Author Topic: A Different Kind of What If  (Read 3806 times)

Offline Maverick

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A Different Kind of What If
« on: July 13, 2012, 09:19:11 AM »
Hey Gang,

We've always chatted about 'what if WW2 continued longer, started earlier, etc' or 'what if Korea escalated into WW3'.  I wonder about slightly different scenarios, predominantly within a series of possible points of divergence.

What if WWI didn't occur, for whatever reason?

What if WW2 didn't occur as above?

What if the Korean conflict didn't occur as above?

What if the Vietnam conflict didn't occur as above?

What if the various Arab-Israeli wars didn't occur as above?

My predominant reasons for these scenarios revolve around weapons development.  We all know that wars tend to bring out the best in designers as it were and peace-time concepts & strategies usually fall apart when faced with actual conflict.

Would we have had the advancements in military & other technology such as aviaiton, medicine, etc without these conflicts occurring?  Think of iconic weapons designs like the Spitfire, Phantom, M16, AK-47, SSBNs, etc and where would the impetus have come from to have these on the drawing boards were it not for the various conflicts that preceded or precipitated their designs?

Thoughts?

Regards,

John
Regards,

John

Offline Litvyak

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Re: A Different Kind of What If
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2012, 09:38:52 AM »
Well, as far as WW1 goes, I think that one was inevitable, though could've started anywhere between 1914 and 1940.

WW2 on the other hand... well, what if France and the UK encouraged the Czechs to fight. Czechoslovakia was fairly matched with Germany at that time, so Czechs, Poles, maybe France and UK both also gang up on Germany right then and the war is over within a year. In that year, not much innovation happens, so by 1945, things probably aren't anywhere near where they were RW in 1945. I'd guess it's probably only in the 1950s that combat aircraft reach the level of the P-51D, maybe early 1960s for jets... so overall? Right now, 2012, would probably be similar to the late 1980s... at least as far as technology goes.

Though who knows...
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Offline AGRA

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Re: A Different Kind of What If
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2012, 10:52:45 AM »
Changing the pace of weapons development works two ways. What if there was no post WWI disarmament and WWII happened in the 1920s? Jets and computers in the 1930s… In the last few months I’ve plotted out the idea of an alternate WWI in which the Americans never join the fight. And yes it has distracted greatly from finishing the Australia without carriers stories.

But the basic premise is the Germans don’t implement unrestricted submarine warfare and don’t try and encourage Mexico to join the war on their side so the USA has no reason to enter the conflict. Without unrestricted submarine warfare the pressure on the UK is relieved somewhat but without American involvement in the war both the UK and France struggle to pay for American ordnance in 1917-18. With Russia bowing out of the war and without American support the German 1918 Spring Offensive knocks France out of the war. The British armies retreat intact to the coast and combined with the aerial destruction of the German fleet at harbour and the collapse of the Turks in the Middle East the UK and Germany agree to an armistice on November 11, 1918.

In the armistice period Germany occupies France to the Seine and the UK the Channel Coast. Germany also controls the Ukraine, Baltic states and Caucasus and the UK the Ottoman Empire below Anatolia. They agree to peace in return for mutual withdrawal from France with Germany absorbing Belgium (including the Congo sans Katanga which is seized by the UK) and French Flanders. The UK keeps pre war German colonies and the Middle East (which never gets this name is it is an American term and is instead known as the ‘Near East’). 1.5 million Belgians refuse to return and become émigrés in the UK and Canada. In Russia the UK turns 180 degrees in support of their new Soviet allies who win the Russian civil war in 1921. Japan and the UK become more allied and America becomes closer to Germany as both try to penetrate international markets the British, Japanese and Russians (never known as the Soviet Union, just the RSFSR) try to sew up.

Post war both the Germans and British Empires remain highly militarised with continued weapons development and training of armies. The RAF is never formed but the Royal Flying Corps is given responsibility for air defence and offensive bombers (though the RNAS keeps land based fighters and bombers for port defence and attack). The Americans also implement their massive navy and army expansion plans but lack a lot of the technical and military experience of the Germans and British. By the mid 1920s the UK is well in front with aircraft development with metal frame aircraft and stressed skin airframes entering service.

