Best British interwar fleet?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Hood, Oct 19, 2019.

  1. Hood Flagship of The Royal Navy

    Jun 29, 2016
    Scapa Flow
    Obviously we have the benefit of hindsight and could say something like "build loads of carriers and corvettes to best the uboats" but, with the many roles of the royal navy taken into account, what changes could be made to the Royal Navy immediately post WNT to make it a better fighting force for its many tasks. I would include a slightly more conventional Nelson class, possibly with 15' guns and a bit more speed, along with trade protection carriers, maybe have the counties with three triple turrets ins yes do four twins and, although opening a can of worms here, not extending the battleship holiday with the LNT.
    WaterproofPotatoes likes this.
  2. Zheng He Well-Known Member

    Aug 3, 2013
    Can we go back to WWI and have the Rs built as additional QEs giving the RN five more battleships that can be modernized to a pretty high standard where they are still useful in the next war?
  3. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

    May 14, 2017
    Best option would be no LNT. Then the UK can build more modern fast BBs with new 16" guns. Plus more cruisers. And have them go with larger cruisers similar to the USN where even their "light" cruisers were 10k+ tons. This gives them more viable ships to upgrade after the war. And the ships are more survivable during the war. And the obvious, more large carriers with much bigger hangers!
  4. Spencersj345.346 Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2018
    Can we scrap Eagle/not have her built and get a sistership to Ark Royal
  5. QuentinEdwardDevrill Active Member

    Sep 8, 2014
    With full hindsight and on the same price or not much more:

    general for the fleet: 20mm polsten instead of vickers HMG, 40mm bofors instead of PomPoms, 4.5 in twin dp gun main for dds and as secondary in other ships, high pressure supercharged boilers and modern turbines and gears, more welding and longitudinal framing (as D. K. Brown Nelson to Vanguard). No aircraft and less boats and handling equipment. accomodation spaces not dinning spaces (USN style)

    Nelrod with heavy shell low velocity gun, 10x2x 4.5 in dp in place of 6 in and 4.7 aa no torpedo tubes or aviation,
    Countys: 3x3 8 in with no intent of AA use even in exter's size
    Leanders 3x3 6 in
    Towns and later 3 x4 6 in
    No arethusa instead AA "heavy ship" ( Uk Atlanta) 6x2 4.5in on enlarged Tribal design or Dido

    DDs Tribal design at WNT, when size limited 2x2 4.5in (1 forward one back) place for hedgehog or forward firing ASW

    DDE with diesels 4 in guns and lots of dc

    Subs welding and improved diesels
    PKDkd33, Finerc, Goldkingy and 5 others like this.
  6. Dave Shoup Banned

    Sep 10, 2019

    Hindsight but with the facts in hand that the Treaty regime was signed in 1922, effective in 1923, and in place until the end of 1936, and that Japan was the only likely major enemy for at least 10 years, but a European challenger would be likely after that point:

    Capital ships:
    1. Complete the two new-builds as balanced 35,000-ton designs, capable of 30 knots and with 3x3 15/42 main battery and 4.7 inch DP secondaries;
    2. Plan on modernizing the three battlecruisers in the mid-1930s, with the Queen Elizabeths to follow, if necessary;
    3. Maintain all the existing 15/42 guns, turrets, etc., whether aboard the existing ships or stored;
    4. Preserve and maintain all the existing 13.5 inch ordnance as the older ships are scrapped.

    Aircraft carriers:
    1. Convert the three light battlecruisers to a single standard design equivalent to Glorious with a full-length flight deck, so perhaps 60 aircraft, divided between fighters and torpedo bombers;
    2. Group the two new fast battleships, the three battlecruisers, and the three large carriers, as they complete, into a fast "scouting force" type organization with cruisers, destroyers, and replenishment ships to match and train and exercise along those lines;
    3. Commission Eagle and Hermes (they're too far along not to) and assign them to serve as the carrier support for the battlefleet (QE and R types);
    4. Buy enough aircraft to fill and sustain five operational air groups;
    5. Keep Argus as a training carrier and wartime trade protection;
    6. Design work in peacetime for fleet and trade carriers; eyes on likely conversions.

