Dread Nought but the Fury of the Seas

On a slightly different track, did the later Hawkins-class cruisers get finished, or were the ones after Cavendish cancelled when the war ended early?
Although they ended up setting the standard for OTL's "Treaty" heavy cruisers, the RN never seemed to be happy with the design and they spent half the inter-war years converting and re-converting and generally messing around with them. If Hawkins is a one-off it might affect any inter-war lmits on cruiser design.

If they're planning for Vindictive to mount cruiser armament as well as a significant air group on 10,000 tons, the Admiralty have some bad news coming. Worst case, they end up with something like a 1920s Tone - a cut-down CA that carries half-a-dozen float planes. Not bad if all you want to do is scout, but not a carrier or even a path to one.
All five Hawkins are being finished - four as 7.5" cruisers, plus what will be the many guises of Cavendish (note she won't be renamed Vindictive, as that ship never won her many OTL glories).
They have to learn what is an what isn't a carrier sometime...

No, I agree they weren't very good, too much of a transitional design - but they were what was available, and at the time, the RN desperately needed big cruisers, as all the armoured cruisers were hopelessly out of date (much the same situation applies in the story).
 
Yes, that's a good one - as is an idea that the Navy should be responsible; they've traditionally been the first line of defence, and after all, the enemy has to fly over water...

Given that an RAF hasn't been created during the war, I'd say it was pretty unlikely that one would be formed in peacetime.
Simply due to bureacratic inertia and vested interests, it seems inevitable that the Navy will control anything connected with ships, the Army anything connected with ground support and fighter cover 'over the front'.
It's always the crossovers that are difficult (e.g. do Navy land planes defend naval bases, and if so, who defends the rest of the country).
Heavy bombing is less well developed that OTL, so there's probably still a tussle to come over who controls that. The Handley Page O/100 would have seen some service in the summer of 1917, the O/400 would likely be delayed due to the early end of the war. Given a reduction to peacetime working, I doubt the Vimy would see service before 1920.
I think there may well be an Air Force formed in peacetime, although it may take a while. The basic issue is that the strategic bomber advocates need too much money. If they keep the RAF as the RFC inside the army the way the US kept the Army Air Corps which became the Army Air Forces inside the army, the fights over how much money goes to tanks, infantry, ground attack aircraft, fighters, strategic bombers, transports, etc. all happens inside the army, Eventually, I think this leads to too many headaches and the air advocates win the argument for a separate service. These arguments do not happen on the navy side because the navy isn't interested in strategic bombing (at least not from land bases).

Depending on when and if there is another World War, the transition might be sooner or later, but I think it is hard to avoid in the long run. The exact nature is dependent on the individual cases. I could see anything from the traditional RAF which runs all aircraft (unlikely ITTL, I think the Fleet Air Arm will keep its own), to a situation where the RAF is responsible only for strategic bombing and associated long range escorts, UK air defense, and transports. In that case the RN would control the FAA and Coastal Command (the equivalent of the US patrol squadrons), and the British Army would keep fighters and ground attack aircraft in a model reminiscent of the USMC.
 
Ok, and the catapult would be excluded?, I don't know exactly how much it weights but the space that requires could be of better use, I guess.
Think about what your asking here, it's a 20s refit, probably 15 years before the ship can have RDF fitted for searching and gunnery so the scout aircraft are vital to the efficient operation of the ship.

20s refits will probably only include bulges being fitted, improved gunnery ranging equipment, better radio set ups and improved AA.
 
I think there may well be an Air Force formed in peacetime, although it may take a while. The basic issue is that the strategic bomber advocates need too much money. If they keep the RAF as the RFC inside the army the way the US kept the Army Air Corps which became the Army Air Forces inside the army, the fights over how much money goes to tanks, infantry, ground attack aircraft, fighters, strategic bombers, transports, etc. all happens inside the army, Eventually, I think this leads to too many headaches and the air advocates win the argument for a separate service. These arguments do not happen on the navy side because the navy isn't interested in strategic bombing (at least not from land bases).

