StarDestroyer.Net BBS

Get your fill of sci-fi, science, and mockery of stupid people
Login   Register FAQ    Search

View unanswered posts | View active topics


It is currently 2014-07-25 01:36pm (All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ])

Board index » Non-Fiction » History


Quote of the Week: "History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives." - Abba Eban, Israeli statesman (1915-2002)

What If the High Seas Fleet was Never Built?

Moderators: Thanas, Stas Bush

Post new topic Post a reply  Page 1 of 3
 [ 71 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next
  Print view Previous topic | Next topic 
Author Message

Eternal_Freedom
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 11:11am 

Castellan


Joined: 2010-03-09 03:16pm
Posts: 5368
Location: Bound in a nutshell
I read in another thread a comment by Sea Skimmer to the effect that building the High Seas Fleet was a colossal strategic blunder.

So, let us suppose that the HSF was never built; that someone in the chain of command looked at it and thought "hell no, we don't need this shit" or somesuch.

Let us further suppose that all the resources used in the construction and support of the HSF were distributed evenly between the German Army and other Navy programs (U-Boats perhaps).

What would have the been the likely result, apart from Hartlepool and Scarborough NOT being shelled?
   Profile |  

Thanas
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 11:26am 

Magister


Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm
Posts: 24896
Hmmm. I am tempted to throw this to OT but will keep it around in hopes of excellent discussion.


First, there are three things to consider:

1. Wilhelm II cannot be Emperor
The building of the HSF cannot happen without the support of Wilhelm and major industrialists like Krupp. The latter will still be there, but I doubt Bismarck or whoever is in charge will throw more than a few token ships at them. This I think is the weakes point of this scenario, because without Wilhelm II the political scenario will be completely different. Russia will most likely still be allied with Germany in that scenario (or at least benevolently neutral) as a French/Russian alliance will still be happening. If Friedrich III. will keep being Emperor, there is every guarantee that Britain will be much more friendly to Germany and vice versa.

And will Germany go for colonies, necessitating a fleet?


2. Will Germany still go for a fleet and how will it look?
A reason for the building of the HSF was the threat of England not tolerating the increasingly larger merchant marine. If England still looks for a threat to justify the building of dreadnoughts (Fisher was a genius at manipulating the press against a purely fictional threat, see the Naval crisis) this may go either way.

At the very least Germany would try to build a Navy that can take on the French one. I doubt they will not build any Navy at all - the merchant marine and the powerful bloc of industrialists will guarantee one.


3. Assuming that everything stays the same, how would a WWI without a German Navy look like?
This is pretty much another speculative scenario. The easy answer would be "well, without the resources wasted there is no way the German Army can lose this war" but that is too simplistic. I'd leave it to somewhat like Sea Skimmer to speculate on this.
   Profile |  

Zinegata
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 11:31am 

Jedi Council Member


Joined: 2010-06-21 09:04am
Posts: 2259
I'm not sure if this is already hitting the realm of speculation, so I'll try to instead outline the reasons why the existence of HSF was a bad idea based on what happened historically.

The main reason the HSF was a terrible idea was political. Britain had always been totally dependent on maritime trade to survive and to maintain its Empire. Therefore, the appearance of a powerful surface navy caused serious concern in Britain which turned into a naval arms race, with the British and Germans trying to outbuild each other.

What made this idea doubly bad was the fact that Germany never really needed the navy in the first place to build its own maritime empire. Its merchant fleet was already one of the largest in the world by the time World War 1 broke out (second only to Britain I believe, I'll dig up the source if you wish). Britain wasn't even contesting German merchant shipbuilding efforts - not with the British and German economies so intrically linked. Heck, many of Britain's top bankers were Germans. The British government (due to the royal family) had far more in common with their German relatives than the staunchly Republican French.

It's therefore not an exaggeration to say that Britain's alliance to France and Russia was a direct result of Germany's attempt to build a fleet that could challenge the British. The British had always wanted to maintain a certain ratio of ships against their most powerful enemy (around 2:1), and for the first time they found themselves unable to meet the ratio without resorting to allies. Had the German fleet not directly challenged the British and remained relatively small (i.e. capable of fighting the French, but totally outmatched by the British), it's not inconceivable that Britain would never have allied with the French. They may have even remained neutral in any French/Russian vs German war.

