British Rearmament Before World War 2

I dont think that really shows that the British economy was in any trouble, more that various governments placed priority in getting rid foreign debt over military expenditures in a time when they felt war was unlikely. Britain had an image to protect, an image that did not mesh well with major debt.

Finally a fellow KGV fan.

I agree more sloops should have been built and I have never understood the reasons why they did not do so.

All good points. I often think it would have been for the best if RAF leadership took a ride on an experimental bomber and met a fiery end.

To be fair Britain was not a land power so I can partially understand the rationale behind keeping a small army. Given what they had I think the generals did quite well. Just could have had better equipment when it came to tanks and AT weaponry, plans for mass production of said equipment, and some plans for mass conscription and rapid army expansion.
The main issue with British Industry was underinvestment. The UK was ramped up significantly during WW1 but either used existing equipment and techniques or bought machine tools from the US all of which were getting very long in the tooth by WW2, the UK had no incentive to modernise production techniques as they had a massive captive market in the Empire. They also weren't too keen to encourage the Dominions to produce hardware seeing them as a source of raw materials and markets for finished goods.

The Australians continued to produce the SMLE even when the superior and more easily produced No. 4 rifle was available partly because Britain wanted too much for the production tooling and machine tools to make the new rifles (this was not a new issue, when the SMLE was first made in Australia before WW1 they bought the production tooling from Westinghouse as even with tariffs it was 40% cheaper than the British tooling), the Australians also made the Owen SMG as they felt the STEN was was too expensive for what it was and again the UK was charging like a wounded Rhino for the tooling/production drawings.
 
One thing I've suggested before is shipping obsolete textile machinery to India where entrepreneurs can attempt to take advantage of low wages that no longer quiet existed in Britain.

This would have two advantages.
1. An improved Indian economy with industrial jobs (bad ones but better than unemployment)
2. During and after ww1 Japan became a major competitor in the textile industry and it was their main export. Cut their success in textiles and they won't be in a position to fight wars in the 30s and 40s.
That obsolete textile machinery was still being used as late as the 1960's-early 70's. Another example of massive underinvestment in British industry. The Empire was there to produce raw materials for industries in Britain and markets for British goods.
 
but the Erie would have been a better deterrent against potential surface raiders than what the RN used up using for escorts.
a couple Eries frees up the crews and ships that were otherwise manning the old battleships for other roles
Think the RN should just start off building River Class frigates in 1935 rather than Flowers in 1939, surface raiders you need something bigger than can be made from small slips. The Erie is no better than a merchant cruiser if a PB or BB turns up in any case.
 
Aircraft production and numbers are locked into peace agreements.

Numbers needed to be kept in line with France and other.

However IMHO, maritime aircraft should be under a separate tally. The RN needed to be smarter and get the RAF to offload carrier air, so the Air Ministry could maximise RAF, and get the RN out of their hair.

The flow on is an earlier FAA. The multi factorial issues could be reduced. Even allowing for the jump from bi-planes, FAA would be allowed to practice Coastal raiding and operating against shore aircraft.

The RN would still need armoured carriers, but reduce side armour and spend more on air defence. A folding wing Hurricane, had being proposed and would allow a point fighter for carriers. FAA would then only need a heavy fighter/ diver and a very robust torp/ bomber.
There was still some doubt that a single naval seat fighter was doable as they saw there would be a need for a navigator to find the carrier again. The USN had worked out how to do this and had various radio and other navigational aids to help, the RN would need to agree that these were practicable and effective first before going for a navilised Sea Hurricane.
 
For the UK I never understood why they didn't use that option for more "colonial" policing operations pre-war, even leaving out their usefulness in a major war.
There were no real colonial policing operations pre-war. That is why the RN maintained forces and bases all over the world. When there were issues they tended to be largely land based in places like North East frontier which were managed by the RAF and the Indian Army and were mostly to deter banditry or inter-tribal warfare.

A C class cruiser or a destroyer division is more than capable of dealing with any naval threat other than someone like the IJN or Regia Marina and there were more significant forces based to deal with those.
 
That obsolete textile machinery was still being used as late as the 1960's-early 70's. Another example of massive underinvestment in British industry. The Empire was there to produce raw materials for industries in Britain and markets for British goods.
It would take some foresight or someone who is very savvy when it comes to industry and economics to look at modernizing and investing in British industry. A lot of sectors were during and post WW2 but many others like you said with textile's were still obsolete and underinvested in.

