AHC: Chinese Dreadnaughts

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to get a dreadnought battleship into service with a Chinese government/warlord faction between the years 1914 and 1950.

Bonus points if it is indigenously constructed, and/or if it sees combat against other dreadnought battleships during its time in service.
 
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Strange that this seems so difficult (and it does). Per historical GDPs on Wikipedia, in 1913, China was the largest power not to have a dreadnought... by far. It was second only to the US if India is separated from the UK, and in third place if India isn’t. That means it had a larger GDP than Germany, France, Italy, A-H, Russia, and so on. So why didn’t they build dreadnoughts? They have a long coastline, they have a seafaring history, and they had a potential adversary, Japan. Lack of centralization? A sense of security? I don’t know enough to form an opinion.
 
Strange that this seems so difficult (and it does). Per historical GDPs on Wikipedia, in 1913, China was the largest power not to have a dreadnought... by far. It was second only to the US if India is separated from the UK, and in third place if India isn’t. That means it had a larger GDP than Germany, France, Italy, A-H, Russia, and so on. So why didn’t they build dreadnoughts? They have a long coastline, they have a seafaring history, and they had a potential adversary, Japan. Lack of centralization? A sense of security? I don’t know enough to form an opinion.
China was broken into warlord states and involved in civil war or regular warfor this entire period sadly. At best The military was often obeslete and the government was broken and corrupt, plus teh economy was shattered :(
 
China had pre-war plans for 8 BB, 20 CL, 2 DD Flotillas and 20 Gunboats. This plan was to cover £21m for 250,000 tons of new warships at £84 per ton. From what was ordered, 4 CL and 12 DD from Austro-Hungarian yards and 4 gunboats (800 tons) from Japan we can project what is left for battleships. The cruisers were a single 5300ton CL with 4 8" in twin turrets and 3 1800ton CL with 10 4". The DD were 400 ton at the very cheap price of £16 500 per unit (£41 per ton) a figure perhaps not including armament. Assuming about 50 000 tons for 20 cruisers, 9600 for 24 DD and 16 000 for 20 gunboats then this leaves 175000 for the 8 battleships or about 21,000 tons each. 4 DD were also on order in Italy. These could include the destroyer that was sold to Portugal as Liz and later became HMS Arno. A 1909 Manchu plan included 16000 ton BB that were to be built in Japan but this ended with the revolution. Vickers had also been offering a Rurik type ship prior to the 1911 revolution.

In addition to the ship building, China was to spend £3.5m per year from 1911 to 1915 on infrastructure (£13.8m) and annual maintenance was to increase from £ 4.9m to £ 6.3m while pre 1908 expenditure had been about £5.4m.

With large orders placed with the Austrians, possibly the BB will be built to A-H designs in A-H yards. This could possibly be a 8x13.8" gunned Teggetoff design although AH battleships were about £120 per ton and perhaps out of the price range, British yards could do £80-90 per ton. The Austrians would be appealing as clients as they were not among the aggressive European states bent on expansion into China.
 
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At the end of ww1 the British may have been tempted to sell an older BB that was not to be scrapped in order to get a new ship built.

A possible POD would be the scrapping of HMS Tiger at the end of 1932 in accordance with LNT .
Say the British are approached by the Chinese Government of 1928 with a view to create a Chinese Fleet. The proposal was one of a prestige fleet and as such would see a capital ship and an associated escort of 2 cruisers and a dozen destroyers. After review the decision was made to sell HMS Tiger to the Chinese in addition to 8 spare 13.5 inch barrels and 2000 rounds of 13.5 shell.

The Cruisers chosen were the Leander class cruisers.
For the Destroyer force a dozen D class destroyers were also ordered.

The Full squadron was not considered operational in 1937 and was still awaiting the delivery of 4 destroyers.

With the invasion of Shanghai the decision was made to proceed up the coast from Canton with the aim of attacking the Japanese in Shanghai from behind.
To maintain some semblance of operational security the rumour was that The White Tiger (Baihu) was in need of repair and would go to Singapore to be fixed.
Two days later on a foggy morning the White Tiger and her escorts of 2 6 inch cruisers and 8 destroyers each with 4 4.7 inch cannon fell upon the Japanese.
The Japanese had no idea this was possible and had second and third line ships present.
The Izumo (completed 1900) and 3 Nagara class cruisers (7 5.5 inch guns) along with an assortment of smaller craft could hardly be expected to survive against the onslaught.

