Reading the article "The most absurd ships in stories naval fleet”, Which came out of the pen of the respected Oleg Kaptsov, I was surprised to find that the Soviet heavy aircraft-carrying cruisers of Project 1143 were included in the list of nominees for“ naval absurdism. ”This article is an attempt to figure out how appropriate our TAKR is in this rating.
Oleg Kaptsov writes:
The Americans were afraid of Soviet submarines, and they mocked TAKRs, calling them the surrogate creations of Admiral S.G. Gorshkov. And there was something to laugh about. The hybrid of a missile cruiser and an aircraft carrier turned out to be completely ineffective as a cruiser and completely inefficient as an aircraft carrier.
It’s hard to disagree. Indeed, ships of the "Kiev" type are clearly untenable in the role of cruisers, for this they were excessively large, but under-armed. And even more so, the TAKRs were not suitable as aircraft carriers - because of the inability to receive horizontal take-off and landing aircraft, they did not receive an adequate wing, capable of performing the whole variety of tasks of a fighter, assault and reconnaissance deck aviation. But is this enough to recognize them as useless or even absurd? In order to answer this question, let's look at the circumstances of the birth of project 1143.
The firstborn of the Soviet aircraft fleet were the ships of the 1123 project: "Moscow" and "Leningrad", representing a kind of anti-submarine helicopter carrier with good defensive armament.
They appeared as “our response to Chamberlain” on US nuclear submarines equipped with Polaris A1 ballistic missiles. For that time it was very formidable. weaponbut, in order to use it, the US submarines should have come closer to the coastal line of the USSR, because the launch range of such missiles at that time did not exceed 2200 km, and not all of their targets were located on the coast. For example: in the north, the start of "Polarisov" was expected directly from the waters of the Barents Sea.
At the same time, the Soviet acoustics were still not too good, and it would be possible to organize an effective search for enemy SSBNs if, in addition to the anti-submarine ships, to deploy search equipment on airplanes and helicopters. So, the construction of a specialized anti-submarine helicopter carrier seemed to suggest itself - and, contrary to popular opinion, the helicopter carrier was to act not in the world ocean, but in close proximity to its native coast. As a matter of fact, this is directly indicated by the HTA, in which Russian and white say that the main task of the 1123 anti-submarine cruiser is: “search and destruction of high-speed nuclear-powered submarines in the remote anti-submarine defense zones in a group of ships in cooperation with PLO aircraft” . In other words, the “far zone of the PLO” was understood not as an ocean, but a distance from the coast where ships could operate together with land-based PLO planes (there were no other PLO planes at that time in the USSR). Interestingly, originally it was planned to fit an anti-submarine helicopter carrier into a displacement of only 4000-4500 tons, while the air group was supposed to make 8 helicopters, and the speed - to reach 35 nodes. But it soon became clear that it would not be possible to create a helicopter carrier in such sizes, and besides, calculations showed that in order to ensure round-the-clock search, no less than 14 vehicles should be based on the ship. With great difficulty, it was possible to achieve permission to increase the displacement first to 8 thousand tons, then to 9,6 thousand and finally to the final 11 920 tons. In an effort to reduce the mass of ships under construction, such "interesting" requirements "over" as a radical reduction of the crew, the refusal to duplicate technical means and combat posts, the reduction of living space up to the standards of submarines, etc. (fortunately, most of them managed to get out of it).
But where did this craving for minimalism come from? And why in general did the creation of aircraft carriers in the USSR begin with helicopter carriers vulnerable to the attack of carrier-based aircraft of the United States and NATO, if (at least theoretically) at that time Soviet industry could well create full-fledged aircraft carriers?
Multipurpose aircraft carrier as a means of war at sea is preferable to anti-helicopter carrier. It has much greater functionality, and in terms of anti-submarine warfare, an aircraft carrier noticeably wins a helicopter carrier due to its ability to ensure combat stability of the units, since it can not only search for enemy ballistic missile submarines, but also cover anti-submarine ships, deck helicopters, PLO aircraft based on him fighter aircraft.
