Sliding Down the Greasy Pole
Sliding Down the Greasy Pole

To some, the ‘Serbian Strategy’ of 1915 was a good idea, badly executed, to others, it was just a bad idea. After the Battle of Vieste, the Austro-Hungarian Fleet retreated to Pola, and the Allies had naval supremacy in the Adriatic. A mission to reinforce Serbia was possible through Montenegro, and the first Allied troops landed there in early July.
The second part of the plan was to break Austria-Hungary, firstly by capturing Sarajevo, and fermenting rebellion in Serb-majority areas of the Empire.

With the exception of coastal gunboats and the efforts of the Monitors and bombardment forces, the war at sea in the Adriatic ground to a halt. The Austrian fleet refused to sortie, and Allied attempts to destroy it met with little success, with the notable exception of E-11’s entry into Pola harbour on the night of 18th August, disguised as an Austrian U-boat. She succeeded in torpedoing the pre-dreadnought Radetzky and a freighter before withdrawing in the confusion, in an action that earned her commander the DSO.

The start of the plan to defeat Austria was a series of landings on the islands of Solta, Brac and their smaller neighbours, to cover the approaches to the port of Spalato (Split).
Despite the slow pace of the build-up, which had given the Austrians some time to prepare, the islands were taken with relative ease by British Empire forces at end of July. However, the next step required a much larger invasion, and it took nearly two weeks for a combined force to be assembled.
Landings to the north and south of Split took place on the 12th August, and met with fierce opposition from well-prepared positions. Over the next few days, despite making four assaults, the Italian troops to the south never established a workable beachhead, while the British, Australians and New Zealanders to the north made it ashore, but were held by the Austrian lines in the hills above.
A bloody stalemate followed, until further landings were made near Sibenik in early September, this time supported by heavy naval gunfire from close inshore. This assault made better progress, as raw Austrian troops from the periphery of the Empire were faced with determined ANZACs and tough French Foreign Legionnaires. The Austrian lines were pounded every day with guns from 6” up to 12”, from up to six pre-dreadnoughts at a time, besides numerous smaller craft.
All seemed to be going well for the first three days, until the morning of the 8th September, when Austrian and German submarines managed to sneak close to the landing grounds. Within the space of two confused hours, torpedoes hit two transports and the battleships Ocean, Formidable and Diderot. Ocean exploded moments after she was hit, while the other two limped towards the coast. Diderot capsized before she reached it, but Formidable was successfully beached. She was later patched and re-floated, but she sank in heavy seas while under tow to Taranto.

By October, most of the battleships had been withdrawn while shallow-draft Monitors took over in support of the troops ashore. Nevertheless, the front lines had hardened, and the situation was as deadlocked as the Western Front. Meanwhile to the East, Serbian forces were collapsing, as the modest influx of Allied troops was overwhelmed when Bulgaria declared war.

That same month the situation was equally volatile at the Admiralty in London, if rather safer than the battlefields of Serbia. Lobbying by the Admiralty, spearheaded by Admiral Fisher had finally succeeded in persuading the government that there should be a 1915 naval construction programme, to include four capital ships. However in recent months, Fisher’s brusque demands for everything from the use of convoys to extremely fast battlecruisers were starting to turn increasing numbers of people against his leadership. Although he was still much-loved and respected in the Fleet, his treatment of several senior officers and his blind insistence that ‘speed is everything’ was not doing his reputation any good.
The losses of Allied warships and the total lack of progress on land had finally soured Fisher to the ‘Serbian Strategy’. Through September, he started to tell everyone that his own idea, of landing troops in the Aegean, would have helped Serbia by allowing a direct attack on Bulgaria, while ‘removing the need for us to rely on the Italians’ so-called help’. Late in October, a proposal by Churchill to reinforce the fleet in the Adriatic and use it to force landings near Fiume and support an Italian advance along the coast resulted in one of the pivotal meetings of the war.
Unfortunately, no-one other than Churchill and Fisher were present in the room, the Admiral having marched into the First Lord’s office, ordering everyone else out as he did. A loud discussion was heard through the door for several minutes by one of Churchill’s aides, a man who would be close to him for many years to come. He later wrote, ‘Fisher entered looking like an enraged bull’, and that upon his departure, ‘it was one of the few occasions when I ever saw Winston sitting quietly, looking white as a sheet.’

