WWI doesn't happen: what happens to military technology?

shin_getter

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Given that WWI had a fairly random trigger, it is not particularly strange (in alt history terms) to explore the alternative.

So WWI does not happen, while a steady stream of bush wars still does. What happens to military technology?

When will the following things be invented and adapted without WWI?
1. Combat aircraft like fighters and bombers
2. Tanks
3. Indirect fire artillery networks, up to effective counter battery capability
4. Non battle fleet anti-submarine equipment and tactics
5. Naval aircraft and support
6. Wide adaptation of the infantry mortar
*. Conceptualization of Modern tactics

What alternative formation may get invested heavily in this alternative time line? For example:
1. SMG armed cavalry
2. Zeppelin fleets
3. Manhandled autocannons for ground combat
4. Advanced pusher aircraft
 
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Justo Miranda

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If the First World War hadn't happened, I'd go work on a horse-drawn carriage and people would not die from the Chinese virus but from tuberculosis
 

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Fluff

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When will the following things be invented and adapted without WWI?
1. Combat aircraft like fighters and bombers - would slowly evolve, but would be ugly.
2. Tanks - no, no trenches = no tanks, armoured cars, and trains.
3. Indirect fire artillery networks, up to effective counter battery capability, slowly, as few set-piece battles to allow development
4. Non battle fleet anti-submarine equipment and tactics - Subs would be banned by treaty
5. Naval aircraft and support - very slowly, guns would remain the main offensive weapon for sometime
6. Wide adaptation of the infantry mortar - no, came from trench warfare
*. Conceptualization of Modern tactics

What alternative formation may get invested heavily in this alternative time line? For example:
1. SMG armed cavalry - SMG came from trench warfare didnt it - very unsporting
2. Zeppelin fleets - yes, carrying armoured cars,.
3. Manhandled autocannons for ground combat - Cant see this, french 75 will rule the world.
4. Advanced pusher aircraft - probably.

If WW1 doesnt happen, then Europe gets to continue with empires and conquests, Italy and germany would really get going in Africa and the med, challenged by UK and France. USA stays neutral, develops maritime flying boats/bombers, and maybe some long range twin fighters?
 

Nick Sumner

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That’s a great question.

I think the answer is that the major wars have a ‘lensing’ effect on military technology. They accelerate both the study and implementation of advanced tech. Some years ago (before I had a life) using easily accessible data, I made two graphs. One plotted service entry of new types of fighter aircraft for the RAF by date of service entry from 1910 to 2000, the other plotted maximum speed of each aircraft against date of service entry.

In a lot of ways the results were unsurprising. The frequency of new aircraft designs entering service was greatly accelerated around the two world wars and shortly after. Also the increase in maximum speed showed the same trend, though there was some 'echo' after WW2 into the 1950s because of the lag between theory and implementation.

WW1 happened at the worst possible time where defensive technology had advanced beyond the technology of offence. This was the prime cause of the vast casualty count for hardly any ground gained. The technology of offence (mobile firepower, communications etc) was insufficiently developed most of the problems that caused that conflict to be as awful as it was were understood in theory before it began. The solution s applied 1914-16 just didn’t work, but without the stimulus provided by the conflict, the rapid advances in military technology would, in all probability, have taken much longer. I don't think they would fail to happen entirely. The tank designs of both Burstyn and DeMole were drawn in 1912.

The challenge for the alternate historian, is to map the changes in the pace of advance without the stimulus provided by conflict, plausibly.
 

sienar

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A really obvious thing is what happens to strategic bombing? No WW1 means no Douhet (not literally). Without the incredible cost of trench warfare would anyone ever advocate for bombing factories and civilians? There would probably still be a few but I don't think their arguments would be 'acceptable' for most.

Then if strategic bombing is less important what happens to radar development?
 

Grey Havoc

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Chemical weapon development might be slowed down a bit as well.
 

Justo Miranda

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A really obvious thing is what happens to strategic bombing? No WW1 means no Douhet (not literally). Without the incredible cost of trench warfare would anyone ever advocate for bombing factories and civilians? There would probably still be a few but I don't think their arguments would be 'acceptable' for most.

Then if strategic bombing is less important what happens to radar development?
It was equally necessary to avoid another Titanic
 

royabulgaf

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Given that WWI had a fairly random trigger, it is not particularly strange (in alt history terms) to explore the alternative.

So WWI does not happen, while a steady stream of bush wars still does. What happens to military technology?