Alas, in those years, with the help of Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev, everything in the fleet that was not a missile or submarine was subject to universal condemnation and early extermination: large surface ships were considered remnants of the past as targets for anti-ship missiles. As for the largest of them - aircraft carriers - so those were generally branded weapons of aggression, which in the Soviet fleet was not and could not be.
But the Soviet sailors have long realized the need for aircraft carriers! For the first time, ships of this class “surfaced” in promising construction programs for Soviet naval forces before the war. After its completion, in 1945, Kuznetsov established a commission to select the necessary types of ships, and she also justified the creation of aircraft carriers. The main naval headquarters included nine large aircraft carriers (six for the Pacific and three for the Northern fleets) and six small ones for the Northern fleet in the long-term plan for building the USSR Navy. True, all of them, as a result, were crossed out from there by I.V. By Stalin.
But Navy Commander Kuznetsov did not give up. In August, 1953 of the year he presented a report to the Minister of Defense of the USSR Bulganin, which emphasized that "in post-war conditions, without the presence of aircraft carriers in the Navy, the solution of the main tasks of the fleet cannot be ensured." Kuznetsov fought to the end for aircraft carriers, but his removal from the post of commander-in-chief of the Navy in 1956 put an end to his ideas, because the new commander-in-chief of the Navy S.G. Gorshkov for a long time did not speak about aircraft carriers.
It is difficult to say why this happened. Perhaps the new commander-in-chief initially underestimated the role of carrier-based aviation in the Navy, but rather, he simply understood that you could not overplay the butt with the whip, because at the end of 50, the beginning of 60, the political situation was such that aircraft carriers could only dream of (but not out loud). However, some aircraft carriers were needed by the Soviet fleet - at least for the development of experience, and the industry was strong enough to create them. And, apparently, the anti-submarine cruisers of the 1123 project just became a compromise between the desired and the politically possible. Having justified the need to build helicopter carriers in an understandable and therefore acceptable for the country's leadership concept of “combating enemy missile submarines”, the fleet at the end of the 60-s received its first aircraft-carrying ships. The absence of fighter aircraft on them was to some extent offset by the presence of decent air defense and the fact that these ships were supposed to be used in the near sea zone, within the radius of action of ground-based aviation.
However, by the time Moscow and Leningrad entered the Soviet fleet, there were a number of events that greatly influenced the further development of aircraft-carrying ships of the Soviet Navy:
The first. In the USA, the next generation of ballistic missiles for submarines was developed, their range increased to 4600 km. Now the American SSBNs no longer needed to approach the shores of the USSR — operating in the same Mediterranean Sea, the US atarins held many important targets on the territory of our country. Therefore, by the end of the 60s, there were no longer any Soviet airborne US-based SSBNs, and where they were now, surface forces and NATO carrier-based aircraft prevailed. Of course, sending a few Soviet search groups that were not covered from the air to the deployment areas of the SSBNs at the time could not end well. However, the fleet had nothing to do except to charge the newly built ships of the 1123 project with a suicidal task - the search and destruction of SSBNs in remote areas, including in the Mediterranean.
The second. The Yakovlev Design Bureau demonstrated the Yak-36 experimental vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL).
Third. Mighty df Ustinov, at that time - the secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU in the defense industries, believed in the great future of VTOL. He assumed that after mastering the near-sonic VTOL aircraft, Yakovlev would have supersonic fighters, and thus the VTOL aircraft could become the “asymmetric” response of the power of carrier-based wings of the United States. For the sake of justice, I note that I have no idea how much DF. Ustinov had a hand in Yakovlev himself.
Fourth. 28 December 1967 of the USSR Council of Ministers adopted a resolution on the creation on the basis of the experienced VTOL Yak-36 of a light deck attack aircraft Yak-36М and more advanced Yak-36МФ, which was to become a fighter-interceptor of the fleet and a front-line fighter of the Air Force.
