The Axis Line Up as Central Powers and the Allies as the Entente in 1914 - Repercussions?

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
POD #1 - In 1901 the Japanese, realising there will be a clash with Russia over Korea & Manchuria, decide they need an an ally to restrain France when the looming Russo-Japanese War breaks out. Instead of the British, they approach the current "enemy" of both nations. The Germans, looking to tie Russia down, are quite happy to agree a Treaty that would see them join the Japanese if two nations are at war with the latter.

POD #2 - In August 1914 Italy, in tune with the Triple Alliance, declares war on France; they don't against Britain but the latter quickly rights that omission.

POD #3 - On 7th August the Japanese declare war on the Entente powers a few minutes after launching surprise attacks by torpedo boats on the British fleet at Singapore, the Russians at Vladivostok, and the French fleet at Camh Ran Bay. Losses are few (the fleets were small anyway) but the Japanese Empire is now at war.

So we have: -
Entente: Russia, France, Britain, Serbia & Montenegro.
Central Powers: Germany, Austria-Hungary; Italy; Japan.

I think the Ottoman Empire would jump into the fray on the side of the CP, but would welcome your thoughts on how this proceeds, particularly whether the USA would find it dragged into the war by actions in the Pacific & South China Sea rather than the North Sea & North Atlantic?
 
This is somewhat close to a scenario I've been thinking about for possible development into a (long-threatened :p) TL... Japan would be a powerful asset to the CP, and the RN would find itself extremely busy. The worst implication for the Entente though would be for Russia - with the sea lanes closed off to St Petersburg and to Vladivostok, that would leave the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean as her only window to the world. All eyes would be on the Ottomans. If the Entente are as bone-headed in this TL as in OTL and force the Turks into the CP camp, the implications are not good for Russia. Keeping the Straits open would be essential, but whether the Entente employ the carrot or the stick against the Ottomans I'm not sure. With Churchill at Admiralty I'm leaning toward the stick...
 
If you want it to be even more like WW2, have the US enter in mid-late 1915. Otherwise, the Allies are going to have a bad time of it, they barely won OTL and now the CP are much stronger.
 
The Germans of course would try to assidiously avoid anything that would bring the US into the conflict - but the Japanese entry would have the US Gov't changing their collective underwear. Presumably the IJN would be active all around the Philippines and Guam, so the US Pacific Fleet would be on high alert and a bit nervous. The US would consider Japanese activity against the Entente possessions in Asia (particularly the UK's holdings) to be a direct threat to US commercial interests, which were everywhere in East Asia. I'd imagine that Yellow Peril Fever, already a fairly widespread ailment in the US, would reach epidemic proportions, especially on the west coast. All it would take would be one trigger-happy incident on either side and the US would be in.
 
Britain would try very hard to get US in the war immediately. Now they have to worry about not only the High Seas Fleet but also having an actual threat in the Mediterranean. Also RN has not only lost the IJN assistance in the Pacific but now has a serious enemy in the Pacific (that being the IJN, von Spee's squadron was a problem but it wasn't a true serious threat).
 