Of course, that's still probably moot since Britain would have drawn in by Germany's invasion of Belgium - because of the German army's devotion to the Schlieffen Plan. But without the British and French allied at the start of the war, it's also not inconceivable that the BEF's deployment to the continent could have been delayed or even withheld, perhaps giving the Germans enough margin to win the war at the Marne. But these are all massive "What ifs?"

------

Finally, devoting more resources to the U-boat arm would not necessarily result in history changing very much. U-boat operations were greatly restricted due to adherence to international law until Germany went all-out with unrestricted warfare in 1917. Moreover, I'm not even sure building more submarines was practical - U-boats of the period had much shorter range and had to sail from the Baltic Sea, as opposed to the coast of Brittany. I don't think they could have really concentrated enough U-boats to smash the Allied convoys; and that's even assuming they manage to develop the wolf pack doctrine 30 years early.
   Profile |  

Thanas
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 11:38am 

Magister


Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm
Posts: 24896
Zinegata wrote:
*snip*



Keep in mind however that Britain needed to oppose Germany sooner or later anyway because the balance of power would slip away. Britain was already being overtaken in industrial production and finance around 1900. If this trend continues on, Britain will matter less and less on the continent and I doubt the British Empire would stomach that.
   Profile |  

Eternal_Freedom
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 12:18pm 

Castellan


Joined: 2010-03-09 03:16pm
Posts: 5368
Location: Bound in a nutshell
So, had the HSF not been built, would we have had a delayed First World War? Perhaps with slightly different starting positions but still a massive European War?
   Profile |  

Thanas
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 12:29pm 

Magister


Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm
Posts: 24896
Impossible to answer since it depends on too many variables.
   Profile |  

spaceviking
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 03:48pm 

Jedi Knight


Joined: 2008-03-20 05:54pm
Posts: 850
I would be most curious on the state of Great Britain. Without Germany challenging them at sea they will have a great deal better of financially. With Great Britain secure from European threats they might be bolder in Asia?
   Profile |  

Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 03:51pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm
Posts: 20989
Thanas wrote:
Zinegata wrote:
*snip*
Keep in mind however that Britain needed to oppose Germany sooner or later anyway because the balance of power would slip away. Britain was already being overtaken in industrial production and finance around 1900. If this trend continues on, Britain will matter less and less on the continent and I doubt the British Empire would stomach that.
True, but popular support for the war won't be as easily available. The German naval buildup created a ten year period in which Germany was cast as a growing threat to Britain's basic maritime security. Wouldn't removing that make it harder to convince the British public that it's worth fighting a war to save France from Germany?

"If we don't attack them now, they'll get too powerful" is a good argument of statesmanship, but it usually doesn't play well in the court of public opinion.

Eternal_Freedom wrote:
So, had the HSF not been built, would we have had a delayed First World War? Perhaps with slightly different starting positions but still a massive European War?
Changing the scale of the HSF doesn't affect the tensions in the Balkans; Serbia still has incentives to engage in terrorism in Bosnia, Austria-Hungary and Russia are still likely to get dragged in, and by the same token so are Germany and France if the events following the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand go as historical.

The wild card is what the British decide to do. Do the French feel threatened enough navally to seek British support in the event of war in the prewar years? Do the British feel alarmed enough about Germany to accept? Do they enter the war, do they simply declare the English Channel to be a 'neutral zone' or some such, or what?

And, of course, as Thanas points out it's hard to imagine the High Seas Fleet not being built with Wilhelm II on the throne. Removing him from office changes everything, potentially...
   Profile |  

bz249
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 03:54pm 

Padawan Learner


Joined: 2007-04-18 05:56am
Posts: 356
Eternal_Freedom wrote:
So, had the HSF not been built, would we have had a delayed First World War? Perhaps with slightly different starting positions but still a massive European War?