I would like to especially note that in 1967 there was a radical change in priorities in the field of naval aviation: not only the leadership of the Navy, but also the leaders of the country (Ustinov, and the Council of Ministers after him) fully realized the need of the fleet for deck aircraft. From now on, the dispute between the sailors and their land leaders was not whether or not to be an aircraft carrier: both recognized the need for aircraft carrying ships, but the land crews believed that VTOL aircraft would cope with the tasks of deck aircraft, while the seamen dreamed of aircraft horizontal take-off and landing. According to eyewitnesses, the idea of the deck VTOLT did not come from the fleet, but from D.F. Ustinova - while the Navy wanted to develop and build classic aircraft carriers with aerofinisers and catapults, he was urged to create all the same helicopter carriers adapted for the basing of VTOL.
And here the commander-in-chief of the Navy takes a rather strange, at first glance, decision. He does not argue with Ustinov about the creation of new heavy aircraft-carrying cruisers of the VTOL aircraft, and, moreover, “rolling up its sleeves” takes up the case - this is how the history of the creation of 1143 ships begins. But at the same time S.G. Gorshkov continues to insist on the creation of full-fledged aircraft carriers, and initially he even seemed to succeed: the Council of Ministers already in 1969 adopted a resolution on the development of aircraft carrier advance projects (1160 Orel project) and deck airplanes. In 1969-1972 Nevsky PKB carried out the "Order" - a research work on the military-economic rationale for the creation and operation of an aircraft carrier. In total, 8 variants were designed with different GEMs and a displacement from 40 to 100 ths. Tons, with the nuclear carrier in the 80 ths. Tons being the most developed. Advance projects of aerofinisers, steam catapults, emergency barriers were carried out, but, alas, by the decision of D.F. Ustinova development pr. 1160 was discontinued in favor of the development of the project 1143 with VTOL.
S.G. Gorshkov did not give up, and in 1977, following the results of the meeting with the Commander-in-Chief, Nevsky PKB was entrusted with developing a technical proposal, while the NII Navy and Air Force were responsible for the technical requirements for an aircraft carrier ship with catapults, airborne-guns and airplanes with horizontal takeoff and landing. This time S.G. Gorshkov sought to “grow” an aircraft carrier from the 1143 project, since the frontal attacks resulted in nothing ... Subsequently, it was his initiative that ended in a half-hearted, but still success - with the construction of the Admiral of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov fleet in the Russian Navy.
Based on the foregoing, we can safely say that S.G. Gorshkov did not agree with D.F. Ustinov didn’t believe in the evaluation of the VTOL aircraft that VTVP carriers would be able to replace the ejection aircraft carrier. However, as mentioned above, promoting the idea of a full-fledged aircraft carrier, the commander-in-chief of the Navy did not protest at all against the VTOL aircraft and, moreover, made every effort to create heavy 1143 aircraft-carrying cruisers.
Because of this, many today blame SG Gorshkov, seeing conciliation in his actions, and even frank careerism and unwillingness to quarrel with his superiors. But, considering the current situation, you come to the conclusion that the commander in chief simply had no other way out. How could S.G. Pots to refuse imposed on VTOL To do this, he had to either prove the complete futility of the VTOLS as the main carrier-based aircraft, or else to declare that the fleet did not need any deck. But if DF Ustinov was confident in the bright future of vertical take-off planes, how could SG SG convince him? Pots? But to announce the uselessness of carrier-based aviation to the fleet AT ALL, the commander-in-chief could not have, all the more so, because then he would have had to abandon the ejection aircraft carriers too!
Most likely, the commander-in-chief reasoned this way - the chances that it will turn out to “push” the construction of classic aircraft carriers are now slim, and the fleet needs deck aircraft. Therefore, let it be for the time being there will be TAKR carriers of VTOL, especially since the construction of these ships, which Ustinov favors so much, will go without a hitch, and there will be work for them.
It is also possible that S.G. Gorshkov also considered such a “Makiavelevsky” plan: based on the results of operating the 1143 TAKR project, ground the discrepancy between the tasks of an aircraft carrying cruiser and the capabilities of its wing. In any case, it should be taken into account that the tasks that were formulated in 1968 for the TAKR of the 1143 project could not be solved by the air group with VTOL and SG Gorshkov could not know about it. The list of these tasks:
- cover of shipborne formations against air strikes, their anti-submarine and anti-hacking support;
- ensuring the military stability of strategic missile submarine cruisers in combat patrol areas;
- ensuring the deployment of submarines;
- cover for naval missile-carrying, anti-submarine and reconnaissance aircraft in the zone of reach of ship-based fighter aircraft;
- search and destruction of enemy missile submarines as part of groups of heterogeneous anti-submarine forces;
- defeat groups of surface ships of the enemy;
- ensuring the landing of amphibious assault forces.
