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  • No converted inter-war carriers

    (My stab at creating a situation where there will be some battleship engagements in WWII in the Pacific(and maybe elsewhere))

    The wording of the various naval treaties in the 20's and 30's (London, Washington, etc) is such that battleships and battlecruisers that have started construction cannot be converted to aircraft carriers. Permitted aircraft carrier tonnages are such that only carriers that were laid down as such are completed.

    This will remove the following ships from the orders of battle:

    RN: COURAGEOUS, GLORIOUS

    USN: LEXINGTON, SARATOGA, WASP (although laid down as a carrier, really only existed because there was tonnage left in the treaty after the LEX and SAR were completed).

    IJN: AKAGI, KAGA

    This will curtail some of the development of carrier concepts developed during the inter-war period. This may focus naval doctrine even more so on the big-gun ships.
    The two RN ships were sunk early in the war, their 'non-existance' would have minimal impact on the war.
    However the 'missing' USN and IJN ships will drastically change the nature of the early war in the Pacific.
    Pearl Harbour will still go ahead, but the damage shouldn't be as extensive. Will the US be as aggressive with its' battle line as it was with the historical carrier force?
    Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Roadkiller View Post
    (My stab at creating a situation where there will be some battleship engagements in WWII in the Pacific(and maybe elsewhere))

    The wording of the various naval treaties in the 20's and 30's (London, Washington, etc) is such that battleships and battlecruisers that have started construction cannot be converted to aircraft carriers. Permitted aircraft carrier tonnages are such that only carriers that were laid down as such are completed.

    This will remove the following ships from the orders of battle:

    RN: COURAGEOUS, GLORIOUS

    USN: LEXINGTON, SARATOGA, WASP (although laid down as a carrier, really only existed because there was tonnage left in the treaty after the LEX and SAR were completed).

    IJN: AKAGI, KAGA

    This will curtail some of the development of carrier concepts developed during the inter-war period. This may focus naval doctrine even more so on the big-gun ships.
    The two RN ships were sunk early in the war, their 'non-existance' would have minimal impact on the war.
    However the 'missing' USN and IJN ships will drastically change the nature of the early war in the Pacific.
    Pearl Harbour will still go ahead, but the damage shouldn't be as extensive. Will the US be as aggressive with its' battle line as it was with the historical carrier force?
    It definitely makes the Yamato class battleship the game changer in the Pacific it was intended to be. Prior, the Japanese battleships were faster but less well protected and possessed less broadside throw weight than the US Standard class battleships. The Yamato class was designed to make the entire US battle fleet obsolete at a stroke much like HMS Dreadnought had done earlier.

    Even the escalation clause ships USS Washington and North Carolina were not match on paper for the Japanese super battleships. Japan planned three of them Yamato, Mushasi and Shimano. For much of historic WWII they were laid up in port to protected them from carrier aircraft and submarines. In a war without carriers however they may seek out the US battle fleet.

    Perhaps a battleship raid on pearl harbor where Japan is willing to lose a couple of lighter battleships ships for the chance to wreck the US fleet. But that is a big maybe, US battleship building from 1937 was aggressive. while the Japanese would not have the Yamato in service until may 42 by which time the Standards would have been joined by 5 new fast battleships with another only 5 months away and the first two Iowas only a year away from joining the fleet to offset the arrival of the second Yamato class and the final two Iowas offsetting the third of the Yamato class. Then the US planned 5 Montana class super battleships. Total US battleship strength planned for the 40's is 13 standard types, and 15 fast battleships (23).

    The British, while obviously more concerned with Germany likewise pose a problem for Japan. In 1941 the Royal Navy welcomed 3 brand new KGV class battleships to the fleet with 2 more coming in 42 and 4 Lion class planned to join in the mid 40's and a single Vanguard class ship. These joined with Hood and the two Nelsons to create a fast battleship force of 6-11 vessels (including the renown class), 2 modern battleships and a fleet of up to 10-11 battleships built before or during WWI. (22)

    Against a possibility of 45 enemy battleships including 22 post-treaty battleships Japan has a maximum strength of just 19 ships with only 4 of them being new construction.

