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Inter War RN without the Naval Treaties?

uk 75

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I know the RN did not get to build some new capital ships in the inter war years. If the treaties had not happened what other ships might have been kept or built?
 

carsinamerica

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I'm not sure it would have looked much different, to be honest. Money was tight, and the British were the least enthusiastic about a resumption of a naval arms race after World War I. Without Washington, the Japanese would have tried to carry out 8-8-8, and the USA would have replied with the 1916 Program and its successor, and then Britain would have had to try to afford the G3 class and the N3 class, but they really didn't want to go down that road.

If we're talking about practical ideas, they probably would have used a less compromised design for the Nelsons with higher speed. Mayyyybe they would have modernized the Iron Dukes, but that seems less likely to me. If we leave the Washington Naval Treaty intact, but set aside the London treaties, I think you would have seen a 15" version of the KGVs, probably in triple turrets. Look at volume two of Garzke and Dulin if you want to review the compromises that went into designing them to Treaty stipulations and the alternatives considered. At the very least, they would have had more freeboard and a proper Atlantic bow. They wouldn't have gone too overboard, though. Remember, Britain was trying to conserve resources, and even the Lions weren't finalized to the maximum design because of dockyard considerations.
 

uk 75

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Thanks for this. Would any of the ships that were disposed of have been worth keeping?
 

JFC Fuller

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Likely few if any of them would have been kept anyway. The Washington Treaty actually didn't have much impact on the overall size of the RN. The Treasury had already been forcing a rapid reduction in spending and thus the number of manned battleships well prior to its signature. As early as mid-1919 the Admiralty was arguing for a manned fleet of 21 battleships and the Treasury one of 15.

The fate of the G3s is a favourite what-if, we will never know the answer for sure but it seems highly unlikely that the build-rate the RN wanted could ever have been met given the UK's fiscal constraints at the time.
 

carsinamerica

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uk 75 said:
Thanks for this. Would any of the ships that were disposed of have been worth keeping?
No. JFC Fuller is spot-on: plans were already underway to cut the fleet. More than that, remember that developments in capital ship design were very rapid in the years from 1900-1920. We think about the role of Dreadnought and Invincible, but the super-dreadnought made the former less useful; the Orion class could fire twice the broadside weight of Dreadnought. The rise of the fast battleship, the Queen Elizabeth class, completed obsoleted the first-generation dreadnoughts and obviated much of the utility of the battle cruisers. Even Hood was no longer ideal by the end of the war, and she was only ordered in 1916. So, most of the ships the Royal Navy scrapped just couldn't keep pace with the times. The British only retained the Revenge class as a cheap holdout against the possibility of oil shortages; they were too slow. The Iron Dukes, with 13.5" (34.3 cm) guns and a top speed of 21.5 kt (39.4 km/h) were too outdated, really. They kept them in the 1920s because they needed numbers, but they would have had zero utility in the 1930s.
 

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To hijack the thread: given a choice between Tiger and one of the Royal Sovereigns, which would you choose?
 

kaiserd

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CNH said:
To hijack the thread: given a choice between Tiger and one of the Royal Sovereigns, which would you choose?
While the limitations of the Royal Sovereigns well know (too slow, somewhat lacking in range) their main armament and protection would have made them awkward opponents for the majority of potential adversary capital ships, as seen in their deterrent role when acting as convoy escorts in WW2.
The Tiger would needed a complete rebuild/ modernisation to bring its armour to even close to almost being adequate (the latter 3 completed British battlecruisers ended up with substantially more but probably still inadequate armour worked into them during their building and/or update.) Without that enhancement (and probably new engines to maintain speed) the Tiger very likely to be seen as a dangerous liability and to struggle to even forefilll a limited anti-pocket-battleship or heavy cruiser role (dangerously vulnerable to a Scharnhorst or anything more powerful).

Back to the actual topic :)
One of the main impacts of their being no inter war treaties would be that the 8-inch gun heavy cruiser would be a far rarer beast (in the Royal Navy and all the major navies) as more resources eaten up by capital ship building plans (including their escorts). The RN may have also found itself being able to afford even fewer of the long-range trade-protection type 6-inch cruiser it always preferred anyway.
So perhaps a less balanced fleet with great dependence on heavier units.
 

uk 75

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Have learned a lot. Thank you all.
 

Volkodav

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Of interest is the number of overage (treaty definition for ships over the minimum replacement age) ships the RN retained in the late 30s to maintain numbers. Consideration was also given to modernising Iron Duke as war approached but rejected on the basis of priorities, had the entire class been available as well as other 13.5" ships (not possible because of treaty limits) then modernisation may have occurred as a cheaper option to massive new construction.

My favourite neverbuilt post WWI concept was the large cruiser described by Friedman as along the lines of the Courageous Class carrying not just aircraft but even motor torpedo boats. These were intended to serve on the China station and would have had a primary role of containing a Japanese offensive until they could be relieved by the Mediterranean Fleet. This concept continued post Washington with heavy cruisers replacing the larger cruisers but still eight ships to maintain a picket line. This seems to indicate that instead of the County Class, had there been no treaty the RN may have deployed large cruisers instead of traditional battlecruisers.

Probably the greatest impact of the treaties on the RN was the damage they did to British shipbuilding, they left no option to order small but sufficient numbers of large warships to maintain their strategically vital shipbuilding industry. Even a trickle of battleships and large cruisers could have seen the UK retaining much greater shipbuilding capacity as the war approached.
 

