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Tobius
Post subject: Mister McKinley's Navy.Posted: January 21st, 2016, 8:42 pm
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Yes, I am starting a thread on my favorite period of US naval history, an alternate Spanish American War, with some differences.

First entry is the good old "peace cruiser" that the isolationist congresses of the era loved.

[ img ]

The idea that the politicians had was simple enough. Ocean going ships that would be able to overawe the natives, but not threaten the interests of Europeans.

The US Navy in this alternate history had other ideas.


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JSB
Post subject: Re: Mister McKinley's Navy.Posted: January 21st, 2016, 11:36 pm
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Looks very nice and an interesting AU.

(only comment would be the rigging colour is very like the hull and blends a lot)


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Tobius
Post subject: Re: Mister McKinley's Navy.Posted: January 21st, 2016, 11:38 pm
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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.
JSB wrote:
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.

[ img ]

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)

Thank you for your comment. It is appreciated


Last edited by Tobius on January 18th, 2017, 1:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Krakatoa
Post subject: Re: Mister McKinley's Navy.Posted: January 22nd, 2016, 6:33 pm
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Looks good Tobius.

I will leave it to those who have a bit more knowledge (which is almost everyone since I have none) on how sailing ships and the hybrids between, are put together.

One thing I do try to add to my drawings somewhere in the text or a Legend, is the ships details, size, armament etc. That helps us people who don't know much about these ships learn about what was on them.

If there are figures available I would be very interested in the speeds attained - under sail only - engine only - and both together.


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Tobius
Post subject: Re: Mister McKinley's Navy.Posted: January 24th, 2016, 2:00 am
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Krakatoa wrote:
Looks good Tobius.

I will leave it to those who have a bit more knowledge (which is almost everyone since I have none) on how sailing ships and the hybrids between, are put together.

One thing I do try to add to my drawings somewhere in the text or a Legend, is the ships details, size, armament etc. That helps us people who don't know much about these ships learn about what was on them.

If there are figures available I would be very interested in the speeds attained - under sail only - engine only - and both together.
Here is the referent to which I designed.
Tobius wrote:
[ img ]
Quote:
Length between perpendiculars, 270 ft. ; length on water line, 276 ft. ; length over all, 283 ; extreme breadth, 42 ft.; mean draught at load water line, 16ft. 10 in. ; displacement at water line, 3,000 tons ; sail area, 10,400 square feet ; I.H.P., 3,500 ; speed at sea, 13 knots ; capacity of coal bunkere, 580 tons. The vessel is built of steel, and is divided into nine main compartments by eight complete transverse bulkheads extending to the main deck. The boilers and machinery are protected by a coal armor 8 ft. thick above the water line and 5 ft. below it, the coal bunkers being formed by longitudinal bulkheads extending on each side through the machinery space.

The doors closing the compartments can be worked from below or from the main deck. In addition to the 580 tons of coal carried in the bunkers, about 200 tons more can be taken on board if necessary ; and thus filled with coal the Atlanta would be able to steam 2,500 miles at full speed, or 6,300 miles at the rate of 10 knots. For a length of 100 feet the machinery spaces are protected by a steel deck 1-1/2 in. thick, and at the bottom of these spaces is a watertight double bottom divided into 12 water-tight cells. The outside plating is 23 Ibs. to the square foot, and is doubled from the stem to near the stern at the water-line.

The machinery consists of a three cylinder compound horizontal engine of 3,600 H.P. ; the high-pressure cylinder being 54 in. and the two low-pressure 74 in. in diameter, the latter being arranged on either side of the former, and the length of stroke is 42 in. The steel shaft is 16 in. in diameter at the journals, and is made in three interchangeable sections. The low pressure cranks are set at right angles, while the other is placed between the two at an angle of 136 degrees. The screw is four-bladed, 17ft. in diameter, and has a pitch of 20 ft. Steam is supplied by eight horizontal return tubular boilers, placed forward of the engine, and separated into two groups by a transverse bulkhead. Each boiler is 9ft. 9 in. long and 11 ft. 8 in. in diameter, and is provided with two cylindrical furnaces having grate surface of 25 square feet. A forced draught is obtained from six blowers, each having a capacity of 12,000 cubic feet per minute. The boilers were tested to 160 Ibs.
Armament main is of the BL 20 cm/35 Model 1883 gun. one bow, one stern and one port and starboard amidships on sponsons which was not to be repeated as this was a dangerous and serious design defect.

