The Franco-Japanese war

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by sharlin, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. sharlin Banned

    Joined:
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    [FONT=&quot]Somewhere off the coast of Vietnam July 12th 1905.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]MN Formidable shook from bow to stern as the old, refitted barbette ship fired a broadside. Two 10.8 inch shells roared out of the muzzles of their guns, her refitted 6.4 inch guns joining in the cannonade as the old ship lead a squadron of equally old ships.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Tensions had been building for months and the old ships assigned to guard this distant part of the French Empire had been reinforced whilst diplomats bustled too and froe and Generals and Admirals on both sides planned and prepared for what many thought and hoped would be inevitable.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The Formidable shook as waterspouts from hostile shells landed off her starboard side. Whilst the secondary guns were firing as fast as they loaded the huge 10.8 guns were much slower. The guns slowly training out to point at their distant targets. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The roar of the guns was accompanied by great gouts of cordite smoke which all but obscured the ship for a moment before she sailed through the smoke at a painful 12 knots, it was all her old engines could do and even then she was rattling and shaking like an arthritic old man.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Looking astern the ragged French column was firing with every gun they had. Rapid firing 5.5 inch guns, slower 10.8 and even slower 13.4 inch guns booming out as soon as they were loaded, flinging tonnes of high explosive metal at their enemies. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The Captain was smiling, even though they were pinned to the coast the volume of gunfire seemed to be keeping their attackers at bay, even if few hits had been observed. Suddenly the Formidable rocked and shuddered as a 12 inch round from the IJN Yashima ploughed into her poorly armoured bow.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The 850lb high explosive shell punched through the unarmoured hull before detonating, ripping a hole in the hull and starting a fire. The Formidable's agony had just started.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Prelude:[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]As the Greater Powers continued to dismember China, carving the formerly great Empire up like a turkey on Thanksgiving the Japanese Empire 'inherited' Formosa as well as portions of Hainan(1). Whilst tensions grew with the Russian Empire over Korea a new player entered the Board. The Kingdom of Siam. The French had gone to war with Siam in 1893, forcing the Kingdom to give up a huge slice of its territory, later to be known as Laos. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Whilst the British government's paranoia about French ambitions on the Indian sub-continent were heightened by this short 'war' and the land it netted France and both countries had strong interests in controlling parts of Indochina war never broke out between the two great powers. Years later in 1904 the French started putting more pressure on Siam for territory, slowly working to manufacture a crisis.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The King of Siam, fearing that the French would continue to slice off more and more of his country, even take his Crown sought outside help. Britain was content to keep the kingdom as a buffer between French ambition and its holdings, Russia was busy consolidating its holdings in Korea whilst keeping a wary eye on Japan and was an ally of France. Germany had little influence in the region. This left Japan. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Whilst the Japanese initially had little interest in the offers and proposals put forward by the Siamese ambassadors the Army and Navy were intrigued. French strength in the region was weak, the IJN was far stronger than the local French forces and the army was confident it could defeat the French. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Although discussions between the two countries started in 1900 it was not until 1904 that the Siamese government offered to fight alongside the Japanese. The Royal Army would attack and tie down French troops in Siam and along the border whilst Japanese troops stationed at Hainan would be landed to attack French held Vietnam where the Colonial forces were deeply unpopular.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Tempted by the possibility of an easy victory as well as more land gained as well as more than favourable trade agreements with Siam the Japanese were spurred into motion.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The build up of armed forces in Hainan, close to French Indochina was noticed by French diplomats and agents and the build-up was matched in kind. The former backwater squadron based at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam was slowly augmented, but even then it was not with the best ships the French had to offer, as these were kept close to face the Royal Navy.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The Japanese also had problems of their own. Military planners had originally prepared to fight the Russians over Korea, not the French in distant Vietnam. Establishing facilities, moving supplies as well as co-ordinating with the Siamese took time, money and a lot of effort. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]As 1904 turned into 1905 the tensions in the region continued to escalate, the Russians, nominally allies of the French were politely reminded that the Japanese were British allies, this polite reminder was backed up by the deployment of Two full squadrons of British Battleships and their escorts to the Far East. Although the slowly thawing relations between Britain and France had lead to the ente-cordial, the French still kept their 6 best ships at home (2)[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The French protested to the Japanese about the build-up near their Vietnamese holdings and the Japanese in turn cited self defence due to the French build-up. The French maritime strength in the region was considerable but most of it consisted of older ships.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]1st Squadron:
    MN Bouvet.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Messena[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Jaureguiberry (Flag)[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Charles Martel[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Brennus [/FONT]


