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CVF Deck Layouts

This page shows the alternative deck layouts for the alternative CVF variants that were considered.  A lot of the information presented dates to mid-2000 is the work of the "Armchair Aviator", who has generously given permission for it to be used here.

The USS Oriskany is used as a comparative reference point for all variants, everything is in scale and additional comments are provided after the graphic.  In most diagrams, the position and type of the CVF lifts is undetermined.

In the end none of the illustrated deck layouts were chosen, the selected future proofed "adaptable" (Delta variant) carrier perhaps most closely resembles the STOBAR layout with split ski-jump but without the arrestor wires fitted.  The article is retained for interest and reference purposes.

0. Invincible Class

This diagram shows for comparison purpose the flight deck arrangements current Invincible class STOVL CVS design:



  • The flight deck is about 550 feet long.
  • The flight deck does not stretch the full long of the ship as a "hurricane" bow was not possible due the incorporation of the Sea Dart medium range SAM system (since removed).
  • The addition of a "ski-jump" ramp at a late stage of the design process (HMS Invincible had already been launched) allowed the Harrier take-off run to be shortened (it had originally required the full length of the flight deck), and vertical landings and use of the aft lift can be undertaken even during STO operations.
  • Two internal lifts operate to the "dumb-bell" shaped hanger.
  • Note the helicopters spots, three can be operated in a multi role configuration with fixed wing aircraft, all six in a helicopter carrier (LPH) configuration.
  • The very long island is due to the requirements of the gas turbine propulsion, and the two 909 director radars for the SAM missile system (now deleted).



This diagram shows the "split-bow" STOVL CVF design:

deckstvol.jpg (48998 bytes)


  • The dimensions used for the STOVL CVF are 900 feet length and 145 feet beam. As one can see, this is quite a large ship, even bigger than the SCB-27 attack carrier USS Oriskany. I'd estimate that spacewise that this STOVL CVF would have close to 140% more deck space than HMS Invincible.

  • On deck are all 40 Boeing X-32Bs. These JSF airframes have a deck spot factor of 45ft x 36ft. This is actually a bit shorter than a Harrier. Since this is a STOVL ship, reconfiguring the deck for a landing even should require less aircraft shuffling than STOBAR or CATOBAR.

  • I used the X-32 because its stubby footprint is probably a bit harder to pack tightly than the X-35, thus it's probably more of a "worst case" than the X-35 when it comes to hogging deck space.

  • JSF launch will require a JBD due to the presence of afterburners. I placed the JBD so as to give the JSF about 150 meters worth of takeoff run.


A. With convergent Ski Jump bow

Here's the study for a launch event if CVF turns out to have a Admiral Kuznetzov-type deck:

deckstobar3.jpg (39889 bytes)


  • Admiral Kuznetsov happens to have two launch positions, position 1 directly fo'ard of the island, and position 2 aft of the angle for heavier-loaded aircraft. I would assume that if any Sea Typhoons are tasked with strike duties using heavy PGMs like 2000-lb JDAMs and fuel tanks, these birds would also have to launch from position 2.

  • It appears that a 1000 ft/300m long CVF STOBAR deck arranged like the Kuznetzov (which has a 999ft/305m long x 230ft/70m wide flightdeck) can accommodate about 34-36 non-wing-fold Sea Typhoons on the deck, assuming that there are heavily-loaded aircraft which requires position 2 to be free during a launch event.  If not, perhaps another 5 Sea Typhoons can be parked ahead of position 2, while the crotch area just ahead of the position 2 JBD is clear for vertical launch by EV-22 Ospreys or EH101 Merlin's.

  • Compared to a CATOBAR ship about the size of USS Oriskany, the STOBAR is a bit inefficient space wise because the hurricane bow must be completely clear for a launch event. Oriskany on the other hand can embark 30 non-wing-folding Sea Typhoons on her deck with some spotted on the bow during the launch event, in addition to the two ready EV-22s and 2 ready EH-101s, with one helo in launch position on the crotch while using 40% less deck space.

