Perseverance and Determination - Japan AAR Jul 18, 2015 0:33:13 GMT -5
Post by ccip on Jul 18, 2015 0:33:13 GMT -5
"Perseverance and Determination"
Imperial Japanese Navy AAR, 1900-1925
This AAR will follow my game playing as Japan with historical resources set to on, and all other realism settings enabled. It uses my own additions to the ship names list. “Perseverance and Determination” was the name of the Japanese naval building program of the start of the 20th century, which increased the size and capability of the Japanese navy - and, among other things, allowed them to successfully take on Russia in the war of 1904-1905. However, in this alternate history, Japan’s naval power has yet to prove itself, and European powers still regard this Asian nation as but another oriental state to exploit in their own ambitions. The empire’s destiny, entrusted to the young Combined Fleet, hangs in the balance…
Year 1900 (Meiji 33)
The Japan of the year 1900 is a bustling, rapidly developing country - but also a nervous one, wary of the threats to its fate. The wise Meiji Emperor Mutsuhito, under whom the old Shogunate was deposed and was replaced by a new constitutional regime, sits on the Chrysanthemum Throne for his 33rd year. In parliament, the civilian faction led by Marquis Ito grapples for influence against the military faction of Field Marshal Yamagata, both seeking to advance the interests of the Kokutai [national polity].
Japan had already proven itself once. The treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895 formalized Japan’s triumph in war against China, paving the way to becoming an empire - but the taste of victory was quickly spoiled by Western meddling, as European powers likewise proclaimed their territorial rights in China, leaving Japan no choice but to pull back to avoid provoking a conflict they were not ready for. Now, they are getting ready for that conflict.
The Imperial Japanese Navy in 1900 is still a fledgling force, still in the early phases of the “Perseverance and Determination” building program, meant to shape it into a powerful and modernl force. The navy is led by Viscount Itoh Sukeyuki, an admiral of great experience who, as commander of the Combined Fleet, led the Emperor’s ships to victory over the Chinese in 1895. The Combined Fleet is presently dissolved, but Itoh remains formally in charge of the navy.
Japan’s industry and military are still catching up to Western state of the art - and while they are moving in leaps and bounds, there are still ways to go. Japan must have the best ships it can get - but it is not ready to build those ships. So, Japan turns to Western shipyards - and finds a partner in the all-powerful British Empire, who see Japan as a useful check on rival Russian and German ambitions in Asia. Most of Japan’s ships, as well as their tactical doctrine, is imported from Britain - but keen not to be left far behind, other powers increasingly offer incentives for Japan to buy their ships. The American financiers and industrial magnates seem particularly keen to win the Japanese over.
With most of the obsolete Sino-Japanese War-era ships having been sold or scrapped, the standing Japanese navy at the start of 1900 is a small force, possessing 8 capital ships and 14 fleet torpedo boats.
3 more capital ships - a battleship and two cruisers - are also waiting to be delivered.
The core of the Japanese fleet are its battleships:
The current standing fleet is made up of three modern battleships of the Yashima class: Yashima, Asahi and Fuji; and the one-off flagship Fuso - bigger, tougher, and overall more capable. All four of them were built in British shipyards; however the lucrative contract for the next ship in line was won by the Americans, and is presently being built as the Mikasa: a ship that is smaller than its predecessor, but much leaner and more reliable. Admiral Itoh is waiting impatiently for this ship to complete. The standard speed of the Japanese line is 18kt, with Fuso and Mikasa both designed to go even faster - which makes the Japanese battle squadron among the fastest in the world in 1900.
Next are the cruisers, which had been built domestically, but with a great deal of British and German input:
The Iwate class armored cruisers are tough, economical, but outwardly not very impressive ships - two, the Iwate herself and her sister Asama, are already in service. A third ship, the Tokiwa, should enter the fleet by the end of the year. These make up the core of the navy’s 2nd squadron, whose area of responsibility is the close waters in areas such as the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea - with cramped accommodations, the Iwate class are not meant for distant cruises.
The Izumi and her sister Naniwa are protected cruisers based on German designs, built for utility rather than performance - they are meant to carry out scouting for both of the fleet squadrons; to provide fire support to troops on expeditions in China; and to police and protect shipping in Japanese home waters. The slightly larger and closely-related Unebi, still in construction and not expected to enter service until 1901, is meant to be marginally more capable of taking on other cruisers if the need arises.
Finally, there are the fleet torpedo boats, 14 in total, standardized around the same designed named the Akikaze class.
With its limited shipbuilding capacity, Japan has embraced the concept of torpedo boat warfare, even if it is yet unproven. The Akikazes are some of the largest and most seaworthy torpedo boats in the world, fully capable of escorting Japan’s fleet anywhere it needs to go - though their firepower and performance as fast killer boats are considered quite mediocre. However, they needn’t be: Japan’s doctrine somewhat insidiously envisions them as ambush vessels meant to penetrate enemy anchorages by night, targeting capital ships with torpedoes before fleeing.