Depending on when and if there is another World War, the transition might be sooner or later, but I think it is hard to avoid in the long run. The exact nature is dependent on the individual cases. I could see anything from the traditional RAF which runs all aircraft (unlikely ITTL, I think the Fleet Air Arm will keep its own), to a situation where the RAF is responsible only for strategic bombing and associated long range escorts, UK air defense, and transports. In that case the RN would control the FAA and Coastal Command (the equivalent of the US patrol squadrons), and the British Army would keep fighters and ground attack aircraft in a model reminiscent of the USMC.
Oh, yes, I would agree it's almost certain in the long run - when writing my previous post I was thinking of the post-war period and through the 20s.
As you say, once the bomber is firmly established as a weapon, it starts to 'want' its own operational structure. In the case of Britain (but not necessarily the USA), that leads to the question of defence - i.e. Fighter Command - which becomes just as high a priority as the bomber force.
I can certainly see your later model working in the story - once aircraft start to develop into more capable weapons (or at least once people think they are).
 
Manifest Destiny is Expensive
Manifest Destiny is Expensive

America’s financial position was by far the strongest of the wartime Allies, but the post-war period still produced some nasty shocks. The monies spent on the armaments programme following the declaration of war had been almost entirely wasted; within 8 months the war was over, long before any of the new factories, shipyards or training facilities produced anything useful. In addition, millions had been spent on British and French equipment to help equip the American Expeditionary Force. In the months after the armistice, a vast amount of this equipment was delivered, and it was entirely useless.
Brand-new aircraft were sold to French furniture makers for the price of the wood they contained. Local farmers, and even American troops on their way home were offered unfired rifles for a few Dollars each, and everything from tanks to tents was either given away or burned. None of it was worth the cost of transport back to the States.
Around two million American volunteer soldiers had benefitted from a year or so of steady pay, regular meals and training courtesy of Uncle Sam. To many of the poorer, or less educated recruits it had been a boon, but its effects were short-lived as demobilisation proceeded rapidly through 1918.

After the war, America was owed vast sums by the other allies, most of which were secured against good collateral. In theory, she had little to worry about, however by the winter of 1919, the global post-war boom was losing steam. At that time, the British government decided that Dollar-denominated debt repayments would only be made at the pre-war exchange rate of $4.87 to the Pound, rather than the de-facto current rate of between $3.50-$4.00. As almost all the Allies’ credit had been arranged through London, the decision also benefitted France and Italy, who therefore swiftly joined Britain in supporting the measure.
This created a tremendous ruckus among the money men in Washington and New York, but it also had the paradoxical effect of strengthening Sterling, as governments around the world saw that the decision improved the state of British finances. Technically, there was little that the American financiers could do; the Allies were not dishonouring the debts, the collateral was still there, and there was no such thing as a fixed exchange rate.
The more radical among the Irish and German immigrant communities attempted to whip up anti-British feeling over this ‘short changing of America’, but the American public were largely unaffected by these financial machinations. Many more Americans felt satisfied that the country had avoided a long and bloody war, while jingoistic sentiments that ‘Germany surrendered the moment America showed up’ had at least some basis in fact.

However, there was also a general feeling that America had spent and loaned vast sums, and that she should be free to enjoy the benefits of peace. That did not necessarily include spending money on large armaments programmes, and so as the 1920 budget was being prepared, there was much debate within the US government over the future of America's naval program.
Currently funded construction would deliver a fleet of 25 dreadnought battleships and 2 battlecruisers by the end of 1922. Eight of these ships were equipped with 12" guns, and therefore had to be regarded as second-rate vessels. A further eight ships had been authorised, but funds had not yet been appropriated for their construction.

By contrast the Royal Navy either had, or was building, 42 capital ships; a significant margin over 27. Twelve of these were 12" gun vessels, but the Navy Department took note of the rumours that Britain seemed to be keeping some of her older vessels in commission as ‘second class’ battleships - effectively a replacement for the armoured cruisers that had been used before the war on foreign stations.
Given the financial burdens of the war and the greatly increased size of modern ships, American naval strategists assumed that Britain would scale back her building programme to no more than two ships per year, probably starting in 1920. If so, by 1925 the RN might have as many as 48 capital ships, with four to six more under construction.

