Pentagon confirms three UFO videos are authentic – Not that they show aliens, but that they show unidentified objects. So, who’s the audience, and what’s the message? Not ‘UFO cranks/aliens are out there’, I would guess, but rather, ‘Hey, Commies, bet you don’t have flying saucers like we do’.
A series of videos on the Bronze Age Collapse – And perhaps a warning to hyper-interconnected modern societies? I saw a guy on Twitter ask whether Singapore or North Korea has greater food security. Granted, I agree with him that the answer is Singapore in almost every case, but there are moderately-plausible scenarios where the answer flips. If the merchant republics of Italy and their dealings with the Ottoman Empire are any indication, tiny rich city-states have some serious downsides in times of strife.
So, based on voting and my own intuition, here’s what we’ll be doing construction-wise this update.
Bearn, our first full-size aircraft carrier.
The next Ocean–Suffren-type battleship.
A 30-knot battlecruiser or heavy cruiser, to provide some punch against enemy ships of the same time and ensure our aircraft carriers have protection against heavy surface forces.
New airbases in Bizerte, Tunisia, and Kalamata, Greece, along with re-equipping our flying boat squadrons with medium bombers.
Of the designs I can come up with, the heavy cruiser seems to make the most sense—I can get a capable 32-knot ship for a reasonable price.
The Latouche-Treville class mounts nine 9″ guns as its main armament, along with dual-purpose 4″ secondaries in twin turrets (a new innovation). Her armament will stop 7″ guns, so she’s an overmatch for any light cruisers she can catch, and she carries a pair of seaplanes with seaplane catapults, allowing her to serve as a fleet scout when the carrier becomes a primary tool in our toolbox.
Why is this good for us? Well, on the surface, because our battleship designs have featured an all-forward main armament already. A bit deeper, because mounting all your heavy guns forward allows you to make your armored citadel shorter, which saves weight on armor. The next battleship design’s scheduled for summer. We’ll see what it buys us then.
More opportunities to tweak the Austrians! I’ll take it.
Our new medium bomber enters service, which means I’ll have to slowly and laboriously change a bunch of air groups around. I haven’t done a game with a lot of land-based air before. I wonder if I’m missing some feature in the UI that makes this easier.
With an awful lot of money free, I start on another of our projects, rebuilding the Lyon-class battleships to slightly more modern standards.
The second Voltaire-class light cruiser enters service. They’re capable ships. It’s a shame there’s only room in the budget right now for the two we have.
If war breaks out, we’ll have a chance to build a few more, I suspect.
All-forward main armament buys us a few features: more secondary guns, more rounds per main gun, and crucially, another knot of speed. In the grand tradition of naming these after our old pre-dreadnoughts, meet Courbet.
The fleet sails for the Mediterranean to counter aggressive exercises by Austria.
Blueprints for an under-construction Austrian battleship—the most precious of spy data. It’s strictly inferior to our own modern ships.
Suffren enters service, and will be joining the fleet in the Mediterranean soon.
The Prime Minister wants more battleships. I take the deal, on the theory that we’ll be at war with Austria soon enough that there won’t be time for the fact that I’m not going to hold up my end to come back to haunt me.
Who called it? War is declared, after Austro-Hungarian saboteurs blow up a French destroyer in Brest.
The first battle of the war is a destroyer raid; a number of our corvette-destroyers are in action, because I haven’t had time to set them to trade protection yet. The plan is more or less to run toward port and leave the field to the Austrians, unless there are fewer of them than I expect.
There is, regrettably, little fighting to be done. This is where the Austrians are better than we are. It still comes out as a marginal victory because they elect not to get stuck in, abandoning the bombardment target which was their objective.
This month’s battle is a convoy defense. The convoy is well to the west, but the Austrians have caught us in an interesting position. North of the sighted ship is our carrier force—Amiral Charner and Arromanches. South is a trio of screening light cruisers. West are Ocean and Suffren, our new modern battleships.
Our medium bombers are in range of the enemy. It’s 1:36 p.m. on a blustery day; sighting range is limited, but air operations are possible, and when the carriers turn into the wind, they’ll be heading away from the enemy. They immediately begin to prepare a torpedo bomber strike.
Dusk comes in three hours.