The break between the First Lord and the First Sea Lord seemed irreconcilable, and both men pursued their separate goals. In November, Fisher threatened to resign over the matter of the 1915 capital ships, demanding that they be based on his preferred fast design. He had made such threats before and it had always led to him getting his way, but this time the Cabinet hesitated to give in to his demands, and on November 16th, he resigned and started to move out of the Admiralty.
Whether he wanted anyone to stop him remains unknown. As the man who had been the driving force behind the modern Navy, he had previously been too valuable to lose. For many years he had been an irascible genius, but now, he seemed merely irascible, while his increasingly erratic behaviour and inability to work with others had led to a loss of confidence in his leadership.

In the Adriatic, British and French troops would help exiled Serbs hold a line in the south, and near the sea on the borders of Montenegro and Albania, but by the end of 1915, the Central Powers had almost completely conquered Serbia.
Churchill remained at the Admiralty for a few more weeks, but Fisher’s attacks had damaged his ability to work effectively. The evacuation of troops from the islands off the Dalmatian coast in late December highlighted the total failure of his ‘Serbian Strategy’, making his position ultimately untenable.
 
Gallipoli in the Adriatic.

Where did the Austrians get the troops for this and how did it affect their efforts against the Russians?

At least those troops that were used up in the Gallipoli Peninsula are actually contributing to the main fight and forcing one of the primary Central Powers to source troops to fight them rather than what is effectively a side show against a secondary Central power ally
 

Deleted member 94680

At least those troops that were used up in the Gallipoli Peninsula are actually contributing to the main fight and forcing one of the primary Central Powers to source troops to fight them rather than what is effectively a side show against a secondary Central power ally

I’m just slightly confused as to the balance of power in this operation. Gallipoli OTL was very good Entente troops against decent, frontline Ottoman troops in an advantageous position, prepared for exactly that kind of assault for many years.
Here, ATL, we have the same (?) decent Entente troops against what, Landsturm third tier troops lacking in equipment and presumably garrison soldiers that have been stripped of a lot of their equipment due to the Austrian’s privations on the Russian front? I understand in this time period the art of the defensive is probably better than the offensive and coordinated amphibious assaults are always difficult to pull off, but it seems the Entente fails to achieve very much and gives up all too easily against what should be fairly shallow resistance. Or failing that, if the Austrians rush troops to the area and strong-arm the Entente into the sea, what aren’t they doing somewhere else just as Gorlice-Tarnów is commencing?
 
Last edited by a moderator:
The first major consequence of the Ottomans not being in the war.
The Austrians would have been forced to use reserves and second-line troops, call up classes early and strip units from the East. In the short term, they've had successes in Serbia and the addition of Bulgaria to the war, and a few raw recruits now have battle experience. On the other hand, their reserves are now smaller, and the cracks in A-H are perhaps a little wider as more men are sent to fight far from their homes.
That coastline is quite defensible, with hills inland that dug-in troops could defend - as noted in the story, the Allies didn't hurry their landings, so the Austrians had time to prepare.

For the British, it's a 'total failure'. However, it's one that - maybe - shows brighter minds what to try to avoid. Even though it didn't save Serbia, it will have taken pressure off the Russians in the south, even if only slightly.
 

Deleted member 94680

The first major consequence of the Ottomans not being in the war.
The Austrians would have been forced to use reserves and second-line troops, call up classes early and strip units from the East. In the short term, they've had successes in Serbia and the addition of Bulgaria to the war, and a few raw recruits now have battle experience. On the other hand, their reserves are now smaller, and the cracks in A-H are perhaps a little wider as more men are sent to fight far from their homes.
That coastline is quite defensible, with hills inland that dug-in troops could defend - as noted in the story, the Allies didn't hurry their landings, so the Austrians had time to prepare.

For the British, it's a 'total failure'. However, it's one that - maybe - shows brighter minds what to try to avoid. Even though it didn't save Serbia, it will have taken pressure off the Russians in the south, even if only slightly.

It’s the part in bold that concerns me.

The Austrians don’t have “reserves and second line troops” to call up - they’re already in the line on the Russian front. They can’t call up classes early, they have done that already, otherwise it’d be schoolchildren they can call on.