    1. Build the County class ships as large, long-range, well-protected ships, but with 3x3 6 inch main battery turrets and twin 4 inch DP secondaries;
    2. Convert the Effingham and Emerald class ships with 3x2 6 inch main battery turrets;
    3. Maintain the Danae class ships as the backbone of the cruiser force to support the battlefleet;
    4. Convert the Ceres class ships as AA cruisers with twin 4 inch DP turrets;
    5. Don't build Adventure; use the tonnage for conventional cruisers or sloops, if possible;
    6. Design work in peacetime for large light cruisers (4x3 6 inch turrets, 12,000 tons).

    1. Build the A-I, but with 3 DP 4.7 or 4 DP 4 inch, rather than SP;
    2. Maintain all the late-war Leader and V&Ws possible;
    3. Build all the large sloops possible under the Treaty limit of 2,000 tons, with 4.7 or 4 inch DP main batteries;
    4. Prepare small sloop and coastal minesweeper/escort designs, but don't build them in peacetime, other than for yard needs and limited training duties;
    5. Design work in peacetime for fleet destroyers and sloops (large and small).

    1. Prepare a series of small "coastal" designs for inshore and the Med, and "large" ocean-going designs for the Pacific;
    2. Build a small number of each to keep the yards going, but limit the numbers to reduce peacetime costs;

    Transports, amphibious forces, and landing craft:
    1. Build enough to sustain and land two infantry brigade groups in peacetime;
    2. Prepare designs for series production in wartime;
    3. Sustain two mixed brigade groups, RMs and army, in the UK, and train them for opposed landings using the ships above; deploy RM battalion combat teams to the Med and Pacific in peacetime for training;
    4. Work with the aviation services toward a CAS doctrine.

    1. Build or convert the basic types for a fast replenishment force and fleet train for the Pacific;
    2. Design, train, and study trade conversions, emergency merchant shipbuilding plans, naval control of the merchant fleet, convoy and routing, mine warfare, and harbor defense for wartime needs;

    1. Beg, borrow, or steal the equivalent of the RNAS back from the RAF, and equip whatever units they can get with modern aircraft capable of operating from realistically extemporized bases in Pacific theater conditions.
    2. Plan for war.

    1. Build up the Commonwealth navies as much as is possible under the Treaty regime and with realistic budgets, with as much standardization, exchanges, and training as possible;
    2. Do as much as is diplomatically realistic with the US, French, Dutch, Greeks, Portuguese, South Americans, Italians (if possible), etc.

    In a lot of ways, it's an RN that looks more like the USN during the interwar period, but since the IJN is the only likely enemy for at least 10-15 years, that makes sense; by the mid-to-late 1930s, focus will shift back to European waters, but the legacy "Pacific" force should be large enough to have some positive impact on Japanese strategic thinking, even in the 1940s, and the "Pacific War" training and capabilities will all be useful in the Med or eastern Atlantic.

    Otherwise, the RN will face a three-ocean war with a 2-ocean navy designed for Europe - as it did, historically.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
  7. jsb Well-Known Member

    Jun 30, 2013
    Full hindsight is far to easy with 17+ years......

    I would start by asking US if they would be happy for us to use the same treaty interpretation as Lex and Sara regarding cancelled ships.... 6000t would help N&R a lot.

    Then you can easily run a couple of the Rs ashore in late 20s to start the replacement process stopped by LNT, really just stopping the LNT and 2LNT would help a huge amount....
    ShockTrooper262 and SsgtC like this.
  8. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2009
    Spend the money to modernise all the QE's and Battlecruisers, build another Ark Royal, rebuild Furious to the same standard as Glorious and Courageous and build long range convoy escorts. Also modernise the Royal Fleet Auxiliary with particular attention paid to the ability to resupply RN ships at sea. Get control of the FAA early and keep the aircraft equal to land based aircraft currently in service.
    PKDkd33, jsb and Derwit like this.
  9. Jukra Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2007
    Tuborg at Uborg
    To play out devil's advocate:

    Specify FAA's planes with long enough range to reach Kiel from British mainland (ie. some 800km combat radius, like Japanese did. Train the planes to strike at enemy's bases at night. Operate them from land bases for maximum availability en masse, strike at KM at early period of the war.

    Specify that these planes should be optimized for mass production.

    Loan and copy RM's playbook on how to strike at enemy bases using various commando methods, RM did that in WWI. Design and prepare for torpedo boat attacks on enemy bases, just like RN did at the Bolshies.

    Develop and produce a reliable magnetic mine deliverable via aircraft, subs, and MTB.

    Destroy the KM and RM at the beginning of the conflict. Use land bases as much as you can.