JFC Fuller

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The 1930 treaty extended the building holiday thus preventing any new ships from being constructed prior to 1936 meaning the newest vessels in the RN were Hood, Rodney and Nelson. Then the 1936 Treaty removed the quantity limitations of the previous treaties resulting in a rapid ~35% increase in RN capital ship fleet size (archive documents show planning for 20-23). The result was the reconstructions, a two ship per year construction programme for new battleships and ultimately Vanguard. The biggest impact was not so much on shipbuilding itself but on gun and armour manufacturing.
 

Abraham Gubler

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John Jordon's book "Warships After Washington" is a good source for understanding how the treaty effected naval development between the wars (the first half of it at least). The book is built around describing the naval programs (centered on ship design) before, during and after the treaty. In the case of the RN I'm pretty sure they would have built the four G3 battlecruisers. The real fiscal shocks didn't come until late in the 1920s. The County class probably would have been much the same but with 7.5" guns rather than 8". The Outraegous class may not have been converted to carriers and probably just the one <20 000 tonne ship built during the 1920s (design details are in Jordan). The 13.5" and less useful 15" ships could have sat around in reserve until rearmament. The 12" Dreadnaughts had all been written off well before the Washington Treaty.

What is probably more interesting is what happened elsewhere. Most importantly the French and Japanese would not have been so angry with the UK. The later was disastrous and the former might be more significant than imagined. Better British and French cooperation during the 1920s re Germany and the Soviet Union could have significant effects.

The Americans would have built their 'Great Grey Fleet' with four Colorado (8x16") and six South Dakota (12x16") battle wagons and the six Lexington battlecruisers (8x16"). That would have been the end of it as change in Presidency saw the money turned off in a big way. The USN would have got their two big aircraft carriers with purpose built ships that would have been bigger than the battlecruiser conversions (plans were for over 40 000 tons). They also would have built their big scout cruisers at over 10 000 tonnes and 8x8" guns. Without the tonnage limitation brought in by the London Treaty they could keep all of their four piper destroyers (built 1916-19) as about 100 were scrapped (and a few more ran aground). 100 extra destroyers would have made a difference in 1940-42. Without the treaty set level to maintain the USN probably would have written off all the coal burning battleships. With the return of the Democrats to power and the New Deal battleship construction would have started in 1933, four years earlier. They USN were playing around with some funky looking (Nelson type) concepts at this time.

Japan had their huge 8+8+8+6+... program. And despite the huge cost of this they would have continued. The two Tosas, four Amagis and four Kiis (all 10x16") fast battleships would have been built. The four No.13s (8x18") had been ordered and likely completed before the effects of the US change in policy were felt. The Japanese very seriously planned on laying down 14 fast battleships in 1920-22! In terms of cruisers without the Treaty Cruiser concept they would have continued with building A and B Cruisers in the form of the 7000 ton, 6x8" A type and 3000 ton, 6x5.5" B Type. They probably would have also built the Special Type destroyers (Fubuki class) as this was in keeping with their general naval strategy and not a product of getting around a Treaty.

They French were planning a 8000 ton, 8x6.1" cruiser they just upsized to the Treaty limit. On the other hand the Italians had been looking at something bigger than the Treaty cruiser and might have build super cruisers between the wars. Of interest is how the lack of a Treaty would have changed the RAN's recapitalisation plan. Having to scuttle HMAS Australia (8x12") was a big blow to the RAN and ended the Fleet Unit concept. Replacing her would have been the first priority in the mid 1920s not replacing the Town class light cruisers (which were far less capability obsolescent than the original battlecruiser design). The RAN had some five million Quid to spend in 1924-25 on a new ship or ships. A new G3 was costing about 9 million so would be out of reach. HMS Tiger could be a second hand possibility as she would be fresh from her mid life refit and only the 8th best battlecruiser out of 10 in the RN. Her cost second hand would be less than a million leaving funds to replace HMA Ships Sydney and Melbourne with either County class (slightly cheaper with only 7.5") or whatever 6" cruiser the RN was building to replace her mass of WWI North Sea light cruisers. Or the RAN could do something interesting like buy and modernise the two Lions or Renowns in place of Australia and the first two Town class. Such a force could be seen as the best the RAN could do to counter the IJN's huge growth.
 

JFC Fuller

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Jordan is good on the ship designs and treaty details but he fails to get into the guts of the domestic politics at the time, frankly there are better books covering the era than Warship's after Washington for understanding British thinking at the time. He fails to explain just how severe Britain's fiscal position was perceived to be in 1919-22 and the scale of the implemented defence cuts, he equally doesn't identify the enormous impact the planned expenditure for the G3 programme would have had on British naval expenditure.

I concur that the G3's would likely have been built but I very much doubt it would have been at anywhere near the pace the admiralty wanted, they also would have prevented heavy expenditure on cruisers and carrier conversions. The N3 programme seems incomprehensible in-light of the fiscal situation and the financial demands of the G3 programme.
 

JFC Fuller

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The cruiser question and the dominion/commonwealth questions are deeply intertwined but also very complex. A few things of note first:

The 1922 Treaty may have been what got HMAS Australia scuttled but she had ceased to be a viable fleet unit well before that. She was instate beyond reserve. With that in mind it would have taken a notable uplift in post-war Australian defence spending to replace her and retain the fleet unit concept.

Equally, the WNT put an unnatural stability on cruiser design that vanished as soon as the treaty limitations were lifted/ignored (think Churchills super cruisers, the Alaskas etc). This should hardly be surprising, in the 25 years prior to WW1 the RN built first class cruisers ranging between 7,700 tons and 14,600 tons, second and first class cruisers between 3,500 tons and 5,700 tons then scout cruisers, and then light cruisers before inventing heavy cruisers during the war. It was a naturally fluid ship type.

