Navy of an Axis Ottoman empire WWII

Let's speculate that the Ottoman empire remained neutral during wwi and this doesn't butterflies a second global war. During the interwar period the empire becomes a totalitarian state and expands into Arabia and joins Germany and Italy in the Axis powers.

My question is, how big could the Ottoman armed forces be in this scenario if it devoted everything to a military buidup, particularly it's navy? How much of a threat would this be to the Allies?
 
I'm guessing that in this case they would have actually received those 2 battleships from the UK, which would still be the centerpiece of their navy come WWII.

The biggest question being how much of an economy (i.e. budget) do they get to play with? Are they able to exploit the oil reserves in their lands? If so how much?

Given the threat of a land border with the USSR much of their military budget would still be focused on land and air forces. I'm guessing much of their interwar period naval build up (if much at all) would probably involve buying Italian (the Italians did pretty brisk business during those decades as far as naval exports went).
 
Let's speculate that the Ottoman empire remained neutral during wwi and this doesn't butterflies a second global war. During the interwar period the empire becomes a totalitarian state and expands into Arabia and joins Germany and Italy in the Axis powers.

My question is, how big could the Ottoman armed forces be in this scenario if it devoted everything to a military buidup, particularly it's navy? How much of a threat would this be to the Allies?
Wouldn't this mean the Allies win WW1 much sooner, though?

Without the hundreds of thousands of men from the Russian and British armies who fought the Ottomans, those troops would have been available to fight Germany and Austria-Hungary instead. Perhaps the Russian Revolution is avoided as the Russians can concentrate their entire force against the Central Powers in Europe and therefore Austria Hungary collapses and the Allies win in 1916 or 1917.

Anyway if the Ottoman Empire still exists and WW2 still happens (which takes ignoring a lot of butterflies), I expect its main enemy will be Russia. In OTL, the Turkish forces of 1939 were as follows:

The Turkish Navy was the weakest of the services. It consisted of the outdated battle cruiser Yavuz (ex-Goeben), 4 destroyers, 5-6 submarines, 2 light cruisers, 3 mine-sweepers, 2 gunboats, 3 motor torpedo boats, 4 minelayers and a surveying vessel. The personnel strength was approximately 800 officers and 4,000 men. The Navy lacked all modern appliances for defending coasts and harbours, and the ships were defenceless against air attacks.

During the Anglo-Turkish Treaty negotiations in September 1939 a military credit agreement amounting to £25 million was agreed upon. A Turkish Ministry of Defence letter to the Turkish General Staff dating 22.03.1940 stated that the Turkish Army was to be increased to 1.3 million effectives forming 14 army corps consisting of 41 infantry and 3 cavalry divisions, 7 fortified positions and one armoured brigade.

Obviously, that's just the figures for the Turkish Republic. But if the Ottoman Empire had still existed, its resources and manpower could potentially have been much greater, since its territory would also have included Iraq, Syria, the Levant and the Hijaz. They would have been able to gain vast profits from exporting oil and could have used this to fund a much more powerful military.
 
Given the condition of the Turkish fleet, I'm not sure there's too much to optimistically expect from an Ottoman fleet. I suppose it's possible that the two battleships -- taking for granted they'll both still be serviceable -- will be deployable, and certainly it'll figure into British naval planning in the Mediterranean, but I can't see it figuring that much more than the concerns over the Italian ones.

Alternately, the battleships remain operating in the Black Sea, and operate in support of the Axis attacks either through southern Ukraine or, alternately, in support of a Turkish led advance up the Caucasus, if one were to be launched.
 
Highly likely that the Ottomans neutral means the Russian Empire's still around as the Sea of Marmara still being open to shipping means that Russia's food situation is much less desperate. So yeah, this WWII would be just completely different, so it's impossible to predict what side the Ottos would be on.
 
Highly likely that the Ottomans neutral means the Russian Empire's still around as the Sea of Marmara still being open to shipping means that Russia's food situation is much less desperate. So yeah, this WWII would be just completely different, so it's impossible to predict what side the Ottos would be on.
I'm not sure that neutrality would mean the Ottoman's would keep Marmara open. Sweden and Denmark didn't keep the Baltic straight open and they were neutral.
 
I'm guessing that in this case they would have actually received those 2 battleships from the UK, which would still be the centerpiece of their navy come WWII.

The biggest question being how much of an economy (i.e. budget) do they get to play with? Are they able to exploit the oil reserves in their lands? If so how much?

Given the threat of a land border with the USSR much of their military budget would still be focused on land and air forces. I'm guessing much of their interwar period naval build up (if much at all) would probably involve buying Italian (the Italians did pretty brisk business during those decades as far as naval exports went).
I was thinking that they would follow a totalitarian model economy like in Japan or Italy. The state tries to develop and use all of it's resources and infrastructure as efficiently as possible with the goal of becoming self sustaining and preparing for a total war. But like in Italy and Japan, this system leaves much to be desired and actually might make them more reliant on foreign goods in some cases.
 

nbcman

Donor
What vast oil profits? Oil was cheap in the 1930s - little more than a US Dollar a barrel or under $20 a barrel in 2019.
 