Another ship appears to the north of the carriers; they’re sandwiched. Both ships, however, are destroyers.
Although our new light cruiser d’Alembert takes a torpedo hit, she has (unusually for a light cruiser) substantial torpedo protection, and weathers it like a champ. Our light forces may not be quite up to Austrian standards, but three light cruisers and six or eight destroyers are perfectly sufficient to force the Austrians back.
The carriers get some reconnaissance aircraft in the sky, following the destroyers as they run north, and turn south, to hide behind the battleships.
The recon planes fan out from the carriers to the north, passing the Austrian destroyers (fleeing north) and turning back as dusk approaches. They don’t spot anything else.
So, imagine my surprise when the scenario ends and I see an Austrian force not twenty miles from my own.
The Austrians were just north of my searching planes (which had gone a little ways past the dots representing the destroyer sightings) when they turned back, shortly before 4:00 p.m. If the Austrians had been twenty minutes faster, we probably would have spotted them, and therefore known they were out there.
This one’s a wash. I decline battle with the Austrian destroyer fleet in the Adriatic, the Austrians decline to attack a convoy in the Atlantic protected by Montcalm.
Austrian submarines sink a French destroyer and one of our older seaplane tenders. A battle between an Austrian heavy cruiser and a French light cruiser ends inconclusively. The Austrians break off the fight as night approaches.
We get some back, sinking a submarine, thwarting several patrolling Austrian raiders, and intercepting a raiding light cruiser.
The light cruiser Surcouf, of the Lavoisier class, approaches a target steaming about midway between Mers El Kebir and Murcia, Spain.
It’s the sole Austrian Jupiter-class light cruiser, their largest and best example of the type. She has more guns than Surcouf, but Surcouf‘s guns are high-quality 6″ numbers against the Austrian 5″, and Surcouf has better armor to boot. We’ll see if we can ring Jupiter‘s bell enough times to slow her down to Surcouf‘s speed.
Over the course of the battle, Jupiter gets very lucky. Although she scores only 8 hits to Surcouf‘s 14, Jupiter‘s last hit disables Surcouf‘s electric generators, slowing her down and giving Jupiter time to escape.
Not, however, for very long. One of our submarines, lurking nearby, torpedoes Jupiter and sinks her as she flees the scene. It goes into the books as a major French victory.
Well, that wasn’t quite the ending I expected. It was such a quick war that we didn’t even get any serious reparations out of it. Bit of a waste, truthfully, and now we have to deal with the postwar budget malaise.
I make the tough decision to scrap Amiral Charner. She’s slower and less capable than our two purpose-built light carriers, and aircraft aren’t quite the deciding factor yet they will be in the future.
Dewoitine comes up with an improved version of their medium bomber, which adds 15 knots of speed and 30 miles of range. It doesn’t take me long to decide that yes, I want to buy that.
I wasn’t for it, but France signs another naval treaty. The limitations on this one are a bit less restrictive—35,000 tons, 16″ guns—but the concomitant budget hit means I’m going to have to delay or cancel some projects.
An improved torpedo bomber enters service, nearly identical to our current model but with slightly longer range and slightly better speed.
In technology news, we’ve unlocked AA directors (which improve the accuracy of anti-air guns, and should be refit onto our ships as we have time) and triple turrets for light cruisers, which should make for some designs with better weight efficiency.
We come to the end of another update, tragically much shorter than I had hoped it might be, given the joys of wartime budgets.
Fleet Report 1929
I haven’t provided a full picture of the fleet in some time, so I thought I’d do so in this update.
Devastation, built in 1910 and rebuilt in 1916. 22 knots, 8 12″ guns in four double turrets, including wing turrets with cross-deck fire. Mothballed. Candidate for retirement.
Lyon, built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1927. 26 knots, 6 15″ guns in three non-superfiring centerline turrets. In reserve.
Marseilles, a Lyon-class battleship built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1916. 24 knots, 6 15″ guns. Mothballed. Candidate for rebuild to 1927 spec (12 months, ~2300 funds per month) or retirement.
Redoubtable and Marengo, Redoubtable-class battleships built in 1913 and rebuilt in 1917. 22 knots, 10 12″ guns in four non-superfiring centerline turrets. In mothballs.