13.5" battlecruisers; Tiger in particular is a favourite for modernisation and retention amongst the alternative history community. In reality the 13.5" battlecruisers would have been of little utility without the treaty. The maximum ever recorded was 28 knots and 29 knots respectively for the Lions and Tiger. Modernising the boilers wouldn't have done much for top speed either as the ships were basically at the limits of their hydrodynamics. In short even Tiger could be outfought or outfought and outrun by every battlecruiser in the IJN fleet or planned for it.

The conclusion of all this is that I suspect it is likely that without the WNT it would only have been a matter of time before something akin to the 10" gun courageous sized ship suggested by ANCS in 1921 was pursued. Given how crucial cruisers became to RN policy in the Far East (they were to strangle Japanese maritime trade) and the ability of such a ship to both catch and outfight an 8 inch cruiser it would be much more useful than an ageing battlecruiser.
 

Abraham Gubler

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HMAS Australia (I) remained in service until 1921 and was only considered "less than" reserve state in 1922 because the RAN did not have a standby crew for it (which is required to be considered in reserve state). Of course it was obsolete but with the scale of the Japanese naval program becoming apparent in 1923-24 in a non Washington Treaty world the need to revitalize the RAN's Fleet Unit would be obvious. The options to take would be many and can't be guided by real world events as the circumstances are too different.

As to the 13.5" ships I think there is a lot of potential remaining in the 12 battleship types in the 1920s. These ships are at half life and would be in need of reboilering for continued service. Interestingly the footprint of their boiler rooms closely matches the same rooms in the Courageous class light battle cruisers. And if you were to remove the Q turret there would be enough length for their engine rooms. Which would also be narrower providing more torpedo protection depth to the rebuilt engine rooms. Also removing the Q turret and its barbette would free up hundreds of tons for improved protection.

So your 13.5" battleship would go from being able to put 27 000 shp into its props to 110 000 shp. Add a new bow (like the Italian dreadnought rebuilds) and even with extensive bulging and a 4" upper deck such a ship could make 28 odd knots. 12 fast battleships for the price of 2-3 G3s.

Two of these ships would be better spends for the RAN in the mid 1920s than some new cruisers. Especially with the Japanese sailing with 24 major fleet units.
 

Abraham Gubler

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However rebuilding ships was not really something the RN did in this period until the Washington Treaty forced them into it. I would expect that when the RAN was to go to the RN in 23-24 looking for a Fleet Unit with only 5m to spend and two light cruisers in need of replacement by the early 30s this might be seen as a chance to offload the Courageous class. They would be cheap allowing for continued construction in Australia of 6" light cruisers. Their utility as Fleet Units would be debateble.
 

JFC Fuller

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The Australian fleet unit made sense pre-WW1 but as originally constituted it didn't post-WW1. The 1909 agreement for three squadrons (China, Australia, East Indies), each with a Battle/Armoured Cruiser and three light cruisers (of which the Australian Fleet Unit was the Australian Squadron) more than checked the German East Asia squadron both qualitatively and quantitatively. The 1911 Henderson programme to expand this to eight armoured/battle cruisers and ten light cruisers over 22 years at an expenditure of £23.3 million is interesting but would have become impossible to implement within a matter of a few years as battlecruisers became larger and more expensive (the same happened to cruisers, especially post WW1), the Kongos were just the start in Japan. It would have been very difficult for Australia to compete qualitatively with those ships and smaller and slower ships would have just provided the Japanese with something easy to sink, even if you could get a 13.5 inch battleship to 28 knots its still going to be outclassed by the entire Japanese capital ship fleet (just like Tiger).

That is not to rubbish the Henderson plan, on the contrary it seems like a logical foundation for post-WW1 Australian Naval policy in a Pacific without the WNT. Even in it's reduced form the the 1909 scheme effectively destroyed the German naval presence in the Pacific by driving the bulk of the East Asia Squadron to run for Germany (prior to being caught at the Falklands) and ran down Emden. Australia could never realistically procure ships that could compete with the heavy units Japan was procuring and with the rejection of the Admiralty's single imperial fleet and naval authority scheme and the economic illiteracy of Jellicoe's pacific fleet based on Dominion contributions an Australian cruiser based fleet able to conduct commerce raiding and scouting prior to the arrival of the British main fleet (and likely in cooperation with RN battlecruisers in the region) seems like the most appropriate option to me. The light cruiser was probably dead, Japan, Britain and the US all seem to have been scheming ships with 8" weapons, Cockatoo was ultimately capable of building such ships and one can imagine a sustained programme that built up a fleet of heavy cruisers with the occasional "super-cruiser" in a continuous build pattern.
 

Abraham Gubler

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JFC Fuller said:
The Australian fleet unit made sense pre-WW1 but as originally constituted it didn't post-WW1. The 1909 agreement for three squadrons (China, Australia, East Indies), each with a Battle/Armoured Cruiser and three light cruisers (of which the Australian Fleet Unit was the Australian Squadron) more than checked the German East Asia squadron both qualitatively and quantitatively. The 1911 Henderson programme to expand this to eight armoured/battle cruisers and ten light cruisers over 22 years at an expenditure of £23.3 million is interesting but would have become impossible to implement within a matter of a few years as battlecruisers became larger and more expensive (the same happened to cruisers, especially post WW1), the Kongos were just the start in Japan.
I agree (as this is a basic historical fact) that the RAN Fleet Unit was very much designed around doing its part in defeating the German Asiatic Squadron. However in a non Washington Treaty world Australian political dynamics would have demanded some kind of response to the Japanese buildup. This of course did not mean building a RAN able to defeat the 24 battleship Japanese fleet. But having a fleet unit able to at least defend the Australian eastern seaboard from what portion of that fleet that would be detached from fighting the American Pacific Fleet or the main British Eastern Fleet. With the general state of naval technology at the time this is likely to mean restructuring the fleet away from a cruiser heavy force to a limited line of battle force.

