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  • Evolution of warfare without airpower.

    Here is an out of left field idea.
    What if flying animals never existed which leads to people never developing or thinking about flying (lighter than air and heavier than air). How would warfare evolved. More importantly, how would WWII developed.
    Last edited by IDonT4; 31 Mar 14, 17:15.

  • #2
    I expect everything would be heavier. At least in the water it would, without the threat of bombers and no carriers, I expect heavy battleships to last much longer. The arrival of sophisticated missiles etc. would still put an end to them, but much later than WWII.
    Submarines would become even more important in WWII.

    On the ground, no air support means slower advance, and no bombing of enemy infraestructure means you need to direct the ground offensive straight into the industrial zones. Warfare would be less mobile.
    Mapping the terrain and knowing where the enemy is would also become much harder, increasing the need for fast moving ground recon units...

    A lot would change no doubt, I can't even begin to list it.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by IDonT4 View Post
      Here is an out of left field idea.
      What if flying animals never existed which leads to people never developing or thinking about lying (lighter than air and heavier than air). How would warfare evolved. More importantly, how would WWII developed.
      Are rockets and missiles allowed in your timeline?
      The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Castro View Post
        I expect everything would be heavier. At least in the water it would, without the threat of bombers and no carriers, I expect heavy battleships to last much longer. The arrival of sophisticated missiles etc. would still put an end to them, but much later than WWII.
        Submarines would become even more important in WWII.

        On the ground, no air support means slower advance, and no bombing of enemy infraestructure means you need to direct the ground offensive straight into the industrial zones. Warfare would be less mobile.
        Mapping the terrain and knowing where the enemy is would also become much harder, increasing the need for fast moving ground recon units...

        A lot would change no doubt, I can't even begin to list it.
        Oh yes indeed. The Battleships would have ruled well into the 60s at least?

        Yamato would probably have been a real sucker for the Allies

        Subs would have been muuuuuch more decisive. The XXI sub would have been a game changer. Wait. No Fall Gelb. Would there have been WW2 anyways?

        The citizens of the large Cities would have appreciated it a lot i guess...
        One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by marktwain View Post
          Are rockets and missiles allowed in your timeline?
          Well they are basically powered bullets, so yes. Powered and controlled flight are not.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Castro View Post
            On the ground, no air support means slower advance, and no bombing of enemy infraestructure means you need to direct the ground offensive straight into the industrial zones. Warfare would be less mobile.
            Mapping the terrain and knowing where the enemy is would also become much harder, increasing the need for fast moving ground recon units...
            I think armored warfare will developed along similar lines without the presence of close air support, which acts as flying artillery anyway. I can point to the Soviet experience of using massive amounts artillery to blast through fixed defenses. Armored forces will probably contain larger amounts of self-propelled artillery.

            I expect everything would be heavier. At least in the water it would, without the threat of bombers and no carriers, I expect heavy battleships to last much longer. The arrival of sophisticated missiles etc. would still put an end to them, but much later than WWII.
            For this, I look to the prewar Japanese doctrine of torpedo attacks as the model. Multiple battle lines of torpedo armed cruisers and destroyers will approach enemy battle lines covered by the even greater guns of the battleships. The battleship guns will probably max out at around 20 inches or so as anything bigger will be impractical. The main advancement will be in higher velocity guns.

            As for submarines, before the advent of nuclear power, the submarine kills of enemy warships were relatively small. Japan's submarines had a dismal experience in trying to hunt warships instead of merchant shipping. They would be a weapon of attrition and harassment but not be as decisive as one would see.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by IDonT4 View Post
              For this, I look to the prewar Japanese doctrine of torpedo attacks as the model. Multiple battle lines of torpedo armed cruisers and destroyers will approach enemy battle lines covered by the even greater guns of the battleships. The battleship guns will probably max out at around 20 inches or so as anything bigger will be impractical. The main advancement will be in higher velocity guns.