Most nations prepared for the war which they thought inevitable (of course each of them wanted a war when they had a massive advantage) what made 1914 special that all of them felt that was the right time. So the most important ingredient for a massive European war was the sentiment that their side will win (or had an even worse chance if they try later). The HSF played no mayer role in that, however simply rebooting history could lead to a different setup. For example Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, because they knew that Germany would honor their alliance and Italy would remain neutral (even though they quit the Triple Alliance, as they considered the war against Serbia an offensive move, which they did not have to support).
   Profile |  

Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 04:00pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm
Posts: 20989
One question that always arises in counterfactual scenarios is how much use to make of the butterfly effect. In general, it's hard to come up with good ideas about what might happen well after the point of departure if there's a major butterfly effect going on. So I think we should assume that aside from the HSF not being built and those resources being (partly) freed up to build things other than battleships, nothing much changes beyond the minimum necessary to stop the fleet from being built.

Kaiser Wilhelm II not existing, or being a very different man without a naval fixation, would be hard enough to work into the scenario... and yet it's arguably necessary if we are to have the scenario happen at all.
   Profile |  

bz249
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 04:42pm 

Padawan Learner


Joined: 2007-04-18 05:56am
Posts: 356
Simon_Jester wrote:
One question that always arises in counterfactual scenarios is how much use to make of the butterfly effect. In general, it's hard to come up with good ideas about what might happen well after the point of departure if there's a major butterfly effect going on. So I think we should assume that aside from the HSF not being built and those resources being (partly) freed up to build things other than battleships, nothing much changes beyond the minimum necessary to stop the fleet from being built.

Kaiser Wilhelm II not existing, or being a very different man without a naval fixation, would be hard enough to work into the scenario... and yet it's arguably necessary if we are to have the scenario happen at all.


Yes in this special case it is possible to neglect the butterfly effect... however the whole war started as a butterfly effect (maybe better to call it an avalanche) that each and every respective player made step which increased the stakes and finally there was no other chance than an all-out war between the major players. On the other hand the motivation of the minor players are somewhat flexible. Italy and Romania were allies to Germany and Austria-Hungary yet they entered on the Entente side, while Bulgaria was more or less russofil although in the end they joined the Central Powers. Now let's take Italy, should they prepare to join the Entente that would lead to a less agressive Austria-Hungary (they did not have the troops to fight in three fronts) on the other hand should Italy support A-H might deter the French. So there was a delicate balance in Europe and while everyone thought the war is inevitable minor things decided over the actual time and the actual participants.
   Profile |  

Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 05:15pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm
Posts: 20989
bz249 wrote:
Yes in this special case it is possible to neglect the butterfly effect... however the whole war started as a butterfly effect (maybe better to call it an avalanche) that each and every respective player made step which increased the stakes and finally there was no other chance than an all-out war between the major players.
My preferred guideline in counterfactuals is to assume that whatever happened historically will happen in the counterfactual, unless there's a specific reason to think otherwise.

Italy has the same combination of incentives as historical- they don't want a naval war with the combined French and British Mediterranean fleets, and they probably stand to gain more by fighting Austria-Hungary and the Ottomans on the side of the French and British than they do by fighting the other way around. British neutrality alters the equation somewhat, since Italy plus Austria-Hungary might actually be a match for the French in the Mediterranean... but that circles back to what Britain does, a question that's already up in the air anyway.

The decisions of the minor powers, and of Italy, hinges on what happens after the opening phase among the Big Five (the historical Triple Entente, plus Germany and Austria-Hungary) has played out. They'll align themselves according to whatever seems in their best interest.
   Profile |  

Eleventh Century Remnant
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 07:23pm 

Jedi Council Member


Joined: 2006-11-20 07:52am
Posts: 2234
Location: Scotland
Hm- Looking at this from the white ensign point of view, the Royal Navy accomplished essentially two strategic things, and failed at two; strangled (eventually) German overseas trade, and kept Britain's sea lines of communication open- they are the successes, and it's not at all obvious how the RN's job would have been made more difficult by the absence of the enemy.

More submarines preying on trade would have been a respectable hazard, but with only coastal defence forces to shield them, mining or attacking the submarines in their harbours would have been much more feasible- more countermeasures could be taken against them.

The northern distant blockade did not seriously suffer from German attention anyway; they were hunted by submarines on occasion but, no serious attempt was made on it as a body- several ships were lost, but the existence of the unit and the blockade was never seriously threatened.


