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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-17 10:42pm
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France simply doesn’t present a very serious naval threat to Germany, precisely because the German North Sea coastline is so short, and so defensible with its combination of barrier islands backed up by winding estuaries and huge areas of shallow water that are impassable to large armored warships. I mean, I love the fact that because of the constantly shifting sandbars in the approach channel the big expensive new fleet base at Wilhelmshaven could only sortie its heavy ships at high tide!

France had complete naval superiority in 1870 and while it was not used that aggressively, all it really did or could do was force Germany to keep two corps of Landwehr along the coast as a counter to invasion. That was a serious ground force to keep on guard duty, but an affordable one. By the 1900s much more effective defenses are possible, because guns can shoot so much further, 1870 stuff was still only effective out to a few thousand meters, and naval mines are now effective in deeper water. So the French fleet matters even less then it did before, and invasion risks are lower without requiring as large of a ground troop complement.

In real life Germany actually ended up dismantling many of its heavy coastal guns on the North Sea and shifting them to the Flanders in 1916-17. So many mines being laid, plus U-boats had made them redundant. Not a single heavy gun in the Flanders was ever knocked out by several years of naval bombardments and bombing from the air. Modern forts with heavy guns are just about impossible to counter with warships from the sea without comically overwhelming numbers. Like I was saying above, Germany already had some of the heaviest coastal defenses ever at the start of WW1, and they can be strengthened at modest cost. The French can’t get into the Baltic because the approaches past Denmark are just too narrow and the western Baltic sea is too narrow for such an operation to be tactically feasible. Mines and torpedo boats, and the difficulty of resupplying the ships with coal (can’t coal without anchoring…) rule it out. That’s not counting submarines at all.

The biggest naval threat from France is that they might convince Denmark to support an invasion, and thus land unopposed on Danish soil, using the fleet purely as a screening rather then an assault force. Denmark could field a decent sized army for its size to back up such an invasion; but that all depends on France being able to spare men from main land war. Such negotiations failed in 1870 and failed in WW1. Germany took care of the problem in 1940 by invading first. In WW1 Germany did build a heavy fortified line to block an attack from Denmark should the nation become involved, including over 800 concrete bunkers and positions for pairs of armored 24cm turrets removed from my beloved Siegfried class coastal defense ships. Lots of Russian POW labor was used in rather poor conditions, just as it was used t o build the Hindenburg Line. Building such a line in peacetime is affordable with the money we are talking about saving, though I think it’s unlikely to happen without hindsight. If it was done, the narrowest point to defend is only about 33km wide. I forget the length of the WW1 line, IIRC it was not at the narrowest point but close to the boarder, however very little information exists on it, apparently even in the German language details are kind of sketchy according to folks on some forums I visit, because it ended up in Denmark postwar and almost everything was quickly demolished or buried.

Now Russia, they present a threat to the iron ore, and they also can attack the much longer German Baltic coastline. Also a German fleet in the Baltic is more relevant with regard to supporting German operations on land; such as the historical invasion of the islands around the Gulf of Riga, landings in Finland after the revolution, and the fact that St. Petersburg, while possessing its own massive coastal defenses, is potentially wide open to an attack from the sea. So Russia is the logical enemy to counter. France, well it’d be nice to defeat the French fleet at sea and prevent a blockade, but its hardly nessecary to win a war. Also even if Germany defeated a French battle fleet and avoided a direct blockade, France would still have a huge world wide network of bases and cruisers to attack German commerce. So why even bother caring.

Actually one idea I’ve seen proposed before is for Germany to build zero dreadnoughts, but build its historical battlecruiser force. That way they’d have enough, if not overwhelming firepower against Russia, and the perfect assets counter French armored cruisers attacking German shipping. The problem is the British would hate this, as the battlecruisers would also be a threat to British trade, and without Germany building multiple overseas bases with major garrisons and heavy fortifications like Tsingtao (another huge cost I now remember we can also delete from German spending) it would simply be very hard to sustain battlecruiser operations outside of the North Sea. So, no point in trying that I see. Battlecruisers also simply cost more. Just besiege Paris again and the French are shit out of luck again. The naval war won’t matter.