Meanwhile, it was predicted that by 1925, Japan might have 17-19 such ships, with 4-8 more under construction.

Making the US Navy ‘the single greatest fleet in the world’ would probably require funding for an additional 20 vessels by 1925, while attempting to reach a dominant ‘two power’ standard would require an immense level of construction (the completion of 50-60 capital ships by 1930). Attempting to out-build Britain to such a degree would be a dangerous and provocative tactic that would certainly provoke a response. Given the British record of building ships remarkably quickly, reasoned analysis suggested that even America’s industrial power could not guarantee success for a generation.

On the other hand, adopting a ‘Risk Fleet’ theory with respect any other power was seen as equally dangerous. The strategy hadn’t worked for Germany before or during the war, as it hadn’t allowed them to override the superiority of the British Fleet, with consequent impacts on German wartime trade.
If America were to build such a ‘Defensive Fleet’ (perhaps 70% that of Britain), it would mean accepting British control of global maritime trade for the foreseeable future. Although the USA had ultimately come down on Britain’s side, the realities of war had still been a shock; American trade went only where the Royal Navy allowed it to go.

As the advocates of ‘Dominant Fleet’, ‘Equal Fleet’ or ‘Defensive Fleet’ continued to put their cases to each other, and to the legislature, the capital ships of the 1916 Bill continued to be funded at the typical pre-war rate of two-per-year. The Navy argued that it should have a pair of battleships plus one of the battlecruisers, but Congress wouldn’t budge and told the Navy to choose – either two battleships, or one of each type.

Just as funds for the 1920 ships, Saratoga and Montana, were being passed through Congress, the US Navy received a nasty shock.
 
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Stenz

Monthly Donor
Very interesting update, a fantastic analysis of the "what ifs" of financial implications of a "short war" on America.
 
Gonna guess that someone gets a good and proper look at the guns of the Furious.

An excellent update :)
That or they got a look at Rodney's plans. Of course the biggest problem for the USN in this time period is that many lawmakers view it as an expensive luxury since the US has the luxury of two massive oceans separating it from any potential foe and international trade wasn't the massive chunk of the GDP it has been since the 40s.
 
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That or they got a look at Rodney's plans. Of course the biggest problem for the USN in this time period is that many lawmakers view it as an expensive luxury since the US has the luxury of two massive oceans separating it from any potential foe and international trade wasn't the massive chunk of the GDP it has been since the 40s.
Actually the two oceans were a reason the navy got funded. Besides the fact that the U S was defending the “walls”with the navy, the members of congress could bring home the bacon because even inland industries benefited from building materials and equipment for the navy. An example is that during the 30’s my grandfather was a machinist and the company he worked for in Kansas built gears for navy ships.
 
the Navy Department took note of the rumours that Britain seemed to be keeping some of her older vessels in commission as ‘second class’ battleships
This economises on shipbuilding budgets and symbolically increases the power of less important Stations but it's much more expensive to maintain an old battleship than a new cruiser, the Naval Treaty in OTL was a real boon to the RN's ship maintenance budget and even with healthier overall budget's keeping 12" ships in commission isn't a wise in the long run.

Dollar-denominated debt repayments would only be made at the pre-war exchange rate of $4.87 to the Pound, rather than the de-facto current rate of between $3.50-$4.00
no such thing as a fixed exchange rate
Well there was the Gold Standard which the entire world was one pre-1914, the US remained on it throughout the war and Britain went back on it in 1925 in OTL and that was a form of fixed exchange rate as everyone fixed their currency against gold and by extension against all the other countries on the Gold Standard.

Just as funds for the 1920 ships, Saratoga and Montana
I assume that is one battle cruiser and one battleship, assuming the ship name order is the same as OTL those would be third ships of the Lexington and South Dakota class respectively.
 