Requin, built in 1915 and rebuilt in 1923. Our first fast battleship. 25 knots, 12 12″ guns in four superfiring turrets. Active.
Ocean, built in 1923. First in our line of modern battleships. 26 knots, 8 14″ guns. Active.
Suffren, built in 1927. 26 knots, 8 14″ guns. Active.
Rouen and _Nancy, Rouen-class battlecruisers built 1915 and 1920. 27 knots, 9 12″ guns. Candidates for rebuild (would push speed to 29 knots, add AA armament). Active.
Montcalm and Bruix, Montcalm-class cruisers built 1919 and 1920. Slow for their role. 27 knots, 12 9″ guns. Candidates for retirement? One active, one in reserve.
Three Chateaurenault-class cruisers, built 1903-1905. Designed for cheap foreign service. Badly obsolete, but cheap to maintain, and they fill tonnage requirements overseas where most of our preferred opponents have no presence. 24 knots. 10 4″ guns. Active.
Two Pascal-class cruisers, built 1910. Also obsolete, but also filling tonnage requirements. 24 knots, 8 5″ guns. Active.
Two Lavoisier-class cruisers, built 1916-1917. 27 knots, 8 6″ guns with a 6-gun broadside. Might benefit in terms of maintenance costs from a rebuild, but a bit too old-school in design terms. In mothballs.
Five Troude-class light cruisers, built 1917-1919. 28 knots, 8 6″ guns with a 6-gun broadside. Similar situation to the Lavoisiers. One in mothballs, four active.
Four Condillac-class light cruisers, built 1924-1926. Exclusively for foreign service. 28 knots, 6 4″ guns, 6-gun broadside. Active.
Two Voltaire-class light cruisers, built 1927. Some of the best in the world, with mines, torpedo tubes, an all-centerline armament, and a dual-purpose secondary battery. 31 knots, 8 6″ guns. Active.
Arromanches and Dixmude, light carrier, built 1925-1927. A bit slow, but still capable enough to keep on the books for years to come. 28 knots, 24 aircraft. Active.
Destroyers and Corvettes
Five miscellaneous obsolete destroyers, rebuilt 1919-1921 to serve as corvettes. In mothballs.
16 Harpon-class destroyers, built 1915-1919. Obsolete by the game’s reckoning, but still reasonably efficient by the standards—speed and torpedoes—by which I judge destroyers. 33 knots, 3 3″ guns, 4 torpedo tubes. Active.
Four Glaive-class destroyers, built 1923-1925. 34 knots, 4 4″ guns, 6 torpedo tubes, 16 mines, anti-aircraft guns. Active.
Fifteen Carabinier-class destroyers, built 1926-1927. Built to serve as corvettes, in place of a similar number of obsolete 500-ton destroyers from the turn of the century. 26 knots, 2 3″ guns, 4 torpedo tubes, 6 mines. In reserve.
Seven Diamant-class corvettes, built 1918-1919. 20 knots, 2 4″ guns. In mothballs.
Here’s the national-comparison almanac page, so you can see how we stack up.
Plans and Intentions
In out-of-character news, the game’s been updated to version 1.18, which has a number of changes of various impact. It also has an improved and updated manual, and a change to the order of events in a turn so that I can adjust ship statuses before the first battle in a war. Put another way, the first battle in a war (except for surprise attacks when Japan’s involved) happens on the month following the outbreak of the war.
This is where things get tough. With some extremely aggressive mothballing and reserve-fleeting, here’s how our budget looks right now.
That is, we have about 6,500 funds per month. What does that buy? Some combination of the following.
4,000-4,200: an advanced battleship (see below, under Ship Design). ~36 months.
3,500: a standard battleship (like our existing series). ~36 months.
2,700: a heavy cruiser. ~24 months.
2,550: an aircraft carrier a la Bearn. Future carriers will carry more aircraft, because they’ll be free of the requirement to have cruiser-style guns. ~24 months.
2,500: a rebuild of an existing battleship to use up-to-date machinery and add anti-aircraft capability. ~12 months.
1,550: a light cruiser a la Voltaire. ~18 months.
350: a destroyer a la Glaive. ~12 months.
