Advise my fictional state II

Desertfox

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I think ya'll are missing the obvious answer as shown by the Israelis during this time period. The Mirage III/Dagger/Nesher/V family, a relatively low cost, wildly exported fighter, that has been license built, doesn't come with US strings attached, and can fill a variety of roles.
 

uk 75

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Bit of a nitpick again. Plonking a large island or worse still a continent on Britain's route to India is really asking for trouble. Look at what we did in Cyprus and Egypt.
This is why my scenario tried to get round it.
 

uk 75

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Building a jet fighter from scratch and getting it into service is still a big ask in the 1960s.
Jet trainers were the starting point for a range of countries.
Designers from Germany helped Argentina, Egypt, India and Spain with national programmes.
Switzerland did try and make its own light fighter but found it more practical and cheaper to buy foreign.
South Africa would have carried on buying French and UK aircraft if it had not been embargoed. Post Apartheid SA bought Gripen and not an SA design.
Taiwan would have been operating F16s instead of its own design if the US had allowed.
Finland unlike neighbour Sweden relies on foreign types.
Sweden is almost unique among non aligned countries in fielding its own build fast jets.
 

zen

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I think the problem with these types of scenarios is that there is a tendency to try and unpick the geographical and political factors behind nation building.
Yes
Have they developed reliable engines in the past?
Yes, do we need to elaborate on that or just skip to the point were a grandiose plan for different engines meets reality and only one actually makes it to service?
What natural resources do they have and is all their aluminium imported?
Queen Maudland has, frankly the lot.
Can they afford an NACA/TsAGI/RAE research centre to help them?
Yes
How many companies exist?
At least two aviation firms work on military aircraft, Tchang Aviation and Qurn & Goarant.
Do you want the full back story of Tchang seeing the spotting potential of newfangled aeroplanes for artillary after witnessing an aircraft display in the US in 1912?

Crude map version
Talavia simple2a.png
Link to previous thread
 
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uk 75

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Looking good for port visits by HMS Eagle on the Beira patrol.
Madagascar among the world's poorest countries and Apartheid South Africa as only developed economy in easy reach.
 

Hood

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Yes, do we need to elaborate on that or just skip to the point were a grandiose plan for different engines meets reality and only one actually makes it to service?
Well... we could if you're only going to worry about the 1960s portion.

Queen Maudland has, frankly the lot.
Lucky devils, bet they have a ton of gold and diamond mines too being where they are?

At least two aviation firms work on military aircraft, Tchang Aviation and Qurn & Goarant.
Do you want the full back story of Tchang seeing the spotting potential of newfangled aeroplanes for artillary after witnessing an aircraft display in the US in 1912?
Yes, I'd rather worry about that then whether its too chilly for vineyards to

Crude map version
Actually much further south than I imagined. One bonus is the Cape might be less hazardous to traverse. But it is at the end of the earth.... pretty remote and actually is it too small for three nations to gain the kind of critical mass you need? My world building senses tingle at the difficulty of building up a alt-Japan type scenario down here.
But its helpful to see.

Hood is very familiar with alt nation building from the truly excellent Shipbucket site.
True, but its easy to suspend believe when its lots of pretty pictures!
Plus making a fantasy Earth with more fictional nations and islands and stuff makes it easier to handwave.
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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[F-4 Defence]Triggered....
I doubt if the Zenland Parliament is willing to pay massive amounts of foreign exchange dollars to buy F-4 Phantoms.
The OP has already stated that Zenland would prefer to manufacture their own airplanes.
Well firstly, I never mentioned the cost of the F-4 because if the US is unwilling to greenlight export in the first place, then the price is academic anyway but if it helps, I'll amend to: "Now, unfortunately, I don't believe for a second that a sub-Saharan nation could afford the F-4 if it was on offer, which it wouldn't be due to US export policy of that era".