The two failures are related- the failure to project power via amphibious operations on any but the most foregone conclusions, colony grabbing in the first year of the war; thinking especially of the Dardanelles here, which was the scene of some brilliant improvisation, a lot of bloody waste and rather too many ships disappearing beneath the waves.

The absence of the High Seas Fleet comes down to one factor in this particular corner of the war; Goeben. Without the enemy as @, the Turkish ships building in Britain, which became Erin and Agincourt, would not have needed to be siezed- and a major insult to turkey could have been avoided. (whether Churchill would actually have seen it that way...maybe.) Without the battlecruiser Goeben being donated by the Germans in their place, it comes down to a matter of whether the German investment in Turkey in the decade before the war would have been enough to convince them to become active on the side of the Central Powers, instead of a somewhat friendly neutral.

if not, and the Dardanelles are open to Allied shipping, the other major failure of the RN in the first world war- failing to keep trade links open to a major allied power, Russia- becomes much less of a failure; the Russian Army's job gets a little easier as they can be supported logistically via the southern route, and that could be a major factor in keeping them in the field. Could delay the Revolution, could delay the battles of 1918- if the increased investment in the German Army actually doesn't tip the scales long before that anyway.

Also, with no main body of the enemy to contain, there would likely be many more amphibious operations- the capital ships of the Grand Fleet having little else to do; possibly enough to evolve or recall a useful doctrine.

The broader strategic argument, whether Britain would have got involved at all without German provocations, hm. A very large butterfly indeed- have to think about that one.
   Profile |  

Thanas
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 10:33pm 

Magister


Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm
Posts: 24896
Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:
Also, with no main body of the enemy to contain, there would likely be many more amphibious operations- the capital ships of the Grand Fleet having little else to do; possibly enough to evolve or recall a useful doctrine.


Amphibous operations where?

Simon_Jester wrote:
Changing the scale of the HSF doesn't affect the tensions in the Balkans; Serbia still has incentives to engage in terrorism in Bosnia, Austria-Hungary and Russia are still likely to get dragged in-


What makes you think that? Before Wilhelm messed it up, Russian and German policies were very close, even so close that the Russians were the one who made the offer to renew the Rückversicherungsvertrag. We might very well see the Balkan troubles being resolved in such a scenario and France would stay isolated.
   Profile |  

Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 10:37pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm
Posts: 20989
Hmmm, a point.

Although... was German antagonism towards Russia that entirely a product of Wilhelm II? Some of the strategic reasons for it would still be in play, like Russia's long term ambition of seizing power in the Balkans from the Austro-Hungarians.
   Profile |  

Zinegata
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 10:45pm 

Jedi Council Member


Joined: 2010-06-21 09:04am
Posts: 2259
Thanas wrote:
Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:
Also, with no main body of the enemy to contain, there would likely be many more amphibious operations- the capital ships of the Grand Fleet having little else to do; possibly enough to evolve or recall a useful doctrine.


Amphibous operations where?


Yeah, I don't see how this can happen either. With Turkey not entering the war without the Goeben and the German colonies being isolated from the homeland, the only place to perform an amphibious operation would be somewhere rather suicidal like the Adriatic, Baltic, or the North Sea.

Moreover, even without the fleet the German shore defenses were considerable, and the minefields were numerous. It would be a much greater fiasco than the initial naval operation at Gallipolli; during the real war Jellicoe bluntly remarked that one of his Admirals was mad for even suggesting that they attempt to take one of the islands of the German coast by the strength of the coastal defenses alone.
   Profile |  

Thanas
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 10:45pm 

Magister


Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm
Posts: 24896
Simon_Jester wrote:
Hmmm, a point.

Although... was German antagonism towards Russia that entirely a product of Wilhelm II? Some of the strategic reasons for it would still be in play, like Russia's long term ambition of seizing power in the Balkans from the Austro-Hungarians.


Germany was not antagonistic towards Russia before they started to align with the French - because Germany had refused to renew the treaty. Before that, Germany had managed to keep Russia and Austria-Hungary both in the balance.

