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Author Topic: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Japan - [Image Heavy!]  (Read 32335 times)

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Offline Darius

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Japan - [Image Heavy!]
This is riveting stuff.

Cannot wait for the next update.

 

Offline Enioch

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A bit of a spoiler - 1908 Virginia Gazette


Because I don't have time for a full update.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2018, 07:21:49 am by Enioch »
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Japan - [Image Heavy!]
Nice progress so far...

However no "japanse phantom ships" in the North Sea in 1905? The shame, Enoich, the shame
(Fun historical fact: One of many embarissing moments of the Czar's navy in the war with Japan 1904/05 was that the russian Baltic Fleet, setting sail for the Pacific, declared full combat condition and fired live rounds at "japanese ships" off the coast of Denmark. It goes without saying that there were no japanese ships to be found anywhere in the North Sea. The incident was blamed on poor training and alcohol consumption, contributing to a brief ban on alcohol in the Russian Empire.)
"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

"As you sought to steal a kingdom for yourself, so must you do again, a thousand times over. For a theft, a true theft, must be practiced to be earned." - The terms of Nysa's curse, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

"...because they are not Dragons."

 

Offline Lorric

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Japan - [Image Heavy!]
I guess it's a good thing you didn't hand out those beers after all with that collision... :)

 

Offline Darius

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Japan - [Image Heavy!]
German sailors probably don't drink enough to hallucinate Japanese ships.

 

Offline Spoon

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Japan - [Image Heavy!]
In case you dont know what 0rph3u5 is talking about, listen to this heavy chain smoker tell you the story: https://youtu.be/jMi0dgLMydo?t=16m25s
Urutorahappī!!

[02:42] <@Axem> spoon somethings wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> critically wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> im happy with these missions now
[02:44] <@Axem> well
[02:44] <@Axem> with 2 of them

 

Offline Darius

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Japan - [Image Heavy!]
I thought Jingles just sounded like that because he was nearing 50. tmyk

I am assuming the Russo-Japanese war never happened in Enioch's alternate time line and that the German sailors' blood alcohol level wasn't high enough for something similarly hilarious to happen. Not to rule out alternative hilarious events of course.

EDIT: Christ on a pogo stick, it reads even worse in text form
« Last Edit: December 03, 2016, 04:22:36 pm by Darius »

 

Offline Enioch

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Japan - [Image Heavy!]
However no "japanse phantom ships" in the North Sea in 1905? The shame, Enoich, the shame!

I am assuming the Russo-Japanese war never happened in Enioch's alternate time line and that the German sailors' blood alcohol level wasn't high enough for something similarly hilarious to happen. Not to rule out alternative hilarious events of course.

I have already spoilered quite a bit of information, so I'll just say this: The Voyage of the Damned did, in fact, happen in this timeline. Not in 1905, however; nor, necessarily, by the same fleet and it was accompanied by its own long list of disastrous and hilarious happenings.

With regards to the Germans firing on fishing trawlers: the Germans have a trait in this game called 'cautious', which makes them avoid certain high risk situations (I am almost certain that this is why the Hertha didn't press her advantage against my torpedo-armed cruisers). This would also translate, I think, to their crews being slightly more skilled than the average OTL Russian sailor - and less triggerhappy
« Last Edit: December 03, 2016, 07:34:25 pm by Enioch »
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Enioch

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July started with new developments in armour manufacture and the imposition of strict quality control on the foundries.



The yards in Sasebo and Kure were also considerably expanded. Estimates based on the fragmentary intelligence the Japanese agents could secure from the British yards led the Admiralty to believe that the British battlecruisers displaced around 23k tons; it was now possible to match them ton-for-ton, although it was clear that the British would quickly open the gap again, given the disparity in the two nations' naval budgets.





