Felix Leiter will likely as not be female, German, and redheaded.

IIRC Felix Leiter was an American CIA officer.

The reception in the French Embassy was in full swing. "James Bond, Miss Andrea Stoller," the man in an impeccable tuxedo said with a short bow. "I believe we've met."
The woman, with short auburn hair in a strapless green gown with matching emerald necklace and earrings, replied, "Oh, yes; Commander Bond. What brings you to the French Embassy tonight?"
"I was on this side of the pond discussing one thing and another with the cousins. I quite think I was invited to make the numbers even. And you?"
"The same; one needs to keep the Frogs on side. I heard you were in Macedonia recently. Nasty business, that."
"All's well that ends well, thanks to some of your SKA ruffians."
The woman put a hand on her chest. "Not my ruffians, I'll have you know."

etc.
 
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Although the concept of a female head of the MI6 would come quite earlier, potentially left in some post-mortem James Bond histories, as Ian's final prank to Kat after she likely becomes the head of the Abwehr later in her life.
 
The U.S. election is less than a year away, the economy is doing great with exporting food and goods to the warring nations.
The armed forces are undergoing modernization and build up for a potential entrance to the war.
The American people are buying a lot of consumer goods after a long depression.

On the Republican Party side, I think the main candidates are going to be Sen. Robert A Taft representing the isolationist side, Charles A Lindbergh, the pro interventionist side, and Gov. Thomas E Dewey taking whatever side that will get him the most votes (even if it means taking both positions in the same speech).

On the Democratic Party side if President Garner decides to run ( he will be 76 at the time of Inauguration) he will face a challenge from the left supported by Labor,and Civil Rights groups. I don't know who that will be.

Why is everyone assuming that the USA will get into the war?

Absent momentous lapses of judgment on the parts of the Japanese or the Allies I don't see it happening. Even the most rabid interventionists will need a casus belli and if the warring powers don't give them one then the USA won't go to war. Why should they? They're making money hand over fist supplying stuff to all sides.

Edit: The China Lobby's probably upset over Japan in China but that doesn't seem to be enough.
 
Never underestimate the power of stupidity in the course of diplomacy, especially in the time of war.
A lot of bad decisions come from short term thinking over long term needs.

We haven't had a big update on the big picture about the war in the Pacific, so I don't know if it's a stalemate with each fleet going back and forth hitting each other but not knocking one or the other out. Fleet Admiral von Schmidt may have a grand plan or a series of smaller actions designed to keep the Japanese occupied from completing their own plans.

With that in mind, Japan may see Guam as a potential staging base that the Allies could use, so they may want to in the short term keep it out of the Allies hands.
In the northern Pacific, the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy is stopping direct shipping from the U.S. to Japan and is sinking any and all Japanese flagged ships that they can find.
Any thing being shipped to Japan is going by an indirect route with the cargo being shipped to places like Manila with the manifest showing that the cargo is going to an U.S. owned firm but then from Manila it is put aboard Japanese or neutral flagged ships.
 
On the Republican Party side, I think the main candidates are going to be Sen. Robert A Taft representing the isolationist side, Charles A Lindbergh, the pro interventionist side, and Gov. Thomas E Dewey taking whatever side that will get him the most votes (even if it means taking both positions in the same speech).

I am amazed that Lindberg is a pro-interventionist? I mean, granted he did seem to flip-flop a bit, but he always was pro-isolationist before Pearl Harbor in OTL.
 
Lindbergh in OTL was Pro-German, anti-communist, and thought that the Japanese was the biggest threat to America.
 
Part 30, Chapter 350
Chapter Three Hundred Fifty


2nd December 1943

Berlin

It came as no surprise to Lang that the conservative elements in the Reichstag were deeply unhappy with the damning report that had been presented today. Some of their own had acted on information that could have only come from Soviet sources which had the potential to discredit them for a generation. This had come at a time when they had already felt like they were getting swept away in the vast changes to the world around them. The things that they had assumed were the bedrock of society were changing in ways they didn’t recognize.

Between Field Marshal von Wolvogle’s house cleaning, this latest fiasco and reports that the vast majority junior officers were from the ranks, the Heer as it had existed before the First Great War was largely gone. The land based gentry was in steep decline, the idea of most of the arable land being controlled by a few families that didn’t put it to the most productive use seemed absurd. But most of all their assumptions about their own innate superiority had been taking a beating. Every day a new list of soldiers, sailors and airmen came in to be read into the record so the Federal Merit Cross in Gold could be issued to them. These names were a reflection of the face of the Empire and some were not expecting what they heard. On reflection, it should have come as no surprise that there would be an attempt to put the toothpaste back into the tube.

Putting that aside Lang looked at the latest report from the various fronts on his desk. There were reports of the Russians abandoning vehicles on the road between Stalingrad and Saratov. The 2nd Corps said that they had finally succeeded in cutting the last line between Stalingrad and the rest of Russia and were advancing North on the Volga. The 7th Corps was advancing just to their east.

