I’ve been playing with this idea for some time and eventually wrote some text I liked and made a few drawings. It covers about 12 years of history (from 1908 to 1920) of Portugal and focuses mainly on the country’s naval doctrine. Unfortunately I have no idea if this AU is going to be developed any further but there’s a chance I’ll draw some original designs in SB scale and perhaps a few seaplanes in FD scale. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts
POINT OF DIVERGENCE
The Lisbon Regicide of 1908
ended up differently: infante Manuel
, the youngest son of King Carlos I
, was killed along with his father but the prince Luis Filipe
survived suffering only a slight concussion (the assassin’s bullet grazed his forehead leaving a nasty scar above the left eyebrow). He was crowned as the new king Luis II soon after and right away started a course of political reforms aimed at restoration of the Portuguese Monarchy and her former glory. As a result of that the parliamentary dictatorship was replaced with a more democratic government and the Carbonaria, who were blamed for the assassination, got completely outlawed and underwent serious persecution. Moreover the Treaty of Windsor
was officially dissolved and restoration of the colonial empire according to the Pink Map
was announced. It was quite a risky move but it allowed Portugal to acquire political and more importantly financial aid from Germany, who was interested in weakening British positions in Africa.
Thanks to these actions and the fact that unlike his brother Manuel King Luis II had many supporters among the high-ranking military officers, the Portuguese Republican Party never really came to power and the 1910 revolution
didn’t happen. On the contrary, patriotic and monarchist movements became extremely popular because of the confrontation with Britain in Africa. Portuguese volunteers armed with modern rifles and machine-guns (timely provided by the Germans) gushed into North-West Rhodesia to harass the British expeditionary forces in attempt to kick the “treacherous Brits” out of the “primordially Portuguese” territories. However the conflict didn’t develop into a full-scale war mostly because the British were preoccupied with Kaiserliche Marine flexing its muscles in the North Sea.
In the meantime intensive German-Portuguese negotiations resulted in a pact of friendship between the two nations. During his first official visit to Germany King Luis met Kaiser’s youngest daughter Victoria Louise
who was quite intrigued by the young monarch with a scar. Since then the two kept exchanging correspondence and paying occasional visits to each other and soon enough announced their engagement. The wedding took place in Lisbon in 1913 and became one of the largest gatherings of European royalty before World War I began a year later. Kaiser Wilhelm II presented the newlyweds with a recently constructed steam turbine yacht named after the bride which became the new Portuguese royal yacht replacing the british-built “Amelia”. It was a loaded political gesture that didn’t go unnoticed by the press: the world’s largest newspapers declared Portugal a pro-German nation.
Thanks to close interaction between the two countries in both Europe and African colonies, the Portuguese economy experienced an intense climb, which allowed for beginning of extensive development and modernization of Portugal’s industry. Some necessary but unpopular reforms were successfully conducted under the pretext of fighting revolutionaries and British agents resulting in drastically increased industrial capacity and significantly raised living standards in the country. By the beginning of the Great War, Portugal could be safely ranked as one of modern industrial powers.
In 1914 the problem of modernization of Portuguese military was long overdue; the Navy didn’t received new ships since 1901 (except for a couple of domestically built small gunboats). The government was presented with numerous ship-building programs but they were inevitably declined in favor of industrial development. Despite nearly incapable military King Luis II seriously intended to participate in the war on the German side. However, secret negotiations between him and Kaiser Wilhelm II concluded that it would be more beneficial to keep Portugal neutral; this way German business could keep operating internationally via Portuguese frontmen and Lisbon could serve as one of very few safe ports for German ships. In addition the neutrality allowed Portuguese military observers to gather vital data and hands-on experience from all sides of the conflict which would become extremely useful for modernization of both Army and Navy. Specifically for this purpose a special committee of analysts was created with King Luis II as its chief secretary.
The war came about pretty much the same way as in our history with some minor alterations. One of them was a compromise decision between Portugal and Great Britain regarding the African territories that snuffed out the conflict. Also, due to heavy restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles
, some German manufacturers chose to relocate to Portugal where they were welcomed as the country required “fresh blood” to support her industrial growth.
NEW NAVAL DOCTRINE
The new naval doctrine developed by the end of the war emphasised usage of naval mines and torpedoes delivered by inexpensive (comparing to capital ships) submarines, destroyers, minelayers and torpedo boats. In addition the committee recognized the importance of military aviation, both land and water based. The doctrine was dubbed “Funda de Davi” (“David’s sling”) as an allusion to a cheap weapon that can be devastating in skillful hands.
As a result two new military branches were established: the Coast Guard (Guarda Costeira Portuguesa - GCP) and the Naval Aviation Service (Serviço de Aviação da Marinha - SAM).
Coast Guard was supposed to act as the Navy reserve and conduct routine anti-submarine patrols and convoy escorts. In the peace times it was also required to do the following:
- maritime law enforcement,
- customs duties,
- search and rescue,
- weather patrol and hydrographic services,
- fisheries research and protection.
The first coast guard vessel to enter service was BGC Dona Amelia, a former royal yacht modified to a hydrographic ship.
The Naval Aviation Service replicated the structure of the existing Army Aviation Service but was equipped with seaplanes and required to closely cooperate with the Navy and the Coast Guard.
A core of the new Navy would be formed out of destroyers, submarines, torpedo boats, minesweepers and depot ships. The colonial forces were to be equipped with long range and high endurance sloops and shallow draft gunboats for inland waters.
Despite the complete lack of capital ships a naval reform of such scale was really challenging for a small country like Portugal. Fortunately the end of the Great War provided an outstanding opportunity to purchase large numbers of naval ships for the price of metal (quite literally in many cases) they were built from. The Portuguese tried to acquire whole classes of ships in order to cut down future logistic costs. Also they preferred unfinished ships whenever possible which helped to lower the spendings as well as allowed domestic shipbuilders to gain valuable experience (and earn some cash) completing them.
Unification of the armament and ordnance also took place. A large number of German 105mm quick firing cannons and 37mm machine cannons was purchased to arm all suitable ships. In addition Portugal acquired licenses and equipment to manufacture ammo for these two types.
FLEET STRENGTH AS OF 1920
- 3 German destroyers (unfinished) of V170 class
- 6 Austro-Hungarian torpedo boats of 82F class
- 5 Italian submarines of F class
- 10 German coastal submarines (completed but never entered service) of UB-III class
- 15 German shallow draft minesweepers of FM class
- 15 German minesweepers (unfinished) of M1915 class
- 20 American built French sub-chasers of SC class (Coast Guard)
- 5 600-ton destroyers
- 10 patrol ships in hulls of fishing trawlers (Coast Guard)
- 2 submarine depot ships
- 4 colonial sloops
- Armoured cruiser Vasco da Gama - reclassified as a coastal defence and training ship
- Protected cruiser Dom Carlos I - temporary out of service for modernization
- Protected cruiser Adamastor - reclassified as a colonial sloop
- Protected cruisers Rainha Dona Amelia, S. Gabriel and S. Raphael - scrapped
- Torpedo gunboat Tejo - completed as a minelayer Rio Tejo
- Old torpedo boats - scrapped
- Old gunboats (various types) - scrapped or reclassified as auxiliaries
- Old submarine - scrapped
- Royal yacht Amelia IV - reclassified as a hydrographic vessel Dona Amelia (Coast Guard)