As to “stripping units from the East”. From where? What does that do to their contribution to Gorlice-Tarnów? G-T was the CP’s main offensive effort for 1915. The Germans can’t carry it on their own without denuding the Western Front.

Basically, this “British failure” seems to have left Russia in a much stronger position.
 
I’m just slightly confused as to the balance of power in this operation. Gallipoli OTL was very good Entente troops against decent, frontline Ottoman troops in an advantageous position, prepared for exactly that kind of assault for many years.
Here, ATL, we have the same (?) decent Entente troops against what, Landsturm third tier troops lacking in equipment and presumably garrison soldiers that have been stripped of a lot of their equipment due to the Austrian’s privations on the Russian front? I understand in this time period the art of the defensive is probably better than the offensive and coordinated amphibious assaults are always difficult to pull off, but it seems the Entente fails to achieve very much and gives up all too easily against what should be fairly shallow resistance. Or failing that, if the Austrians rush troops to the area and strong-arm the Entente into the sea, what aren’t they doing somewhere else just as Gorlice-Tarnów is commencing?

The troops used by the Ottomans were quite frankly the bottom of the barrel, they were poorly equipped, initially most not even having boots - but they were given time to organise the raising of what was effectively a new army by the very slow and staggeringly well telegraphed invasion of gallipoli by the Entente. The Terrain was perfect for the defence.

Armed boy scouts led by a handful of German officers could have held it.

As for the operation in the Balkans I am assuming that it is not an unending series of knife like ridges that can only be crossed in single file in many places - not easy terrain but not a hard as Gallipoli!

As you say we have a situation where the CP must reinforce the region with better quality troops and as you say which front are they being robbed from?

The OTL Gallipoli Campaign used up nearly half a million troops with about half KIA/WIA or MIA not to mention the additional burden on the navy to cover and supply said force.

And then there was the campaign in what is now Iraq and Palestine which in total used up several million Entente troops (including 1 million Russians) - obviously not all at the same time but we are looking at a significant contribution OTL

All of that manpower, supplies and ammo etc can be instead used either on the western front or on this new Balkans front or in the case of the Russians an additional pool of reserves while at the same time obliging the CP to retain more troops on the Western Front and the new Balkans /Italian Front

Now given the relatively poor operational art displayed early war by the expanding British army and those forces of the Commonwealth which all lacked experienced field, command, and staff officers at every level during the OTL Gallipoli and Iraq Campaign I fully expect that any campaign that these same Divisions and Corps now find themselves fighting instead ITTL will be fraught with mistakes until such a time as the enthusiastic amateurism has been beaten out of them.

However with the ability to fight over a generally more 'forgiving' terrain over a wider area (in comparison to the Gallipoli Peninsula) there will be greater opportunity for manoeuvre even if the early assaults largely failed.

It's an interesting setup the Op has presented us with.

Looks like Fisher and Winston are soon to be gone - but as Fisher pointed out in a letter to Winston after they had both resigned - they had done their real jobs - they had built and modernised the Royal Navy in time for WW1.
 
The terrain is broadly a flat coastal area with sandy beaches (interrupted by cliffs in places). The flat coastal area isn't very deep and soon gives way to a series of ridges of hills stretching some way inland.
As Cryhavoc101 says, that's not as bad as Gallipoli, but conversely it's not difficult to imagine the Austrians being a little better equipped than the Turks were to start with, and it's much easier for weapons to be sent by either Germany or Austria (e..g artillery, machine guns) than to Turkey.
I'm portraying an operation that was bodged in the same ways as Gallipoli - the invasion was too slow, supplies and reinforcements had to come over beaches without adequate preparation, and they over-estimated the effects of naval gunfire.
I'm picturing that the British/French have used up much the same resources they did at Gallipoli, but going forward, there is no need for them or the Russians to fight the Turks in other areas.

As Stenz rightly points out, the operations also cost the Austrians resources they would have used in the East - expect different things to happen there, and for those to have some effect on what is at its heart a sea story.

The tactics for these landings were poor, the logistics inadequate, and strategically, the 'Serbian Strategy' failed - it didn't knock A-H out of the war. However, that empire is now even more badly overstretched than in reality. The nagging feeling in the minds of German commanders that they are 'shackled to a corpse' will only grow stronger.