There are four ships in the dockyards right now: Courbet, a standard battleship, Latouche-Treville, a heavy cruiser, Diderot, a light cruser, and Bearn, an aircraft carrier. Courbet and Latouche-Treville are paused for money reasons—we don’t have enough surplus to resume construction on either one right now.
Diderot and Bearn will be complete in six months, which will free up just enough budget to finish Courbet and Latouche-Treville. Assuming that’s what we do, Latouche-Treville will enter service in mid-1930, and Courbet will arrive right around the next update in early 1931.
The new treaty is the limiting factor on battleships again. We could make either a 27-knot, 16″ battleship within the treaty limits (~4000 funds per month), or a 30-knot, 14″ battleship (~4200 funds per month).
Or, we could continue to build existing budget battleships, like the ones we have now, and focus on other ships. Our destroyer force is weighted toward old ships right now, and it always seems like we need more light cruisers than we have.
I didn’t ask any direct questions above, on the theory that there’s enough information that some ideas might be coming to you already. Are they? If so, what do you think we ought to do? How should we prioritize ships over these next two years, given our budget constraints? What should we do with the ~2,000 funds per month we have on hand now?
The weeks seem to get longer and longer every day.
Parvusimperator finished the French Rifle Book from Headstamp Publishing, and speaks very highly of its content and production values. He’s now reading First In, Last Out, a history of South African artillery in the latter days of the Cold War.
US newspaper business in its final death throes? – Parvusimperator and I are divided on this one. He doesn’t like Gannett, which is the main player in the local newspaper industry. I hold that Gannett or no, local newspapers are basically the only useful media outlet left in the world. I’m sure there’s massive corruption in the government of, say, Pittsburgh, but there’s nobody around to hold their feet to the fire, because we have exactly one daily print newspaper, and there’s no competition for the first scoop.
The votes are in, and it looks like we’re building, in about this order:
A fleet service light cruiser, once money is available (i.e., after Arromanches finishes building.)
Another aircraft carrier, if it’s still within the scope of this update.
It’s a star-studded cast of names. Our Condillac is named Descartes, and our four submarines are Foucault, Volta, Bernouilli, and Ampere.
Italy’s newest heavy cruiser is an overmatch for our own. Granted, we only built ours because of that brief naval treaty before Italy decided it was time to get punchy.
French engineers invent the transverse arrestor wire, and duly simplify the installations on our existing aircraft carrier.
I believe this is a few years in advance of history. The earliest arresting cables ran, if I’m reading these histories correctly, fore and aft along the deck, spaced about 9 inches apart and suspended a foot or so above the deck on leaf springs (like modern, transverse arresting gear). The purpose was less to slow planes down—they were generally small and light enough that speed wasn’t a problem—and more to keep them from being blown over the side by gusts of wind. When the plane landed, hooks on its landing gear would engage the wires and guide it in a straight line to a stop.
USS Langley originally had both longitudinal and transverse wires, but got rid of the former in 1927. USS Lexington and USS Saratoga, both commissioned as aircraft carriers in 1927, were built from the outset. The French, on their sole historical aircraft carrier Béarn, also commissioned in 1927, used a modern transverse system as well.
Good news, everyone! A minor crisis with Great Britain, which doesn’t even push our tension with them from green to olive, means we’re swimming in cash. Time for that new light cruiser design, I think.
The Voltaire class of light cruisers hit 30 knots, and feature light armor, a large torpedo armament, eight six-inch guns in four double turrets, a selection of mines and anti-air guns, and eight dual-purpose secondary guns.
I’d hoped to get them up to the same speed as Italy’s forthcoming heavy cruisers, but it wasn’t in the cards.
Two Voltaires go into production: Voltaire and d’Alembert.
Also, it’s June, and war still looks pretty far off, so let’s try a fleet exercise! We’ll even let this one stand without savescumming, unlike the last one.
On the Red Team (us), we have Amiral Charner and Commandant Teste, two light cruisers, and three destroyers. On the Blue Team are Ocean and Requin, along with a mirrored supporting force.
The mission starts at 4:24 p.m., which is not an ideal timeframe for our aircraft carrier.
Floatplanes launch from Commandant Teste, while Amiral Charner prepares a strike. If we spot the enemy soon enough, we’ll try one.
Two scouting reports put the enemy in approximately the same place. Time to launch!
