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  • The Royal Navy if no WWI

    In 1906 the Royal Navy stood the world on its head with HMS Dreadnought. We are all familiar with the arms race that developed between Germany and Britain. However there was a second naval arms race no longer talked about but just as real then.

    Germany had a fleet of (or planned) 11 battle cruisers, and 20+ dreadnoughts with at least 9 of the big gun ships of them mounting 14"or bigger guns.

    Starting in 1910 the US Navy entered the race and quickly became the third largest navy by 1914 with a fleet of 10 dreadnoughts. By 1919 the US would add a further 7 vessels and had plans for 12 more for a total fleet of 29 dreadnoughts and 6 battle cruisers, 27 of them with 14" or larger guns (16x 16" ships).

    These ships were also deliberately massed on the Atlantic seaboard opposite the Grand Fleet by SecNav FDR with a stated plan to the rival the Royal Navy by 1930.

    Luckily for Britain, WWI provided a means to forge an enduring alliance with the US and a way to pass the torch of naval dominance without sacrificing national security. But what if WWI never happened and the Royal Navy was faced with two rapidly growing fleets of foreign dreadnoughts each interested in carving out a national place in the sun and economic sphere.

    To make matters worse was the emergence of a possible third threat, this one in the pacific. Japan at one point planned for a fleet of 10 dreadnoughts and 4 battle cruisers by 1930. If the Anglo-Japanese naval alliance fell apart the British would have another ocean to defend. What could the Royal Navy do, was it even possible for the British people and economy to support a fleet of battleships able to take on any two fleets by 1930, could British yards have built enough vessels to do so?

    To make matters more difficult, many of the British ships were early designs that were coal fired and or used an older generation of guns, we built on narrower slips limiting the beam and thus gunnery stability.

    By 1930 the Royal Navy would have faced a possible global threat of 59+ dreadnoughts and 21 battle cruisers. To face this challenge Royal Navy building called for 35 dreadnoughts plus 4 more that were built for Turkey or Chile plus 19 battle cruisers. Of these 58 ships, only 30 had 14"+ guns.

  • #2
    The Great War not occurring ignores some of the monumental forces of the security environment which dictate either the need or lack of, of a two-power standard updated or revised for the 1930s.

    The RN benefits massively by having a global system to rely on to move around those vessels as needed, meaning it only needs to be able to deploy said vessels as and when they're needed and have local, not global superiority. That may not reverse the tables, but it is worth mentioning in British capability to act before, say, the withdrawal from East of Suez.
    Unless of course, these ever greater naval powers all kick off a challenge at once, to the same ends, which would come across as somewhat contrived.
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    • #3
      Well this could be the answer in some way. It doesn't cover your ATL, but it is entertaining.

      http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...ad.php?t=88503
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      • #4
        Originally posted by Selous View Post
        The Great War not occurring ignores some of the monumental forces of the security environment which dictate either the need or lack of, of a two-power standard updated or revised for the 1930s.
        Agreed, but the US was entering the race for that two power standard.

        The RN benefits massively by having a global system to rely on to move around those vessels as needed, meaning it only needs to be able to deploy said vessels as and when they're needed and have local, not global superiority.
        But stated policy was a two navy fleet


        That may not reverse the tables, but it is worth mentioning in British capability to act before, say, the withdrawal from East of Suez.
        Unless of course, these ever greater naval powers all kick off a challenge at once, to the same ends, which would come across as somewhat contrived.
        Nothing contrived, just a thought exercise on how the RN would act given the evolving world balance of power that began when the US decided to be a player by the 1930's.

        Obviously some ships especially the earliest dreadnoughts that were pure coal fired and 11-13.5" guns would be either mothballed, scrapped or moved to reserve fleets but this helps the British less since more of their ships fall into this category. Although moving some of them to the channel fleet to replace pre-dreanoughts might free up men and capitol with an overall increase in the strength of the Royal Navy vis a vis Germany by the end of the teens.

        The problem is the RN had only 16 truly modern battleships planned through the 20's. These ships (minus the proposed N3's) were faster than the US ships, but less well protected.

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        • #5
          Development of the aircraft carrier and other accutrements of the naval air arm will occur anyway. I dont see much incentive from the Great War for the original development of naval air power, & the influence on development during the war are the sort that would occur in one fashion or another anyway.

          What I also see is the submarine developing differently since there is no example of a large submarine fleet as a stand alone raiding force. maybe someone will develop the concept later, but most navies will stick to the doctrine of the sub as a specialized torpedo boat, just another lesser craft in the overall fleet & tied to fleet operations. Probablly the USN & Japanese will build large cruiser subs, but again as fleet components & not as a independant flotillia.

