Zeppelins raid America, 1918

Dilandu

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In 1918, German Empire actually considered the possibility of zeppelin's raid against United States. Technically, it was possible. The L-59 (LZ-104) )Africa expedition demonstrated the impressive endurance of big airships; zeppelin stayed in air for 95 hours, traveling about 6800 km, and after landing, still have enough fuel onboard for 65 more hours. The 12000 km range made it perfectly possible to reach East Coast, drop bombs on US cities and return to Germany.

The L-72 (LZ-114) "high-climber" was designated for such raid, everything was calculated and prepared, but World War I ended before the actual raid was attempted.

But what if Germans managed to do it?

Let's assume that Peter Strasser put more efforts into planning for America raids, and by summer 1918 have several zeppelins, Amerika-schiff's prepared for transatlantic actions. Most likely, it would not be X-class high-climbers, but adapted design of W-series (long-range transports to which L-59 belong). With over 12000 km range - plus some safety margin - they could reach New York with a ton of bombs and return. And with

Pro's for the raid:

* Total unpreparedness of 1918's US to any kind of aerial raids. No AA guns, no interceptors, no blackout.
* Psychological impact of such raids would be quite significant. Most likely on the level of early 1915's raids on Britain, when just several dropped bombs could cause full-scale panic. Emergency measures, such as blackouts, would most likely cause much more productivity losses than the bombing themselves.
* While the material impact would most likely not be significant, the lack of air defenses and blackout may actually allow low-altitude attacks with precise bombing against specific targets.
* Due to size of America, and plenty of targets, it would took a lot of time to actually provide air defense for even the major cities.

Con's against the raid:

* Problematic navigation in air over Atlantic, outside the range of Telefunken radio-navigation network (no practical solution, the only possible way would be to reach America using standard navigation methods and then try to find the specific target - or hit the target of opportunity).
* Risk of meeting the heavy winds or other kind of bad weather over ocean (could be partially mitigated by using submarines for weather recons).
* The threat of crossing Britain twice, especially on return rout (albeit it's stand to reason to assume that northern regions of the country could be crossed relatively safely during nighttime).
* Implementation of blackout would make hitting specific targets next to impossible.

Of course, several tons of bombs, dropped on American cities in 1918 would not change the course of war significantly. But what's interesting, is what would came next? With the practical demonstration of vulnerability of America to air attacks as early as in 1918, how would the subsequent military history change? On one hand, everybody aiming to war with America would knew that such attacks are possible. On the other hand, Americans would knew that such attacks are possible and oceans would not completely defend them.
 

Orionblamblam

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Con's against the raid:

You've just pissed off the entire population of the United States. The Great War now ends with Germany being a wholly owned subsidiary of Uncle Sam, Inc.

So... maybe things end up better? Probably no Nazis, and with a good western foothold in central Europe to stand up against the commies, perhaps the USSR never really happens. No USSR, then China never falls to Mao.
 

Dilandu

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You've just pissed off the entire population of the United States.

Not that it matters much by mid-1918, frankly.

The Great War now ends with Germany being a wholly owned subsidiary of Uncle Sam, Inc.

Nah. Neither France nor Britain are willing to commit into the war till the Berlin, and US simply could not do it without them. So unless Germany for some reason would continue to resist past 1918, the war would end roughly on the same footing for both sides.
 

Orionblamblam

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You've just pissed off the entire population of the United States.

Not that it matters much by mid-1918, frankly.

The US was in the war, but the US wasn't *pissed* *off.* Compare American interest in the war against the Kaiser to American interest in wiping out the Japanese Empire.


Nah. Neither France nor Britain are willing to commit into the war till the Berlin, and US simply could not do it without them.

Don't be so sure. An attack on the Holy City of Manhattan would *really* anger Americans, and a yawner of an armistice could well not be sufficient. Especially if important people died in the raids. Unconditional surrender could well be the only acceptable resolution to the American public or to the Wilson regime. It's possible that the raids could take out members of, say, Teddy Roosevelts family. And if that happened, you'd have an exceptionally popular former President *raging* for revenge; Wilson would likely be swayed towards unconditional surrender just to hold off Teddy from storming back into the White House.
 