In the Far East, Admiral von Schmidt was playing with his cards close to his vest. The Admiral was absolutely obsessive regarding his operational security. That was hardly a surprise considering what he owed much of his success to. The Campaign in Vietnam was nearing its conclusion and the war against the Japanese Empire was going to soon enter a new phase.


East Bank of the Volga

The Russians had fallen back east along the rail line that they had been defending. The 7th Corps had pursued them but General Rommel had opted to continue north. The logic was sound, the Russians were falling back on their own supply lines so they could make a hard fight of it if they wanted to. Instead they were heading for Saratov with the idea of cutting those supply lines. Then someone had learned that the 5th Corps was headed for the same city and it had become a race, weather be damned. The 5th on one side of the river and the 2nd on the other. The 5th had a head start but they were supposedly having issues on the road.

Hans couldn’t care less about that. He hadn’t heard anything more regarding his conversation with Horst. To his surprise he was actually fairly anxious over the matter and wondered what sort of reaction he’d get. Hans wondered what the hold-up was. The logical part of his mind knew that it probably had to do with the weather, that was what he kept telling himself. Every time Hans looked over the driver’s shoulder all he could see through the vision blocks was lot of white and the dark outline of the SPz-2 a few meters in front of them. The PC and gunner up in the turret said that there was even less to see up there. Soren had claimed the seat up against the engine firewall and was dozing along with the rest of the Squad. At this moment Hans and the driver seemed to be the only ones on this APC who were still awake.


South China Sea

After two weeks in quarantine the Doctors had finally moved Tilo elsewhere on the ship. They had decided that he wasn’t in danger of dying or was a carrier of some dread illness. They’d stuck him in the quarters of the ship for enlisted personnel awaiting transport back to their units. Everything they had put him through had been because of a viral infection that remained unknown. So, all that had been for nothing? It was the sort of thing that made him want to shove his fist through the nearest wall.

There was however one good thing about spending that much time in one place. Tilo’s mail had caught up with him. Reading through the letters from home he learned that Lenz was home and was busy training in a new airplane he couldn’t give details about. His sisters were well, Inga was about to graduate from university and Hanna had gotten a job at an assembly plant installing optics in Panzers. His niece and nephews were themselves, best avoided. Pop’s work was keeping him busy, Mom said that he’d been traveling a great deal as well.

There were a great many things that Tilo was starting to suspect about his father. One of the MA Sealions had mentioned that the camp commandant in Judenbach had been Heinz Thorwald. Tilo remembered that he had in fact been introduced to Thorwald by his father in Wunsdorf. Thorwald, Mischner, MA/SKA and his own father mixed in. For years Tilo had accepted that his father was a semi-retired Feldwebel Lieutenant working as an administrator of some sort in the Luftwaffe. Something else was clearly going on.
 
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I like the way Tilo is finally beginning to suspect something. Wait until he finds out that Dad more or less created Kat...

The aristocrats can't deny that the Heer NEEDS a lot of officers fast, and good ones. The fact that they're being promoted so high, and treated exactly like carreer officrs, is what will rankle. will be the issue. Letting a radio man become a flag officer--that's for the navy...

It's probably not just the promotions, but that they can see that the non-aristocrats won't quietly leave the army--why would a major who was the second son of a factory worker go back to that sort of job? Worse, common folk are getting bosted up above aristocrats...dreadful!

This made me think of Kat:
 
The aristocrats can't deny that the Heer NEEDS a lot of officers fast, and good ones. The fact that they're being promoted so high, and treated exactly like carreer officrs, is what will rankle. will be the issue. Letting a radio man become a flag officer--that's for the navy...
I don't think that it's that big of a problem. They have plenty of non-aristocratic high-ranking officers (Rommel, Guderian, TTL Emil and Horst and possibly other OTL Generals like Balck, Model and Henrici). While Prussian Junkers are probably over-represented in the Armed Forces, it's likely that's due to the fact that such a career path is the one taken by most German Aristocrats.
 
Part 30, Chapter 351
Chapter Three Hundred Fifty-One


10th December 1943

Saratov, Russia

This is insane, Hans thought to himself for the hundredth time in the last several minutes. This had sounded a lot simpler when Horst had come around asking for volunteers who knew how to operate a train. The 4th Division had reached the railroad tracks east of Saratov stopping this train. The advantage that they currently had was that because of the weather there had been little in the way of communications between the Division and Headquarters. The lack of radio traffic had made it so that no one on either side knew exactly where they were. The problem that they had was that there was a wide band of fortifications south of Saratov that had hung up the advance of the 5th Corps so the city was still in Russian hands.