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          • #6
            Since at least around the mid-19th Century and acceptance of Canada as non-U.S. Great Britain and the U.S. seem to be natural non-foes (as opposed to European powers- including France, where GB and French rapproachment came surprisingly late). It would be quite possible for a natural evolution of both nations having "2 fleets" but with the American stress and greater forces in the Pacific/Caribbean and the British east Atlantic/Mediterranean/Indian Ocean.

            Hence, not as much stress on the RN fleets as might seem at first glance.

            A wild card might be British naval contacts with Imperial Japan.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Tuor View Post
              Since at least around the mid-19th Century and acceptance of Canada as non-U.S. Great Britain and the U.S. seem to be natural non-foes (as opposed to European powers- including France, where GB and French rapproachment came surprisingly late). It would be quite possible for a natural evolution of both nations having "2 fleets" but with the American stress and greater forces in the Pacific/Caribbean and the British east Atlantic/Mediterranean/Indian Ocean.

              Hence, not as much stress on the RN fleets as might seem at first glance.

              A wild card might be British naval contacts with Imperial Japan.
              The US and UK risked war twice= Trent affair and the Venezuela Crisis of 1895.

              To this we must add the US policy announced in 1916 to have a navy second to none. President Wilson and SecNav Franklin Delano Roosevelt both influenced by Mahan and TDR and reflected in an aggressive pre-war US naval building program. This policy when the US is officially neutral is a direct challenge to the RN's stated mastery of the seas.

              Obviously, Japan as a British ally under the Anglo-Japanese naval alliance is important, as is the french fleet. Both add combat power on distant shores. However unlike the French who seem perfectly willing to cede the Atlantic to the British to concentrate on the Med where she risks war with Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungary, Japan has her own ambitions. Japan's ambitions in China and Asia go back before the turn of the century. Asia provided room for an empire, access to resources and room for a growing population. So long as Japanese and British goals are the same Japan is reliable, but the conversion from coal to oil puts Japan in a bind regarding strategic fuels.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by zraver View Post
                Agreed, but the US was entering the race for that two power standard.
                I'm sure I can't make a case on production of capital ships.


                But stated policy was a two navy fleet
                I don't see how that does mitigate having a global network of coaling stations and grease the axles of force projection so thoroughly. Vessels in service on one station can be thus re-deployed with relative ease and economy to another. So it ends up much how it actually did; provide everything doesn't hit the fan at the same time, there are ways and means to deal with it better; redeploying assets swiftly across the globe, better than anyone else at the time could, meant local superiority of numbers if nothing else, could probably be achieved provided you actually have a decent amount of ships to begin with.

                Nothing contrived, just a thought exercise on how the RN would act given the evolving world balance of power that began when the US decided to be a player by the 1930's.
                The RN will be bound to act in the way it's told.
                To what extent did the 1914-18 war play in that US stance? Would the lack of global conflict alter the US's isolationism/lack of ambition? The wider ramifications of that war on strategic footing is huge.


                Obviously some ships especially the earliest dreadnoughts that were pure coal fired and 11-13.5" guns would be either mothballed, scrapped or moved to reserve fleets but this helps the British less since more of their ships fall into this category. Although moving some of them to the channel fleet to replace pre-dreanoughts might free up men and capitol with an overall increase in the strength of the Royal Navy vis a vis Germany by the end of the teens.
                Guns have been upped and other measures made in the past, when the occasion called for it, to extend service life, it could make a logical stance in the event of the 'naval crisis' you pitch. Though the bore of guns is but one small factor when taking into context the strategic footing of four rival polities. I would consider that, with all the money not spent thrashing the Kaiser and getting into debt with the US, some more vessels with larger guns could be laid down if it looks like the situation calls for it.

                The problem is the RN had only 16 truly modern battleships planned through the 20's. These ships (minus the proposed N3's) were faster than the US ships, but less well protected.
                Would they not plan any more to sure up any perceived weakness?
                Baring in mind the RN was the senior service of a state which had just spent considerable amounts of treasure fighting Germany. Should this conflict have not happened, how much more cash and infrastructure can be put into developing and producing capital ships, had this cost not been incurred? The war which nigh-on broke Britain, having not occurred, Britain will not be nigh-on broken. The same can be said of Germany, but her chief concerns, by position, had, and would always really be landwards.

                The US is more the problem, because the US is a proper Seapower. Previous potential conflict between Britain and the US after 1865 weren't necessarily likely to spark the kind of conflict which would bring the full might of the USN and RN to the fore. Whose interest would be gained from a violent solution?

