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Thread: The War that Had to Be Won (1936: The Road to War)

  1. #81
    Field Marshal Nathan Madien's Avatar

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    Even with all this alternate history, it's nice to see Stalin paranoid as always.

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    And don't, I repeat, don't count to three. Never.


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    Ahh the famed logic of Spain. A coup is launched after some dodgy elections, so the solution is outlawing loads of parties and holding some new dodgy elections! What could possibly go wrong?

    Having the more Anglophile Balbo in charge should make things interesting, not sure what he can do about the deep seated problems in Italy but 'not going to war' would be an excellent start!
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  3. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Pip View Post
    Ahh the famed logic of Spain. A coup is launched after some dodgy elections, so the solution is outlawing loads of parties and holding some new dodgy elections! What could possibly go wrong?

    Having the more Anglophile Balbo in charge should make things interesting, not sure what he can do about the deep seated problems in Italy but 'not going to war' would be an excellent start!
    That and "Let's not turn the Navy into moving paper targets for the RN.
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  4. #84
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    Chapter ten: A review of the British armed forces (I).

    The British army and modern times.


    When the Great War ended the expenditure in defence was greatly reduced as the British Empire would not be engaged in any great war during the next ten years. To control the defence estimates then Secretary of State for War in 1919 had formulated the "Ten Year Rule" (1) and, in the years following this decision, defence spending was pared to the bone with defence spending going down from £766 million in 1919–20, to £189 million in 1921–22, to £102 million in 1932. By 1928 Churchill, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, successfully urged the Cabinet to make the rule self-perpetuating and hence it was in force unless specifically countermanded. However, the Ten Year Rule was abandoned by the Cabinet on 32 March 1932 even if the expenditure in the Defence Services was not expanded until 1936, as a consequence of the growing unestability in Europe caused by the Communist revlution in Eastern Europe.

    The most inmediate effects of this expanded expenditure were a number of changes in the British Armed forces from the late months of 1936 onwards. It is said that the modernization of the British army came out from the memories of the Great War and mechanization was introduced to provide the Army with a fast mobile arm that could break through the enemy’s lines. As the Great War had signalled the end of the cavalry, the transformation of the cavalry from horse based to armoured and mechanized based began in earnest. In fact, the idea behind this move was to save money. Of course, the Calvary resented to be forced to give up their horses and their relations with the Royal Armoured Corps were quite cold and strained.


    The Mark VI: Britain's attempt to replace Italy as the main producer of useless tanks.


    The Mark IV light tank began to be replaced in late 1936 with the Mark V, which, even if it was a significant improvement, it was still armed with two machine guns. At once Vickers-Armstrong began to work privately in a development of a replacement for the Mk V. The design, the Mk VI, was a machinegun-armed tank to be used both as a scout and reconnaissance tank. The British Army, was quite pleased with the Mk. VI, and awarded a contract to Vickers for five hundred of the new Mk.VI’s. (2) Meanwhile work began in a new class of armoured vehicles, conceived as offensive weapons rather than devoted to infantry support or reconnaissance. The result was the A10 Cruiser Mk. II, larger than the Mk. VI light tank by more than twice as much, weighing in at almost fourteen tons and armed with a quick-firing 2 pounder (40mm) gun, BESA 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and Vickers .303 caliber machine gun, and crew of five (Commander, gunner, loader, driver and hull machine-gunner).

    It was then when the War Office began to look to replace the 18 pounder field gun and the 4.5-inch howitzer, which had been the main field artillery equipments during the Great War. The basic idea was to build one weapon with the direct-fire capability of the 18 pounder and the high-angle fire of the howitzer, firing a shell about half way between the two in size, around 3.5 to 4 in (90 to 100 mm) of about 30 pounds (14 kg). Eventually, this process would end in the best field artillery piece of all times: the Ordnance QF 25 pounder. It would take a bit of a time, however.


    The QF 4.5 inch Howitzer: defending the Empire since 1908.




    (1) Silliest rule ever thought, IMHO.
    (2) Apparently, no one in the British army noticed that the Soviets were producing light tanks armed with 45 mm guns, the BT series, and kept producing machine gun-armed tanks. Very droll, sirrah...


    @Viden: Anarchists are anarchist even in writting

    @Nathan Madien: It wouldn't be the same without him going nuts sooner or later, don't you think?

    You're mad, sir.

    @El Pip: Well, when your fiercest rivals are outlawed or too divided to be dangerous looks like the right moment to do so... At least in Spanish politics.