              As for submarines, before the advent of nuclear power, the submarine kills of enemy warships were relatively small. Japan's submarines had a dismal experience in trying to hunt warships instead of merchant shipping. They would be a weapon of attrition and harassment but not be as decisive as one would see.
              I didn't mean submarines would become more important in an actual sea battle, I'm talking about the same submarine warfare we got in WWII, which was crucial in the war.
              It was closely connected to air warfare. There will be no bombing of convoys from the air as an alternative to subs. There will be no air escort, no aerial submarine spotting by airborne radar, HF/DF, etc. making them much harder to hunt especially, on surface and night. All that water both sides protected with aircraft must now be protected by ships or not at all. And so on.

              The Atlantic Theatre is a whole other game with no air force, and that was a major campaign where the submarine was key.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by IDonT4 View Post
                For this, I look to the prewar Japanese doctrine of torpedo attacks as the model. Multiple battle lines of torpedo armed cruisers and destroyers will approach enemy battle lines covered by the even greater guns of the battleships. The battleship guns will probably max out at around 20 inches or so as anything bigger will be impractical. The main advancement will be in higher velocity guns.
                The Jap Navy could have an edge early on due to their excellent torpedoes. At least until Radar guided Fire Control gives em a nasty surprise...
                One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.

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                • #9
                  Zulu's in canoes, imagine the horror

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                  • #10
                    Considering the limited effectiveness of aircraft and flight in WWI, other than observation and recon, we get a hint. WWII looks a lot like WWI.
                    TANSTAAFL = There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

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                    • #11
                      Coast artillery would still have been very important.
                      Pearl Harbor couldn't have happened.

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                      • #12
                        Somebody is still going to have the idea of fixing an engine to a contraption and go faster than a balloon or airship. Too many insects can fly not to be noticed.

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                        • #13
                          It is notable that the budget for Air force and air defense rivaled that of the Armies. It was this case for the Nazi germany.

                          So you're talking about more modernized armies that have much greater mobility and firepower since manpower and industrial production will be shifted towards them and the navy. (communications/electronics, motor vehicles, AFV, towed/SP artillery, ammunition, etc)

                          I believe that the ground force will be develop roughly the same but they'll be much better equipped than historically.

                          Originally posted by IDonT4 View Post
                          More importantly, how would WWII developed.
                          Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                          Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                          Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                          Battle of Kalinin October 1941

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                          • #14
                            Leaving aside the naval warfare for a moment, I'm thinking about land operations.

                            Those big big guns are much more popular because they are the only ones that give you reach beyond the physical presence of your troops and, therefore, beyond the front line. Cities do get bombarded, if the front lines are within some 30 kms. Artillery staffs, with all that mapping and calculating, draw some of the technical and scientific manpower that in our timeline went in the air forces. Counterbattery fire, means of spotting and ranging the enemy artillery, etc., become even more important.

                            Ground recon and espionage also are more important. It's possible that in the case of sparsely-held frontages in areas with few roads, cavalry remains key. Fast motorized recon is all-important if you have either a good road network or good terrain.

                            I would not bet that core industries back in the enemy's heartland are immune from harassment. If you are sending spies in, you can just as well send in saboteurs and, even better, agitators who will try and turn the natives against the government. Partisans would also be very useful, but I don't think they will get more powerful because in our timeline they received supplies from the air... It's possible they are stronger than in our timeline only in coastal regions.

                            Vantage points (hilltops, bell towers etc.) offering good views beyond the enemy lines remained important in our timeline, they will be even more critical in this one. Naturally the above mentioned artillery will try to obliterate the enemy-held ones. I wonder whether in flat lands you aren't going to see heavily hardened towers, similar to our timeline's German FlAK towers, as observation posts.

                            All that being said, if you remove flying birds and flying insects (which will also entirely change agricolture, BTW), I could buy that nobody thinks about heavier-than-air flight. But you'll still have smoke rising from fires. Eventually, you are going to have balloons and then powered balloons, zeppelins.
                            Michele

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                            • #15
                              First biggest change is that France is not conquered in 1940.
                              Although before that Norway will not fall either.

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