World War II starts in 1925 when the French agree to sell their colonies to Germany in place of reparations. Britain and Japan seize these colonies to keep the Germans out sparking war. America joins Germany in order to destroy British-Japanese commercial control of Africa and Asia. Germany invades Russia to stamp out Bolshevism and secure a new colonial frontier covering all of Asia. Naval battles between the massive fleet of battleships and the new aircraft carrier break out in the North Sea and Grand Banks. America invades Canada and then the British Empire at the peak of its naval, military and economic strength strikes back…

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Re: A Different Kind of What If
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2012, 11:41:34 AM »
Some interesting ideas there and lots of fuel for scenarios of all kinds.
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Offline Daryl J.

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Re: A Different Kind of What If
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2012, 06:27:28 AM »
 As a doc the thing that immediately comes to mind is that there would be piles of funding available for health care.
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Offline Maverick

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Re: A Different Kind of What If
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2012, 09:40:55 AM »
Possibly, Daryl, although peacetime armies still demand budgets.  The more important question dependent on the point of divergence would be what breakthrough medical techniques/knowledge/medicine wouldn't necessarily be available due to the lack of the conflict in question?

Regards,

John
Regards,

John

Offline elmayerle

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Re: A Different Kind of What If
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2012, 12:05:27 PM »
I'm not so certain that the US would've kept out of the war, just come in later as/when Wilson and the Progressives find a way/excuse to drag the US into the war in order to effect certain changes on the culture that can only be done in time of war (why do you think their philosophical descendents are always looking for the "moral equivalent of war"?).  I have to wonder how this alternate scenario would affect Mussolini's rise in Italy and how that would change things.

Offline Litvyak

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Re: A Different Kind of What If
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2012, 12:27:07 PM »
...America invades Canada and then the British Empire at the peak of its naval, military and economic strength strikes back…

I wonder if word of the imminent invasion seeps over to Canada, and Defence Scheme No. 1 is implemented? :D
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Offline AGRA

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Re: A Different Kind of What If
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2012, 02:46:37 PM »
I wonder if word of the imminent invasion seeps over to Canada, and Defence Scheme No. 1 is implemented? :D

An American Army ‘only’ 600,000 strong (as planned by Congress before entering WWI) with no experience of trench warfare invading Canada in a re-run of the War of 1812 and driving straight into multiple lines of advanced field fortifications supported by lakes, rivers, canals, etc. It would be worse than the Somme for the Americans. The counter offensive loaded with independent tanks, ‘fast’ medium tanks, trench fighters, heavy bombers, mechanised heavy artillery, gas, etc all things the Americans have never seen in action lead by commanders and staffs with 10 years of war experience. It would be like the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. The only thing the Americans would have in their favour is internal lines of communication, trading land for time and the hope that their industry and population can mobilise before the British, Canadian, Japanese, Australian and Mexican armies all meet up in Washington DC.

Offline Litvyak

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Re: A Different Kind of What If
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2012, 08:49:05 PM »
The only thing the Americans would have in their favour is internal lines of communication, trading land for time and the hope that their industry and population can mobilise before the British, Canadian, Japanese, Australian and Mexican armies all meet up in Washington DC.

If they can keep Chicago. Losing Chicago would be quite devastating, as it is pretty much the linchpin of the American transcontinental railway system. Transport would still be possible, of course, on losing Chicago, but it wouldn't be as easy.

So a key objective for the invader would be capturing Chicago, and destroying the bridges on the Mississippi. If they can do that, then the eastern and western US are quite isolated from each other. If the RN could then establish control on the river, bombarding the adjacent shores, the western US would be a relatively easy conquest from then on, if large, spread out, and difficult to police. But the RAF was doing colonial air policing pretty much from the start, and the tactics used in Waziristan and the northern frontier should be just as effective in the US.

Cismississippiania would still be quite difficult to conquer, though, as much of the industrial capacity is in that half of the US - though the Rust Belt would be the first place invaded in an invasion from Canada.

Assuming the above happens - Chicago is captured, the Mississippi bridges are destroyed and the RN establishes control of the river. Add to that the capture of Detroit and perhaps other places in the Rust Belt... could the industrial capacity of the South keep the US going for long? I can see clouds of bombers over Alabama... Bessemer, Birmingham, Anniston...
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Offline AGRA

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Re: A Different Kind of What If
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2012, 08:23:31 AM »
The only thing the Americans would have in their favour is internal lines of communication, trading land for time and the hope that their industry and population can mobilise before the British, Canadian, Japanese, Australian and Mexican armies all meet up in Washington DC.