Last edited:
Britain would try very hard to get US in the war immediately. Now they have to worry about not only the High Seas Fleet but also having an actual threat in the Mediterranean. Also RN has not only lost the IJN assistance in the Pacific but now has a serious enemy in the Pacific.
Yeah... the RN would be in the position of having to maintain a strong presence in the North Sea to keep the HSF bottled in, send more units into the Mediterranean (as the French MN certainly couldn't hold the west and central Mediterranean on their own), AND send a large force east to counter the Japanese... not impossible given the sheer size of the RN, but they would be stretched pretty thin. In the eastern Meditteranean they'd be in somewhat better shape, holding the Suez and Cyprus. Dragging the US in ASAP would certainly be a priority.
Interesting thing about this scenario - would the conjectural treaty between Japan and Germany/the CP obligate the other signatories to declare war on the US if the US went to war against Japan? I could imagine a scenario with the US entering against Japan only, if there were no German provocation, since the US would tend to regard the Pacific Conflict to be a direct threat, but not the European Theatre...
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
If you want it to be even more like WW2, have the US enter in mid-late 1915. Otherwise, the Allies are going to have a bad time of it, they barely won OTL and now the CP are much stronger.
That would be the perfect mirror universe - but how to manage it? The Japanese had territorial ambitions but were not as nationalist-crazed as by the 1930s - I expect in part to not having then seen their efforts in WW1 rewarded by effectively being shunned by the Western World, their demands in China resisted, and the size of their navy restricted by treaty. Not sure there were idealistic naval officers who would launch an attack on the Philippines. The visit of the Great White Fleet would also be a contemporary reminded of the US's industrial and military strength & potential.

Without the USA the Entente cannot win. They may not lose, although a losing draw is a possibility.
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
Yeah... the RN would be in the position of having to maintain a strong presence in the North Sea to keep the HSF bottled in, send more units into the Mediterranean (as the French MN certainly couldn't hold the west and central Mediterranean on their own), AND send a large force east to counter the Japanese... not impossible given the sheer size of the RN, but they would be stretched pretty thin. In the eastern Meditteranean they'd be in somewhat better shape, holding the Suez and Cyprus. Dragging the US in ASAP would certainly be a priority.
Interesting thing about this scenario - would the conjectural treaty between Japan and Germany/the CP obligate the other signatories to declare war on the US if the US went to war against Japan? I could imagine a scenario with the US entering against Japan only, if there were no German provocation, since the US would tend to regard the Pacific Conflict to be a direct threat, but not the European Theatre...

The idea of linked but separate wars does appeal. Although I expect the British may leave the Americans to do all the heavy lifting in the Far East: "Love to help, old boy, but having a little trouble in the North Sea, you know..." Question: could America win a Pacific War in 1914-18 against Japan on their own, assuming the British are knocked out by defeat &/or peace treaty with all the CP including Japan? I don't think the logistics would be in place then, and Japan could win a limited victory seizing the Philippines and perhaps trading them at a peace treaty for shutting out the West from China?
 
That would be the perfect mirror universe - but how to manage it? The Japanese had territorial ambitions but were not as nationalist-crazed as by the 1930s - I expect in part to not having then seen their efforts in WW1 rewarded by effectively being shunned by the Western World, their demands in China resisted, and the size of their navy restricted by treaty. Not sure there were idealistic naval officers who would launch an attack on the Philippines. The visit of the Great White Fleet would also be a contemporary reminded of the US's industrial and military strength & potential.

Without the USA the Entente cannot win. They may not lose, although a losing draw is a possibility.
From what I’ve seen, Lusitania isn’t enough to do it... Japan may want the Philippines to strike south, though if they are screwing around in Siberia they won’t... I guess one could do the good old Teddy wins in 1912 plot line
 
Would the war even last long enough for the US to join? It's generally agreed that CP Italy in 1914 knocks France out of the war. Add in Japan distracting more of Britain's resources, and France seems doomed here. And when they fall, why would Britain keep fighting? How could they keep fighting? They would probably accept status quo antebellum peace and be done with it. The Ottomans are going to jump at the chance to bite back against Russia. And Russia could not withstand a combined German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, and Japanese invasion.

Here's my guess for the war's timeline.
1914: France collapses in the first weeks of the war. Belgium and France are occupied by Germany, and negotiate a peace where they loose colonies and have to pay hefty war indemnities. The Ottomans join the war against Russia.
1915: Serbia collapses under a combined Austro-Italian invasion. The Balkans are divided into Austrian and Italian spheres of influence. Britain, with no desire to keep fighting, no land to fight on, and no land to fight on, she negotiates white peace.
1916: Russia collapses and accepts a negotiated peace deal. Japan, the Ottomans, Germany, and Austria-Hungary divide up huge swathes of their empire.
 