For the News camera crew from the British Pathe organisation felt blessed to be present and even more surprised when action stations was called. For the next 2 hours they witnessed the slaughter of most of the Japanese ships in the approaches to Shanghai.
Izumo blew up while still anchored , The Notoro was caught lowering a seaplane into the water and sunk.
The Kinu and Natori went down fighting and left both Chinese cruisers severely damaged.
Just as the decision to withdraw was made the Chinese had lost no ships. Then as the call to withdraw was made the Cruiser Sendai came out of the mist and launched 4 torpedo's at the Chinese fleet. Two of the Destroyers placed themselves alongside the White Tiger and managed to save her. The shock damage was extensive and left the White Tiger literally crippled. In particular her feed water generator was destroyed.
Over the next 3 days the White Tiger crawled South under heavy air support. Upon arrival off Hong Kong a Royal Navy Engineering team visited to see what required repair.
Repairs required would be more then possible outside of the United States or Great Britain.
The Recommendation was to go to the USA and have a full refit.

The White Tiger Arrived in Boston 4 months later to a hero's welcome. The full newsreel of her fight had galvanised public opinion. Many Chineseport family's in the USA had contributed to her repair and ended up making a modernisation possible.
Stripped back her repair and modernisation ended up taking a full year. When she emerged from the Docks she was almost a new ship.
A large TDS was fitted along with an increase of SHP installed to 100,000shp . As a result her maximum speed was retained at 28kts.
Her Armour received improvement only on deck and turret roof even then it was only the welding of 1.5 inch plates to vulnerable areas.
The most drastic improvement was in her Anti-Aircraft and Dual Purpose guns.
British weapons had poor availability so American weapons became the choice.
The entire 6 inch battery was removed and in it's place 10 single 5 inch mk 38 open mounts .
The remaining Anti-Aircraft battery consisted of a pair of quad 28 mm cannon.
As the warship neared completion the USN gave permission for a Mk 33 GFCS to be mounted.

The White Tiger spent the next three months working up in American waters. Her escort cruisers and remaining 4 destroyers had been repaired and built. On the 1st of September 1939 the Chinese fleet began a series of port visits as they headed back to China. Being a fleet in being and already famous the desire was to keep the White Tiger out of danger so a cruise down the coast of South America was perfect.
On the 9th of December the crew of the Graf Spee recieved a massive shock when a clearly British Battlecruiser came over the Horizon flanked by two Cruisers.
With no ability to run away Langsdorf decided to fight.
30 minutes later the sound of the sky ripping apart heralded the impact of 6 11 inch shells directly ahead of The White Tiger.
Even as general quarters was rung the second salvo arrived and a shell impacted with the newly up armoured A turret. the 120mm of armour just managed to resist the impact.
From the moment of that impact the decision was made to fight to the death.
Both Cruisers started swinging wide to block any running by the now identified German Battleship.

After 8 partial salvo's and 10 full salvo's the Graf Spee was hit 4 times and was on fire and listing. As her list made her main guns unable to depress enough the secondary 5 inch battery opened fire. 6 hours later the message went out from the White Tiger.
Chinese fleet attacked by German Battleship. German Battleship sunk.
The White Tiger had received 5 hits and again needed repair. She turned around and headed back to Boston for repairs. This time she needed repairs to a turret and Barbette.
 
Strange that this seems so difficult (and it does). Per historical GDPs on Wikipedia, in 1913, China was the largest power not to have a dreadnought... by far. It was second only to the US if India is separated from the UK, and in third place if India isn’t. That means it had a larger GDP than Germany, France, Italy, A-H, Russia, and so on. So why didn’t they build dreadnoughts? They have a long coastline, they have a seafaring history, and they had a potential adversary, Japan. Lack of centralization? A sense of security? I don’t know enough to form an opinion.
Those other nations were unified.

China was not even remotely unified so it is not accurate to say its GDP was larger than X or Y

Also China had not caught up with those other nations in terms of Infrastructure and Industry

Having a fleet of BBs as well as the supporting fleet, crews and supporting infrastructure is a long term and expensive 'life style' decision by the owning nation - unless those ships are a vanity project!

So in order to have such a fleet - China needs to be more unified and stable (or a large chuck of it more unified and stable) for a long period and have better Infrastructure and heavy industry than OTL
 
Strange that this seems so difficult (and it does). Per historical GDPs on Wikipedia, in 1913, China was the largest power not to have a dreadnought... by far. It was second only to the US if India is separated from the UK, and in third place if India isn’t. That means it had a larger GDP than Germany, France, Italy, A-H, Russia, and so on. So why didn’t they build dreadnoughts? They have a long coastline, they have a seafaring history, and they had a potential adversary, Japan. Lack of centralization? A sense of security? I don’t know enough to form an opinion.
At that time dreadnought type battleships were the most complex thing that one could build requiring large amounts of science and engineering in rather esoteric fields (boiler construction, metallurgy, thick armor making, large diameter gun drilling etc), you can compare it with todays space ships, only few countries can do it and China was far removed from those who could meaningfully aspire to do it in a reasonable time frame.