    [FONT=&quot]Cruisers
    MN Dupuy Lome[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Bruix[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Chanzy[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Latouche-Trevelle[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Guichen[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]12 Torpedo Boats[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]6 Destroyers (4 Durandal Class, 2 Framee class)[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]2nd Squadron[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Formidable[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Amiral Baudin[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Marceau (Flag)[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Neptune[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Magenta[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Hoche[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Cruisers:[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN D'Estrees[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Infernet[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Chateaurenault[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]12 Torpedo Boats[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Coast Defence Ships: All three to be decommissioned - Guarding Cam Ranh Bay
    MN Redoutable [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Courbet[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN Devastation[/FONT]

    (1). In this AH the Russians and Japanese were not at odds with each other over Korea. Russia got more holdings in Korea whilst Japan got regions of[FONT=&quot] Hainan.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot](2). MN Charlemagne, St Louis, Gaulois, MN Suffren, Villaret (Suffren Class), MN Iena. [/FONT][FONT=&quot]MN Republique due to finish Trials August/September 1905[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot](3). The Charles Martel docked in Toloun, prior to refitting before her journey to the Far East with her three near sisters. In the background you can see the mast of what appears to be t he Hoche or the refitted Formidable.[/FONT]


    [FONT=&quot][​IMG]

    [/FONT] [FONT=&quot]Prelude and Politics[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]With the French and Japanese build-up increasing both sides turned to their allies for assistance and help. The British sold rifles to both the Siamese government and the Japanese as well as dispatching 'advisors' at the behest of the Admiralty. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]To counterbalance this support the British Government agreed to let the French use the Suez Canal, allowing possibly belligerent ships to sail down it, under escort of course as well as the use of coaling stations along the way, if fighting was to break out.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The British 'advisors' included Captain Scott as well as other naval experts who were keen to study the Japanese gunnery practices as well as introducing their own, bringing with them all the needed training equipment as well as a gentleman from Barr & Shroud to discuss the sales of the new fangled rangefinder's that Scott was so obsessed about.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]When knowledge that 'naval experts' had been dispatched from England to Japan the French Government reacted strongly, stopping just short of accusing the English of aiding a possible enemy. Although the public knew little about this diplomatic breech, relations cooled between the two great nations. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The English brushed off the French claims, stating that the Japanese ships were British designed and built and that the Japanese needed assistance and advice in running and maintaining the complex machinery onboard. This 'excuse' was accepted at face value and that was all.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Diplomatic bluster between France and Japan continued to get worse, especially when the Japanese openly admitted to aiding, training and arming the Siamese army to 'aid an oriental nation that has asked for our help, the Kingdom of Siam does not want to be a lamb, devoured by France.' [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]This curt diplomatic message was taken as a threat and warning by the French Government. More troops were ordered to prepare to move to Indochina, sailing with a considerable number of escorts which would become the 1st Far East Battle Squadron. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The Russian Tsar, keen to expand his country's holdings in the East contacted the French Government about coming to their aid should war break out. But this was parried and foiled by the British Government stating to both Governments that 'In the unlikely event of War in the Far East, if the war was to escalate against British allies and interests in the region, then Britain herself could be compelled to come to her allies aid.' [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]With that, the formerly cool diplomatic relations between England and France heated up once more. This was only made worse by the dispatching to the Far East both the Duncan and Canopus classes, in their entirety as well as cruiser and destroyer escorts to safeguard British interests in the region. (1)[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Indochina was becoming a tinderbox, and all it would need to ignite was a spark.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot](1) This act along with the British Declaration as well as their support for Japan would all but destroy the Ente Cordial. Britain and Germany started to move closer together as allies, but what would happen in the future is not what this story's about.[/FONT]