Armament secondary was of the 9 cm/35 Model 1880 gun three per broadside.

Four 1.15 cm/70 Model 1885 Gatling guns can be broken out either as additional broadside guns or as landing guns.

Crew complement I estimated at 27 officers and 255 enlisted.

Armor was of the protected cruiser pattern with 8 cm slopes narrowing to 4 cm decks. Gun-shields are 8 cm.

I think that is about all the Springsharp I have on her.


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seeker36340
Post subject: Re: Mister McKinley's Navy.Posted: January 24th, 2016, 9:53 pm
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Quite the thread, Tobius! I wonder if there could be an alternate in a return to the "gunboat navy" and coastal defenses of the Jefferson era if a chintzy government blew off a modern blue-water navy. It's happened before, including the aftermath of the Franco-American "demi-war" of the late 18th century. This could include some sort of coastal defense ships, torpedo boats, etc.


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nighthunter Mk2
Post subject: Re: Mister McKinley's Navy.Posted: January 24th, 2016, 10:08 pm
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As an American Historian, the years after the American Civil War most historians concentrate on the Indian Wars, and not so much on the Maritime History of the era, except when it comes to civilian ships involved in tragedies or the Alaskan Gold Rush. The woes of the US Navy and the backslide it took between the ACW and Spanish-American war. Somehow out of all the quiet chaos that was the rebuilding of the US, the Navy got forgotten for the most part, yet we still ended up superior to an old world navy that somehow was behind in the times worse than our own Navy. And the catalyst of the modernization of the US Navy was the Virginius Affair/Incident, and the fact that the US Navy had no vessel capable of defeating a Spanish Ironclad in New York harbor. All in all, you have quite the potential for this AU to make good on the development of the US Navy during the "quiet time", and the "New Navy".


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Tobius
Post subject: Re: Mister McKinley's Navy.Posted: January 30th, 2016, 12:13 am
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Yeah. the SS Virginus affair was rather bad.

The Spanish ironclad in New York harbor was the ARA Arapiles which was being re-plated from grounding damage about the same time that the Spanish Cuban colonial administration ordered the crew and passengers of the SS Virginius executed as 'filibusters'.

About this same time the Armada was involved in several quasi wars and incidents with Peru and Chile in the Pacific, affairs which interfered as much with American trade as the French were toward American east Asian trade.
Quote:
I wonder if there could be an alternate in a return to the "gunboat navy" and coastal defenses of the Jefferson era if a chintzy government blew off a modern blue-water navy.
I don't think that would happen. China and Japan were still huge draws for manpower importation (Key American infrastructure was built on the backs of cheap labor brought in from Asia, west of the Rockies, as much as it was built on cheap manpower imported from east and south Europe. The Europeans built steam ship lines (especially the British) to carry that human traffic.

In the Pacific the Americans were on a more equal footing with the Europeans since neither had the base structure and depots in that huge ocean to reach those Asian markets. The French made a stab at it, the British had a strong established presence, and so did the Dutch, but the real competitors were the newcomers, the Germans and the Americans.

The Germans were opportunistic imperialists. They did not have a Pacific plan. The Americans did (Mahan and crew.) And of course that plan was to replace Spain in the Western Pacific.

To that end, I always regarded the German American naval disaster in Apia, Samoa, the typhoon of 1889 as the real turning point for the American navy. The Germans more or less sort of paused for a moment and did not follow up. The Americans pushed ahead immediately to secure a rental base presence in Japan, made a sizable presence felt in the Qing navy (The number of American naval officers who fought in the Spanish American war who either observed or fought in the first Sino Japanese naval war is astonishing.)

