autogun

Military Guns and Ammunition

Hosted by autogun

This is intended for people interested in the subject of military guns and their ammunition, with emphasis on automatic weapons.

  • 3216
    MEMBERS
  • 182825
    MESSAGES
  • 8
    POSTS TODAY

Discussions

The Foresight War Revisited: general    Novel: The Foresight War

Started 29-Jan by autogun; 8096 views.
hobbes154

From: hobbes154

19-Apr

Aargh, did a long post on the weekend riffing off Tarheel's "what you know that ain't so" but seems to have got lost!

Short version:

  • It would be interesting to know more about Don and Hermann's areas of expertise, where they can give detailed advice, as opposed to vague general warnings. It was a nice touch how Hermann missed the significance of the London naval treaty changes, for example.
  • I think marching directly on Moscow in autumn 1941 (instead of the south turn to Kiev) is likely to result in a Stalingrad level disaster, even with bigger and badder tanks (can argue this at great length if anyone interested). But I think TFW works better if the Eastern Front is a stalemate in front of rather than behind Moscow - the live action scenes still work and IMO it makes the success of the Normandy invasion more plausible (realistically I think TFW ends in nukes if most of the Wehrmacht and particularly the panzer divisions are not tied down in the East).
Martin2515

From: Martin2515

23-Apr

Just some thoughts and suggestions on NTFW mainly concerning the narrative direction of TFW and British strategy. 

One of the main things that always niggles for me about TFW was that Britain seemed to be gearing up to fight the throwback altered Germany from the start. The decision in early 1933 to abandon France then seems wrong given the information then available. Britain has the knowledge to prepare to fight the Germans and crush their initiative attack against France and doing so likely prevents Italy and Japan getting involved. That seems a far better initial plan for Britain if the goal is to limit the scope and therefore cost of fighting WW2. Now once the German throwback becomes known about then yes the plans change but not right away. 

Hopefully that is helpful, narrative wise it seems to make more sense to me. It also allows the discovery of the German throwback to seem more impactful for Britain. As it was in TFW the discovery didn't change much as the strategy already fit the changed situation. 

Edit, 

I could see an issue being that some decisions made to fight Germany in France being problematic to the changed situation. That does impact the nature of the book somewhat and could see you wanting to avoid that. Again though it does likely increase the suspense and tension for a first time reader, particularly if all mention of the Germans throwback is removed from descriptions, blurb etc

autogun

From: autogun

24-Apr

There could be various different consequences for British strategy resulting from Don's arrival in September 1934. The reasons for keeping out of France in TFW are both general and specific.

General, in that it was in Britain's interests to follow the OTL events as closely as possible as that would prolong the usefulness of the information provided by Don. The sooner anything drastically different happens, the sooner Don's knowledge becomes obsolete. And obviously, if news about Don slipped out, the consequences would be wildly unpredictable.

Specifically, the concern would be the French Army. While some French units fought very well in 1940, the bulk of the army was completely outclassed by the Germans. The British contingent was relatively small, so even if everything possible was done to help the French, there would be no guarantee of success. This become even more true as soon as the British learned that the Germans had a throwback too. One thing was for sure - the German Army would not allow another Dunkirk - if Germany succeeded, the BEF would be captured en masse. Even Churchill would have found it difficult to continue the war in those circumstances, so the risk would have been too great.

Focusing on defending France would also have made it impossible to hold Norway. That would be a tough call as it was, but feasible - and even if it failed, the consequences for the UK would be far less serious than the fall of France and subsequence loss of the BEF.

larrikin2

From: larrikin2

24-Apr

Actually, the best place to defend Britain against Germany in the period 1934-37 is on the Rhine.

People get too caught up in the gee whiz technical things, but if France had called Hitler's bluff over the Rhineland there was nothing he could do about it, and it could easily have provided the leverage for his domestic opposition to at least weaken his hold if not outright unseat him.

That's what the British politicians should be doing, even if they have to gin up some "intelligence" from whole cloth to feed to the French, and promise and deliver British military support when Hitler tries it.

Even if Hitler stays in power, having to make his initial attacks west amphibious ones across a major water barrier is going to put a crimp in things, and French occupation of the Rhineland puts the Ruhr within French artillery range, and takes the Roer and other industrial areas west of the Rhine out of Hitler's hands.

Jeff (Jefffar)

From: Jeff (Jefffar)

24-Apr

I'm in favour of saying 'yes' to the group that approached the British about overthrowing Hitler in 1938 myself.

