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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
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trekaddict

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Glad to have you aboard. And rest assured, the Vampire will feature... eventually... :D Lots of stuff will. In fact, the later Chapters of this AAR will be nice for people who are interested in British Aviation or the lack thereof in the period from 1945 onwards.
 

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Chapter 143




9th November 1940

Royal Naval Hospital Haslar

The first thing he noticed was the smell. So different from the filtered air of the Operations Bunker under the Admiralty, and rich with what he could not identify in his clouded smell. The next thing he heard was the lack of the familiar noises that always were around, the incoming messages or the people walking about. Instead, the only thing he heard was the voice of the Prime Minister. With that, he instantly remembered what had happened and jerked fully awake. He knew that he had collapsed, and knew how much time had passed, and he knew what was his duty. “Are you aware what has happened?” Churchill asked. “Yes, Prime Minister.” “Do you have anything to say?” Unaware of what had happened out at sea since his collapse, he instantly tried to secure his own position. “Sir, I must request that Captain Sheppard be removed from his post and be written up for court-martial. He disregarded orders and..”

Churchill interrupted, without even bothering to let Backhouse finish his sentence. “Commodore Sheppard has ordered within his duties, and by disregarding this order has saved many lives.” Commodore Sheppard? Just what had happened during the last few days? “What...I don't understand...” “We have fought, and thanks to Commodore Sheppard's quick thinking and his reaction we got off easily. It seems that the Germans were willing to risk their unfinished and untrialed Carrier after all.” Churchill said. In a recent report Backhouse had stated that the Graf Zeppelin was currently preparing to conduct trials in the Baltic, and would not be ready for operations, and now this was coming back to haunt him. He slowly began to realize that this was the end of his professional career, and the thought did not go down well. “Sir, I...” “am going to resign within the week, is that what you were going to say? In that case, I accept. And if I were you, I would not try to call in any favours. The Cabinet has seen some recent re-shufflings, and I am sure you are aware of the recent election. His Majesty has agreed that Admiral Pound will take over until he retires in 1944.” With that, the Prime Minister exited the room and left a shattered and devastated former First Sea Lord behind. Churchill knew that he should not have let his personal dislike for Backhouse run away with him like that, but the temptation had been too much. For him, and probably also for the Navy the battle was a very little blessing in a huge disguise. Pound was also a member of the Gun School, but at least he placed some value in the Carrier. He had told Backhouse that Pound was due to retire in 1944 on grounds of age, but that was not the full truth. The Brain tumour, not even reported to the Admiralty so far, was something that the Admiral knew but not had revealed to anyone else, the sickness that would eventually claim his life.

At the same time as the Prime Minister was leaving the deposed Admiral behind, twenty-four British Aircraft were racing east, skimming the wavetops of the rough North Sea. They were Royal Air Force Mosquito Mk. Ib fast bomber aircraft belonging to No.617 Squadron with No.105 Squadron a few minutes behind, two of the few Mosquito-Squadrons that had fully converted and the only available at such short notice. The mission had been thrown together within hours, and that was something professional military Officers did not like at all. Each of the planes carried two 2000 pound bombs, currently the heaviest explosives at RAF disposal. Their mission was simple: Attack the most heavily defended harbour in Continental Europe, bomb any ships in sight, shoot up everything else and get out again if practicable. Squadron Leader Gibson was not pleased at all, but he was happy with his kite, as he had been allowed to trade in the lumbering old Wellington for this fast and nimble aircraft. The other man in the cockpit was Pilot Officer Wingham, a Welchman who had transferred from Coastal Command and the Sunderlands they flew there. No words were spoken as none were needed and the wireless set was quiet due to enforced radio silence. To the right of them, they could see the coast of what had to be Germany by now, and Gibson decided that it was time now to change course. He banked slightly to the right, not bothering to check if the formation followed. It did, and soon the British crossed the German coast twenty miles to the east of the city.