However, as far as details of Eastern front units, battles etc... is concerned, there's some old advice that's as relevant for Alternate-History naval writers as it is for Germans and Frenchmen:
Don't get dragged into a land war in Russia!:)
 
snip....

Looks like Fisher and Winston are soon to be gone - but as Fisher pointed out in a letter to Winston after they had both resigned - they had done their real jobs - they had built and modernised the Royal Navy in time for WW1.

They are both gone by the end of 1915, but they've done their jobs in their different ways. An extra 6 months of Fisher at this stage in his life would have its ups and downs of course, but on balance I'd call it positive for the slightly longer term...
 
They are both gone by the end of 1915, but they've done their jobs in their different ways. An extra 6 months of Fisher at this stage in his life would have its ups and downs of course, but on balance I'd call it positive for the slightly longer term...
So long as he builds things with both speed and armor ala the Admirals and even then the extra horsepower and longer hull it cost to go to 32 knots instead of 30 knots cost a lot of weight which could have been used for better armor
 
Yes and no. Obviously there is hindsight involved. The conservative in me would like to see minimal wartime construction. It leaves the powder dry for implementing wartime lessons. OTOH a batch of over-sized obsolescent ships throws post war options wide open. 40K ships for everybody? Will everything pre 1915 need to be scrapped? All sorts of options.
 
Admiral Fisher’s Admirals
Admiral Fisher’s Admirals

By the winter of 1915, it was clear that the war would last for some time. The Admiralty could not afford to stand still and must also give some consideration to the post-war future. Two Renown-class battlecruisers were already under construction, as well as the unusual cruisers of the Glorious class, and the largest ‘light cruiser’ ever built, HMS Furious.
The British government finally accepted the need for new capital ship construction in November 1915, but these would be designed and built in accordance with more normal routine rather than the all-out rush of the ‘Renowns’ and the large cruisers. There were no stockpiles of material available from cancelled battleships, and the DNC and the Admiralty wanted the hard-won lessons of the first year of the war to be used in the development of the design. The ships of the 1915 programme would be better planned, but less radical than Furious; a ship that would be truly incomparable for many years to come.

Since the spring, designers had been working away in expectation of a 1915 or 1916 programme. Once the design of the Furious had been finalised, the DNC's office turned to new ships that might be based on similar technology. Furious' machinery and hull form were both state-of-the-art, but the grouping of multiple sets of cruiser turbines and the large number of boilers was regarded as less than ideal, and better solutions were sought.
Nevertheless, the baseline concept was a conservative one, with large-tube boilers and ungeared turbines, in a hull derived from the ‘Lions’. Fifty boilers were needed to deliver 32 knots on a ship that had a 9” armour belt over the machinery, tapering to as little as 5” over the forward magazines.

The first ‘modern’ design, called ‘C1’, was 830’ long and 35,000 tons, with eight 15” guns, an 8" armour belt just 9' wide and a 5" upper belt. With a 102’ beam, the design had a shallow draft and underwater protection was greatly improved. There was also a major advance in the use of small tube boilers and all-new geared machinery intended specifically for capital ships. Relative to the ‘C-class’ cruiser machinery it would be heavier, but it would be tougher and would use larger, slower-turning propellers which would provide greater propulsive efficiency. As a consequence, the DNC estimated that C1 would achieve 31 knots with 120,000shp. The hull was a derivative of the Glorious, deepened as per battleship practice to allow a proper full-length lower deck. As on Furious, the main hull had a 12-degree slope to its side, meaning that the 8" belt would be at least as effective as the 9" belt on the ‘Lions’. It would also be far more extensive than on previous battlecruisers, stretching 560' from A to Y barbettes.
‘C2’ added a row of boilers, and the ship was stretched to 860'. Power output was increased to 140,000shp, and improvements in hull form would give 32 knots, the lowest speed that Fisher was prepared to accept.

However, the DNC wanted more armour, pointing out that no part of C1 or C2 was protected against the 14" or 15" shells now being used on almost all foreign designs.
His 830’ C3 therefore bore similarities with pre-war ‘fast battleship’ designs. It was a step away from the pure battlecruiser concept and showed the first hints of a British version of the ‘all or nothing’ protection that had been adopted by the US Navy. C3 had a uniform 10" belt that would be 16' deep. Deck armour was to be relatively thick (for the time), a cumulative total of up to 3" on the flat over magazines, split between upper and lower decks. However, this protection came at a price, as load displacement would be 40,000 tons (normal), speed would fall to about 29½ knots and the perceived advantage of shallow draft was gone.