When will the following things be invented and adapted without WWI?
1. Combat aircraft like fighters and bombers
2. Tanks
3. Indirect fire artillery networks, up to effective counter battery capability
4. Non battle fleet anti-submarine equipment and tactics
5. Naval aircraft and support
6. Wide adaptation of the infantry mortar
*. Conceptualization of Modern tactics

What alternative formation may get invested heavily in this alternative time line? For example:
1. SMG armed cavalry
2. Zeppelin fleets
3. Manhandled autocannons for ground combat
4. Advanced pusher aircraft
Fighters and bombers would develop, but more slowly. Remember, scouting aircraft were used in the Balkan wars a couple years before WWI, and I think thehy may have chucked grenades on enemy troops. I gather the wars would be colonial wars with perhaps European countries bumping into each other in odd backwards countries of the world. There won't be the real ability for mechanized warfare, although you may seem ad hoc armed trucks similar to the "Technicals" you seem today. I'm not familiar with what was going on elsewhere, but there was some puttering around with armed vehicles in the US and Germany pre-1914. Also, Curtiss produced a large long range flying boat that first flew in June 1914. This was designed for the transatlantic flight prize. Also, it was developed in parallel by the US and UK as long range maritime patrol aircraft. Someone mentioned radar development to prevent another Titanic. I could see instead such flying boats developed for North Atlantic iceberg patrol, and the navies could soon see their use as scouting aircraft. To counter them, I envision previous generation cruisers converted into high speed seaplane tenders.
 

ceccherini

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The key to the answer in my view largely rest on the prewar main armament spending that was, by far, the construction of battleships and battlecruisers. By 1914 the RN had largely suprassed its objective to be larger by 50% than the German navy, both France and Russia had a very large construction program and the SPD dominated German parliament elected in 1912 was very pro disarmament. In short the naval arms race was effectively over by 1914 and there was intense pressure to reduce naval expenditures. I think some naval arms limitation treaty freezing the European naval power ratio would have come in some years. Naval aviation was evolving very rapidly even before the war with torpedo planes and shipboard aircraft alredy tested and multiengine long range aircraft in advanced development stage. With much less dreadnought spending my guess is that naval aviation and submarines would develop at a similar pace, if not somewhat faster, than in our timeline but in a somewhat different way. Prewar submarine development was pushed to large and fast submarines and I expect many cruiser/fleet submarines and more developed seaplane carriers. Aircraft carriers born would be somewhat slower but by early '20 purpose built carriers would still appear. Also the war stopped experiment on aip submarines, without it I see at least some test boats. Land based bomber were equally very close, obviously one cannot expect hundreds of them but bomber tech would have followed basically the same path as in reality maybe just one or two years later. Without any actual experience of air combat fighter development would be much slower but once there are bombers obviously there is the need to destroy them but i think to be very implausible to expect somewhat even remotely comparable with the dramatic competition and performance evolution experimented by WW1 fighters. I did not expect any large implementation of advanced land army technologies such as tanks. Maybe someone had comprension of their need but not one would have devoted a large part of the limited military resources in a very competitive international environment to an untested technology. And the only way to test it was exactly the kind of European wide conflict you have avoided. For the Zeppelin question, I think that as aircraft evolved their military applications would be unneeded but also if regular air travel by Zeppelin started in some years as planned I see a real prospect of employing the airships to develop an airborne military cargo service.
 
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uk 75

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I know and agree with the strictures on politics here but broader trends should still be pointed up.
The United States would still have emerged as the world's most dynamic economy. The innovations coming out of that country had started before WW1.
Germany would like modern China have remained a paradox. It would boast the most modern industry and standards of living in the world. But it would have an autocratic goverment wedded to cutting edge military technology.
Britain would have declined much as it did in real life. Business and industry would have still been managed badly, based on a low wage economy and poor skills base.
The Empire would have faced external competition from USA, Germany and Japan while the road to Indian independence was beginning.
The great unknowables are Russia and France.
The Tsar was an incompetent and poorly advised ruler. Even without the impetus of a terrible war political change of some description was inevitable.
France had oscillated in the 19th Century between chaos and dazzling brilliance. Some kind of clash with Germany was perhaps unavoidable.
 