Their target was a large one if one considered the small number of planes, and normally everyone would have agreed, but the disaster at the Battle of the Blockade, as it was called now, had thrown many deeply held beliefs overboard, not only within the Fleet. They were however not alone. A large formation of H.P. Halifaxes, as many as could be mobilized within the short timespan, were about to hit the nearby factories at the other side of the bay and the secondary port near Bremerhaven in order to create a distraction and confused the German defenders. In the meantime the Mossies would sneak up from the west, following the Ems-Jade Channel and attack the Naval base fast. The time of day also played into the hands of the British, as the Germans would ( hopefully ) not expect anyone to attach at a time where their air superiority could come into play. And they had good reason to do so. Bomber Command raided German Industry daily, but only at night. The Westland Whirlwind had proven itself to be unable to deal with the much more nimble German and Soviet Fighters and 'Bomber' Harris had therefore decided to switch to a night-time doctrine, with all the problems that came with it. “City is in sight, Skipper.” Wingham said, and Gibson noticed it too. At a greater height they could have seen the city far earlier, but now they were so close they could see the contrails of the Halifaxes overhead. Gibson tore his eyes away from the sight and pulled his plane into a climb. He levelled out at about eighty feet and went to look for the grand prize, the warships that had so damaged British pride and honour. There! There it was! The flat shape of her deck and the small superstructure was unmistakable, and he decided to plant his bombs on her deck. “All stinger units, this is Stinger actual. Red Section attack the Carrier, everybody else, independent attacks.”

KMS Graf Zeppelin

The explosion shook the ship. The first bomb penetrated the forward elevator and exploded on the hangar deck, setting fire to several luckily unfuelled Stukas that were parked there. The second bomb missed, but the splinters and shock damage were heavy enough to sever one anchor and destroy the main gangway. But that was not the end of it. Two more bombs struck the ship, one failed to penetrate but still ripped a huge, gaping hole into the flight deck, while the second one penetrated and exploded in one of the forward bomb magazines, luckily empty. As such, the burning Carrier did not sink in the shallow waters of the harbour as more bombs began to fall around it, wrecking the quay and the buildings as the rising black smoke obscured both the sun and the aim of the British Fighters. Admiral Albrecht had rushed to the roof of the building where he had his shore Headquarters just in time to see the Graf Zeppelin smoking. “My god...” he said breathlessly. Suddenly two of the British Aircraft, a to him unknown type, raced overhead at a speed that seemed incredible for a two-engined aircraft. What hat that Luftwaffe Officer called them? He could not recall the name, but the Luftwaffe had speaken with a healthy dose of respect as he laid out how the few Squarons of the planes the British seemed to have so far were raising havoc, and it seemed that the Aircraft was also more than able to pack quite a punch against ships. He ignored his aides that tried to get him to go below into the bunker, and watched as proceeded to strafe the rest of the base, their noses seemingly aflame with gunfire.

Suddenly a new explosion thundered over the base, soon followed by another. Albrecht's head whipped around, just in time to see the pier where Bismarck and Tirpitz were moored being showered in splinters and burning fuel oil. “Good god......” he said, as he realized that he was looking at the final resting place of KMS Tirpitz. Through an extraordinary stroke of bad luck, or good luck from the point of view of the British, the Tirpitz was currently receiving new munitions, and that meant that the doors to her almost-full magazines stood wide open. So one bomb had exploded the full-to the brim storage tank for the floatplane fuel, spraying burning fuel everywhere, and that included the central magazine for the secondaries. Burning fuel ran into every slit, and the resulting explosion of tons and tons of shells ripped the side open, and made her turn turtle inside of five minutes. Just as she began to settle, another bomb slammed into her unprotected underside near the keel, sealing her fate forever. Albrecht stared at the sight for minutes and could not believe his eyes. Within less than an hour, the British planes had essentially mission-killed the High Seas Fleet. Graf Zeppelin was cripples, Tirpitz was sunk, and had in the process blockaded her sister in as she was blocking the exit from the area of the harbour were the relatively undamaged KMS Bismarck was moored. And it wasn't over yet. From where some of the escorts were re-fuelling more smoke rose, and some of the British aircraft were still strafing everything on the base that moved. Over at Bremerhaven the British still seemed to be hitting the warehouses, and it was probably there where all the fighters had gone, because so far the British were unmolested aside from a feeble and inaccurate anti-aircraft fire that was hampered by the fact that no one seemed to co-ordinate it and that the ships that had been supposed reinforce it when at anchor where too busy saving their own lives. And then the British did something that he would never forget for the rest of his life: They formed up into the classic British vic formation and proceeded to fly past the building on top of which Albrecht could scarcely believe his eyes. Just as on parade, the British bombers roared overhead, defiantly ignoring the small arms and flak that was trying to reach out to them, in a show of audacity that was beyond anything that the Naval Officer had seen from them. He had clearly underestimated the British. One way or another, he would pay dearly, that much was clear.

