France defeats Britain 1910s (creating this dreamt world)

CREATING A WORLD

My dream had a world by 1930 where Britain had been defeated by France in a world war in the 1910s, with London firebombed and new slums built, intended to be quality housing for those who had lost theirs, but with no ongoing money or support.

I'm looking for ways to create the world I want here, where the end is that Second Empire France, allied to Spain and Italy, defeats Great Britain in the early 1910s, with its airships and aircraft devastating London.


I'm going as POD for no Ems Telegram (give Bismarck flu or a bad stomach or something) so that the 1870 crisis fizzles out. No Franco-Prussian War, but the German candidacy for the Spanish throne has been withdrawn. As per OTL, the Italian candidacy goes ahead, and is here supported by large scale French intervention, stabilising a neighbour always being a useful excuse. We can see another Spanish civil war, if we like, with the Alphonsists perhaps receiving aid from Britain, but Amadeo wins and unites Spain. Quite possibly during this period we might see the Cuban revolution take a different course, with the USA or Britain intervening, maybe in Alphonso's name, but after Amedeo has won, Cuba is not returned to Spain.

I'm thinking that France takes a stronger role in Egypt, and that we can see the Egyptian Crisis and the Russo-Turkish War occur at the same time here, with France and Russia backing each other. A virtual French protectorate over Egypt and a large Russian-client Bulgaria result, with Britain feeling snubbed by the outcome.

Balkan conflicts are inevitable now the Ottomans cannot get to the Western lands, whilst Italy and France look to Libya and Tunis, taking advantage of this secondary conflict to expand their domains, in agreement with each other. I would see Austria-Hungary in Bosnia-Herceogovina, and the Sanjak of Novi-Pazar, whilst the Greeks, Albanians, Montenegrins and Serbs scramble for the rest.

I'm thinking that whilst France certainly goes for Southern Vietnam, its ambitions further North are delayed, and Britain probably ends with a protectorate over Siam due to French forces and attention being focused in Spain and the Mediterranean.

Whilst the Ottomans will eventually lose the Balkans, other than Eastern Thrace, and North Africa, they keep Cyprus, Crete and the Dodecanese, and also the fact that during the period of their greatest reform they are not failing and collapsing may well allow them to strengthen their hold and modernise their country, over what is left - i.e. Anatolia, Crete, Cyprus, Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestina, Transjordania and the Hejaz.

France coming back to Indo-China later perhaps makes Cambodia and Vientiane (Laos) the border states between British and French influence, these kingdoms keeping their independence as barriers between the two blocks.

The death of Wilhelm I sees Frederick ascend as King of Prussia, and at the same time the N. German Confederacy is proclaimed as the federal North German Empire. The Southern German states have stabilised between the competing influences of Berlin, Vienna, and Paris; after all they were long-term independent and it was but a fleeting moment that this looked like it was not going to obtain long term.

I think it would make most sense for the showdown between France and Vietnam to come in the 1890s. Ironically this may well make China strronger and more stable before the war comes about, and thus the war longer and more difficult for France. The effect of this could be to make France less active in the later 1890s, thus perhaps seeing Britain expand from Nigeria over Niger, as France is not pushing there. France will of course be pushing towards Central Africa, and end up in control of the Soudan and thus Fashoda. Of course, France is therefore going to have to deal with the Mahdi or his equivalent.

The knock-on effect for Japan could be significant. Whilst Japan could move against a China weakened by their eventual defeat in the early/mid 1890s war against France, it might also find itself constrained by other powers all now rushing to get involved - Russia, USA, Britain, NGE, Austria, Italy etc.

I think we are also not getting a Belgian Congo. Bismarck is no real power broker by the later years. Also, the NGE whilst taking over some of Germany's ambitions of OTL, is not in as secure a place to push them all. Britain could well take over Tanganyika, rooting out the slave traders as an excuse, and advancing into the Eastern Congo. Zanzibar perhaps falls to the North Germans later. Similarly, in South West Africa, competing North German and British interests could see a split, with Britain taking lands up to Walvis Bay, and the North Germans the Northern lands?

With Britain pushing into these additional lands, it's quite possible Portugal gets its "rose coloured strip", occupying OTL the Rhodesias, whilst Britain from Tanganyika moves over Katanga. I can't really see these lands staying independent in any way.

If we assume we ended up with an American Cuba, then the USA has no cassus belli with Spain, and Spain keeps the Philippines and Northern Pacific islands.

