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Thread: What if battleships, fictional

  1. #1
    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    What if battleships, fictional

    I beleive we all love battleships here, I know I do... The subject of modern battleships has been covered many times. But what if history had worked out differently? What if WWII had started several years later and the planned (and even unplanned battleships) had been built? I wrote a story to illustrate some fictional battleships I have imagined. I have decided to share it, I hope it generates discussion and ideas. Please remember this is fiction, historical accuracy is not an issue, since it never happened... I do beleive that the demise of the battleship has been over simplified by many authors, IMO battleships were cut out because navies decided to live without them becuase they had other solutions to the problems batleships were built to address. Here is my story, I would welcome any comments or insights, I hope this does't generate a bunch of flame posts about how this never would have happened -- it didn't happen, I understand this.

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    Contributor StevoJH's Avatar
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    Err, where did these countries build these ships? How did they crew them? (especially the UK and Germany).

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    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    The number of ships is similar to the number these countries built in WWI, Germany had 11 ships yards and Britain had 15, Britain had the commonwealth to draw from and Germany mobilized like she did in WWI

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    Defense Professional Dreadnought's Avatar
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    Interesting, I have yet to read the full article, trying to back away from what is known before I read it so as to understand it better.
    Fortitude.....The strength to persist...The courage to endure.

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    Military Professional dundonrl's Avatar
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    hmmm, that's a good read.. and I could easily see that happening, if Germany had been a little more patient and not attacking Poland as early as they did in 1939, and the carriers being sunk at Pearl instead of the battleships..

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    Contributor StevoJH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by USSWisconsin View Post
    The number of ships is similar to the number these countries built in WWI, Germany had 11 ships yards and Britain had 15, Britain had the commonwealth to draw from and Germany mobilized like she did in WWI
    Fairly sure the UK was the only Commonwealth country at the time capable of building ships that large. The problem with building them is that in those timeframes they had lots of slips filled with carriers. KGV class battleships and the illustrious class, followed by the implacables and audacious class. From memory CVL's came off cruiser slips.

    However obstacles with building large battleships fleets in WW2 is that from memory the UK reduced its Armour production capability during the Washington Treaty years, which meant that in WW2 armour production had to be split between Tanks (something like 30,000+ built), cruisers, carriers and battleships.

    This still leaves the issue of manning. Several of the older battleships were placed into reserve as is, in order to free up manpower to man the newer cruisers and especially escort carriers coming out of both commonwealth and US shipyards.

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    In the early war years I dont find it that hard to imagine battleships remaining at the top of the food chain.

    A reasonable scenario being that the head sheds could see the danger of aircraft and just add light carriers full of fighters to provide CAP for the battlefleet. The fighters would defend against airborne threats but the battleships would still be the ones to close and sink other ships.

    Late war battleships, epecially the US BB, had an incredible AA array and made it very hard for attacking aircraft to get hits. People cite the demise of the Yamato as the a perfect example of aircraft being the superior attacking method. But no ship in the Yamato's position could survive what was thrown at her. Not even a essex carrier with seasoned veteran crews could defeat a 300 aircraft assault.

    But, just for augument sake, you put the 4 Iowas in the place of Yamato and I think you would see a very different outcome. There concentrated AA would do a hell of a lot of damage to the airborne attackers, maybe not downing them but more importantly putting them off their aim.

    Even Yamato put up a good fight but the lack of AA crew protection form the airborne 50cals saw them become ineffactive. IIRC Yamato suffered around 30 or so hits from bombs and torps out of 2 waves of around 300 aircraft.

    So to some it up I think that a battleline with extensive 1945 type AA arrays with relativily inexpensive light carriers loaded with fighters would be a very effective force. Basically naval thinkers seeing the threat of aircraft but not embracing them as the primary offensive force. Choosing a method that would negate their effect.

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    I think submarines and aircraftt would, sooner or latter, doom the BBs. Even if they didn't sink them, a torpedo making a hole woud send a BB home for repairs.

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    The British were so short of armor before WWII that they had to import some from (I think) Czechoslovakia.

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    Military Professional Prof's Avatar
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    USSWisconsin:

    Wow. I enjoyed the narrative. Particularly the enshrinement of Hitler's teeth , the detailed description of crew's berthing & the brig. I don't know how plausible any of it was, but it sho'nuff sounded cool.

    I also like the occasion of the second battle of Jutland near my birthday. Nice alternative History, dude.

    Prof

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    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    Thank you for the discussion

    I appreciate the time you all took to look at the story, Thank you

    I agree with most of the analysis, I believe this is the most knowledgeable group of battleship enthusiasts around and the insights you have given me many ideas to improve this story, which came about after years of study of how it really happened. I have been working on a historical battleship book for several years (which is about half way done) and do understand how it really happened. I value the insights and discussions here -- I have learned a lot. I am especially pleased to learn from people who have first hand experience with these great ships. Since I love battleships, I am somewhat disappointed that they faded from the naval lists as they did. Since I have enjoyed designing "what if" battleships for years, I decided that a story like this could give them a fictional context and purpose in the most likely time frame for this thought experiment (WWII). I modeled the fleets on the extension of ship building capacities in WWI, using WWII technology, and carried it into the cold war with the last true battleship being laid down about a decade later than it really was (note the story has only a few battleships built after the fictional WWII period).

    The armor industry and big gun production facilities would have required required considerable reconstruction after the treaties to achieve Ship building would also have needed to expand substantially, which I believe is plausible given the fictional later start of WWII, and WWI like production, since they had been decimated by the treaties' "builder's holiday". It is true that tanks and other ships required all the armor they could build in WWII, in my story tanks received less emphasis and production than they did in history (I am a tank enthusiast too and understand that both the USSR and US each built over 30,000 tanks), still the armor and gun industry would have needed to be larger than it actually was. Manning the ships would not have been such a problem IMO, since they did man this number of battleships in WWI and the populations of the battleship building nations, and their commonwealths and possessions had increased (the counties under control of the builder nations did not need to build ships, just supply men). Since they built new battleships in this story, old battleships like the R-class could be relegated to training. I did stipulate that carriers played a smaller role in this fiction. But ultimately battleships fade out even in my story, since I agree that smaller surface combatants, guided missiles, submarines and carriers were the clear path forward.:(

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    Regular petsan's Avatar
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    I greatly enjoyed yousr short story
    no suggestions no critiques

    just some entertaining reading on what could have been

    PS theres another website ... shipbucket or something like that
    you can try to build a sketch of the Oregon that would be awesome

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    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    a new expanded version

    As a break from my historical battleship book effort I went back and added to the story. This version is a little rough, but I took some of your suggestions and added to it. Please let me know if you have any more ideas for me, I haven't had a chance to add the pictures yet, but I have a few for the next version. Note the commisioning dates on historical WWII ships were changed to work with the story.

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    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    illustrations

    here are some sketches of the ships

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    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    a few more illustrations

    I've been scanning some of my art and thought I would share

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