When the British were gone, he once again let his gaze wander about the burning naval base. It would take at least a couple of months until this fleet would sail again. The Kriegsmarine was essentially mission-killed for the time being, despite the second Squadron and Kiel which would still sail, that much was certain. Hitler would never approve a cancellation of the operation, and so Scharnhorst and her feeble force of escorts would sail. With that he turned around on his heels and walked back into the building, not sparing another glance for the fleet that was as shattered as his career.

Two days later a nation that had seen one of the cornerstones of national morale shattered and was to suffer more blows in the future heard of a fantastic new Aircraft in RAF service that had smashed up the Jerry fleet good. Claims about sinkings were vague, but the footage that the planes had brought back clearly showed several ships afire. The Mosquito was revealed, and the nation was reassured that the forces of the Empire were still out there, and thanks to that, the second Naval disaster made no impact. When Rodney was sunk by KMS Scharnhorst in a Fleet engagement that cost the Fleet a Cruiser and several Destroyers while the Germans lost the Admiral Scheer, the Nürnberg and her escorting Destroyers on the 12th, the nation was reassured that Naval Surpremacy would be re-established before too long. Five new Battleships of the King George V class were due very soon, along with the Illustrious-Class Carriers. The Navy would show the Germans whose waves these were. In the desert the North Sea seemed like on another planet. For the troops there, nothing had changed, except the fact that they had been forced to halt again for the last days, but now they were attacking again. Driving west from Tobruk, Benghazi fell on the eleventh, and the British Army advanced ever closer to Tunesia where the French were in the process of clearing out the last remnants of the Italian Forces there. The North African Theatre was all but decided, it was only a matter of time now.





[Notes: This update was partly done before I started the Finals, hence why this is out so fast. Battle of Britain hasn't started yet either. This can also be seen as the beginning of the legend that will eventually be No.617 Squadron. Sorry for not detailing the sinking of Rodney more, but I just wanted to get this episode behind me. When NA is wrapped up, there will be a time for everything that made the Med theatre so awesome. Fleet Actions, with the French Navy, material for lots of War Films will be made, and most of all, the Battle of Britain! ]
 
Aug 15, 2008
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Glad to have you aboard. And rest assured, the Vampire will feature... eventually... :D Lots of stuff will. In fact, the later Chapters of this AAR will be nice for people who are interested in British Aviation or the lack thereof in the period from 1945 onwards.
If you can do a comparison between the Lightning and the Mirage III then I'll be delighted. ;)

When NA is wrapped up, there will be a time for everything that made the Med theatre so awesome. Fleet Actions, with the French Navy, material for lots of War Films will be made, and most of all, the Battle of Britain!
YAY!! :p

btw, why does the Tirpitz always have to suck on some juicy bombs? :D
 

Griffin.Gen

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I can't wait for the Battle of Britain! ^.^
Keep it up.
 

Lord Strange

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Ouch. Losing all these old battleships a bit of a blow. Still, revenge was gained in a small way. Did you actually sink them in game?
 

trekaddict

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gaiasabre11 Who knows. The follow-on AAR I am planning will probably describe all taht in detail. It will be part of the HOI3 section though. Eventually. By the time I am through with AAO, we'll all probably have flying cars. As for the French naval battles... You may not like what you read. :eek:o

Tirpitz didn't suck the bombs. I was just pissed and sent every bomber I had on a port strike against Wilhelmshaven. She just happened to be there.

Griffin.Gen Neither can I.

Lord Strange The worst thing is, I have no combat-capable fleet in the North Sea at the moment... :eek:

Revenge was exacted though.
 
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gaiasabre11 Who knows. The follow-on AAR I am planning will probably describe all taht in detail. It will be part of the HOI3 section though. Eventually. By the time I am through with AAO, we'll all probably have flying cars. As for the French naval battles... You may not like what you read. :eek:o
First of all, I still remembered the Italian BB that was sunk by the MN, so get to that. And secondly, if I don't like it the battles, you know, prepare some gas masks. :p Furthermore I'll reflect on what you wrote when I actually get to some naval combat in my AAR. :p
 

Le Jones

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Cool update - one minor quibble - would Churchill have fixed the length of Pound's appointment as 1SL/CNS?
 

trekaddict

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Pound knows that he is sick, and has acepted the post under the condition that he would be allowed to step down in 1944.
 