    [FONT=&quot]Flash-point[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]8th of June 1905 Somewhere off the Coast of Vietnam 0430am[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The Convoy was plodding along at a painful 8 knots through the dark waters of the Pacific. The steady thrumming of dozens of engines could be heard over the sound of spray and wind. It was fortunately a smooth night, barely a breath of wind stirred the air which saved the embarked soldiers crowded into the transports from the cruelty of sea-sickness but not the oppressive humidity. [/FONT]
    Dotted round the 24 strong convoy was Rear Admiral Kamimura 1st Cruiser Squadron. The modern and powerful armoured cruisers Izumo, Azuma Tokiwa and Iwate as well as the older protected cruiser Naniwa, 8 destroyers and 8 torpedo boats forming the escort for this, the first of many planned runs from Hainan. Whilst the Navy crews bemoaned the poor station keeping of the Merchants, their abysmal speed and constant requests for aid they had a job to do.

    Escort the transports to Halong bay and assist with the landing by providing gunfire support to the troops as they went ashore. The bay itself was a maze of limestone islands and outcroppings but once ashore the troops would be a mere 160 kilometers from Hanoi, the ultimate objective of the campaign.

    The Siamese Army would strike along the borders of Laos whilst the Japanese would strike for Hanoi and claim the city and other regions of Northern Vietnam. Combined with the planned destruction of any French forces in the region it was assumed it would be enough to bring France to the negotiating table.

    There was one major flaw to this plan. The French protected cruiser Chateaurenault, a product of the Jeunne Ecole and eyes of the Second Far East Squadron sighted the Japanese formation and correctly assumed their beligerent intent. The eight thousand tonne cruiser, originally designed for commerce raiding was undergunned and poorly protected but she did have one advantage. She was fast.

    Forcing her engines the French cruiser turned south and ran at an impressive 24 knots, much to the distress of her Chief Engineer and his work crews the Cruiser set off towards the city of Da Nang and her squadron-mates. Whilst the 1st Squadron was further south in Cam Ranh bay the 2nd Squadron would be France's first line of defence.

    The Chateaurenault arrived at Midnight on the 9th passing the word. Giving his simply exhausted cruiser time to re-coal and repair her shaken engines Rear Admiral Marcel raised his flag on the MN Marceau and ordered the fleet to sea as well as cabling the 1st Squadron and the commander of Hanoi's ground defences as well as regional military commands throughout French Indochina.

    Sailing at 12 knots it would take time to reach Ha Long bay, but if the Japanese transports and cruisers could be caught pinned against the shore then the older ships of the 2nd Squadron would be able to pound them to pieces in the close confines of the island dotted bay.

    This departure was not missed by Vietnamese rebels, nor was it missed by Japanese agents. The Imperial Japanese Navy had also planned ahead. Waiting off the coast of Hainan were the Battleships Shikishima, Fuji, Yashima, Hatsuse the armoured cruisers Nisshin and kasuga as well as four light cruisers and 18 destroyers. Thanks to the modern miracle of Wireless Telegraphy the Japanese under Admiral Tokioki knew the French were coming and planned to intercept them.