  • With wing-folding, a CVF the size of Kuznetsov can conceivably carry an airwing of up to 50-60 (!) Sea Typhoons in addition to the prerequisite AEW and ASW assets due to her sheer size and the greater deck edge perimeter where planes can be packed tight. The sheer size of the deck also allows the island to be fairly large.

  • One might notice the Sea Typhoons to portside aft are packed nose-to-tail. This packing scheme was actually used with F-14 Tomcats aboard U.S. CVs, but Tomcats allow much tighter packing due to the absence of canards. It wouldn't be a good idea to overlap canards over wings because rough seas can cause the landing gear oleos to bounce and may snap canards off on wing surfaces underneath.

B. With split-bow Ski Jump

(i) Launching Event

This time, I utilized the proposed "split-bow" large STOBAR CVF design to see how it fares when it comes to deck reconfiguration for a launch event, and here is the result.

deckstobar1.jpg (53258 bytes)


  • Even though the "split-bow" CVF can only prep one aircraft for launch at any one time compared to two ready aircraft on RNS Kuznetsov with its convergent ski ramp bow, the extra deck space available counts a lot. Here we have almost the entire proposed 50-aircraft CVF air wing on-deck (all present except one helo), with room to spare. The launch position can even be pushed back further if desired. My feeling is that this trade-off is worth it.

  • Because of the extra space forward due to the split bow, the island can be quite large. Though I don't know where the inboard elevators would go on a proposed large STOBAR CVF like this, I'd bet there is still room to spare for the lifts to operate even while the deck is configured for a launch event. Keep in mind however that inboard lifts detract from available hangar deck space, but with a 50-plane air wing it shouldn't be much of an issue.

  • HOWEVER! Before we think 50 aircraft is a lot, we have to keep in mind that the comparably-sized USS Midway was able to carry a normal airwing of 76 aircraft (F/A-18s, E-2Cs, A-6Es, EA-6Bs, KA-6As, EA-3s, EKA-3s, S-3s, and SH-3s.).   This is due to even more deckspace available forward due to the absence of the ski jump, presence of catapults, deck-edge elevators, and also because U.S. carrier aircraft have folding wings for smaller deck spot factors.

  • Judging from the sheer amount of space available (the flight deck area on this proposed large STOBAR CVF would be about 3.8 acres), a smaller STOBAR CVF with say an 888-ft flight deck could probably handle 50 aircraft comfortably (as evidenced by the deck configuration schematic using USS Oriskany).

(ii) Landing Event

Split-bow STOBAR CVF with deck configured for a landing event:

deckstobar.jpg (36492 bytes)


  • This deck configuration schematic represents the flight deck at the conclusion of a landing event. There are 35 Typhoons on-deck, including the lucky guy who just snagged a wire for an "OK-3" for the absolute last trap of the event.

  • The first 5 Typhoons to land during this landing event was brought belowdecks via elevator. The four remaining rotary-wing aircraft not shown, two Merlin's and two Ospreys, can either be in the hangar deck or still airborne (plenty of room for them to land vertically).

  • The portside deck edge of the carrier is kept clear during a landing event so as to avoid obstructing a pilot "in the groove" from seeing the Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System (FLOLS), what Yanks call the "meatball".

  • The shaded areas on the ski-jump cannot have any aircraft parked on them, but aircraft tails can hang over the beginning of the ramp's upslope.  The dots representing the aircrafts' landing gears are spotted on the flat portions of the bow deck.

  • The plane manglers are now ready to respot all the aircraft for a launch event, or to bring any aircraft requiring intermediate maintenance below to the hanger deck.


(iii) BAE Systems design

Since the Armchair Aviator's analysis above, a lot more information about CVF has been released. 

The following flight deck layout is for the BAE Systems STOVL design dates to early 2002.  It is an unofficial plan supplied by Bryon Jones.