Secondly, yes the OP may very well have a preference for own build but it is wholly, deeply unrealistic, at least without partners. You're gonna wish you bought off-the-shelf Phantoms for twice the price! A notional, indigenous fighter for this nation is going to have to be able to contest the air from threatfor MiG-17s & MiG-21s and perhaps turn back Il-28 and hell possibly Buccaneer raids over a broad front. If it can't contend then don't bother - save yourself the trouble and take up knitting. So it'll need either supersonic performance or be a missileer, right?

The metallurgy alone required for a decent-MTBF afterburning turbojet doesn't come easily or cheaply and the list of nations doing it c1967 isn't terribly long. Developing a viable missileer when the AIM-54 is just getting out of nappies on NA-3s? I don't think so. As I understand it, this nation is supposedly independently competitive in (supersonic) airframes, engines, radar and AAMs with nations with many multiples of it's GDP? Is that correct? It seems unfathomably unlikely.

Other notionally "independent" fighters have a great deal of dependencies in actual fact. The Viggen had RM8, Sidewinder & Skyflash. Kfir had the J79. The J-22 had Vipers and variously Honeywell, Ferranti and/or Thomson-CSF avionics. Those aren't exhaustive BTW. All required a leg-up in one form or another. If aeronautic history has anything to say, this notional nation will too. Otherwise it's just fantasy! That's fine if that is what you want but let's have a name-tag for the spade shall we?
 

martinbayer

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How much further South does the island in the middle of the lower edge of the map extend?
 

Dilandu

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The metallurgy alone required for a decent-MTBF afterburning turbojet doesn't come easily or cheaply and the list of nations doing it c1967 isn't terribly long. Developing a viable missileer when the AIM-54 is just getting out of nappies on NA-3s? I don't think so. As I understand it, this nation is supposedly independently competitive in (supersonic) airframes, engines, radar and AAMs with nations with many multiples of it's GDP? Is that correct? It seems unfathomably unlikely.
Hm, what about non-standard poweplants? Cruise turbojet + supersonic ramjet, for example? Of course, dual powerplant made plane heavier... but for interceptor it is not exactly a big problem.
 

uk 75

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Denis Healey, Britain's Secretary of State for Defence, was one of the cleverest men in Harold Wilson's Cabinet and knew it. Michael Stewart, who took over from George Brown after the latter's sad demise, was not well known outside Westminster.
As the two men left the Cabinet Room, Healey turned to Stewart.
"Bloody Navy tell me that there is some island off the South African coast with its own air force that might get in the way of the Beira patrol".

"You mean Grand Fenwick?"
Healey looked baffled. Stewart smiled a wintry smile.
"Sorry Denis thats what our man in Pretoria calls the place. The actual name is unpronouncable. The South Africans keep a close eye on it. Its one of the non aligned in the UN and usually votes against the South Africans."
Healey returned to the huge Main Building just across the street in Whitehall.
Settling down at his desk and sipping a welcome cup of tea, the Secretary of State began reading the DIS brief on "Grand Fenwick".
 

zen

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Briefing for Minister.
As you will reccal, the major power on the small continent of Talavia, is the Xeselan Empire. Relations with which have come a long way since the failed Anglo-French invasion of the last century (see notes on Anglo-Xeselen War), especially since WWII.
But with withdrawal from British South Talavia and handing the territory in 1964 to the Twa Kingdom save for the Naval base at Vantel Bay. This client of the British Empire has become emboldened in it's ambitions towards contesting the current order on the continent.
Historically the Twa not only view their homeland as in Central Talavia, but remain wedded to the ambition to wrest dominance from the Xese peoples.
Any hopes the Xeselan Empire had of co-opting the Malagassy Northern Princedoms has ended since the Soviet backed coups toppled several and French North Talavia.
In this light the continued modernisation of the XIAF has seen further developments of the Marut with India, and their own light fighter the Tuqdag.
Ferranti have asked if it is permissible to make an offer for radar to that effort.
They are now turning towards replacement of older Attack aircraft, and have put out a request for proposals both to their native aviation firms (Tch&G and QA) and to several external (from Talavia) states.
BAC and HSA have been approached as have the Italians (Fiat), the Germans (Dornier) and the Swedes (SAAB). Private contacts indicate the several US firms may have been solicited.