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So... maybe things end up better? Probably no Nazis, and with a good western foothold in central Europe to stand up against the commies, perhaps the USSR never really happens. No USSR, then China never falls to Mao.

Utter fantasy. If anything a 'pissed off America' would probably have added to the creation of the NAZIs when you look at the reasons that led to them and allowed them to grow.

As for the tiresome anti-Commie BS, go read up on the history of the actual Allied intervention in Russia in the 1919 - 1920+ timeframe and how that ended up.
 

Dilandu

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Utter fantasy. If anything a 'pissed off America' would probably have added to the creation of the NAZIs when you look at the reasons that led to them and allowed them to grow.

As for the tiresome anti-Commie BS, go read up on the history of the actual Allied intervention in Russia in the 1919 - 1920+ timeframe and how that ended up.
Agreed completely.
 

Dilandu

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An attack on the Holy City of Manhattan would *really* anger Americans, and a yawner of an armistice could well not be sufficient.

And what exactly the "angry Americans" would do, if France closed its ports for American troops and supplies? Europe get tired of war. Europe wanted it to be ended as fast as possible, not drag another few years.

Not only that, you obviously did not even consider, that air raids on America would fuel the already-intense isolationist movement.

Compare American interest in the war against the Kaiser to American interest in wiping out the Japanese Empire.

There is a difference between "America was suddenly attacked without provocation", and "America was attacked long after entering the war, which many Americans did not want to enter at all". In World War I, a large percentage of American population was against the war, including most of rural areas of South and Midwest. Many national groups - German-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Ireland-Americans - were strongly against the war. The business was mostly passive, viewing that "anything is good for business".

Recall how many acts of sabotage were in America during World War I in compairson with Word War II.
 

Orionblamblam

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And what exactly the "angry Americans" would do, if France closed its ports for American troops and supplies? Europe get tired of war. Europe wanted it to be ended as fast as possible, not drag another few years.

If that was truly the case, France would have sued for peace years earlier.

Not only that, you obviously did not even consider, that air raids on America would fuel the already-intense isolationist movement.

There was a strong isolationist movement in the US in late 1941. Pearl Harbor did that in.

There is a difference between "America was suddenly attacked without provocation", and "America was attacked long after entering the war, which many Americans did not want to enter at all". In World War I, a large percentage of American population was against the war, including most of rural areas of South and Midwest.

And Germans actually killing Americans on American territory would have killed that isolationism almost instantly. Look at actual American history: foreign powers screwing with us generally doesn't lead to Americans turning away. Brits kidnapped Americans and enslaved them on Royal navy ships: War of 1812 ensues. Libyan pirates raid American ships, kidnap Americans: the US Marines show up and storm Tripoli. The South wants to secede... most of the Union doesn't want to go to war over it, until the rebs start shelling Fort Sumter. The US wanted to stay out of the Great War and it wasn't until the Germans torpedoed the Lusitania that the American populace could get dragged into it. The US wanted to stay out of the *next* war, and the Japanese thought that tearing up Pearl Harbor would cement that: see how that worked. Al Queda thought attacking Americans on American territory would get the US to bail from the Middle East: see how *that* worked out.

The traditional American response to being attacked is something akin to "Screw you, buddy," followed by lashing out. The idea that a Zeppelin attack on American civilians causing Americans to pull back is just simply laughable.
 
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Orionblamblam

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If anything a 'pissed off America' would probably have added to the creation of the NAZIs when you look at the reasons that led to them and allowed them to grow.

Nope. Unless you believe in fate or predestination, pretty much *any* change in the timeline is likely to have major effects down the line. Zeppelins raiding New York means Americans fight harder, longer, drive deeper into Germany. Chances are a certain Corporal with a funny moustache might end up catching a .45 ACP round to the noggin. A dashing and popular German fighter ace ends in a flaming wreck, not getting fat and drug addicted. A certain chicken farmer ends up driving taxis, making good money hauling American occupation force officers to the bars and bases.

As for the tiresome anti-Commie BS...

Being anti-Commie is never tiresome. Communism as an evil ideology is evergreen, and it exploded, literally onto the world scene as a malignant force at the end of WWI. Fascists gained power in Germany in no small part as a response to Communism; had Germany been filled not with unemployed German soldiers but employed *American* soldiers, Communism likely would have remained a distant echo.
 

