Alt-history writing project

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tfbncc
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by tfbncc »

I was going to make some comments on the exorbitant amount of damage that each fleet took, with expert witness testimony, multiple examples of actual surface warfare actions, and the 47 glossy photographs with the circles and the arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what the picture was.

Then I thought it over again and decided that this is your story. Your description of the battle lends itself to the drama of the story just fine. So I decided to just sit back and keep my mouth shut. Carry on.

Ray
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Captain Wheelgun
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by Captain Wheelgun »

tfbncc wrote: Thu Jun 16, 2022 3:04 am I was going to make some comments on the exorbitant amount of damage that each fleet took, with expert witness testimony, multiple examples of actual surface warfare actions, and the 47 glossy photographs with the circles and the arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what the picture was.
Alice’s Restaurant :lol:
Then I thought it over again and decided that this is your story. Your description of the battle lends itself to the drama of the story just fine. So I decided to just sit back and keep my mouth shut. Carry on.

Ray
Thank you. I still wonder if I went too far, though. I don’t want this turning into war porn. I was trying to present an image of an outnumbered but competent and aggressive force against a larger but less competently led force.
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Netpackrat
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by Netpackrat »

And now the Texans are left with mainly just their aircraft carrier force with which to continue the war against France....
Cognosce teipsum et disce pati

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randy
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by randy »

Netpackrat wrote: Thu Jun 16, 2022 9:56 am And now the Texans are left with mainly just their aircraft carrier force with which to continue the war against France....
Hmmm.... Why does that sound familiar?
...even before I read MHI, my response to seeing a poster for the stars of the latest Twilight movies was "I see 2 targets and a collaborator".
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Captain Wheelgun
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by Captain Wheelgun »

randy wrote: Thu Jun 16, 2022 3:21 pm
Netpackrat wrote: Thu Jun 16, 2022 9:56 am And now the Texans are left with mainly just their aircraft carrier force with which to continue the war against France....
Hmmm.... Why does that sound familiar?
History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes? :twisted: (Walks away, whistling innocently...)

Oh, and I’ve reversed what happened to Dunkerque and Strasbourg after remembering that Strasbourg had much heavier belt armor than Dunkerque did. This also gets rid of the very irritating Admiral Gensoul. :twisted:
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by Captain Wheelgun »

New snippet - Word of the battle is getting around... (Note: this takes place three days after the battle)

Same day - The White House, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

“Gentlemen, just how bad is it” asked President Roosevelt.

“Pretty damned bad for the Texans, a flat-out disaster for the French, Mr. President” said the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Harold Stark. “I’d love to know what they hit those French battlewagons with, sir.”

“Mr. President, this pretty much guarantees war between France and Texas” said Secretary of State Hull. “It also effectively destroys the Neutrality Patrol, at least south of Cuba and Puerto Rico. France will almost certainly demand access through the Caribbean in order to carry out operations against Texas, and I have to think that the Texans will be looking to stop that”

“How do you think they will go about that, Admiral Stark?”

“Well, Mr. President, if I were in the Texan’s shoes right now, defensively, I would set up a blockade or even minefields in the Yucatan Channel, and maybe in the Florida Strait as well. Those are the only two entrances to the Gulf of Mexico, and therefore the only way to get to the Texas coast. We know they have submarines, just not how many or how big they are. However, it wouldn’t take much to shut off both of those routes.

Offensively, I would be looking at seizing Martinique and Guadeloupe, the two largest French owned islands in the Antilles. That would give them forward bases from which to mount further operations, and also prevent the French from using them the same way against them.”

“General Marshall, given your very graphic description of the Texan’s capabilities last month, do you think such an operation is possible for them?”

“Yes, Mr. President, I do. As I noted at that time, the Texan’s whole military doctrine is built around defense, but they have some very smart people there, sir. They are going to be in a much better position to take those islands than the French will be to hang on to them, once they get things rolling.”

“Admiral Stark, what do you think? Will the Texan’s losses prevent any such action? I must say that I don’t relish the idea of a war in our back yard.”

“I agree with George, sir. Being perfectly blunt about it, all Texas lost was three old cruisers they were already in the process of replacing, and three destroyers that they are already building replacements for. The men they lost are going to hurt the Texans far more than the ships. Once they get over that, they’re not going to sit around and wait for the French to come after them.”