It is understood this may number above 150 aircraft. As Twa Royal Army continues to expand it's purchase of armoured vehicles and the sale of Thunderbird mkII GW (see EE submission on post Libya situation) threatens XIAF ability to enter Twa Kingdom airspace.
 
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Dilandu

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As you will reccal, the major power on the small continent of Talavia, is the Xeselan Empire. Relations with which have come a long way since the failed Anglo-French invasion of the last century (see notes on Anglo-Xeselen War), especially since WWII.

Failed joint anglo-french invasion in XIX century? In the region, rather close to India (main British support base)? Frankly, hard to imagine how it could work out.
 

riggerrob

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"Briefing for Minister. ... In this light the continued modernisation of the XIAF has seen further developments of the Marut with India, and their own light fighter the Tuqdag.
Ferranti have asked if it is permissible to make an offer for radar to that effort.
They are now turning towards replacement of older Attack aircraft, and have put out a request for proposals both to their native aviation firms (Tch&G and QA) and to several external (from Talavia) states.
BAC and HSA have been approached as have the Italians (Fiat), the Germans (Dornier) and the Swedes (SAAB). Private contacts indicate the several US firms may have been solicited.

It is understood this may number above 150 aircraft. As Twa Royal Army continues to expand it's purchase of armoured vehicles and the sale of Thunderbird mkII GW (see EE submission on post Libya situation) threatens XIAF ability to enter Twa Kingdom airspace."
My imagination leaps to seeing the TUQDAG as a single-seat, single-engined, high-wing delta that looks like the love-child of (1960s vintage) Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and modern Indian Tejas. Since it does not need to operate from an aircraft carrier, it can go for the simpler delta wing configuration. Wing tips are large enough to mount Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. The large delta wing contains enough fuel to perform its primary mission on only internal fuel (ala. F-16XL pseudo delta), but it can still hang external fuel tanks for ferry flights to the African continent. Those tanks can hang from up to 8 external mounting points: fuselage chines, two hard points under each wing plus wing-tip rails to mount A-to-A missiles or even more fuel (ala. CT-33, CF-5 or CF-104). A quick-drop pannier allows installing a pair of 35 mm auto-cannons on the center-line. One weapons load-out has a torpedo hung under one wing root while the other has an external fuel tank for balance. TUQDAQs have paddle-type thrust-reversers that allow them to stop on even shorter runways.

There are multiple, 1 kilometer long, hard-surfaced runways in Zenland, sufficient for plenty of options to base TUQDAQs. Most of those airports have triangular taxiways (ala. BCATP) divided into passenger, freight and military specific taxiways. Given its location, a few Zenland airports have extended runways that serve as re-fueling points for long-distance flights connecting Europe to Australia, etc. but avoid the political hassle of refueling in apartheit-era South Africa.
 
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riggerrob

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"Briefing for Minister. .... As Twa Royal Army continues to expand it's purchase of armoured vehicles ...."
A firm that previously specialized in building heavy trucks for the Zenland mining industry announced a new line of light to medium weight wheeled armored fighting vehicles. They share many common drive train components, MG turrets, etc. The first product is a light, 4-wheeled scout car or VIP transport. Given Zenland politics, VIPs only ride in armored cars when close to the Northern or Southern borders.
The bulk of the production is 6 and 8 wheeled armored personnel carriers with mortar, ATGM, ambulance, AAA, supply etc. variants all based upon a common chassis. Huge, 10-wheeled variants carry 155 mm howitzers that semi-dismount (think massive recoil spades and side stabilizer arms) to fire.
The manufacturer promises a 10-wheeled bridge-layer in a couple of years.

This post was inspired by Anglo Engineering Concepts' recent proposals for a family of wheeled AFVs.
 
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zen

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As you will reccal, the major power on the small continent of Talavia, is the Xeselan Empire. Relations with which have come a long way since the failed Anglo-French invasion of the last century (see notes on Anglo-Xeselen War), especially since WWII.