Dilandu

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If that was truly the case, France would have sued for peace years earlier.

And admit that all the war was really for nothing? You seems to very poorly understood human psychology.

And Germans actually killing Americans on American territory would have killed that isolationism almost instantly.

Or actually drive it further, especially after it would become obvious that nothing could actually be done to stop the raids in short time.

Nope. Unless you believe in fate or predestination, pretty much *any* change in the timeline is likely to have major effects down the line. Zeppelins raiding New York means Americans fight harder, longer, drive deeper into Germany. Chances are a certain Corporal with a funny moustache might end up catching a .45 ACP round to the noggin. A dashing and popular German fighter ace ends in a flaming wreck, not getting fat and drug addicted. A certain chicken farmer ends up driving taxis, making good money hauling American occupation force officers to the bars and bases.
And now the cold harsh reality of politic and logistic: US could not fight harder unless Britain and France would agree to that. And they would not. They suffers much more from the war, and they would not allow Americans to destroy their closest chance for peace by making unreasonable demands against Germany. Germany would not agree to a peace that would involve the occupation of its home territory; Britain and France wanted to make peace on any therms that would allow them to claim victory.

In result, America would be forced to relent, because otherwise Britain and France would simply close their ports, and American army in Europe would wither to a horde of starving POW's in several weeks. As a result, we have much more hostile relations between basically the whole Europe and USA. Europeans would put all their efforts to hold USA out of Europe; Americans would feel themselves "cheated of rightful revenge".

And who exactly could America find to counter growing anti-American Europe (including Germany) and Japan? Yep, the only power with which America have rather cordial relations, and which is opposed to old Europe; the USSR. So all those feverish dreams -

Being anti-Commie is never tiresome. Communism as an evil ideology is evergreen, and it exploded, literally onto the world scene as a malignant force at the end of WWI. Fascists gained power in Germany in no small part as a response to Communism; had Germany been filled not with unemployed German soldiers but employed *American* soldiers, Communism likely would have remained a distant echo.

- disappeared immediately, and instead we have Soviet ambassadors being warmly welcomed in USA, flow of American credits to Soviet Russia, and Lenin claiming that "progressive, egalitarian American capitalism is our natural ally in the struggle against aristocratic, imperialistic capitalism of Europe". :)

Congratulations, you just invented the scenario in which USA and USSR would became allies from early 1920s. :)

P.S. Of course, the most likely scenario is that USA would not be irrational and agreed on armistice with Germany as in OTL.
 

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And Germans actually killing Americans on American territory would have killed that isolationism almost instantly.

Or actually drive it further, especially after it would become obvious that nothing could actually be done to stop the raids in short time.

You seem to have a very poor understanding of American psychology.

And now the cold harsh reality of politic and logistic: US could not fight harder unless Britain and France would agree to that. And they would not. They suffers much more from the war, and they would not allow Americans to destroy their closest chance for peace by making unreasonable demands against Germany. Germany would not agree to a peace that would involve the occupation of its home territory; Britain and France wanted to make peace on any therms that would allow them to claim victory.

In result, America would be forced to relent, because otherwise Britain and France would simply close their ports,

This makes no sense. Why would the Brits and the French make enemies of the US, when all they needed to do to save their own troops would be to simply stand aside and let the Americans forge ahead?
 

Dilandu

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This makes no sense. Why would the Brits and the French make enemies of the US, when all they needed to do to save their own troops would be to simply stand aside and let the Americans forge ahead?

Because they wanted the war to stop, and they perfectly understood, that Americans are incapable of "forge ahead" without their help. And if they do nothing and allow Americans to be crushed, the situation would get only worse for them also, because Germans would rejoice out of such victory, and Americans would be pulling out, blaming Europeans for doing nothing.

You seem to have a very poor understanding of American psychology.

I knew history. America in 1918 and America in 1941 are quite different nations.
 