Though saying it and doing it is not going to be an easy thing.
 
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Indeed. The degree of foresight involved in a lot of British Improvement scenarios varies from the 'extremely fortuitous' to the downright unlikely 'rolling of 20s many times in a row'.

What I'd like to see is a creation where the exact right choices are not taken in every case, but there is still a reasonable and realistic effort at demonstrating improvement across the board. As mentioned upthread, there have been British Tank timelines, RAF timelines and RN carrier timelines, but not a British Generalist timeline. I suppose that the more specific can be more interesting and render more tangible results. There was one from about 17 years ago or so by the estimable Bernard Woolley/Jan Niemcyzk in a parallel universe to that of his excellent 'The Further Adventures of HMS Hood', but it has long disappeared from the web to my knowledge.

RN
Regarding the particular 1935 kickoff here, it is too late to do too much for the general shape of RN rearmament due to the 1930 LNT and the long lead in times for big changes in naval armament. There is good data on this in British Seapower and Procurement Between the Wars: A Reappraisal of Rearmament by G.A.H. Gordon and I recall it was the first place I found reference to the facility restraints of armour manufacturing plants and gunpits on the amount of armour plate and 16" guns + mounts that could be produced.

A bit of tinkering can be done, particularly in lighter ships from 1935 and they pay off in spades in 1940 and beyond. You can also hand the FAA back to Admiralty control sooner and reap the benefits. One thing that does leap out is the 1938 lack of destroyer construction.

RAF
It is also too late to really change around the 'start of war' aircraft set too much in their design, but you can sure improve their numbers. From a 1935 start, the 1940/41 aircraft can be improved and production greatly increased in efficiency with incremental, realistic changes.

Army
1935 is early enough to get a decent tank in place by 1939/40, but not an absolute world beater in overwhelming numbers. Tanks tend to absorb most of the love for British Army Improvement Timelines in preference to infantry and artillery. It is also quite possible to increase numbers and readiness in the aforementioned, realistic steps, but that hasn't really been done.

There has been something of a dearth of:
- A larger British Army and/or improved artillery and infantry weapons that doesn't trade off tank improvements
- A generalist RN rearmament that does not have a hindsight empowered anti-battleship bent; it would be interesting to see the Royal Marines get their day in the sun as well
- RAF rearmament that doesn't eschew the historical bent towards Bomber Command
 
There was still some doubt that a single naval seat fighter was doable as they saw there would be a need for a navigator to find the carrier again. The USN had worked out how to do this and had various radio and other navigational aids to help, the RN would need to agree that these were practicable and effective first before going for a navilised Sea Hurricane.
That's not entirely true, part of the problem was that the Fleet Air Arm was an RAF formation so the pilots were RAF pilots. The navigators on the other hand were RN crew so their was a desire to keep them so that the RN had some input. Also their was a major shift towards night based operations in the RN in the interwar period, that made the navigator more valuable.

Then the planes themselves, the Fulmar for instance is classed as a fighter but it was intended that it would spend more time as a reconnaissance aircraft. That combined with it's, admittedly limited, dive bombing capability made it more of a multi role aircraft than a fighter. AS for not having a single seat fighter they did, the sea gladiator. The thing is that was only a stop gap and I have seen mention of some potential replacements being looked at in 39 but they were very early and war intervened. Also the information about them is rather lacking.
 
That obsolete textile machinery was still being used as late as the 1960's-early 70's. Another example of massive underinvestment in British industry. The Empire was there to produce raw materials for industries in Britain and markets for British goods.
And Then the machines were sold to Indian firms. After the British industry collapsed.

In 1991 I visited India for work with a senior colleague. On a tour of a textile mill he looked closely at the weaving looms and remarked that his mother and grandmother had used the same type.
 
Indeed. The degree of foresight involved in a lot of British Improvement scenarios varies from the 'extremely fortuitous' to the downright unlikely 'rolling of 20s many times in a row'.

What I'd like to see is a creation where the exact right choices are not taken in every case, but there is still a reasonable and realistic effort at demonstrating improvement across the board. As mentioned upthread, there have been British Tank timelines, RAF timelines and RN carrier timelines, but not a British Generalist timeline. I suppose that the more specific can be more interesting and render more tangible results. There was one from about 17 years ago or so by the estimable Bernard Woolley/Jan Niemcyzk in a parallel universe to that of his excellent 'The Further Adventures of HMS Hood', but it has long disappeared from the web to my knowledge.