If Russian and Germany are allied, then its well within reason to scale the German fleet back to a few light cruisers, a few coastal defense ships and a couple of armored cruisers that have 1 x Imperial German flag as primary armament, and a primary war role of occupying dock space. Maybe a little French commerce consumption on the side, when the dock gets boring.



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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-17 11:06pm
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Would there have been any point in building more submarines than surface ships in case the war still became Britain/France/Russia vs Germany?

I ask because I am under the impression that for all of the successes of the 1917 campaign, the introduction of convoy and the limited range of the U-boat fleet would simply put a stop to most of its depradations regardless of the number of boats in the water.

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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-18 12:25am
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Sure, more submarines would be great in any scenario, even purely Baltic fighting. But this is hindsight. All of this is hindsight of course, but the basic concept of a small German fleet has historical basis as Germany had plenty of people like Bismarck who understood that Germany was a land power, not a naval one, and that geography would always be against it in a naval war with anyone but Russia.

In real life the Kaiserliche Marine simply didn’t have much of any faith in U-boats at first. They saw them as purely coastal defense assets, and untrustworthy ones at that. When the war started the U-boats actually would be escorted out to stationary positions each day, observed diving by a cruiser, and then called home like children each night. That lasted a few weeks until it became apparent that the British would not conduct a close blockade, and so the U-boats were allowed to patrol a further out and do so independently to avoid being pointless. That’s how U-21 sank Pathfinder, and then soon after U-9 was allowed to come across three British cruisers on the Broad Fourteens and change history. But then, the detractors of the U-boats also did gain some vindication, IIRC 25% of the German submarine force was sunk in the first couple months of the war despite a total lack of ASW weapons or sensors.

Actually in 1914, the British had much more faith in submarines then the Germans did, and had far more of them. This was because while they had the same general idea, a submarine is a coastal defense weapon, the British had adapted a police of not building heavy coastal guns. They felt they had too many sites to defend, and had been burned badly with very expensive armored forts in the 1860s which quickly turned obsolete. So they built no modern batteries over 9.2 inch until the fortification of Singapore in the 1930s except IIRC two twin 12in turrets removed from a battleship were installed on land in Scottland for a limited time in WW1. That was in response to the German battlecruiser raids.

Anyway, a submarine meanwhile, well it might become obsolete as a gun or fort could, but any torpedo could still mess up the newest battleship so it seemed like a sound idea to employ submarines as the primary coastal defense anti battleship weapon, instead of lots of heavy cannon. As a result in Aug 1914 the Royal Navy had 77 submarines, France which had similar ideas (though France did build fairly heavy gun batteries too) had 45 and no less then 25 under construction, the most in the world, while Germany had only 29 boats and only a handful under construction. Even by 1915 and the start of the first unrestricted campaign it only had 35 operational subs. In all cases a fair portion of submarines were too old and small to be useful for more then training, I think the figure of really useful German boats in 1914 was around 20.

So, more submarines would be nice, more submarines are certainly possible, but we are in total speculation land as to if the Germans would actually build more or not. On the one hand a smaller battlefleet gives the submarine more purpose, on the other hand more limited funding might make German officers even more reluctant to spend money on an exotic new weapon that is effectively untested in combat. The first time a modern submarine did anything war was the 1911 Balkans war when Greek submarines made a few patrols, but never fired on the Ottoman enemy.



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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-18 03:24am
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Regarding the Denmark line in WW1 - I think this work was actually started as soon as the Second Schleswig War had ended. The reason for that was that Bismarck needed a somewhat secure northern frontier for his war against Austria and France. The forts and fortified cities over there were mainly improvements of existing danish forts.



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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-18 04:07am
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Some serious forts rings were built in northern Germany after 1871 as part of a general program of fortification against a French war of revenge that was funded directly out of French war reparations, I couldn’t comment on what was done from 1864-1870 but anything that early would have been considered obsolete after 1871. Upgrades would be possible but require some pretty extensive changes.

But all of these forts in turn became obsolete in the mid 1880s when high explosives and smokeless propellant were introduced, the ‘torpedo shell crisis’ of fortification. Such forts could be upgraded by ripping off the earth cover, adding a layer of concrete on top of all the masonry, and installing armored turrets or flanking casemates in place of open gun batteries but this approach had limitations as the forts were still too close to the defended cities to protect them from bombardment. Most of the forts at say, Verdun were upgraded post 1870s works of this pattern and proved immensely resistant to bombardment, ironically more resistant then the low quality but solid concrete forts of Belgium.