I end up launching Commandant Teste‘s extra floatplanes loaded down with bombs, too. Can’t hurt!
Here in the Air Formations window, you can see our various aircraft preparing to fly—Amiral Charner‘s torpedo bombers will be spotted to the deck in 12 minutes (they were readied in the hangar but not lined up for takeoff, to avoid crowding the deck).
The fleet turns to the northeast to keep distance between themselves and the enemy fleet.
Thirteen torpedo bombers are in the air. Commandant Teste‘s launch operations are a bit more complicated, involving cranes, stopping to put planes into the water, and the like, so that element of the strike will be a bit later.
Teste launches her seaplanes. Since it’s summer in the Bay of Biscay, dusk isn’t until 8:20 or so. We’ll still have daylight for aircraft recovery, an important factor.
The aircraft we launched at the floatplane scouting report reach the scouting report’s location, circle for a bit, and set off on something of a search pattern.
Those are the floatplanes, but the torpedo bombers are, according to my map, in the same area. (I’m not sure if fog of war applies to the reported position of friendly aircraft, but it would be just like this game if it did.)
The torpedo bombers find the enemy, and all thirteen start their attack run.
Two torpedoes hit one of the enemy ships. A few more aircraft remain to take their shots. A third hits a minute later.
Returning strike aircraft report one battleship heading south, instead of the two the enemy started with. We won’t know until after the exercise how well we did, but we might have got one.
I don’t think there’ll be time for a morning strike, but I’ll be staying in the area just in case I can get aircraft off the deck before the end of the scenario.
Twilight arrives, just as the last of the day’s CAP lands on Amiral Charner.
Let’s see. 344 minutes of 800 in the scenario elapsed, dawn in… 330 minutes. Looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys!
Twilight’s right around the corner. Soon, scouts will be in the air, so I’d better work out my plan.
The enemy is, I think, thataway. If they ran for the coast (that is, a port, although none are technically available in this exercise), I don’t care. I don’t think they got around behind me into the Celtic Sea, so I’m not spending aircraft on scouts in that direction.
I don’t remember quite what the rules are for ‘planes in the air’, so we’ll see when it cuts me off.
Evidently, it’s ‘planes in the air with the enemy in sight’ as the cutoff rule. Oops.
Anyway, it also turns out that your floatplane carriers won’t launch scouting missions if their air wing’s mission has been set to something other than Recon, like it was when I used them for an air attack.
In the final reckoning, we get Ocean with one torpedo and Requin with two, causing light damage to the one and medium damage to the other. Not bad, for 1920s technology, but not a reason to cancel the battleship program altogether, either.
On the plus side, Ocean, Requin, Amiral Charner, and Commandant Teste are all now Elite-skill ships, and the exercise made Austria-Hungary a little touchy.
Holy long delay, Batman! The second half of last year was boring, though, so you didn’t miss much.
Arromanches entered service, and her successor is now under construction.
I took a 15-destroyers deal, on the theory that I can build a modern, cheaper replacement for the old Fauconneaus I rebuilt as pseudo-corvettes with improved features—in particular, minelaying. The new Carabinier class is slow at only 26 knots, and unlikely to see any duty beyond trade protection, but advanced technology and extra depth charges make them better sub-chasers, and the aforementioned minelaying ability will give us an edge in tight seas (such as the Mediterranean and North, where we spend most of our time.)
Holy long delay again, Batman! The first half of this year was more boring than the last. The only happening of note was our development of motor torpedo boats.
We learned how to make medium bombers a while ago, and Dewoitine has a doozy of a prototype for us:
Longer range than our flying boats by a long shot. They’ll make good land-based scouts going forward. I start a new request for torpedo bomber prototypes. Ours are looking a little long in the tooth.
I must have missed our development of full-size CV conversions (or we skipped that technology; see research note below), because we just developed full-size CVs. The first aircraft carrier you build has to have substantial gun armament, because naval design bureaus are unimaginative. To get that out of the way, I’m building a one-off.