The other thing I wanted to develop for this is the French development of airships, both from people like Santos-Dumont, but also from joint ventures with Wurttemburg's Count Zeppelin, as well as the early strong development of aircraft. Add in French world-leading submarines from the 1890s, and the Second Empire keeping a strong battleship force and when the war with Britain occurs in the 1910s, they are in a position to do what my dream had had them do.
 
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The Dream Itself (Novelised)
London, November 1930

The bus barely stopped at the halt, the driver nervous perhaps as to the presence of a gang of youths in the shadows. I hopped off the rear platform, and wrapped my raincoat around myself, more against the wind than the few drifting droplets in the afternoon skies. The youths watched me sullenly, but the coat, and my gait, marked me out as something more, something other, and they did not move from their places of semi-concealment.

The New Tenements, as the 1919 Act had called them, spread out in front of me, variously described as a stain or a scar upon the map of modern London. Built in the immediate post-war years of hope, and dreams of recovery, the money had soon run out, and now they were dirty, stained on the outside with soot, and on the inside with despair.

The French bombing raids of the Great War had reduced whole swathes of the city to ruins, first in the airship raids of the early years, then in the multi-winged bomber raids that marked the end of the conflict. With our trade suppressed by the cruisers and submarines of the Empire, and its Spanish and Italian allies, Britain had had no alternative but to throw in the towel, and accept the ever worsening peace offers out of Paris. Hopes that the Germans would save us had been dashed, time and again during those years, by the rivalries, the jealousies, and in the end the fear of the Russians that the Kaiser of the North German Empire had in his heart. Our appeal to the New World had met deaf ears, for was not France America's oldest friend? And we had gone down - fighting, but gone down.

These vast buildings, three storeys high, stretching whole streets, whole neighbourhoods, had been lauded by some as the symbol of Britain's revival, its resurrection from defeat. But looking now at the pitted stonework as I climbed one of the access stairways, it simply symbolised where we were in the world today - a depressed, and degraded power, fighting it out with the remnants of empire whilst Paris glittered and shone under Napoleon, fourth of that name.

The corridor was open to the world through various unglassed windows running along one side. Facing it were the doorways into the flats, many of them open as the ventilation in these places had proven notoriously bad. As I passed, I moved among women doing the laundry, children playing, and men standing around, smoking, talking, wondering where their next employment might come from.

As I came to a thirty degree turn, I slowed. I had the cosh in one pocket, my wallet with my identification in the other, but hoped not to need to reveal either. My target was ahead, three doors on the left, round this corner. A Russian, he was rumoured to be a spy, though which Russian was not? My agency, or Agency as it were, had insisted I make a close inspection of the location. It was all very well to say that the New Tenements were all alike, but if we decided to lift him we would need to know more precise details of the target's immediate surroundings.

A young girl was hopping in some straw, having laid it out in the fashion of squares upon the floor of the corridor. I made to move past without comment, but she jumped in front of me and looked up with dark eyes. I don't know what she saw, but she somehow guessed at my mission,
"The Ruskie has a woman with him" she said.
"A woman?" I asked; this was not in the briefing. He was said to live alone.
"She comes and stays with him" the girl said, looking over her shoulder back into the flat, to where her mother was grinding something at a table, and her siblings were squabbling upon a mat. Apparently convinced she could talk more easily, she added, "He has a British woman."
If this was true, it would certainly add more credence to the idea that he was a spy - where-ever, or whoever that idea had come from, and been logged with the Agency. I would also need to credit a source for the information,
"What's your name?" I asked her.
"Sapphire", she said cautiously.

I smiled, covering a laugh. That was ironic - if the man was a spy, and the woman her accomplice, then the source of the information would be in line to receive the Emerald Star, and the small weekly pension it came with. It could not be said that we did not reward our informants - when they were correct.

"Thank you", I said, and moved on. I brought my gait back into a stroll, a purposeful advance that should attract no attention, and walked past the open door of the Russian's apartment. I could see him sitting in a worn armchair, beard about his face, spectacles upon his eyes as he perused a newspaper, and smoked a pipe, eyes down and apparently not seeing who passed. Of the woman there was no obvious sign, but I noticed that an inner door was closed - perhaps she lay within?

I was past, the mission accomplished, but it would not do to depart so precipitously. I strolled on, not speeding up, not looking either bored or frustrated, until I came to the end of the street that ran alongside the tenements. The buildings of course turned ninety degrees here, and continued along perpendicular to their previous course, but I trotted down the access stairway, and into a gathering rain.