Dilandu

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Also important point. The American public opinion would demand immediate protection from air raids. Which means, that US government would actually be forced to divert resources from Europe into building AA guns, searchlights, planes (and America at this time was NOT exactly great in either). So most likely, the American troops in Europe would be even more dependent on French equipment and supplies than in OTL. I should remind, that in OTL, Americans were forced to use French and Italian planes in 1918, because American industry was incapable of producing modern fighter or modern bomber on its own in time.
 

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Also important point. The American public opinion would demand immediate protection from air raids. Which means, that US government would actually be forced to divert resources from Europe into building AA guns, searchlights, planes (and America at this time was NOT exactly great in either). So most likely, the American troops in Europe would be even more dependent on French equipment and supplies than in OTL. I should remind, that in OTL, Americans were forced to use French and Italian planes in 1918, because American industry was incapable of producing modern fighter or modern bomber on its own in time.

While this is all true, none of it stops troop deployments. A hundred thousand ground pounders drafted from the farms of Kentucky and Indiana aren't going to be building airplanes and AA cannon. Instead, the generals are likely to throw the doughboys that much harder at Germany, aimed at the Zeppelin fields. Humans are zero-sums.
 

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This makes no sense. Why would the Brits and the French make enemies of the US, when all they needed to do to save their own troops would be to simply stand aside and let the Americans forge ahead?

Because they wanted the war to stop

And yet they didn't. Having a bunch of yokels from America take up the job of dying for them would seem to serve the purpose quite well.

And if they do nothing and allow Americans to be crushed, the situation would get only worse for them also, because Germans would rejoice out of such victory, and Americans would be pulling out, blaming Europeans for doing nothing.

By that point it's quite unlikely that the US would be "crushed," even if the French and Brits stopped fighting.

You seem to have a very poor understanding of American psychology.

I knew history. America in 1918 and America in 1941 are quite different nations.

And yet, filled with much the same Americans. You attack us, we lash out, not back down. Been that way since before the USA existed. It's in our cultural DNA, and continues even today.
 

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Most likely outcome would be America joining the rest of the Allies in wanting the Zeppelin hangars razed instead of making a deal for ZR-3 and saving the company.

Germany practically blew off the Statue of Liberty's arm in 1916 and all America did was sue them at the Hague.

Not sure why America would be more pissed than the British who actually endured Zeppelin and bomber raids.
 

Orionblamblam

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Not sure why America would be more pissed than the British who actually endured Zeppelin and bomber raids.

Getting PO'ed and personally offended is every American's God Given Right. And it's not like the Brits gave up and sued for peace when German Floaty Sausages started dropping Happy Fun Balls on British towns. Why should Americans prove more willing to roll over than Brits?
 

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And it's not like the Brits gave up and sued for peace when German Floaty Sausages started dropping Happy Fun Balls on British towns.

No, they negotiated peace terms (with the Allies, not Germany) that aligned with their national interests rather than a cultural stereotype.
 

Orionblamblam

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And it's not like the Brits gave up and sued for peace when German Floaty Sausages started dropping Happy Fun Balls on British towns.

No, they negotiated peace terms (with the Allies, not Germany) that aligned with their national interests rather than a cultural stereotype.
The first Zeppelin raid on London was in May, 1915. Those "peace terms" didn't exactly lead to the Brits promptly giving up and going home.
 

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The Armistice terms and Versailles Treaties were unilateral agreements between the Allies. Britain opposed completely crushing Germany in Versailles negotiations because it wasn't in Britain's interest despite suffering much more than America from the war. It was even less in America's interest.

I'm not saying the Americans would give up and go home, I'm saying they'd likely join the other allies in destroying Germany's zeppelin industry in the 20s rather than continuing the war - which seems kind of meaningless given the events around the Armistice.

It's also historically impossible for the Americans to ignore the Armistice and fight on alone.
 
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Orionblamblam

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I'm not saying the Americans would give up and go home, I'm saying they'd likely join the other allies in destroying Germany's zeppelin industry in the 20s rather than continuing the war - which seems kind of meaningless given the events around the Armistice.