The idea of linked but separate wars does appeal. Although I expect the British may leave the Americans to do all the heavy lifting in the Far East: "Love to help, old boy, but having a little trouble in the North Sea, you know..." Question: could America win a Pacific War in 1914-18 against Japan on their own, assuming the British are knocked out by defeat &/or peace treaty with all the CP including Japan? I don't think the logistics would be in place then, and Japan could win a limited victory seizing the Philippines and perhaps trading them at a peace treaty for shutting out the West from China?
BTW, I'm sort of assuming that the opening of the Western Front goes as in OTL, with Germany occupying Luxembourg, Moltke the Minor sticking to his guns over Der Kaiser's reservations, and implementing Aufmarsch West....
Yeah, there's sort of an assumption now that wars between opposed alliances are always an "all-or-nothing" affair... but it doesn't always shake out that way. Good example is Finland in WWII, which was considered an enemy combatant by the UK and Commonwealth, but not by the US as a state of war was never declared between the two powers... technically in WWI the US was never an "Entente Power", but an associated combatant, which IIRC only agreed to a unified command under Foch somewhat reluctantly...
Well, the UK would've never withdrawn ALL their RN forces from the Pacific, the outcry from Australia, NZ and the colonies would've been immense, so the RN would continue to have a presence in the Pacific, though presumably a diminished one... the heavy lifting would definitely be left to the US. The US, on the other hand, could easily afford to bolster the Pacific Fleet, and leave a sort of skeleton crew in the Atlantic and Caribbean. The US Navy was a powerful thing in 1914-1915... but the Japanese had the advantage of slightly more recent combat experience (and the Russians, even with their complement of rust-buckets at Tsushima, were probably a bit more of a challenge than the Spanish fleet was in 1898). I don't really have a verdict on an all-out war between the IJN and the USN in an alt-WWI, but I guarantee it would be one hell of a fight.
 
The US Navy was a powerful thing in 1914-1915... but the Japanese had the advantage of slightly more recent combat experience (and the Russians, even with their complement of rust-buckets at Tsushima, were probably a bit more of a challenge than the Spanish fleet was in 1898). I don't really have a verdict on an all-out war between the IJN and the USN in an alt-WWI, but I guarantee it would be one hell of a fight.
1914/15 USN vs IJN

IJN:
1-4 Kongo BC’s depending on the exact date, very valuable units.
2 Kawachi barely dreadnought’s, I’d take a South Carolina over them
2 Satsuma semi-dreadnoughts
4 Ex-Russian pieces of crap
2 King Edward VII class, good ships
4 Turn of the century pre-dreads, obsolete
4 12” armored cruisers, powerful but slow
9 8” armored cruisers from the turn of the century
3 Chikuma CL’s-best cruisers on either side
10 old protected cruisers
45 Coastal destroyers
4 seagoing destroyers

The IJN has a good force of fast battlecruisers and light cruisers, but the rest is obsolete ships, and only 4 destroyers are capable of fighting outside of home waters. They commission 1 capital ship before 1917 not counting the Kongo’s

USN:
2 New York BB’s-most powerful ships on either side
2 Wyoming BB’s
2 Florida BB’s
2 Delaware BB’s
2 South Carolina early dreadnoughts
11 modern pre-dreads
6 old pre-dreads
6 Coastal pre-dreads
4 10” armored cruisers
6 8” armored cruisers
3 6” armored cruisers
2 old armored cruisers
3 Chester class scout cruisers armed with 4x5” guns, aka Chikuma fodder
14 protected cruisers worse than Japanese counterparts
16 Coastal destroyers
30 seagoing destroyers
The USN has a powerful battleline, similar numbers of old cruisers to Japan, and waaaay more seagoing destroyers. 4 dreadnoughts complete before 1917.