In the summer, Fisher subtly changed his tactics. Speed was still important, but so was fire – both firepower and fire prevention. The exact cause of the magazine fire on Inflexible remained unknown, but Fisher was in the camp that believed the fire might have spread to the magazine from the turret or its trunk. This view had widespread support among senior officers, partly because it suggested that the loss was down to human error in fire or flash prevention, and not anything fundamentally wrong with the ships. In addition, turrets had been knocked out in several other recent actions, and so suggestions that they should be better protected were popular. The early dreadnoughts had five turrets, but four was now the norm, and so Fisher and others reasoned that it was now more important to preserve each set of guns.

The long-range action at Dogger Bank emphasised the need to fire and hit at what were unthinkable distances just a few years ago. The 20-degree elevation on the 15" Mk.1 mounts allowed a range of about 24,000 yards, but new designs of turret were prepared to provide 30-degree elevation. The new turrets also addressed the disadvantages of the open sighting hoods fitted to earlier British turrets. These holes on the front roof of the turret allowed blast effects to enter the gunhouses, meaning that the upper of a pair of super-firing turrets could not fire with about 30 degrees of centre without risking concussion to the crew in the turret below. The new design would replace these with sights fitted into periscopes on the rear sides, and there would also be room for new longer-baseline rangefinders built into the upper rear area of the turret, rather than protruding above the roof, as in previous designs.

Within the fleet, Jellicoe preferred 18" guns for future ships, but only if at least eight of them could be carried, and he repeated his comment (probably at Fisher’s request) that 30-knot ships would be more useful to him than slower battleships.
In an attempt at a compromise, a concept for a fast battleship evolved; a ship of 760' length, with a 12" lower belt, 8" upper belt and relatively heavy decks; a 1.25" upper deck over the upper belt and a 2.5" main deck (over magazines and engines) near the top of the main belt, with 3" slopes leading down to the base of the belt. Armament would be eight 18" guns, with sixteen 6" as secondaries. The new style of boilers and turbines would permit 72,000shp from just 12 boilers, all trunked into a single funnel, which would make inclination more difficult for an enemy to measure while in action. At a normal load of 38,400 tons, speed would be 26.5 knots, with 25.5 knots achievable at a full load of 43,200 tons. A variation of the design with twelve 15" guns in triple turrets was a few feet longer and about 500 tons heavier, although speed remained the same.
A third version, with just eight boilers and capable of 23-24 knots, was 40’ shorter and had the 6” battery stacked over two decks, permitting it to be somewhat better armoured.

Although the DNC and the Treasury liked the designs, Fisher soon killed them off, pointing out that ‘a ship that cannot be completed before 1919 is of little use in the present circumstances’; he knew that it would be four years before sufficient numbers of 18” guns could be available.
He also thought that while the ships were powerful, they were too slow to catch the enemy. Here, he had an ally in Admiral Jellicoe, who had privately expressed disappointment at the service speed of the new ‘Queen Elizabeths’. As a 25-knot ‘fast squadron’, they would have been ideal to prevent fast enemy units from working around the van of the Grand Fleet. However, the ships were proving to be capable of little more than 23½ knots in service (and therefore probably only about 23 once they sailed together as a squadron), which the C-in-C regarded as too small a margin of speed over the rest of the fleet to fulfil this purpose.
Almost simultaneously (perhaps rather suspiciously so) there was a scare at the Admiralty that the Hindenburg was armed with 14” guns, while the upcoming ‘Mackensen’ class battlecruisers would be armed with six 15” guns and would be capable of 30 knots. Worse was the news that at least four such ships were under construction, with Mackensen expected to complete in early 1917 and the others in the spring of 1918.
The ‘Renowns’ would be available to counter the first ships (although by the Autumn of 1915, Beatty, Jellicoe and others were already expressing reservations about their armour), but without new construction, the Battlecruiser Fleet faced being outclassed.