    The problem with Balbo is that he's as Anglophile as Germanophobic, so this can give some interesting moments. About not going to war... well... we shall see. I can promise you something: Italy will have a charming air force.

    @trekaddict: That's a good idea... I wonder what would do the Reggia Marina againt ships like this one:



    Last edited by Kurt_Steiner; 09-11-2011 at 12:03.
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  5. #85
    *Tries not to die of laughter*

    Just pure comedy.

  6. #86
    Lord of Slower-than-real-time El Pip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt_Steiner View Post
    @trekaddict: That's a good idea... I wonder what would do the Reggia Marina againt ships like this one:



    They would cunningly charge the entire fleet at her until the Yamato ran out of shells, and then any surviving Italian ships would triumph!

    That or use subs as the Japanese were rubbish at ASW and Italy did have quite a few submarines.
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  7. #87
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    There is no way in the wide expanses of the Multi-verse that anyone can be more useless at Tanks than the Japanese.
    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
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  8. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt_Steiner View Post

    The Mark VI: Britain's attempt to replace Italy as the main producer of useless tanks.
    I suppose the Brits should have some sort of goal to shoot for in life.
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  9. #89
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    Is there going to be some opportunity for us to see Eric Blair? Maybe the S.C. Bose decides to lead a rebellion or some such?
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  10. #90
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    Chapter eleven: A review of the British armed forces (II).

    The Royal Air Force: defying gravity.


    The Royal Air Force was also recovering his former strenght. During the inter-war years the RAF had had to fight for its survival, as some questioned the need for a separate air force, especially in peacetime. During the 1920s and first half of the 1930s, Government spending on the RAF was limited and the air staff put a higher priority on strategic bombing than on naval aviation. The result of this was that by the late 1930s the Fleet Air Arm was equipped with outdated aircraft in limited numbers. By 1936, the Admiralty began campaigning for the return of naval aviation to their control. This time they were successful and on 30 July 1937, the Admiralty took over responsibility for the administration of the Fleet Air Arm. That same year, a reorganisation of RAF command saw the creation of Fighter Command, Bomber Command and Coastal Command.

    Fighter Command’s newest addition to the fighter stable was the introduction of the Hawker Hurricane to replace the Hawker Fury and the Bristol Bulldog biplane fighters that equipped the squadrons of the RAF Fighter Command. Eventually, even the Gloster Gladiator, the last biplane fighter to serve with the RAF, would be replaced by the Hurricane (1). Powered by the famous Rolls-Royce Merlin Mk II engine and armed with eight .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns, the Hurricane (Mk I) entered RAF service in September 1937, with No 111 Squadron. It became the first RAF monoplane fighter with a retractable undercarriage and an enclosed cockpit.


    Prince George, Duke of York (seen here in the light-coloured overcoat), Henry, Duke of Gloucester and the future Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, Viscount Lord Gort, to carry out their planned inspection of Biggin Hill. As this panoramic view shows, six new and pristine Hurricanes recently allocated to the Nos 85 and 87 Sqns were parked within the gaze of the airfield watch tower. Opposite them were Gladiators from No 615 Sqn and Blenheim IVs from Nos 53 and 59 Sqns.


    At the same time, R. J. Mitchell, chief designer at Supermarine Aviation Works, began to design a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft: The Supermarine Spitfire. Armed with eight machine-guns, Mitchell's design had elliptical wings which vastly improved maneuverability. Also propelled by the new Rolls Royce Merlin engine used by the Hurricane, the first prototype flew in March 1937 and it was hoped that the first Spitifre Mk Is would enter into service on September 1938.

    Meanwhile, the RAF’s Bomber Command kept drifting in chaos: it still remained divided in three separate sub-commands (Tactical Command, Strategic Command, and Coastal Command). However, instead of unifying those commands and ending the chaos, someone considered that replacing some of the obsolete like the Handley Page HP.52 Hampden which equipped the Tactical Command, or the Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitley used by the Strategic Command, was a more pressing issue. For once, this decision was a good one, as the Hampden was virtually undefendable against the newest Soviet fighters despite its speed and agility. Thus, the Bomber Command’s leaders asked for new aircrafts for the Bomber Command. Specifically, modern tactical and strategic bombers, close air support/attack planes, and naval bombers. It was to take a deal with those petitions, but at least the demand has been made, even if the replacement of the Hampden, the Vickers Wellington, was already making his first flights with chief test pilot Joseph Summers as pilot. The substitute of the Whitley heavy bomber was to become slightly more complicated as its replacement, the Avro 679 Manchester, was proving to be a failure due to several problems with its engine, the Rolls-Royce Vulture. Such were the troubles that Avro's chief designer, Roy Chadwick, began to work on an improved design using four of the more reliable but less powerful Rolls-Royce Merlin engines on a larger wing.