The point is that if Russia tries to expand more into the Balkans, this brings them into direct conflict also with Britain, who do not want the Russians to get acces to the mediterranean. Likewise, Austria Hungary would not be able to count on unconditional German assistance and/or German would have no interest to get into a war with Russia. Note that before 1914, the last war between Russia and Germany was about 1.5 centuries ago.

More interesting is what France would do. The only way out of the hole it finds itself in would be an alliance with Britain. The question then is if Britain would gamble such a huge war only to get rid of an economic rival.
   Profile |  

Sea Skimmer
PostPosted: 2011-08-15 11:52pm 

Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate


Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Posts: 35320
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
Germany couldn’t get away with nothing but torpedo boats and submarines; she did have a valid military need for a force of heavy ships to control the Baltic Sea and defend the iron ore route to Sweden. This is also more economical then heavily fortifying every single Baltic port. But given the strength of the Russian fleet, this is a job for a fleet based around six to eight modern battleships.

So take away half the German dreadnought force, say nine hulls completed by wars outbreak, and the entire battlecruiser force which is five prewar hulls. Back of the envelope addition of German ship costs says that this cut alone would save 150 million American dollars or about 625 million German goldmarks. We can easily find another 50 million dollars/210 million goldmarks in light ships and unnecessary naval facilities. The total cost of upgrading German naval infrastructure and the Kaiser Wilhelm canal for dreadnoughts was around 250 million goldmarks, but I’ll just assume most of that still happens.

So… we’ve got around 200 million USD or 835 million goldmarks to play with from 1906 to 1914. The total cost of the German naval buildup was more like two billion goldmarks, and naval spending was as much as 25% of the entire German government budget. None of this considers savings on operating costs, the rule of thumb was a warship cost about as much to operate over a 20 year lifespan as it did to build so while many of these ships were only around for 8 years or less, that would already be a very serious pile of additional money all the same.

Anyway, the question becomes what can we buy with that much money?

Well, for some specific examples, a four gun 15cm armored turret battery with 3m thick concrete (this will stop even the German 42cm howitzer, at least most of the time, it was rated for 2.5m) cost about 3 million goldmarks. A downgraded version with more lightly armored turrets cost about 2 million goldmarks. The largest feste style fortification German constructed prior to WW1 cost 12 million to 20 million each and could sprawl over several kilometers. Linking the historical fort rings at Strassborug and Metz into one solid line of forts is totally within reason.

Off hand of course, larger coastal defenses are now required along the North Sea Coast to make up for the weaker fleet. But those are actually pretty cheap. I don’t have data for the costs of German weapons, I have plenty for the costs of similar American weapons of a similar period which should be good enough.

A US 12in gun cost about 73,000 dollars, the carriage around 50,000 dollars and a position for two guns with heavy concrete magazines and barbette mounts was 71,000. So creating a four gun battery; Germans didn’t use two gun batteries like the US did, would be in the range of 634,000 dollars. Including auxiliaries; mainly some fire control stations and searchlights and we can round that to say 750,000 dollars. US 12in ammo cost 500 dollars per shell in 1920, it probably wasn’t vastly lower prewar. Add 250,000 for ammo, 100 rounds per gun plus a 50 round battery reserve and we have 1 million dollars for a battery. Boy, removing all those ships from German fleet can only buy us 200 batteries with 800 x 12 inch guns! That could be about three guns per straight line kilometer of German north sea coastline!

Nothing like that many would be required though. Germany had ballpark about thirty heavy batteries on its North Sea coastline in 1914, many of them obsolete to as far back as 1873. Twenty four more fully modern ones would be a massive addition and only cost 24 million of our 200 million dollar budget savings. Some more medium and light caliber batteries would be desirable, they don’t cost nearly as much money. Call it maybe 35 million for a coast of steel; and the historical German defenses were already very heavy by any standard. That leaves 165 million for land defenses and army units. I’m out of time for the evening to throw in calculations of what that makes possible, but its would be a lot. Historically the German naval budget for all purposes approached 50% of the entire army budget.
   Profile |  

That NOS Guy
PostPosted: 2011-08-16 12:27am 

Jedi Council Member


Joined: 2004-12-30 04:14am
Posts: 1866
Location: Back in Chinatown, hung over
A savings of 835 million marks is somewhat paltry given that German annual expenditure during the great war was something like 47,500 marks. However, if that funding was available in August 1914, it may have considerably eased matters. The German warchest was something like 200 million goldmarks historically and the mobilization of August cost upwards of 2,000 marks. Massively increasing the warchest might have eased things considerably.