Interestingly, advances in quality control and standardization allowed for some of the shipbuilding workload to be, for the first time, offloaded to allied shipyards. In fact, the first occasion of such outsourcing was the assignment for the construction of an Asanagi-Kai modern destroyer to the yards at Tsingtaou. The experiment worked wonders - in fact, galvanised by the chance to prove themselves and the opportunity for work, the yardhands in Tsingtaou would finish little Oite a month in advance of schedule.



For the time being, however, the elephant in the room needed to be addressed. In August, Prime Minister Tarō  summoned the highest ranking Admirals and Generals, to consult on the matter of the increasing tensions with France. The question was posed: was the Army and the Navy ready to deal with French aggression?

Vice Admiral's Fujiwara's response is noteworthy:

"Honoured Prime Minister you ask us if we are ready to beat back the enemy. We are not. The fleet is well-equipped, and the spirits of the men are high, but a well-honed weapon and an eager soldier will not win the war for us. It is folly to seek victory in our weapons, or our bloodthirst, for these alone will lead us to ruin. It has always been our way to reach victory through folding and re-folding our souls and skills through the harshest training and discipline, like the finest of swords; but the sailors of our fleet have grown weak in peace and their discipline is lax. If we are to bring glory to our country, our people and our Emperor, we need to train our men and officers quickly and effectively in the ways of war and forge all the nations of our Alliance together into a true Army and Navy."

The other Generals and Admirals very much echoed Fujiwara's sentiments, asking for extra funds to be channeled into the training of the troops, ratings and officers. Tarō , having served as a General and a Minister of War, acknowledged the need for it and, among other concessions, increased the Navy budget by a substantial half-million.



This budget increase allowed for the commencement of a planned year-long training program, which would further bind the multiethnic crews of the Alliance together into a coherent whole and enhance their skills in gunnery, making the most out of the recent advancements in targeting and rangefinding.



And not a minute too soon, since a series of terrorist attacks in China forced the deployment of Fuso, Naniwa and Chiyoda to safeguard the lives of Alliance citizens. The situation was defused relatively quickly, with the guilty parties quickly being brought to justice thanks to joint operations between the Fleet, the Army and local authorities; but it also led to a slight rising of tensions with Britain and Russia, who had both appeared overeager to involve themselves with what, essentially, was an Imperial Alliance matter.



Tempers flared once again in September, when a leak in the R & D department was found and permanently 'plugged' by Imperial counter-intelligence. It had involved secrets of Fire Control technology (the one field in which Japan felt confident she was a world leader) and could easily be traced back to Russia. If the Russian intelligence had expected the usual back-and-forth of diplomatic hackle raising, they must have been surprised when Japan followed up with what amounted to a near-ultimatum. Shocked by the aggressiveness of the Japanese diplomats, they appeared to back off; or perhaps they were satisfied with what they'd gotten. In any case, counter-intelligence reported a marked decrease in Russian activity over the next months...



...and international press was quick to criticise the Russian's apparent underhandedness and cowardice.



In October, the R & D department presented the Admiralty with a theoretical concept which raised several eyebrows. It was impossible to mount more than three turrets along the centreline of a vessel without seriously impacting its stability and the integrity of its keel; but perhaps it might be possible to use larger 'wing' turrets (like those used in Tsukuba, but bigger), firing from staggered positions across the vessel's deck, to massively augment its broadside. The one problem they had yet to crack was how to arrange armour and magazine protection around main-caliber gun barbettes and turrets, without compromising the vessel's structural integrity.

The Admiralty were fascinated by the possibilities; the new project (Codenamed: the "Crane's Wings") was given top priority.



October also marked the return of the Prime Minister from France, where he had traveled to seek out some sort of accommodation between the two countries. In a meeting with the Cabinet, the heads of the Armed Forces and Emperor Meiji himself, it was agreed that the few token concessions the French had proposed had been made in bad faith; and that war between the two countries was all but inevitable. More funds were channeled to the Armed Forces; training intensified; scenarios were drawn for nighttime attacks on French bases. As part of these scenarios, designs for bigger, 700-ton destroyers were submitted, much too late for them to be of any immediate use, but ready to be implemented in the future.