“And our role in all of this, gentlemen? Where should we stand?”

Hull said “As far away as possible, with a beer and a bowl of popcorn, sir?”

Roosevelt gave him a very dirty look.

“In all seriousness, Mr. President, there isn’t a lot we can do at this point. The whole mess is just too chaotic. I still don’t know why the French decided to start a war with Texas when they already have one going with Germany, but they have. All we can do is stay out of the way, unless we’re going to choose a side. And in that case, sir, I’d much rather stand with Texas than with France.”

Undersecretary Welles, who had been listening silently, said “Mr. President, speaking of the war with Germany, I’ve just had a really unpleasant thought.”

“Go on, Sumner, out with it.”

“Sir, what if France decides to make peace with Germany so they can concentrate on Texas? After all, other than the occasional border incursion and small air raids back and forth, there really hasn’t been much of a war there. Some are even calling it the ‘Phony War’, or ‘Sitzkrieg’.”

“Yes, that is a very ugly thought, Sumner. What about it, Cordell? Would they leave Britain in the lurch like that?”

“Mr. President, It’s my understanding that Britain and France have an agreement not to seek a separate peace with Germany. However, if France tries to force Britain to declare war on Texas by invoking their mutual defense treaty, and the British refuse, then yes, I can see them doing exactly that.”

Marshall said “Which would leave us dealing with two separate wars, one between Britain and her Commonwealth and Germany, and one between France and Texas. And much of it taking place too damned close to our shores for my comfort, sir.”

Welles said “Sir, that case would leave the European war in a stalemate, with Britain dominant on the seas and Germany on the Continent. If France pulls out, they would almost certainly demand that Britain remove all of her forces from France, and since Belgium, The Netherlands, and Denmark are still neutral, Britain would have no way to strike Germany except by air, or by trying to invade over a very small slice of German coast on the North Sea.”

“Mr Welles is right, sir” said Adm. Stark. “France dropping out would leave Britain in a hell of a bind, and Germany would be free to do whatever the hell they want on land.”

“Cordell, what if we offer to mediate between France and Texas? Would that work?”

“Mr President, I think the Texans would be willing to try that, but no way in hell the French will accept. They see themselves as the righteously aggrieved party, and with the beating their navy just took, that will harden their position. It’s probably worth it to make the offer, but don’t get your hopes up.”

“Go ahead and make the offer, Cordell. Admiral Stark, I want the heaviest patrols you can manage in the Florida Strait. I damned sure don’t want either France or Texas operating warships that close to OUR coast. General Marshall, get with General Arnold to see about increasing air patrols in that area as well.”

“Yes, Mr. President.” “Yes, Sir.” “Yes, sir.”
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Re: Alt-history writing project

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Another snippet - This takes place the day after the previous snippet. The OPN’s goal is within reach...

Château de Versailles, Versailles, France

In a rare event signifying the seriousness of the looming crisis, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate had chosen to gather together in the Château de Versailles to hear from President Lebrun and Prime Minister Daladier. This was usually only done when changes to the French Constitution were needed. The Deputies and Senators were already inside, waiting for Lebrun and Daladier to arrive. In an observation gallery overlooking the chamber, Marshal Philippe Pétain and the Archbishop of Paris also waited.

Outside the building, there were two large crowds of protestors. One group waved signs and shouted slogans supporting the Government and demanding war against Texas now, while the other was just as vocal in their condemnation of the Government and demanding peace with both Texas and Germany. The Gendarmes struggling hard to keep them apart and keeping the boulevard in front of the building open to traffic.

Lebrun and Daladier had decided to travel together, thinking that this would portray a sense of unity in their Government. They were escorted by a mix of soldiers and Gendarmes in two other cars. As the cars passed over a bridge near the château, a string of bombs detonated, destroying the bridge and killing everyone in all three cars. The explosion was loud enough to be heard clearly from inside the chamber.

As the President of the Senate, Jules Jeanneney, called for everyone to be calm, he also sent guards outside to see what had happened. He received the report back about fifteen minutes later.

“Monsieurs, honorable Senators and Deputies, I have terrible news to report. The explosion you heard has claimed the lives of our gallant President and Prime Minister, as well as many of their guards. One or more bombs had been placed on a bridge that their motor convoy was passing over, destroying that bridge and all who were upon it.”