An entertaining thought is if this money was spent on spent on expanding the standing strength of the army so much that the right wing of the Schlieffen plan wasn't weakened by the 8 army corps as it was historically at the onset of the campaign and could be in a better spot to get reinforcement as the campaign kicked into gear. It's entirely possible that the Marne goes the other way with that into consideration and the war in the West may be over sooner rather later for the French.

EDIT: I misread Skimmer. Corrected.
   Profile |  

Skgoa
PostPosted: 2011-08-16 04:39am 

Jedi Master


Joined: 2007-08-02 01:39pm
Posts: 1388
Location: Dresden, valley of the clueless
The point is that the money would be available in the years leading up to the war. It could have been spend on combustion engine/aircraft/automobile developement, a bigger reserve of things like artillery shells (there was a shortage before production could rise to keep up with demand) or simply a bigger and better equiped army in the first place.
   Profile |  

Sea Skimmer
PostPosted: 2011-08-16 09:33am 

Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate


Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Posts: 35320
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
That NOS Guy wrote:
A savings of 835 million marks is somewhat paltry given that German annual expenditure during the great war was something like 47,500 marks. However, if that funding was available in August 1914, it may have considerably eased matters. The German warchest was something like 200 million goldmarks historically and the mobilization of August cost upwards of 2,000 marks. Massively increasing the warchest might have eased things considerably.


Comparing totally unsustainable wartime spending with peacetime spending is pointless. All that war money couldn’t be spent until well into the conflict after it had already stalemated and people had built entirely new factories and vastly expanded the number of men in uniform. Germany made something like 300 million hand grenades in the war for example; obviously stuff like this cost a vast amount of money but it wasn’t able to make any difference because everyone was doing the same thing. Prewar that amount of money, plus some tens of thousands of men backing it up, is huge and more importantly, unlikely to be countered on any large scale by the allied powers. France wouldn't be likely to greatly increase her own spending, and Britain simply had no interest in building a large land army. Russia simply cant afford more given her incredible economic backwardness.

The Schlieffen plan had problems with supply though, I doubt you could throw eight more army corps into the fight down that path, not in the first wave anyway. But it would allow Germany to occupy the whole channel coast before the race to the sea can ever take place as a minimal. The German army not being short hundreds of heavy guns for its existing forces would also be a non trivial gain. By building more fortresses it would also be possible to pull even more troops out of defensive positions in Alsace and East Prussia and maybe even invade France on more then one axis at a time.
   Profile |  

CaptHawkeye
PostPosted: 2011-08-17 06:32pm 

Sith Devotee


Joined: 2007-03-04 07:52pm
Posts: 2901
Location: Korea.
Sea Skimmer wrote:
Germany couldn’t get away with nothing but torpedo boats and submarines; she did have a valid military need for a force of heavy ships to control the Baltic Sea and defend the iron ore route to Sweden. This is also more economical then heavily fortifying every single Baltic port. But given the strength of the Russian fleet, this is a job for a fleet based around six to eight modern battleships.

So take away half the German dreadnought force, say nine hulls completed by wars outbreak, and the entire battlecruiser force which is five prewar hulls. Back of the envelope addition of German ship costs says that this cut alone would save 150 million American dollars or about 625 million German goldmarks. We can easily find another 50 million dollars/210 million goldmarks in light ships and unnecessary naval facilities. The total cost of upgrading German naval infrastructure and the Kaiser Wilhelm canal for dreadnoughts was around 250 million goldmarks, but I’ll just assume most of that still happens.



I'm not sure how specific we can be but in the case of just covering the Baltic, would it be better for Germany to just build up through the Helgoland class and not bother with later stuff? Russian Dreadnoughts seemed structurally and operationally suspect, so at face value it seems perfectly adequate for the HSF to only build up through its Wing-Gun dreadnoughts and then use them and whatever Pre-Dreadnoughts weren't canceled by this 'smaller HSF' theory to protect the Baltic. Imperator Nikolai was the most modern dreadnought the Russians built during the war and it's barely competitive with the much older Helgoland class at least on paper. (We'll assume Nikolai and Mariya have a career in the Baltic instead of the Black Sea even though both classes were historically built to fight the Ottoman Navy.)

