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New novel: The Foresight War


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#1 Tony Williams

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Posted 21 November 2004 - 11:58 PM

The Foresight War

A novel of an alternative World War 2 by Anthony G Williams

What if – you went to sleep as usual in 2004 – and woke up in 1934?
What if – you had vital knowledge about the forthcoming Second World War, and could prove that you came from the future?
What could you do to affect British policy, strategy, tactics and equipment?
How might the course of the conflict be changed?
And what if there was another throwback from the future – and he was working for the enemy?
The novel follows the story of these two 'throwbacks' as they pit their wits against each other. A very different Second World War rages across Europe, the Mediterranean, Russia, the North Atlantic and the Pacific, until its shocking conclusion.

This book may be purchased online, or very shortly in paperback
To read the first chapter and for ordering details, click on my website link below.

Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website and Discussion forum
Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website

#2 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 23 November 2004 - 05:54 PM

Well, playing "Devil's advocate" the problem here is, as with all such "time travel" stories, what happens when you change some crucial detail of history?
For example: Let's say the British rearm more rapidly in response to their 'new' information. Hitler in return internalizes his focus for the short term and concentrates on making his volksmeingeschaft idea a thorough reality along with dealing with his racial "problems."
Due to an early Western Allied rearmarment and Hitler's retrenchment there is a popular uprising against the Western governments in power that are replaced with more frugal ones that see Hitler as less of a threat than anticipated by our time traveller. Now, he is discredited and unbelieved. World War II now happens in the late 1940's or early 50's resulting in an atomic war instead of the original.
You see, the problem: One changes some major detail of history and no one can fully predict the result of the changed time line. Both "time travellers" quickly become irrelevant as a result and history plays out in the new line without their being effective simply because they can no longer predict the consequences of events as they unfold.
The same can be said of technology. For the most part, our time traveller can give short term advantage to one side or another in some key technology. However, everyone quickly moves to produce their own version of this technology or produce counters to it. The more important the technology, the more rapid the response...usually. So, once again, only a short-term gain is realized.
The law of unintended consequences rules this situation thoroughly and completely. Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it.

#3 Tony Williams

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Posted 24 November 2004 - 05:42 AM

Fair points. As explained in the first chapter (which you can read online for free) the British approach was to make relatively subtle adjustments to equipment and policies, while dealing with some of the preparatory work 'behind the scenes'.

For instance, focusing on developing the capacity of the electrical industries (and associated education programmes) to produce all of the radio and radar equipment and technicians needed. And sorting out inter-service cooperation in general and amphibious techniques in particular. And designing tanks which were not only more competent initially, but had far more capacity for upgrades to meet developing threats. So the initial tank model was no more powerful than the historical ones, but could be upgunned and uparmoured very quickly.

Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website and Discussion forum
Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website

#4 Friedrich

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Posted 24 November 2004 - 05:49 PM

What about making Allied governments to act as they should have since the very beginning?

Open ultimatums and threatens to use not just economical measures but force as well to Germany when she withdrew from the dissarming conferences in Geneva and from the Sociaty of Nations in 1933. Hitler got the message "Don't mess up with Austria" very clear back in 1934 when Mussolini sent 10 divisions to the border after Dollfuss assassination.

No ANglo-German naval treaty of 1935. Open threat because of re-intorduction of universal military service.

Open Franco-Belgian military invasion of the Rhineland in spring 1936 after Hitler's move.

This could have prevented anything from going further: the 'Hytler Myth' wouldn't have developed without the costless thriumphs of foreign policy and the régime, without a solid popular base (exclusively centralised by Hitler) and with the threat of war the nazi rule could have collapsed in 1936. No Sudetenland, no Czechoslovakia, no Poland, no fascism in Spain, no Krystalnacht, no Auschwitz, no bloody Blitzkrieg!
"War is less costly than servitude, the choice is always between Verdun and Dachau." - Jean Dutourd, French veteran of both world wars

"A mon fils: depuis que tes yeux sont fermes les miens n’ont cessé de pleurir." - Mère française, Verdun

#5 Tony Williams

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Posted 24 November 2004 - 10:08 PM

That's true enough, but it ignores some of the political realities of the time. Neither France nor the UK wanted any confrontation which might lead to conflict, and the UK actually had some sympathy with initial German aims as everyone except the French felt that the Treaty of Versailles had been too harsh.

If you read the first chapter of my book (see my site for the link) you will see the British thinking on this spelled out. Obviously, I don't know what they would have done in the circumstances, but my story reflects what I think would probably have happened.

Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website and Discussion forum
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#6 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 04:50 AM

Well, I read your first chapter. What follows is an honest critique and not meant to be rude or insulting in any way. Please don't take it that way. I am trying to give honest opinions here.
If the rest of the book is similar, my impression is that it is a cross between a Tom Clancy 'tecno' novel and one of those Jerry Pournelle science fiction teenage wet dream novels where the hero, knowing 'superior' technology, is able to convey this knowledge to the primatives and win the day in short order. No matter that many underlying technological developments make this a near impossibility our hero overcomes all with his military expertise and technology!
Let me give some examples:
The 2nd Washington Naval Treaty is mentioned (aka the London Naval Conference of 1936). The US was willing to go with a 35,000 ton battleship with 14" guns (per Admiral Stanley acting Secretary of the Navy) and, on this basis the KGV was designed for 14" guns. Alternative designs using 15" and 16" guns were already extant (Admiralty designs 15A and 16A respectively) so our hero isn't bringing any new revelation in battleship design to the table.
However, our hero, not being a technical expert, omits discussion of the drawbacks of the RN's current use of DC electrical power (220VDC 330 Kw generators) on their ships. This proved to be a major problem in the electronics age severly complicating the use of radar and radio aboard RN ships.
Or, our hero fails to explain how welding, high pressure steam plants (like the US was developing at the time) would make more difference (along with light alloys like aluminum) in weight critical ship building than current methods in use. With our hindsight, the US having developed these technologies pre-war was able to build a 10,000 ton cruiser with 15 6" guns, good armor and, 35 kts of speed (the Brooklyn class) where the British took almost 14,000 tons for a 12 gun similar cruiser (the Town class) or the Japanese 15,000 tons for their reply (Myoko's).
The British were also very limited in ship design by drydocking size. Unlike the US who simply built gigiantic drydocks prior to WW II the British, more strapped for funds, limited ship size to existing Victorian era dry docks in existance. This was a necessity for repairs and maintenance of their ships.
It was this that caused the KGV to be built with a fairly narrow beam and poor torpedo protection more than anything else. As to air attack, the KGV's were well protected for the time against level and dive bombing attack having fairly thick decks provided. The Admirality would have poo-poo'ed Don's advice in this area stating they were well aware of the dangers there.
As for Don's advice on DD armament, you really need to look at British DD design prior to the war. In the period of interest, the A - I class was already laid down. The class in design at this point are the Tribals. The 4.7" isn't a bad gun and the British can't afford to go to the 5" while the 4" is unacceptably small for a DD's surface action armament. It was well understood that a dual purpose armament was a necessity and very desirable. However, the Admirality needed to concern itself not just with how effective each ship was but with numbers too. Here, the British are far, far better off with larger numbers of marginal ships to having a small number of highly capable ships.
The compromise eventually ended up at a somewhat larger destroyer using the 4.7" Mk XX mounting. But, this required design work all the way into the middle of 1941 to get into production.
Of course, things like the 40mm STAAG or Hazemeyer mount are not possible without the Dutch Phillips company inputs originally received.
In fact, Don would have been better off urging Tizard to make his original mission to the US immediately rather than wait until 1942 to do so.
The US could, unlike the British, have put into production much of what was needed to preempt a war in Europe and the Pacific much more readily than the British could ever hope to do.
As a couple of examples: A British mission on jet technology in mid 1942 found the US had already laid down a 1 million sq ft plant for jet engine production and was planning an output of thousands of units per month at a time when they had barely tested any jet engine (a GE 18" diameter model in March 1942) and had not even flown a jet yet (the Bell XP 59 in October 1942). This same kind of massive construction was undertaken in the years immediately preceding the war in all sorts of industry in the US. It laid much of the framework for production of the near infinite amounts of war material that allowed a global war to be fought. Britian couldn't hope to match such an effort.
The other is the Radiation Reserach Lab at MIT. Again, it was on a scale dwarfing anything the British attempted.
Squid is mentioned as an ASW weapon along with "pencil beam" ASDIC. I hate to tell you, but all ASDIC sets in the prewar period were essentially "pencil beam" types typically having a 11 degree field of search and being manually rotated. What they lack is a tilting feature to give accurate depth measurements.
Against a Type XXI a phased array system more sophisticated than the German GHG set is needed. The fire control sonar for SQUID / LIMBO needs to be a tilting type narrow beam sonar that can lock onto the target found by the general serach system. A 3D fire control with, minimally, a mechanical computer to calculate depth and course is necessary to make the system work as well. Again, too many contributing technologies (the system also needs stabilization with a gyro giving true vertical for accurate firing) are not available or need developing before such a system can be put into use.
The same can be said of the Type XXI. With out a 3D fire control like the US PUFFS of the early 1950's a Type XXI's speed is only good for ingress and egress not for attack which still requires periscope depth and calculation using active sonar for submerged firing.
Also, development of better housings for sonars is necessary as are better oscillators. The British pretty much used only quartz ones pre-war. The US had also tried Rochelle Salt and magneto-restriction types that the Brits hadn't. Each had its merits.
And, of course, there are towed arrays, sonobouys (a British idea the US put into production when the Brits couldn't), magnetic anomaly detectors (US) etc. In a true effort to counter submarines these need consideration. And, what about hedgehog? Or, a system like the 1950's US weapon Alpha? Or, guided homing torpedos?
Or, the use of LOX in torpedos? The Japanese had a real advantage in this technology.
Basically, the list is nearly endless. Poor Don knows but a mere fraction of the technology and cannot hope to convey sufficent information to make each effort effective or leap technology ahead sufficently to make a overwhelming difference.
In fact, his insights into the personalities and actions of important persons might be of more value than his technical knowledge. This seems to be slighted as in all techno novels.