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ceccherini

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I know and agree with the strictures on politics here but broader trends should still be pointed up.
The United States would still have emerged as the world's most dynamic economy. The innovations coming out of that country had started before WW1.
Germany would like modern China have remained a paradox. It would boast the most modern industry and standards of living in the world. But it would have an autocratic goverment wedded to cutting edge military technology.
Britain would have declined much as it did in real life. Business and industry would have still been managed badly, based on a low wage economy and poor skills base.
The Empire would have faced external competition from USA, Germany and Japan while the road to Indian independence was beginning.
The great unknowables are Russia and France.
The Tsar was an incompetent and poorly advised ruler. Even without the impetus of a terrible war political change of some description was inevitable.
France had oscillated in the 19th Century between chaos and dazzling brilliance. Some kind of clash with Germany was perhaps unavoidable.
I don't completely agree with you. Personally I think that the most unstable social and political system were Germany and Austro-Hungary were there were very strong and highly organized broad social forces willing to force radical change and a political, economic and military leadership unwilling to concede transformation and actually this very unwillingness could be regarded as the main cause of the fact that german high command used the first great international crisis after the 1912 elections to precipitate the long prepared continental war. They wanted to destroy the external treath to be free to crush the internal oppositions while imposing a military rule backed by large capital and aristocracy. British empire in comparison was much stronger: comparatively declinig as a productive powerhouse, was becoming always even stronger as the commercial and financial superpower of the time. A large part of the American industrial development was made with British capitals. Quite simply as the first industrial power, UK was also the first to start a transition to a more service based/capital intensive economy. Indian independence was out of question without a major global war, in fact 2 were needed. Much more pressing was the Irish independence, with high probability of a civil war just months after the beginning of the WW1 in our timeline. Still it would be not a major blow to british global power. United States were on the path to becoming a major global power but without both world wars is in no way obvious they would have develope their economic power in a military and political hegemony outside the new world. Russia was obviously frail but not so much in peril of revolution: as Lenin said in 1913 "I fear that in 2013 the Romanovs will celebrate their 400th anniversary". The economy and the military were rapidly modernizing and expanding, the urban working class was still small and lacked organized legal structures, the farmers were abandoning their traditional communal lifestile embracing private property. The political conflict was strong but its prime mover was the bourgeoisie whose request could be answered by alternatively a reform or a very moderate revolution but nothing as destabilizing as what could be expected in the central empires.
 

Hood

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Given that WWI had a fairly random trigger, it is not particularly strange (in alt history terms) to explore the alternative.

So WWI does not happen, while a steady stream of bush wars still does. What happens to military technology?

When will the following things be invented and adapted without WWI?
1. Combat aircraft like fighters and bombers
2. Tanks
3. Indirect fire artillery networks, up to effective counter battery capability
4. Non battle fleet anti-submarine equipment and tactics
5. Naval aircraft and support
6. Wide adaptation of the infantry mortar
*. Conceptualization of Modern tactics

What alternative formation may get invested heavily in this alternative time line? For example:
1. SMG armed cavalry
2. Zeppelin fleets
3. Manhandled autocannons for ground combat
4. Advanced pusher aircraft
1. - aircraft had been used for bombing in 1911, attempts had already been made to fit aircraft with machine guns even before WW1 and indeed there were already nations like Romania and Greece forming military air arms so progress would be slower, especially for firing a machine gun through a tractor propeller but armed aircraft would have been fairly common by 1917 even for smaller nations. Even in WW1 its surprising that types designed in 1914-15 were still in frontline use in 1918 in some role so don't be mistaken that everyone was flying cutting edge stuff even in 1918

2. - someone would have had an idea to fit an armoured body on a tracked tractor chassis sooner or later had the need arisen. In fact many did in WW1 independent of the Landships Committee. We wouldn't call them tanks though as Churchill's cover name won't exist.

3. - one would hope that with aircraft with wireless that something like these tactics would have been practiced by the latter 1910s/early 1920s, but of course practice makes perfect so it might be of mixed success

4. - the RN were already interested in this in 1914 so it would come. Arguably not enough progress was made in WW1 until near the end with late adoption of convoys and development of Asdic. Asdic would probably be delayed by a decade at least, if not more.

5. - the RN already had seaplane carrier experience and seaplanes were as common as landplanes in 1914. Would we see the aircraft carrier? Beadmore sketched one in 1912 and Ark Royal was already under construction in 1914 so there would be aircraft carrying ships but they probably would be in small numbers and for seaplanes rather than the flattops we know today but that would probably come during the 1920s/30s as wheeled aircraft became superior to seaplanes

6. - possibly not unless a war broke out with terrain needing it (e.g. Balkans).


1. - the SMG might not have seemed attractive, but the cavalry might well have lasted into the 1930s

2. - certainly for Germany, Britain's failures might have put her off them permanently and France had mixed success. I can't see a HG Wells type scenario but Germany would have invested heavily I think

3. - quite possible indeed if they could be made reliable enough

4. - how are you defining 'advanced'? But I agree that pusher types might have lasted longer, especially until somebody can up with interrupter gear that worked and even then pilots might have been resistant.
 

Grey Havoc

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And there was some successful use of horse cavalry and mounted infantry during WWII which is often overlooked (not to mention that horses still had a major part to play in logistics & communications, especially earlier in the war!).