Why were the Ottomans Neutral? Did they get something for staying out of the war?

No CP Ottomans means no CP Bulgaria.

Greece and the Ottomans were on the verge of war in 1914 OTL. The Greeks were very uncomfortable with those two battleships heading to the Ottoman Empire and there is still the open territorial dispute over the eastern aegean islands. If a Greco-Turkish war breaks out, the Ottomans will likely win. Given the Ottoman-Bulgarian alliance, Bulgaria will be on the Ottoman side. Greece is toast and probably loses everything east of the Axios. The Ottomans will reclaim the eastern aegean islands and secure naval dominance of the Aegean.

After Greece, the Ottomans will be eyeing Italy. Italy is sitting on Ottoman lands which they were supposed to evacuate (the dodecanese) and are of naval importance to the Ottomans.
 
The situation in 1914:
  • The Ottoman Navy enjoyed enormous popular public support.
  • This could be equated to the addition of multiple capital ships each year, year-on-year if the same level of public support sustained the RN or HSF.
  • This was sustained both before and after the Italo-Turkish and Balkan Wars.
  • The fiscal problems were overstated by a one off unplanned acquisition with an usurious short term loan from a private foreign bank and this was rectified with a new loan in April 1914.
  • The markets bet on the Turks defeating Greece and backed the bet with loans and favorable rates.
  • There was reform and the beginning of a sustained drive for self sufficiency.
  • The pre-ww1 45 ship Naval program was achievable.
  • The British Naval mission had left the Ottoman Navy quite Anglophile, much to the displeasure of Germans under Souchon.
  • On the eve of WW1, the French had a safe bet of a £36 million loan on Turkey's future.
  • GB shipbuilders were in a 30 contract for naval support.
  • Germany was reforming the Ottoman Army as a hedge against the Russian Army.
  • All three major powers had settled their differences over spheres of influence and were united against the Russians gaining economic leverage over Turkish financial affairs (refused Russian entry to Ottoman Public Debt Administration).
The revival of Ottoman naval power
Following the proclamation of the Second Constitution in 1908, efforts to revive the state and its institutions and a desire to regain great power status gained momentum. Views on naval power shifted to a more positive direction where both rulers and the public saw the navy not as a burden or threat but rather as a means for political and social rejuvenation just as it was in other countries at this time. The Navy became a means for Ottoman subjects to mobilise around a patriotic cause. On July 14, 1909, a group of influential merchants led by Yağcızade Şefik Bey founded the “Navy Association” (Donanma Cemiyeti) set out a slogan 'Navy is Life' and aimed to raise funds among the citizens and support the government’s efforts to purchase new battleships. Taxes on matches and cigarette papers were directly channeled to the Navy Association, which was also allowed to organize lotteries and collect special donations during religious holidays. Through these measures, the Navy Association was providing about 952,500 TL (Turkish lira) per year (about £1,047,750). Evidently the procedure was for the government to raise a loan to order and begin paying for the ship and then the Naval Association would pay off the loan.

Two contemporaries wrote in their memoirs how the Navy Association was raising funds. Muammer Tuksavul, who was 10 years old then, was reading a patriotic poem first, and “…when the poem was finished, I went down from the stage and together with a friend of mine we took the donations box of the Navy Association, which was decorated with ribbons, to the guests. Ladies were seated on the right and gentlemen on the left. In 5-10 minutes to box was so heavy that I could hardly carry it. Mecidiye coins and gold were flowing in it. Especially the ladies were generous. They were saying ‘good on you, boy’ and putting their gold coins, jewels, necklaces in the box.”

Admiral Akif Büyüktuğrul wrote: “I was a child then. At the theatres in Şehzadebaşı, when it was the interlude, they were taking a table to the stage and placing a large bowl on it. Some people like the late poet Hamdullah Suphi were saying things like ‘Greeks have bought the Averoff! We are losing the homeland!’ and all the people were then putting whatever they have in that bowl. Soon the bowl was filled with gold and silver.”

The Navy had been neglected for a generation by the Sultan. In 1904, Captain Mark Kerr, RN, HBM Naval Attaché at the Porte (later C-in-C of the Greek Navy), wrote of the Turkish Fleet: ‘Of the ships that lie in the Golden Horn not one of them can go to sea, as the precaution is taken to remove some part of their machinery to ensure that they shall not leave their mooring without His Imperial Majesty’s permission. The part thus removed is kept in at the Imperial Palace. Along the north bank of the Golden Horn lies a line of ships – wooden and composite, ironclad and torpedo boat – all in various stages of decay. Some have nothing but a few ribs left, some have the whole shell, but all are rotting . . . waiting for the cold winter which brings also the fuel seeker who helps himself as he requires it . . .’