RN
Regarding the particular 1935 kickoff here, it is too late to do too much for the general shape of RN rearmament due to the 1930 LNT and the long lead in times for big changes in naval armament. There is good data on this in British Seapower and Procurement Between the Wars: A Reappraisal of Rearmament by G.A.H. Gordon and I recall it was the first place I found reference to the facility restraints of armour manufacturing plants and gunpits on the amount of armour plate and 16" guns + mounts that could be produced.

A bit of tinkering can be done, particularly in lighter ships from 1935 and they pay off in spades in 1940 and beyond. You can also hand the FAA back to Admiralty control sooner and reap the benefits. One thing that does leap out is the 1938 lack of destroyer construction.

I've been playing with this idea in my head about a standardized British DD design based on the I-class ships --- 1500 tons, 4 120mm guns, 8 to 10 torpedo tubes, 2x4 pom poms, 6 to 8 .50 caliber single AA MG (to be replaced with Polsen or Oeriklion 20mm in the future) welded hulls, unit machinery. Be willing to get a top speed of 34 knots instead of 36 knots. The ship will be a few feeet wider and perhaps a foot deeper in draft.

The big differences are the combination of hull welding and an extra ~130 long tons of displacement allows for a more comfortable ship that has a lot more endurance in all aspects (magazine, fuel, crew attention etc) plus having the mass and volume to take on upgrades.

Keep on building these ships in addition to TRIBALS. Make only major upgrades (4.5inch DP guns etc ) instead of minor ones to assembly line the production as much as possible.
 
A mid 30s departure is much too late, whats needed is better technical schooling from the mid 20s onwards in all areas of design and installation, so the UK has enough qualified draughtsmen to design what's needed and sufficient trained electricians to install the equipment needed no more finished destroyers sitting idle waiting for directors to be built and radar to be fitted due to lack of skilled labor.

Instead of massive naval construction spending in the late 20s forcing through tax breaks for companies updating equipment and plant, stopping the cycle of old plant being run into the ground (Jaguar XK6 tooling being a case in point, 37 years in production and the later engines were not as reliable due to poor tolerances from worn out tooling) would be of greater benefit.

The RN were pretty forward looking for the time, the design work for sloops is already in place by the early 30s, they understand the need for newer bigger destroyers and AA cruisers and the requirement for more carriers, the work had been done but the facilities and financial clout to build and design the number of ships needed was not available.

RN
Regarding the particular 1935 kickoff here, it is too late to do too much for the general shape of RN rearmament due to the 1930 LNT and the long lead in times for big changes in naval armament. There is good data on this in British Seapower and Procurement Between the Wars: A Reappraisal of Rearmament by G.A.H. Gordon and I recall it was the first place I found reference to the facility restraints of armour manufacturing plants and gunpits on the amount of armour plate and 16" guns + mounts that could be produced.

A bit of tinkering can be done, particularly in lighter ships from 1935 and they pay off in spades in 1940 and beyond. You can also hand the FAA back to Admiralty control sooner and reap the benefits. One thing that does leap out is the 1938 lack of destroyer construction.

Mr Darkshade lists an excellent book that unfortunately is quite hard to get hold of, the Admiralty spent quite a lot of money keeping armour mills and gunpits open during the battleship building holiday, as much in an effort to make sure that the institutional knowledge of the workforce wasn't allowed to be forgotten, even with this investment the industry was not able to scale up to the levels it was at before once guns and armour plate was needed, maybe having a bigger pool of skilled trained men would allow the increase in production.

Maybe loosen government purse strings to allow more rebuilds of the late 20s early 30s battleships would stand the RN and it's associated industries in good stead for the early 30s boom in spending. Having all of the 15" ships with 30° turrets with the latest in fire controls, new deck armour and new boilers with geared turbines will mean that heavy naval industry is better able to meet the new needs of the country when rearmament is required.