Exhaustively describes the functionality of a full-fledged aircraft carrier and, of course, to solve them, a powerful air group of horizontal take-off and landing aircraft was required. You should also pay attention to the fact that the next "assault on aircraft carrier heights" is the creation of a technical assignment for an ejection carrier, undertaken by S.G. Gorshkov a year after the launch of the Northern Fleet of the first-born project 1143 - heavy aircraft carrier "Kiev".
It was in such very difficult conditions that the heavy aircraft carrier cruiser of the VTOL aircraft of the 1143 project was designed and built. Its tactical and technical characteristics look, at least, strange, and moreover, they cast doubt on the responsibility of those who designed this ship. But if we for a moment refuse Zadornovsky “Well, stupid !!!” and take as a hypothesis that:
1) The fleet wanted full-fledged aircraft carriers, but could not insist on their construction.
2) The VTOLV, which he did not want and which he did not believe in combat capabilities, were imposed on the fleet as deck aircraft.
3) The fleet did not have a plausible excuse to abandon VTOL carriers, without discrediting the very idea of carrier-based aircraft, which the fleet categorically did not want to do.
4) In the conditions specified above, the fleet tried to create a large and useful ship for the Navy of the USSR capable of performing important combat missions.
Then we will look at the 1143 project with completely different eyes and many solutions that seem illogical and ill-conceived will appear before us in a completely different light.
After all, what was the 1143 project TAKR?
This is the ideal antisubmarine helicopter carrier that was desired, but which, because of its small displacement, was not received in the 1123 project (“Moscow”). The ship, capable of carrying 22 helicopters (of which 20 anti-submarine), was able to provide around-the-clock presence in the air of two or three such machines, and even a little bit beyond that. The island superstructure of "Kiev" did not hinder the helicopter take-off and landing operations, as it was on the anti-submarine cruisers of the 1123 project, in which the superstructure created significant air turbulence.
But why did the Soviet Navy need this “ideal” helicopter carrier? As mentioned above, after increasing the range of American ballistic missiles of the sea-based, their "city killers" had no reason to deploy in the near-sea zone of the USSR. And to follow them into the ocean, where our anti-submarine groups could not cover the land fighters, would be a sophisticated form of suicide.
And, nevertheless, the tasks for the Soviet helicopter carriers could well be found, and even what! The fact is that at the end of 60, the USSR was on the threshold of a small military-technical maritime revolution, and in 1969, it was completed - tests began (and quite successfully) of a sea-based intercontinental ballistic missile, which later received the P-29 index. The very first modifications of this "ballista" had a range of 7 800 km, so that from now on the newest Soviet strategic submarines - the carriers of the Р-29 - did not need to go into the world ocean. They could make their contribution to the nuclear Armageddon, located in the seas adjacent to the USSR - the Barents, White, Kara, Norwegian, Okhotsk, Japan.
Accordingly, one of the most important tasks of the fleet in a full-scale nuclear-missile conflict was the organization of “protected combat areas” in the adjacent seas, in which the secrecy of our strategic missile submarines (SSBN) was guaranteed by a whole set of measures, such as: mine barriers, deployed multi-purpose submarines boats, land-based naval aviation and, of course, surface ships. And the heavy aircraft-carrying cruisers of the 1143 project could well become the backbone of the defense of such areas - operating in the near-sea zone, they superbly supplemented the actions of ground-based anti-submarine aviation. And the absence of fighters on them was to a certain extent compensated for by the presence of the most powerful ground-based aviation in the USSR, capable if not to cover the detachments of surface ships in the adjacent seas, then at least to deliver the strongest blows on AUG deployed off our coast.
