The Forge of Weyland

30th May 1938

...Spears smiled slightly. "Well, Sir, yes and no. It's definitely better than what our chaps have been making the tracks out of. But it's not exactly new. The somewhat embarrassing bit is that the track used a manganese steel, which stood up a lot better. What's embarrassing is they started using it in Britain in the 1870's, for railway track!

"Really?" Jackman looked down at the report in his hand. "I suppose that makes sense, a railway line gets a lot of heavy use. I'll take a look through it, then we'll pass it on to the manufactures. They can probably use it to improve our own tracks, and a longer-lasting track is something the RTC will probably like. Good work, Spears."
And that looks like an interesting POD in it's own right!
 
Explanation of POD and Timeline


There's been some comment on AllanCamerons TL about tanks, and what they can do, so I thought I should perhaps clear up any confusion about how my chosen POD goes and how it affects the tanks. While it's all in the story, some of it might not be so obvious.

The POD changes the result of the 1934 EAF exercise to be a success. As a result, they carry on testing and exercising as they develop a doctrine. This is what they didn't do OTL, and as a result didn't really know what to do with tanks in 1940, at least outside of a local, tactical level.

They are basically going in the same direction as the Germans, but with a lower emphasis on speed and a greater one on protection. What the exercises showed them was that the idea of outflanking was good, as was the idea of finding a weak spot and exploiting it. However the growing use of AT guns also showed that they might also have to crack the defence if the unsporting enemy hadn't left a usable weak spot.

These changes drive a different tank requirement. They were already unhappy with the light tank, the exercises confirmed it was useless except as a recon vehicle, and the Spanish Civil War just confirmed that. But they still need a fast tank to outflank and exploit (cruiser), it just needs to be a medium tank. This leads to the Vickers A10* - about 18 tons, 40mm glacis, decent gun and can do around 30mph on the road. It's fast enough to exploit a flank or hole, but reasonable tough so the odd AT gun won't stop them all. In order to actually crack a defence, they need an infantry tank (the Vickers A11). Thick armour (although it's a bit lighter than the OTL Matilda), a big LV close-support gun (it's intended to be used as part of an infantry attack), and reasonably fast (the higher speed than OTL is because they want to open that hole as fast as possible, and a really slow infantry tank just won't do that). They also intend to be driving the infantry around, again for speed (and again just as they did on the early exercises), so the A11 is intended to do over 20mph.

So the needs of the new doctrine have changed the tanks. Not a huge amount, but noticeably so. They have also dropped the idea of light tanks, instead spending their money on the more expensive Cruiser and Infantry tanks. Since they won't have a load of light tanks, the cavalry will still need something, and the obvious solution is the armoured car. So they will build these for the cavalry, they are cheaper than tanks.

The final new piece is the large infantry carrier. OTL, they used a massive number of light carriers to move weapons, supplies, and so on. Here they will be buying some larger ones instead. They cost more, but they dont need as many. The Armoured Brigade infantry need something big enough to hold a squad. Again, no reason they couldn't have built them OTL, just that with the old doctrine they were looking at a tank-led advance/breakthrough, with not much infantry. The exercises actually had a far more generous number of attached infantry, so they just haven't reduced it.

What this does mean is that the tactics and composition of the tank force is noticeably different by 1938 - and will be more so by 1940. They actually have a lot less tanks, although more capable ones, so the BEF's layout will certainly change.

The other change is in tank supply. By adopting the new doctrine early, the only firm that can supply tanks in 1935 is Vickers. So Vickers have designed two useful tanks, and are busy building them. With those orders, they have upgraded their tank plants (as they did OTL, but to build different tanks this time). The (very odd) decision in OTL to spread tank orders around firms with no experience will change. Partly because their established supplier, Vickers, point out its horribly inefficient, and a system like the RAF Shadow Factories makes far more sense, and also because Vickers moved early to welded tanks, and most of those other firms have no experience. They will end up building components, and some of the tanks designed by other companies (like the Matilda) which are more suited to their methods, but there will be some larger tank factories run by the experienced manufacturers. Nothing revolutionary, this is basically what the RAF did (and in a somewhat different way, the RN). It just needed someone to point out a tank is not a mess-tin, and you need a specialised firm to build them.

This leads to a rather different BEF than in Allan's TL. A lot less tanks, different tanks, and a quite different doctrine. The changes will apply from when the BEF arrives, ie well before May 1940. What effect this will have... well, I am being careful to avoid the excellent Blunted Sickle results, and I also don't want to treat over Allan's ongoing timeline, but I now have a plan that will be different from both and different from OTL. What it is, you'll have to wait and see.