Named after France’s historical interwar carrier, Bearn (well, Béarn, but I don’t know if the game can do accented characters) carries a 46-plane air wing and no catapults. (The ones pictured I added before hitting the ‘check design’ button; we haven’t worked out aircraft catapults on carriers yet.) 30-knot speed should keep her out of trouble. Along with her 6″ main guns, she has a large battery of dual-purpose 3″ secondary guns in double turrets (another new research item), and passable AA machine gun armament.
Her flight deck and hangar sides are armored, an important consideration in tight seas. TODO: discuss.
Research note: some technologies in Rule the Waves 2 are marked as skippable—your scientists may simply move on to the next technology. Taking a quick look at the wiki, CV conversions are indeed in that category.
Reports, Plans, and Intentions
Finances (and Shipbuilding)
Nine months from today, we’ll have a free construction budget of 8,538 funds per month. 2,500 or so of those will go toward building Bearn. 3,500 or so are probably earmarked for the next battleship in the Ocean–Suffren series (which will be another incremental improvement of very similar design).
So, it’s time for another priorities question! What do you think is important as we careen toward the 1930s?
More Voltaires. I have another eight names lined up for ships in that series, and they’re currently the only non-destroyer ships in French service that can keep up with our newer carriers.
More battleships. We can probably swing two of the next class in line, or perhaps one of those and one 30-knot battlecruiser as a heavy escort for the carriers.
Heavy cruisers. As always, we’re behind in this race. The difference this time is that we don’t have a large fleet of battlecruisers capable of running them down and defeating them.
Battleship updates. The money’s there to make that 25-knot battle line I keep talking about.
More airbases on land. Our shiny new medium bomber is coming soon. It would be good to have some of them to throw around, especially given rising tensions with Austria-Hungary, who we can nearly bottle up by building more bases in Greece.
One thing to note: our fleet is no longer the fastest on the seas. We’re not the slowest, but we’re definitely middle of the pack nowadays. On the other hand, our two early-20s cruisers are much, much more heavily armored than enemy heavy cruisers, an edge we may be able to press in a war.
Speaking of rising tensions with Austria-Hungary, we could finally be getting the war we wanted from the start. Tensions with the Austrians are twice as high as everyone else, and on the border of yellow and orange. If we push them, we can get them into a fight, I bet, starting with cranking up spying to high.
Journalists among the non-essential – Unfortunately, this is likely to disproportionately fall on local reporters who might actually contribute something to society, as opposed to the glorified celebrity bloggers in the White House press corps.
Air USA buys 46 Hornets – Old RAAF birds, except ‘old’ undersells them. They’re well-specced and have been well maintained. Between this and their other planes, by my reckoning this makes Air USA the 57th largest air force in the world.
The Drive with an article on modern torpedoes – With the exception that it glosses over firing transients, it seems like a pretty good look. On the topic of submarines and subsims, I give Cold Waters the thumbs up. It’s a little arcadey when you’re dodging torpedoes, but the tension on the hunt is exactly right.
Google ruined the internet – By, the argument goes, emphasizing popularity over accuracy. I think this is true, but the causality is reversed. People used to care more about being right or linking to correct things on the Internet. We here actually feel the recency bias pretty keenly. Many of our (by which I mean parvusimperator’s) most popular articles were written a few years ago, which is eternities in Internet time.
Plans for Deterrence Dispensed’s FGC-9 are now available – The FGC-9 is a 9mm carbine you can make with a 3D printer, a set of calipers, common power tools, and zero gun parts. It accepts Glock magazines, but there are plans for making your own Glock-compatible magazines. DIY ammunition is forthcoming.
Parvusimperator had a heartwarming story about a guy who paid $20,000 above asking price for a bottle of Pappy a restaurant was selling to help keep the lights on, but it won’t load now, so I have neither details nor a link. Update: I have a link.
We’re too lazy to set up a proper shared byline, but this is a collaborative work, and both our names are on it. – P. & F.
The Kasarda drill is stupid.
There, we said it. The Kasarda drill is a fixture of the sort of action matches featured on Ian and Karl’s Inrange channel down in Arizona. Briefly, it involves a stage where there is one (1) steel silhouette-type target at the end of a bay. The shooter has to cover a distance by repeatedly tossing a heavy kettlebell, and scoring a hit on the target from wherever the kettlebell lands. After the shooter has gotten the kettlebell across some predetermined line and scored a final hit, the drill is complete.