Actually the two oceans were a reason the navy got funded. Besides the fact that the U S was defending the “walls”with the navy, the members of congress could bring home the bacon because even inland industries benefited from building materials and equipment for the navy. An example is that during the 30’s my grandfather was a machinist and the company he worked for in Kansas built gears for navy ships.
Agreed, the real casualty of the two oceans was the US Army. The realization that the Navy was the first line of defense was why the army tended to get so neglected. In addition, despite the growing mechanization of war, the national tradition was still one of quickly raised armies (civil war and earlier). This meant the US started WW2 with an active army that had fewer troops than Belgium.
 
Agreed, the real casualty of the two oceans was the US Army. The realization that the Navy was the first line of defense was why the army tended to get so neglected. In addition, despite the growing mechanization of war, the national tradition was still one of quickly raised armies (civil war and earlier). This meant the US started WW2 with an active army that had fewer troops than Belgium.
What I meant was that Congress until pretty much WWII viewed the navy as primarily a defensive tool which meant that it didn't get the funding and manpower it needed for a balanced fleet and a decent fleet train which meant the size of the Atantic and Pacific were as much a curse as a blessing for the USN. Not to mention the fact that a given amount of would pay for less stuff for the USN than for the RN what with American seamen and shipyards costing more. Still a great what if of WWII would have been if the Army was a quarter million stronger in September 1939 how much faster could the nation have mobilized.
 
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Agreed, the real casualty of the two oceans was the US Army. The realization that the Navy was the first line of defense was why the army tended to get so neglected. In addition, despite the growing mechanization of war, the national tradition was still one of quickly raised armies (civil war and earlier). This meant the US started WW2 with an active army that had fewer troops than Belgium.
The Royal Navy was viewed the same way, it was the primary line of defense and of projecting power for the UK. In comparison, the army was underfunded, under equipped and under-manned. It's what annoyed the French at the beginning of both WW1 & WW2; the time it took the British to build up the BEF and expand & train the regiments.
 
What I meant was that Congress until pretty much WWII viewed the navy as primarily a defensive tool which meant that it didn't get the funding and manpower it needed for a balanced fleet and a decent fleet train which meant the size of the Atantic and Pacific were as much a curse as a blessing for the USN. Not to mention the fact that a given amount of would pay for less stuff for the USN than for the RN what with American seamen and shipyards costing more. Still a great what if of WWII would have been if the Army was a quarter million stronger in September 1939 how much faster could the nation have mobilized.
As @jlckansas says, navies were a pretty good industrial investment, and whether from a defensive or offensive minded viewpoint, it was the only way the USA could project power/secure itself at this time.

However, as you point out, what they have a present is a 'Defensive Fleet', as I've called it. As in reality, the 1916 Bill was supposed to raise that to 'Equal Fleet', but with the delays and Congress refusing more than 2/year, that is beginning to look unlikely.
If they're not careful, they fall into a trap - having an expensive navy, but one that can't guarantee control of the oceans ...
But having a cheap, weak fleet isn't a great idea either ...
On the other hand, no-one is really bothering them at the moment ...
There's an argument for everything.
 
This economises on shipbuilding budgets and symbolically increases the power of less important Stations but it's much more expensive to maintain an old battleship than a new cruiser, the Naval Treaty in OTL was a real boon to the RN's ship maintenance budget and even with healthier overall budget's keeping 12" ships in commission isn't a wise in the long run.
True, it is more expensive, but at present there aren't any new cruisers - hence the use of the old junk ... I mean the valuable Second Fleet Reserve.

Some way back, I've also suggested mitigating that cost somewhat, by converting the ships to mostly burn oil and operate with 4/5 main armament and half secondaries. That removes the need for about 100 stokers from a typical early battleship, and about another 100 from the armament. Even with increases due to new equipment and probably a Admiral's staff, that takes complement down to around 700, not far off a typical heavy cruiser in peacetime.

