...Those Marvelous Tin Fish: The Great Torpedo Scandal Avoided

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by DaveJ576, Jan 15, 2018.

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  1. Threadmarks: Post 1 - Prologue

    DaveJ576 Well-Known Member

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    PROLOGUE, MARCH 1945, PEARL HARBOR, HAWAII

    Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz sat back in his chair and stared out the window of his office at the harbor full of stately warships. He used this moment to gather his thoughts and massage a sore writing hand. He was at the end of a rough draft of a lengthy letter to President Roosevelt concerning the recent victorious end to the Pacific campaign. There were rumors that the President was not feeling well and thus Nimitz felt rushed to get the report finished and off to Washington as soon as possible. He paused a moment longer and then returned pen to paper:

    “The importance of those marvelous tin fish to our ultimate victory over the Japanese Empire simply can not be overstated. Torpedoes proved to be one of the key weapons in this struggle, and without their unimpeachable performance I fear this deadly contest would still be raging. With them, we impeded their naval operations from the very beginning, and they enabled us to virtually destroy their maritime ability to resupply their forces and sustain their home economy. The complete collapse of the Empire three months ago was enabled in large part by those wonderous underwater missiles. In 1919 when I was on the South Carolina I followed your efforts at reorganizing our Navy’s torpedo infrastructure with a great deal of interest, but with some justifiable skepticism. The ultimate results of your hard work are plainly apparent to me now. You can take a great deal of justifiable pride in knowing that those efforts paid off so handsomely all these years later. Thank you on behalf of the entire United States Navy.”
     
  2. DaveJ576 Well-Known Member

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    This is a rewrite of a scenario that I wrote several years ago. I was never quite satisfied with it so I have done a complete overhaul. Comments and discussion are welcome!
     
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  3. Unknown Member

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    Wonder how this will affect the Pacific campaign ITTL...
     
  4. Knightmare Well-Known Member

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    Subs are way more effective, meaning less shipping for the Japanese, might knock out some of their carriers earlier then anticipated, we'd def have the Tang still around....
     
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  5. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    ... The Nautilus nails the entire KB the morning of 4 June.
     
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  6. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

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    This is definitely something I'll be following. Improved torpedos would make a huge difference to the Pacific War.
     
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  7. zert Casual Reader, Interested Follower

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    Very interested and so I shall follow. I await the next update.
     
  8. phx1138 Bocagiste troll

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    Less than you'd expect, actually, given the amount of approbation the Mark XIV/Mark VI package attracts. If it's fixed on 7 Dec '41, & change nothing else, you see about 6-8mo shaved off the end of the war. (That's a rough guess, with the Japanese economy "crashing" in around June '44, instead of Jan '45 OTL.)

    Not to say I don't like the idea: it'll save at least two boats sunk by circulars (not counting Tang, which was the victim of a Mark XVIII), & the shorter war will save several others (including Trigger?).

    If you do butterfly Trigger's loss you may've butterflied Ned Beach's books.:eek::eek: And a lot of people don't get interested in history or the USN.:eek:
     
  9. Threadmarks: Post 2 - June 1919

    DaveJ576 Well-Known Member

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    LATE JUNE 1919, WASHINGTON, D.C.

    Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt hurried through the sweltering environs of Washington and arrived early for his meeting with his boss Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels. There was a move afoot, now that the Great War was over, to demobilize the armed forces. There was a common belief that the arms race of the early 1910’s had exacerbated the tensions that led up to the war, plus the horrors of trench warfare and the depredations of the war at sea in the Atlantic had led to a feeling amongst many that positive steps had to be made to disarm so as to prevent war from ever happening again. Roosevelt felt this was all rubbish, and had fought to preserve his beloved Navy. He had already been successful in resisting a move to eliminate naval aviation and could only suspect that Daniels had summoned him to further his efforts.

    Sure enough, Daniels had been receiving inquiries from senators in the New England states about the Navy’s torpedo research, development, and production capacity. There were some requests to consolidate all of these efforts into one facility at the Naval Torpedo Station (NTS) Newport Rhode Island. Daniels needed more information before he could make a decision so he charged the 37-year-old Roosevelt with making an inspection tour of all of the Navy’s torpedo facilities and deliver him a detailed report no later than the end of July.

    Roosevelt immediately made the arrangements and departed on his tour 2 weeks later. He toured NTS Newport, NTS Alexandria, Virginia, and the E.W. Bliss Company of Brooklyn, NY, a civilian manufacturer of torpedoes. In typical Roosevelt fashion, his tour was detailed and lengthy, leaving no stone unturned. He inspected production lines, research facilities, and testing labs. As the tour progressed, he became increasingly excited at the potential of the torpedo, and became convinced that it was the “weapon of the future”. The scientific expertise of the engineers at Newport deeply impressed him, as did the production acumen of the employees at the Bliss company. He used his influence to arrange a viewing of live firing tests and went to sea aboard the destroyer USS Stevens (DD-86), and the submarine USS O-1 (SS-62), becoming thoroughly familiar with the employment of the weapons in a war scenario. On the 14th of July he witnessed the earliest tests of a live Mk 7 Type D torpedo airdropped from a Curtiss R-6L floatplane in Narragansett Bay. Utterly thrilled at seeing the aerial employment of the torpedo and fully understanding the long-range implications of this test, he returned to his office in late July to develop his report for Daniels.