Perhaps more significantly, the weapons factories rolled out the prototypes of the 6'' / 60 caliber, superhigh-velocity Type 06 guns. These were weapons of superb quality, unsurpassed in the international stage for decades to come. They would stay in service with the Imperial Navy (with only small modifications) until the 1950s (!), being the light cruiser gun of choice; and they remained competitive throughout that time. It is telling that they outperformed international-standard 7'' guns in every field (including range, muzzle velocity and penetrative capability) until ca. 1930.



Despite the threat of impending war, all light cruisers were immediately pulled out of active service and outfitted with the new rifles. That only took the yards three months and it proved to be a wise move soon enough.



The attempt to implement the lessons learned by the Type 06s in larger-caliber guns proved only partly successful. Japanese 7'' guns, which, in the past, had always been subpar, were successfully brought to international standards. However, the Admiralty found these guns unwieldy and incapable of quickly tracking enemy destroyers, which was the main purpose of light cruisers in a battleship screen. The designs were never implemented in the fleet.



Experience in dense explosive packing for the 6'' shells, on the other hand, proved to be a godsent for the torpedo manufacturers, who managed to pack more bang into their fishes than ever before.





In March, the Russians finally pushed back, with a demand for Japan to reduce its military budget in the interests of peace. As it was important to avoid a two-front war with France and Russia, Japan agreed to host an international disarmament conference in Kyoto. The efforts of the Japanese diplomats were legendary, in that they managed to convey to all participants a true desire for the continuation of peace, while not commiting to any actual demilitarisation. Several Orders of the Chrysanthemum were awarded discreetly after the end of the conference...



...and new funds were poured into the dockyard facilities, not even a month after the end of the Conference.



April came with a surprise: the Germans, until recently bitter enemies but ever practical, approached Japan with an offer to sell the blueprints and chemical processes required for the manufacture of even more destructive shells. Their ploy was clear: the weakening of France through the strengthening of her enemy. Japan did not hesitate.



Behind the scenes, the Silent Service had also benefited from several developments in miniaturisation. The range of the new prototype subs was nearly double that of the early models; and the submariners would soon earn their spurs in the upcoming fight.



And then, finally, nine months in the making, the "Crane's Wings" project delivered a design for reliable main battery 'wing' turrets, tied to the ships main fire control. Combined with a cross-deck fire design, and lessons learned from the construction of Tsukuba (who, like her predecessors had become obsolete, tragically even before leaving the shipyard) led to the design and construction of one of Japan's most criticised, lauded, misshapen and decorated warships of the 20th century.



Enter: the Ikoma. Still a sparkle in her designer's eye, eventually she would come to be known to the Japanese, affectionately, as the 'Seaborne Mountain'. And to the enemies of the Imperial Alliance, she would come to be known by a less auspicious name:



Teufelsschiff; the Devil's Ship.

But that's still years in the future.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2018, 07:32:32 pm by Enioch »
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Japan - [Image Heavy!]
Um, just a note, alcohol "proof" is twice the percentage of alcohol per volume. So that Sink the Bismarck beer that's 41% alcohol per volume is in fact 82 proof.
There are only 10 kinds of people in the world;
those who understand binary and those who don't.

 

Offline StarSlayer

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Japan - [Image Heavy!]
Wow its like someone took a Rodney and gave it the same treatment Blood and Chrome did to the Galactica...
“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world”

 

Offline JSRNerdo

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Japan - [Image Heavy!]
Please don't bother with heavy secondary guns for a "semi-dreadnought" configuration, they have literally no fire control at all until you get secondary director and will just be wasting tonnage
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Offline Enioch

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Japan - [Image Heavy!]
This is, to all intents and purposes, an RP playthrough. Japan doesn't know that, yet, as her BC designs have not been tested in battle.