Germany however only chose to upgrade forts at Metz, Strasbourg and Cologne in the west in this manner. It also added new forts at Metz and Strasbourg which were much further from the city centers, effectively creating second lines of defense and of a new dispersed pattern that abandon traditional fort concepts of works fully enclosed by ditches and walls. France was also heading that way by 1900, but less directly. Cologne had its forts modernized so as to ensure Germany had at least one secure bridgehead on the Rhine… just in case France somehow took everything up to the Rhine, but it did not have any new forts that I am aware of. Also several of the new pattern dispersed feste type forts were built at Thionville north of Metz which had not previously been fortified. That’s it for real life modern stuff in the west in 1914. I know Posen had some upgraded forts in the east, and I believe Kongsberg did as well but my information is lacking. Everything in north Germany was completely obsolete, forts had only been modernized for the purpose of mounting newer patterns of coastal artillery; and even then most of the modern guns went in new batteries. Some very old guns, 1873 pattern, survived in service through WW1 because they were still credible at short ranges against an enemy attempting to run past the defenses. Some guns just as old of those did okay during the Dardanelles campaign.

Some of those North German forts might be upgraded, but the shortest fortified distance would be had from just building a completely new line from coast to coast as was done in WW1. The flanks would be secured against landings behind the line by coastal batteries, and other investments like naval mine depots and mine planters.

As another random fact, I've seen some great stuff from allied publications in WW1 which suggest Germany had at least English language authors thoroughly convinced that Germany had 17in coastal guns deployed in some numbers. It was rather common to successfully lie about fortifications, especially prior to WW1. Sweden had everyone convinced they had Boden fortified with a dozen forts with 21cm howitzers for something like twenty years. In truth it was just four forts each with some 15cm guns through hacked into solid granite.



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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-18 04:14am
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Sea Skimmer wrote:
As another random fact, I've seen some great stuff from allied publications in WW1 which suggest Germany had at least English language authors thoroughly convinced that Germany had 17in coastal guns deployed in some numbers. It was rather common to successfully lie about fortifications, especially prior to WW1. Sweden had everyone convinced they had Boden fortified with a dozen forts with 21cm howitzers for something like twenty years. In truth it was just four forts each with some 15cm guns through hacked into solid granite.



This is a trend I noticed as well when I did a bit of research on the Naval crisis and the Dreadnought shock. English authors of the period regularly seem to overestimate German capabilities in everything from shipbuilding to gun caliber. I've even seen some authors (though they were more on the fearmongering side) insist that Germany's ships were progressively larger and more powerful than their British counterparts.

My guess is that it has a lot to do with the language barrier and the secrecy involved, though I wonder how large that could have been when even regional newspapers wrote in great detail about early German ships.


*******************
As a side note, a few questions about ships that have bugged me. The Bismarck design is said to be an "upgraded Baden" but it seems to me as if she is more based on the Mackensen and Ersatz Yorck class instead of the Baden.

Also, what was the potentially better design? Hood or L20alpha?



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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-18 04:55am
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Lots of those people had an agenda, convincing the government they live under to spend more on armaments. Lies were a means to an end. People got a lot more specific about public debates on military spending back then then they do today, mainly I think because the weapons were simpler. Anyone can count inches of armor, tons of warship ect... while today the vital details are much less obvious and more complicated. So debate tends to center more on raw costs, and not specifics of any one system or even what the 'costs' actually mean or pay for.

The 17in thing is an open question, it may have been disinformation, it may have just been the result of people rounding up 42cm at some point or totally invented. The British were pretty successful about plain disinformation at times too, they had the world convinced a 20 inch gun battlecruiser was coming for about two years in the war. Reports also circulated that the next generation of German battleship would have 17 inch guns around 1915; and more implausibly it was said that existing ships would be upgraded to take these guns by riveting on a complete second hull skin to make the ships fatter and able to support the additional weight. I have a drawing somewhere from a US paper showing how that was supposed to work… which it would… for the price of a whole new ship. That bit you can throw under the dumb writer category.

