A more powerful Curtain Call - The Australasian Federation and World War 2

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by johnboy, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. johnboy Well-Known Member

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    A more powerful Curtin Call - The Australasian Federation and World War 2

    1755 5 September 1939

    Prime Minister John Joseph Curtin waited to give the broadcast that would announce that Australasia would be at war. It was not an unexpected war, indeed, it had been foretold by "Billy" Hughes as early as 1935.

    He had used the last two days to contact all nine state premiers and all three governors. It had also helped to assert Australasia's own independence to wait a few days. He reflected on what this would mean for Australasia's eleven million people, not including Papua and New Guinea or the Solomons. He reflected on the state of his armed forces that he hoped to be able to use to assist Britain in it's struggle against the old enemy.

    The healthy defense budgets that Australasia had been able to maintain through most of the 1930's from 1933 onwards and the awareness of the threat at hand had helped somewhat. The Keynesian economics practiced by the government through the 1930's had saved Australasia from the worst of the Great Depression. Defense expenditure had played it's part in the government stimulus necessary to ride out the worst of it and the country had continued to attract migrates under it's "populate or perish" immigration policy.

    The Navy would seem, on the surface, to be the best equipped of the three services. Consisting as it did of three Melbourne Class light aircraft carriers Melbourne, Wellington and Christchurch. Denied the battleships that it craved after the Washington Treaty locked Australasia out of capital ship possession, the navy had purchased two Hawkins Class cruisers from the R.N in 1930 and converted both to light aircraft carriers, followed by a third in 1936. Also on list were two County Class heavy cruisers, Perth and Auckland, 3 Amphion Class light cruisers Sydney, Launceston and Hobart, 3 Arethusa Class light cruisers, Suva, Darwin and Brisbane and the old cruiser mine layer Adelaide, 1 seaplane carrier Albatross, 12 destroyers(including six new Tribal Class, with 4 more building), 4 sloops, 5 frigates, 8 submarines and 3 minesweepers(with 6 more building).

    The Army was less strong, on paper, but well filled out in reserve ranks by men that would answer the call. It consisted of one active and 3 reserve divisions. The only armour consisted of locally produced armoured cars, but a locally designed tank based on truck engines, the Sentinel was at the almost completed design stage and could be ordered relatively rapidly.

    The aircraft and indeed aircraft production was the area that had undergone the greatest transformation in the last 15 years. The emigration to Australasia of Camillo Castiglioni in the aftermath of World War One had also led to the emigration to head up his aircraft manufacturing and design facilities of what was always his first love, aviation, of Ernst Heinkel, his old protegee. Heinkel, disillusioned by the possibility of aviation in Germany post World War 1 and unable to go to either Britain or France, chose to follow his old mentor out to Australasia and had Anglisised his name to Ernest Hencall. In the early 1930's he was followed by the Gunter brothers. Thankfully the act the restrict immigration from the former Central Powers was not put into law in 1922. The R.A.A.F possessed 12 squadrons of Avro Ansons, 2 of Vickers Wellingtons, 1 of He 70's, 7.5 of Hencall's new fighter, the He 112 "Kangaroo", 3.5 of old Hawker Demons, 3 of Wirraways, 2 of Short Sunderlands and two of old Supermarine Seagulls.

    These did not include three squadrons in the R.A.N of navalised He 112's, three of Fairy Swordfish and 3 of Blackburn Skuas. There was also a new bomber on the drawing board, the He 111, a new fighter, the He 100, and plans to use the Wasp engine to produce local fighter-bombers, called the Boomerang. The air side of things was looking healthy.

    The announcer came out. It was time to make the broadcast.


    First of a new thread that will flick backwards in time to explain how we got here and forwards to continue it. I won't be updating as regularly as the last one though. Any thoughts are appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2016
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  2. David S Poepoe Banned

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    I don't see why the RAN would purchase two Hawkins class cruisers and convent them into light aircraft carriers. They aren't worth the expenditure of conversion. Maybe make an offer to purchase HMS Hermes or HMS Pegasus, at least to get training ships in place for the new carriers. Heck, sell them HMS Tiger.

    I think it would be best not to look at the WNT, but the two London Treaties that extended the 'battleship holiday' and see if some accommodations could be made to further split or spin of the RAN into an independent force from the RN.
     