                The contest for dominance at sea, between Britain and the US, would most likely be one of production; unless the US invades Canada or something. The US would go on to develop the upper hand of economics and production capacity for warships. I'm sure the engrossing details can be found. Without the pressing need to re-structure the global system brought on by the world wars, if anything, it could even have been a more gradual transition.

                Whether the gulf would have become so prominent had Britain not been so damaged by the War is another matter.

                Without France buggered in the 14-18 lot, the French navy could potentially be used to spare up some resources, but probably only against Germany.

                Just some thoughts. The rise of US mastery of the Oceans, with the benefit of hindsight, seems fairly obvious. Mahan once opined that it would be a good idea for the USN and RN to cordially divvy up the job, which considering that's how it sort of went a little later, and the stances of the states they represent at this time, doesn't seem beyond the pale.
                Last edited by Selous; 04 Jun 12, 15:24.
                ------
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                • #9
                  Without world war one?

                  Without the cost of the war then the UK can keep up with just about any building. So long as there is a need. Germany did at one point abandon the naval arms race due to not being able to afford it.

                  Why should the US be any different? It takes time for a shipbuilding program to be planned and budgeted that's before steel is cut and what is one presidents priority is the nexts target for cuts.

                  Britain will always have a need for a big fleet. The US at the time doesn't and national pride might get it started but that sort of thing only really lasts till the tax bill lands.
                  "Sometimes its better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness" T Pratchett

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Senorankka View Post
                    Well this could be the answer in some way. It doesn't cover your ATL, but it is entertaining.

                    http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...ad.php?t=88503
                    I miss that thread and game.
                    The First Amendment applies to SMS, Emails, Blogs, online news, the Fourth applies to your cell phone, computer, and your car, but the Second only applies to muskets?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DARKPLACE View Post
                      Without world war one?

                      Without the cost of the war then the UK can keep up with just about any building. So long as there is a need. Germany did at one point abandon the naval arms race due to not being able to afford it.

                      Why should the US be any different? It takes time for a shipbuilding program to be planned and budgeted that's before steel is cut and what is one presidents priority is the nexts target for cuts.

                      Britain will always have a need for a big fleet. The US at the time doesn't and national pride might get it started but that sort of thing only really lasts till the tax bill lands.
                      I think the US WOULD need a big fleet, being a two-ocean nation and with growing overseas interests.
                      The First Amendment applies to SMS, Emails, Blogs, online news, the Fourth applies to your cell phone, computer, and your car, but the Second only applies to muskets?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Hida Akechi View Post
                        I think the US WOULD need a big fleet, being a two-ocean nation and with growing overseas interests.
                        But will the tax payer want to foot the bill for it? The US intrests at the time don't clash with the UK's short of creating an incident I can't see pure national pride pulling it through. It's not just battle ships that the US needs to keep and man and maintain there's a host of support vessels heavy and light cruisers destroyers oilers and maintenance vessels not to mention ugrading the shore bases to handle them.

                        In theory the best way of dealing with it would be to push for a carrier force. In practice without the technological push that ww1 gave airplanes are little more than a glorified toy and likely to stay that way until well into the 1930's in this timeline.
                        "Sometimes its better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness" T Pratchett

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Selous View Post
                          I don't see how that does mitigate having a global network of coaling stations and grease the axles of force projection so thoroughly. Vessels in service on one station can be thus re-deployed with relative ease and economy to another.
                          Stated British policy was being able to fight the next two biggest battle fleets at the same time.

                          So it ends up much how it actually did; provide everything doesn't hit the fan at the same time, there are ways and means to deal with it better; redeploying assets swiftly across the globe, better than anyone else at the time could, meant local superiority of numbers if nothing else, could probably be achieved provided you actually have a decent amount of ships to begin with.
                          So your postulating a change from pure numbers to one of enough numbers with mobility likely centered on control of Gibraltar, Suez, Straits of Malacca, Hong Kong, Cape of Good Hope and Singapore. Indeed this gives the RN rapid access to the old world and Africa but not so much access to the New World.

                          In the New World the only access to the Caribbean if tensions with the US were high would be to move from the West Coast of Africa to the Empire of Brazil and then north, not a move from Canada south.


                          To what extent did the 1914-18 war play in that US stance? Would the lack of global conflict alter the US's isolationism/lack of ambition? The wider ramifications of that war on strategic footing is huge.
                          Isolationism is the next war. Mahan and TDR's Great White Fleet combiend with the Spanish American war and America's emergency as a banking and then industrial powerhouse at the turn of the century are driving the US to seek a greater role in Global Affairs not unlike Germany. The difference being US access to markets in Europe and Asia as well as wariness over Japan after 1904-5 is the driving force behind the navy. The US began an aggressive building campaign.