(iii) BAE Systems design

Since the Armchair Aviator's analysis above, a lot more information about CVF has been released. 

The following flight deck layout is for the BAE Systems STOVL design dates to early 2002.  It is an unofficial plan supplied by Bryon Jones.







(i) Charles de Gaulle

Lacking any details of deck plan for CTOL CVF, this study utilises the new French carrier, Charles de Gaulle which is probably similar (or slightly smaller) in size, so therefore provides offers a useful study.

A basic limitation accepted at the design stage was that the ship would not be able to conduct simultaneous launch and landing operations.  However it was required that the ship should be able to launch and land a maximum "Alpha" strike of 20 aircraft.  More information on the FNS Charles de Gaulle can be found on the official website here.

deckcdg1.jpg (50718 bytes)


  • As is apparent in the comparison, the Charles de Gaulle has quite a wide beam for a ship her size, which translates to very deep flight deck overhangs. This explains why CdG requires an active stabilization system to dampen rolling in heavy seas, whereas Essex-class carriers like the USS Oriskany did not suffer severe rolling problems due to the almost complete absence of flight deck overhangs.  This translates to a tradeoff between flight deck size and stability.  The U.S. Midway-class similarly had large overhangs and also tended to roll a bit in rough seas.

  • Though only 25 Rafale Ms are shown on the deck of CdG, she can accommodate more on deck if the elevators are kept in the up position and the starboard deck edge more tightly packed with aircraft. If the CdG's captain require more planes parked on deck for a planned alpha strike, he can have the manglers park planes on the portside deck edge as well, but only the bow cat will be free for the early portion of the launch event. In a pinch, one can probably spot up to 45 Rafale-sized aircraft on CdG's deck during a launch event.

  • Late during a landing event, approximately 40 Rafale-sized aircraft can be packed on the starboard side of CdG's deck if the elevators remain in the up position. The rest of the airwing will have to be in the hangar bay below. I'd imagine the E-2C Hawkeyes will be the last planes to land.

  • Surprisingly, Oriskany's angled deck is only about 500 feet long and she was the first ever aircraft carrier in the world to CQ the E-2A Hawkeye.   I guess Mighty-O's arresting engine probably has a shorter runout and is thus a bit harder on the airframe than CdG's when jerking an E-2 to a halt.

  • MORAL OF THE STORY: a perfect light CATOBAR carrier would be as long as USS Oriskany (888ft) with more deck overhang for greater flight deck area, but not so much as CdG to minimize rolling problems. Such a ship would have no problem accommodating a 50-aircraft CVF airwing, though moderate aircraft shuffling between the hangar and flight deck will be required (about 15 aircraft).  This would be perfect for a CATOBAR CVF if the UK chooses to go that route.

  • I am certain that had DCN gone for a purpose-built nuclear propulsion plant rather than adapting a submarine reactor, CdG would have far less power problems than she does now.  Nuclear propulsion does offer very good advantages despite the cost, such as minimizing the need for underway aviation fuel bunkerage replenishment.  Indeed the CVN itself can serve as a fleet oiler for her escorts if the escorts are gas-turbine powered and runs on aviation fuel.  I know a light CVN is very unlikely in the running for CVF, but it's definitely something to think about.

(ii) BAE Systems Design

Since the Armchair Aviator's analysis above, a lot more information about CVF has been released. 

The following flight deck layout is for the BAE Systems CTOL design and dates to early 2002.  It is an unofficial plan supplied by Bryon Jones.


The following "official" flight deck layout is for the BAE Systems CTOL design, it dates to late 2002 and is probably their final design prior to the down-select.


(iii) Thales/BMT CVF Design Concept Delta

This unofficial schematic of CVF shows the CTOL Delta configuration, the deck plan clearly shows the two long catapults and three arrester wires plus barrier.   The design will be used by France for their second carrier, and thus makes an interesting contrast to Charles De Gaulle, as well as the BAE design just above.


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  2004-13 Richard Beedall unless otherwise indicated.