Also, you'd be surprised... :rolleyes:
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Enioch

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In June 1907, the design for the Ikoma battlecruiser was submitted to the Admiralty for review. Senseis Nomura Akira of Kure and Lì Wěi of Tsingtaou collaborated in the drawing of the blueprints; the former bringing his wing- and cross-deck-firing revolutionary designs to the table and the latter contributing his team's experience with new hull construction techniques and electrical systems.

The Ikoma would only be 300 tons smaller than her British cousins; would be able to match their speed; and would arguably carry the most devastating broadside the world had ever seen.

Her five main double 11'' turrets were arranged in what future engineers would codify as an ACGJY design: two centreline forward turrets, followed by two staggered wing turrets and an aft turret. This battery was complemented by a pair of heavy secondary 10'' wing turrets, meant to give the Ikoma a devastating close-range broadside against closing enemy heavy cruisers. She was also given a tertiary broadside of 6-6inchers of the highly successful Type 06.

Finally, she was the first Japanese capital ship to mount a broadside of two submerged 18'' torpedo tubes. The utility of this inclusion was hotly debated but it was felt that it would provide the Ikoma with a devastating final punch against crippled opponents, allowing her to engage new targets quickly, instead of wasting time and ammunition in sinking a defeated ship.



Unfortunately, as soon as the order was placed and the keel of the ship was laid in Kure, Saionji Kinmochi came to power as the new Prime Minister. His policies were focused around social reforms, meant to appease the Europeans and facilitate trade and economic growth. While admirable, it went starkly against the established policy of preparing for war; the reforms would see the power of the Navy considerably reduced and the Ikoma stillborn.

The Navy League, a lobby of high-ranking engineers, industrialists and other persons of influence responded instantly, with a public campaign that played on the people's love and pride for their navy. Most of the appeasement measures were quietly shelved in the face of the reality of inevitable war; work in the shipyards continued unabated and international tension continued to climb.



In July, the Italians made an offer for the licence of the Mitsubishi Type 8 steam turbines. The Navy recommended the deal go forward; the Italians would quickly get the information through the technology sharing deal that was causing the Admiralty so many headaches anyway - they might as well pay for it!



And in August,  Lì Wěi submitted for consideration the design of an automated system that would electrically transmit the rangefinding information from the tops to the fire-control plotter. This design could easily be retrofitted to all existing ships and was immediately integrated into the plans of the Tsukuba and Ikoma.



August also marked the point where the Admiralty felt satisfied with the quality of their training. Crews were now fully proficient with all modern equipment and officers now knew all aspects of the Imperial Alliance's naval doctrine. Multiple scenarios of surprise attacks on French bases had been planned, with highly satisfactory outcome estimates; from this point onwards, Japan stood ready to go to war at an hour's notice.



Of course there had been some minor mishaps, but ironing them out had been the whole point of Fujiwara's training regimen.





Italy continued to siphon off the knowledge, dreams and hopes of the Japanese people, this time without paying...



And Lì Wěi's team delivered again, with a design for a fully-retrofittable, faster and more reliable system for hoisting the shells from the magazines to the turrets. Lì Wěi became the darling of loading crews overnight.





Other R & D departments's efforts were met with varying degrees of success. The Admiralty were looking for bigger destroyers, but the designers could not guarantee their stability or seaworthiness in rough seas; on the other hand, promising new shell designs were brought forward for consideration.



Finally, things came to a head on December 2, 1907, when, in the face of new proposed appeasement measures, the Navy League, backed by the near-entirety of the steel and shipbuilding industry of the Alliance, humbly requested to meet with the Emperor. His Imperial Majesty granted them audience and seemed receptive to their requests. Saionji Kinmochi resigned two days later; Katsura Tarō was re-instated as Prime Minister; and all negotiations with France were instantly terminated.