    This all should come at expense of battleships and even carriers.
    BeardedHoplite likes this.
  10. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

    May 14, 2017
    Bad idea. The Japanese made insane compromises to do that. Like no armor, no self sealing fuel tanks, extreme lightweight construction and ridiculously slow cruise speeds. Any plane like that would get slaughtered in the ETO
  11. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2009
    The FAA's Skua's could have raided the Kiel Canal, they were able to raid Norway from Scotland after all. Had the FAA had Henley's instead they might actually have been able to survive in the face of hostile air power.
    PKDkd33 and Derwit like this.
  12. Jukra Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2007
    Tuborg at Uborg
    Like Fairey Swordfish or Blackburn Skua? Granted, the specs are ambitious and may even require two engines, but they're reachable.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
  13. jsb Well-Known Member

    Jun 30, 2013
    Royal Navy Warship Strength 1939 (from

    The Royal Navy, still the largest in the world in September 1939, included:

    15 Battleships & battlecruisers, of which only two were post-World War 1. Five 'King George V' class battleships were building.

    7 Aircraft carriers. One was new and five of the planned six fleet carriers were under construction. There were no escort carriers.

    66 Cruisers, mainly post-World War 1 with some older ships converted for AA duties. Including cruiser-minelayers, 23 new ones had been laid down.

    184 Destroyers of all types. Over half were modern, with 15 of the old 'V' and 'W' classes modified as escorts. Under construction or on order were 32 fleet destroyers and 20 escort types of the 'Hunt' class.

    60 Submarines, mainly modern with nine building.

    45 escort and patrol vessels with nine building, and the first 56 'Flower' class corvettes on order to add to the converted 'V' and 'W's' and 'Hunts'. However, there were few fast, long-endurance convoy escorts.

    The Royal Navy, still the largest in the world in September 1939, included:

    25 Battleships & battlecruisers, of which 15 were post-World War 1 (N&R,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N&O) and 10 WWI (2R,5QE,R&R,H). Five 'P 1939' class battleships were building but quickly suspended due to the BoF.

    6 Aircraft carriers, three old conversions (C,G&F), three new (ARK class) and six (I class) more of the planned 27,000 tons fleet carriers were under construction. There were also 3 old light trade/transport carriers (Argus, Eagle, Hermes) in second class service.

    96 Cruisers, mainly post-World War 1 with some older ships converted for AA and trade duties, 23 new ones building.

    37 Super Destroyers & Cruiser-minelayers of the Tribal, Adventure, and Abdiel class with 18 building.

    226 Destroyers of all types, all post A&A as well as 32 more fleet destroyers under construction .

    97 escort and patrol vessels mostly converted old DDs such as the 'S', 'V' and 'W's to long range escorts, with 62 modified emergency simplified Black swan class building.

    86 Submarines, mainly modern with 29 building.
    PKDkd33, Logan2879 and steamboy like this.
  14. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

    Dec 14, 2012
    But, others made it work. The Japanese had such compromises forced on them by engine power. Pushing research harder on power plant development, higher energy fuels ect... one can get closer to the range wanted.
  15. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2009
    The Hawker Henley has the range and performance needed to be both a two seat naval dive bomber and with little modification a (large, for extra fuel compared to the Hurricane) single seat naval fighter. What's lacking is the potential high performance torpedo bomber but something based on the Battle or Fulmar might be possible.
    Goldkingy and oldironside like this.
  16. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

    Feb 2, 2013
    Anything without escorts gets killed, unless it's a Fighter-Bomber like P-47 or F4U, that can drop it's load and 'transform' into a Fighter

    In 1939, it's not hard to get a 400mile range Fighter Bomber that could survive in the ETO

    It's the P-36, and as the Hawk 75, did real well for the French in 1939 and 1940

    Hawk 75 in 1939 trim, with Wright R-1820-G105A engine

    Per the Curtiss manual, had a loadout of (1) 500GP pounder on centerline, and (1) 100GP pounder and (3) 25 pounder chemical bomblets under each wing and two fuselage guns, or delete 166 pounds of wing bombs for wing guns and full ammo. Listed with 163 gallons of fuel, would have a cruising range of 915 miles, with Oxygen and Radio
    Pg21 from _Detail Specifications for Curtiss Hawk 75-A Airplane_ Curtiss Wright corporation 1939 document# 6895-A

    Note 915 mile range, not radius

    This was pretty much a an American Zero. At the time, Curtiss had the armored 1/4" seatback as an option, and no self-sealing tanks listed.