Kurt_Steiner

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As I see, we are on a KK situation.

Kriesgmarine Kaputt.

:D
 

unmerged(85800)

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revenge is sweet. i see the beginnings of that 'best screenshot ever' you showed me a while back :D
 

trekaddict

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Intermission #4




Excerpt from “HMS Formidable – a history” ( Mombasa Imperial African Press, 1979 )

In the aftermath of the Battle of the Blockade and the loss of HMS Rodney soon after, the new First Sea Lord realized that a serious re-evaluation of tactics, doctrine and Equipment of the Royal Navy was in order. Within the span of less than two weeks the strength of the Royal Navy in Europe had been gutted, and gutted by a weapon that many had deemed to be a toy at most: The Aircraft Carrier. One German Aircraft Carrier had sunk far too many proud ships and had clearly demonstrated the potential of such a weapon even though Graf Zeppelin was a flawed design, and had only one major battle, it still proved that the days when the Dreadnought had been the undisputed Queen of the Seas were over. In the end this blessing in a heavy and costly disguise served only to strengthen the British Naval position, as foresight had lead to the start of a Carrier Programme even before the war, which kept the gap where the Fleet was unable to effectively close off the North Sea small. The few weeks until the Illustrious-Class Carriers were put into service after rushing the sea trials also gave time to consider the state of the arm of the Service that was to be the tip of the spear. When the First Sea Lord met with Admiral Cunningham aboard HMS Illustrious, the younger Officer had three main points: More of the Implacable-Class Carriers needed to be authorized, and most importantly, the Fleet Air Arm needed more and better Aircraft. While the Carriers were able to carry around ninety Aircraft apiece, the air groups were understrength. Cunningham had been forced to disperse the aircraft he had onto all of the Carriers that were currently conducting trials, and that left the Air Groups about a Squadron short. Against the Germans and Soviets this would not impede the combat capability of the ships, but against potential enemies like the Japanese or the UAPR that placed an even bigger reliance on Carriers than the Royal Navy ever hoped to this could spell disaster. The Japanese had numbers on their side until the shipyards of the Empire could be geared towards the production of more Carriers, and the industrial might of the Americans, even though weakened through the Civil War, was so great that the British Empire would only manage to overtake it in the 1960s. This forced the Fleet to play the game with every advantage it could possibly have. If numbers could not be provided, then equipment would have to do.

There however the fleet was lacking even more. Even though Cunningham had managed to get the Admiralty to sign off on the retirement of the Gloster Sea Gladiator, but would have had trouble to justify sending 'the lads' into combat against the Japanese A5Ms and the American Bethpage Aircraft Factory BAF-4 Defender [1] fighters with the Fairey Fulmar or the Blackburn Skua. In May 1940 Cunningham himself approached several manufacturers, but time and again found his way blocked by the then-first Sea Lord who wanted to use the money that Cunningham's 'toys' would cost to build more units of the KGV-Class, something that was continuously vetoed by the King and the Prime Minister. The Air Ministry was still pouting over the loss of FAA responsibilities and control to the Admiralty, and used it's power to state that the existing capacities with the companies would not allow the introduction of a new aircraft at this time.

Then came the Battle of the Blockade. Not only was the First Sea Lord deposed in it's aftermath, it also instantly raised the popularity of Cunningham's ideas within the Admiralty and the Service to unknown heights. Suddenly no more resistance was put up against his please for more and better Aircraft, and within days an act that authorized the massive expansion of the FAA and the Carrier Force sailed through both houses of Parliament. Equipped with what was essentially a blank-cheque the freshly promoted full Admiral set about reparing the self-esteem of not only the Senior Service but also the nation as such. Faith in the Royal Navy's ability to control the seas had been a pinnacle of the British national conciousness for centuries, and this faith had been shattered. The suqsequent destruction of much of the German Surface fleet by the RAF did a lot to cleanse the public mind, but the Fleet itself felt that it needed to redeem itself. The onset of the Battle of Britain in the spring of 1941 and the intensifying convoy Battles in the Mediterranean Sea showed clearly that the FAA needed to get out there as fast as possible, and that new planes needed to be sent south as fast as possible, as the Courageous-Class Carriers with the Mediterranean Fleet had trouble fending off the Axis bombers with their small and out-dated Air Groups. But rescue was at hand. In late March 1941 HMS Formidable was the host to something that would become the scourge of the Regia Marina and the Imperial Japanese Navy: the Supermarine Seafire.