    An Avro Manchester of 207 Sqn showing the three-flin configuration. Note shape of the Vulture engines, primary cause of the Manchester demise.



    (1) Most of the Gladiators built for the RAF were exported to Belgium, China, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Iraq, Ireland, Norway, Portugal and Sweden. Only the Sea Gladiator remained in service for some time.


    @Sumeragi: Life sometimes is a joke

    @El Pip: If the Italian submarines manage to do something proper I'll be mightly surprised!

    Oh, the Vittorio Venetto arriving to Singapore as an ally, not as a prize...

    @trekaddict: Some of the later designs were rather good... too late, too few.

    @Nathan Madien: And some reason to do penance for ever and ever...

    @H.Appleby: Without the SCW Blair is going to need some other kind of war to have some kind of inspiration... Will he end joining the French Army? Or going to see what's happening in Brazil? Who knows...

    S.C. Bose... in due time, Bose and his chums will have to choose between bad and worse...
    Last edited by Kurt_Steiner; 11-11-2011 at 11:34.
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  11. #91
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Methinks that strapping another two engines to the Manchester might work, especially if that plane were fitted with a down-ward firing turret.
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    Lord of Slower-than-real-time El Pip's Avatar
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    It'd be nice if just once the Manchester (and RR Vulture) gets a chance to be a success, I'm always left feeling a little sad for the poor blighter - its only role in life being a stepping stone to the Lancaster. Plus of course the poor old Hawker Tornado, with a working Vulture it might have had a chance instead of being cancelled due to someone else's problems.

    One day maybe, one day.
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  13. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Pip View Post
    It'd be nice if just once the Manchester (and RR Vulture) gets a chance to be a success, I'm always left feeling a little sad for the poor blighter - its only role in life being a stepping stone to the Lancaster. Plus of course the poor old Hawker Tornado, with a working Vulture it might have had a chance instead of being cancelled due to someone else's problems.

    One day maybe, one day.
    There's worse fates than being a stepping stone for the Lanc I think. Hey, it could be a stepping stone to, say, the He-177.
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    Chapter twelve: A review of the British armed forces (III).

    The Royal Navy: Ye mighty one.


    Finally, while the Army and the RAF were modernized and enlarged, the same process took place in Royal Navy. By 1936, the majority of the Royal Navy’s screening ships were decent but too short-legged destroyers (A-, B-, C-, D-, E- and F classes). Then newer destroyers (G-, H-, & I class destroyers) were to join the Fleet from 1936 onwards. For a while it was considered to replace the older destroyers and to send them to the scrap yards as the new destroyers. However, this idea was soon forgotten and the elder ships remained in service, although there were plans to transfer the five C-class destroyers to the Royal Canadian Navy. However, all Royal Navy destroyers, the "interwar standard" ones, were being eclipsed by foreign designs, particularly from Japan, Italy, and Germany. To counteract this trend, the Admiralty decided to build a new destroyer type, with an emphasis on gunnery over torpedo warfare. This design envisioned a 1,850-ton ship with a speed of 36.25 knots, an endurance of 5,500 nautical miles (10,200 km; 6,300 mi), and five twin 4.7 inch guns as main armament: the Tribal-class.


    The HMS Ilex, an I-class destroyer, entering Malta harbour.


    The Royal Navy’s cruiser, battlecruiser and battleship squadrons were in no better shape than their escorts when it came to age. Most of the light cruisers were still the Great War C-class cruisers, and the D- and E-class light cruisers of the postwar period. To replace them several new classes had been designed and introduced into service (Leander-, Arethusa-, the Town- and the Dido-class), ships that had been designed to be equal in size and effective power to heavy cruisers and to protect the trade routes, too. The heavy cruiser squadrons were equipped with the County-class ships, which, by the mid-1930s, had replaced the Hawkins ships.


    The HMS Leander, seen here short after joining the Home Fleet.


    The battlecruisers offered a curious dilemma. After the Great War their role had been fullfilled by the new heavy cruisers and battleships. However, the Fleet retained three battlecruisers, Renown, Repulse and Hood, after some hesitations and rumours that all of them were to be converted into air carriers. In the end nothing came out of it and the three ships underwent a thorough reconstruction during the mid 1930’s.