The last design of the Fisher era, simply noted as ‘Design 4’ in the DNC’s diaries, was a further development of C2. Length was increased to 874’, allowing longer boilers to provide a power output of 150,000shp (with the Engineer in Chief promising a 160,000shp ‘planned overload’ rating). Displacement would be 37,000 tons and speed would be 32½ knots, with 33½ hoped for on overload. The belt was the same 8”/5” combination, but the new turrets would be as well protected as on a battleship, with 13” faces and 4” roofs.

However, Admiral Fisher’s departure from the Admiralty in November 1915 meant that the obsession with speed could become a little more balanced by other factors, and ‘Design 4’ would not be the last in the series.
 
Crossing the Pond
Crossing the Pond

The view from Washington at the end of 1915 was a confused one. The European war had threatened to spill over into US domestic affairs as the German’s policy of unrestricted submarine warfare resulted in the loss of American lives. The Ambassador had been instructed to make protests in Berlin, and President Wilson was gaining praise for his firm handling of the matter; he hadn’t heeded the calls of the hot-heads who wanted America to declare war, but nor had he shrunk from protecting American interests.

What had become clearer since the start of the war was that America needed to be able to control her own trade. First, the British had cut off virtually all access to Germany with their blockade, and then the Germans had destroyed American ships and lives with their indiscriminate submarine warfare. American trade was being permitted only at the pleasure of other nations, and that did not befit a nation whose manifest destiny was to be the greatest power in the world. To secure her trade against all possible threats, America needed a powerful fleet, and there were proposals to pass legislation to bring this about.

Fleets that might be built in five years’ time were of no immediate help, but at the end of August, following massive diplomatic pressure, the Germans restricted their submarines to traditional cruiser rules. A few weeks later, they were withdrawn from the Western Approaches altogether, following complaints from commanders that it was impossible for them to operate in any meaningful way.

One of the reasons for this was a decision made by ‘the most hated man in Germany’, Admiral Fisher, who persuaded, over-rode and bullied his colleagues and the government into agreeing to what they regarded as a revolutionary policy: Convoying.
The idea of convoys dated back centuries, but most modern commanders assumed they were impractical in the age of steam and free trade, when merchant ships worked on tight schedules, bound for hundreds of destinations. Fisher, however, was sure that convoys were not only practical but necessary, and as the First Sea Lord, he could make sure they happened.
The first convoy was a small affair on the East coast of England in May 1915; it was no-where near the Atlantic U-boats, but it helped to prove the concept. By August, ‘merchant groups’ were sailing from most major West coast ports, usually escorted by an armed trawler or a merchant cruiser until they were a couple of hundred miles off the coast of Ireland.
Within weeks the argument that such groups of ships merely presented the U-boats with convenient targets was shown to be false, as ships sailing independently continued to be sunk by gunfire, while ships in groups were never targeted by surfaced U-boats. Torpedo attacks still occurred, but the impression at the Admiralty was that there were fewer of them.
For the German commanders, convoys presented grave difficulties, as they gave fewer opportunities to attack. A U-boat couldn’t risk surfacing to attack a convoy if it was escorted, while staying submerged limited their manoeuvrability, often allowing the convoy to pass. With luck, or careful positioning, torpedo attacks could still be made, but that soon exposed another problem. Even though less than half of all ships in the Western Approaches were sailing in convoys, by the middle of July demand for these largely hand-made weapons was greatly outstripping supply.

In August there was a slight decline in sinkings. In Britain this was attributed to the success of convoys, and Admiral Fisher wasn’t slow to take the credit. However, there were also a smaller number of submarines being on patrol, as they were held back by slow delivery of torpedoes, or an increasing number of mechanical defects after months of heavy use. The Admiral Staff in Berlin were forced to conclude that the campaign could not be continued at the present rate.

In Washington, the government was becoming increasingly alarmed. Sinkings which led to the death of American citizens led to strong protests to Berlin and suggestions that diplomatic ties should be severed, or even that war should be declared. At the top of government, there was no appetite for war, but the situation did re-enforce the message that America needed the ability to control her own trade on the high seas.
Following the torpedoing of another liner and the deaths of more Americans on the 19th August, further protests were made, and the German government re-imposed cruiser rules on their submarine commanders later that month.