There was no immediate sign of a bus, so I pulled the coat around myself, and set out on foot, striking a faster pace away from the place, as if it would leave its stain - or scar - upon me.
 
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Cool, watched.
Thanks.

It would certainly be interesting to take this forward in a narrative format from 1930, the original dream.

A few things would need to be worked out
-a- the cassus belli for the war of the 1910s
-b- what losses Britain suffered by losing the war
-c- the 1920s with Britain a defeated, but not down and out, power

Obviously, to some extent b) is dependant upon a) because whatever the flashpoint was then Britain's interests there have been lost to France.

I'll type some thoughts up then post them below in a short while. BRB!
 
1910 s Overview
Potential Anglo-French Flashpoints by the 1910s

1) Influence within the Ottoman Empire - akin to how in OTL, Germany was helping the Ottomans develop railways etc, here that might be being done by Britain, perhaps building on a pre-eminent position within Persia, and the Persian oil. France, with interests in Lebanon and the greater Levant, and able to project power there easily from its vassal state of Egypt, has a rival position in Constantinople, backed up by Russia's position there too. Perhaps Britain relies in peacetime upon there being additional spoons in the soup, in the persons of the North German Empire, and Austria-Hungary, but neither are willing to go as far as backing Britain in any war.

2) Indo-China. Here, Britain has annexed not only Burma and the Karen states, plus Malaya, with Sarawak, but also Siam. France has completed its conquest of the Empire of Vietnam during the 1890s, but the intervening states of Cambodia and Vientiane were preserved as neutral ground. Together with weakened Chinese influence into the Shan states (Northern Laos crossing over into OTL China), these border kingdoms would be constantly pulled between the two colonial powers, and events in either of them would be a source of friction for Anglo-French relations.

3) Korea. It could be assumed that Japan, pressing China after her 1890s defeat to France, came up against the involvement of other powers - Britain, the USA, the North German Empire, Spain etc - and that a compromise was hammered out over Korea, with Japan fighting and defeating the Chinese. This compromise would have been built on China's immediate weakness, but also upon the non-oriental powers projecting their influence into East Asia. A Korean Empire would have been the result, akin to the state of that name of OTL between the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars, but where Japanese influence is much reduced. In fact, the main rivalry may be between Britain, asserting itself after France's victory over China, and Russia pressing in from the North. France would back the Russians, whilst the Americans might back the British. There would be a lot of tensions, but no immediate likelihood of a cassus belli. However, what there is would go towards stoking the sentiments towards war.

4) Japan. Viewing itself as thwarted by a combination of powers after France's defeat of China in the 1890s, Japan may well focus on closer relations with France itself, than with the powers that it views as having prevented its immediate destiny. This could have the curious effect of a Russo-Japanese rapprochement where differences over Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands are decided by negotiations brokered by Paris. After all, Britain was one of the powers that prevented Japan attaining its destiny, and are a major rival to the Russians in Korea. Whilst this might be the path that Japan's government goes down in order to secure what they can in a difficult world, there would probably be a rival faction at court financed and supported by the British, pushing a more aggressive approach to both Korea and the Russians.

5) Malta and Gibraltar. With the Italian Empire claiming Malta, and ruling over Libya, and the Kingdom of Spain claiming Gibraltar, Britain's two power-projecting bases into a hostile Mediterranean are under constant threat. With both Italy and France well entrenched in France's camp, Britain will have to spend vast sums of money, much greater than OTL, in defending these bases, probably including the construction of martello forts, and much larger defensive moles and dry dock facilities. The two bases would be constant running sores in relations between the claimants and Britain and whilst unlikely to be a cassus belli, would be immediately in play in the event of war.

6) Morocco. Given France's position in Egypt, the Soudan, and Equatorial Africa, it is unlikely that France is going to be trying to force Morocco into any kind of vassalage, not least because of her ally, Spain's, immediate proximity to the kingdom (and possession of cities on the Northern Morocco coast). However, one cannot assume a vacuum, and it is quite likely that Britain, seeking to support Gibraltar's position, is hard at work on the Morocccan court, promising them aid against the Spanish, not just in the North but against Spanish claims in Rio de Oro.

7) Venezuela. It is probable that the boundary dispute between Venezuela and British Guyana comes to a flashpoint in this ATL, with Britain unwilling to back down on yet another front, and probably going to war with Venezuela, an action that would bring the condemnation of the USA, France and the North German Empire. Defeated, Venezuela would likely see heavy French investment, the sale of basing rights, and French domination of its politics.