Failed joint anglo-french invasion in XIX century? In the region, rather close to India (main British support base)? Frankly, hard to imagine how it could work out.
Scale and overconfidence. Trying to subdue a large populous and organised country, with insufficient forces, badly timed with the French in the North and the Twa not following the plan. The Xeselan Empire stamped hard on the invaders having been preparing for the inevitable for decades.
Plus a sabotage effort on the main north-south rail being uncovered. Though the RN did dominate the seas.
 

uk 75

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The Talavian High Commission in London had discreet offices in one of the many small streets that crisscross Mayfair. The High Commissioner was going through his engagements with some enthusiasm.
"I see that Alvis are giving us afternoon tea at Wimbledon while British Aircraft Corporation have invited us to use their box for the duration of the Test Match".
He smiled, remembering playing cricket on the beach as a boy.
Chapman Pincher sipped his whisky.
"High Commissioner is it true that you are asking the British Government to provide you with RAF Lightnings to deal with XIAF aircraft violating your airspace?"
The High Commissioner smiled again.
"My dear fellow you will have to ask Her Majesty"s Government."
 

Dilandu

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Scale and overconfidence. Trying to subdue a large populous and organised country, with insufficient forces, badly timed with the French in the North and the Twa not following the plan. The Xeselan Empire stamped hard on the invaders having been preparing for the inevitable for decades.

1st: how exactly "organized" they were? Chinese during First Opium War considered themselves quite well-organized; problem was, that their organization was not comparable with European.

2nd: how exactly Xeslean Empire prepared "for decades"? If they started the major Westernization program, like Japanese, they hardly would be invaded at all - not worth troubles.

3rd: "stamping hard on invaders" in XIX century would most likely provoke just the opposite; both empires would consider punishing Xesleans to be a matter of national pride.

So I strongly recommend to replace "failed invasion" with something smaller. Like a series of inconclusive border conflicts with Britain, which, on one hand, persuaded Xesleans to Westernize, and on the other hand - demonstrated to British, that conquering Xesleans would be way too costly.
 

Dilandu

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Any hopes the Xeselan Empire had of co-opting the Malagassy Northern Princedoms has ended since the Soviet backed coups toppled several and French North Talavia.
"Welcome to Perevalnoye, comrades", colonel Buynov greeted a group of dark-skinned officers, dressed in green uniforms of old Malagassy Pricedoms military, with new symbols hastily sewn in place of old regalias. "Here, you would recieve your basic instruction and initial training, before proceeding to more advanced courses. As per agreement with people's government of Malagassy Revolution Front, you would became the first pilots, trained to operate the advanced Mig-21M supersonic fighters, more than capable of dealing with machines of Xesleans imperialists..."
 

uk 75

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One of David Attenborough's less agreeable jobs as Controller of BBC2 was ro deal with the inevitable moans from politicians and others that greeted a new comedy series on the Channel.
The first episode of Michael Bentine's new series "Tea and Croissants" about the British Residency in Talavia during the Johnson Tardivaux affair of 1895 was described as "typical Oxbridge leftie nonsense". The French Embassy were also upset by the portrayal of French officers.
 
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uk 75

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Prime Minister Vorster and Defence Minister Botha were agreed that South Africa needed to keep a close eye on events on Talavia. This would soon fall to the infamous BOSS
The Republic of South Africa in the.late 60s watched with growing unease as what it called "terrorists" operated in its neighbours Portugese Angola and Mozambique and the rebel British settler state of Rhodesia. But only the Zel operated aircraft that might challenge SAAF aircraft.
Botha assured his Prime Minister that the Republic's interests would be protected whatever the Zel did.
 

uk 75

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The men at the bar of the Jameson Hotel in Salisbury could have passed for any group of businessmen enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of this watering hole.
In fact they had arrived in the city by "borrowed" airliner after an abortive attempt to rescue an African "statesman".
They had all served Her Majesty the Queen and were now willing to provide their service for suitable payment.
In a similar bar at London's Lancaster Hotel their sometime leader was listening to a distinguished Stewart Grainger lookalike explain how delicate things were becoming in Talavia.
At the same moment a BOAC VC10 was on final approach to that island, Alan Whicker finished his drink and fastened his seatbelt.
 

riggerrob

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Dear Dilandu,
I was thinking more in terms of red-coats versus Boers circa 1900.
With repeated railway sabotage, red coats would struggle to re-supply troops in the interior.
 