Crossing the frozen river seemed like an iffy proposition because no one expected that the Russians would not be watching it. That left the railroad tracks that ran across a long causeway and a steel trestle bridge followed by another causeway. If they could take the bridge they would be just a few kilometers from the center of the city and the defenders to the south would be left without a pot to piss in. It was obvious that a dozen men on that bridge could hold off a Division. That was why Horst had figured that something better needed to be done. That was when Horst had found out about a train that had been stopped by the 49th Regiment and had remembered that a handful of men who’d been under his command knew trains.

Hans, Soren, Jost and Henrik, who they’d hardly seen since he’d been transferred to a different Company a year earlier were all called in and asked if they wanted volunteer to drive the train across the bridge with as many men as possible crammed into the box cars. Trojan horse as it were. Hans had always found that story to be a bit implausible. If he’d been at war with another nation for a decade and they’d taken off leaving a wooden horse as a peace offering the first thing he would have done is have a large bonfire.

It was after that when Horst had pulled Hans aside. “Your paperwork went through” He said, “It took it a long time to get back around but congratulations Oberfähnrich Mischner.”

When Hans had joined the Heer his father had told him that the first rule was to never volunteer. He realized too late that he’d forgotten that very simple rule in a lot of different respects.

That was how he’d found himself in the cab of the train wracking his mind for the lessons on how to do this that he’d received from his father almost a decade earlier, which was more experience than anyone else had. All the gauges being in Cyrillic didn’t help matters and made reading them a laborious process. They had agreed that Soren and Henrik would play the conductors. Jost would be the fireman and Hans would pose as the engineer. Jost had thought that sounded exciting until he learned what a fireman on a train did, shovel coal into the firebox.

After an hour or so they had figured out enough to get it across the river, as much time as they figured that they would have before the Russians figured something was up. For all the good that would do them when the Russians riddled the cab with machine gun fire.

----------------------------------------------------------------

Hans heard the sounds of the click and thunk as the engine crossed the portion of the bridge that raised. As they approached the guard shack Hans saw a dozen men with burp guns standing around. One of them was walking lie if he had a stick up his ass, a senior noncom or officer. That was bad news, the threat all along was that they might run into Soviet officialdom, that was it.

“What do we do?” Soren asked.

“It’s too soon” Hans said, “The plan was to clear the bridge before the shooting starts.”

“Something happening?” Jost asked.

“Don’t worry about it” Hans answered Jost.

“Stupid shit happens all the time?” Henrik asked, "Right?"

“What” Hans said.

“You heard me. See how none of them are standing on the tracks themselves, they’re expecting it” Henrik said, “You blow past them a little bit and they’ll assume it’s stupid shit as opposed to what it really is.”

The officer tried to wave for them to stop but instead saw Hans with a genuinely apologetic look on his face as he didn’t apply the brakes until he was past the men. As the train ground to a stop Hans leaned out and saw that the Officer looked pissed, the men looked bored. That fit perfectly with Henrik’s idea that this sort of thing must happen all the time. Hans couldn’t understand what the officer was saying but the tone was unmistakable. He figured that he was getting the four-letter word treatment that came along with a number of threats and promises of what this man intended to do for making him walk a hundred odd meters out of his way on a cold, blustery winter evening. If Hans really had been a railroad engineer here he would probably be looking forward to being on the next train east to Siberia where he would have the privilege of learning a new trade. He’d heard that wood chopping and building roads with only the most basic hand tools were popular.

That was why Hans didn’t feel the slightest bit of remorse when the doors on the boxcars behind the small group of Russian soldiers slid open and hundreds of soldiers from the 4th Division started pouring out.
 
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Very nice, but risky in more ways than one. Running a steam locomotive is very challenging; the opportunity to get blown up is there. I would suggest that, if you edit, that you have a third person in the cab; one that knows how to read Russian to translate the markings.
Was the train already under steam when Hans took over? Raising steam is a difficult task also, although it does sound like the train was, at least, warm to start with.
 
"Surprise is an event that occurs in the mind of an enemy commander."

The maxim that surprise is an event that occurs in the mind of an enemy commander comes from the chapter SURPRISE in The Strategy of Technology by Stefan Possony and Jerry Pournelle. Reference
 
"Surprise is an event that occurs in the mind of an enemy commander."

The maxim that surprise is an event that occurs in the mind of an enemy commander comes from the chapter SURPRISE in The Strategy of Technology by Stefan Possony and Jerry Pournelle. Reference

I assume the next chapter of that book was "MOTHAFUCKA"?
 
That was why Hans didn’t feel the slightest bit of remorse when the doors on the boxcars behind the small group of Russian soldiers slid open and hundreds of soldiers from the 4th Division started pouring out.

Once Hans' troops had cleared the Russians away from end of the bridge Hans sounded CHARGE on the locomotive's steam whistle. An armored spearhead of Luftpanzers, APCs and regular tanks straddled the rails on the causeway and drove forward to join in the festivities.
 
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