But anyway in the days before aerial reconnaissance was so prolific though, as well as decent portable cameras, it’s really not that hard to conceal static artillery pieces if you had the will. They are almost always deeply indoors at the factory, the proving grounds are isolated, the coastal forts are isolated, any time you transport them you simply wrap the barrel in a large amount of cloth or other material so nobody can be sure what it is. The 42cm Gamma howitzers and Paris gun show what can be done, neither was known to the allies until it fired its first shot in combat. Many German of the modern coastal batteries were located on offshore islands and completely surrounded by sand dunes in such a manner that even a boat cruising right offshore wouldn’t be able to see them in positon.

17 inch really wasn’t that big a stretch so people believed it, Krupp had been making successive models of 40cm guns for fortresses and warships since the 1860s (1867 worlds fair was the first one I think) even though Germany itself never bought any, why doubt reports that he’s gone 2.5cm bigger and finally won over his own government? It’s actually totally possible that Krupp DID build such a weapon too… unlikely but possible. Its also worth considering that, given that L20a was to be laid down in late 1918, Krupp must have either begun work on a prototype gun by that point, or actually finished one, if the ship was really to be built. Making a new naval gun took just as long as building a battleship, longer sometimes. So did such a gun ever exist, perhaps even well before 1918? Nobody seems to known for certain. I dunno how many Krupp archives exist today, but it is known they destroyed many of them at the end of WW1, and others were lost in WW2 air raids. We also know the Krupp staff buried several guns on the proving grounds at the end of WW1 and got away with it. This is how one of the original fixed, rather then wheeled mount 42cm siege howitzers survived the war and was able to be used in combat in WW2. It never saw action in WW1!

Gunmakers often made prototypes about which little or nothing is now known, and the job of destroying all information and committing all key personal to secrecy on the Paris gun is amazing. Hardly more then a dozen photographs have survived of the thing, and no drawings or technical details of a serious nature. All the known and supposed designers died without leaving notes even well after the war ended. Japan had that 48cm gun that never left the proving ground in the 1920s for example, and Nazi Germany had Krupp build a 53cm gun which never left the proving ground either. Nothing was known about these weapons until the respective nations were overrun in WW2. So secret guns are totally possible. Deploying more then a few in secret is less likely.

Quote:
As a side note, a few questions about ships that have bugged me. The Bismarck design is said to be an "upgraded Baden" but it seems to me as if she is more based on the Mackensen and Ersatz Yorck class instead of the Baden.


She is indeed closer to Ersatz Yorck in specifications then any other ship, though with far more deck armor. Certainly Bismarck is more like battlecruiser and less a battleship. Her vertical armor is very much like WW1 battlecruiser in thickness, and rather painfully thin on some surfaces like the barbettes but she's not really directly based off any ship. She is merely was a fairly direct continuation of WW1 design practices shown in all of those ships. I think Baden is mentioned so much simply because she and her specifications are better known and documented in books like Janes then the incomplete battlecruisers and its just become established that way.

Germany also had piles of studies from WW1 and the L20 series which the designs ought to have access too. The British tried to destroy all such records, but didn't get them all. BUt Germany simply did not have design teams in the 1920s for capital ships, so when new ones were formed in the 1930s they had to work off old stuff. The evolution of Scharnhorst from the pocket battleships is pretty well established, as pocket battleship plans with three turrets already existed (with no 15cm guns, and much less range, purely coastal defense ships) but Bismarck couldn't evolve out of that. The only thing the designers had to look back on was 1918 stuff.
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Also, what was the potentially better design? Hood or L20alpha?


Hood is a battlecruiser, L20a is a speedy battleship matching the speeds of the first battlecruisers and the Queen Elizabeth class, but not comparable to the latest battlecruisers. L20a has much more firepower and much thicker armor, clearly a far superior ship for a stand up gunfight. But speed was very expensive in WW1 due to limited boiler technology, and if you wanted it you had to pay. If you want a battlecruiser, the revised Hood was a pretty damn good ship for WW1. Certainly far better protected then anything else in the Royal Navy. I forget how she stacks up with an a Ersatz Yorck armor wise but the latter ship would be several years newer anyway.

A huge number of studies were done for L20a, most of them highly similar, and some for a post Ersatz Yorck battlecruiser as well, some of the latter are pretty damn similar to Hood and IIRC some L20a studies were 30 knots with less armor. Germany also heavily studied clones of the Glorious and Courageous class, though with less insane lack of armor.