Then again, if the HSF is being prepared to fight Russia instead of Britain, the whole spectrum of dreadnought design might change and historical designs we're familiar with might not get built?
   Profile |  

Thanas
PostPosted: 2011-08-17 08:57pm 

Magister


Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm
Posts: 24896
Actually, I think it would be wrong to look on dreadnoughts alone. After all, the Pre-dreadnoughts cost enormous sums as well and were in fact the reason British emnity started in the first place.
   Profile |  

Sea Skimmer
PostPosted: 2011-08-17 09:52pm 

Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate


Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Posts: 35320
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
CaptHawkeye wrote:

I'm not sure how specific we can be but in the case of just covering the Baltic, would it be better for Germany to just build up through the Helgoland class and not bother with later stuff? Russian Dreadnoughts seemed structurally and operationally suspect, so at face value it seems perfectly adequate for the HSF to only build up through its Wing-Gun dreadnoughts and then use them and whatever Pre-Dreadnoughts weren't canceled by this 'smaller HSF' theory to protect the Baltic. Imperator Nikolai was the most modern dreadnought the Russians built during the war and it's barely competitive with the much older Helgoland class at least on paper. (We'll assume Nikolai and Mariya have a career in the Baltic instead of the Black Sea even though both classes were historically built to fight the Ottoman Navy.)


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.

Quote:

Then again, if the HSF is being prepared to fight Russia instead of Britain, the whole spectrum of dreadnought design might change and historical designs we're familiar with might not get built?


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.


Thanas wrote:
Actually, I think it would be wrong to look on dreadnoughts alone. After all, the Pre-dreadnoughts cost enormous sums as well and were in fact the reason British emnity started in the first place.


The thing is, until the Russian fleet wipes itself out against Japan, Germany plausibly needs a relatively large predreadnought force to control the Baltic. In 1904 Russia was planning a force of 16 modern predreadnoughts for its main Baltic-Far Eastern force, and pretty much had all the required hulls built or building. This is not a small number of battleships, even if its nothing like the RN which eventually had IIRC 41 x predreadnoughts. It was a godsend for Japan that the Tsar split the main fleet rather then waiting to dispatch a totally overwhelming force to Port Arthur as most Russian admirals wanted, but that’s its own tale.

You could shave a couple of predreadnoughts out of the German fleet anyway, but I was just trying to offer a bare minimal version of what could be cut from the HSF. In all reality, if Germany really wanted they could forgo almost all battleships and just trust in passage through neutral Swedish and Danish waters and wars being short (so stockpiles in Germany aren’t exhausted) as a means of ensuring an iron and steel supply. But it’s a bit optimistic to assume that will work; at least in a time prior to the understanding of the true effect that mine warfare submarines would have on the willingness of navies to conduct offensive operations employing heavy ships.

One could also trash the Siegfried class coastal defense ships, but that would be a pity as they do greatly amuse me. Literally designed to sit inside river mouths. Of course that also takes us all the way back to 1889; at that point money spent on more forts is still very useful, money spent on more field artillery or infantry is not as the weapons they carry will be obsolete by 1914. If you trashed all German battleships and cruisers and major naval facilities you could easily save 2.5 billion Goldmarks, and I bet a billion more goldmarks in operating costs. This is pretty unlikely though unless Bismarck become Kaiser.

I still haven’t gotten around to tracking down the numbers I know I have somewhere for costs of field troops.
   Profile |  

Thanas
PostPosted: 2011-08-17 10:04pm 

Magister


Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm
Posts: 24896
Why do you factor in Russia as a threat? Wouldn't France be a more likely enemy, especially considering that if the Rückversicherungsvertrag gets renewed as the Russians proposed?

(Not trying to be a dick - I appreciate the numbers and explanations).
   Profile |  

Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Post a reply  Page 1 of 3
 [ 71 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next

It is currently 2014-07-25 01:36pm (All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ])

Board index » Non-Fiction » History

Who is online: Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum
Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group