    The HMS Hood was the pride of the Fleet, if not the Empire itself. Built during the Great War, the Hood and her planned sisters of the Admiral-class battlecruisers were designed in response to the German Mackensen-class battlecruisers which were reported to be more heavily armed and armoured than the latest British battlecruisers. As the German navy was reduced to impotence in the first clashes of the war, only Hood was completed because the ships required labour and material that could be put to better use building merchant ships needed to replace those lost to the German U-boat campaign. The Hood displaced forty-two thousand tons and was 860 feet long. She was armed with eight 15-inch guns, had a complement of 1325 in 1934 and a top speed of 32 knots.


    One of the 8-barrel 2-pdr pom-pom mounts which were added in the 1930s to the British battlecruisers.


    Even the battleships fleet was affected by the Washington Treaty, which imposed scrappings of capital ships (1) and limitations on new construction. Thus, by the 1930s the Royal Navy had just three separate classes of battleships, the early Great War Queen Elizabeth-class, the Great War Revenge-class, and the mid-1920’s Nelson-class.

    The Queen Elizabeth’s (HMS Queen Elizabeth, Warspite, Barham, Valiant and Malaya), while getting advanced in age, were still powerful ships: they had an excellent combination of weaponry, armour and speed. The class was armed with eight 15-inch guns but the ships were quite different from the original design: during the late 1920’s and early to mid-1930’s the ships received a complete upgrading, which included new machinery, deck armor upgrades, torpedo belt armor, new superstructure, new secondary armament and anti-aircraft armament, and many electronics upgrades.


    The HMS Barnham, seen here prior to depart for a spell on the Mediterranean Sea.


    The Revenge-class battleships (HMS Royal Oak, Royal Sovereign, Revenge, Resolution and Ramillies) were smaller and economical versions of the Queen Elizabeth’s and were designed to be able to use both coal and oil as its fuel source. This was partially due to fears over the total reliance of the QE class on oil as their fuel source. To be cheaper than the QEs their size was reduced and their engines were less powerful, and their slim single funnel distinguished them from the QEs, which had twin funnels (or thick trunked funnels after the modernization of the 1920’s). The armour was very different to that of the QEs: the armoured deck was raised much higher in the ship, and the side armour was much more extensive at its full thickness. The Revenge class ships were flawed vessels, a poor plataform of fire and, worse still, unable to be improved with more powerful machinery later in their lives.

    The first British battleships built since the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, the Nelson class was the newest battleships. As the Kannalkampf (1914) had shown the value of fierpower and protection over speed and maneuverability, the Admiralty drew up plans for massive, heavily armoured battlecruisers and battleships, far larger and stronger than all previous vessels: the G3 battlecruisers and the proposed N3 battleships. Their development was curtailed by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the ships were cancelled. The Treaty limited all nations' battleships to 35,000 tons and 16-inch guns.

    The limits of the treaty inevitably afected the design of the new ships, and the Nelson class sacrificed speed for being well-armed and defended. The need to limit displacement resulted in a radical new warship design, inspired in the G3 and N3 designs. To reduce the weight of armour, the main gun turrets were mounted all forward, in front of the bridge, shortening the armoured length, thus increasing firepower and armor, while keeping weight low. However, the Nelson class was a failed design with some shortcomings. Despite the rear location of the superstructure, the center of gravity of the class was still too far forward which caused maneuverability problems in high wind. The inclined armor disposition considerably increased the danger of shells diving under the armor belt. Worse still, the guns suffered considerable barrel wear and had a large dispersion pattern. As a result their muzzle velocities were lowered which reduced their penetrative power. A heavier shell was needed to offset this, but the cost of producing new shells, and modifying shell handling and storage equipment, had come at a time when RN funding had been heavily reduced.


    The HMS Nelson at Porsmouth. The Nelsons were the most powerful ships in the Royal Navy and, at the same time, the most maligned of the service.


    The aircraft carrier was a kind of an enigm for the Royal Navy. Some people at the Admiralty were sure that the carriers were to become a key element in the naval war, but scepticism remained. In the end, the first experiences with the HMS Furious, the converted battlecruisers HMS Glorious and HMS Courageous, the HMS Eagle and the HMS Hermes began to win the hearts and souls of the Navy. All of them had small air wings, in contrast with the American and Japanese navies, (the larger air groups were those of the HMS Glorious and Courageous, who had 48 aircrafts), but this changed when the keel of the HMS Ark Royal was laid: the new carrier was to have an air wing of seventy-two aircrafts.