    Nothing else really changes, Germany still only has 4 vessels planned, Italy and France don't chance etc.

    Back to the Pacific, without carrier aircraft to attack Pearl Harbor, Japanese plans in the Pacific are in doubt. She cant attack the Philippines, Malaysia, Dutch East Indies or Hong Kong with an intact US/UK battle fleet. This may drive Japan to war with the Soviet Union for lack of better options.

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    • #3
      And if we're removing ANY converted ships, that'd also remove from the IJN's OOB Chitose, Chiyoda, Zuiho, and Shoho.

      -Matt
      SGT, 210th MP Battalion, 2nd MP BDE, MSSG

      Fervently PRO-TRUMP, anti-Islam and anti-Steelers!

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      • #4
        I'd say the British would come off worst. (you forgot Eagle in that conversion group)....

        Anyway, the reason is this would be one more justification by the RAF to keep the FAA miniscule. If anything, it gives incentive to just not build carriers or naval aircraft to the government.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by zraver View Post
          Japan planned three of them Yamato, Mushasi and Shimano. For much of historic WWII they were laid up in port to protected them from carrier aircraft and submarines. In a war without carriers however they may seek out the US battle fleet.
          That had as much to do with the pair being fuel hogs. They were needed in the Solomons in latter 1942 but fuel consumption was one of the the reasons the lighter Hiei & co. were sent.

          Originally posted by zraver View Post
          Perhaps a battleship raid on pearl harbor where Japan is willing to lose a couple of lighter battleships ships for the chance to wreck the US fleet. But that is a big maybe,
          Precarrier IJN strategy was for the IJN fleet to wait for the USN to exahust itself crossing the Pacific. & fight in the western Pacific. Submarines were to ambush the USN along the way.

          USN strategy was to spar at long distance with raids and probes, taking no risk. The USN cross Pacific offensive was not to start until the necessary ships were ready. A wait of up to two years was contemplated, tho a earlier start might be had were the IJN leaders to make a mistake.


          US battleship building from 1937 was aggressive. while the Japanese would not have the Yamato in service until may 42 by which time the Standards would have been joined by 5 new fast battleships with another only 5 months away and the first two Iowas only a year away from joining the fleet to offset the arrival of the second Yamato class and the final two Iowas offsetting the third of the Yamato class. Then the US planned 5 Montana class super battleships. Total US battleship strength planned for the 40's is 13 standard types, and 15 fast battleships (23).



          Originally posted by zraver View Post
          Back to the Pacific, without carrier aircraft to attack Pearl Harbor, Japanese plans in the Pacific are in doubt. She cant attack the Philippines, Malaysia, Dutch East Indies or Hong Kong with an intact US/UK battle fleet. This may drive Japan to war with the Soviet Union for lack of better options.
          Actually that was their strategy. To attack the Phillipines & other US island territories in the expectation the USN would come charging out to save the day. The Japanese battle fleet would wait in the western or central Pacific until the perfect moment came to ambush the US fleet. It appeared to the Japanese naval leader that the strategy which worked so well against the Russians would work against the US. They understood the US fleet had less distance to come, but they also thought the US military leaders less resolute and skilled.

          The USN strategy was based on regular wargames, both on maps and fleet exercises. These had repeatedly shown the problems of a overly aggresive strategy for the US and the wisdom in waiting until preperations were complete. In exercises where the US waited a year or more before launching its main offensive the Japanese team lost. Bywaters 'The Great Pacfic War' thinly fictionalized 1920s USN war games which showed the problems of a premature offensive and advantages of waiting. Admiral Kimmels war plan published earlier in 1941 reflected this experience and strategy. While it had aggresive elements it had little in it that would place the US Pacific fleet at risk in the first year of war.