The chamber erupted in shock and anguish, with many of the assembled members asking how this could have happened. After several minutes, Jeanneney was able to quiet them down enough to continue speaking.

“As President of the Senate, the role of acting President falls to me, until such time as the Senate chooses a permanent replacement for our beloved President Lebrun. Deputies, it falls to you to choose a replacement for Monsieur Daladier. Since both deliberative bodies are met here in this chamber now, may I recommend that you take up this task immediately. France cannot be without effective leadership in this time of crisis. Indeed, I see one who is more than capable of leading us in this time.” He pointed to the gallery where Pétain sat.

Everybody in the chamber looked at Pétain, and a furious debate began as to whether he should be asked to become President or Prime Minister. He allowed this debate to continue for nearly half an hour, then he stood and raised his hands. The chamber immediately fell silent. He walked from the gallery to the front of the chamber, taking the dais and microphone from Jeanneney.

“My friends, my fellow Frenchmen, I am honored that you feel I am worthy to take up a leadership role. But I do not think it would be right to accept without proper consideration of other equally worthy men, such as Jeanneney here.”

“Lead us, Marshal Pétain” shouted a voice among the Deputies. More took up the cry. “Lead us, Pétain! Lead us, Pétain!”
Pétain again held up his hands. Again, the chamber fell silent. “Honorable Deputies and Senators, are there not any other men you deem worthy of your trust at this time?”

“Lead us, Marshal Pétain” came the cry from the Senate this time. The call resounded, “Lead us, Pétain! Lead us, Pétain! Lead us, Pétain! Lead us, Pétain! Lead us, Pétain!” This went on for another ten minutes. At last, the chamber fell silent, voices strained from the shouting.

“My friends, my fellow Frenchmen, since you have called so strongly, I feel that it must be my duty to accept. But we cannot have division at a time like this. Therefore, I ask that you grant me the power, authority, and duties of both President AND Prime Minister! I ask that you grant me the authority to make the hard decisions needed in these times, without the delay and confusion found in the old way of doing things! I ask that you grant me this authority until the crisis has abated, and France may once more turn it’s thoughts to peace and prosperity instead of war and cruelty!” He turned to Jeanneney. “Monsieur President of the Senate, please call the vote!”

Jeanneney stepped back up to the dais. “The question is called on granting the Honorable Marshal Philippe Pétain the full authority to govern France until the crisis is ended, Honorable Senators, by show of hands, how do you vote?” All but a few Senators immediately raised their hands, with the reluctant few following suit in a few moments.

“The vote of the Senate is unanimous, the measure is passed. Honorable Deputies, by show of hands, how do you vote?” The process repeated, with fewer stragglers this time.

“The vote of the Chamber of Deputies is unanimous. The measure is passed. I now call upon His Grace, the Archbishop of Paris, to administer the oath to our new leader, Marshal Pétain, and to ask for the blessings of Almighty God upon the French State!”
"The best diplomat I know is a fully charged phaser bank" - Cmdr. Montgomery Scott
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tfbncc
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by tfbncc »

Nothing good shall come of this, I fear.

So in all this confusion, nobody noticed just how convenient this whole situation seems? Perhaps seeing this from the outside as the author intended gives a wider perspective. Well done.
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MiddleAgedKen
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by MiddleAgedKen »

Le fait enablement (probably butchered the French, but you take my meaning).
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Captain Wheelgun
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by Captain Wheelgun »

Another short snippet, and a question for the bubbleheads (or bubblehead-adjacent) here. Do the specs on this seem reasonable for the time? I’ve looked at the Wikipedia data for a lot of similar-sized subs from the ‘30s, and it seems OK to me, allowing for Texas being an early adopter of welding and biasing for underwater performance.

Aboard TNS SS-11, in the Yucatan Channel just southwest of Isla Del Pina, Cuba

“Up periscope” said Lieutenant Gerald Cantrell, squatting in the middle of SS-11’s small conning tower.

He expertly flipped out the control handles as they cleared the well and stood as it rose. The sailor manning the hoist control stopped the ‘scope just as the tip should have broken the surface. Cantrell walked the ‘scope in a quick circle, taking in the current sea and sky conditions. He stepped back.

“Down ‘scope. Stand by to surface. Anything on the hydrophones?” The hydrophone operator reported all clear. “Surface! Stand by to start engines!”