If they can keep Chicago. Losing Chicago would be quite devastating, as it is pretty much the linchpin of the American transcontinental railway system. Transport would still be possible, of course, on losing Chicago, but it wouldn't be as easy.

I’m not so sure of the crucial importance of the west to the American war economy in the 1920s. They have coal, iron, oil, food, etc all abundantly available in the eastern and southern states. There are obviously very important iron mines in Minnesota that rely on Great Lakes transport that would be cut off almost straight away. Losing the west would be terrible for the USA but not knock them out of the fight.

Offline Litvyak

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Re: A Different Kind of What If
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2012, 08:58:48 AM »
Yes, there were all of those things in the east, but I recall reading (can go search for it if you want) that the vast majority of meat came from the west, to the Chicago slaughterhouses/packing houses, and thence on eastwards, similarly for many vegetables and fruits, though the South was also a significant producer of the latter. And, of course, there was oil in Pennsylvania and plenty of heavy industry in the Northeast...

So no, it wouldn't knock them out of the war, but it /would/ be a significant negative impact. The Mississippi blockade would prevent Texas oil, western grain and meats, chemicals from Louisiana etc. from being taken east; cutting Minnesota and Wisconsin off prevents ore deliveries, as you said, and Michigan... well, I doubt much needs to be said about Michigan!

Americans are resourceful though, so they'd probably be able to adapt to those losses, but they'd be eating lots of chicken, watermelons, oranges and milk and butter!
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Offline AGRA

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Re: A Different Kind of What If
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2012, 09:41:43 AM »
Yes, there were all of those things in the east, but I recall reading (can go search for it if you want) that the vast majority of meat came from the west, to the Chicago slaughterhouses/packing houses, and thence on eastwards, similarly for many vegetables and fruits, though the South was also a significant producer of the latter. And, of course, there was oil in Pennsylvania and plenty of heavy industry in the Northeast...

And most of this food produce from the west was for export to the UK, Europe and so on. The eastern states of the USA have some of the most productive farmlands in the world and can easily support the local population in food. You don’t slaughter and pack meat in Chicago to train it on for consumption in New York. But you do if you want to ship it overseas.

So no, it wouldn't knock them out of the war, but it /would/ be a significant negative impact. The Mississippi blockade would prevent Texas oil, western grain and meats, chemicals from Louisiana etc. from being taken east; cutting Minnesota and Wisconsin off prevents ore deliveries, as you said, and Michigan... well, I doubt much needs to be said about Michigan!

Well I don’t know how you are going to blockade the Mississippi in 1925? The only way to get British Empire warships onto it is through an amphibious assault on New Orleans which with the defences and weaponry of the time would make Gallipoli look like a British Empire success. Any local boats that could be injected into the upper Mississippi would be too small to survive against shore based field artillery. Blockading the Mississippi without being in control of the banks may have been something you could do in 1865 but the huge increase in cannon efficiencies makes it suicide to try something similar in the 20th century.

That isn’t to say a general attack on the American west isn’t a good idea. It is lightly occupied by America outside of Texas and California and the British Empire armies are well practised in mobile warfare from their WWI experience in the Middle East. By attacking the west they would divert American defensive effort and frustrate these areas ability to contribute to American mobilisation.

In the west the strategy would be to launch a major Canadian/British army from Winnipeg down towards Chicago rolling up the Great Plains to the Rockies on the right flank. A Japanese army would be landed through Vancouver to attack Seattle and the Pacific North West. An Australian army would be landed through Ensenada in Mexico to attack into California. The British Empire armies would be led by fast moving mounted infantry with tactical air and armour support much like in 1918 in the Middle East, using what was later to be called Blitzkrieg tactics.

Second phase after these objectives would be for the Japanese to move through the Snake River Valley to Colorado after linking up with the Australians in the Klamath. The Australian army with Mexican support would then advance through the American south west to west Texas. The Winnipeg army would then move down the western bank of the Mississippi completing the objective. American defences would mostly be local forces as their main effort would be to stop the main British/Canadian offensive into New York.

Offline Geoff

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Re: A Different Kind of What If
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2012, 11:25:32 PM »
As a doc the thing that immediately comes to mind is that there would be piles of funding available for health care.

Yes, but we set up the NHS in 1948 when the UK was bankrupt in all but name as part of rebuilding our country.