8) South Africa. Whilst we can posit the same forces at work against both the Zulus and the Boer states, with the same eventual outcome, it will be France who is the greater voice in their favour in this timeline, than the Germans. Whilst Britain will secure Bechuanaland and the Southern portion of South-West Africa up to Walvis Bay, they never advance into the Rhodesias, Cecil Rhodes not being in a position to do so, and Britain needing the goodwill of Portugal who completes their rose-coloured strip upon the colonial map. Whilst Britain's victory may be a decade before the war of the 1910s, the defeat of France's attempts to intervene is still going to rankle strongly in Paris.

Notes
X) North German Empire and Kaiser Wilhelm II (Frederick III may have been the first to declare himself emperor in this ATL, but note that he used his Prussian regnal number in OTL when emperor). The Kaiser both admires Britain and has a jealousy and rivalry with her. North German ambitions in Tanganyika and Southern South-West Africa were thwarted by greater British strength, but this has not stopped the NGE from pushing at each and every colonial opportunity. We can certainly assume a greater Togoland, and a greater Kamerun, and probably larger possessions around NE New Guinea and the Bismarcks, as well as definite flashpoints over Samoa. These jealousies and rivalries are why the NGE has never formalised otherwise good relations with Britain into any sort of alliance.

Y) Austria-Hungary. Annexing Bosnia-Hercegovina and the Sanjak of Novi-Pazar outright in the early 1880s, Vienna is going to be in a much better position by the early twentieth century. Serbia is still ruled by a friendly Obrenovic dynasty, and it is taken for granted that the Principalities are Russian protectorates akin to Khiva and Bukhara, and the greater Bulgaria a Russian ally, sometimes seen as a vassal, but less so in recent years. Seeing independence as the key factor, Kaiser Rudolph has negotiated a middle way through subsequent European crises, keeping good relations with everyone, as much as possible.

Z) The United States. Having annexed Cuba in the early 1880s, the USA never had any subsequent argument with the Kingdom of Spain. Whilst Puerto Rico remains Spanish, the incorporation of Cuba as a state of the USA, verified by its eventual accession as such from a territory, has made America a different country by the early 20th century than what we might think of it. The annexation of Hawaii seems likely to have gone ahead, however, and the USA is a major player in China, projecting force in the form of its navy and marines as the 1890s turn into the 1900s. Often in conflict with the European powers, albeit short of war, Washington DC sees no value in taking sides in any conflict between them.
 
How the War started 1912
The Cambodian Potential

A coup in Phnom Penh
Intervention by Vientiane
Turns out that Vientiane is being backed by France
Britain intervenes in Cambodia from Siam
Vientiane routed
France intervenes to prevent a British invasion of Vientiane
Direct clashes

How about that?

It could play out over a couple of months, people initially thinking not much of it, then raising tensions, but they still think it's going to be resolved, but then suddenly it is realised that British and French forces are in the field... and they clash!
 
The war of 1912-1916
Aspects of War
1912-1916?

Early war sees a French dominance that is never really shaken off
- Airships bombing London
- submarines blockading the British coast
- cruiser warfare upon the high seas
- Spanish land assault on Gibraltar
- Italian blockade of Malta

One could certainly posit British successes
- Conquest of St. Pierre and Michelon
- Conquest of Pondicherry and the other French Indian territories
- Naval victory in the Western Approaches, British battlefleet narrowly defeats French battlefleet, scuppering any realistic chance of a French invasion

Other theatres would see protracted fighting before an eventual victor
- Gibraltar falls to Spain maybe 1914
- French and Spanish cruisers dominant in the Pacific early war from Vietnamese and Filipino bases, eventually pushed back by British forces from India, Australia, Canada and South Africa, maybe 1915
- Malta falls to Italy, backed by France 1915
- French conquest of Morocco 1916
- British blockade of Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Barts, Puerto Rico, eventually lifted by French and Italian cruiser squadrons 1915 which in turn burn Jamaica, Antigua, Trinidad
- France occupies Cambodia after defeating British forces in Vientiane 1912, invades Siam 1913, eventually defeated 1914, driven back into Vietnam 1915, and into isolated strongholds by 1916 though they hold out
- War across West Africa and Central Africa, eventually sees France and Italy consolidate on an Algeria-Libya-Soudan-Abyssinia front, with France's and Italy's and Spain's other (West African) colonies lost by 1914.