The value of the 1143 TAKR project in a full-scale nuclear-missile conflict could turn out to be very high - during a period of escalation of tension (when the whole world was expecting war, but there was no war yet) TAKR-s-helicopter carriers were able to reveal the location of enemy submarines - the terrible enemy of the submariner) and squeeze them out of the "protected areas", or else quickly destroy those with the beginning of the conflict. Of course, enemy carrier strike groups could crush our TAKRs and the ships assigned to them (if they themselves had not been destroyed before by naval rocket-carrying aircraft), but so what? The Soviet surface fleet in the “protected areas” was hardly expected to win, its task was to hold out enough time not to hurt the SSBN while they were launching a nuclear missile strike. And our 1143 project ships were quite capable of accomplishing this task - it’s not for nothing that our anti-submarine helicopter carriers were equipped with very powerful air defense for that time.
By the way, it will be said, the statement that the “Kiev” air defense system has quickly become outdated due to the advent of C-300, in my opinion, is not quite true. First, the official adoption of the C-300F offshore version occurred only in the 1984 year, so that if the “storms” are outdated, then not quickly. And secondly, the undoubted advantages of the C-300F did not at all make the Storm-M worse than it was, and it was a very formidable air defense missile system. In other words, the Kalashnikov assault rifle is great, but because of its appearance, the trilinea did not kill worse.
But back to the use of helicopter carriers TAKR-s as support ships of "protected combat areas." What could the American and NATO Navy oppose to this tactic? Not too much. Early deployment of as many as low-noise submarines in the Soviet seas could no longer be considered a panacea, but what else? In a period of tension to introduce into the Soviet "protected areas" carrier strike groups? But to drive the AUG into the Barents Sea or the Sea of Okhotsk before the outbreak of the war meant to condemn them to almost inevitable death. Discovered and tracked back in peacetime aircraft carriers in our internal seas would inevitably become difficult, but still legitimate prey of Soviet surface, submarine and air forces.
Of course, one could try to conduct an antisubmarine search by deck aircraft and helicopters from aircraft carriers maneuvering at a certain distance about the “protected area”, since the combat radius of the deck antisubmarine aircraft completely allowed this to be done, but ... Many unflattering words were said about the presence of ah heavy missile weapons - anti-ship missiles "Basalt".
They say that a floating airfield of a rocket is not needed, its function is to ensure the operation of its air group, and it is for this task that the design of the ship should be “sharpened”. All this is true - for the aircraft carrier. But for our TAKR-s, the presence of "Basalts" to a certain extent guaranteed the absence of enemy aircraft carrier groups within 550 radius of kilometers from the ship. So that today's analysts wouldn’t say there, but even in peacetime, the Americans tried to keep their AUG out of the reach of the Soviet long-range anti-ship missiles.
Of course, you can reason like this: why put the anti-ship missiles on a helicopter carrier, it is better to make it smaller and cheaper, and let the missiles be carried by specially designed missile cruisers, both surface and submarine. But there is a nuance - in the USSR neither in 70-ies, nor later was there at all the abundance of heavy ships capable of carrying long-range anti-ship missiles "Basalt" / "Granit". And the idea to make a high-quality airfield for 22 helicopters, and then increase it a little more and deliver the Basalt is not bad at all - it is easier and cheaper than building a separate ship for the 8 RCC launchers installed on the 1143 TAKR-s. Therefore, it turns out quite interesting - the author certainly agrees that RCC are not needed on aircraft carriers, but regrets that the TAKRs of the 1143 project carried the entire 8, and not, say, the 16 of the “Basalt” launch vehicles - on “Basalts” were quite appropriate for them.
As a result, during the prewar deployment of the TAKR project, the 1143 was still a “surprise” - its helicopters were able to control the underwater situation for hundreds of kilometers, not letting our submarines be offended, but at the same time no enemy ship was closer than in 550 KM did not feel safe. AUG, of course, could strike a carrier-based aircraft from a distance of 600 and 800 km and destroy the TAKR, but the time it would take the aircraft carrier to deliver such a strike, and then the exit to the “protected area” and the search for our SSBNs was too long to hope to destroy our "strategists" before they launch ballistic missiles.