JFC Fuller said:
It would have been very difficult for Australia to compete qualitatively with those ships and smaller and slower ships would have just provided the Japanese with something easy to sink, even if you could get a 13.5 inch battleship to 28 knots its still going to be outclassed by the entire Japanese capital ship fleet (just like Tiger).
A fast battleship with 28 knot speed, 12” belt and eight 13.5” guns (firing 1400 pound Greenboy shells) would be superior to the Kongos (similar metrics but with 8” belt) and able to outrun the Fuso, Ise, Nagato and Tosa classes (23-26 knots). The basic cost of a battlecruiser in both the 1910s (when the first RAN fleet unit was acquired) and in the 1920s was roughly equal to four light cruisers. What cost the RAN 2.5m pounds in 1911 (1 x BC, 2 x CL) would cost about 13m pounds in 1924 (1 x G3, 2 x County) thanks to growth in ship size. Clearly the same again could not be afforded.

Personally I think in both this fictional world and the real one the RAN should have been looking in the 1920s for alternatives so as to maintain and independent capability to contest against at least part of the Japanese fleet. And because of cost the line of battle ship was not going to be an option. But ship board aircraft and torpedoes offered alternatives. In the latter case something like a cruising destroyer (imagine an Abdiel minelayer without mines but with a heavy torpedo battery) could be built in numbers and provide a threat to battleships operating in southern waters.

On the topic of HMAS Australia and the Washington Treaty Lt.Cdr. Glen Kerr, RAN offers an interesting perspective on the legality of keeping the battle cruiser and what it could have been if it remained in service:

http://www.navy.gov.au/history/feature-histories/loss-more-symbolic-material
 

JFC Fuller

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The legal argument for retaining HMAS Australia is interesting for a couple of reasons, one of which I will come back to but the first of which is that she was originally an evolution of the armoured cruiser concept anyway- though that has the problem that the RN in the late 1800s evolved the armoured cruiser to be able to engage battleships.

More significantly the ship had gone from being one of the most powerful units in the Pacific to being little more than cannon fodder. She was far too lightly protected, had poor main armament arrangement and could only make 25 knots (fast for 1911 slow and getting slower by 1920). I suspect (and I hate making supositions without direct evidence) that the Australian government gave her up in part because they recognised this.

I am highly dubious that any cost-effective reconstruction of British 13.5 inch battleships could have yielded 28 knots. RN ships tended to have a very close relationship between their installed power and the hydrodynamic potential of their hulls. I mentioned Tiger earlier but a similar characteristic is seen in the Queen Elizabeth class, they achieved 25 knots on trials by forcing to 76,000shp but of that output 20,000shp was needed just to get them from 23.5 knots to 25 knots. Of-course, anything is possible with enough calculating, time and then chopping but then cost starts to become an issue. Depending on the ship the big RN reconstructions of the 1930s were 30-40% of the ultimate cost of a King George V (1939) and those efforts benefited both from previously made modifications (additional armour) and not attempting to increase top-speed. It is easy to imagine an attempt to get an Iron Duke class to 28 knots coming to at least 60% if not considerably more of a new similarly sized ship. All for a vessel that would not be able to stand-up to the majority of the Japanese battle line.

More interesting is the Vanguard type option. A new hull and machinery utilising existing turrets. Using the 12" turrets from HMAS Australia might especially attractive as Australia already owned them and subsequent vessels could theoretically use turrets from ex-RN ships that would be available at near-scrap value. The product of such an outfit would be a super-cruiser that, if built on a Courageous-type hull, would make a powerful scout and commerce raider.

I can understand political pressure would exist for Australia to contribute to a line of battle but with the direction of of capital ship development its very difficult to see how that would be viable. A cruiser programme would be of more use to general allied strategy in the pacific, it was also the policy ultimately pursued by the Australians in the 1930s (a policy for a fleet consisting of six cruisers being produced in 1933) and interestingly also by the Dutch (with the use of large cruisers with 11.1 inch guns) for the defence of the East Indies. At least for 8 inch cruisers such a policy could also make use of Australian shipbuilding capacity.
 

Kadija_Man

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What about an asymmetrical response to the Japanese battle cruisers? Investment in the fledgling submarine or aircraft carriers would render their superior guns and speed worthless. There seems to be an unfortunate emphasis on only matching armour for armour and speed for speed in surface ships in your thinking. A class of medium sized carriers protected by a large number of large destroyers/light cruisers would I think render the Japanese effectively powerless to respond, except by building more carriers of their own.
 

Volkodav

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Thankyou gentlemen, a very interesting and informative topic.

I particularly like the suggestion of reusing 12" turrets on Courageous type super/large cruisers, built as an alternative to the originally recommended armoured cruisers (which of course evolved into much larger, much more expensive battlecruisers). Some of the concepts for large cruisers included carrying a couple of MTBs in place of some ships boats, while others looked to carry several fighters or even torpedo bombers, both interesting options for the RAN.