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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-18 05:18am
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As a side note, how would the Anglo-American relations would evolve without a major German fleet expansion? Since without that the greatest challenge for the British naval dominance comes from the other side of the Atlantic and by that time the US made steps to move beyond the Monroe doctrine and establish itself as a global power. Would the Great Rapprochement happen or the relations remain cool (or even worsen)?

Sure Germany was in the proximity and represented the greatest threat for the balance on the Continent (the main issue of English foreign politics since the time of Elisabeth I) but at least in the naval domain (another main issue) they are less of a threat.

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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-18 05:25am
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Hard to say. If the Germans also gave up commerce warfare along with a powerful battlefleet, America would certainly be much less sympathetic to Britain if the latter maintained a blockade against Germany.

But if the HSF was never built while German commerce warfare continued, it probably wouldn't change America's stance very much. The German surface fleet was too far away to really threaten America for it to become a major issue; but the loss of American lives and merchant ships was a big deal.

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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-18 05:59am
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Zinegata wrote:
Hard to say. If the Germans also gave up commerce warfare along with a powerful battlefleet, America would certainly be much less sympathetic to Britain if the latter maintained a blockade against Germany.

But if the HSF was never built while German commerce warfare continued, it probably wouldn't change America's stance very much. The German surface fleet was too far away to really threaten America for it to become a major issue; but the loss of American lives and merchant ships was a big deal.


I interested in the British stance towards America in the 1895-1914 period. How would a less powerful German Navy change that. The US laid down 39 battleships in this time period, would the British think that as a threat to their naval power? Or would the threat of Germany's continental dominance override everything?

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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-18 12:31pm
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Sea Skimmer wrote:
On paper the Gangut class is basically superior to any German dreadnought before Baden in a decent ranged battle. The belt armor was a bit thin, but Jutland suggests this wouldn’t actually have much mattered and said armor belt was very extensive. Meanwhile a dozen 12in guns on the broadside simply outmatches all the German 11in and 12in ships, all the more so because the Russian 12 inch gun was exceptionally powerful for its caliber.


Makes sense actually. The Russian Navy may have gotten thrashed when they fought Japan but at least they *had* combat experience. Lessons gleaned from the Russo-Japanese War probably permeated the design of future ships in the Czar's Navy. So what were the practical problems with the Russian Navy?

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They’d be somewhat different. If Germany built dreadnoughts purely in response to Russia starting to build dreadnoughts, the most extreme option I think plausible (no dreadnoughts… not bloody likely when even Spain got a couple), then I think we’d see a ship sort of like König but less refined and not so well protected as a result. We would not see Helgoland; Helgoland was built at a time when Russia had just had most of its fleet sunk by Japan. I calculated my numbers above on the basis of the Helgoland and Kaiser classes being constructed to ensure complete German Baltic superiority, and an ability to comfortably confront France if France were faced alone and avoid a close French blockade of Germany as occurred in 1870.


Yeah I notice that, whenever an interruption occurs in the warship design process, a serious lapse in quality can occur in future designs. The Catch-22 is, you need to keep building battleships to stay competitive, but building battleships is causing the competition. What causes this lapse though? Technology rapidly becoming obsolete? Design teams becoming unemployed and directing their talents into other careers? Lack of practical experience from designs? I recall the Germans learned the importance of a dreadnought's stability characteristics from lessons learned from the Nassau class after all.

An example of this lapse is probably in the Treaty designs of the interwar period. Despite limitations from the Treaty I recall that a lot of Navies considered their interwar designs, North Carolina, Nelson, Richelieu, to be disappointing. Was this due to the tonnage limits or the interruption in construction?



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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-18 06:37pm
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IIRC the Ganguts had the stupidly sloped and thin armor belt against them and while the Russian 12" gun was very good the German 12" was also an excelent weapon and IMPO 2-4 barrels and perhaps a marginal individual gun superiority isn't enough to tip the scales in Gangut's favor.



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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-18 11:15pm
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The slope isn't enough to make a big difference, and no armor that thick was pierced by an intact German shell at Jutland (shells did blow holes in armor up to IIRC 9in, but Gangut has a heavy splinter bulkhead precisely for this scenario), so not much reason to think it won't work. Its only a big deal if you face heavy RN guns with the post Jutland Greenboy shells, or one would assume the 15in guns on Baden. The real problem with Gangut was the ships total lack of an armored torpedo defense system due to limited size; but that doesn't matter in a direct comparison of battleship to battleship. Against a submarine or destroyer the ships face a real risk of being exploded by a single hit.