They could buy them though. But that's where finances bite them in the a**. The late Qing era was marked by large scale corruption of officials at all levels as well as a very lax tax collection by the state, both robbed the state of its abiltiy to meaningfully act towards anything. I remember a paper where it said that the tax collection amounted to about 2 days worth of income of an unskilled laborer in the cities. A lot more landed in the coffers of the officials. You're not getting any dreadnoughts that way.

Edit: HMS Dreadnought cost 1.7 million pound

The UK budget for 1910 was 147 million pound, so per person (40 million) spending 3,6 pound.
UK spending

Chinas spending was about 300 million tael, which (i think 1 tael = 0.1345 pound...) would be just a bit over 40 million pound, thus per person (420 million) spending about 0.095 pound! Note, only after 1850 did it start to increase substantially.
Chinas income in tael
German, tael to pound conversion
 
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China had pre-war plans for 8 BB, 20 CL, 2 DD Flotillas and 20 Gunboats. This plan was to cover £21m for 250,000 tons of new warships at £84 per ton. From what was ordered, 4 CL and 12 DD from Austro-Hungarian yards and 4 gunboats (800 tons) from Japan we can project what is left for battleships. The cruisers were a single 5300ton CL with 4 8" in twin turrets and 3 1800ton CL with 10 4". The DD were 400 ton at the very cheap price of £16 500 per unit (£41 per ton) a figure perhaps not including armament. Assuming about 50 000 tons for 20 cruisers, 9600 for 24 DD and 16 000 for 20 gunboats then this leaves 175000 for the 8 battleships or about 21,000 tons each. 4 DD were also on order in Italy. These could include the destroyer that was sold to Portugal as Liz and later became HMS Arno. A 1909 Manchu plan included 16000 ton BB that were to be built in Japan but this ended with the revolution. Vickers had also been offering a Rurik type ship prior to the 1911 revolution.

In addition to the ship building, China was to spend £3.5m per year from 1911 to 1915 on infrastructure (£13.8m) and annual maintenance was to increase from £ 4.9m to £ 6.3m while pre 1908 expenditure had been about £5.4m.

With large orders placed with the Austrians, possibly the BB will be built to A-H designs in A-H yards. This could possibly be a 8x13.8" gunned Teggetoff design although AH battleships were about £120 per ton and perhaps out of the price range, British yards could do £80-90 per ton. The Austrians would be appealing as clients as they were not among the aggressive European states bent on expansion into China.
I have doubts that even a surviving Qing China could afford it.Afterall,the immediate cause of the Xinhai Revolution was an attempt by the Qing government to raise funds through dubious means, and had trouble paying Yuan Shikai during the Revolution.
 
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After WWII, could the ROC could be awarded one of the surviving Japanese battleships (possibly Nagato) as war reparations?
 
After WWII, could the ROC could be awarded one of the surviving Japanese battleships (possibly Nagato) as war reparations?
That was the last thing the ROC needed. They were gearing up to resume the war against the Communists. And a nearly 30 year old, completely worn out and neglected battleship was the last thing they needed.
 
China had pre-war plans for 8 BB, 20 CL, 2 DD Flotillas and 20 Gunboats. This plan was to cover £21m for 250,000 tons of new warships at £84 per ton. From what was ordered, 4 CL and 12 DD from Austro-Hungarian yards and 4 gunboats (800 tons) from Japan we can project what is left for battleships. The cruisers were a single 5300ton CL with 4 8" in twin turrets and 3 1800ton CL with 10 4". The DD were 400 ton at the very cheap price of £16 500 per unit (£41 per ton) a figure perhaps not including armament. Assuming about 50 000 tons for 20 cruisers, 9600 for 24 DD and 16 000 for 20 gunboats then this leaves 175000 for the 8 battleships or about 21,000 tons each. 4 DD were also on order in Italy. These could include the destroyer that was sold to Portugal as Liz and later became HMS Arno. A 1909 Manchu plan included 16000 ton BB that were to be built in Japan but this ended with the revolution. Vickers had also been offering a Rurik type ship prior to the 1911 revolution.

In addition to the ship building, China was to spend £3.5m per year from 1911 to 1915 on infrastructure (£13.8m) and annual maintenance was to increase from £ 4.9m to £ 6.3m while pre 1908 expenditure had been about £5.4m.

With large orders placed with the Austrians, possibly the BB will be built to A-H designs in A-H yards. This could possibly be a 8x13.8" gunned Teggetoff design although AH battleships were about £120 per ton and perhaps out of the price range, British yards could do £80-90 per ton. The Austrians would be appealing as clients as they were not among the aggressive European states bent on expansion into China.
For that weight they'll get something along the lines of the Spanish "Espana" class mini dreadnoughts.