The suggestion of a continuous cruiser build at Codoc, Counties (or equivalent, interspersed with the occasional large/super cruiser) is something I whole heartedly agree with and something that (in perfect hindsight should have occurred without the large cruisers). Australian built Kents (or modernised triple turreted Effingham's) could have been ordered even with the Washington Naval Treaty and even after the London treaty the design could have continued with triple 6" turrets and even switched back to 8" post 1936. There would even have been the possibility of a hybrid seaplane cruiser (or class of) instead of HMAS Albatross, with perhaps three twin or triple 6" turrets and perhaps two cross deck heavy catapults and perhaps a total of four largish hangers with a pair situated before and another pair aft of the cats. The ultimate evolution could have been a light carrier based on a modified cruiser hull or even a purpose designed light carrier using cruiser machinery and auxiliaries. Without Washington instead of Counties Codoc could have built large cruisers, maybe even eight of them, as well as smaller fleet cruisers, with the seaplane cruiser and carrier being based on the large cruiser rather than the County.

On the RN side of the equation without WNT the Mediterranean Fleet would have remained the priority with its ability to swing to Asia or home waters as required, with the China Station forces, Australian Fleet and NZ Squadron having a scouting, holding, delaying function in the event of hostilities with Japan. This would likely have been the case whether the RN was able to afford sufficient G3s or even N3s or not. Cost drivers suggest that rather than the wholesale replacement of the existing battleships, battlecruisers and cruisers etc. with larger and more expensive like for like ships, the RN may have decided on maintaining a smaller number of first rate ships capable of overmatching any opposition while equipping the rest of the fleet with perfectly good enough vessels designed for their utility rather than trying to pack as much in a given hull as possible. For example instead of County type heavy cruisers the RN could have gone for an earlier Arethusa type supplement / replacement for the C & D class North Sea cruisers that would also have sufficient range and sea keeping to replace the Town Class in the trade protection role. Something like the Tribal class destroyers would still have proceeded but maybe the smaller fleet destroyers could have been replaced with large torpedo boats and sloops.

The WNT occurred because of financial concerns, no one could afford an arms race so soon after a global war. Even without the treaty money was limited so for every expensive super battleship / battlecruiser / cruiser / destroyer, something else would have to be cut or sacrificed. I imaging this would have led to comparatively small numbers of big ships, supported by perfectly good enough smaller ships and modernised older destroyers and cruisers in particular.
 

JFC Fuller

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Poking around looking for what the Australians were thinking in 1913/14 for the future development of the Royal Australian Navy it seems there was a desire for a second fleet unit, it gets mentioned a few times in 1913 and the Official Yearbook of the Commonwealth of Australia 1913 states that the intention to construct a second battlecruiser had been announced. It does looks as though the concept was never really developed though with the outbreak of war in 1914 bringing such thinking to an end. A second fleet unit would have been in competition for funds with the new Federal capital at Canberra and a pair of trans Australian railway lines. Has anybody seen any more detail on 1913/14 planning for further peactime RAN expansion?

Without giving much thought to it the 9.2" gun armed E2 and E3 armoured cruiser designs from October 1913 seem an almost perfect centrepiece for a second stage of Australian Naval development.
 
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kaiserd

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Further to comments above I would also note that by the end of the First World War the UK was massively exposed to, and effectively dependent on, US loans and finance.
Hence the idea that the UK could have afforded (or been allowed to afford) any kind of extended arms race with the US is rather fanciful; it would have certainly lost and the blow-back would have been substantial.
The naval limitation treaties allowed these issues to be avoided and somewhat put off the day that the UKs now diminished position had to be acknowledged.
 

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Poking around looking for what the Australians were thinking in 1913/14 for the future development of the Royal Australian Navy it seems there was a desire for a second fleet unit, it gets mentioned a few times in 1913 and the Official Yearbook of the Commonwealth of Australia 1913 states that the intention to construct a second battlecruiser had been announced. It does looks as though the concept was never really developed though with the outbreak of war in 1914 bringing such thinking to an end. A second fleet unit would have been in competition for funds with the new Federal capital at Canberra and a pair of trans Australian railway lines. Has anybody seen any more detail on 1913/14 planning for further peactime RAN expansion?

Without giving much thought to it the 9.2" gun armed E2 and E3 armoured cruiser designs from October 1913 seem an almost perfect centrepiece for a second stage of Australian Naval development.
This seems to rings bells in an academic article I read a few years back, I will see if I can dig it out.
 

JFC Fuller

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This seems to rings bells in an academic article I read a few years back, I will see if I can dig it out.
Thanks, would be interesting if you could find it. I have come up with the following two interesting documents:

In Search of a Maritime Strategy: The Maritime Element in Australian Defence Planning since 1901

Forming the First Fleet unit: the Henderson and Jellicoe recommendations (starting at pg.99.)

The Henderson plan was being underfunded pre-war though it was primarily impacting the development of naval infrastructure rather than ship procurement. New battlecruisers would have been due to begin around 1917. Given the proliferation of heavy ships in the Pacific by then, between Dutch battleships in the East Indies, Japanese battlecruisers and battleships and the progressive appearance of German battlecruisers on foreign stations the Australians either would have been driven toward very expensive solutions such as full battlecruisers (e.g. something like Design Y from 1914/15) or abandoning the heavy ship part of the plan and pursuing a cruiser based force. As much as I enjoy the idea of cruiser killers with 9.2"-10" guns there just doesn't seem to be place for them with the way naval force structures seemed to be trending towards heavy capital ships and light cruisers pre-WW1.
 
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Volkodav

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What a lot of people don't realise (or accept) is that if these treaties had not come into force that the political backlash may have resulted in even harsher naval limitaions.