    [FONT=&quot]The eyes of the fleet - The Battle of Tonkin Gulf - Part 1.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]As the sun rose the sky seemed to catch on fire. Glorious rays of red and yellow decorated the sky as the French Second Squadron cruiser along the Vietnamese coast. The squadron had to slow to 10 knots due to the engines of the Formidable, long overdue a full refit were incapable of sustaining 12 knots for more than a hour without damaging the engines workings.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The engines of the other old ships of the squadron were admittedly in little better shape, most of the ships had been re-boilered in 1888 - 1889 but they were still old, unreliable engines, prone to failure and a constant strain on the engineers. The journey north had been smooth and quiet, a blessing for the crew of the MN Hoche. The battleship, despite her alterations in 1888 - 1889 still wallowed like a pig on a smooth sea and the ship had nearly foundered on her trip to Indochina when she ran into a heavy storm. Her captain had reported that she was rolling to a horrifying 22 degrees at one point. That storm had also killed four of her crew, either swept overboard or in one case falling from the huge mast.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The Hoche now plodded along at the rear of the column, seemingly happy with the smooth seas and clear sky that promised a lovely day. The three armoured cruisers and the Torpedo boats in squadrons of four were spread out over a 180 degree arc to the starboard side of the Battleline roughly 10000 yards away. Radio signals flitted back and forth between the cruisers and battleships but so far the horizon was clear. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Leading the French line the MN Formidable was followed by the sister the Neptune and Magenta then the Flag the Marceau. The Amiral Baudin and lastly the Hoche followed the flagship. A formidable group of warships despite their age and relative obsolescence compared to their opponents.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]There was one advantage though, the French would be in essence fighting British ships. Every battleship in the Japanese line was modelled and built on the latest British practice when they were laid down. There would be few surprises from the Japanese ships. And the French had a surprise of their own.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]For years the French had planned to fight the Royal Navy, and despite the Government and Press's assurances to the contrary, French Admirals knew their ships were outclassed and also outnumbered. Given their potential enemies numerical advantage the French had concentrated on gunnery as well as experimenting with and then implementing long range gunnery.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]If a ship could be damaged at long range then it could be finished off by the plentiful torpedo boats the Marine Nationale Favoured. The first experiments with long range gunnery yielded valuable results and as a result of this, every major French warship had the most advanced optical sites available and the gunners were experienced and indeed use to firing out to the phenomenal range of 8000 yards. Even the oldest battleships in the fleet were well practiced at long range fire.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Aboard the Cruisers and destroyers, every pair of eyes that could scan the horizon was. Breakfast had been served at the guns of the torpedo boats. The small ships were products of the Jeunne Ecole, a school of thought that still held considerable sway over the French Admiralty. Although small the ships were crewed by well trained, keen and skilled professionals who knew their job.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]As the sun slowly rose higher into the sky, the fleet steaming north as it got hotter and hotter. Inside the turrets and batteries it was unbearably warm. Some gunnery captains allowed the hatches to be opened to try and get some air into the enclosed spaces. The cooks were constantly running cool water to the gun crews despite complaints from the ships quartermasters about the rates of water consumption.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]At 10:47am lookouts on the Cruiser D'Estrees's towering masts fighting top sighted smoke on the horizon. The small cruiser and her four torpedo boats accelerated up to 18 knots, the cruisers hull vibrating as she worked up to close to her normal full speed. Radioing the flagship her report the D'Estrees's Captain's eyes were glued to the hazy patch of smoke in the distance. Every gun was manned, deep in the cruisers hull the engineers watched their charges, hoses playing on hot bearings which hissed and steamed when cool water struck them.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Over 16000 yards away the cause of the plume of smoke was surging through the water. Her radio reported had already made a contact report and was racing to investigate the smoke she could see. The IJN Takasago was a new, modern ship, built by Armstrong Witworth and was one of the very successful Elswick type cruisers that had sold so well. Armed with two 8-inch guns and a large battery of quick firing 4.7-inch guns the protected cruiser was a powerful scout. Capable of fighting off anything her size and running from anything bigger, and her main guns gave her a formidable punch. [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot][​IMG]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]1)[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]MN D'Estrees - Bridge[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"That's too much smoke to be a merchant ship..." The Captain said, half talking to himself. "I want to know who and what she is, signal the Flag we are approaching a presumed hostile ship. Signal the torpedo boats, 'prepare to follow us, do not engage unless ordered." [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Lieutenants and seamen raced to obey the captains orders, the range was being shouted out at 1 minute intervals as the ships approached each other at a staggering 34 knots. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Every pair of binoculars was trained on the growing cloud of smoke. The tension on the ship rose. Every gun was manned, there was not a sound on deck apart from muttered orders and reports. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"Masthead reporting. Ship in sight, two funnels, military masts. Japanese cruiser Sir!" A young subaltern reported. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"Very well, I want to know what I'm up against. Get up there and tell me what you see. Helm! Bring us about Try to keep us ahead of the enemy ship until we know what we're facing. Radio! Signal the Marcau 'Have sighted enemy cruiser, plan to engage, will withdraw if outmatched."[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The small French formation turned hard to starboard, now the Distrees was following her escorts, still powering along at 18 knots. The Japanese ship however was doing 21 knots. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"Masthead reporting Sir, hostile is an Elswick type cruiser, either the Yoshino, Takasago or Takachiho classes."[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The Captain was good with recognition and his memory for ships was as good as any newly trained officer. Any of those ships outgunned his small ship and possibly outran it. Walking over to the voice pipe for the engineering he waited for a response.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"Engineering"[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"Philippe, I am going to need everything she's got, force the engines if needs be, we're being chased by a Japanese cruiser."