Well there was the Gold Standard which the entire world was one pre-1914, the US remained on it throughout the war and Britain went back on it in 1925 in OTL and that was a form of fixed exchange rate as everyone fixed their currency against gold and by extension against all the other countries on the Gold Standard.
Indeed, but this 1919.
To some degree, this is a fixed exchange rate; it's the Allies saying 'we'll repay on the terms as originally agreed, we're not going to let you have any additional profit from floating exchange rates'.
Also, it doesn't necessarily act as an absolute unconditional benefit to the other Allies, as in reality post-war the rate went above $5 for a time.

I assume that is one battle cruiser and one battleship, assuming the ship name order is the same as OTL those would be third ships of the Lexington and South Dakota class respectively.
Yes. The first two of each were funded in 1919.
 
The Royal Navy was viewed the same way, it was the primary line of defense and of projecting power for the UK. In comparison, the army was underfunded, under equipped and under-manned. It's what annoyed the French at the beginning of both WW1 & WW2; the time it took the British to build up the BEF and expand & train the regiments.
Unlike on the continent Britain for social reasons, did not maintain conscription so did not have a large pool of trained soldiers with which to build a large continental force

It only started conscription for WW2 in Feb 1939 and so only 1 class had started and finished training when war started.

One of my suggestions on the post Boer war thread was that Britain introduces limited conscription (outside of Ireland) for the TA and Yeomanry reserve units to provide a sort of reserve pool of men to allow all 14 TA Divisions, all 14 Yeomanry Brigades to be stood up far faster than OTL and for drafts to be sent abroad to free up regular units in over seas garrisons.

But such an act by HMG would be a political hand grenade.
 
Some way back, I've also suggested mitigating that cost somewhat, by converting the ships to mostly burn oil and operate with 4/5 main armament and half secondaries. That removes the need for about 100 stokers from a typical early battleship, and about another 100 from the armament. Even with increases due to new equipment and probably a Admiral's staff, that takes complement down to around 700, not far off a typical heavy cruiser in peacetime.
As you say man power isn't that much of a difference, the bigger issue is that these are old, tired ships. That means they need a lot of routine and reactive maintenance if they aren't going to be pier Queens and that costs money, especially as some ships will have effectively unique bits of kit further driving up costs. Right now they don't really have a choice but a force of smaller, more modern, more uniform ships costs much less to maintain and the RN really needs to focus on getting there as soon as possible.
 
Brief thought - If you're going to use the old battleships with short crews on show-the-flag overseas stations, wouldn't it make sense to keep the secondaries manned and cut back on the main armament crews, maybe manning only 1 or 2 turrets? The secondaries may actually get used in anti-piracy / colonial policing operations. The 12" are overkill on anything short of a heavy cruiser, and in a war situation, the ship will have to be re-manned anyway.
 
Brief thought - If you're going to use the old battleships with short crews on show-the-flag overseas stations, wouldn't it make sense to keep the secondaries manned and cut back on the main armament crews, maybe manning only 1 or 2 turrets? The secondaries may actually get used in anti-piracy / colonial policing operations. The 12" are overkill on anything short of a heavy cruiser, and in a war situation, the ship will have to be re-manned anyway.
I think the relevant analysis on whether to fully man the main battery or fully man the secondaries is what skill set is more perishable on a fleet wide basis if we assume that hostilities will have some time for ramp up and recrewing. I would imagine that reservists would be able to more readily maintain proficiency on 4 inch or 6 inch manually fed breech loaders with minimal director involvement by training on land or training on 2nd and 3rd rate cruisers that are stationed in home waters far more readily than they can maintain proficiency in main battery firing. Accuaretly firing 12 inch guns to the horizon is a far more complex set of tasks than firing a 4 inch gun in anti-destroyer mode. So a 12 inch gun battleship on distant station would be more readily brought to full efficiency by an infusion of reservists for the secondary battery than the same size infusion of reservists for the main guns, in my opinion.
 

Stenz

Monthly Donor
...wouldn't it make sense to keep the secondaries manned and cut back on the main armament crews, maybe manning only 1 or 2 turrets?
I like that idea. Most capital secondaries are cruiser-calibre guns, which is what the RN would be “expecting” to use in the kind of scenario these “second-rate capitals” would be employed in. It’s not like the Royal Navy is not used to the idea of rating it’s capital ships
 
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