          The lead in gunnery radar with the British & then the USN gave both navies a under appreciated advantage in gunnery. The late 1942 battles in the Solomons would have been very different without the USN radar. In the case of the Brits there was already a strong doctrine and skill in night battle to build the techniques for radar use upon. Items the Italian and German navies were weaker at. Japanese radar technology lagged badly and they would have been in trouble on this account before the end of 1942.

          Another technical point is the rapidity in which the USN overcame its problems in gunnery. Naval gunnery had been emphasised in the USN & on the book side it was quite strong. Depression era funding prevented enough training and testing of new developments, so the USN lacked the actual shipboard skill it needed in late 1941. By the autum of 1942 that had been overcome as intensive gunnery practice paid off. I cant say if fewer carriers would change any of this in the 1930s. Perhaps ther ewould be a little more money for gunnery practice. Perhaps also there would be better testing of the new USN torpedo models?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
            Actually that was their strategy. To attack the Philippines & other US island territories in the expectation the USN would come charging out to save the day.
            That strategy was rendered obsolete in 37 when the US finally came out of its naval building hibernation. Without the US building program Japan has effective parity though the US ships are much better protected if slower. Japan planned 3 new ships the US planned 18.

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            • #7
              Hmmm... by what date would the USN have gained parity in modern battleships & heavy cruisers? Declaring a strategy obsolete in 1937 because of a projected change in five or ten years seems a bit of a reach to me.

              Comment


              • #8
                Its worth noting that despite the change in the OTL, that the USN would still be a 2 Ocean navy and the IJN a single ocean navy, when it comes to just posting numbers!

                Regards
                "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

                "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

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                • #9
                  Good point Andy. This is why I still see the Pearl Harbor attack moving ahead. Perhaps it will concentrate solely on battleship row, but the IJN will want to disable the US Pacific battle line, advance across south east asia, and then bushwack the Atlantic fleet when it sails out to stop them.

                  Whether they could is another story.
                  Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Andy,

                    The US was technically a 2 ocean navy, but no battleship threat existed in the Atlantic and the US controlled the Panama canal which allowed a very rapid transit from Atlantic to Pacific and vice verse.

                    Carl,

                    Hmmm... by what date would the USN have gained parity in modern battleships & heavy cruisers? Declaring a strategy obsolete in 1937 because of a projected change in five or ten years seems a bit of a reach to me.
                    In 37 both battle fleets were near equal the US had a slight edge in gun power and protection but was slightly slower on average. The US added two new ships in early 41- North Carolina and Washington. In Contrast the Japanese did not add thier first new ship until the middle of December in 41- Yamato.

                    By the end of the summer in 42 when the Japanese had their second new battleship in service- Musashi, the US had 6- Washington, North Carolina, South Dakota Massachusetts, Alabama and Indiana. By the end of 42 the ratio of new ships favored the US 3:1.

                    In 43 the Japanese planned to add Shitano to the fleet and had not laid any more keels for follow on vessels. The US on the other hand would add 2 vessels Iowa and New Jersey. In 44 the Japanese got nothing and planned nothing while the US added Wisconsin and Missouri bringing total US production since 1937 to 10 vs 3 Japanese.

                    Without the ascendancy of the carrier the US planned a further 2 Iowa class vessels Illinois and Kentucky which would have reached the fleet in 44/45. The US also planned 6 Montana class super battleships ordered in May 42 which would have begun reaching the fleet in 45 and been fully delivered by 48. This brings the total planned US battleship production from 1937 to 1947 (first keel laying to last keel laying) to 18 hulls vs Japanese 3 a 6:1 US advantage.

                    In terms of heavy cruisers the Japanese had 19 hulls in 37, 10 of them modern and above treaty limits vs 18 US ships all modern but treaty limited. During WWII the Japanese would build 0 new heavy cruisers while the US planned 36 through 1949 and actually built 21 of them plus the 6 planned Alaska class vessels (2 built) for a total planned building of 41 heavy and large cruisers vs 0 Japanese.