It's also historically impossible for the Americans to ignore the Armistice and fight on alone.
What I'm saying is that if the Germans were stupid enough to bomb the US, the US would have pushed harder. The soliders woudl ahve fought harder, the folks back home would have worked harder and produced more, more men would have signed up, more politicians would have demanded the actual defeat of Germany. There would not have *been* an Armistice, at least not as there was IRL, because the US, with or without its allies, would have pushed forward harder. There's absolutely no reason why Britain and France would have wanted to slow the US in that regard; actually defeating Germany would have been more in line with their interests than a punitive armistice.
 

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There would not have *been* an Armistice, at least not as there was IRL, because the US, with or without its allies, would have pushed forward harder. There's absolutely no reason why Britain and France would have wanted to slow the US in that regard; actually defeating Germany would have been more in line with their interests than a punitive armistice.

Why did Ferdinand Foch of all people ignore Pershing's recommendation of an unconditional surrender when he was unilaterally dictating armistice terms to the Germans, who were absolutely helpless at this point?

The US would have to push a hell of a lot harder considering the month or two between any possible Zeppelin raid and the complete and utter collapse of Imperial Germany and its military.
 

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The US would have to push a hell of a lot harder considering the month or two between any possible Zeppelin raid and the complete and utter collapse of Imperial Germany and its military.

That would actually seem to bolster my case. American rage would kick in just as the Germans are collapsing. Let Ferdinand propose his Foching weak-sauce terms... Pershing's going to *Berlin.*
 

Orionblamblam

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That would actually seem to bolster my case. American rage would kick in just as the Germans are collapsing. Let Ferdinand propose his Foching weak-sauce terms... Pershing's going to *Berlin.*
Sigh. Logistic.

You keep saying that. And you keep not explaining how it would somehow have been impossible for America to do. It's not like marching across a few hundred miles of Europe is some novel, never-been-accomplished feat. Hell, the French managed to logistic their way to Moscow a century earlier.
 

Dilandu

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You keep saying that. And you keep not explaining how it would somehow have been impossible for America to do.

To put it simply - because American army in Europe depend heavily on supplies that British and French produce and haul for them. Without such support, American army would completely lose combat ability in a few weeks. And since German resistance would grew harder as soon as Entente troops enter Germany - because now Germans would be fighting for their homes - the American army, without support from other Entente (who have no reason to support American petty personal war over "those wussy Americans got a few air raids and get scared to hysteria") would march right into German POW camps.

Logistic is what rule the warfare, my dear Orionblamblam. Army is marching on the stomaches (c). You get so accustomed with the idea of US having the best logistic, that you automatically assume it was always the same. And it is simply not so. US production and supply were simply not ready to the WW1 - because they never actually assumed that they need to be ready. War in continental Eurooe wasn't exactly in US pre-WW1 planning. So for WW1, the US army was completely dependent on Entente to provide and supply it.
 

Dilandu

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Hell, the French managed to logistic their way to Moscow a century earlier.
Funny that you use this analogue, because the main reason why Napoleon Grand Army was annihilated in Russia is exactly logistic. Their supply chain get overstretched near Smolensk, and completely collapsed by Borodino. In fact, it was never ever supposed to hold that far, because Napoleon never prepared for prolonged war with Russia: out of his previous experience, he assumed that Russian army would be advancing in Warsaw Princedom, trying to gain initiative. The decision of de Tolli to reatreat instead, fighting the war of attrition, forced Napoleon to change his plans on the run, and his logistic predictably collapsed under stress.
 

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To put it simply - because American army in Europe depend heavily on supplies that British and French produce and haul for them.

Yes, and? There's no reason why the French and Brits would stop. They, like everyone else, love to get *paid.* Getting paid to haul Americans and their stuff means money will little to no risk.

You get so accustomed with the idea of US having the best logistic, that you automatically assume it was always the same.

You keep making incorrect assumptions. Nobody here, least of all myself, assumed that the US was King Of Logistics in 1918.
 

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Funny that you use this analogue, because the main reason why Napoleon Grand Army was annihilated in Russia is exactly logistic.

Then I guess it's a good thing that the logistic path from Napoleonic France to Moscow is a whole different story than that of Belgium to Berlin. An exhausted army marching thousands of KM across largely unimproved terrain to fight with old equipment, compared to a relatively fresh - and constantly reprovisioned and reinforced - army that only has to go a few hundred KM (if even that) to fight an exhausted and disillusioned army. 350 miles in 1918 is rather different than 1500 miles in 1812. And yet... the French managed to at least *get* *there,* without the benefit of Henry Ford, John Moses Browning and John Thompson.
 