France and Italy were basically out of the naval race after WW1 due to be virtually broke, Britain was not much better than them. They all had major social expenses to meet (such as war widow and children, war invalids, service pensions, housing, a baby boom and a working class who believed they had done their bit for the country and wanted more in life than their previous "factory sweat shops, coal mines and tenement slums'.

Japans big naval expenditure was based on the income received for supporting the Allies with manufactured war good that the Europeans could not make at the time. In the early 1920's Japan was in a recession to the point of food riots in many cities.

The USA could afford its naval programs but did not have the social will or political desire to fulfil this and was moving into isolationism.

There was also a huge anti-war movement around the world as a reaction to the destruction of WW1 and part of this included the British Vs German naval race for being a major contributor to the war.

Had the Naval treaties failed to be taken up by the various government of the time or no arms limitations at all, it is highly likely that the politicians responsible would have been voted out and those politicians who supported arms limitation would take over and that cutting down on military expenditure would become more entrenched as an election tool.

There were many who supported getting rid on the battleships etc completely and limiting warships to small cruiser size (about 6,000 tons).

Had the various arms limitation treaties not placated to anti war movement it is likely that more stringent treaties would have been negotiated precluding all those big ship and designs of the 1920 and 1930 (and maybe latter) that the people who wish the treaties never existed dream about. Not only did the Naval treaties restrict navies they also help to keep them as a viable organisations.
Another factor not often mentioned but of relevance to current events, would have been the economic and social effects of the Spanish Flu. I don't know how much of an impact it would have had but on top of the costs of the just concluded war they would have been significant.
 

Volkodav

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I can't lay my hands on it at the moment, but there is also a report by Sir John Monash into the feasibility / advisability of constructing the two treaty cruisers in Australia, verses ordering them from the UK.
 

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Just for a moment, let's pretend the economic shackles aren't as tight and we can build what we like within some constraint of reason.

I will assume that the faction which argues that the destruction of the BC's at Jutland was solely due to poor flash-tight procedure wins out, so all four Hoods get built.

Question: is four Hoods, four G3 battlecruisers, four N3 battleships, Renown and Repulse a big enough battleship force for the inter-war Royal Navy? Can we take that to Washington and offer, in return, a phased scrapping of every other British BB?
 

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Question: is four Hoods, four G3 battlecruisers, four N3 battleships, Renown and Repulse a big enough battleship force for the inter-war Royal Navy? Can we take that to Washington and offer, in return, a phased scrapping of every other British BB?
Since every other British BB would literally be of no combat value in comparison with new ships - no.
 

Volkodav

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Just for a moment, let's pretend the economic shackles aren't as tight and we can build what we like within some constraint of reason.

I will assume that the faction which argues that the destruction of the BC's at Jutland was solely due to poor flash-tight procedure wins out, so all four Hoods get built.

Question: is four Hoods, four G3 battlecruisers, four N3 battleships, Renown and Repulse a big enough battleship force for the inter-war Royal Navy? Can we take that to Washington and offer, in return, a phased scrapping of every other British BB?
It would probably result in the Hoods becoming the mould for the treaty battleship going forward, rather than the 35000ton limit that was apparently an arbitrary figure arrived upon but subtracting 10000tons from the 45000ton limit that had been discussed prior to the treaty.

An other thought, the Henderson Plan and evolutions of it were still alive and well in Australia during the war, possibly Australia, who needed additional battle cruisers sooner than expected, could have requested the remaining hoods be completed for them. Washington comes along, there are four, instead of three Hoods completing or completed, the RN simply retains them and scraps older tonnage, perhaps providing the RAN with other, older less capable (but good enough and cheaper to operate) ships in compensation.
 

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Even in this scenario it is the building of the 4 Hoods that appears the most unlikely; WW1 needs prevented the building capacity being available and as soon as over wouldn’t the promise (and taking into account the cost, even allowing for much greater budgets) of the N3s and G3s be that more appetising, especially in the context described.
 
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Volkodav

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Even in this scenario it is the building of the 4 Hoods that appears the most unlikely; WW1 needs prevented the building capacity being available and as soon as over wouldn’t the promise (and taking into account the cost, even allowing for much greater budgets) of the N3s and G3s be that more appetising, especially in the context described.
My understanding, and Im happy to be corrected if someone has access to more detailed information, that besides the issue of materials and labour being allocated to more urgent requirements, there was also the question mark over battlecruisers in general following Jutland.

Interestingly the RN was of the belief they needed more battlecruisers later in the war as the primary threat changed from a sortie of the entire fleet to raid by cruisers. I recall reading that the UK approached Japan hoping for the loan, purchase, or even transfer with full crews, of at least some of the Kongos to make up battle cruiser numbers in the grand fleet. Japans refusal to provide any assistance must have furthered already existing concerns over their attitude to the alliance going forward.
 

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The Hoods were a result of Jellioe wanting more Battlecruisers, inspired by war experience and new German ships under construction (Mackensen class). Based on design work going on prior to that the weight of RN thought seems to have been in the direction of fast battleships, evolutions of the QE with larger hulls, much reduced draught and increased freeboard intended to improve survivability against underwater damage. Renown, Repulse, Courageous Glorious and Furious being a Fisher driven diversion. Following the end of the major design work on those vessels in October 1915 Controller of the Navy, Rear Admiral Frederick Tudor requested DNC to look at fast battleships, this appears to directly pick up on work being done in October 1914. Jellicoe wrote a long memorandum stating that he had superiority in battleships but not in battlecruisers, he probably knew about the disappointing speed performance (largely due to them being overweight) of the Queen Elizabeth class by then too, leading to Hood. She received a redesign after Jutland but she was still designed against German construction so she ceased to be relevant to new British construction once the German threat had been removed. By that time the Japanese were working on the Nagato class and the Americans were working on the Colorados, South Dakotas and Lexingtons, all with 16" guns, so something new and different was required. Essentially, the G3s were designed against the Lexingtons and N3s against the South Dakotas.