But the war is not won, or lost, in the colonies, but in the economic sphere
- London which has recovered from the early war airship raids by 1914 is devastated in 1916 by France's long-range bombers
- France's new generation of submarines by 1915 is enforcing a strong mercantile blockade of Britain, on the point of starving her by 1916
- French and Italian cruisers break out into the Atlantic in 1915, whilst the combined Mediterranean fleets reinforce the French and Spanish Atlantic Fleets nullifying any previous British hegemony. With Franco-Spanish-Italian submarines operating in the Straits of Gibraltar from bases on both shores, British attempts to penetrate back into the sea are largely failures.

Britain surrenders due to a combination of
- collapse of morale
- starvation
- strikes
- marches
- dislocation of internal logistics
- resignation of the remnants of the 1912 government

Paris has offered peace terms before, but by 1916 these have become increasingly worse, but with Britain on the verge of internal revolution, London accepts the terms on offer and surrenders.
 
The Peace of 1916
What would the Peace of 1916/1917 look like?

France, Spain and Italy would regain all territories lost in the war

France would gain Cambodia and Vientiane as vassals

France would gain Morocco as a vassal

Britain cedes Gibraltar to Spain

Britain cedes Malta and Gozo to Italy

Britain cedes Niger to France

Britain cedes British Somalia to Italy

Britain accepts Spanish colonisation of Rio de Oro

Britain evacuates Siam and the kingdom becomes a neutral state; this includes those provinces previously annexed to Malaya

Britain cedes the Gambia to France

British Antarctic claims are ceded to France

Britain has to pay a massive indemnity to France, and smaller amounts to Spain and Italy


QUESTIONS ARISING
- What about the Channel Islands in the war?
One might suggest that in 1915-1916 with a reinforced battlefleet, France and her allies are able to invest and conquer them. Restitution of them to Britain could be a sweetening pill inducing London to accept harsher terms everywhere else.

- What about Heligoland?
In this ATL, it has remained British, whilst Zanzibar became German. France might well demand its handing over to the North German Empire as a penalty, denying Britain a base near to the European mainland. It can be assumed that it was a major submarine base in the war, and France would be keen to deny it to Britain for future conflicts.
 
None of this, other than the novelised dream, are written in stone, but it is useful to establish a background for the continuation of the 1930+ story thread
 
This of course doesn't seem all that realistic as it forgets about the dominions

South Africa we can discount, say the Boers need holding down, they're revolting more seriously, and this is a troop sink not an asset in the war

Australia and New Zealand you might expect to attack the French and Spanish islands in the Pacific, support the Indian Army in Indo-China, maybe make some landings there in joint operations, but would assaulting the Philippines be a step too far for them?

The Indian Army and ANZAC also would be the forces that assault Italian and French colonies in the Horn of Africa and drive them back to a more Northerly defensive line

You'd see Canadian forces do things like assault Caribbean islands, join in the conquest of Morocco (before the French reconquest) and the fighting in West and Central Africa that drives the French and Spanish to a more Northerly defensive line.

Africa may well be enough of a troop sink to account for where British and Empire manpower goes in this war

I can't see Britain making a landing in mainland Europe against the French, or Spanish, let alone managing to make one against the Italians. It would be a suicide mission, especially given disputed control of the sea. Any area that might be held, such as Britanny, would be subject to massive attacks and attrition and simply be a waste of resources in the longer term
 
What would the Peace of 1916/1917 look like?

France, Spain and Italy would regain all territories lost in the war

France would gain Cambodia and Vientiane as vassals

France would gain Morocco as a vassal

Britain cedes Gibraltar to Spain

Britain cedes Malta and Gozo to Italy

Britain cedes Niger to France

Britain cedes British Somalia to Italy

Britain accepts Spanish colonisation of Rio de Oro

Britain evacuates Siam and the kingdom becomes a neutral state; this includes those provinces previously annexed to Malaya

Britain cedes the Gambia to France

British Antarctic claims are ceded to France

Britain has to pay a massive indemnity to France, and smaller amounts to Spain and Italy


QUESTIONS ARISING
- What about the Channel Islands in the war?
One might suggest that in 1915-1916 with a reinforced battlefleet, France and her allies are able to invest and conquer them. Restitution of them to Britain could be a sweetening pill inducing London to accept harsher terms everywhere else.