    The report was submitted on 01 August 1919 and was titled The Assistant Secretary of the Navy’s Report on the Research, Development, and Production of Torpedoes for the United States Navy. It proved to be Roosevelt’s seminal work while in office. His deeply felt enthusiasm for these weapons came through in his eloquent prose and at the end of the report he recommended the following courses of action:

    1. NTS Newport shall become the center of all research, development, and testing efforts for torpedoes.

    2. NTS Alexandria shall remain open as the primary government owned production facility, taking the designs developed at Newport and putting them into mass production. They will have a secondary task of backing up Newport with expanded testing facilities.

    3. It is vital to maintain a secondary production source, so the E.W. Bliss Company should be allowed to continue to bid on production contracts. Seed money for the improvement of their production and testing facilities should be provided.

    4. A Torpedo Development Council shall be established, chaired by the Assistant SecNav. It shall consist of senior representatives from Newport, Alexandria, and the Bliss company. The council will meet once per quarter in Washington and will be charged with developing naval policy on torpedoes for the SecNav, developing new projects, reviewing the progress on existing projects, and clearing production roadblocks and red tape in the undersea weapons community.

    5. A Fleet Liaison Office shall be established in Newport. It will consist of officers and senior enlisted personal with fleet experience from the three major communities (surface, subsurface, and air). The office will be charged with observing all aspects of torpedo research and development, and a Liaison office representative shall be present at all testing evolutions, providing feedback and fleet context to the engineers. The office will be commanded by a full Captain and he will report directly to the Assistant Secretary. He will also be a primary member of the Torpedo Development Council.

    6. With testing being an integral part of a successful development program, adequate funds shall be provided to ensure the success of the development efforts. Every effort shall be expended in providing Newport with realistic targets in the form of decommissioned ships, with the intent of conducting as much live testing as it practical.

    Daniels took two weeks to digest the voluminous report. He knew full well that this would be an uphill battle with congress as funding was going to be tight, but Roosevelt’s enthusiasm energized him to persevere. In the end he decided to implement all of Roosevelt’s recommendations. Reformatted, the report became part of Navy Regulations as Secretary of the Navy General Order 457, effective 01 September 1919.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
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  10. tomo pauk Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, Dave. I always love it when good guys get good gear and trash the bad guys :)
     
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  11. DaveJ576 Well-Known Member

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    The genesis of the Great Torpedo Scandal of WWII was right there in 1919. That was when the decision was made to consolidate all torpedo activities at Newport. NTS Alexandria was closed and the Bliss company was allowed to finish out its contract before getting out of the business too. The environment at Newport became very insular, with the installation literally cut off on Goat Island in Narragansett Bay. Newport became a fiefdom, with little oversight from the rest of the Navy. The engineers that worked there were extremely intelligent, brilliant, and dedicated but soon came to think of themselves as unimpeachable. They firmly believed in their own brilliance, and the politically powerful Bureau of Ordnance backed them up. Thus when criticism of the torpedo's performance came back to them they dismissed it, believing that there was nothing wrong with the wonder weapon they had created. Keeping Newport in the loop with the fleet, and forcing them to answer to the Torpedo Development Council (TDC) and the Asst. SecNav would have prevented this.

    As you will see later, the presence and expertise of Alexandria and the Bliss company will have a big effect on how things turn out when the war starts. The Fleet Liaison Office will provide much needed feedback and oversight that was sorely lacking IOTL.

    I am still developing the next chapters. These will address specifics of the technical side. My plan is to eliminate the technical problems one by one, then tackle some of the ramifications on the war. I do not intend to write a minute by minute timeline, but will do a good setup for the first few months of the war. As you can see by Admiral Nimitz's letter above there will be some very positive effects! :)
     
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  12. highwayhoss Intolerant of the Intolerant

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    Subscribed. I will be definitely watching this. Better torpedoes will make a big difference.
     
  13. James Ricker Own your mistakes

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    Everyone focusses on the Mk XIV while ignoring the fact that the Mk XIII aerial torpedo and the Mk XV torpedo used by destroyers were both worse than the Mk XIV. The biggest impacts I see are.
    #1 At least one of the big Japanese carriers won't survive the Coral Sea
    #2 Japanese losses at Midway will be heavier.
    #3 The naval battles off Guadalcanal will see far more Japanese cruiser losses.
     
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  14. zert Casual Reader, Interested Follower

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    Looking very nice and it is nice to see this travesty rectified.
     
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  15. Alanith Well-Known Member

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    More importantly, it's possible that one of the KB's carriers takes a torpedo from USS Nautilus during the morning, and as a result, either goes up like a torch a few hours early, or staggers out of formation, possibly leaving the three remaining carriers to get nailed in a slam dunk by the dive bombers. Meaning no strikes to first wound, and then sink Yorktown.
     
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  16. DaveJ576 Well-Known Member

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    For pity's sake I wish I really could rectify it. If I had a time machine this would be one of the first places I would go. Being a submariner myself this episode carries a lot of weight with me, as a lot of Bluejackets (indeed Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines too) died needlessly while BuOrd and Newport backpedaled and dithered. For now we will have to be satisfied with this admittedly academic exercise in alternate history.
     
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  17. tomo pauk Well-Known Member

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    Very true. On the other hand, submarine's main weapon was torpedo, while destroyers and aircraft were able to deal serious damage with other weaponry.
     
  18. NHBL Long Time Member, CMII

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    Subscribed! Looking forwards to seeing how this goes. Japan still has lethal fish, also.
     
  19. Sceonn Peace at a Bargain Price

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    Very interesting, the US will go U-Boat on the Japanese.
     
  20. zert Casual Reader, Interested Follower

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    This POD may cause Japan to divert more building of escorts and convoys once War starts.
     
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