This gets us to the fundamentals of battleship races, they were symmetrical responses along two dimensions; ship capability (firepower, protection and speed) and numbers. Thats why by mid 1914, through various countries stated fleet strength ratios against their rivals and planned (sometimes legally fixed) construction programmes, the European powers were on a path to having a combined total of over 200 capital ships by 1920.

The key to the Washington treaty is that it was not an imposition, it came about because it satisfied a desire on the part of all the signatories to avoid the sort of naval race that took place in Europe prior to WW1. Neither France nor Italy could afford to complete the ships they had on the slipways already, the UK could have afforded new construction but was already concerned about its fiscal position and could never have kept up with the US had it gone all in, as it turned out the US had no desire to do such a thing anyway. The Japanese were offered sufficient naval strength and other promises (e.g. the Four Power Pact) that they, just about, felt it offered them the security and prestige they had been looking for. There is a lot of generality there but the key point is that the Washington Treaty was a paper incarnation of the thinking and objectives of the major powers at the time, shaped as they were by isolationism (US), expansionism (Japan), fiscal reality (UK, Italy and France) and commitment to multilateral progress towards peace (all except Japan).
 
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Volkodav

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The Hoods were a result of Jellioe wanting more Battlecruisers, inspired by war experience and new German ships under construction (Mackensen class). Based on design work going on prior to that the weight of RN thought seems to have been in the direction of fast battleships, evolutions of the QE with larger hulls, much reduced draught and increased freeboard intended to improve survivability against underwater damage. Renown, Repulse, Courageous Glorious and Furious being a Fisher driven diversion. Following the end of the major design work on those vessels in October 1915 Controller of the Navy, Rear Admiral Frederick Tudor requested DNC to look at fast battleships, this appears to directly pick up on work being done in October 1914. Jellicoe wrote a long memorandum stating that he had superiority in battleships but not in battlecruisers, he probably knew about the disappointing speed performance (largely due to them being overweight) of the Queen Elizabeth class by then too, leading to Hood. She received a redesign after Jutland but she was still designed against German construction so she ceased to be relevant to new British construction once the German threat had been removed. By that time the Japanese were working on the Nagato class and the Americans were working on the Colorados, South Dakotas and Lexingtons, all with 16" guns, so something new and different was required. Essentially, the G3s were designed against the Lexingtons and N3s against the South Dakotas.

This gets us to the fundamentals of battleship races, they were symmetrical responses along two dimensions; ship capability (firepower, protection and speed) and numbers. Thats why by mid 1914, through various country's stated fleet strength ratios against their rivals and planned (sometimes legally fixed) construction programmes, the European powers were on a path to having a combined total of over 200 capital ships by 1920.

The key to the Washington treaty is that it was not an imposition, it came about because it satisfied a desire on the part of all the signatories to avoid the sort of naval race that took place in Europe prior to WW1. Neither France nor Italy could afford to complete the ships they had on the slipways already, the UK could have afforded new construction but was already concerned about its fiscal position and could never have kept up with the US if had gone all in, as it turned out the US had no desire to do such a thing anyway. The Japanese were offered sufficient naval strength and other promises (e.g. the Four Power Pact) that they, just about, felt it offered them the security and prestige they had been looking for. There is a a lot of generality there but the key point is that the Washington Treaty was a paper incarnation of the thinking and objectives of the major powers at the time, shaped as they were by isolationism (US), expansionism (Japan), fiscal reality (UK, Italy and France) and commitment to multilateral progress towards peace (all except Japan).
I suppose the main, unexpected consequence, there the UK was concerned, was the reduction in maximum (standard) displacement under the treat from 45000tons to 35ooo tons and the building holiday that gutted the privately owned UK industry. Ironically the US, home of the free market etc. etc. had government owned navy yards and was able to better maintain capability than many, if not all, other countries, for the simple reason they did not need to make a profit to keep operating.
 

Jemiba

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Please remember; This is the "Alternative History & Future Speculation" section, dealing, as the subtitle says, with "what might have been in the past or
what might be in the future".
For one, this simply means assuming, say, the biggest battleship, 1920's/1930's technology could have built. For others, such thoughts are irrelevant,
as long, as there aren't detailed analyses of the then available GDP, minus social security payments, and of course, taking into consideration which
party may have won the next election.
I already augur ill, because, by all experiences here, those two opinions or approaches may not be be able to co-exist here ... :rolleyes:
We all should have learned to accept other opinions, though often with gnashing of teeth, but it's the normal way of living together, in the real world
or in an internet forum, like this one.
So, please, even if you don't agree, try to stay quite and peaceful ! If you think, that's all nonsense here, just withdraw, you'll won't make the others
change their opinions anyway ! If you especially dislike certain people here, use the ignore-function, it's really great.
The latest dozen of reports, all were about posts in this section, principally the one and only here, were clinging to reality isn't the main

aim ! WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU ??? :mad:
 

Volkodav

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So Jebmiba it's all OK to express one personal "fantasies", but its not alright to challenge these "alternative time lines" with reasons they would not work, interesting...…..

Quoting your mixed message above "We all should have leaned to accept other opinions" but then you condemn others who would put forward reasoned challenges to the ideas being expressed by others. Yes some people may (oh so easily) demolish the wilder "alternative history bit with facts that would still be applicable in this other realties.