It was equally necessary to avoid another Titanic
Though naval radar, fire direction and navigation, was relatively slow to take off in our timeline even with WWII raging.

EDIT:
With regards as to cavalry and the like, on an interesting post-War side note: https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/threads/return-of-the-us-animal-corps.12826/post-444538
 
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uk 75

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ceccherini
I think a lot of your points mesh well with mine.
Germany and Austria or more particularly Berlin and Vienna were awash with radical political and social upheaval that challenged the ruling order.
A clash with France and Russia of some kind was almost inevitable given the German and Austrian rulers as you mention.
I agree that Britain or rather the City of London had preeminent commercial and financial services replacing industrial muscle.
Ireland was always going to be the first brick to fall out of the wall of the British Empire. India was going to follow. The absence of 2 World Wars might have delayed the process considerably.
I was careful only to refer to the US economy and not its military political status. Even in an isolationist US the rapid technical innovation and dynamism of the US coupled with its self sufficiency would have made it one of the key powers.
As for Russia I still think Nicholas and Alexandra were so boneheaded that something would have replaced them.
 
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ceccherini

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ceccherini
I think a lot of your points mesh well with mine.
Germany and Austria or more particularly Berlin and Vienna were awash with radical political and social upheaval that challenged the ruling order.
A clash with France and Russia of some kind was almost inevitable given the German and Austrian rulers as you mention.
I agree that Britain or rather the City of London had preeminent commercial and financial services replacing industrial muscle.
Ireland was always going to be the first brick to fall out of the wall of the British Empire. India was going to follow. The absence of 2 World Wars might have delayed the process considerably.
I was careful only to refer to the US economy and not its military political status. Even in an isolationist US the rapid technical innovation and dynamism of the US coupled with its self sufficiency would have made it one of the key powers.
As for Russia I still think Nicholas and Alexandra were so boneheaded that something would have replaced them.
I agree with all your points
 

sienar

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A really obvious thing is what happens to strategic bombing? No WW1 means no Douhet (not literally). Without the incredible cost of trench warfare would anyone ever advocate for bombing factories and civilians? There would probably still be a few but I don't think their arguments would be 'acceptable' for most.

Then if strategic bombing is less important what happens to radar development?
It was equally necessary to avoid another Titanic

I doubt that the Titanic was a big driver in naval radar. For one it was pretty much a freak accident, ships hitting ice bergs in the North Atlantic was fairly rare and the Titanic is far and away the highest causality ice berg collision. Avoiding collisions with other ships is a much bigger issue at the time.

Additionally the Titanic really fell out of the popular consciousness as soon as WW1 started. Its not until A Night to Remember in 1958 that the Titanic is back in the popular consciousness.

I know and agree with the strictures on politics here but broader trends should still be pointed up.
The United States would still have emerged as the world's most dynamic economy. The innovations coming out of that country had started before WW1.
Germany would like modern China have remained a paradox. It would boast the most modern industry and standards of living in the world. But it would have an autocratic goverment wedded to cutting edge military technology.
Britain would have declined much as it did in real life. Business and industry would have still been managed badly, based on a low wage economy and poor skills base.
The Empire would have faced external competition from USA, Germany and Japan while the road to Indian independence was beginning.
The great unknowables are Russia and France.
The Tsar was an incompetent and poorly advised ruler. Even without the impetus of a terrible war political change of some description was inevitable.
France had oscillated in the 19th Century between chaos and dazzling brilliance. Some kind of clash with Germany was perhaps unavoidable.


I think Russia would have developed quite well without WW1 - it did have the fastest or nearly the fastest growing economy from ~1900 to WW1. There was a massive amount of rail being laid, tons of factories being built, a large population rapidly becoming wealthier and a mountain of natural resources just starting to be exploited. Reform is a bigger problem but it was happening and clearly needed to continue to happen, just the speed and scale was being debated.

I can't remember which historian it was, maybe Christopher Clark, who argued that WW1 caused the revolution because it destroyed the compact/trust between the people and the government. Ie prior to WW1 veterans were taking care of by Moscow but the scale of WW1 was so large that the government simply couldn't deal with all the casualties. So you have communities setting up commissions to handle their returning and injured soldiers, finding or making accommodation for them, funding medical care, ect. These commissions slowly take over more and more responsibilities that had historically been the central government simply because that central bureaucracy was swamped/overwhelmed by the war. At some point the people start to wonder why they are paying taxes to Moscow when they are doing a lot of government functions at the local level with great cost to themselves.
 

uk 75

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sienar thank you for the Russian angle. You are right on both counts. A lot of economic growth was happening and WW1was the midwife of the Revolution.
I perhaps make too much of the uselessness of Nicholas and Alexandra, but I still tend to think that they were likely to get ousted in perhaps a more bourgeois coup.
 

