The Whale has Wings

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Astrodragon, Dec 22, 2011.

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  1. Astrodragon Coffee-seeking Dragon

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    Midnight, 31st December 1939.


    The ships comprised the strongest force the Royal Navy had deployed in the North Sea since the First World War - 3 aircraft carriers, 3 battlecruisers, 6 cruisers and 16 destroyers, illuminated by a 3/4 full moon.

    "Very well, gentlemen, the plan goes ahead without any changes from yesterdays briefing. To summarise, the first wave will be 42 Swordfish from Formidable, Victorious and Courageous, plus 30 Dive bombers. Flight leaders will carry flares to illuminate the harbour. Half of the Swordfish will carry torpedoes, the other half 500lb bombs. You will launch at 0045, with an expected attack time of 0230.

    The Second wave will be 30 Swordfish, 12 with torpedoes, the rest with 500lb bombs again. You will launch at 0120, with an expected attack time of 0300.

    The second waves is expected to land back on board by 0430. If you have a problem that stops you from landing, don't hang around - signal the guard destroyer and ditch, we won't be waiting around.

    Recovery will be by beacon and IFF - remember, don't turn your IFF on until you are on your way home after the attack, we don't know if the Germans can detect it, but lets not take any chances. Only flight commanders are authorised to use their radios until the attack starts -after which, we expect them to realise we have arrived!"

    There was a considerable amount of grins and muffled laughter at that, and the Commander was glad to see his crews in good spirits. Not that he had doubted that, but it was always good to end a briefing on a good note.

    "Now, get to your planes and get ready. We've been planning this for a long time, and this is our first chance to hit the German fleet with a heavy blow. Go and make the FAA proud of you!"

    It was the 31st December 1939. What was officially known as Operation Cormorant, and (very unofficially) to the Fleet Air Arm as the Happy Hogmany Raid was about to begin.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
  2. tchizek Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. I like your start, will be interested to see where you go with this...
     
  3. Astrodragon Coffee-seeking Dragon

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    Well, its not exactly the start, its part way through :)
    having teased people, I next intend to show how they got there before carrying it forward again.
     
  4. tchizek Well-Known Member

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    Either way you caught my attention and I look forward to seeing how you proceed. And how they got to that point is even better than how it goes from there!

    Thanks!

    Tom.
     
  5. Just Leo Well-Known Member

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    I trust you will explain how Illustious was ready so soon, and how she carried Skuas instead of Stringbags. Hoping Adm Denis Boyd is the captain. I presume she has no radar fitted.
     
  6. Julius Vogel All aboard May's Worker Self Management!

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    Well, there has recently been a thread about a non NAZI Germany developing a Carrier force in order to defeat the Royal Navy by raiding Scapa Flow, in a timeline where these two nations are at war at roughly the same time for some reason.

    Perhaps Astrodragon has been tempted to write a British counterpoint (hopefully one that is more realistic)
     
  7. Astrodragon Coffee-seeking Dragon

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    I intend to keep as much as possible to OTL realism.
    The main diffence will be a number of changes in the early 30's (all of which were discussed), which lead to some more changes later on. Again, pretty much all the changes were discussed and considered, and there will be no changes made to the industrial side with regard to capability of building stuff, except maybe in the area of FAA aircraft (and again, this was available, just not done).
    The RN will still make some non-optimal descisions (not terribly wrong ones, but they arent going to get everything right until the war rubs their noses in some things). Some things that were planned happen a bit earlier.

    Its hopefully rather like CalBears Pacific War Redux; a few small changes that could have gone a different way, or a policy change or two that didnt see terribly important at the time could have made some quite big differences during the war. I'm going to try and keep them minimal, although some of them will have follow-on effects that change later descisions in a better way
     
  8. Astrodragon Coffee-seeking Dragon

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    MM, wait and see... although I'm keeping the historical names for ships, they will be somewhat different in performance...
    I will probably keep a similar pool of Captains and senior officers just through laziness...:)
     
  9. Simon Darkshade Well-Known Member

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    I do look forward to seeing how this develops; I've seen the idea used a couple of times before in some other places in a quite interesting manner.

    Good to see the incorporation of realistic friction.

    Keep up the good show.
     
  10. tchizek Well-Known Member

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    That's good, I personally think that we can count on you to do for the Atlantic War what CalBear does for the Pacific War. :D I do hope this is your timeline in that direction!:cool:

    Tom.
     
  11. Julius Vogel All aboard May's Worker Self Management!

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    Right. Well, I look forward to more.

    I've often wondered how an industrial POD would play out in a similar situation. Roughly, we would see the development of a competent British or Commonwealth industrial conglomerate that would be in place by the time the Depression hits. This conglomorate would perhaps be like either a GM/Ford or latter day Chaebol/Japanese conglomorate - everything from ships to cars etc. Anyway, the principle purpose would be to create a slightly better industrial framework for wartime production.