Seafire Mk.V, Sea of Japan, 1944
The first prototype flew and quickly showed some of the problems that the conversion had caused. Additional equipment and the reinforced structure impeded speed and agility, and the short range of the land-based variant were serious flaws that needed to be addressed. In the end Supermarine and the Navy accepted that that Seafire variants would always be slower and less agile than their sisters, and the range issue could be fixed by adapting the self-sealing drop tanks the Royal Air Force used. When the Seafire first saw combat against Italian Aircraft trying to attack Troop Convoy WS8B south-west of Malta, it proved to be just as deadly as the Spitfires flying from Malta. The true test came however when the Japanese entered the war. There the compromises of the design became apparent, chiefly the narrow undercarriage and the centre of gravity, making it difficult to handle on the ground and the stalling characteristics made it difficult to land accurately, something the only occasional use in the Mediterranean Sea had not shown. The accident figures reflected this. The light weapons load did not matter, as the lightly armoured Japanese Carrier Aircraft were still not able to stand up to the two 20mm cannons. Supermarine strove to improve the design, but their work with the Spitfire and the fact that the Seafire still managed to hold it's own slowed things. The short range however was what nearly crippled the aircraft on a couple of occasions, as the poor deck handling had been addressed with the Seafire Mk.III that already entered Service in May 1942. The short range of the Seafire forced the Royal Navy Carriers to get closer to their targets than contemporary forces, which led to the almost loss of HMS New Zealand in 1942 and several other close shaves. The Seafire Mk.V, introduced in September 1943 finally pushed the operational range to 1000 kilometres. By that time however, the days of the Seafire were numbered, as the Hawker Sea Fury began to enter service at the same time, which in turn was replaced by January 1946 by the first Jets.

In May 1945 the Admiralty launched a competition that was sent out to all manufacturers. In the light of the RAF's impending conversion to an all-Jet force the First Sea Lord deemed it necessary to begin to bring Jets to the Fleet. The competition ranged from a navalized Gloster Meteor to the Supermarine Attacker . In the end three candidates were chosen: The Supermarine Attacker, a jet variant of the Spiteful prototype, the de Havilland Sea Vampire and the Hawker Sea Hawk. Extensive trials were conducted both in the North Sea and later in the Far East, and the Hawker aircraft was chosen as it demonstrated superior speed although it was shorter ranged. However delays and teething troubles marred the project, and production would not begin until September 1946. In the intermediate period however the FAA needed a modern contemporary fighter, and so it was decided to approve the Attacker for production. When the Sea Hawk did enter service it served with distinction and was replaced by the Supermarine Swift in 1954.


Sea Hawk from HMS Formidable


Supermarine Swift, also Formidable, flying cover for HMS Lion, 1968

However, fighter were not the only field where improvements were needed after the Battle of the Blockade. The Fairey Swordfish was a capable, but old and slow plane, and by 1942, the Fleet Air Arm would have gladly replaced it, if there had been a replacement. The manufacturers came through when the urgent need was expressed by the Admiralty, after the Albacore project failed due to the RN no longer being interested in a bi-plane. Fairey put forward the Barracuda, a low-wing monoplane that shared the Engine of the Spitfire and would be used for Torpedo and Dive Bombing , and although it excelled in neither role, was put into production for lack of anything else. In June 1943 the Pacific war showed that the even the late markes of the Barracuda, albeit a passable dive bomber and reconnaissance plane, was marred by low speed, a characteristic that had spelled the end for the Swordfish, and it was decided that a new, dedicated torpedo-bomber was needed. Once again Fairey won the competition and the Spearfish was accepted for Service in November that same year, although production was delayed when Fairey totally re-designed the controls in order to improve the steering characteristics.