The French Embassy in Kyoto started destroying their documents at noon, on the 10th of December 1907; at 6 pm on the 11th, the French Ambassador, Gaston Raindre, presented the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Count Hayashi Tadasu with an ultimatum: either Japan would severely curb her naval budget and grant France heavy concessions in the South China Sea, or a state of war would exist between the two nations. Count Hayashi, allegedly, remained silent for a short while, before softly responding "There will be no concessions, Sir. You shall have your war."



Japanese squadrons mobilised instantly and stealthily, almost frighteningly so. By 3 am of the same night, the entirety of the main Japanese battle line had reached, undetected and unchallenged, a position less than ten miles off Fort Bayard.







Note: I'd like to point out that both Tsukuba and Ikoma have entered accelerated production, with the former being 5 months from completion.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2018, 07:33:01 pm by Enioch »
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Enioch

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The Japanese Task Force was preceded by three destroyer flotillas, under the commands of Captain Oito of the Murakumo, Captain Xiaolong of the Okikaze and Captain Sagara of the Kamikaze. The latter is particularly noteworthy, as he had been the captain of the ill-fated Shiokaze in the last war. By a quirk of chance, his flotilla also included the new Shiokaze, a modern Asanagi-Kai destroyer.

The rest of the fleet, including the heavy cruisers Yakumo and Izumo, the battleships Fuso and the light cruisers Chiyoda and Izumi, followed in two-ship divisions.

Most interestingly, unbeknownst to the French, the submarines I-2 and I-11 had already snuck into the Ford Bayard harbour and were ready to support the attack, with their hydrophones trained on the port mouth. They were waiting to pick up the high-speed propellers of the IJN destroyers.



As the destroyers entered the external harbour, they accellerated from a sedate 20 knots to their flank speed of 28 knots; as planned, Asanagi split off from her flotilla and skirted the eastern coastline, to spot any ships moored there. Kamikaze and Okikaze charged down the middle of the outer harbour, while Murakumo kept her squadron in reserve, for a followup torpedo run.





The submarines, having picked up the incoming ships, surfaced and fired starshells over the positions of the French ships, which they had marked well before sunset. As the destroyers charged, they began to identify targets, starting with two massive capital ships in anchor.





Kamikaze launched her first torpedo at 3:57, against the lead enemy ship, at a distance of less than a thousand yards. Shiokaze and Okikaze followed suit, with Numakaze and Suwakaze closing in for their own runs. Asanagi resolutely ignored the battleships, as she continued her scouting run, rushing under the elevation of the capital ships' secondaries, to track down the enemy cruiser fleet.



She did so as the first torpedo hit its target. The explosion and starshells outlined the silhouettes of two cruisers to the battleships' west and Asanagi closed in even further, to get a positive identification. The submarines continued firing off star-shells and would make her work easier.



Meanwhile, her lookouts reported on the two battleships. The southernmost ship was a Solferino-class battleship, comparable in most respects to the Fusos. The northernmost one was a Marengo-class; Asakaze screamed by so close to its stern that she could read her nameplate and identify her as the Magenta: a 17.7k ton behemoth, with massive 13-inch guns.





After three confirmed torpedo strikes on the battleships, Kamikaze and Okikaze pulled away; Murakumo moved in. Meanwhile, Asanagi closed to suicidal range against an enemy light cruiser and, just as the latter's crew were manning her deck guns, the destroyer planted a torpedo into her at point-blank range and sped away.





Murakumo's charge led to four more hits on the enemy battleships. The Solferino capsized in the gloom, her crew's cries drowned by secondary explosions and the groan of her breaking keel; the Marengo went down upright, both her bow and stern blown off, up to the crumpled main battery magazines

Then, the destroyers pulled out, their job one, the threat to the heavier ships neutralised. It was time for the heavy cruisers to earn their pay. Izumo and Yakumo moved in, covered by destroyer smokescreens, until they appeared out of the dark less than half a mile from the floundering French forces.