If the IJN is smart, it tries to attrit the USN as it slowly crosses the pacific. The problem is that most of its seagoing ships are old cruisers/pre-dreads that the USN can easily counter. There are just 4 vs 30 seagoing destroyers for the IJN, so torpedo attacks not in home waters aren’t viable. That leaves the IJN with the BC’s and Chikuma’s, enough to force the USN to keep the fleet together, but not enough to beat it. The IJN just doesn’t have modern battleships, and by the time they get the Fuso’s and Ise’s, the USN has 7 standards in the fleet.
 
1914/15 USN vs IJN

IJN:
1-4 Kongo BC’s depending on the exact date, very valuable units.
2 Kawachi barely dreadnought’s, I’d take a South Carolina over them
2 Satsuma semi-dreadnoughts
4 Ex-Russian pieces of crap
2 King Edward VII class, good ships
4 Turn of the century pre-dreads, obsolete
4 12” armored cruisers, powerful but slow
9 8” armored cruisers from the turn of the century
3 Chikuma CL’s-best cruisers on either side
10 old protected cruisers
45 Coastal destroyers
4 seagoing destroyers

The IJN has a good force of fast battlecruisers and light cruisers, but the rest is obsolete ships, and only 4 destroyers are capable of fighting outside of home waters. They commission 1 capital ship before 1917 not counting the Kongo’s

USN:
2 New York BB’s-most powerful ships on either side
2 Wyoming BB’s
2 Florida BB’s
2 Delaware BB’s
2 South Carolina early dreadnoughts
11 modern pre-dreads
6 old pre-dreads
6 Coastal pre-dreads
4 10” armored cruisers
6 8” armored cruisers
3 6” armored cruisers
2 old armored cruisers
3 Chester class scout cruisers armed with 4x5” guns, aka Chikuma fodder
14 protected cruisers worse than Japanese counterparts
16 Coastal destroyers
30 seagoing destroyers
The USN has a powerful battleline, similar numbers of old cruisers to Japan, and waaaay more seagoing destroyers. 4 dreadnoughts complete before 1917.

If the IJN is smart, it tries to attrit the USN as it slowly crosses the pacific. The problem is that most of its seagoing ships are old cruisers/pre-dreads that the USN can easily counter. There are just 4 vs 30 seagoing destroyers for the IJN, so torpedo attacks not in home waters aren’t viable. That leaves the IJN with the BC’s and Chikuma’s, enough to force the USN to keep the fleet together, but not enough to beat it. The IJN just doesn’t have modern battleships, and by the time they get the Fuso’s and Ise’s, the USN has 7 standards in the fleet.
Good assessment... not to mention that the US has a far greater industrial capacity to replace lost units and to add more as the war progresses...
You may know more than me on this one - how do the IJN and USN compare on battle tactics at that time? I've read a bit about Tsushima, and it looks to me like one of the most brilliant naval victories ever pulled off, even if the Russians were a bit outmatched from the beginning... though in their arrogance they refused to admit it...
 
Good assessment... not to mention that the US has a far greater industrial capacity to replace lost units and to add more as the war progresses...
You may know more than me on this one - how do the IJN and USN compare on battle tactics at that time? I've read a bit about Tsushima, and it looks to me like one of the most brilliant naval victories ever pulled off, even if the Russians were a bit outmatched from the beginning... though in their arrogance they refused to admit it...
Both were under Mahanian influence in that they were looking for a decisive battle. The USN was operating under War Plan Orange, I believe the cautionaries, who urged a slow advance across the Pacific, were in charge at that point in time, though I’ll have to check the book. The IJN’s strategy was to whittle the USN down as it slowly crossed the Pacific, then engaging in a decisive battle, with torpedo craft, though it’s DD Force at that point, as you can see, isn’t great, while the USN planned to slowly push across the Pacific and force a battle near the Philippines, though the rival doctrine, calling for the USN to rush to the Philippines asap, could screw that up. The USN battleline is far superior-if it weren’t for the Kongo’s, the pre-dreads alone could probably beat the Japanese battleline, so the IJN has to do a lot of whittling. Tsushima wasn’t some miraculous victory(watch Drachnifel’s video if you want more info), it was a worn out Russian fleet in shitty ships walking right into a swarm of IJN torpedo boats with I think 7 destroyers as it’s screen, allowing the battleships to be swarmed easily so the IJN’s battleline just cleaned up what was left that morning.
 
