HSMS Gota Lejon (CV-1942)
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Since 1937 an internal debate at the Scandinavian Navy High Command had raged on the topic whether to build an aircraft carrier or not. The younger officers were for the idea the more hidebound old admirals believed in the big gun. What was not in debate was the fact that the major powers all had aircraft carriers and were building more. In 1938 a comittee was formed to design Scandinavias first carrier and it would be left to the politicians to authorise payment of the ship. Part of the design process was a request to the Royal Navy for a Scandinavian observer group to be quartered on a deployment of the Ark Royal or Golden Hind. The Royal Navy accepted this request as Scandinavia was still neutral with no alliance to either side of what looked like another European War to come in the next few years. The observer group contained a senior Captain and two Commanders so that they could talk to the senior staff aboard Golden Hind one-on-one. Four lieutenants were included to get a more junior view from the officers and the naval pilots. The group went through a five week deployment out of Rosyth base culminating in a mock attack by the Golden Hind Battle Group against the Inner Leads Patrol. The Inner Leads Patrol was the important group for Scandinavia as it patrolled the waters from North Cape down to the Kattegat and ensured the free movement of transports from the ice-free ports along Scandinavias Atlantic Coast. The Golden Hind Battle Group consisted of the Golden Hind, Renown, two heavy cruisers, two light cruisers and four destroyers. The Inner Patrol had the two Drottning Ulrika class battlecruisers, four Vanamoinen class cruisers, two other light cruisers, and both Odin class ADV conversions were deployed on the coast. In just two hours the Golden Hinds air group had crippled and/or sunk both battlecruisers and the Odins, while only two of the six cruisers were undamaged. When those two ships tried to close the Golden Hind group they were 'disabled' by the 15" gunfire of the Renown. The humiliation of cleaning off flour stains all over their ships was a humbling experience. The boast of the airforce that it could keep the skies clear of enemy aircraft was shown to be empty. The Hurricane fighters on board the Golden Hind cleared the skies and made way for its bombers to do the damage either with bombs or torpedoes. The senior Captain like most of his class were big gun men and dreamed of commanding Scandinavias capital ships, right up to the point when the results of the first two air strikes from the Golden Hinds air group came in. From that point on he was very much on the side of a new aircraft carrier for Scandinavia. All of the individual reports from the observer group were on similar lines. British assistance was sought with the design of the ship.
The Gota Lejon was to contain a lot of firsts for the Scandinavian navy beside being the first aircraft carrier. It was the first ship to be designed to carry the new 3.9"/100mm automatic guns. This mounting outperformed the 4.7" by some considerable margin and replaced that mounting in service where applicable. The first combined diesel/turbine installation was fitted to the ship which almost doubled the range of the ship when compared to the Sverige class battlecruisers. The first monoplanes of the Scandinavian Navy were purchased for the ship. Licenses to build the Hawker Hurricane and Fairey Battle were obtained and these two aircraft were to be the front line aircraft for Scandinavia. The Gota Lejon was laid down at Goteborgs Royal Dockyards in February 1939 and completed for service (maybe) in November 1942. From 1944 the torpedo aircraft were given an air launched version of the Snab homing torpedo.
|Displacement||29,700 tons standard, 38,900 tons full load|
|Breadth||118 ft (over sponsons for guns)|
|Machinery||2 shaft steam turbines, 120,000shp
2 shaft diesel engines 30,000bhp
|Speed||32 knots (18 knots on diesels)|
|Range||9000 miles at 15 knots (2400 at 30 knots)|
|Armour||3.9" side, 3" deck, 1.5" flight deck, 1" turrets|
|Armament||8 x 3.9" (4x2)
24 x 40mm (8x2 8x1)
|Notes||HSMS Gota Lejon|
One of the Blackburn Skua dive bombers purchased for the Gota Lejon's air group.
It is still unsure as to what involvement in the coming conflict that the Scandinavian armed forces will have. In real life Norway was overun by the Germans in 1940 while Finland joined the Axis to try to reclaim the lands that Finland had been forced to cede to the Soviet Union following the Winter War. While the Soviets might attack a small and weak Finland, a strong and ready Scandinavia is a much bigger task. The same applies to Germany, while the Norwegian campaign was at the limit of their naval strength, getting a force ashore against Scandinavia would be much tougher, keeping those forces provisioned would be almost impossible. If either the Soviets or Germanic States attack Scandinavia in 1940 and win, then the Gota Lejon and the other post-1940 ships that I 'build' for the Scandinavians would disappear. Either of those powers may try to complete the unfinnished ships but the Norwegian partisans showed what would happen in Scandinavia. Nothing of importance would leave Scandinavia to aid its enemy.
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