There was no shortage of targets. To the cruisers' immediate north, lay the stricken French light cruiser, which Izumo blew out of the water with a single broadside. To their south, a French heavy cruiser was making steam and running toward the safety of the minefield which separated the outer and inner harbours. Yakumo focused her guns on this ship: an Admiral Charner-class vessel, with an impressive broadside and heavy armour.







In this instance (and this instance alone), the French gave as well as they took. The Admiral Charner-class disabled one of Izumo's turrets with a 7-inch shell, and scored several penetrations of her extended belt. She even succeeded in reaching the inner harbour, where Izumo declined to follow her. However, the two Japanese cruisers then proceeded to annihilate the remaining unfortunate Sfax-class light cruiser whom they pinned against the western end of the harbour and, finally, finished off with torpedoes.



They then proceeded to withdraw in good order from the harbour and re-joined the fleet, as the sun rose. The entire action had lasted four-and-a-half hours and had been a catastrophe for the French.



Estimates placed the loss of tonnage at around 50k tons of capital ships for the French, including two of her biggest and most modern battlewagons and two light cruisers, specifically designed to counter IJN destroyer superiority. Loss of life rose to almost fifteen hundred sailors, with an additional four to five hundered wounded. The Japanese Alliance, on the other hand, had had  a destroyer, a light cruiser and a heavy cruiser lightly damaged; another destroyer and a heavy cruiser moderately damaged and, among her surface fleet, had only suffered six fatal casualties and thirty wounded, on board the Izumo.



I specify 'surface fleet', because the heroic contribution of the Silent Service in the fight led to the loss of a submarine. I-11, one of the newest subs in service, suffered a malfunction in her flotation tanks and couldn't safely submerge. She sought to escape the harbour on the surface, only to be detected by the coastal batteries during early twilight. She was sunk, with all 62 of her crew and no survivors, a meager consolation for the mauled Marine Nationale. The names of her crew are still proudly displayed on the Memorial Wall of the SubCom HQ in Kure.

More importantly, this staggering victory had been achieved without Fuso having to fire a single shot against her enemy. This was a victory for the light forces - pure and simple.



Once again, Japan had rocked the foundations of the world.





And the world held its breath and watched.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2018, 07:33:25 pm by Enioch »
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Droid803

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Japan - [Image Heavy!]
rip sub-chan ;w;7
(´・ω・`)
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Offline Spoon

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Japan - [Image Heavy!]
Fuso is doing her best Yamato impression. Being big bad intimidating but never actually doing anything.
Urutorahappī!!

[02:42] <@Axem> spoon somethings wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> critically wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> im happy with these missions now
[02:44] <@Axem> well
[02:44] <@Axem> with 2 of them

 

Offline Enioch

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Japan - [Image Heavy!]


No bully Yamato. No bully Fuso.

Spoiler:
She earns her spurs. Eventually
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 
Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Japan - [Image Heavy!]
This is really cool!
Only a couple of weeks ago I was watching a couple of documentaries on the history of modern naval warfare and on the battleships. It was really interesting, particularly the whole "Battleship diplomacy" stuff.

I kinda want this game now.

Also love the anime pics that sum up the moments well  :)
Too many ideas.....not enough FREDing time!

 

Offline Enioch

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The people of the Alliance rejoiced. Many nations, united, drunk in the glory of the moment. There was a great cry that rose from Japan when Fuso sailed into the harbour; it was clear to all that the 'Lady of China' was a lucky ship. Not once had she sailed from Japan and not returned with victory. And what a victory that had been.

The Admiralty were also ecstatic, but less entranced by the old battleship as it dropped anchor in Sasebo and was immediately swarmed by small boats carrying flowers, flags, treats and drink for the crew. It was clear that the lighter, faster ships and the mighty torpedoes had carried the day, not the venerable battleship's guns - and it had been the fast, heavy-hitting cruisers that had accounted for the cleanup. It was clear that the Battlecruiser gamble was a move in the right direction - and Tsukuba was five months from completion. What the Navy could do with her in action, the Admirals could only dream of.