But I still have to be careful not to give the British too much. It's an awfully easy trap to fall into, but at least up to the point the dakka starts its not too hard to control. After the action starts, the butterflies take a serious hold and it needs a lot more restraint on my part.
 
i think you make some really good points in post #1065. I have been struggling on and off for 10 years to progress an embryonic (still born ?) AH where a UK-like country allied with a benelux like country is in conflict with a French like country - i have been thinking as a result of this thread how the different drivers would change British tank development. French tanks ( and my AH would use OTL tech) were generally slower and more armoured which would tend to drive better AT capability and armour at expense of excessive speed . The methodical battle would see tanks used more as support to the attack and thus the need for AT capability (either tank or gun) would be at a premium for the PBI, i would not like to face a CharB1 with only a Boys AT rifle for example and even a 2pdr would have to hold its nerve
 
To enlarge on Astrodragons post above, When Fighting a Char B, hurl insults at it, then move away sharply encouraging a chase. when the CharB breaks down or runs out of fuel, destroy at your leisure.
 
In order to actually crack a defence, they need an infantry tank (the Vickers A11). Thick armour (although it's a bit lighter than the OTL Matilda), a big LV close-support gun (it's intended to be used as part of an infantry attack), and reasonably fast (the higher speed than OTL is because they want to open that hole as fast as possible, and a really slow infantry tank just won't do that). They also intend to be driving the infantry around, again for speed (and again just as they did on the early exercises), so the A11 is intended to do over 20mph.
Something I think I missed earlier. OTL, as I understand it, the reason for equipping infantry tanks with the 2-pdr AT gun was that their job was seen as protecting the advancing infantry against enemy tanks (or other mobile forces) that might try to disrupt the advance. They were not seen as "breakthrough tanks" on the French Char-B/Char-2C model. Dealing with fixed positions (bunkers etc) was the job of the artillery.
Has this changed as a result of the exercises?

The other change is in tank supply. By adopting the new doctrine early, the only firm that can supply tanks in 1935 is Vickers. So Vickers have designed two useful tanks, and are busy building them. With those orders, they have upgraded their tank plants (as they did OTL, but to build different tanks this time). The (very odd) decision in OTL to spread tank orders around firms with no experience will change.
There were a couple of justifiable reasons for that - they wanted to avoid the single point of failure the was relying on one company for all their tanks, and they wanted to spread tank-building expertise around (it's often easier for a company to ramp up production from 5 vehicles/month to 50/month than to go from 0 to 10). Of course, the order sizes were often so small that the companies involved could get away with building the tanks "by hand" without setting up a true production line at all; and there was the ever-present tendency to use procurement as an arm of industrial policy and send orders to companies that were seen as needing the work.
 
Has this changed as a result of the exercises?
If I remember right, the exercises showed that even when the artillery were ready and waiting for a target request it was very convenient to be able to lob a HE shell at a machinegun nest, sandbagged position, or basically at all those little targets of opportunity that can be dealt with using only a single shell or two so your artillery can focus on the really tough targets that would bog the line down.
 
If I remember right, the exercises showed that even when the artillery were ready and waiting for a target request it was very convenient to be able to lob a HE shell at a machinegun nest, sandbagged position, or basically at all those little targets of opportunity that can be dealt with using only a single shell or two so your artillery can focus on the really tough targets that would bog the line down.
I imagine the OODA loop for 'The Tank I'm next to' is somewhat speedier than for the Regimental/Brigade/Divisional RA.
 
The infantry tanks aren't breakthrough tanks, they are there for close support of the infantry who are doing the actual breakthrough. The A11 has a gun big enough to be a useful AT gun, even though its low velocity (its better than the German 75mmL24), and they carry a few AT rounds 'just in case'. The Matilda turret isn't big enough to take this, so it will come in 2 versions - an HV3pdr in case they meet tanks, and a LV howitzer for infantry support. The 3pdr has an HE round, although its not wonderful its better than nothing.

Yes, the main use is smoke (to help the infantry attack), and HE for any annoying targets, as well as to keep the enemy pinned. If its a strong defence, they call up the artillery (make smoke, pull back, have the 25pdrs banjo them, the British had the fastest artillery support system in the world), but if its just one or two targets its a lot quicker to deal with them themselves.
 
Tank Orders
OK, to keep you tank porn addicts happy, here's the calculations of the tanks ordered up to late 38, and when the orders are expected (they might be optimistic on some of the delivery dates, this is what the Army has been told)

Details of tank orders and available tanks as of August 1938. Note some tanks are recently delivered and may still need corrective work. The numbers include those being used for crew training. Some vehicles aren't considered ready for use (crew only partially trained), but that has been considered acceptable to use them in the exercises.


24 March 37 - 70 Mk IV D

All delivered, most have already been sent to Egypt for the Cavalry Regiments. Some retained foir the summer exercise, to be shipped out after.


24 March 37 - 100 A10* (Vickers), first Sep 37, last July 38 (Aug including the SP guns)

24 March 37 - 50 A10* (H&W), first Jan 38, last May 38

All 150 A10* delivered, crews fully trained


30 June 37 - 90 A11 (Vickers), first May 38, end Nov 38

30 delivered, 60 still being built. Crew training partially complete


2 Dec 37 - 70 A13 cruiser tanks. First delivery Sep 38, all by March 1939

None delivered yet.