Hood

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I mean if the Xeselan Empire is sitting on a heap of gold and diamonds they could probably head up to Europe anytime from 1950 and offer some tempting pay to out of work and odd-jobbing designers - would Willy want to be messing about in bankrupt Spain or dusty Egypt when he can go to warmer climes? Kurt might fancy a better trip post-Argentina (not so far to fly with the Pulqui IV/Marut plans)? Heck even Petter might fancy a trip before he finds mysticism in the Talavian mountains?
 

Dilandu

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Dear Dilandu,
I was thinking more in terms of red-coats versus Boers circa 1900.
With repeated railway sabotage, red coats would struggle to re-supply troops in the interior.
Problem is, that Boers were Western culture. With excellent understanding of modern technology and tactics.
 

riggerrob

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Dear Dilandu,
Boers won their first battles against red-coats because they refused to wear red coats, stand upright or fight in lines. Instead, Boers used the newest and best Mauser bolt-action rifles combined with ancient hunting techniques to kill hundreds of British soldiers. Boers won their first few battles because they fought smarter than European soldiers. It also helped that Boer farmers' clothing blurred into the local shrubbery when they lay down to shoot. Most people shoot more accurately when laying down. Boers also had a far better understanding of local shrubbery.

Remember that the first Boers moved to Africa before the Industrial Revolution.

Is there anything preventing Dutch ships from visiting Zenland to sell the latest in European industrial products?
Zenland only buys handfuls of European weapons, but prefers to build them under license.
Is there anything preventing Zenland students from attending the better engineering universities and medical schools in Europe?
For example, the Zenland Railway company may have been forced to hire Scottish engineers and surveyors, but they assigned a Zenlander to shadow every Scot to learn the trade. Furthermore, all those rails, timbers and concrete came from local mines, smelters, forests and factories.

HINT: I am trying to ENCOURAGE the original poster.
 
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riggerrob

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The Zenland aviation industry may have gotten their start with World War 2 surplus transports (e.g. DC-3) but - during the 1950s - they started designing airplanes to suit local needs. The second airplane manufactured (in significant numbers) in Zenland was the "ZEBRA," a 15 seater, high-wing, monoplane made mostly of sheet aluminum. Engines were1,000 hp. Wright R-1820 Cyclone radial engines. The first few had fabric-covered flying surfaces, but that was soon replaced with all sheet aluminum after one got caught in a dust storm. While the first few had tail-wheels, most production had nose-wheels. Many Zebra Mark 1 were converted to nose-wheels when they returned to the factory for overhauls. By the 1970s, the factory started converting Zebras to turbo-prop engines.
Zebras worked as light transports, commuters, crop-dusters, ambulances, etc.

Later they introduced the Twin Zebra with two radial engines and a cargo ramp under the tail. T-Zebras sold poorly until they introduced turbo-prop engines.
 

uk 75

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In 1968 the Commonwealth Office and the Foreign Office merged to become the FCO.
The two organisations had very different approaches to dealing with affairs and recruited people suited to those approaches.
The Secret Intelligance Service (SIS) or M16 mirrored the work of the FO with its bias towards Oxford and Cambridge university graduates.
The Security Service or MI5 looked after intelligence and security in Britain and its colonies..The Commonwealth (as the Colonial had become) Office prefered to draw on people with a solid background in the police or armed forces.
The Zeselan Empire and North Talavia were accordingly looked after by the FO and SIS. The former British South had been the preserve of the Commonwealth Office.
Britain's recently appointed Ambassafor to the Zeselean Government and most of his staff enjoyed the posting and tended to push the Zeselean case to London.
The British Agent as the post was still called in South Talavia was equally keen to argue the view that the Talavians were key to the future of the island.
The rest of Whitehall was a bit more in the "Grand Fenwick" camp. The MOD was notoriously increasingly focussed on NATO after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. The Beira patrol would soon be reduced to a frigate or two as the RN withdrew to the Med and North Atlantic.
The arrival in 1970 of a Conservative government improved UK relations with South Africa and RN ships again visited Simonstown. But the focus on Europe increased.
The Embassy in Zeselea did have some allies in the Board of Trade and the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) of the MOD.
 

