No Indianapolis? OTL she and Portland were sisters.
What about these guy's being the Union Army's special forces?
A group photo of the Union Army's 2nd Ranger Battalion in Southern Kentucky, circa 1943.
A Union Army Ranger planting an explosive charge on a railroad behind enemy lines, somewhere in Tennessee, circa 1943.
One idea I had, inspired by Tiro's post ages back, was that during the inter-war period the Union suffers from what will ultimately be skewed priorities - because they think tey've got the South beat, they begin to look outwards and less at war on the North American continent. The reforms of the Socialist administrations also drain funding away from the military towards peace time development. As a result, the US Army shrinks and increasingly focuses on partisan warfare (from Mormons and Canadians) and less on combined arms combat. The army officer corp shrinks and a lot of its better members to other service branches - while there are still good officers, there are just aren't enough of them and the Confederate officer corp is of more even and generally superior quality. While there are efforts made to rectify this with the rise of Jake the Snake, it takes too long and thus the US Army still isn't ready, either in terms of equipment or training, on the eve of the SGW (hence still using bolt-actions when the Rebs have semi or fully auto rifles). This explains the poor state of the US Army despite US economic potential.
Conversely, the US Navy, Air Force and Marine Corp remain well funded and effective, as it is believed they will take the fight to the British or Japanese or perhaps even the Germans. In particular the USMC is the cream of the crop when it comes to US land forces - it is relatively large for an expeditionary force (though still far, far smaller than the army) and also receives more modern equipment. In particular I am thinking that the first US semi-automatic rifle (or perhaps even battle rifle) is adopted by the USMC (I am inspired by the Soviet Naval Infantry having a lot of SVT-40s at the start of WW2 and giving the Wehrmacht problems) and while they can't hope to stop the Southern tide, their better training and equipment compared to the US Army gives them a reputation as the fiercest troops in the US of A, putting up the toughest fight Johnnie Reb ever had during the first few months of the SGW. Eventually things even out more with the Army but the USMC still maintains this reputation as an "ass-kickin" force due to those early efforts.
This is also because I like the idea of the Confederate Marine Corp being underfunded and having a reputation for relative ineffectiveness (in contrast to the Confederate Army, which develops a mythos comparable to OTL Heer). So you have a army-marines contrast between the two nations.
The decision to focus military funding on fighting overseas conflicts to the detriment of a Second Round with the South would be identified by TL-191 historians a one of the Union's worst mistakes during the interwar period, as it ultimately allowed the South to gain the initial momentum during the Second Great War.
I'd actually put for that it's the CONFEDERATES who expand their Naval and Marine operations, particularly raiders and assault troops. They'd have all of Cuba to practice such tactics out of sight of US observers.
Which is why i put forth that Raiding operations would be experimented with, along with such things as frogmen and midget submarines: the CSA does have a history of sub operations from GW1, and a Sub uses a lot less resources than a Battleship.The books mention that the SGW Confederate Navy is a shadow of its FGW self, similarly to the Kriegsmarine. I might even suggest moreso than the Kriegsmarine, since submarines wouldn't at all suffice to impede the United States (which is virtually an autarky), and also because A. Jake Featherston has little regard for a navy, aside from for political points, and B. Building warships is a distraction of resources from the ones needed to make the tanks and artillery and planes that can actually work towards the Confederates only shot at victory.
Well, you did say Naval and Marine operations, not specifying anything particular. Subs I can see. But in general, the Confederate Navy would have just enough to make their coasts generally secure and take the Bahamas and Haiti. Other than that, 600 medium tanks would be far more valuable for the Confederates than something like a panzerschiff or a heavy cruiser.
On airplanes, Wright is stated to be a manufacturer of the fighters Johnathan Moss flies, and to be fair, the US didn't exactly churn out world-beating designs in real life WWI either: American pilots had to fly French SPAD fighters, even after the US' entry into the war. Same goes for, well a LOT of US inventory in WWI: the Ford 6-ton tank is pretty much a bolt-for-bolt copy of the FT-17, and then there's the Chauchat machine gun...
True, but it's also worth mentioning that the late-term development of such weapons due to established doctrine not allowing for their use is also a factor: For example, the Development and implementation of fighters generally parallels Reality, as even the War-prepared powers of Europe didn't have them in service before the conflict began, and if you're trying to field a new and experimental weapon system it makes sense to use a machine that is already somewhat proven instead of trying to slapdash your own. Case in point: the US using a domestic copy of the Fokker Eindecker. This setting's US seems far less doggedly reluctant about using foreign designed equipment.In OTL the US only joined the war in 1917 (three years after it started) and didn't really keep up with domestic development at the time. The US also lacked percieved large scale ground threats pre WW1 with most military funding going to the USN. Here the US is in the war from the start and has been in a sort of cold war with the CSA for decades with the Confederates being an obvious and near threat.
Or Sikorsky goes to Germany and works there to product helicopters?If Sikorsky comes over during the Russian Civil War? Sure. Even though the Whites win, they may have viewed him as a traitor for leaving Russia, so he stays in the U.S., and develops the helicopter. You might see the first preproduction examples flying just before the war ends.