    The submarine section of the Royal Navy was favoured in its development by the successes of the German Unterseeboots in the Great War. Thus, by 1936 several classes of submarines were in service and had several more in development.

    The oldest submarines in service were the six Odin-class submarines, launched in the late 1920s to replace the ageing L-class. The Odin’s had large engine and propulsion system that gave them a surface speed of 17.5 knots and 8.5 knot submerged. Armament consisted of eight 21-inch torpedo tubes (6 bow, 2 stern) and one 4-inch gun plus Lewis machine guns on the foredeck of the conning tower. The Lewis's were a direct response to an increased awareness of submarines inherent vulnerability to attack by air. These boats were the first British submarines fitted with Asdic and VLF radio which could be used at periscope depth. After them came the Parthian-class, a six boat class. These ships were almost identical to the Odin class, the only difference being a different bow shape, which gave them a submerged speed of nine knots. In the early 1930s the Fleet received the four Rainbow-class submarines, which internally where no different from the Parthian-class. Both classes were designed as long range patrol submarines for the Far East.


    HMS Parthian off Chinese coast in the 1930s.


    The early 1930s saw the modernisation of the submarine force to meet the need for smaller boats to patrol the restricted waters of the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The result of all this was the twelve S-class submarines, coastal boats with a displacement of 650 tons and a crewe of only thirty-six officers and men. Armed with six 21-inch torpedo tubes in the bow, one 3-inch gun on the foredeck and one Vickers .303 caliber machinegun on the conning tower, the S-class were loaded with only twelve torpedoes which, along with their small size, limited their scope of operable areas without the assistance of one of the Fleets submarine tenders.

    Another design was the River class, three submarines designed to operate as part of a fleet; and the Grampus-class, a group of six minelaying submarines which were to enter into service from 1936 onwards. The last submarines were those of the Triton class, designed in the 1930s to replace the aging Odin and Parthian-classes. Fifteen pre-war submarines were ordered under the Programmes of 1935 (one), 1936 (next four), 1937 (next seven) and 1938 (last three).


    (1) To avoid that fate, in ATL some ships were sold, as the HMS Agincourt, which was bought by Brazil as the Rio de Janeiro; the HMS Erin, bought by Argentina as the Buenos Aires; and the HMS Canada, sold to the Chilean Navy as the Almirante Latorre.




    @trekaddict: Indeed, but something tells me that some top brass are a bit afraid of the Vulture engine...

    @El Pip: I'm tempted to sell some Manchesters to Spain but without the customary civil way I have not the slightest idea where they could use them (Gibraltar is not an option, it goes without saying). Perhaps Turkey may like some Manchesters and Tornados, if the Red Scare goes high enough in Ankara...

    @trekaddict -2-: That's evil. Too evil even for me.
    Last edited by Kurt_Steiner; 16-11-2011 at 12:48.
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  15. #95
    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt_Steiner View Post
    (1) To avoid that fate, in ATL some ships were sold, as the HMS Agincourt, which was bought by Brazil as the Rio de Janeiro; the HMS Erin, bought by Argentina as the Buenos Aires; and the HMS Canada, sold to the Chilean Navy.as the Almirante Latorre
    Feeding the South American dreadnought race, Kurt? Is there a sideshow in the making?
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    So outside of a naval arms race in South America, no real changes for the RN is how I read that.

    I do like the Admiralty's firm grasp of foreign policy though. WW2 isn't even on the horizon but they are already predicting it; how else could they have 'interwar' standard destroyers?
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Pip View Post
    I do like the Admiralty's firm grasp of foreign policy though. WW2 isn't even on the horizon but they are already predicting it; how else could they have 'interwar' standard destroyers?
    Too good to be spoiled!

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  18. #98
    Quote Originally Posted by El Pip View Post
    I do like the Admiralty's firm grasp of foreign policy though. WW2 isn't even on the horizon but they are already predicting it; how else could they have 'interwar' standard destroyers?


    Anyway, shouldn't modernised Hood and entire QE class count for something?

  19. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlstadt Boy View Post


    Anyway, shouldn't modernised Hood and entire QE class count for something?
    They should. IOTL QEs alone should quadruple the brown pants sales in Italy and the modernized Hood might be enough to destroy all those annoying KM fanboys.

    TTL we shall see. I do look forward to the almost clicheed meeting of Hood and Bismarck who instead of shooting render passing honours.
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    That was some good techporn, Kurt. I enjoyed it very much.
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