There were two blasts on the diving alarm, then the much louder noise of compressed air blowing out the ballast tanks. In a few moments, the depth gauge stopped rising. Cantrell climbed up the bridge ladder and turned the locking wheel on the hatch overhead, releasing the automatic latch at the same time. The hatch shot open due to the slight overpressure inside the conning tower as compared to the outside. He quickly climbed up to SS-11’s even smaller bridge, pausing to look all around at the sea and sky, then again with his binoculars, confirming his earlier observation through the periscope. All was clear, with the sun halfway below the horizon in the west.

He flipped open the voice tube cover and called down to the control room. “Lookouts to the bridge! Start main engines! Shift to low pressure blowers!” The whole boat shuddered as the two big diesel engines started up. That sound competed with the blowers forcing the last of the water from the ballast tanks.

Following the last of the lookouts onto the bridge was the boat’s Sailing Master / navigator, LTJG Torres. He asked “How’s it looking, skipper?”

“Pretty nice, Felipe. Should be a calm night tonight.”

“Glad to hear it, skip. Toby’s on watch later tonight. You know how he gets when we’re up on a rough surface.” Both officers laughed at that, but with the knowledge that it didn’t take much to make these boats very uncomfortable on the surface.

At just over 200 feet long and displacing only 850 tons on the surface, The S-200 class subs didn’t even rate names, just their assigned hull numbers. They carried four internal 21” torpedo tubes forward, and two external ones aft, with four reloads for the bow tubes. There were no deck guns, since they were intended to hunt intruding warships, not merchant ships.

These boats, like all Texas Navy subs, were designed to maximize underwater performance, though at the cost of surface speed and stability. This was the cause of the unfortunate Ens. Tobias Ford’s discomfort. While they could only make 12 knots on the surface, they could actually get up to 16 knots underwater, though only for about an hour on fully charged batteries. Their real strength was that they could maintain 5 knots for up to 48 hours on a full charge. This was due to the fact that a lot of the design’s displacement was devoted to batteries. They also had a test depth of 500 feet, thanks to fairly thick hull plating and all-welded construction.

Cantrell took one last look around, then said “You’ve got the watch, Felipe. Let me know if anything comes up.”

“Aye aye, skipper.” Cantrell went below, while Torres settled in for the evening watch. Just as the last of the sun’s light was fading out, a lookout called out “Aircraft bearing one-one-five degrees! Multiple aircraft on that bearing!”

Torres turned to that bearing. The planes seemed to be coming from the Isla del Pina, a few miles to their northeast. They were climbing slowly, heading due west. There seemed to be quite a few. Deciding not to take any chances, Torres called out “Clear the bridge! Dive, dive, dive!” He then hit the dive alarm button, giving it the three blasts that signaled a dive, then followed the last lookout down the hatch, pulling it closed behind him. It caught the automatic latch, and a crewman reached up to spin the locking wheel, locking the hatch closed.

Lt. Cantrell stepped into the control room from his cubby as the boat became fully submerged. He ordered “Level out at 100 feet! Ahead slow! Hydrophones, anything out there?” The well trained crew went about their tasks, and soon the boat was at the ordered depth. There was still nothing on the hydrophones.

“What happened, Felipe?”

“Lookout spotted planes, skipper. I confirmed at least a dozen, heading west out of Isla del Pina. I didn’t want to chance being spotted.”

“Good job, Felipe. Did you notice what kind they were?”

“No, sir. Just that they were big, bigger than anything the Cubans have, as far as I know.”

“That’s odd. Who spotted them, originally?”

“I did, sir” said the bow planesman, Seaman Knight.

“Good job, Knight. Did you happen to notice anything about them?”

“Just what Mr. Torres said, sir. They were big, and there were a bunch of them.”

“Do either of you think you might be able to identify them from the recognition book?”

“No, sir” said Knight and Torres together.

“Very well. Let’s get back up to periscope depth and take another look around.” Turning to the boat’s other officer, Ens. Ford, Cantrell said “Toby, get started coding up a message to command. ‘Sighted twelve plus aircraft, heading west out of Isla del Pina, Cuba. Identity unknown, repeat, unknown.’ I want it ready to send as soon as we surface again.”

“Aye aye, sir.”
"The best diplomat I know is a fully charged phaser bank" - Cmdr. Montgomery Scott
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