uk 75

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Mogul House, a plate glass tower block on the Thames Embankment was the headqurters of Britain's newest and most ruthless oil companies.
"Blast it Jane what is this damn country called?" Brian Stead Mogul's acerrbic Managing Director was in a meeting with Alec Stewart and Peter Thornton, Mogul's field agents or Troubleshooters.
Jane was used to her boss and had the Whirakers Almanac entry ready
"The island or small continent is called TALAVIA.. The main country in its centre is called the XESELAN (Jane spelt it out) Empire. But the former British protectorate of South Talavia insists on calling itself Talavia. It used to be the Twa Kingdom. They are in the Commonwealth so the British Government allows them to use the name." Seeing that Stead was drumming his fingers on his desk Jane rounded off
"The northern part of the island is now in a state of insurrection backed by Moscow and Cairo".
Alec Stewart sat back
"So Brian which of us is going to Talavia and which to the Xels?" (Stewart pronounced it Zel like the character in DAN DARE in his son's EAGLE comic).
 

Michel Van

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talavia-simple2a-png.675577


That Map is really Help-full
look like part of India Australian complex was left behind, as that drift away from Africa 88 millions years ago.
this island could feature megafauna, including giant lemurs, elephant birds, giant fossa and the Malagasy hippopotamus.

From human settlements similar like Madagascar history
but between 1500 and 1869 will every European power pass by to way to India china etc
First Portuguese follow by Dutch, then the french and in 17th century and British and later Germans
The French were very active, see little war with Madagascar in 1883 to gain it as there colony in 1896
with construction of Suez canal in 1869 the boat traffic reduce around Cape of Good Hope !
 

zen

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Is there anything preventing Dutch ships from visiting Zenland to sell the latest in European industrial products?
Nothing really stops them bar say the RN. Question there is how long would they bother to enforce any blockade, when relations are difficult?
Otherwise Xeselani figures would indeed travel, as they have done since the 1500s.
Is there anything preventing Zenland students from attending the better engineering universities and medical schools in Europe?
Again nothing really prevents this, bar the costs.

For example, the Zenland Railway company may have been forced to hire Scottish engineers and surveyors, but they assigned a Zenlander to shadow every Scot to learn the trade. Furthermore, all those rails, timbers and concrete came from local mines, smelters, forests and factories.
That's roughly the sort of working sketch I've got. Though mostly it relates to the Swedes and English selling cannon casting techniques during the 1600s.
 

uk 75

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The United States was focussed on the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon arrives in the White House at the beginning of 1969.
He and his National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger pay little attention to African affairs.
CIA Director Richard Helms ,however, took a keen interest in fighting Soviet and Red Chinese activity wherever it impacted on US interests. Talavia was to be no exception..
The US Embassy in the Xeselan capital was a modern building similar in appearance to its counterpart in Saigon.
Kissinger and Helms were not keen on non aligned countries. The Xeselan voting record at the UN followwd closely countries like India. Relations with New Delhi were very close.
 

zen

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"What exactly do we get from them and what do we sell them in return?"