But for now, there were more pressing matters to attend to.



Firstly - Japan would not allow herself to be surprised like her enemy had been. The Minesweepers of the navy swarmed out of their harbours in their assigned patrols. This was not glorious work, but it was interesting to see how well the Polynesian sailors of the Empire took to the task. With their almost supernatural skill in reading currents, changes in weather and dangerous waters, they enjoyed the long patrols. The Minesweepers, had, after all, been fitted for colonial service; they were meant to stay on patrol for weeks on end and they proved to be the lifeblood of the Alliance this time around, tracking down French submarines and raiders; ferrying supplies to smaller islands; carrying messages and, on occasion, serving as small troop transports. Their crews became known for their rogueish behaviour and the 'Maru boys' received a warm welcome in any Japanese port.



Then - a review of the strategic situation. France's battleline had been savagely mauled and their two battlecruisers were both years away from completion. In matters of tonnage, Japan led in battleships. But the French were following the tenants of the Jeune ecole: they had taken the tenants of light forces warfare and brought them to their extremes. Their cruiser fleet was massive, and the Admiralty felt sure that the following days would be a nightmare of raiding reports and sunken merchant ships, as the French cruisers would go to town and the Alliance did not have enough hulls to throw at them. Hopefully, Tsukuba, capable of running down any French cruiser, would change that.





The month ended with reports from the R & D department regarding improvents in boiler design; also, having experienced first-hand the destructive power of torpedoes on the enemy, Japan focused on crafting a shield that could block the enemy's lances. Experimental designs of 'torpedo belts' and compartmentalisation were put forward. Unfortunately, it was impossible to refit them on the near-complete Tsukuba or the Ikoma, with its eccentric barbette placement; Japan's first two battlecruisers would go into battle defenseless against this most terrible of weapons.

And then, reports started coming in, from the Silent Service and the Coastal patrols:







I-5 scored first blood near Annam, when she sunk the 3k ton freighter Belle Alsace. The Japanese submarine made good its escape. The French, in retaliation, sunk the Kobayashi Maru and the Maui. However, the French skippers had not accounted for the 'Maru boys'. Both submarines were tracked down by bloody-minded minesweepers, who stuck to their wake like limpets, until the subs were forced to surface for air; then they were blasted out of the sea in short order.



More importantly, the Unebi and the Chiyoda, having trained for raider warfare but not having been dispatched on raiding duty yet, knew what to look for. Twice the French raider Tage tried to sneak into the Alliance maritime traffic lanes and twice it was forced to turn away under pursuit by her Japanese rivals - bigger and more modern ships, that she could only run from.

Things would get worse for the French in January, as Yaeyama was finally commisioned and departed on her shakedown cruise. It is worth reminding the reader that Yaeyama was the first capital ship in the Japanese navy to be crewed and captained almost exclusively by Alliance / colonial sailors and officers. A third Unebi-class was thus added to the counter-raiding force.





The subarine war continued; I-7 and I-2 scored two more kills, for a total of 7k tons of shipping. Galvanised by their efforts, the 'Maru boys' redoubled their own; the french submarine Aigle was cornered by two ships as she was attempting to slip by the Tsushima strait and smashed with concentrated fire.



Unfortunately, this time around, Tage managed to slip through. The 4k ton freighter Izanami was sunk off the coast of Sumatra.



February presented the Japanese with a dilemma. The intelligence service had identified the French anarchist Luc Portail hiding in Sumatra, where he had escaped after his anarchist terrorist cell had been compromised in Marseilles. They were considering approaching him and facilitating his return home, even partially funding his revolutionary activities. The temptation to destabilise the French (who were hiding in their harbours and fortified positions) by striking at their homeland was great.

However, it was, once again, Vice Admiral Fujiwara's thunderous protests, which eventually prevailed.

"How shall history judge us? How shall we tell our children that we aided a man with no honour, no respect for his country, with only contempt for authority? How shall we ask of them to display these virtues? How shall we be remembered? And how shall our allies trust us if we resort to such measures when honourable victory is within our grasp?"