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With no First World War, Home Rule is implemented, and the British response to the Easter Rising which radicalised many in Ireland is butterflied away. The real issue is preventing the Ulster Volunteers and Irish Volunteers from starting a civil war.

In regards to aircraft development, I vaguely remember Edgerton's England and the Aeroplane pointing out that most First World War combat aircraft used engines already in existence in 1914. If engine development is sped up in peacetime, as result of attention not being predominantly focused on producing large number of already existing engines, development may be sped up.
 

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On aircraft, I'm not so sure we would see massive progress- after WW1 progress was limited, e.g. biplanes got to 1939, Gladiator etc. Slow incremental progress. Yes racers, and mail planes would help, but I think this would plateau at the 500HP, only military need got us to 1000HP.
 

sienar

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sienar thank you for the Russian angle. You are right on both counts. A lot of economic growth was happening and WW1was the midwife of the Revolution.
I perhaps make too much of the uselessness of Nicholas and Alexandra, but I still tend to think that they were likely to get ousted in perhaps a more bourgeois coup.

There is all sorts of goofy palace politics that makes it hard to predict. I would guess that Rasputin is pretty much a timebomb, WWI or not, and that could be an impetus for change. Personally I think a more 'Japanese' path would be taken with the tsar as just a figure head with some kind of clique making most of the real decisions, but maybe the public would only accept more parliamentary reforms.

On aircraft, I'm not so sure we would see massive progress- after WW1 progress was limited, e.g. biplanes got to 1939, Gladiator etc. Slow incremental progress. Yes racers, and mail planes would help, but I think this would plateau at the 500HP, only military need got us to 1000HP.

Counter argument; no WWI = biplanes die faster because maneuverability just isn't thought of as important
 

uk 75

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Sienar Yes that seems a reasonable possibility for Russia.

I am not sure if some kind of Europe wide conflict was not inevitable given the massive investment in armaments on land and sea. France had deep issues with Germany and Russia had issues with Austria-Hungary.
In the absence of nuclear weapons or fear of aerial bombardment (a factor in Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler) a growing jingoism made peace harder to keep.
 

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I suspect WWI would happen whatever the particular butterfly that caused it. The Black Hand are going to keep trying to kill a Hapsburg even if they fail at the first attempt. Germany will back Austria, Russia will back Serbia, things will come to blows sooner rather than later. And if not on the Austro-Serbian border, then Turkey and Greece are probably likely to come to blows again, Italy keeps pushing things, and so on. And don't forget Japan. If WWI wasn't happening, would the US and Japan have come to blows in 1915 over the 21 Demands (from Japan to the Chinese government).

There's probably a PhD sitting there for someone to look into whether Germany could continue its arms build-up indefinitely, or was looking at a 'year of maximum opportunity'* after which it's advantage would start to fall. Note that this had already happened to the Naval Arms Race pre-war - 1912 IIRC - when Germany had to cut naval funding to maintain the army's growth. If that army growth will also hit a peak, and the advantage over France/Russia start to fall, then there's a strong driver to manufacture a crisis before that - which is arguably exactly what Germany did in encouraging Austro-Hungary to press the Serbs.

I don't want to duplicate points already made by other people, so assume I'm broadly following the consensus.

1. Combat aircraft like fighters and bombers

Fighters are inevitable from the moment two opposing pilots see each other and can't do anything about it, so take up a pistol or rifle next time. As for bombers, IIRC the RNAS was already looking at dropping torpedoes from aircraft pre-war. If you can drop a torpedo you can drop just as large a weight of bombs.

2. Tanks

The tank as a trench-breaker really requires trench warfare first, but armoured cars are inevitable. The RNAS deployed to France with machine-gun armed Rolls-Royces for airfield security, and armouring them is the obvious next step, especially for the Navy.

3. Indirect fire artillery networks, up to effective counter battery capability

This is another one to really need trench warfare to push artillery out of its field artillery comfort zone (ie direct support of infantry). Siege warfare is a small, specialist role, but in some ways closer to what artillery will become, but no one knows that yet. Meanwhile the RN and others are pushing massive increases in engagement ranges and plotting for naval artillery.

4. Non battle fleet anti-submarine equipment and tactics

I think this is more complicated than people have considered. Pre-WWI, the submarine is looked on by the RN as the solution to close blockade, sitting directly outside the opposition ports and pinning them in place. Foreign submarines had made close blockade too dangerous for the surface fleet, but RN overseas designs are intended precisely to fill that role (and continued to be for the entire interwar period - lots of emphasis on how long battery capacity could keep them in submerged position).