The invasion of Hawaii, the continued search for coaling stations (Samoa) naturally led to an American desire for an anchorage of their own close to China, but not in China which the Germans eventually secured (Dalian.).

Who was ripe for the Pacific plucking and the ones against whom the Yankees had a deep seated grievance?

Yeah, the Spanish had few or no allies, were extremely exposed, and had the very base system that Washington wanted?

So the Spanish American War actually just awaited a steel navy and a manufactured excuse.

If the Maine had not happened, something else would have been substituted. I think that the American navy would have preferred another year, because when you look close at that war, the American navy had a very thin numbers advantage in ships, was acutely short of ammunition, was still a decade behind in artillery, and let's not talk about the US Army at all, because as one American officer of the time said; "If those had been the English or the French, instead of the Spanish, they would have wiped us out in a week."

The Armada's high command was subservient to its political leadership. Spain surprisingly was something of an emergent democracy at the time under the queen regency. I'm not sure what went through the mind of the Spanish navy Minister Sigismundo Bermejo, who was plainly insane, but Cervera and Montojo were thorough professionals who actually knew what they were doing, knew their grossly deficient material and crews and still went to their ruins much like the late WW II professional Japanese navy. officer corps.

If the Americans were deficient in manning, and their own equipment, the French origin tech Spanish navy was a disaster. It's hard to realize but the Spanish actually had material and equipment as modern as that possessed by the Americans and in many cases on paper that was technically superior. (torpedoes, mines, Schneider Canet guns, smokeless powder, etc.)

Shoddy workmanship, poor training, lack of maintenance was the obvious Spanish difference. But at the end, it came down to one nation which had a strategic naval plan and the other which just showed up to be sunk in a pair of live fire gunnery exercises.

================================
Quote:
As an American Historian, the years after the American Civil War most historians concentrate on the Indian Wars, and not so much on the Maritime History of the era, except when it comes to civilian ships involved in tragedies or the Alaskan Gold Rush. The woes of the US Navy and the backslide it took between the ACW and Spanish-American war. Somehow out of all the quiet chaos that was the rebuilding of the US, the Navy got forgotten for the most part, yet we still ended up superior to an old world navy that somehow was behind in the times worse than our own Navy. And the catalyst of the modernization of the US Navy was the Virginius Affair/Incident, and the fact that the US Navy had no vessel capable of defeating a Spanish Ironclad in New York harbor. All in all, you have quite the potential for this AU to make good on the development of the US Navy during the "quiet time", and the "New Navy".
Rest assured, that with a little tweaking, that the Americans will be a bit different. They were still building ships that were a decade behind the best European examples in tech, although their understanding of the naval art was at least as good as the best English practice of the period.

Anyway stay tuned to the thread. The results should be interesting.

[ img ]


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Tobius
Post subject: Re: Mister McKinley's Navy.Posted: January 30th, 2016, 8:44 pm
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[ img ]

Another "peace" cruiser designed for domestic coast guard use.

This is another protected cruiser of 2,900 tonnes displacement armed with single BL 15 cm/40 Model 1882 guns fore and aft, with 9 cm/35 Model 1880 gun three guns per broadside and one super-firing fore and one super-firing aft.

Carriage is approx. 540 tonnes of coal. The protection scheme is a C turtle shell back with 6 cm deck and 8 cm on the slopes. Gun shields are 4 cm thick.

Crew I estimated at 15 officers and 190 rates.

Speed is about 9.25 m/s or 18 knots. Endurance at 5.25 m/s is about 300 hours or variously about 3000 nautical miles before bunkers empty.


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Tobius
Post subject: Re: Mister McKinley's Navy.Posted: January 31st, 2016, 8:10 pm
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[ img ]

Still working on that one.


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