  3. johnboy Well-Known Member

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    The main reason would be:

    a) the Hawkins Class technically carried the RN over the treaty limits, were of limited utility in a fleet valuing numbers rather than power, were already obsolete. Therefore they could be brought cheaply at almost scrap value out of the reserve fleet, provided "public work" during conversion, a key part of the stimulus proposed by this type of economics. I would rather convert them than go within 10 miles of HMS Hermes, which was poorly conceived, unstable and of very limited utility. Now these conversions won't be great either, maybe 18-20 aircraft, but anything must be better than Hermes.

    I thought about HMS Tiger to. Would love to see such a fine looking ship preserved, but I wanted to sort of stick with what would be possible. In the 1930's, even in this timeline, Australia/asia was firmly part of empire and there would be a possibility in having the RAN excised from the RN in agreement with the USN, but by countries as fractious and difficult to deal with in naval matters as France and Japan. Forget it. However, the British were 30,000 tonnes under in carriers. Hence..
     
  4. zert Casual Reader, Interested Follower

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    Really cool beginning. Getting Hencall and others as a home grown aircraft designers is a good step as well as having their own carriers. More of a Navy and a tank on the way is another nice step for the Aussies to have. It will be interesting if ITTL Japan still goes nutzy or is in better mood to play nice.

    Look forward to more. I am sad you will not be updating ascoften, but will gladly take what I can.

    Question, is New Zealand still its own country or is it merged in this new Federation?
     
  5. Pangur The Cat

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    Nice work. What was the spec of the Melbourne class carriers?
    In this t/l are the He 70's and the He 112 "Kangaroo" the same as otl?
     
  6. Errolwi Well-Known Member

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    Going by the ship names, it includes NZ and (at least) Fiji. Nine states and three territories (vs OTL 6 & 2?)
     
  7. johnboy Well-Known Member

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    Pretty much the same yes. Main issue with aircraft is the supply of high performance engines. He 112 actually started using Rolls Royce Kestral Engine which was one of the few engines available to Australia at that time, so very little design change is required and it has the same design team OTL.
     
  8. zert Casual Reader, Interested Follower

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    I thought it might, but did wish to ask. Adding the two parts of New Guinea it gives the Federation quite an area for bases. I will wonder is the political situation will shape up ITTL and how it plays out.
     
  9. johnboy Well-Known Member

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    NZ and Fiji both participated in the original constitutional conventions in 1890 onwards. It did not happen for either but could have at the time. Certain concessions would have to be made,both in regards to autonomy internally, strength of representation and rights of indiginous people, much as had to be made to Queensland but for vastly different reasons. Tarrifs were a big issue to. Australia being NZ's biggest customer the loss of tarriffs would have been seen as potentially disastrous. One of the concessions to NZ should be obvious from the states.

    States:
    Queensland
    NSW
    Victoria
    Tasmania
    North New Zealand
    South New Zealand
    South Australia
    West Australia
    Fiji

    Territories:
    Northern Territory
    New Caledonia
    Cook Islands

    Colonies:
    Papua
    New Guinea
    Niue
    Tokelau
    Samoa
    Solomon Islands
    Gilbert and Ellice Islands
    Pitcairn Island
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2014
  10. zert Casual Reader, Interested Follower

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    Thank you for the breakdown on the states and other parts of the Federation.

    Question, with the new rights of indigenous persons, does this mean that the Aboriginals ITTL have full rights? If so then the Federation avoids a nasty situation that OTL Australia had.
     
  11. Some Bloke Well-Known Member

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    If the RAN has a (relatively) high performance carrier fighter I can't imagine why the RN would not. The limiter at the time was a homing beacon and so the Air Ministry decided a 2 man crew was necessary for navigation at sea.

    As to their being identicle to OTL's specs?
    Superficially but not identicle.

    OTL's He 112 was a competitor for the Luftwaffe's 1933 fighter contract and used an engine which engineers and historians have compared to the Kestrel engine (infact the German prototype flew with this engine).