    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"Masthead reporting! More smoke sighted to the North east, same baring as the Japanese Cruiser. Heavy smoke sighted."[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]'Merde...' The Captain swore softly, his job was to be the eyes of the fleet, was he being chased by one ship or was there a fleet out there? Duty won out over preserving his ship. Besides the range was long and they still had time to get vital intelligence before withdrawing.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"Range to target?"[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"13000 yards Sir!"[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Nodding the Captain ordered the turn that would bring the Cruiser and her formation round towards the charging Japanese ship. Trying to buy time to see what was beyond the cruiser before turning away once more.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"Guns, begin controlled long range fire with the main armament as soon as the Japanese ship is within range, lets see what these little yellow men are made of.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]1) [/FONT][FONT=&quot]IJN Takasago – A British made cruiser built protected cruiser designed and built by the Elswick firm in the Tyne. The Elswic designs were popular and successful export cruisers, bought by the Japanese and many South American countries. One of which survived until 1948




    [/FONT]
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  2. sharlin Banned

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    This is something i've been working on for a while and I would love any comments, thoughts or criticism.
     
  3. Xgentis Member

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    In all logic the french navy should wipe the floor the the japanese navy.
     
  4. sharlin Banned

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    Actually X you're quite wrong.

    In the OTL and this the French navy in the pre-dreadnought era was stricken with conflicting schools of thoughts and changing administrations. The Jeunne ecolle or young school championed massed torpedo boats and long range commerce raiding cruisers and the few BBs that were built at the time were often obsolete when completed as they took so very long to build.

    The Japanese on the other hand bought the newest and most up to date battleships built in England whilst their armoured cruisers were a mix of English built and designed ships or some Italian made vessels in the mix. They also benefitted from English training although they adopted Captain Scotts gunnery reforms more readily than the English did.

    The IJN also has a lot of experienced crew, having fought a fairly major naval war with China a decade ago whilst the last naval engagement the french fought was in the early 1800s or some shore bombardment against the Russians in the Crimean war.

    Also the biggest thing is that French warship designs were RUBBISH. Not to mention hidious to look at. Their Battleships were unseaworthy, undergunned and not as well protected as in this case, their opponents the Japanese.
     
  5. Dunbar Well-Known Member

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    I like it so far. I'm a sucker for well written naval battles. My only issue is that the British government's actions seem somewhat illogical. Germany is still the the dominant land power in Europe with a massive economy and is still building a navy to directly threaten Britain.
     
  6. sharlin Banned

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    I'm having the brits stand more firmly with their client and ally than they did in the OTL. In the Russo-japanese war the UK would not let any russian ships into their many ports and kept pressure on France for them to observe the neutrality rules when beligerants entered their waters.
     
  7. Simon Thread Killer Extraordinaire

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    Looks good. What's the original point of departure? I'm assuming that since this is in 1905 that the Anglo-Japanese treaty of 1903 has still happened but didn't see it mentioned anywhere. Great Britain is called an ally so I just wanted to clarify if it was in effect, what with the activating clause of if either country found itself fighting two great powers the other was bound to intervene.

    One small suggestion I might make would be to scale down a pictures a touch so that you don't have to keep scrolling left and right to make it a bit more readable.
     