Gangut had some other detail design problems as well, but on the other hand it had some very good detail features at the same time, such as being built out of HTS rather then mild steel and having the armor belt arranged in a single strake.



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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-23 05:03pm
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I wonder: How serious a threat was the German High Seas Fleet to the RN? BEFORE World War I, was the German government seriously thinking of attacking Britain? Or was the British government simply giving in to paranoid delusions, the way many American right-wingers rant about "China planning to nuke Pearl Harbor" and bullshit like that?

(Note: A Chinese naval magazine I read, claims the High Seas Fleet came about as a response to the RN blockading Germany during the BOER WAR, to prevent Boer sympathizers from going to South Africa's aid. I find this unlikely, but lack data to conclude decisively.)



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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-23 05:15pm
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Do you know anything about European history between the Boer war and 1914?



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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-23 07:21pm
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China sure publishes some insanely stupid shit.

Anyway been very busy, cannot collect the land warfare data as I liked for the moment, but as as an interim note, Germany paid about 300 million goldmarks to modernize 5,000 7.7cm FK 96 guns into the FK n.A. in the early 1900s. This modernization was mind you, almost a completely new weapon. Only the original gun tube was retained, and even then the tube was given a new liner. The result was Germany's stupidly in adapting the world’s last non recoiling field gun one year before the French 75mm M1897 was adapted was undone. 5,000 weapons is the entire German light field gun force, German also had about 2,000 105mm howitzers by 1914. So, your looking at the ability to double the number of aviabile guns with the kind of money we are talking. Of course you would need far more equipment to make them into complete batteries, plus to man them, but that could probably come out of all the saved naval operating costs and expanded reserves. Reserve conscripts are not that expensive to keep around.



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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-24 09:34pm
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Evidence the Additional: Germany lacked the artillery ammunition stockpiles even its prewar doctrine required. Its pretty blatant to me that all that money for expensive HSF heavy caliber ammunition would be the blame behind this.

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If anyone wants the source, it'd be the US Field Artillery Journal, seen here in a different format. I copied this from a full version of that issue maybe two years ago.
http://sill-www.army.mil/famag/1923/MAR ... 30_132.pdf



"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-25 11:09pm
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Sidewinder wrote:
I wonder: How serious a threat was the German High Seas Fleet to the RN? BEFORE World War I, was the German government seriously thinking of attacking Britain? Or was the British government simply giving in to paranoid delusions, the way many American right-wingers rant about "China planning to nuke Pearl Harbor" and bullshit like that?


Neither. The Germans, even if they had wanted to, could not realistically hope to overcome the British in a naval war, either with the fleet they had or with a fleet they could build, and it would be ridiculous to attack Britain, certainly not with France howling for revanche and Russia bound by alliance to France. Except the only thing a navy of that size might be used for is to contest British supremacy. From a British perspective, it's perfectly understandable that they would be worried about the rather huge naval expansion of a nation with basically no overseas possessions and with a leader who was never exactly the most diplomatic of individuals.



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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-26 05:38am
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TC Pilot wrote:
From a British perspective, it's perfectly understandable that they would be worried about the rather huge naval expansion of a nation with basically no overseas possessions and with a leader who was never exactly the most diplomatic of individuals.


What happened went far from "worried" into the ranks of utter paranoia and xenophobia. The British establishment welcomed the appearance of a worthwhile "threat".



Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-26 08:55am
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Thanas wrote:
What happened went far from "worried" into the ranks of utter paranoia and xenophobia. The British establishment welcomed the appearance of a worthwhile "threat".


Can you elaborate on this? Do you mean they "weclomed" it in the way one might want to scaremonger to keep the masses pacified and discourage disturbing the status quo? Or as an opponent to win lots of fame and glory defeating?



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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-26 09:08am
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TC Pilot wrote:
Thanas wrote:
What happened went far from "worried" into the ranks of utter paranoia and xenophobia. The British establishment welcomed the appearance of a worthwhile "threat".