"Minister, besides that rather fine bottle of Blood fruit wine in the cabinet (is that a 1923 Qristaq mountain?), and the tins of Yarck (actually it's spelt Yarq ) that schoolchildren charmingly mispronounce as yuck, but which relieve the tedium of Spam.
There's the wood, the steel, the aluminium, the grains, frozen Tchulma meat (a bit like beef), Talavia goat meat and a number of products, mostly things we asked them to make during WWII."
 

uk 75

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Anthony Crosland, President of the Board of Trade, thanked his Private Secretary..Crosland had hoped to become Chancellor of the Exchequer but his views were more on the social democratic wing of the Labour Party so it suited Harold Wilson to put him in charge of the difficult job of keeping British exports flowing.
Xeselania had come up at a very good lunch hosted by the Society of British Automotive Traders..Crosland's wife knew a bit about the place and was something of a fan.
Perhaps a Trade Mission would get them out of a London November.
 

Dilandu

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Boers won their first battles against red-coats because they refused to wear red coats, stand upright or fight in lines. Instead, Boers used the newest and best Mauser bolt-action rifles combined with ancient hunting techniques to kill hundreds of British soldiers. Boers won their first few battles because they fought smarter than European soldiers. It also helped that Boer farmers' clothing blurred into the local shrubbery when they lay down to shoot. Most people shoot more accurately when laying down. Boers also had a far better understanding of local shrubbery.
Which was possible because they UNDERSTOOD both the trechnology and tactics they, and British, used, and were able to counter it. Without such understanding, the countering would be impossible. Before the era of rapid firing rifles, the scattered formation would be essentially suicidal; the enemy line infantry would just broke it by bayonet charge (like British army repeatedly crushed minuteman militia during Revolutionary War - minuteman could shoot, but have zero standing power).
Is there anything preventing Dutch ships from visiting Zenland to sell the latest in European industrial products?
Industrial products by themselves is not enough. You could buy European rifles, but not understanding of European tactics and strategy. To achieve that, you need to make your brains working like Europeans; to westernize, to refit your culture to most modern standards. See the historical examples; Pyotr I rebuild of Russian Tsardom into Russian Empire, and Meiji revolution/restoration in Japan. In both cases, the "native" culture were quite roughly bend to accomodate European thinking.
Zenland only buys handfuls of European weapons, but prefers to build them under license.
It requires a very developed industry. Do not forget, that even Japan, starting the massive modernization in 1860s, was forced to fought Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese War, relying on foreign-build warships. The modern rifles are quite hard to produce for not-exactly-well industrialized nation.

Is there anything preventing Zenland students from attending the better engineering universities and medical schools in Europe?
Society and traditions. Also money. But mainly society. The need to send Zenland students to Europe must be REALIZED by local elites; they must realize, that their age-old traditions and cultural customs worth little now. And not only elite must realize it. The average Zenlanders must be "programmed" into thinking "modern, foreign - good", for modernization to sucseed. Otherwise it would be a classic problem of semi-modernization; a small, Westernized elite, ruling over traditional population, which view elite with contempt for "straying out of traditions and culture".

You see, I pondered quite a lot about the modernization of traditional cultures. It is not exactly easy to achieve. A lot of factors must combine to make efficient modernization - like Russia and Japan - possible. Otherwise, you would have half-hearthed semi-modernization, like in Imperial China or Ottoman Empire, where a lot of efforts were spent on adopting external appearance on modernization (like buying modern arms), but little was done to change the culture and state structure.
 

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The Right Honourable Anthony Wedgewood-Benn later to be known to friends and enemies alike as Tony Benn was Minister for Technology in Wilson's government.
Benn was a formidable intellect and had a very lively attitude to his job.
#115 is the sort of paper on Xeselania that would have attracted his interest.
The Board of Trade had copied Mintech in on its proposed Trade Mission.
 

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actually is it too small for three nations to gain the kind of critical mass you need?
So like I said earlier, this landmass is roughly similar to Western Europe (Iberia, France, Germany, BeNeLux, and British Isles), and like that it has a relatively benign environment. More benign that nearby South Africa.
The South is obviously more windswept and suffers storms. The North is more humid and subject to the bottom edge of monsoon storms. And the center is quite temperate, moderate rainfall.
This is sufficient for potentially lots of states and a wide diversity of cultures.
 

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