Any lightly used preowned BB's the Chinese could have theoretically bought?
 
For that weight they'll get something along the lines of the Spanish "Espana" class mini dreadnoughts.

Any lightly used preowned BB's the Chinese could have theoretically bought?
Any of the first or second gen American or British ships in the 1920s, providing the TTL Washington Naval Treaty allows for their transfer
 
That was the last thing the ROC needed. They were gearing up to resume the war against the Communists. And a nearly 30 year old, completely worn out and neglected battleship was the last thing they needed.
You'd need the Communists to be completely crippled by then and the civil war effectively over with. Maybe the KMT comes up on top in the pre Japanese invasion war. Best bet would be to have the Long March fail and the Chinese communist party leadership and most of the military cadre captured or killed.

Even then the Nagato (and Chinese battleships in general) is a bad idea and a massive waste of money. But I could see it as being Chiang's pointless white elephant pride piece.
 
You'd need the Communists to be completely crippled by then and the civil war effectively over with. Maybe the KMT comes up on top in the pre Japanese invasion war. Best bet would be to have the Long March fail and the Chinese communist party leadership and most of the military cadre captured or killed.

Even then the Nagato (and Chinese battleships in general) is a bad idea and a massive waste of money. But I could see it as being Chiang's pointless white elephant pride piece.
And post WWII, if Chiang wants a "national pride" capital ship, he's going to want a carrier, not a battleship. Which means either one of the British light fleets or maybe an Independence class CVL.
 
China cannot support battleships or anything that more complicated than small arms for that matter.
The whole country was in a Hunger Games style battle royale starting in the 1920s between the Nationalists, Communists, and various warlords.
The only part of the country with significant industrialization was Manchuria and that was occupied by Japan.
I haven't even gotten started about the corruption.
Also, China never really had much of a navy other than the Ming era fleets.
To allow China to get battleships you would need a resurgence in the Ming dynasty, modernization, and then some.
 
And post WWII, if Chiang wants a "national pride" capital ship, he's going to want a carrier, not a battleship. Which means either one of the British light fleets or maybe an Independence class CVL.
I don't know enough about Chiang to make an accurate characterization of him. But I suppose he could be like Stalin and be a massive big gun fanboy and be interested in BB's long after they had become obsolete for naval combat.
 
According to Versailles, the Germans had to get rid of numerous ships in their fleets. In IRL they sunk them instead of handing them over to the Allies. The Chinese were there at Versailles (to ask for Hong Kong back early), the Chinese ambassador takes the German ambassador aside and makes a sweetheart deal - -
the Germans sell the ships to the Chinese, the Chinese money helps settle some of the German war debts, and thus you get a "modern" Chinese surface fleet.

The problem is what will happen in July 1937:
1. Sunk by the Japanese before the Marco Polo Bridge Incident
2. captured by the Japanese, sunk by the allies in World War Two
3. sailed out before they could be sunk by the Japanese to Australia. The fleet helps the allies in world war two. After world war two - it gets complicated.
4. all of the above
 
According to Versailles, the Germans had to get rid of numerous ships in their fleets. In IRL they sunk them instead of handing them over to the Allies. The Chinese were there at Versailles (to ask for Hong Kong back early), the Chinese ambassador takes the German ambassador aside and makes a sweetheart deal - -
the Germans sell the ships to the Chinese, the Chinese money helps settle some of the German war debts, and thus you get a "modern" Chinese surface fleet.

The problem is what will happen in July 1937:
1. Sunk by the Japanese before the Marco Polo Bridge Incident
2. captured by the Japanese, sunk by the allies in World War Two
3. sailed out before they could be sunk by the Japanese to Australia. The fleet helps the allies in world war two. After world war two - it gets complicated.
4. all of the above
There’s a problem with all of that:
1. Why do they need it?
2.Who is going to buy it?Nobody really knows who is gonna be in charge the next day in China.
3.Where’s the money gonna come from? Various Beiyang governments had to borrow heavily to wage war upon their rivals.
4.The ships were earmarked for entente, so if China has the money to buy them, they would have to buy it from the entente powers, not from Germany.
 
I don't know enough about Chiang to make an accurate characterization of him. But I suppose he could be like Stalin and be a massive big gun fanboy and be interested in BB's long after they had become obsolete for naval combat.
Well, the Yanks have two utterly worthless "large cruisers" to dispose of, which Chiang might take an interest in.
 
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Zhang Xun starts his coup in the middle of July 1914. The German East Asia Squadron is still in port. The coup fails in 3 days. Germany gets blamed as in OTL. China seizes the German Fleet in Harbor. WW1 starts and Germany is unable to deal with China taking its ships. Not sure all this would work really.
 
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