Alternate Universe New Steel Navy.
The view I take toward alternate history has always been to take what is given and imagine within the constraints of what is possible, a digression from the record.
You would be surprised at the roots of history and how those roots could be altered by just a couple of simple decisions.
The major example near and dear to my heart is the post civil-war US navy. When the shooting stopped in 1865, the polyglot collection of steam and sail cruisers, river monitors, pressed into service armed merchant ships and hastily constructed bark rigged gunboats looked impressive on paper with more than a 1000 hulls flying the stars and stripes, but by no imagination could you call that mob of hulls a fleet. Aside from the forty or so monitiors and a couple dozen war built iron-hulled broadside frigates, there was no true fleet. Ships like the USS Kearsage (victor over the CSS Alabama) were known to be obsolete based on what Europe was building.
Then there was the truth that Mister Lincoln's navy had failed in two of its three missions.
a. mount a successful blockade.
b. defend the US merchant marine.
c. seize control of the Confederate waterways and ports. (In cooperation with the army.)
It isn't hard to see the failures and why. Long coastline and few safe anchorage blockade stations for most of the war meant that there were holes in the patrols that Carribean and Bermuda based bloclade runners could exploit.
And Confederate pirates had powerful friends in France and England and many havens hostile to the United States (You'd be surprised how many.) where they could port up and receive succor despite the alleged neutralities claimed by the states involved.
That war with its complexities and outcomes saw the death of a proud Yankee merchant marine, and a nation that wanted to turn inward and repair itself. The navy was almost last (even lower than the army) in the need to do list for the Reconstruction.
Navies are expensive luxuries that a nation can only justify if there is a native seaborne commerce to defend or an external threat immediate to it from across the ocean. The merchant fleet had been slaughtered and the interests and capital that had been invested in that enterprise turned to railroads and internal commerce as a safety profit return on investment.
The South American naval threat that would manifest itself a decade and a half hence from the civll war was as yet unannounced, nor when it finally did materialize would the Brazilian, Chilean and Argentine naval build-ups (an arms race) constitute a genuine threat to justify the ABCD ships or the Maine and the Texas when those ships were designed.
That threat would come from France, Great Britain, and possibly Russia.
Those nations surely could be naval threats (especially France, with a guerre de course jeaune ecole school not to distant in the future.), but if you have no commerce and colonies to threaten, why would not iron hulled sail and steam barks serve as your show the flag blue-water navy?
That's a good question, until you realize that Britain was trying to muscle the United States out of the Western Pacific and France's colonial imperialist adventurism in that area ran rampantly wild and unchecked.
It turns out that the United States could have used a blue-water navy that could stand up to at least the French, for what merchant fleet she did have was heavily involved in the South America, China, and Japan trade. That fleet needed protection better than the coast defense rebuilt monitors and decaying wooden hulled steam and sail cruisers that carried the historic burden during the 1870s and 1880s.
The successors to Louis Napoleon III were eager to plant their flag in Taiwan, Hainan, Indochina, bits of China, even in Japan and on every little sandspit not flying the English flag. This is real history. We have records of their wars, where the Americans saw their own trade interests so painfully opened in the 1850s almost destroyed by the eager ambitious French in the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s.
Only the British stopped them, and that not out of kindness to a fellow English speaking nation, but because they had ambitions of their own. They sort of neutralized each other for a while.
And the Americans were near helpless to influence the contest, though they had the largest commercial stake in the outcome!
Perhaps if the American governments had been more seapower-minded we would have seen a better US navy in those crucial years when America fell behind and had to look to foreigners to design her ABCD cruisers. If native craft had been designed in those years of the 1870s and 1880s, what might they have looked like? The Americans were not building according to European naval practices when they stopped in 1865. They had some combat experience and they had some ideas of what a modern warship of that era should look like. You can see it in their monitors, cut down to offer unobstructed gun arcs to heavy caliber guns.
The loss of the USS Housatonic to the CSS Hunley would have exorcised the American naval architects to the threat of so called torpedo rams of the era, most likely conferring the need for medium caliber guns to attend to the threat, either in a citadel or in an amidships arrangement to deal with the attack method most likely to be employed by such semi-submerged adversaries.
Looks very nice and an interesting AU.
(only comment would be the rigging colour is very like the hull and blends a lot)
Very apt comment. It does seem to bleed in.
I wanted to emphasize the grayness in overall color of this AU navy. I experimented with browns and tans and did not like it when I compared it to the sail ships for which we have photos, but that is just me. I also wanted to make sure that the rigging I drew was reasonably logical. One of the things I don't do well is lay out a sail plan where the sails actually make sense when you set them to catch wind. These sails actually might work.
Image (rather large)
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