Another British scheme made the U-boats’ position even more difficult, as they had begun a large-scale programme to arm merchant ships themselves. This was still in its early stages, but on 9th September, the lone steamer S.S. Railton surprised U-28 by turning away and opening fire with a 12-pdr gun when the U-boat approached and signalled for her surrender. Both ship and submarine escaped unharmed, but when U-28 returned to base, her report that the British were arming their merchant ships triggered the abandonment of the campaign. German submarine efforts paused for breath, and were then redirected against British warships and isolated shipping areas to the north.

Meanwhile, back-channel discussions between Britain and America gave the Americans their first view of the capabilities of a fast wing for the fleet, and the US Navy began to agitate for a series of ‘scout cruisers’, or ‘battle scout’ ships to provide an equivalent capability.
That summer, the US Navy’s 1915 Fleet Problem exercises highlighted the difficulties they would have when faced with fast, powerful enemy scouting forces, while it was shown that the fleet had a limited ability to scout for itself. Blue Force, a fleet of eleven 18-knot and 21-knot battleships and their escorting destroyers, were tasked with defending the East Coast against attacks by Red Force. The attackers were assumed to have four fast battlecruisers and four 21-knot battleships, whose roles were played by modern dreadnoughts and the newest armoured cruisers.
None of Red Force’s cruisers could exceed 24 knots, but even so the advantage of speed and scouting power became clear as the exercise progressed.
Without adequate scouting forces, Blue Force had to be deployed over an extended area, giving the numerically inferior units of Red Force the chance to destroy isolated parts of the defenders’ fleet. With Red Force’s speed and superior scouting ability, they were also able to avoid battle in unfavourable conditions.

Strategic studies based on the results of the manoeuvres would be used to support arguments in favour of a strong scout force for the US Navy, including the battlecruisers that seemed to have been of greatest use thus far in the European war. Further support for these ships came when it appeared that German thinking mirrored the British. American diplomats and less-official sources confirmed that six new battlecruisers had been ordered under the German War Programme, while in the Pacific, Japan now possessed four of this type of ship.
The US Navy’s Design Bureau would go on to complete a series of 28 ‘Scout Cruiser’ and ‘Battle-Cruiser’ studies, which ranged from ships with 6” guns and of no more than 6,000 tons, up to 16" gunned vessels of more than 1,000' length, likely to displace nearly 60,000 tons when fully loaded. By the end of the year, leading contenders for the ‘Scout Cruiser’ included a ship armed with ten 6" guns and a 4" armour belt. She would be 650' long and capable of 33 knots at a normal displacement of 10,000 tons. At the other end of the scale was a 35-knot ‘Battle Scout’, a ship with four 14” guns and 6" armour, on a displacement of 27,000 tons.
Designs for more traditional battlecruisers were also underway over the summer, and a ship with eight 14" guns, 5" side armour and capable of 33-35 knots was suggested, with a normal displacement of 32,000 tons.

1916 would be an election year, and even though a majority of Americans still wanted to remain neutral in what they saw as an Old World war, an increasing number could see that meekly accepting foreign blockades or murderous submarine raids did not befit such a great nation as the USA.
 

SsgtC

Banned
Designs for more traditional battlecruisers were also underway over the summer, and a ship with eight 14" guns, 5" side armour and capable of 33-35 knots was suggested, with a normal displacement of 32,000 tons
By 1915/16, the USN would not be even remotely interested in a ship with twin 14" turrets. The Navy was pushing hard for 16" and only Josephus Daniels (the Secretary of the Navy, may he rot in hell) stopped their adoption. If the Navy was going to use 14" on a ship, they'd be mounted in triple turrets.
 
By 1915/16, the USN would not be even remotely interested in a ship with twin 14" turrets. The Navy was pushing hard for 16" and only Josephus Daniels (the Secretary of the Navy, may he rot in hell) stopped their adoption. If the Navy was going to use 14" on a ship, they'd be mounted in triple turrets.
Heck the USN had been pushing for 16" gun armed battleships since the Pennsylvania class
 
And the really sad thing is, the guns would have been ready for them. But Daniels, who had no business running the Navy, was petrified by risk and change.
Man that would have made for a massively different Washington Naval Treaty. As for Daniels the only good thing he ever did for the USN was to push for a higher educational standard at Annapolis which did help the USN at fair bit in WW2.
 
Top