                    So yes, once the US came out of its hibernation in 37 and kicked the shipyards in to full swing the Japanese strategy was doomed. Japan built 3 battleships and no cruisers during the period when the US set it sights on 18 battleships and 41 cruisers.
                    Last edited by zraver; 06 Jun 12, 13:56.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      zraver... I see your line of thought tho it smacks of hyperbole to announce a strategy obsolete six or seven years before the fact.

                      To digress, the one really decisive or important surface action (actually a series) of the Pacific war was notable by the near absence of battleships. With the opposing carrier forces hors combat (Enterprise damaged & alone, the IJN carriers retired with their air groups decimated) in late October the naval fight around Guadalcanal came down to cruiser squadrons, and just four battleships between the two navys. The battleship admirals kind of missed the party with only Abe & Lee showing up for the dance.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                        zraver... I see your line of thought tho it smacks of hyperbole to announce a strategy obsolete six or seven years before the fact.
                        Not 6 or seven years before the fact, the US building program started adding ships before Japan did and was doing it faster rendering Japanese plans based on a near parity of numbers obsolete.

                        To digress, the one really decisive or important surface action (actually a series) of the Pacific war was notable by the near absence of battleships. With the opposing carrier forces hors combat (Enterprise damaged & alone, the IJN carriers retired with their air groups decimated) in late October the naval fight around Guadalcanal came down to cruiser squadrons, and just four battleships between the two navys. The battleship admirals kind of missed the party with only Abe & Lee showing up for the dance.
                        Ya, but Lee was the belle of the ball... Abe never even saw him coming.

                        The battleship admirals did get their turn to dance at Leyte.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by zraver View Post
                          Andy,
                          The US was technically a 2 ocean navy, but no battleship threat existed in the Atlantic and the US controlled the Panama canal which allowed a very rapid transit from Atlantic to Pacific and vice verse.
                          Hi zraver

                          The USN & Government thought differently during the inter-war yrs, especially after the re-emergence of the German Navy from the 1930's onward. Obviously it recognised that the RN would be the main BB 2 BB opponents for Germany (and later the RM), but it couldn't ignore that it had responsibilities and obligations to its East coast and the trade routes of the North & South Atlantic.

                          If the much vaunted Z-Plan had reached fruition in 1944 etc, then the USN may well have had to have used some of its more modern BB's in this theater as well as the Pacific. Though obviously the RN 1937 building prog would have also be in full swing, plus the MN's modernisation plan, which would also dovetail into the building programme of the RM.
                          The Atlantic could be awash with modern and very capable BB's, and something the USN would have to respond too.

                          Regards
                          "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

                          "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Andy H View Post
                            Hi zraver

                            The USN & Government thought differently during the inter-war yrs, especially after the re-emergence of the German Navy from the 1930's onward. Obviously it recognised that the RN would be the main BB 2 BB opponents for Germany (and later the RM), but it couldn't ignore that it had responsibilities and obligations to its East coast and the trade routes of the North & South Atlantic.

                            If the much vaunted Z-Plan had reached fruition in 1944 etc, then the USN may well have had to have used some of its more modern BB's in this theater as well as the Pacific. Though obviously the RN 1937 building prog would have also be in full swing, plus the MN's modernisation plan, which would also dovetail into the building programme of the RM.
                            The Atlantic could be awash with modern and very capable BB's, and something the USN would have to respond too.

                            Regards
                            Yes, but over time the most likely response would have been to swap the standards to the Atlantic as the new fast battleships came on line. The fast battleships were better armored, faster and longer ranged by design making them ideal Pacific Ocean vessels.

                            Also something to consider is that without the influence of carrier aviation the US might have devoted more resources to the Army Air Corps and the B-17 before the war in an anti-shipping role for coastal defense. The B-17's proved ineffective as anti-shipping platforms (level) bombing but ideal scouting air craft where their heavy armament and robust construction combined to make them one of the most effective anti-fighter platforms early in the war in the Pacific.

                            More often than not when a Zero or Oscar tangled with a B-17 it was the Japanese plane that went down.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                              I'd say the British would come off worst. (you forgot Eagle in that conversion group)....
                              ...and Furious, I believe.

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