                          In fact the history of the South Carolina class (first US dreadnoughts) goes back to 1901 before HMS Dreadnought. Likewise the US Naval building program was already well underway. The US commissioning 21 predreadnoughts between 1900 and 1908.

                          Guns have been upped and other measures made in the past, when the occasion called for it, to extend service life, it could make a logical stance in the event of the 'naval crisis' you pitch.
                          Not so sure about that, changing the main gun armament of a battleship already in service was not a common occurrence. Unless you designed the ship from the keel up to use a bigger armament than commissioned with (Like the original M1 Abrams) any conversion is going to require reworking the guts of the ships magazines and hoist systems as well.

                          [quote]Though the bore of guns is but one small factor when taking into context the strategic footing of four rival polities. I would consider that, with all the money not spent thrashing the Kaiser and getting into debt with the US, some more vessels with larger guns could be laid down if it looks like the situation calls for it.[/qute]

                          Which is why I added every planned ship to the RN- assuming the budget could cover them or it would not have proposed them.

                          Would they not plan any more to sure up any perceived weakness?
                          Baring in mind the RN was the senior service of a state which had just spent considerable amounts of treasure fighting Germany. Should this conflict have not happened, how much more cash and infrastructure can be put into developing and producing capital ships, had this cost not been incurred? The war which nigh-on broke Britain, having not occurred, Britain will not be nigh-on broken. The same can be said of Germany, but her chief concerns, by position, had, and would always really be landwards.
                          Not sure there is the money or the slips to do more. Certainly mothballing/scrapping predreadnoughts will free up operating costs and crews but I am not sure that the economy or yards could handle a faster pace.

                          The US is more the problem, because the US is a proper Seapower. Previous potential conflict between Britain and the US after 1865 weren't necessarily likely to spark the kind of conflict which would bring the full might of the USN and RN to the fore. Whose interest would be gained from a violent solution?
                          Possible flashpoints include China(Japan), the Caribbean and Belize, Ottoman Empire (Suez), South America (Panama). Both countries had often conflicting interests in the these areas.

                          The contest for dominance at sea, between Britain and the US, would most likely be one of production; unless the US invades Canada or something.
                          Strangely, Canada is the most stable point of context, perhaps because of long familiarity and well settled borders.

                          The US would go on to develop the upper hand of economics and production capacity for warships. I'm sure the engrossing details can be found. Without the pressing need to re-structure the global system brought on by the world wars, if anything, it could even have been a more gradual transition.

                          Whether the gulf would have become so prominent had Britain not been so damaged by the War is another matter.
                          I think the Gulf was destined for prominence regardless. America is almost purpose built for the automobile which will rapidly drive up the consumption of domestic production. At the same time the energy advantage of oil over coal will push the fleets towards oil regardless. Both of these plus a rivalry will mean the RN will want a source of oil it can control that is not subject to US invasion like Mexico (major provider of British oil until Vera Cruz)

                          Without France buggered in the 14-18 lot, the French navy could potentially be used to spare up some resources, but probably only against Germany.
                          I was thinking more v Italy and Austria-Hungary (both nominal German allies). French focus is on a Southern strategy anyway. Africa and her colonies are more important than the control of the Jade Bight. The French fleet effectively cancelled out the Italian and Austro-Hungarian fleets. Although alliance with France brings Russia and the Baltic fleet which is something the Germans do have to consider. The Imperial Russian Navy planned to have 3 dreadnoughts and 4 battle cruisers by around 1920.

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                          • #14
                            [QUOTE=DARKPLACE;2256519]But will the tax payer want to foot the bill for it?[/quite]

                            based on the US building program- 21 predreadnoughts and 10 dreadnoughts in 14 years- YES

                            The US intrests at the time don't clash with the UK's short of creating an incident I can't see pure national pride pulling it through. It's not just battle ships that the US needs to keep and man and maintain there's a host of support vessels heavy and light cruisers destroyers oilers and maintenance vessels not to mention ugrading the shore bases to handle them.
                            US and UK had multiple areas of conflict and competition. As for the support infastructure, like the UK, the US is a natural sea power and has ample yards, bays and harbors. She also has Panama, Philippines and Hawaii

                            In theory the best way of dealing with it would be to push for a carrier force. In practice without the technological push that ww1 gave airplanes are little more than a glorified toy and likely to stay that way until well into the 1930's in this timeline.
                            Early thinking of aeroplanes like submarines saw them as extensions of the big gun fleet, not replacements.