Anyone who thinks that a 1930s navy will be scrapping Battleships and Cruisers needs to be left in a ship the north sea on a dark cloudy night with no radar or radio to fully understand how easy it would be for a carrier group to be destroyed by a surface group before radar is fully functional. Please bear in mind the RN kept 6" cruisers in service to protect their carriers untill the early 60s, and it was only at the point where the Buccaneer was in service were the RN happy to send the last of the Gunships to the scrappers.
 
so, i'm looking at aircraft armaments, and some idea's i've come up with are:
ideapro'scon's
convert the Vickers .50 cal into an air cooled gun,everything important is already in production. trim down the mass and you have a decent hmg that you can mount in air craftpossibly obsolescent before development even begins
not sure if production can keep up with demand
convert the .50 Browning AN/M2 to .50 Vickerstakes advantage of current ammo production. raf is already switching to .303 browning's so the idea might gain acceptance
possibility to purchase additional units from us
requires new production lines for the guns.
might be better to just bight the bullet and use .50 bmg (that has it's own set of pros and cons)
develop an air craft variant of the 15 mm Besa machineguncan be (and was) used on the groundrequires new production lines for the guns and ammo
not sure if production can keep up with demand
heaviest option on this list
one more type of ammo to keep track of
use the F.N. Calibre 13,2 mm machinegunraf is already switching to .303 browning's so the idea might gain acceptance
possibility to purchase additional units from us
requires new production lines for the gun's and ammo
one more type of ammo to keep track of
50 Browning AN/M2 in .50 bmgraf is already switching to .303 browning's so the idea might gain acceptance
in full (if limited) production at start of war
ability to purchase additional units from us
requires new production lines for the gun's and ammo
one more type of ammo to keep track of
 
The Erie is no better than a merchant cruiser if a PB or BB turns up in any case.
Except built to warship standards, and 4" armor over vitals.
Will that stop Bismarck? Nope, but will still take time to deal with that Erie escort, gives time for the rest of the convoy to scatter, and real BB or carrier Aircraft to do their job. And not even Bismarck can ignore 6" guns, and that's real perilous for any other German surface unit, too
2nd, aircraft. Three carried. Great for spotting and searching.
Two could be floatplane, and one a fighter, for once Condors show. Yeah, pilot will have to ditch, but that didn't stop the CAM ships from happening, did it?
 
Except built to warship standards, and 4" armor over vitals.
Will that stop Bismarck? Nope, but will still take time to deal with that Erie escort, gives time for the rest of the convoy to scatter, and real BB or carrier Aircraft to do their job. And not even Bismarck can ignore 6" guns, and that's real perilous for any other German surface unit, too
2nd, aircraft. Three carried. Great for spotting and searching.
Two could be floatplane, and one a fighter, for once Condors show. Yeah, pilot will have to ditch, but that didn't stop the CAM ships from happening, did it?
4" is worse than nothing as it simply arms the 8"-15" AP shells incoming, it will buy as much time as a flower class could ie a smoke screen until it get killed?

4x6" single hand worked guns simply will not hit at warship combat ranges due to lack of ability to fire effective salvoes to range at long ranges on any moving target? It's optimized for bombarding some small banana republic island, not fighting a warship?

You could put the aircraft on a merchant or even better a deck and the aircraft MAC style?
 
Except built to warship standards, and 4" armor over vitals.
Will that stop Bismarck? Nope, but will still take time to deal with that Erie escort, gives time for the rest of the convoy to scatter, and real BB or carrier Aircraft to do their job. And not even Bismarck can ignore 6" guns, and that's real perilous for any other German surface unit, too
2nd, aircraft. Three carried. Great for spotting and searching.
Two could be floatplane, and one a fighter, for once Condors show. Yeah, pilot will have to ditch, but that didn't stop the CAM ships from happening, did it?
The delay would be no greater than the Jervis Bay ( which had 7 6" guns ) managed , 4" of armour vs 11" guns is pointless, its penetrated at any range. As for the planes, the CAM ships did not have standard catapults , they were special rocket powered ones to get the launch speed.
 
Why when 20 mm Hispano or Oerlikon are available if you have any money to spend?
I do like the heavy machine gun in the 1937-1940 time period.

I feel that 20 mm cannons was a little heavy yet and the rate of fire of the heavy machine gun would tempt me during this time when the hmg is sufficient against the majority of targets.

I do understand why the British skipped the heavy machine gun historically (we are going for cannon let's not switch twice).

I wouldn't like 20 mm cannons in 1937/1938. Right gun for the right time. It is fair to say that the right time for heavy machine gun might have been short enough that it was right to skip that step.
 
As for the planes, the CAM ships did not have standard catapults , they were special rocket powered ones to get the launch speed.
Is that not just more to be cheap & fast to build, and not use very limited catapults? Even just stockpiling catapults for the AMCs expected would have been a good idea?
 
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