[2]

Both served with distinction for decades and where replaced by the all-round strike Aircraft from Blackburn, the Buccaneer in 1959. The Buccaneer is expected to serve at least until 1999.[3]

[1] F4F Wildcats in OTL
[2] Please forgive the crappy photoshoppage
[3] Still in service as of TTL 2009, albeit in a new version that has, aside from the looks, little in common with the original aircraft.
 
Last edited:

Lord Strange

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MMMMMMM... British Fleet Air Arm info.... hints of furuture events. Possible almost disasters. Pure wonder for a Brit...
 
Aug 15, 2008
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While the Carriers were able to carry around ninety Aircraft apiece ... and the industrial might of the Americans, even though weakened through the Civil War, was so great that the British Empire would only manage to overtake it in the 1960s.
Some small questions here:
1. How did your carriers managed to carry 90 aircrafts? Should be just 70~80, right? :rolleyes:

2. How did the British Empire overtake the US in terms of IC? Did you include the Industrial strengths of the Dominions along with Britain herself?

btw, nic pics you posted. ;)
 

trekaddict

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Lord Strange Well, I tried to reveal as little as possible, and these things aren't the only things that will happen in the pacific. :D

gaiasabre11 I orient myself at the Yorktown and Essex Classes from OTL when it comes to numbers, and according to Wikipedia, they carried around nintey Aircraft. With deck parks and a different armour scheme wile also being somewhat larger overall than in OTL, the Illustrious and Implacable classes should manage that.

As for the Industry, it's merely roleplaying. I figured that a war effort of the OTL scale would be hard on a economy that has not only gone through a Civil War recently but is also 'run' by Communists, so a small decline is realistic. At the same time after the war Imperial Industry will expand, both through the earlier Industrialization of India and the general fact that they have to help re-build a continent.
 
Aug 15, 2008
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gaiasabre11 I orient myself at the Yorktown and Essex Classes from OTL when it comes to numbers, and according to Wikipedia, they carried around nintey Aircraft. With deck parks and a different armour scheme wile also being somewhat larger overall than in OTL, the Illustrious and Implacable classes should manage that.
Fine, I'll accept that. However it will be nice if you say that their designs have been modified to meet demands or something like that. ;)

As for the Industry, it's merely roleplaying. I figured that a war effort of the OTL scale would be hard on a economy that has not only gone through a Civil War recently but is also 'run' by Communists, so a small decline is realistic. At the same time after the war Imperial Industry will expand, both through the earlier Industrialization of India and the general fact that they have to help re-build a continent.
I estimate that the US with Civil war + depression will lower it's industrial output by two-thirds, but of course it also meant that they can recover quickly once things settle down, or some total mobilization for the motherland. However, if the Americans do get a bunch of "five year plans" like the Soviets did in the OTL, things will be hard to say. ;) But, on the other hand, I think you are including the Industrial strengths of the Dominions with your "Imperial Industry", so yes, I do agree that the British Empire can have more industrial muscle strengths than the Yanks, but probably not by too much.
 

trekaddict

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I estimate that the US with Civil war + depression will lower it's industrial output by two-thirds, but of course it also meant that they can recover quickly once things settle down, or some total mobilization for the motherland. However, if the Americans do get a bunch of "five year plans" like the Soviets did in the OTL, things will be hard to say. ;) But, on the other hand, I think you are including the Industrial strengths of the Dominions with your "Imperial Industry", so yes, I do agree that the British Empire can have more industrial muscle strengths than the Yanks, but probably not by too much.
It is without the Industrial strength of Canada and the ANZACs, but other than that, yes. I like the idea of a possible Cold War between countries with about equal strength Industry wise. In the long run though the British Empire has one up on the Americans for the simple reason taht the British are a Social Market Economy and therefore Capitalist. :D
 
Aug 15, 2008
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It is without the Industrial strength of Canada and the ANZACs, but other than that, yes. I like the idea of a possible Cold War between countries with about equal strength Industry wise. In the long run though the British Empire has one up on the Americans for the simple reason taht the British are a Social Market Economy and therefore Capitalist. :D
Haha, the ANZACs stands for the ANZ Army Corps, never knew that they rebelled and formed another sovereign state. No this is not grammar nazism, it's ownage. :)

btw, you might as well start posting propaganda pics of both sides to add flavour to your AAR. ;)