                            Like I stated earlier, the rapid scrapping/mothballing/selling of the predreadnoughts frees up operating capitol and crews, but I am not sure British slips can build more ships faster.

                            BTW, grats and God Bless your queen

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by zraver View Post
                              Stated British policy was being able to fight the next two biggest battle fleets at the same time.
                              Yes, and if that isn't possible (I forget when the 2PS was introduced), some other measure will be sought to advance and defend Britain's interest. States rarely 'give up'

                              So your postulating a change from pure numbers to one of enough numbers with mobility likely centered on control of Gibraltar, Suez, Straits of Malacca, Hong Kong, Cape of Good Hope and Singapore. Indeed this gives the RN rapid access to the old world and Africa but not so much access to the New World.


                              In the New World the only access to the Caribbean if tensions with the US were high would be to move from the West Coast of Africa to the Empire of Brazil and then north, not a move from Canada south.
                              Throughout the 19th Century it is Halifax which was considered the closest of the developed naval bases which would be used to project power in the Americas. JCR Colomb's work on the defence of the coaling stations, and their use in the wider defence of the Empire is the best source for this. Whether Halifax's position within such a scheme could endure into the 1920s, I am not aware.


                              Isolationism is the next war. Mahan and TDR's Great White Fleet combiend with the Spanish American war and America's emergency as a banking and then industrial powerhouse at the turn of the century are driving the US to seek a greater role in Global Affairs not unlike Germany. The difference being US access to markets in Europe and Asia as well as wariness over Japan after 1904-5 is the driving force behind the navy. The US began an aggressive building campaign.
                              That being so I find it difficult to really take for granted any postulated position of the US when one of the major events of the 20th Century, which surely must have effected US foreign policy, has been put as void. I can't say either way, though with the influence of the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, a place in the sun seems high on the agenda, yet by the same token, with his influence, for example, I don't see it leading to war. Something just tells me the US electorate and appendages of government wouldn't want to spend their nice new shiny fleet over some sandpit. Sending a squadron for some display, yes, but without the mechanisms or rather, potential of total war being present to be put into motion, it seems doubtful blows would be struck.

                              In fact the history of the South Carolina class (first US dreadnoughts) goes back to 1901 before HMS Dreadnought. Likewise the US Naval building program was already well underway. The US commissioning 21 predreadnoughts between 1900 and 1908.
                              Bully for Uncle Sam.

                              Not so sure about that, changing the main gun armament of a battleship already in service was not a common occurrence. Unless you designed the ship from the keel up to use a bigger armament than commissioned with (Like the original M1 Abrams) any conversion is going to require reworking the guts of the ships magazines and hoist systems as well.
                              It was probably more common in pre-dreadnaughts where, at least according to Conways, a number of ships received alterations to their armaments, without major structural changes like razee-ing.

                              Which is why I added every planned ship to the RN- assuming the budget could cover them or it would not have proposed them.
                              There is some question of reciprocation here. Do you contend the RN would not alter a ship order, or continue to make orders, which any naval professional would presume to be out-dated/undergunned? Considering we're covering a period of 1914 - ....1939?

                              Not sure there is the money or the slips to do more. Certainly mothballing/scrapping predreadnoughts will free up operating costs and crews but I am not sure that the economy or yards could handle a faster pace.
                              I've not the sense of effort or humour to labour through the figures as to how much more economically powerful Britain would have been had it not spent so much in the First World War, to say with any certainty that there would be more money.

                              Possible flashpoints include China(Japan), the Caribbean and Belize, Ottoman Empire (Suez), South America (Panama). Both countries had often conflicting interests in the these areas.
                              None of which, I think, can generate a Total War on the footing of the Great War (or even simmilar, which would prompt a full naval deployment) I can envisage stand-off or at most, a limited conflict utilising local forces, but not re-directing the whole fleet to anywhere. Was the US making moves to conquer the Carrib or Belize?


                              I think the Gulf was destined for prominence regardless. America is almost purpose built for the automobile which will rapidly drive up the consumption of domestic production. At the same time the energy advantage of oil over coal will push the fleets towards oil regardless. Both of these plus a rivalry will mean the RN will want a source of oil it can control that is not subject to US invasion like Mexico (major provider of British oil until Vera Cruz)
                              I wasn't clear; I meant the gulf between the USN and RN: would the RN have been left behind so badly after not having expended so much blood and treasure in the German war.
                              ------
                              'I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.' - Thomas Jefferson

                              If you have questions about the forum please check the FAQ/Rules

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