There was another place where the 1143 TAKRs could bring tangible benefits - the Mediterranean Sea, the patrimony of the US 6 fleet. It is well known that our 5 OPESK, which is constantly present in this region, had a completely suicidal task in the best traditions of the Japanese “divine wind” - kamikaze. Under no circumstances could the OPNEC 5 ships survive the war — in the absence of bases and the superiority of NATO’s Mediterranean fleets, they could only die in an unequal battle. But before death, they had to inflict the most severe, unacceptable damage to the forces opposing them and the NATO-launched SSBNs deployed in the Mediterranean, exchanging their lives for the US 6 fleet, which was of strategic strategic importance. In the open ocean, the connection led by TAKR with VTOL was certainly losing the battle of AUG, but the peculiarity of the Mediterranean theater is that it is relatively small and in many places, located in the middle of the sea of TAKR, covered it with “Basalt” from the European to the African coast. Here, the 5 OPEC really had the opportunity to follow the AUG of the 6 fleet and, in the case of Armageddon, deliver its first and last strike. Here, on the eve of the war, TAKR helicopters could “carry on” enemy submarines or control the operations of ship formations, and with the start of the war, heavy anti-ship missiles would be very useful. Even the use of VTOL aircraft had some chance of success, if tracking the enemy forces was carried out from a distance of 80-120 kilometers or closer.
Interestingly, for the tasks of tracking AUG in the Mediterranean, our 1143 TAKRs might have been even better suited than classic aircraft carriers. Watching the enemy on the eve of a nuclear apocalypse could have been a little worse, because in order to carry out round-the-clock surveillance from relatively short distances, it is not necessary to have DRLO planes, helicopters will also come off if there are enough of them (there were just as many of them as needed). Under the conditions of the overwhelming NATO superiority in the air, our air groups in any case could not have defended the 5 OPESK, and would have been destroyed, here the qualitative advantage of horizontal take-off aircraft from the ejection aircraft carrier could hardly help. At the same time, the 1143 TAKR project was much cheaper than an aircraft carrier — having a standard displacement in 30,5-32 thousand tons, our three TAKRs weighed about the same as the one American Nimitz and hardly exceeded it at a price.
Of course, the logic is horrible: “He will still die, so let it be at least cheaper!”, But the very concept of 5 OPESK, which was supposed to die, in the process mutilated the enemy ... What can you say? Only that the prowess of our crews, who took up combat duty, being doomed to death in the event of a conflict, deserves all the respect and memory of grateful descendants.
Summarizing the above, we can state: of course, much of what a multi-purpose aircraft carrier with horizontal take-off aircraft could do was inaccessible to our heavy aircraft-carrying cruisers, but still the 1143 TAKRs did not become useless ships and, moreover, significantly strengthened the power of the Soviet Navy in case of a full-scale nuclear-missile conflict. The TKRs of the 1143 project were also useless in peacetime - the fleet finally got some kind of carrier-based aircraft and began to develop new weapons for itself, thereby gaining invaluable experience.
Instead of a postscript, I would like to note that the rate on VTOLS, which DF made. Ustinov, unfortunately, did not justify himself at all, and the Yakovlev Design Bureau failed miserably with the task entrusted to him by the Party and the Government. The decision to create a vertical take-off and landing interceptor was made in 1967, but even after 24, the surviving three Yak-141 general designers were still not ready for the series. And this is despite the fact that in its performance characteristics it was much inferior not only to the deck interceptor Su-33, but even to the MiG-29. Of course, it would have been possible to spend a lot of time on fine-tuning it, but at the time when the Su-30 was created and the work on fifth-generation machines was going on, such a decision could hardly be considered any reasonable.
The article used materials:
1. V.P. Zabolotsky "heavy aircraft carrier" Kiev "
2. S.A. Balakin "Anti-submarine cruiser" Moscow ""
3. A. Grek "Russian aircraft carriers: 6 of forgotten projects"
4. V.P. Zabolotsky "Heavy aircraft carrier" Admiral Kuznetsov ""