Luc Portail was summarily arrested for subversive activities and for undermining the authority of the Emperor; he would die in prison fifteen years later, forgotten by all.



March brought advances in Anti-Submarine Warfare, as the experience of the 'Maru boys' was put to good use.









The Silent Service continued to perform brilliantly - the lack of dedicated ASW platforms for the French really hurt them. In contrast, Asama Maru sank the French submarine Faucon, before it managed to cause any damage. And Izumo and Naniwa, taking the lessons of the Unebis at heart, intercepted Tage twice. Izumo almost managed to close to weapons range, but the Tage declined battle and managed to slip away.





As the completion of Tsukuba was merely two months away, the Admiralty assigned extra funds, to accelerate the work on Ikoma. The war would clearly be over, one way or another, before she was completed, but the Admiralty felt it a good idea to take full advantage of their increased wartime budget.





In addition, ten new Matsukaze-class 700-ton destroyers were laid down. While they carried the same armament as their smaller predecessors, these ships bore the improved Mitsubishi Type 3-20 turbines, allowing them a blistering top speed of 31 knots.



Even better, the works in Tsingtaou and Yokosuka were expanded. It was now possible to build ships of up to 25k tons of displacement and the Admiralty was already discussing laying down bigger and better battlecruisers along the Ikoma design.



Then, the French sent out feelers, seeking out a white peace. A meeting was arranged in neutral Port Arthur, where it was agreed Hatsuse would carry the Japanese delegation. The French delegation arrived via the newly-finished Trans-Siberian railway shortly after.



Initial talks bogged down, as the French suggested terms that were considered outrageous by the Japanese, given the latter's military successes. The Admiralty advised that the negotiations be terminated and that they be given the opportunity to smack some more sense into the French - perhaps by supporting a naval-based invasion of Annam? The frustrated diplomats were inclined to agree, and the Japanese fleet, newly-commisioned Tsukuba included, had already sailed for some 'gunboat diplomacy', when disaster struck.



On the 10th of April, 1908, His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Meiji of Japan passed away, of uremia. He had concealed his weakness and sickness from most of the population, even during the commisioning of Tsukuba, to avoid negatively impacting their morale, hoping to power through the worsening of his health by sheer will, until the end of the war; but it was not to be. His death marked the end of an era for Japan and could not have happened at a more inopportune moment.

A peace was signed immediately; but the Japanese diplomats had, at least, enough presence of mind to insist on considerable financial reparations in the form of trade facilitations and toll reductions for Imperial Alliance maritime traffic in French ports. They got that much - but France kept her colonies and a foothold in the Far East for many more years.



The new Emperor, His Imperial Majesty Yoshihito (posthumously known as Taisho) would be a relatively weak ruler, plagued by neurological problems during his entire life. However, his contributions to the Empire, before his illness made it impossible for him to carry out his duties, were notable in two matters:

Firstly, his fascination with the various cultures and nations of the Alliance was one of his defining traits, to the point of eccentricity. Since his childhood, he had an aptitude for foreign languages; by the time of his ascension to the throne he was fluent in four major languages and six dialects spoken in the Alliance. He would often dress in clothing characteristic of other cultures on official occasions, as the situation demanded; he became known as an Emperor for the people - all the people.

His second (and perhaps more significant) contribution would be the institution of democratic elections among the populace. More than that, in an unprecedented move, he introduced the concept of universal suffrage among men, irrespective of race or income. His declining health would prevent him from implementing this radical social reform; his vision would finally be implemented by his son and successor, Hirohito, acting as the Prince Regent, a few years before Yoshihito's death.

But for now, Japan was a decapitated nation; rushed into a fruitless victory that had gained her nothing; staggering at the death of an Emperor who had defined an Age with his presence and vision. The future seemd dark.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2018, 07:33:52 pm by Enioch »
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)