The problem for Don is that he knows general concepts and can give some technical direction. But, his efforts are largely countered in practice simply because the incremental improvements are copied by everyone else in short order. Where a premature technology is forced into service it proves more often than not just an expensive failure and friviolous.

#7 Tony Williams

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 08:54 AM

Naturally there are limits on what any individual can possibly know; that's part of the story (and also affects his German counterpart). However, you will note that the first chapter covers several years during which Don is extensively debriefed of every detail he can recall - there's no way I could have included every detail in the novel, I just concentrated on the obvious highlights, but he clearly would have passed on a lot more.

While the RN was certainly conscious of the aircraft threat, it always took second priority to surface action in their minds. So the advanced DP director they were working on was cancelled and destroyers entered WW2 with an AA armament consisting of one HA gun and some .5 MGs! In reality, an armament of eight 4 inch DP guns would have been of far more use than the 4.7 inch guns they insisted on, even for surface action (which was commonly against smaller vessels).

Perhaps Don's most valuable contribution would have been to tell the British what NOT to do, in the sense of acquiring equipment which was sub-optimal or adopting policies, strategies and tactics which were found not to work. For instance, the 5.25 inch guns were a major disappointment (until the modified version arrived in Vanguard) as their RoF was only about half what was hoped for. And the RN's 2 pdr AA gun proved less effective than they hoped, so they had to get the Bofors which took years longer than it needed to. And so on...

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#8 Tony Williams

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 12:44 PM

A postscript to my last message, now I've got a little more time....

I laid out my thoughts on RN medium calibre guns in more detail here (this fed into the novel): http://www.quarry.ni....uk/MCGWW2.html

and on the RN's battleship designs here: http://www.quarry.ni...co.uk/IBBD.html

I am well aware that the idea of choosing a 15 inch calibre for the new British battleships wasn't new, but the point is that it historically wasn't done until the Vanguard was designed, and there could have been major production savings if the same approach had been taken with the KGVs.

Some of the problems were down to British industrial practices; welding of lage plates proved very problematic, and the RN knew all about high-pressure steam machinery but rejected it on reliability grounds.

The phrase 'pencil beam' Asdic is in common use to describe the more precise sonar introduced to operate the ahead-throwing weapons.

I don't agree that quantity was more important than quality (within reason). British manufacturing facilities were limited and needed to focus on the most effective weapons. Furthermore, British manpower was also limited (we were coming to end of the rope by 1944) and would have been better not wasted on manning lots of ineffective ships.

As for torpedo aiming with the Type XXIs you are forgetting the pattern-running type which the Germans actually did field in WW2. There is a whole chapter on the Atlantic War which picks up a lot of the points you mention.

The personalities of some of the key historical characters also come out later in the novel.

TW
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#9 Tony Williams

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 01:04 AM

The book is now available as a paperback from the publishers, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. See: http://www.authorson...asp?eBookID=385

Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website and Discussion forum
Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website

#10 urqh

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 12:43 PM

I would hunt down Logie Baird, and get him to a money man to work out getting as many television
cameras and tv's into mass production in Germany as quickly as possible...Show live pictures of Hitler and his speeches to the masses instead of relying on movie news and radio....Then see how far he gets.

British Army 1939-1945 - World War II Tribute Video

 

 

[URL="http://youtu.be/Zbp_4XBmD4w"]

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 


#11 Tony Williams

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 08:06 AM

Probably a long way, unfortunately. he was saying the kind of things that most Germans wanted to hear, restoring their pride etc. He had a mesmeric effect on those who heard him speak, and was hugely popular in the late 1930s.

TW
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