Economics, politics, technology and society are the driving forces behind military expenditure and will still affect what is considered as military equipment even in alternative realities (No money means no ships, planes, tanks etc), So when some says why didn't Britain build XXX, they need to explain how this would be possible.

Often the replies are not "clinging to reality" but questioning how such idea's can come about.

Jeniba, WHATS WRONG WITH YOU in that you cannot accept other people opinions when they don't align with you desires for the discussion. as you say above there is the ignore button then use it yourself.

Speculation about what could have happened in the past is a good thing but too often person fantasies drive these ideas rather than considered thought as to what really were the alternatives. When something is clearly impossible with the nation, its resources politics and society it id not alternative history but fiction or fantasy.

Yes there are people who get upset when their cherished idea's are shown to be impractical, improbable or impossible but instead of getting upset maybe they should try and learn from the responses that do not agree with they rather than concentrate on the likes etc their idea gets,

Also quite a number of alternative "alternative histories" would be more appropriate if placed on the Wesworld site because they are more fantasy as opposed to alternative history, That site is where there are no economic, political, social etc barriers to having a huge navy of battleships, battlecruiser etc no matter how tiny or impoverish you nation is.

Jemiba your post is quite offensive and remind me a lot of how the now defunct "Warship Discussion" website faded then died as it became overwhelmed with fantasy idea's. often which seemed to be generated by pre or early adolescent boys and any challenge was met with hostility, until it no longer had much relevance to Warships, their development and technology. Is Secret projects moving towards this fate?
Well there is discussion and then there is one upmanship and blinkered conservatism (as in unwillingness to accept alternatives, not the political connotation). Three months ago who would have believed right leaning economic rationalist governments would be enacting stimulus policies that would shock the average socialist? Reality plus a shock can change many things very very quickly.

There's also the personality factor, the right or wrong person at the right or wrong time can change everything, I've seen two companies killed by having the wrong CEO at pivotal times, people who came in at boom times, with new products just released and selling well, redirecting money from R&D to production and then streamlining the production to a greatly reduced product range to maximise profits. They got their increased profits, share price and their bonuses, then it was time to release the new product range and there was nothing to offer, the market changed and there were no niche products to fill the void, they left with their bonuses in their pockets, leaving others to try and fail to fix the mess, but what if these two jokers had not been appointed and rather someone just a bit smarter and forward thinking had got the jobs instead, totally different outcome.

Same in the real world, Mountbatten wanted new build carriers but the government, mostly Churchill by accounts, pushed through the modernisation of Victorious and the completion of Hermes and the Tigers to modified designs instead. They ignored the advice of the expert, but what if they didn't, or more to the point, what if someone other than Churchill had been PM? Perhaps two new carriers instead of two compromised ones and three cruisers the RN wasn't really sure what to do with. One meeting where a very powerful personality pushed through a decision that doomed the RN carrier fleet within three decades.

There are a great many outcomes that can be very different to reality because of very small changes. History is full of cases where nations destroyed their economies through overspending, but just as many through excessive austerity, conservatism has done as much damage as radicalism. It is possible to invest and spend out of recessions, just as it is possible to spend into them. For every decision made there were other options that didn't go ahead, quite often they were reasonable, affordable and, in hindsight, would have had much better outcomes. You cant always tell but when you look back into it you find the dissenting voices, you find detail on the alternatives, you find the winning option wasn't always the best one and sometimes the reasons things happened had nothing to do with commonsense, or the common good, even economics or national security and that their was willful ignorance, personal bias, or even corruption involved. Quite often money is stripped from planned projects for pork barreling for governments to get reelected, sometimes good ideas don't get up for political reasons, i.e. they were first voiced by someone the decision makers do not want to be recognised.

So many factor affect outcomes, it doesn't matter if you are conservative in your outlook if something completely unexpected happens, just as it doesn't matter how big a risk is taken if it pans out.
 

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Steelwind has requested deletion of his account, which has been done.

The main reason this section existed was to move speculation out of the main forums. If these section become the source of repeated problems, I can close them.

Fundamentally there's a tension between people just indulging in flights of fantasy (e.g. modellers wanting to build what-if models with a vaguely plausible backstory) and people wanting more rigour in their historical speculations. Any suggestions as how to resolve? Perhaps topic tagging?
 

uk 75

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I think, as in real world debates, the rule should be discuss the argument not the person making it.
As an example. I might post that the Rubovian military would have been better off equipped with Boxxkite AF9s
It is perfectly reasonable to remind me that Rubovia didnt have the means to operate them. Or to say thr Boxxkite was rubbish.
What causes the heat are posts citing me by name and supposed views. Such as UK75 posted in 3013 that Rubovia was great. I dont think mentioning Rubovia and Boxxkites is a good use of this thread. Anf another thing UK 75 is obsessed with Rubovia.
As Jemiba suggests, if you are fed up with me just ignore me.
 

Pirate Pete

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I know this could be seen as 'tiresome', but I think one of the biggest issues that we experience on this site, in general and not just on this particular set of threads, is that as Jemiba said, or at least attempted to, is that SOME members on the Site can be very caustic in the way they disagree with another's posts, what is important to remember, commenting on this Site is only by the written word and not by verbal inter-action. When involved in a spoken conversation, the various tones of voice used can aid in the balance of discussion, however, in the purely written format, the subtlety of the syntax can very easily become lost and appear to be argumentative. One of the worst things that can be done in the written form is capitalisation, this is the written equivalent of shouting in the spoken world.
Come-on folks, subjects discussed here are of common interest, and for any member to set themselves up as an unequivical expert on all things that knows better than all others is only setting themselves up as a target for hatred.
 
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