Can you elaborate on this? Do you mean they "weclomed" it in the way one might want to scaremonger to keep the masses pacified and discourage disturbing the status quo? Or as an opponent to win lots of fame and glory defeating?


At the start of the 20th century, the political establishment was essentially split between two sides - one which favored less international expenditure and was more isolationalist, while the other side saw the British Empire being under constant threat from foreign empires. The latter faction was the more powerful and saw first Russia, then Germany as a threat. Russia because they thought its expansion into china and expansionist tendencies alongside the black sea with the stated aim of conquering Constantinople presented a threat to regional British dominance and more importantly threatened India. (There is a famous cartoon depicting Russia as an evil imperialist octopus attacking the British empire with many tentacles).

This lead to a lot of militaristic policies - like trying to provoke the Russian Navy into firing at British ships when making the transit through the Channel, denying them coaling and transit through Suez and in General trying everything to ensure Russia would lose the war.

The defeat of Russia at Port Arthur pretty much removed Russia as a competitor, so that establishment then turned to Germany as the next threat.

Now, there is a rational basis for this, especially in the case of Russia. But the public and strategic discussions within the British admiralty, especially those of Fisher, soon left logic pretty much behind them. As early as 1904 Fisher argued for a "copenhagening" of the German Fleet. Of course, whenever the admiralty wanted more money rumours of German superships were circulated, outlandish claims were made (like Germany could outbuilt the British 3 to one if the British were not to purchase more ships right now, rinse and repeat in a few years) and the public was essentially whipped into a feeding frenzy where public statements (like those of Wilhelm II) were misinterpreted into the realm of insanity. When Wilhelm for example asked "Why would we be interested in attacking England?" it was famously argued that he admitted that Germany would attack England.

This in turn lead to increasing distrust from the German side and increased nationalism as well.


Tl, dr.: The Brits needed to stop being scared and the Germans needed to be less of bad public speakers.
EDIT: Aside from the obvious bad idea of building the HSF in the first place.....



Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-26 03:05pm
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So, in short, the "threat" that Germany and its High Seas Fleet posed to the UK, was non-existent UNTIL the RN decided fearmongering was useful as a means of getting more dreadnoughts.



Please do not make Americans fight giant monsters.

Those gun nuts do not understand the meaning of "overkill," and will simply use weapon after weapon of mass destruction (WMD) until the monster is dead, or until they run out of weapons.

They have more WMD than there are monsters for us to fight. (More insanity here.)

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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-26 03:37pm
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I don't think it was that simple. As the Germans started revving up their construction, they did start to present more of a problem for the RN- not an imminent threat of disaster, but a problem. It's a lot easier to feel confident about the security of your home waters when the enemy has four battleships to your twelve than when they have six, or eight. Complicating factors or bad luck may put some of your ships out of action at a critical moment, the enemy may pull a secret weapon out of their hat, and so on.

At the time, the RN leadership was absolutely committed to the idea of maintaining naval supremacy: see the "two power rule" for reference. However, with the rest of the world catching up to Britain in industrial strength, it got harder and harder for the British to stay on top, so they did need some convenient rival to point fingers at.

This doesn't mean the rival was irrelevant or a nonexistent 'fake threat,' but it does mean that any actual danger was apt to be blown out of proportion for political reasons.

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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-26 04:38pm
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Simon_Jester wrote:
It's a lot easier to feel confident about the security of your home waters when the enemy has four battleships to your twelve than when they have six, or eight. Complicating factors or bad luck may put some of your ships out of action at a critical moment, the enemy may pull a secret weapon out of their hat, and so on.


Actually, even the most optimistic German plans only called for a building of 12 BBs to 16 British ones (and that was before the British stepped up the plate). As that plan was also openly discussed in the Reichstag, there is no excuse other than fearmongering for why the Admiralty still claimed Germany was building ships in secret and secretly outbuilding them 2:1.



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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built? PostPosted: 2011-08-26 06:05pm
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12 BBs to 16 BBs is still something that would throw the Brits into a panic, since that would mean they would have to start stripping assets from overseas duty stations in order to guarentee the defense of the British Isles and that would also present a lot of exposure to the Greater Empire(tm).

Crap, if *I* were PM then and the Germans were openly discussing a 3:4 ratio of battleships, you could bet your sweet ass I would be pushing to order a lot more BBs.



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