    So add the armorplate behind the pilot, and the basic early war German self sealing tank, that pretty much was a standard metal tank with uncured rubber on the outside. Heavier, with no loss in tankage. say that'2 200 pounds. Call that a loss of 30 gallons in equivalent weight

    That gets the range down to 'only' 750 Miles. All this with 200mph cruise, or 260 without the bombs

    Some French pilots reported 6+ hour patrol flights with the Hawk 75 during the Phoney War
    PKDkd33 and jsb like this.
  17. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

    Feb 2, 2013
    A Battle with a Torpedo is _very_ close to a Kate
  18. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

    May 14, 2017
    Yeah, that's nowhere even close to the range suggested earlier. With a 915 mile range, combat radius would only be 250-300 miles with limited time on station before needing to head back. Add the armor, and combat radius likely falls to 200-250.
    Barry Bull and jsb like this.
  19. sts-200 Well-Known Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    Trying to avoid hindsight:

    -Build a pair of ships based on the F3 design (a 'fully armoured battlecruiser' equivalent of Nelson, but with 15" guns and 28kts).
    However, avoid 6" secondaries altogether and abuse the WNT's clause for additional deck armour and AA guns to allow them to be 36-37,000t without the DNC going grey. Make the secondary battery a set of 14-16 4.7" guns (some of which would be in HA mounts). The weight saved might get you 29 knots, or allow 16" guns and 28kts.

    -Identify and stick to a single calibre of secondary gun. Given an start in the early 20s, that is likely to be 4.7", preferably the Mk VIII QF.
    Build the mounts as per Nelson, then plan to fit a lighter manually-operated version to destroyers, probably separating the ammunition once sea trials show it's too heavy.
    In the 30s, built two new mounts for the same gun - a lightweight twin mount with at least some power working for new heavy DDs and as cruiser secondaries, plus a proper power-worked between-deck turret mount for heavy ships.

    -Build as many County-class cruisers as time and treaties allow (equipped with low-angle 8" and the new 4.7" HA guns).

    -Assuming we're sticking to real-world treaties, then switch to building Leander/Amphion, and don't stop (I've always had a soft spot for the Arethusas, but I'd rather have 3/4 more Amphions). Dido-equivalents to be built with the 4.7" BD HA mount noted above.

    -Avoid the 14" limitation on the '36 LNT, or engage the escalator clause almost immediately.
    Use that to build a KGV-Vanguard hybrid with the 15" turrets as one of the 1936 ships, then move straight on to 15" or 16" ships.

    -Build the two-shaft version of Ark Royal (1934) that was studied, accept that it will be 1/2kt slower. Keep building Ark Royals.

    -Allow DD hulls to be more optimised for cruising speeds, not top speeds (costs about 1/2kt, but gains ~10-15% range).
    Preferably ensure destroyer machinery keeps pace with cruiser/battleship superheat & pressure levels post-1936 (i.e 'J', 'Tribal' and wartime destroyers have slightly better machinery)

    -Aircraft (a can of worms about which I know relatively little in this period). If they could end up with a Fulmar/Battle derived torpedo/dive bomber and a Hurricane-type fighter for all those Ark Royals, I don't think it would be a bad thing.

    -Invest more in both the dockyards and private shipyards to encourage welding. Stick to a single year (or two) of T-class subs, then move straight onto the A-class.

    -More paper studies and planning into:
    Cheap escort ships that can be built to standard designs by any yard (i.e. based on big trawlers/whalers)
    Simple 'light carriers', to be built to merchant standards, but with fine subdivision, to use a set of 'ordinary' machinery (e.g. destroyer-type).
  20. Jukra Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2007
    Tuborg at Uborg
    For strike purposes getting from East Anglia to Kiel with torpedo/heavy bomb is enough. Actually, from East Anglia to Wilhelmshaven is quite good enough. If you go in by night in 1939 there's practically no chance of an interception.

    Additionally, a good range from Malta and Egypt gives you nice options with Mediterranean as well, thus actually reducing the need for carriers. Of course, due to RAF, the plane itself would have to be carrier capable.

    If we go to a radically different route, ie. RNAS allowed to exist, I'd go further with a "Japanese" route and actually have most of the naval air power stationed on land. With European theater distance by late 1930's it's feasible to construct land based twin engined bombers to handle most of the naval strike roles, thus reducing the need of the carriers and/or releasing them for the most important tasks.