    Here I can see "Ernie Hencall" putting forward the design a year later as a response to Specification F.5/34. It would certainly outperform all of the other candidates (perhaps even the Hurricane Mk I by a whisker). However, by the time this fighter enters service (1937 at the earliest) the Kestrel engine will be decidedly long in the tooth, conversion to high octane fuels as in OTL will provide some reprieve it will probably need a replacement engine by about 1941 or even a replacement type.

    Development of the Kestrel led to the Peregrine engine that was used on the Westland Whirlwind, which was again hampered by its limited size and development potential as well as reliability problems. The Peregrine later developed into the Vulture but this suffered from reliability issues. With the Kestrel being used in general service fighter design, how does this affect the development of the successor engine types?

    For the army, perhaps the Australasians order a variant of the Vickers 6 Tonner.
    What with Australasia being much more powerful than Australian and New Zealand combined, how does this affect relations within the commonwealth? Will we see are more effective Imperial War Cabinet for instance?

    As to the war itself, the Australians IOTL contributed a destroyer squadron to the Med. I can see the RAN adding a couple of cruisers and a carrier to the mix here.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2014
  12. johnboy Well-Known Member

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    Displacement:
    9,580 tons (standard)
    12,480 tons (full load)
    Length: 625 ft
    Beam:58 ft (65 ft across bulges)
    Draught: 17ft (21 ft full load)
    Propulsion: Ten oil-fired water-tube boilers
    Brown-Curtis geared , Four shafts, 70,000 shp
    Speed: 31 knots
    Range: 5,400 nmi at 14 knots
    Capacity: 2,186 tons oil fuel
    Complement: 800
    Armament: 2x4.5 inch DP, 4x8 2pdr AA
    Air wing: 8-12 He 112, 8-12 Swordfish, 4-6 Skuas, 20-22 planes in all. More can be carried if "spotted up" on deck
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2014
  13. Pangur The Cat

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    Excellent, handy enough air group for the time.Got to ask was James Scullin in the mix in this t/l?
     
  14. johnboy Well-Known Member

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    Will be very much so. Has never gotten the recognition he deserved as the person who put in place the policies to turn things around in Australia from the depression. Himself, Michael Savage and Curtain will feature heavily.
     
  15. Pangur The Cat

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    Yeah beauty! I was doing some research on him for a t/l. Came unstuck when it came to the Senate 1928/29. Even going back to 1926 I could not see a really convincing way to get Labor a majority. The reason I was looking at him was that he was the only way I could get an decent Aussie defense industry in place by 1939. Not asking you to give too much away too early however expanding Aussie the way you have could well do the trick.
     
  16. The Oncoming Storm Well-Known Member

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    Looks a good start, subscribed!
     
  17. Some Bloke Well-Known Member

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    Thinking about engines etc, the Peregrine was basically a Kestrel with a supercharger, so would be a natural upgrade for the Kangaroo fighter. This might give the RAF more of an interest in light, high performance engine and stimulate earlier development of the Perseus 100 engine.

    The Australians could always put forward a Peregrine engined Kangaroo as a contender for Specification F.19/40 which prompted the development of the Miles M.20 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miles_M.20 fighter.

    Considering that the development of the Kestrel to the Perigrine led to the Vulture, perhaps the Australians encourage better development of this series, leading to the adoption of the AVRO Manchester as a replacement for the "Hencall" 111 in the bomber role. However, the latter would make a cheap Commonwealth transport and a stopgap measure pending the introduction of the Dakota (or perhaps the development of a successor type).

    Seeing as the Sea Kangaroo is the commonwealth naval figher, the Fulmar (a naval fighter version of the Fairey Battle light bomber) never leaves the drawing board. How plausible is redesigning a Fairey Battle into a carrier based torpedo bomber?

    The big question is, what do the German develop instead?
     
  18. thekingsguard Founder of Korsgaardianism

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    Australasian Federation? Consider me interested, I'd be curious to see how this came to be.
     
  19. zert Casual Reader, Interested Follower

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    Just curious, do these carriers have the armored flight decks and smaller hangers as the RN had IOTL? Once newer planes are introduces the complement of planes may go down. Add to a limited AA ability could be a bitch once War begins.

    As always look forward to more sir.:cool:
     
  20. Unknown Member

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    Corpus Christi, TX
    Gonna take this to today?

    Good start.