Of course Don could always leave a detailed Itinerary of Hitler's movements for a future time traveller to come back and solve the problem once and for all.....

 

Martin2515

From: Martin2515

24-Apr

The rational for following OTL events as closely as possible makes sense right up until the shooting starts. From then on things are likely to change and change quickly. In addition the stick to the historical events plan means you know what the Germans plan is going to be so can counter it, even asymmetrically if you wanted. 

Getting France into a position where they can at least not completely collapse against the Germans should be relatively easily achieved. Joint exercises to show the French some of their deficiencies etc. You may be able to get the French to adopt, if not 3 man, 2 man tank turrets at least in the interim. Then combine all of that with some surprisingly accurate intelligence on German plans and a working plan to stop the attack can be implemented. The French army was starting to solidify and gaining effectiveness right as they surrendered. Speeding that up so they are at least acceptable pre war with room and the technologies (like more radios) to grow is very possible. 

As for Britain, while the BEF would be a small part of the force still it would be larger than OTL as well as better equipped and trained. That alone would add up to quite a bit when combined with a more competent France and a plan to stop the Germans based on what they know they are going to actually do. In addition the RAF could be set up to play a big role in gaining local air superiority over the advancing panzer coulombs  so they can be attacked heavily from the air to slow and wear them down. 

A Germany with future knowledge would not allow another Dunkirk you are correct. The thing is in 1934 when Britain is making these plans the fact Germany has future knowledge isn't known. Britain wouldn't have to worry about Germany not allowing a second Dunkirk as they would not know about the first one as far as Britain is concerned. 

Doing this means France is far less likely to fall, do it well enough and France won't fall. That means Italy is far less likely to jump in and Japan won't get ideas either. All to the good for Britain and makes far more sense as a strategy to pursue in 1934. France Falling in WW2 is not a foregone conclusion, France actually knew about the vulnerability of a thrust through the Ardennes but chose to ignore it because it did not fit in with their plans. Showing up the French high command in front of their politicians would be possible and would either get them to up their game or get them removed. Saving France given the situation in 1934 should be seen as the highly likely scenario and not a hopeless task so best abandoned straight away. Yes this does mean Norway falls but in a scenario where Germany is stopped dead in Belgium before France and Britain go on the offensive that is a worth wile sacrifice, particularly as a war to attrite more of the German armed forces than in OTL by conveniently ambushing the invasion forces. 

Here's the thing. 

I am not actually suggesting that is the plan Britain follows when war Breaks out. Britain should act like it did in the OTFW but that is only after Britain finds out about the German throwback. As soon as the German throwback becomes known about sacrificing Norway to stand with France becomes a far more risky proposition. You can prepare France to fight what Germany was doing historically, you cant boost France enough to fight the improved Germany. The fact Germany knows about Dunkirk means the risk involved in sending troops to the continent is too great you are right, that is only true though when Britain knows about the German throwback. 

I am not suggesting some drastic change to the strategy overall in the NTFW. All I am suggesting is a narrative change that has Britain preparing to refight he Battle of France and win from 1934 up until the moment Britain learns about the German throwback. From that point on the plans that had been made get thrown out and TFW's plans get drafted and worked out. Now Britain has to look at saving Norway, abandoning France, as well as the almost certainty of a war against Italy and Japan as well. Up until that point in the Book Britain would have been looking at ways of preparing to fight Italy and japan if needed but focussed more on stopping it being a problem, then it becomes a problem overnight. The reason would be to have the narrative punch of finding out first that Germany also has a throwback followed up by the second narrative punch of Britain having to throw all their plans out the window as they are now all compromised. When I first read TFW I did not know anything other than it involved a historian going back in time to 1934 and giving Britain a boost to fight WW2, I knew nothing about a German throwback. That moment of finding out about Don's "adversary" was quite effective but was moved on from too quickly to really let it impact the reader. I am suggesting a way to remedy that. This was never meant to be about changing the course of the book in grand terms, just giving it a harder punch when the German throwback is revealed. 

In reply toRe: msg 75
Jeff (Jefffar)

From: Jeff (Jefffar)

24-Apr

Another thought.

What if Don just gets design, testing and production of everything moved up by a year?

If he's able to move the needle on everything by a year by the time 1939 rolls around.  How dar ahead does this put Britain numerically?