  8. sharlin Banned

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    I'm trying to figure it out regarding the pictures and the 1903 is still active. In the OTL war the UK sent 'observers' as well as equipment like rangefinders to Japan to refit their ships and help train the crew.
     
  9. Marc Pasquin 43 % pure, 57 % recycled sins

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    I live in da land down unda'
    what does "MN" stands for ?
     
  10. Xgentis Member

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    The Anglo-Japanese Alliance was not really close but rather something like we stay out of each other business furthermore with the Entente cordiale the british and french put officially put aside their colonial rivalry. I have hard time seeing the british choosing Japan over good relation with France to counterbalance the rise of Germany naval ambition especially with the mindset of the era.

     
  11. Simon Thread Killer Extraordinaire

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    Marine Nationale, the French 'National Navy', they also used the name as their ship prefix.
     
  12. Grey Wolf Writer, Poet, Publisher, Cat-sitter

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    Deepest Wales
  13. sharlin Banned

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    Hah thats where I got a lot of my data from Grey :)
     
  14. KyleB Well-Known Member

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    Looks great, subscribed.
     
  15. Xgentis Member

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    While Marine Nationale is the name of the french naval force the french do not use prefixe before the name of the ship like the US or UK does.
     
  16. sharlin Banned

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    Aye I know about the French not using a prefix, I'm using it to differentiate between the two sides.
     
  17. sharlin Banned

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    [FONT=&quot]The Battle of Tonkin Gulf - Opening shots.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Although armed with four 6.4 inch guns the D'Estrees's main weapons were not in turrets but sponsoned out over the hull, giving her a two gun broadside. At the bow and stern was a single 5.5 inch gun giving the small ship a four gun broadside. A mixture of high explosive and solid steel armour peircing rounds were already by the guns ready to be used. The guns were reciving information from voice tubes that connected to both the bridge and the foretop. The four foot rangefinder on the bridge was passing information rapidly to the gun captains as the Japanese and French ships drew closer. The small torpedo boats took cover on the unengaged side of the D'Estrees, at these ranges against a well armed ship they would be of little use other than targets. [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Long range gunnery was not perfected by any means, especially for a small, undergunned ship like the D'Estrees. But the sea was calm, the cruiser was not rolling much and her target was approaching without changing course. [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]"Open fire as soon as the enemy ship is in range, Masthead I want those ships on the horizon identified as soon as possible." [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Captain Domercq ordered. He knew his ship was quite outclassed but if he could at least find out what was beyond them on the horizon then he could withdraw to the fleet.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"Enemy in range!"[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"Open fire, main battery only!"[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"Tirez!"[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The two 6.4 inch guns on the Cruiser D'Estrees fired the first shots of the Franco-Japanese War. Both shells tore though the air, landing a thousand yards short of their target. The clouds of cordite smoke marring the formerly pristeen paint of the French Cruiser.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]IJN Takasago- Bridge.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]On the Takasago's bridge there was amusement and supprise that the French had opened fire at such long range. Both shells landed well short but the Frenchman was firing again, although firing slowly for her gun size. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"What's she doing? Is she trying to keep us back or are they ranging us?" The Captain muttered to himself. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"Return fire with the main guns. Helm! Bring us closer, we can't let them spot the fleet"[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The Takasago heeled slightly as her bow came around, her forward 8 inch rifle tracking before it answered the cannonade coming from the French cruiser. [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]MN D'Estrees - Bridge[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]'So it's begun...' Captain Domercq thought, watching the cloud of light grey smoke billowing over the bow of his target. No one even saw the fall of the shot. The D'Estrees shuddered as her guns fired again. The Japanese ship had turned towards them, clearly trying to cut them off. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"Signal the Torpedo boats, scout to the North and report what they see. Do not engage the enemy." He knew that was a risk, the tiny torpedo boats would be extremely vulnerable to the 4.7 inch guns that dotted the Takasago's flanks but if they could get away cleanly and see what was to the North, then it would be worth it.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]It took a a minute for the radio message to be received and acknowleged. The small boats started to accelerate, black smoke pouring from their funnels, the waves starting to flow over their turtlebacked bows as the small ships worked up to full speed.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]"A hit!" Came the sudden exultant cry and all eyes turned to the Takasago.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The 6.4 inch shell fired from the second mounting on the starboard side of the D'Estrees had been the 12th round fired by the gun in the engagement. The Gun Captain for the mounting had always worked his crew hard and had taken to the principles of long range fire with a vengance. Even so, shooting at a live, manourvering target whilst the ship was at full speed had never been done before.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The high explosive shell had punched through the quarter-deck cleanly before detonating. It ripped a 4 foot by 6 foot hole in the deck and started a small fire but caused no casualties. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Both cruisers were firing as fast as they could load and aim. The 8 inch gun of the Japanese cruiser was booming out a challenge at regular 30 second intervals but the gun crew had never practiced at anything approaching the range they were fighting at. The Frenchman was turning to keep away from them, all the while her two guns were spitting shells at them every 20 seconds. Another shell landed alongside the Japanese ship, the spray soaking her sides but doing no damage. [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The Japanese Cruiser turned sharply, exposing her broadside and unmasking her stern gun. The five quick firing 4.7 inch guns along her flank and the aft 8 inch mount opened fire as soon as they could whilst the D'Estrees's two 5.5 inch guns replied as best they could. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The quick firing guns on the Japanese ship did little but tear up the sea between the two ships but the bow 8inch gun was getting into its stride, one shell landing less than 50 yards from the Frenchman's bow, shell splinters pinged off the steel flank of the D'Estrees.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]MN D'Estrees - Bridge.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"Helm bring us 4 points to port, that was too close. Any news from the Masthead?"[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The cruiser slewed to port, her guns firing as fast as they could now. Long range fire had its uses but now it was weight and volume of fire that would decide this skirmish.
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Torpedo Boat 141 - Bridge[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The young Lieutenant watched the duel between the D'Estrees and the bigger Japanese ship. He wanted to help but orders were orders. The small ship was rolling as she tor e through the sea as 28 knots. [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Ahead a mass of smoke could be seen, he trained his telescope on the horizon and had to suppress a gasp. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"Signal the D'Estrees and the Flagship, heavy masts sighted, multiple enemy warships. Give them our location. Helm, hard to starboard, bring us about!"