2 Dec 1937 - Birch guns. 30 (coincide with first A10* delivery)

All delivered, although crew training is incomplete


2 Dec 1937 - Lloyd carriers - 100closed, 50 open. First June 38, last end Oct 38

60 delivered by August (40 closed, 20 open). Crew training minimal.


2 Dec 1937 - 50 A10* (V), first Sep 38, last Jan 39

None complete, about to start building them


2 Dec 1937 - 50 A10* (H&W), first Jul 38, last Nov 38

10 delivered, 40 being built.


Mid-dec, Dingo a/c - 100. First May 28, last end Oct 38

45 built, crew training minimal. 55 being built


End Jan 38, Daimler a/c - 100. First Aug 38, last end Dec 38

5 rushed through to be available for the summer exercise, 95 being built


3 June 1938 70 A12, 50 A11

70 A12 (Vulcan) (first May 1939, last Oct 39)

50 A11 (Vickers) (first Dec 38, last March 39)

Order not yet started


July 1938, 70A12, 100 A10*

H&W, 50, first Dec 38, last April 38

Vickers, 50, first Feb 39, last Apr 39

Vulcan, 70 A12,

Orders not yet started



Totals ordered

MkVID - 70

A10* - 250

A11 - 140

A12 - 100

A13 - 70

Dingo A/C - 100

Daimler A/C - 100

Birch Gun - 30

Carriers - 100 closed, 50 open

320 Cruiser tanks, 240 Infantry tanks, 70 light tanks (630 tanks)

560 total medium tanks (in practice those A12's will be late, so the actual number will be nearer 490)


For comparison, in OTL numbers in service in Sep 39

79 Cruiser tanks, 67 Infantry tanks, 1,002 light tanks (1,148 tanks)

Assuming a light tank is about 35% of a medium, 930 = 330 mediums

So OTL total is equivalent to 476 medium tanks completed. However much of the difference is due to slow production at Nuffield (and associated firms), and very slow production at Vulcan (and associated firms). Numbers ordered (in medium tank equivalents) is about the same, but delivered somewhat faster.
 
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Hi @Astrodragon you go over the numbers of the A12 as I have seen orders for 140 not 100

3 June 1938 70 A12, 50 A11

70 A12 (Vulcan) (first May 1939, last Oct 39)

50 A11 (Vickers) (first Dec 38, last March 39)

Order not yet started


July 1938, 70A12, 100 A10*

H&W, 50, first Dec 38, last April 38

Vickers, 50, first Feb 39, last Apr 39

Vulcan, 50 A12,

Orders not yet started



Totals ordered

A12 - 100
Otherwise this is truly awesome.
 
Um u forgot to increase armored car numbers outside the first order ?

And the same for some more birch guns and infantry carriers or you just dont mention them yet ? For birch guns , send some extra to egypt i imagine for example and some more for the bef doesnt sound like a bad idea.

And as u said please start building the shadow factories in the near future so they will be useful for the desert campaign atleast or even a longer battle of france ? Probably one or two for vickers and one factory for nuffield? One factory maybe for infantry tanks and other for cruisers for vickers ? And the same for nuffield ? In either northern england / scotland or as mentioned earlier in northern ireland for vickers maybe . Also you said you didnt want that many tank manufacturers and wanted them to be sub contractors instead . If that isnt realistic atleast before the shadow factories are ready have them build them everything outside of tanks instead.
 
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No, there will be more orders. But not much that will be delivered by Sept 39 (at which point it gets limited by how fast they can build stuff, so the only real need is to estimate deliveries/month.
It takes time to build stuff, and if its not a follow-on order you also need to set up the supply chain
 
Major Jackman took the proffered report with interest. "That's odd, why would someone want them to examine a tank track?"

"Well, Sir, it seems it wasn't one of ours. They were testing a Czech tank over at MEE, and were a bit puzzled as to why its tracks seemed to last a lot better than ours. They wondered of it was something in the metallurgy, so they, ah, liberated a spare tread and sent it down to Teddington for analysis. "
Cheeky.

Transporter crew will get in minor trouble, each track block was numbered.

'Hey Jaromir, where's block 308 off to??'
 
It takes time to build stuff.
It takes time to build factories (over a year from a greenfield site)
It takes time to get the machine tools.
It takes time to get new tanks accepted into service (still in peacetime, remember)
It all takes a lot more time than most people realise.
 
Yeah thats why im saying start setting up the big tank shadow factories you yourself have proposed in the near future since they will take atleast a year probably abit more to build especially the machine tools .
So for the topic , what about making the battle abit more useful rather than almost obsolete for the battle of france ? Cause that was what i got from a few updates ago that there is chance of influencing the design. If people are interested in that and can propose what to improve on it.

And as i have said before , the army can help the airforce by insisting on the 20mm cannon being vital for supporting land attacks and get the production of it sorted out earlier cause it wasnt a big priority in otl and was delayed like a year if i remember a previous timeline or discussion some time ago ?
 
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