Both were under Mahanian influence in that they were looking for a decisive battle. The USN was operating under War Plan Orange, I believe the cautionaries, who urged a slow advance across the Pacific, were in charge at that point in time, though I’ll have to check the book. The IJN’s strategy was to whittle the USN down as it slowly crossed the Pacific, then engaging in a decisive battle, with torpedo craft, though it’s DD Force at that point, as you can see, isn’t great, while the USN planned to slowly push across the Pacific and force a battle near the Philippines, though the rival doctrine, calling for the USN to rush to the Philippines asap, could screw that up. The USN battleline is far superior-if it weren’t for the Kongo’s, the pre-dreads alone could probably beat the Japanese battleline, so the IJN has to do a lot of whittling. Tsushima wasn’t some miraculous victory(watch Drachnifel’s video if you want more info), it was a worn out Russian fleet in shitty ships walking right into a swarm of IJN torpedo boats with I think 7 destroyers as it’s screen, allowing the battleships to be swarmed easily so the IJN’s battleline just cleaned up what was left that morning.
Yeah, the Japanese in particular were in love with that "decisive battle" thing...
As far as Tsushima goes, didn't say it was miraculous (outcome was pretty much fore-ordained to a point), but brilliant nonetheless... Togo out-thought the Russians at every turn.. literally :)
 

Garrison

Donor
POD #1 - In 1901 the Japanese, realising there will be a clash with Russia over Korea & Manchuria, decide they need an an ally to restrain France when the looming Russo-Japanese War breaks out. Instead of the British, they approach the current "enemy" of both nations. The Germans, looking to tie Russia down, are quite happy to agree a Treaty that would see them join the Japanese if two nations are at war with the latter.

POD #2 - In August 1914 Italy, in tune with the Triple Alliance, declares war on France; they don't against Britain but the latter quickly rights that omission.

POD #3 - On 7th August the Japanese declare war on the Entente powers a few minutes after launching surprise attacks by torpedo boats on the British fleet at Singapore, the Russians at Vladivostok, and the French fleet at Camh Ran Bay. Losses are few (the fleets were small anyway) but the Japanese Empire is now at war.

So we have: -
Entente: Russia, France, Britain, Serbia & Montenegro.
Central Powers: Germany, Austria-Hungary; Italy; Japan.

I think the Ottoman Empire would jump into the fray on the side of the CP, but would welcome your thoughts on how this proceeds, particularly whether the USA would find it dragged into the war by actions in the Pacific & South China Sea rather than the North Sea & North Atlantic?
May I suggest it would be appropriate to have Theodore Roosevelt as President to get closer to mirroring OTL? Perhaps when the Germans first unleash USW Roosevelt starts escorting US cargo ships and one thing leads to another in 1915...
 
Would they? They hardly went out of their way to appease the USA as a neutral in either world war.
In the 2nd? No... but that is (I would argue) an entirely different conflict with an entirely different set of circumstances... though some would apparently disagree...

In 1915 OTL, the Germans sank the Lusitania, the Americans protested, the Germans abandoned (temporarily at least) USW... I'd say that was a bit of an appeasement...
 
In a recent thread on here, someone mentioned that if Italy joined the Central Powers, Spain would be obliged to support the Entente and use there navy (along with France's) to deal with Austria-Hungary and Italy while the British fleet focuses on the German one (and the Japanese one ITTL.)
 
Top