Germany was looking at the submarine more for projecting power, but everyone was assuming attacks on enemy shipping would continue to use Cruiser Rules - ships ordered to halt and crews allowed to take to the boats before the merchant vessel was sunk. Unrestricted submarine warfare was not anticipated, and Cruiser Rules attacks could be thwarted by convoy alone (and by Q-ships to increase the risk of attacking lone stragglers). There's a crossover here with surface raiders, which would be countered with armed merchant cruisers to back up the cruisers deployed for shipping protection. ASW warfare is really a consequence of unrestricted submarine warfare, and its only when depth charges become available mid-war that any retaliation against submerged submarines becomes possible. Actually hunting them, as opposed to simply reacting depends on Asdic, which is unlikely to happen promptly without a strong need driving it - you don't just need the technology, but the scientists to drive its development, and they need a war to focus them on military applications.

5. Naval aircraft and support

The pre-war increase in the range of naval artillery to significantly beyond the horizon is all the driver this needs, and early aircraft carriers were conceived of by many naval officers in the early interwar period as operating in close company of the battle-line in order to provide over-the-horizon observation.

6. Wide adaptation of the infantry mortar

This is already conceptually there, with the rifle grenade and heavy mortar both developing out of analyses of the Siege of Port Arthur, where the Japanese experimented with both (and heavy coast artillery mortars were also already a thing). It just needs someone to do the engineering to get it down to man-portable weight.

*. Conceptualization of Modern tactics

'Modern tactics' are whatever you're trying tomorrow because what you tried yesterday didn't work, or in many cases what you're trying tomorrow even though it didn't work yesterday. Austro-Hungary went into WWI still using assault columns, and their response to them being massacred by the Russians was to increase the army size so they had more men to throw into assault columns. They needed to get rid of their chief of staff before they could even start to grapple with the idea that the assault column might not be the way ahead. Lots of armies were still wedded to the cult of the bayonet, and to attaque a outrance - the idea that some sort of national elan would yield ultimate victory no matter the casualties, or indeed specifically because of your being able to outlast the enemy in tolerating casualties. This meant heavy casualties were initially seen as a good thing, hiding the actual context that balance had shifted in favour of the defence and that some new technology needed to emerge to break the stalemate.

1. SMG armed cavalry

Cavalry remained a significant field arm until the opening of WWII, and to a degree through the war on the Eastern Front and in the Balkans. No one made the decision to arm cavalry with SMGs through the interwar period, probably because cavalry were already largely operating as mounted infantry not as shock cavalry and needed to be able to engage at range (because you don't want to leave your horses somewhere you can't get at them quickly, and you can't have horses and horseholders in close combat). Cavalry charges, where SMGs might be useful, are rare.

2. Zeppelin fleets

Airships have limited utility. Their use by the Germans for raids on the UK has more to do with the inability of German aircraft to attack the UK from available bases rather than their own suitability for the role. If Germany had had reliable Riesenflugzeuge earlier, the Zeppelins probably wouldn't have been used as raiders. Where they did have advantages were in ocean reconnaissance, and, on a smaller scale, as ASW blimps over chokepoints like the Channel. You might look at the US experience as more likely, a couple of big airships for ocean reconnaissance, and smaller blimps in larger numbers for ASW.

3. Manhandled autocannons for ground combat

The real-world precedents seems to point towards not autocannon, but single-shot cannon. Lots of countries adopted machine-gun sized man-portable 37mm cannon for use against point targets during WWI and the interwar period. The technology then split into/was replaced by anti-tank guns, anti-tank rifles, and infantry mortars. Autocannon were distinctly unusual in those roles.

4. Advanced pusher aircraft

The pusher has an inherent disadvantage, if it's a single engine design, then you need two outrigger fuselages, rather than a single one. That means more manufacturing hours and materials costs. It also greatly complicates bailing out. People kept looking at pushers, both single and multi-engine, but they usually went for the tractor alternative.

* By analogy with the 'year of maximum danger' postulated in the early Cold War, the point at which Russia was projected by the US and UK to be ready for another war. It was supposed to be 1954, but things kicked off early in Korea.
 

tequilashooter

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I think Germany would have had a better chance not starting a WW2 The Versailles Treaty was certainly a cause for it which Hitler exploited it also for political gain. I heard lack of resources and the building military pressure from different sides prevented them from making the 1st atomic bomb and were building ballistic missiles so maybe the process would have sped up along with Russia or the U.S. not getting their scientists to benefit themselves from either the nuclear or missile field.
 

royabulgaf

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Counter argument; no WWI = biplanes die faster because maneuverability just isn't thought of as important
Interesting thought- There were a few cantilever monoplanes pre-WWI, and the market at that time would be to sportsmen. Cool looking airplanes sell. Speed sells. Sportsplanes and mailplanes would drive the market and the market wants speed and streamlining. The military market would be fast recon aircraft and clunky bombers. Imagine a land based PR version of the Supermarine S6, and a fleet of 100 or so Handley Page Harrows in 1940.
 