On the subject of the dockyards. Captain Kerr wrote: ‘The shore is strewn with wrecks, and on the jetties . . . is a confused mass of boilers, engines, anchors, cranes etc all rotten or rotting and intermingled with heaps of refuse and pariah dogs. There are supposed to be 1,200 workmen in this dockyard, but certainly not more than 400 do any work. Whether they exist, or whether their pay goes into the pockets of the officials, it is impossible to say.’

The Naval Attaché went on to describe the Dardanelles Fleet, none of which had been to sea for seven years, and some of which had had their boilers removed. The deplorable state of the Turkish Navy was by no means unique to that organisation. Most other official organisations were in a similar state of material and moral decay. At the centre of all this was Abdul Hamid II (known as Abdul the Damned), a weak monarch obsessed with the danger of his own overthrow – the reason he kept key parts of his Fleet’s machinery in his Palace.

The nominal strength of the Ottoman navy (on paper) was six vice-admirals, eleven rear-admirals, 208 captains, 289 commanders, 228 lieutenants, 187 ensigns, 30,000 sailors, besides about 9,000 marines.The most modern ships had been stripped of everything portable and sold as old iron by unpaid naval officers.

The Pre-Balkan War Naval rebuilding plan
In light of the lessons learned from the Russo Japanese war, the Ottoman State decided to create a new and powerful fleet based around Dreadnoughts. In 1909, a new naval program was put together. This was a 5 year, 46 ship program of 6 Battleships, 4 Scouts, 20 destroyers, 6 submarines, 2 minelayers, 1 training ship, a repair ship and other auxiliaries and 3 floating docks costing about £17.3m or £3.4m per year.

This 1909 plan was finally put to the Sadaret (Cabinet) in 1910 and postponed awaiting funding. The defense focus was clearly on the Ottoman army which could mobilise 16 Nizain (1st line) and 24 Redif (2nd line) Infantry Divisions or about 350-355,000 troops. There were an additional 6 Nizain Divisons, 18000 cavalry and 2 howitzer regiments. However, the Balkan War a few years later were to show that the Redif formations were unreliable and in need of reform. In November 1910 a £ 4.6m special budget was announced on army equipment over 3 years and £ 4m for Navy construction over 8 years. This Naval program was described as 2 BB, 3 CL and 10 DD although at £ 4m, these ships would be small. They possibly referred to the German pre-Dreadnoughts and Destroyers purchased in 1910 which cost about £2.8m and perhaps the remaining 3CL and 6DD could be ordered new from British yards for £1.2m. As such they would be 750 ton Destroyers and about 3000 tons for small protected cruisers of the type the Ottomans already had. By late 1910 this was being described as a 10 year plan, the limiting factor being suitably trained crews.

To put these programs into perspective, by 1914 the RN was spending £25.4m per year on ship building while Germany spending was at £11m. German and UK GDP were about 10 times that of the Ottoman Empire so the £3.4m per year is an eye watering amount for a purely maritime nation and treble the amount for a military/naval power like the Ottoman Empire. In this light, the 5 year plan is more like a 10 year plan and a more manageable £1.7m per year. In comparison with a nation requiring both an army and a navy, the Ottomans should be able to fund a fleet 1/10th of Germany's ie. 6 Capital ships, 4 cruisers, 14 destroyers, 7 submarines and this approximates the 1909 Programme quite well.

Looking at what was costed, the BB were about 25,000 tons, £1.8m each (the contract for Reşadiye was £1,796,500 over 22 month in 8 installments and £285,000 in interest over 6 years (15%) or 2,304,712 Turkish Lira total. The scouts would be about 4000 tons, the Destroyers 1100 ton and the Subs of about D Class size.

The schedule was as follows
1st year (1909)- 1 BB
2nd Year (1910)- 2 BB, 2 Scouts, 4DD, 2SS, 1 Minelayer, 3 Auxilliaries and 1 Floating Dock
3rd Year (1911)- 1 BB, 2 Scouts, 6DD and 2SS
4th Year (1912)- 1 BB, 5DD, 1SS, 1 Minelayer, 1 Auxilliary and 1 Floating Dock
5th Year (1913)- 1 BB, 5DD, 1SS, 1 Training Ship and 1 Floating Dock

Nearly 2/3rds of the program was to be spent on Battleships, 25% on other warships and 12% on auxiliaries and service ships.

In terms of bench marking Turkish ambitions, Australia had plans for 8 capital ships by 1930 and had a similar size GDP as the Ottoman Empire. Mexico also had a similar sized GDP but had no naval aspirations. In South America, the ABC nations had ordered battleships, Argentina's GDP was a little larger than Turkeys, 1/3rd larger than Brazil's and 2/3rds larger than Chile's. Moving upwards and Spain was the next nearest at about 1 and 3/4 larger than Turkey's GDP, Spain had 3 BB under construction and was contemplating 3 more. The Dutch empire had about 3 times the GDP of the Ottoman Empire putting it on par with Austro-Hungary and Dutch planning was to commit similar amounts that Australia would have committed in the Henderson plan equating to an 8 ship force.
 
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