    Assuming of course that such an entity would actually be superior to the task than OTL's smaller factories or combines
     
  12. Astrodragon Coffee-seeking Dragon

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    Actually I'm going to steal a little from For Want of a Competant Air Ministry, but only a little - his aim is different from mine, tempting though jets flying off RN carriers in 1940 is..:)
    But I do want to see the Sea Fury in action during the war :) :)
     
  13. Astrodragon Coffee-seeking Dragon

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    1932.
    "Very well, gentlemen, we are agreed. The development of the new Martin dive-bomber by the Americans renders the conclusions of the RAF completely wrong. It now seems that in the near future, a dive bomber will be able to deliver a 1,000lb bomb at a reasonable range, and presumably a 500lb bomb at longer ranges. We also have reports from observers that the US Navy has allowed to view their exercises, and further information gleaned by our chaps talking to their fliers that with practice dive bombing can be damnably accurate, even against more agile ships, when used in numbers.

    While our battleships are still safe of course, everything smaller is now in danger of either serious damage or even sinking, and I feel sure that once this plane is in operation, it will only be a matter of time before similar aircraft are developed by the Japanese or other unfriendly powers. We have nothing to match them, as the RAF assures us that the dive bomber is no threat!

    I have had talks, both official and unofficial, with my opposite numbers in the RAF, and I am afraid that they refuse to budge from that conclusion. It seems that no amount of evidence will make them face the facts when it affects their convictions about the strategic bomber concept. Which is a wonderful concept, I am sure, but has little relevance to the Royal Navy.
    And the problem just gets worse."

    He looked down at the paper on the table in front of him.

    "The primary defence of the fleet against air attack [by gunfire] is not justified by data or experience. No realistic firing against aircraft has taken place since the last war and, in my opinion, the value of our own High Angle Control System Mk I is rated too high. In common with others, we are apt to over-rate the capabilities of our own weapons in peacetime.

    The words of Rear-Admiral Henderson are quite clear, and I am sure we all agree that as Rear-Admiral (Carriers) he knows what he is talking about. We not only need dive bombers of our own, we need better protection against them - and torpedo bombers as well. That means better fighters, and more of them. AA gunfire is all very well, but we need defence in depth.
    So our course is clear. Either we lose ground and take second place to other nations aircraft and carriers, or we take action to restore the Navy's place."

    He looked around the table at the other uniformed figures, and the expression on all the faces left it clear which of the two options was acceptable to them all.

    "The problem here is the RAF. We have no control over their opinions or actions, even when we deem them not just mistaken but actively dangerous. We also know that they have little interest in naval air, but just see it as something they have to give lip service to supporting, while spending the bare minimum on it.
    Now I am sure there are many individual officers in the RAF who don't share this thinking - indeed, some of them are ex-naval officers, and have been quite helpful in giving us the true, if unofficial, story."

    One of his colleagues stirred.

    "While I think we all agree with the conclusions, all that does is to state the situation we are in. We need a way out of it. A balanced fleet needs its own airpower, or we have to control our ships at the mercy of enemy airpower, which will be inconvenient and limit our choice of options when we are within range of it. And we all know the advantage of using our own planes to locate, and then slow, the enemy battleline so we can close with it - we cannot do that if our planes are being attacked by the enemy. Aircraft are a most important aid in making the full, effective use of our battleships"

    There was another general nodding of heads.

    "Well, there is a solution to the problem. I won't say it will be easy, but we need to get back control of our own aircraft."

    "You do realise that means declaring war on the RAF, don't you? You know how possessive they feel about anything that flies!"

    "So? We have as many friends in high places as they do."
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
  14. Riain Well-Known Member

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    Just a question about the OP, you mention the torpedo planes are Swordfish. Are they the overly beloved but actually quite shithouse stringbag or more like the the much maligned but considerably better Devastator?
     
  15. Astrodragon Coffee-seeking Dragon

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    They are still going to be the Stringbag in 1939 - it was a pretty good TBR plane up till then.
    However a replacement is in development, a proper one this time
     
  16. dogsbody Well-Known Member

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    Ooh! This sounds good.


    Chris
     
  17. Some Bloke Well-Known Member

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    Astrodragon, is this your take on Landshark's discussion thread?
     
  18. rip89 Well-Known Member

    Consider me subscribed to this. A better FAA in the second world war and how to develop it is something I have often thought about. This TL could well see either q failed Norwegian campaign by the Germans or no Norwegian campaign at all with all the attendant butterflies, and though France will still Probably fall the threat of invasion is going to be a lot less felt by the Brits in the summer of 1940.
     
  19. Some Bloke Well-Known Member

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    For one thing better aircraft might butterfly away the sinking of HMS Glorious IOTL she was jumped by the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau and there were no lookouts or planes in the air, not even a minimal CAP. This was partly because her Captain was an ex submariner with no carrier experience, and Comander Heath, who commanded her air wing, was ashore awaiting court martial for refusing to attack a series of shore based targets, partly because he believed the aircraft available to him weren't up to the task.


    Better aircraft could lead to a different response to the order.
     
  20. Astrodragon Coffee-seeking Dragon

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    Sort of :)
    Landsharks actual question was what was the best FAA possible, which probably involves changes in the mid-20's, and a lot more descisions going the FAA way.
    I'm going more for a 'what if some arguments went a different way' in the early 30's, and the followon effects - so a better FAA, but not the best possible FAA. Mistakes will still be made, although the attitude change will reduce the effect of some of these, and given 6-7 years of small changes, the end result is a bit different...:)
     
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