Iron Felix

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The British have dealt with tanks since about 1911. In all countries, many designs of armored vehicles appeared, I think that the appearance of tanks was only a matter of time. Roughly the same goes for the SMG, designs like SMGs have been around since the 1890s, sooner or later someone would have done it.
In general, I think that most of the novelties of the First World War period would have appeared anyway. And I think you shouldn't underestimate the arms race. By the beginning of World War II, thanks to the arms race, and not some big war, countries came up with the ideas of MBT, AT rocket launchers, helicopters, etc. Why can't the development of armored vehicles give an impetus to the development of tanks? Especially by the 30s.
In terms of the economy, Russia occupied the first place in terms of growth rates, Germany occupied the second place, France and Britain began to lag behind, Austria-Hungary and Turkey were gradually fading away.
I think there will be many different wars on the outskirts. Britain and Russia could agree to an agreement on the division of Turkish possessions, the Russians would like to get the Bosphorus, the Dardanelles, the southern and eastern coasts of the Black Sea, the British would like to get the Middle East, possibly the islands. Persia would have been a contested territory of influence between Russia and Britain, perhaps a mutually beneficial agreement would have been reached.
Austria-Hungary is likely to fall apart. Immediately, part of the territory will be taken by Germany, or, by annexing the whole of Austria-Hungary, the Russians will most likely demand the western territories.
France and Britain will continue to expand in Asia, most likely, there will be a confrontation between them, Russia and Japan in this region.
If fascism comes to power in Italy later, then most likely there will be an attempt to expand into the Balkans and Africa, a clash with Britain is inevitable, France and Russia, depending on relations with Britain, can support either the British or the Italians.
At the same time, Germany will remain a strategic enemy of France and Britain.
The role of the United States is difficult to imagine, because on the one hand, it is unprofitable for them to have competitors on the world stage, be it Germany or Russia. On the other hand, she can easily make friends with both Russia and Germany, and at the same time fight against Britain.
At some point, Russia will try to return the islands selected by Japan in 1904-1905. This means a conflict with Britain.
Will there be a revolution in China? Unknown. Unlikely.
There may be other conflicts as well.
I do not know the reasons for the revolution in Germany and Russia if peace is preserved. The German revolution began because of the lost war and because of the famine, the Russian revolution actually started only after the coup of February 1917, when a group of conspirators took advantage of the turbulent situation in Petrograd (despite the fact that there were several times less protesters than in 1905). At the same time, both Germany and Russia had a fairly developed working legislation.
For quite a long time I rummaged in the subject of Russian armaments at the beginning of the 20th century. Here's what they considered promising:
Artillery:
1. The re-armament of field artillery with 107-mm cannons and howitzers, using fast all-wheel drive tractors (then the 107-mm cannon and 152-mm field howitzer had the same weight)
2. Creation of powerful siege weapons, at least 406-mm howitzers
3. Development of anti-aircraft artillery, up to the creation of 152-mm guns
4. The introduction of long-range shells, in general, an increase in the range of artillery
5. Perhaps - replacing the M1902 cannon with a more advanced
Small arms:
1. The introduction of long-range rifle cartridges
2. Replacing bolt-action rifles with semi-auto
3. Replacing revolvers with semi-automatic pistols
Fleet:
1. "Squadron cruisers" with 180-mm cannons in 4-gun turrets
2. Battleships with 406-mm and 457-mm guns
3. Increasing the second caliber of battleships to 152-mm or 180-mm
4. Using remote control of all implements
5. Maximum automation of loading
6. A spotter plane on a catapult for battleships
7. Guided torpedoes
8. Submarines with increased power reserve
Aviation
1. Continuation of work on large aircraft
2. Construction of experimental jet engines, turboprop and others
3. Use of wireless radios in aviation
There were many other proposals and different perspectives. In 1915, Russian sailors, who almost did not encounter enemy aircraft, that is, in fact, outside the war, decided that they needed a 25-mm autocannon, a large-caliber machine gun, a 76.2-mm cannon with 700-800 m / s. Sikorsky and Slesarev did not have enough powerful engines to put them on their airplanes, in fact, the creation of engines for 600 hp. and more was just a matter of time.
Other countries should have about the same prospects, but I have not researched this.
SMGs may appear as police weapons. Assault rifles were mainly invented before the First World War, at least the United States, Austria-Hungary and Russia had developments in the direction of creating automatic (semi-auto or full-auto) weapons for intermediate cartridges.
I think that the further the world will live without the First World War, the more dangerous it will become. The fact is that at the beginning of the 20th century, at about the same time, work on rocketry was going on, as well as research on radioactive materials. Virtually all key countries could have acquired nuclear weapons in the 1940s. But, there was no "lesson" in the form of the death of tens of millions of people. What will happen in this world? Nuclear WW1? Which will last approximately 1 day. Someone can resist a preemptive strike? Given the very small likelihood of the existence of at least some kind of warning system about the launch of missiles by the enemy, because the electronics will still not be able to do this. Wilhelm II spoke of "racial war". Imagine the Caribbean crisis with such a fanatic instead of Khrushchev. There will be a boom.
 