- What about Heligoland?
In this ATL, it has remained British, whilst Zanzibar became German. France might well demand its handing over to the North German Empire as a penalty, denying Britain a base near to the European mainland. It can be assumed that it was a major submarine base in the war, and France would be keen to deny it to Britain for future conflicts.
I think France would like to annex Channel Isles after the war,it doesn't feel like a real victory if they didn't gain any European territory.
 
So, just curious, but when did the ASBs do away with the Royal Navy, and drastically increased the size of the French Navy? Or doubled the French economy?

I'm not seeing anything here that accounts for how the French defeat the British.
 
I'm somewhat skeptical of 1910's aerial technology achieving large scale destruction of cities.
Well, we can either say it can't and negate the whole point of the dream I had and thus of the thread, or say it might be able to and look at a way of making that possible

Regards
Grey Wolf
 
This seems like it should be in ASB rather than post 1900 given the amount of handwavium being used rather than a possible POD.
 
So, just curious, but when did the ASBs do away with the Royal Navy, and drastically increased the size of the French Navy? Or doubled the French economy?

I'm not seeing anything here that accounts for how the French defeat the British.
Second Empire France was a rival to Britain in first-line warships, and in early ironclads the British and French were matching each other in producing classes to rival.

The Third Republic ended up split between, and alternating between, the traditional line of battle navalists and the Jeune Ecole. The end result was a hodge podge until the battleship gained prominence in the 1910s OTL

A continuing Second Empire is not going to down the rabbit holes of completely changing how the navy is organised or even conceptualised every half decade or so. The useless coast defence battleships of OTL were a compromise, to support the vast torpedo boat flotillas.

Whilst what I posit for the Second Empire might be claimed to be an 'ideal' way through this, I don't see the point in NOT positing that because it was clear from the dream that this had happened. And, as you infer it would be necessary to negate the British strength.

- France still builds cruisers for guerre de course, as well as has her liners easily adaptable to be AMCs as per both Britain and Germany of OTL
- In OTL France was the world leader in submarines in the 1890s. Continue this into the 1910s
- France concentrates on building a sustainable battlefleet, rivalling Britain in terms of first-line units

Best Regards
Grey Wolf
 
Well, we can either say it can't and negate the whole point of the dream I had and thus of the thread, or say it might be able to and look at a way of making that possible

Regards
Grey Wolf
Well I'm the last person to condemn anyone for hoping to get, in a reasonable and plausible manner, to their desired AH story-telling position.....

Therefore we (or rather you) will need to force-develop aviation, in terms of capability and doctrine, to get to the point where significant strategic bombing is possible in 1912-ish.
So, let's assume that aviation gets an earlier start, in France naturally. This will help push the development at a faster pace (National Prestige) and should mesh nicely with the naval Jeune École. Given the lack of Frano-Prussian conflict (to stimulate interest in balloons for military purposes) perhaps some French officer became enamoured of Solomon Andrews' Aereon and the idea was copied in France; after all the country had the Montgolfier a century earlier....
So the French fiddle around with dirigible airships from the 1870s, add an engine (compact steam or IC) and use it for military observation. As I mentioned aerial observation (preferable with radio for comms but heliography might do) would be useful for a coastal defense naval force doctrine.
Assuming rather a lot of money is injected then one could, without being totally unreasonable, that by 1912 the French Air Corps has a few of squadrons of LTA bombers, rather larger and more capacious than the historical models. Instead of attempting to attack point targets they're loaded with clusters of ~1kg incendiary bombs, using phosphorous and thermite, to carry out area fire-bombing. With a degree of luck you might get a firestorm.
Accuracy (or lack thereof) could be handwaved by assuming some form of radio-directional system for navigation. Remember historically Hülsmeyer demonstrated RADAR in 1904.
Oh and, as we've discussed on this site previously, there's the option of having fibreglass developed early. Historically one Edward Drummond Libbey (a glassmaker from Toledo]) exhibited a dress incorporating glass fibres with a diameter and texture approximating that of silk fibres at the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893. Say someone notices, talks to Libbey and by 1895 the process that Slayter discovered has been developed. I don't believe it would be impossible with the technology of the period. There were earlier alternatives to polyester, polymerised natural oil, that could form suitable resins. A couple of years of experimentation could yield a useful material incorporating glass fibres in a resin. Say by 1902 the material is in limited production and people are wondering what to do with it.

Hope this helps.
 
Seems interesting, I'm a big fan of dream-inspired TLs. Wil be watching.
As to whether this is ASB or not, I'm not knowledgeable enough to say (and I have a far more lax view on the subject than most on this site).
 
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