British Rearmament Before World War 2

Assuming we change from around 1 jan 1935.
Industry. Britain was actually coming out of the Depression very well by now, BUT... The recovery was heavily biased to new light industry and infrastructure in the South, especially around London. Now a big prolem was the fanatical insistence by the Bank of England and the Treasury of a 'balanced budget' and no inflation. But there had been DEFLATION for quite a few years, which had made the issue of interest repayments far worse. Now off the gold standard, interest rates were dropping fast, what they need to realise first is that SOME inflation (at least enough to cover off the previous deflation) would be a good thing, and borrow some money to help the economy.

Target this money in the north, to improve, re-equip and help the older industries - steel, coal, shipbuilding, heavy industry, and place some additional RN orders to help. It will reduce unemployment (recovering some of the money being used). You could also improve infrastructure, again meaning more orders for steel. Build new plant, but keep using the old (Britain didn't make enough steel for itself, a first target would be to at least make that amount). A shortage of heavy industrial production and steel was a limiting factor when they tried to ramp up arms production later on.

The RN was actually quite aware of the advantages of welding. They had an all-welded sloop, and Ark Royal was 60% welded. They need to be tough on forcing acceptance (use the industrial money as a lever to bully the unions with). Unlike certain navies (I'm looking at you, KM!) their welding was good, bits of ships didn't break off.
Realise that the Japanese (the real naval threat in 1935) had left the treaty system, and either now ignore it, or at least make one with the USA-France-UK that gives these navies what they need.
Lay down the KGV class, with 9x15" guns, on 1/1/35. That gets 4-5 in service for Sept 39.
Lay down two more Ark Royal class (to alleviate unemployment).
Force the RAF to give up the FAA, and give the navy that budget back, and allow the FAA to supply the aircraft for maritime patrol. The RAF were supposed to do this, they used much of the money to build useless bombers instead. Patrol planes in 1939 remove most of the need to use fleet carriers for cover, so no loss of the Courageous.

Have the FAA order some decent aircraft. Either pay Bristol to build a 1200hp radial (not hard, it was proposed) to power them. The RAF never liked the Battle, but a version with a shorter wingspan (same area) would make a very good torpedo/bomb/recon plane. It was also stresses for an 80 degree dive, there's your dive bomber sorted. There were planes being developed that would make a good naval fighter (with some mods), but with no urgency as, again, RAF.
The FAA would have a lot more interest in heavier armament, they had a limited time to shoot a big plane down (interception of things like the Condor was a big need), pushing the 20mm cannon along.
If the FAA controls Coastal Commend, someone might actually ask to test the bombs, and do exercises against subs (something the RAF seemed to think was beneath them)

The armoured carrier (no, it wasn't an armoured deck!) was actually a marginal decision. If better fighters were coming, the equation swings more towards more fighters to stop a raid rather than trying to survive it, so keep on building Ark Royal derivatived. Without a new treaty, they'd probably come out at 25,000t or better rather than try and cram a design into a lesser displacement. That allows you 60-70 planes and decent armour protection (even ignoring the deck armour, the Illustrious class was TOUGH)

Light/trade protection had been a RN interest for decades. You do have some slips available (they are roughly cruiser-length, but there are limitations of equipment for cruisers, so lay a few down instead)

Build more destroyers. 3 flotillas a year is doable (just), either Tribal or J-class. You need to replace a lot of old, small destroyers, so push this as 'just replacements' and 'supporting the unemployed shipbuilders'. With more destroyers, you can convert the V/W's into escorts a lot sooner.

A/S ships. There is a problem building a lot of these early, manning them. They were expected to be build quickly, so build say 6 a year for a couple of years to experimental designs. Look for simplicity and speed of build, the use of diesels (for the long range versions). Then its a lot easier to start spamming them out.

A/S weapons. The RN had experimented with forward thrown deth charges, but it failed due to the misconception of using a single long range one that needed an accuracy that wasny doable at the time. have someone look at options (yes, this needs some money), and something like hedgehog is easy for 1939, and pretty easy to refit. The star-shell is known to be rubbish, why not develop Snowflake early? It's not rocekt science...well, actuall it is, but...!

The RN WAS looking at convoys. Thats why they started a few days before the war. What they didnt do was develop an escort group to go around the convoy. Again, takes some money, but with 4 years you can make those escorts a lot better, and avoid some of the early mistakes.

The RAF needs to be taken out behind the bike sheds and beaten until they show sense on bombers. As in, at least given them a decent bomb sight and navigation aids. And prioritise the fighters for the Merins.

Have the ramp-head Merlin die an early and unlamented death. That gives you 12-18 months lead on the later marks of the engine, more hp to help your planes. Instead of trying to develop loads of engines, show some sence. The Merlin and Griffon are all RR need to develop. Bristol can quite easily build a 1200hp radial, and the Hercules issues should have been sorted WAY earlier.

The Army suffered a lot from the decision that it wouldn't be sen to Europe. Admit it will be, that gives you 4 years to equip it. Some weapons development was leisurely, like the 25pdr and the Bren, speed this up. Design a decent tank for Europe, something around 18-20 tons, and insist it doesnt have to fire on the move. Something like a bit heavier, better Valentine would be great for 1939.
Go for a core of 6 Lorried and an Armoured Division as the core, then think on the territorials. Some short term service (again to reduce unemployment), say a 2-3 year term, would give a pool of young infantry to help build up the older men serving in the territorial units. If your going to be in Europe, some decent armoured cars would be needed.

Give the Army back the close support squadrons the Experimental armour used to train with. A 20mm armed Hurricane would be very suitable as a start. As would some 20mm guns to defend with.