Fluff

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Given the world economy in the late 20's, you would see a few tanks, but not many, just in development units, just as you did see, it was only with re-armament that everyone got 'new' tanks, some worked, some didnt. Armoured cars were good enough, for empire duty.

You could see rocket interceptors, and with some flukes during development, supersonic ones!!
 

zen

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Thoughts....

Prior to WWI the UK was heading towards a federal setup. It was the crisis which allowed reactionary and conservative forces to drop the issue.
So come 1916 a reconstituted Irish Parliament along with Scottish and English (incorporating Wales), would be well along the road.

The Enfield .276 would likely remain the focus of future Rifles and Machine Guns.
While the trend to SMG is likely to be much delayed everywhere.....though not entirely as the market for rapid fire pistols with attached stocks was a growth area for certain forces.

Arguably with a draw down of the battleship arms race, Fishers real interest in Destroyers would re-emerge as the focus of the RN along with affordable Cruisers.
But the aircraft carrier still exerts an interest as a means to provide air support in distant regions of the Empire.

France had a very sophisticated armament effort and had I recall settled in the Bertier rifle and ammunition. WWI delayed the move away from 8mm Lebel. So it would be France that would achieve a service semi-automatic rifle long before the Germans, British or Americans and only Russia's Federov's Automatic in his unique 6.5mm ammunition would challenge it.
France was heading in the right direction on combined arms, communications tactics etc. But it was slow and inexperienced.
 

royabulgaf

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That’s a great question.

I think the answer is that the major wars have a ‘lensing’ effect on military technology. They accelerate both the study and implementation of advanced tech. Some years ago (before I had a life) using easily accessible data, I made two graphs. One plotted service entry of new types of fighter aircraft for the RAF by date of service entry from 1910 to 2000, the other plotted maximum speed of each aircraft against date of service entry.

In a lot of ways the results were unsurprising. The frequency of new aircraft designs entering service was greatly accelerated around the two world wars and shortly after. Also the increase in maximum speed showed the same trend, though there was some 'echo' after WW2 into the 1950s because of the lag between theory and implementation.

WW1 happened at the worst possible time where defensive technology had advanced beyond the technology of offence. This was the prime cause of the vast casualty count for hardly any ground gained. The technology of offence (mobile firepower, communications etc) was insufficiently developed most of the problems that caused that conflict to be as awful as it was were understood in theory before it began. The solution s applied 1914-16 just didn’t work, but without the stimulus provided by the conflict, the rapid advances in military technology would, in all probability, have taken much longer. I don't think they would fail to happen entirely. The tank designs of both Burstyn and DeMole were drawn in 1912.

The challenge for the alternate historian, is to map the changes in the pace of advance without the stimulus provided by conflict, plausibly.
Also, the advances in administration, transport. and food preservation plus increasing industrialization made it possible to arm, train, supply and transport unheard of masses of cannon fodder to the front where they coul be annihilated by the enemy's unlimited quantities of weapons and ammunition.
 

lordroel

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Given that WWI had a fairly random trigger, it is not particularly strange (in alt history terms) to explore the alternative.

So WWI does not happen, while a steady stream of bush wars still does. What happens to military technology?

When will the following things be invented and adapted without WWI?
1. Combat aircraft like fighters and bombers
2. Tanks
3. Indirect fire artillery networks, up to effective counter battery capability
4. Non battle fleet anti-submarine equipment and tactics
5. Naval aircraft and support
6. Wide adaptation of the infantry mortar
*. Conceptualization of Modern tactics

What alternative formation may get invested heavily in this alternative time line? For example:
1. SMG armed cavalry
2. Zeppelin fleets
3. Manhandled autocannons for ground combat
4. Advanced pusher aircraft

I can see Armored Cars still being used.
 
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