    [/FONT] [FONT=&quot]The D'Estrees shook as she took her first hit of the battle. A 4.7 inch shell slammed through her high side but failed to explode, coming to rest in a storeroom. It was a lucky shot, the range was still very long, the two Cruisers were turning and moving at flank speed, their machinery's vibrations making them shake from stem to stern. In reply the Takasago had suffered another two hits, one from a 5.5 inch round which failed to explode and just left a hefty dent in the hull the other from a 6.4 inch round which only partially detonated when it hit amidships, although splinters from the blast did injure some of the gunners on a 2lb gun.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Despite the rapid changes of course the Frenchman was making the Japanese ship was getting closer, and both Captains knew that if the [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Takasago[/FONT][FONT=&quot] got closer her better, more numerous guns would surely devastate the poorly armed French vessel.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The small torpedo boat squadron was still out of the fight, lurking on the unengaged side of the D'Estrees, accelerating away from the cruiser back to the distant fleet. To the North the smoke of the Japanese fleet could be seen, whilst to the South the thick plumes of coal smoke marking the air signalled the approach of the French squadron. [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]French Battle Line - 26000 yards away, speed 10 knots.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Aboard the line of French battleships the crews were beat to quarters, bugles blaring, drums rattling as they had aboard the grand ships of the Line in the 1800's. Whilst the French Battleships were quite old they did all have quite advanced features. The Cannet type turrets that dotted their hulls were advanced mountings that allowed all round loading, the French ships were well equipped with rangefinders and knew how to use them, gunnery practice had become a very regular feature of the Marine Nationale. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Deep in the hulls of a dozen ships huge engines drowned out all but orders bellowed into ears. The long distance journey had been done at a steady 10 knots, and whilst that was quite a feat for some of the ships due to their age there were no mechanical issues. Yet. The engine crews knew their charges like the back of their own hands and they watched over them with an expert eye.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Higher up every gun was loaded, ammunition was brought up from the magazines and rounds filled the waiting cannons. The guns moved, elevating and turning, the mounts being tested for mechanical faults. The last thing anyone wanted was a gun that could not turn due to a faulty bearing.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]MN D'Estrees Forward Starboard 6.4 inch mounting.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The 50 kilo high explosive shell was hoisted into the breech. Two bags of propellant swiftly followed before the breech as closed. The gun captain adjusted the elevation of the rifled cannon based on information from his own gun sight and on information from the brave soul up in the cruisers foretop and bridge who were directing the fight, giving him an estimated range and speed. [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Taking this information with what he could see he was satisfied. He could see the Japanese ship firing at them, the quick firing 4.7s dotting its side spat out a torrent of shells whilst the bow 8 inch fired slowly and methodically, belching its big rounds at them every 45 seconds.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Satisfied he waited for the roll. Too soon and the shell would land short, too late and it would land well over. He had to wait for the centre of the roll. Fortunately the D'Estrees was not rolling heavily. [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]"Tirez!"[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]He pressed the firing button. An electric current arced out into the small firing charge, initiating a small explosion who's heat and force travelled into the propellant charge. This began to burn very rapidly and turn into gas, creating enormous pressures in the firing chamber. These were resisted by the chamber walls and breach, and so the weak point, the shell began to accelerate and spin. [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Leaving the muzzle at 830 meters per second the shell screamed from the naval rifle, spinning furiously and beginning its graceful ballistic arc to a height of just under a kilometre before tilting over under the forces of gravity.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]If someone had been riding the shell they would have seen whispy clouds part, then the long lean shape of the Japanese cruiser, and finally in the last second of its flight the curved arc of the forward 8 inch mount's shield on the IJN Takasago.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The round punched through the thin shield that was only meant to keep out splinters and light rounds not so heavy a round that now bore through it. The HE shell exploded behind the shield in a white hot flash and blizzard of metal splinters that simply annihilated the feverishly working guncrew. The blast detonated a propellant charge that was being loaded into the gun. This too exploded turning the breech of the 8 inch rifle into a tangle of ruined metal. The dozen men of the gun crew were either cut down by the initial blast or the wall of metal fragments from the blast, bits of them were splashed over the deck and even the superstructure of the bridge. A serious fire broke out, another charge did not explode but burst into flames which consumed the now ruined mount whilst a waiting shell started to heat up.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]IJN Takasago - Bridge[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The double blast and cloud of obscuring smoke from the forward gun told of a heavy and serious hit. All hands on the bridge could see the fire now raging where the 8inch mount use to be.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"Order the magazine to be flooded immediately! Alert damage control, helm bring us out of the wind, turn us away!"[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The speed of the cruiser was fanning the flames, as the magazine was flooded there was no risk of a more serious explosion but the explosion had shaken the Takasago's Captain. His ship was more modern, more powerful, faster and better protected yet they could not damage this impudent little black hulled cruiser. Now with 50% of the main battery destroyed his ship risked being out gunned. Still he had accomplished his goal, the French fleet was somewhere to the south, whilst their forces were coming up at 16 knots with larger, more modern ships from the North.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The badly damaged cruiser turned sharply, her remaining guns barking shot after shot at the departing D'Estrees not one hit home, they simply chewed up the sea a thousand yards short.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The stage was set, now it was time for the bit part actors to clear the stage for the main performance.[/FONT]
     
  18. sharlin Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Any thoughts on the latest update?
     
  19. Shaby Sontaran

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2011
    Location:
    Flagship "Undefeatable" of the Battlefleet Ib
    Your writing is excellent. At least to me you got the naval banter nicely. Action seems realistic. Keep up. Subscribed.
     
  20. Alex1guy First Of His Name

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2011
    Location:
    The New Zealand Empire
    Very nice keep up the good work! It's nice to see somebody making a Japanese Naval timeline after you know, actually researching it unlike some rescent discussions. :p