The year 1900 for Japan goes by quietly enough. While the in-construction ships are awaited, Viscount Itoh returns from inspecting some of the latest British and German ships stationed in the Yellow Sea. He is impressed with what his Western colleagues tell him about modern cruisers now being built in Europe, and sees the days of his meager 21kt ships as numbered. With German assistance, he draws up specifications for the next-generation cruiser - and the largest ship yet to be built in Japan, the Chiyoda:
Some 50 percent larger than the cruisers it follows, the Chiyoda is to be built as the first true fleet cruiser for Japan - but is also quite capable of operating independently, as raider or colonial ship.
1900 remains a year of turmoil in China - Boxer uprisings in disturb order and disrupt the trade that Japan counts on for its present prosperity. As a result, the Japanese navy is active throughout the year, sending troops and reinforcements and providing fire support to troops in China, in cooperation with Western nations. They are grateful for the assistance - but Russia and the US are also wary of the enthusiasm with which Japan seems to treat military intervention in China’s affairs. American financiers are concerned about being cut out from the pacific trade, and tensions with the US grow through 1900 - before rapproachment sets in by the end of the year, as a new government led by Marshal Yamagata assures the US ambassador that Japan only seeks to aid US trade in Asia.
Year 1901 (Meiji 34)
Following successes in quelling Chinese uprisings, the Japanese navy celebrates by holding extensive gunnery competitions at Kure and Sasebo in February - which not only improve the effectiveness of our ships, but also draw many notables and curious onlookers who come to observe. The navy’s coffers the following month seem to reflect an improved public interest in naval power. The Japanese battleship Asahi is declared to be champion of the gunnery competition. Meanwhile, the armored cruiser Tokiwa, 3rd and last of the Iwate class, is commissioned and joins the fleet’s 2nd squadron as its flagship.
However, Japan’s navy is not the only one building its strength in the area. As the unrest in China settles down, the focus of imperial interests switches to Korea and Manchuria, where Japan’s interests run directly against Russia’s. The Czar’s policy in Asia for the past few years seems to have gone from opportunistic to aggressive. Following the Western intervention after the treaty of Shimonoseki, Russia unilaterally occupied the Liaotung peninsula on the Yellow Sea, and now looks to secure its hold on Manchuria. Japanese ships close to those shores worry them.
Throughout the year, our intelligence agents report various Russian moves. Among them is news that a new Russian armored cruiser called Varyag had been launched, and it is widely expected to turn up in Port Arthur as Russia seeks to protect their Yellow Sea base and counterbalance the Japanese fleet. These moves do not escape the attention of the Japanese government, and Prime Minister Yamagata, who asks what the navy needs to better deal with this Russian reinforcement. Itoh requests more funding for his building programmes.
The money that is disbursed to the navy is used to work with British shipwrights to create a more powerful ship to operate with our current-generation armored cruisers - which are cramped and hardly state of the art, even if well protected. The resulting approved design is the armored cruiser Yakumo:
Still a very modest ship - it was explicitly designed with a budget limit of 30 million - it introduces a heavier main battery and far better crew accommodations than our present Iwate class.
In May of 1901, our 5th battleship - the Mikasa - finally arrives from the US and gives the Japanese engineers a great deal of insight into American technology. However, it will be a few months before the Mikasa is ready to take her place in the battle line.
In the meantime, the fleet’s general staff consider requirements for our next battleship. Although Mikasa is a lean design, the general opinion is that we could do better. After exploring the options, the IJN orders the follow-up Hatsuse from the Americans:
The Hatsuse it is to be 1,000t heavier than Mikasa, with the weight going into much-improved armor and secondary weapons, while still maintaining 19kt speed. This will be our 6th battleship, which will complete the present building program, leaving us with two battle squadrons of 3 ships each - one 18kt, one 19kt.
By summer, the flames of rebellion once again heat up in China. Once again, seeking to imrpove Japanese prestige, the government orders the best we have - the battleship Asahi - to be sent south to provide fire support against the rebels. The Boxer rebels, however, are hardly our greatest threat from the scenario - because as soon as the Asahi sails, Russians declare our actions to amount to an invasion of China in contravention of treaties, and themselves begin moving their troops in Manchuria and Korea, ostensibly to protect their positions against our threats. It seems they’ve been preparing for this for a while, in any case - they’ve already brought 3 battleships and 4 armored cruisers to the Pacific.
Japan must act. War is declared immediately, but before Russians even receive our diplomatic response, our fleet under the command of Admiral Itoh is already at sea, posed to make a strike against Port Arthur!
(To be continued...)