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(who have no reason to support American petty personal war over "those wussy Americans got a few air raids and get scared to hysteria")

This seems worthy of comment all by its lonesome. You think that in the event that Country A drops bombs on Country B, that Country B is "scared" and "hysterical" if they ramp up a war effort against Country A?
 

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Yes, and? There's no reason why the French and Brits would stop. They, like everyone else, love to get *paid.* Getting paid to haul Americans and their stuff means money will little to no risk.

They would stop, because otherwise they would suffer revolutions. Their soldiers and population are on the brink already. They are willing to fight the war, but only until it ends, and with Germany willing to surrender they would demand to agree to it immediately.


Getting paid to haul Americans and their stuff means money will little to no risk.
Actually no. Germany would view them as still fighting, its not likely that Germany would agree to fight only Americans. Most importantly, American trooos could not took over the whoke Western front; there isnt enough of that. So either American would advance with their flanks open to any counterattack, or British and French need to advance too.

Simple straregy, you know.
You keep making incorrect assumptions. Nobody here, least of all myself, assumed that the US was King Of Logistics in 1918.

Strange, because all your posts just ignore the US transport and supply problems alltogether.


Then I guess it's a good thing that the logistic path from Napoleonic France to Moscow is a whole different story than that of Belgium to Berlin

Yeah, Napoleon was not forced to dealt with his logistic chain being controlled by SOMEONE ELSE. His grip on Germany and Austria was tight enough.


This seems worthy of comment all by its lonesome. You think that in the event that Country A drops bombs on Country B, that Country B is "scared" and "hysterical" if they ramp up a war effort against Country A?
Well, as you describe it - yes, because country B declared war to country A over non-vital reasons (Willson justifications were rather dubious), and country A should knew that declaring the war they become the legitimate targets for country B actions. For 1918 Europeans, who grew accustomed to air raids, it would be just laughable.
 

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had Germany been filled not with unemployed German soldiers but employed *American* soldiers, Communism likely would have remained a distant echo.

A strategy that would have worked so well that America successfully used it in Iraq against Al-Qaeda under very similar circumstances. :eek:

Anyway to address the topic, as forum poster drejr mentioned, the Kaiser quite literally bombed New York City with dynamite and caused about half a billion dollars of property damage (in today's money) and dozens of injuries to dockyard workers. A not insignificant sum really, even today, as it would place the Black Tom bombing well in the running for top 10 of US tornado damages over the past 50 years.

Whether that would lead to the zeppelin industry collapsing (it wasn't popular because airships are kind of awful) and the Zeppelin company becoming a novelty cookware collectors' footnote or not is a far more interesting take than the tired and lame technothriller history though.
 
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Orionblamblam

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Yes, and? There's no reason why the French and Brits would stop. They, like everyone else, love to get *paid.* Getting paid to haul Americans and their stuff means money will little to no risk.

They would stop, because otherwise they would suffer revolutions. Their soldiers and population are on the brink already. They are willing to fight the war, but only until it ends, and with Germany willing to surrender they would demand to agree to it immediately.


Uh huh. The populations of France and Britain are told that they can stop fighting now, that they will get paid a lot of money, and that the Germans will get bitch-slapped by the Americans. And for this the French and Brits will rebel?

Sure, whatever.

Now that the discussion has slipped wholly into the realm of political fantasy, I'm out.
 

Kat Tsun

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Revolutions are somewhat silly.

I'd think the French and British would just refuse to work for America because they could find much easier, safer work getting things to help the Entente rebuild.

Most people aren't motivated by money alone. They're capable of taking in context, and if the context is "some backwards country of yee haw cowboys and tool makers decide to wage war on an industrial European country alone" then they aren't really going to be motivated by money no matter what. They're French and British citizens first, and America is an uppity newcomer who thinks just because it beat the sick man of Europe (Spain) it is now the British Empire. Let it get licked by in its own little Kaiserschlact, there are more important things to focus on.
 

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