None of these changes really requires magic (well, making the RAF see sence might)
I can't imagine the US having much interest in the British West Indies, at least as a whole. Even the purchase of the Danish Virgin Islands was more to stifle any perceived German interest.

The US might have been more interested in snaffling up some of the German possessions in the Central Pacific, but as non-belligerents in 1914, the US could only watch while the Japanese and Commonwealth forces snapped those islands up
Great powers didn't sell colonies. Britain considered themselves a great power so couldn't sell colonies.

Consider that the Danish West Indies sold for 25 million dollars I really doubt any value would be obtained for the British West Indies that would represent a noticeable portion of the national debt.
Would the USA want to buy them? And if they did how much would they be prepared to pay?

The British National Debt was £7,500 million at 31st March 1919 and had increased to £8,300 million at 31st March 1939. (See the table in Post 31 on Page 2.)

Any money saved in servicing the National Debt between the sale of the West Indies and the POD (1st January 1935) will be used to pay off some of the remaining debt. That in turn would reduce the amount of interest that had to be paid and the money saved would be used to pay off another portion of the remaining debt. Which in turn would produce a further reduction in the amount of interest that had to be paid. And so on.

There's no way that any money saved on servicing the National Debt will be used to increase military spending before the POD. The Governments of the day didn't want to spend more on HM Forces. Neither did enough of the voters. If anything limiting military expenditure was a vote winner. The money saved might be used to increase non-military spending, which might create some badly needed jobs, but it won't be able to cut that extra non-military spending after the POD and spend it on HM Forces because it would be political suicide and (to paraphrase 1066 and All That) would be "a bad thing" in general.
While I do agree with you that large scale spending would not happen before 1935, if the Treasury was in a better position I do feel that extra small scale expenditure compared to otl would happen. A refit one year, a slightly bigger aircraft order another year a couple of extra destroyers another year.

It wouldnot be the sheer minimum of otl but it would still look very low.
Quote from Post 241 on Page 13
Force the RAF to give up the FAA, and give the navy that budget back, and allow the FAA to supply the aircraft for maritime patrol. The RAF were supposed to do this, they used much of the money to build useless bombers instead.
FWIW - the last of the above sentences isn't true. The RAF did supply the aircraft for maritime patrol as they were supposed to do and they didn't use much of the money to build bombers instead. Whether, the bombers available in September 1939 were useless or at least the best of a bad lot of aircraft that could have been put into large scale service in a short time is another matter.
  • The first-line strength of ADGB/Bomber Command grew from 316 aircraft in 28 squadrons at 31st March 1934 to 584 aircraft in 35 squadrons on 3rd September 1939, which is a 25% increase in the number of squadrons and 85% increase in the number of aircraft.
    • The strength at 3rd September 1939 included:
      • 240 Fairey Battles in 10 squadrons
      • 128 Blenheims in 8 squadrons
      • 76 Hampdens in 6 squadrons,
      • 72 Wellingtons in 6 squadrons
      • 68 Whitleys in 5 squadrons.
    • Under Scheme F approved in February 1936 the Command should have had 990 aircraft in 68 squadrons on 31st March 1939.
      • It actually had 816 aircraft in 57 squadrons at that date. The discrepancy off 174 aircraft in 11 squadrons was in part due to the transfer of 132 aircraft in 11 auxiliary squadrons to Coastal and Fighter Commands over the previous 6 months.
      • The reduction to 584 aircraft in 35 squadrons on 3rd September 1939 was due to the transfer of 2 squadrons (with 32 aircraft) to the Far East in August 1939 and the conversion of 20 squadrons (with 324 aircraft) that could not be mobilised into training units when war broke out. Without those changes, the Command's strength at 3rd September 1939 would have been 940 aircraft in 57 squadrons.
    • Under Scheme M approved in November 1938 the Command was to expand as follows:
      • at 31.03.39 - 57 squadrons with 812 aircraft - which was the same number of squadrons and the same number of aircraft at that date
      • at 31.03.40 - 70 squadrons with 1,352 aircraft
      • at 31.03.41 - 82 squadrons with 1,360 aircraft
      • at 31.03.42 - 85 squadrons with 1,360 aircraft
  • Meanwhile, Coastal Area/Coastal Command grew from 4 squadrons and 15 aircraft at 31st March 1934 to 19 squadrons and 242 aircraft at the outbreak of World War II, which is a 375% increase in the number of squadrons and 1,513% in the number of aircraft.
    • The strength at 27th August 1939 included:
      • 36 general reconnaissance flying boats in 6 squadrons with 6 aircraft each - 2 with Londons, one with Stranraers and 3 with Sunderlands.
      • 182 general reconnaissance landplanes in 11 squadrons. That is 7 regular squadrons with 18 aircraft each and 4 auxiliary squadrons with 14 aircraft each. 10 of the squadrons had Ansons and the 11th had Hudsons.
      • 24 torpedo bombers in 2 squadrons of 12, both with Vildebeests
    • Under Scheme F of approved in February 1936 the Command should have had 194 aircraft in 15 squadrons at 31st March 1939 and the actual strength at that date was 234 aircraft in 19 squadrons. That is 40 aircraft and 4 squadrons more than the establishment approved for Scheme F.
    • Under Scheme L approved in April 1938 the Command was due to have 281 aircraft in 19 squadrons on 31st March 1940. That is the number of squadrons was to be the same as September 1939 but the two torpedo bomber squadrons and seven general reconnaissance landplane squadrons were to have more aircraft per squadron.
    • There was no increase to Coastal Command proper in Scheme M approved in November 1938. However, it did include 28 general reconnaissance amphibians in 2 squadrons of 14 that would be part of the Command in peace, but in war one would be sent to Gibraltar and the other to Sierra Leone.
I'll have to do another post about the types of aircraft.
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