft carrier 72
The project of a heavy aircraft carrier was developed by the TsKB-17 in the middle of the war, taking into account the flight characteristics of serial 1943 front-line aircraft for fighter aircraft and foreign counterparts for the deck torpedo bomber. In the role of a fighter, a modification of the Yak-9K was planned, and the PT-M71 ship torpedo bomber was to develop the Tupolev design bureau. A two-tier hangar would allow an 62 aircraft to be placed on the aircraft carrier.
1945 year. Conversion into an aircraft carrier of a heavy cruiser project 69Even in the middle of the war, the Naval Academy analyzed fleet operations at sea, making recommendations for the development of domestic shipbuilding. Proceeding from them, the Scientific and Technical Committee proposed to complete the heavy cruisers of the Kronstadt type, which had been built in 1939, as aircraft carriers. The proposal did not meet with support.
1945 year. Conversion to the 69 heavy cruiser aircraft carrier
Back in the middle of the war, the Naval Academy conducted an analysis of naval operations at sea, making recommendations for the development of domestic shipbuilding. Proceeding from them, the Scientific and Technical Committee proposed to complete the heavy cruisers of the Kronstadt type, which had been built in 1939, as aircraft carriers. The proposal did not meet with support.
1143 cruiser “Baku” The third heavy aircraft carrying cruiser of the 1143 project was laid in 1975 under the name “Baku”, continuing the tradition of naming aircraft carriers in honor of the capitals of the Union republics. However, later, at the suggestion of the Minister of Defense Grechko, the cruiser was renamed “Novorossiysk” in honor of Leonid Ilyich’s book “Malaya Zemlya”. The ship, created under the new aircraft Yak-41, at the time of delivery were forced to staffing outdated Yak-38. In 1983, the Yak-38 was discontinued, and the new Yak-41 never appeared. As a result, the ship served its term in the Pacific as a simple helicopter carrier. The last launch of Novorossiysk in the sea took place in May 1991.
Cruiser 1143 "Baku"
The third heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser of the 1143 project was laid in 1975 under the name “Baku”, continuing the tradition of naming aircraft carriers in honor of the capitals of the Union republics. However, later, at the suggestion of the Minister of Defense Grechko, the cruiser was renamed Novorossiysk in honor of Leonid Ilyich’s book Small Land. The ship, created under the new aircraft Yak-41, at the time of delivery were forced to staffing outdated Yak-38. In 1983, the Yak-38 was discontinued, and the new Yak-41 never appeared. As a result, the ship served its term in the Pacific as a simple helicopter carrier. The last launch of Novorossiysk in the sea took place in May 1991.
One of the most interesting trophies of the Soviet troops is the practically completed German aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin. During the storming of Stettin in April 1945, where this ship stood in the roadstead, the Soviet troops did not manage to prevent its undermining by German sappers. Competently placed charges made the aircraft carrier unsuitable for recovery.