Would that mean enough slightly better planes, tanks and ships to turn the tide by 1940?

autogun

From: autogun

25-Apr

As time has gone by, I have come to appreciate many of the human problems involved in making the kind of changes to policy, strategy, tactics etc which are made necessary in TFW. You get the occasional brilliant individual (like the Spitfire designer Mitchell) who comes up with something really outstanding almost as a one-man effort, but that's rare (and Mitchell was driven by a demanding Air Ministry spec - furthermore, his first effort at a fighter was poor). Tactically, Guderian was brilliant with armoured forces (but he was inspired by earlier British work, which the British then forgot about). But most people don't break the mould, they are happy with a slightly improved horse and strongly resistant to having to change long-established habits.

So one feature of 1930s British tank design was a freely elevating gun, controlled by the gunner's shoulder, to achieve accurate fire on the move. This was rated as very important, but battle experience soon showed it was unimportant. Similarly, the French were happy with their one-man tank turrets are saw no reason to change them.  The RAF firmly believed that defensive guns mounted in bombers would be more accurate and effective than fixed guns in fighters, so bombers should easily be able to attack in daylight with minimal losses. They also believed that fighters should attack enemy planes while in a tight "vic" formation, and it took some time to realise this meant that the pilots spent all of their time watching each other to maintain the formation without collisions, instead of focusing on the enemy.

All this adds up to what might be called "the culture" - the accepted ideas and behaviour within the military organisation.  Changing that culture is very, very difficult. A few mavericks might catch on quickly, but most will be very reluctant to accept new ideas which push them out of their comfort zones.

I think that had the situation described in TFW actually occurred, the biggest problem would have been in persuading people to change their ways. And that's with the proof that Don had with him. The possibility of persuading anyone else - the French or Americans - to change without providing such proof is extremely remote, in my opinion.

autogun

From: autogun

25-Apr

Martin2515 said:

I am not actually suggesting that is the plan Britain follows when war Breaks out. Britain should act like it did in the OTFW but that is only after Britain finds out about the German throwback. As soon as the German throwback becomes known about sacrificing Norway to stand with France becomes a far more risky proposition. You can prepare France to fight what Germany was doing historically, you cant boost France enough to fight the improved Germany. The fact Germany knows about Dunkirk means the risk involved in sending troops to the continent is too great you are right, that is only true though when Britain knows about the German throwback.  I am not suggesting some drastic change to the strategy overall in the NTFW. All I am suggesting is a narrative change that has Britain preparing to refight he Battle of France and win from 1934 up until the moment Britain learns about the German throwback. From that point on the plans that had been made get thrown out and TFW's plans get drafted and worked out. Now Britain has to look at saving Norway, abandoning France, as well as the almost certainty of a war against Italy and Japan as well. Up until that point in the Book Britain would have been looking at ways of preparing to fight Italy and japan if needed but focussed more on stopping it being a problem, then it becomes a problem overnight. The reason would be to have the narrative punch of finding out first that Germany also has a throwback followed up by the second narrative punch of Britain having to throw all their plans out the window as they are now all compromised. When I first read TFW I did not know anything other than it involved a historian going back in time to 1934 and giving Britain a boost to fight WW2, I knew nothing about a German throwback. That moment of finding out about Don's "adversary" was quite effective but was moved on from too quickly to really let it impact the reader. I am suggesting a way to remedy that. This was never meant to be about changing the course of the book in grand terms, just giving it a harder punch when the German throwback is revealed. 

You make some good points. I do think, however, that the British, having learned about Dunkirk from Don, would have been very reluctant to bet their future on the Germans making the same mistake in letting the BEF escape. After all, it might only have taken Hitler getting tired of Goering's boasts and ordering the Army to get on with the job.

autogun

From: autogun

25-Apr

Jeff (Jefffar) said:

What if Don just gets design, testing and production of everything moved up by a year? If he's able to move the needle on everything by a year by the time 1939 rolls around.  How dar ahead does this put Britain numerically? Would that mean enough slightly better planes, tanks and ships to turn the tide by 1940?

There are all sorts of variations which could be tried, including different arrival dates for the throwbacks. One problem is that different aspects of the situation work to different timescales. For instance, battleships require many years to design and build (and then debug). Aircraft are much quicker. I was rather surprised to learn that the RAF was still ordering new biplanes for front-line combat in 1937. Then there are the strategic and tactical aspects - how long will it take those to be accepted and absorbed? 

TOP