We hate this drill. We think it is profoundly stupid. Here’s why.
Karl loves to gripe about “practicality,” or the lack thereof in matches not designed in accordance with his preconceived notions. He doesn’t like raceguns. He doesn’t like compensators. Et cetera. And that’s fine. Open division isn’t for everyone. Fancy race guns aren’t for everyone. That’s why there are other divisions. Of course, he’s also griped about the 180 safety rule, lack of required use of cover, and other rules designed to make rules enforcement easily understandable by shooters and ROs.
And yet the Kasarda drill is also a massively impractical, completely artificial drill. It bears exactly zero resemblance to anything actually done by any law enforcement officer or soldier ever. Literally none, unless you want to completely abstract everything away and think of it as “physical thing plus shooting thing.” Let’s break that down.
First, the physical. This is not drag your buddy, or carry ammo, or lug a “support weapon”. It’s fling a heavy kettlebell. And they have to dictate how you do it, because if you do it wrong, you’ll screw up your shoulder or your back and be out of the match. And while the folks at Inrange preach about accessibility, there are plenty of folks who are going to look at a big ol’ 62 pound (or whatever weight) kettlebell and say “Nope!”, and I can’t seem to find the place where Inrange tells you how to accommodate those with bad backs. Anyway, matches near me have plenty of middle aged folks, and making them get into shape before they come to my match is going to result in a very empty match with not a lot of fees to cover my expenses. Likewise, being perceived as requiring people to get into shape before they come out and play at my match is also going to result in a very empty match.
If the point is “exhaustion and then shoot”, there are other ways to do it that are more accessible and less potentially injurious. Carry something heavy (cops and soldiers might do this). People can drag a heavy weight if they can’t actually carry it. Or, you could have people run a lot (cops and soldiers might do this too). Heck, the running challenge automatically adjusts to fitness levels if you do laps around a bay or something. You’d just have to make the par time work. And hey, it even reasonably simulates a real-world incident. Check out this video from Active Self Protection.
Second, the shooting. Seriously, just one plate? Really? No transitions? Not even a mandatory reload? This “drill” feels like someone is trying to inject a bit of shooting into Crossfit. If I want to crossfit, I’ll hit the gym. I’m on the shooting range. Can I at least have an interesting shooting challenge?
Between Easter and an evening-hours project I’ve been working on, I didn’t have time to compile the What We’re Reading post this week. I’ll roll our selections from this week into next week’s.
The new-model German light cruiser Thetis is broadly equivalent to our recent light cruisers, though granted with added anti-air firepower and minelaying capability. (Our next European-service light cruiser will have those issues corrected.)
This will let us build a better seaplane tender, one which doesn’t have to stop to launch a seaplane, as well as build cruisers (potentially even light cruisers) with the ability to conduct seaplane scouting.
Currently, our doctrinal preference is to use seaplanes for scouting over torpedo bombers or dive bombers. This will save us ten or fifteen planes for strikes, when the time comes for that, but float planes are slower and less reliable than wheel-equipped carrier aircraft. Something to consider in the future.
Loire loses its place as the provider of fleet torpedo bombers.
Because we got dinged for not building enough destroyers, I elect to rebuild Requin (the last and best of our 12″ gun ships) instead of starting a new Ocean-class. This will bring her up to 25 knots, fast enough to hang with Ocean. Hopefully, when the rebuild’s done, we’ll have the budget in hand for a new Ocean follow-up.
After a long, long wait, we’ve finally worked out how to do double gun mounts on a light cruiser. That might call for a new class—superfiring double turrets will give us a broadside advantage on known enemy light cruiser designs.
Commandant Teste‘s replacement in the build order will be a light aircraft carrier. Why that, instead of a seaplane carrier? Well, this carries 24 aircraft to Teste‘s ten, mainly. Split evenly between fighters and torpedo bombers, it’ll be a better scout and be able to provide a CAP over the fleet.
No catapults, but it’s just large enough so that we won’t lose the ability to operate planes with heavy load from it. (That cutoff is, I believe, 10,000 tons.)
On the plus side, at least for interesting gameplay notes, another naval treaty is signed, limiting us to 30,000 tons displacement and 15″ main guns for 8 years. On the minus side, it really tanks our budget.
For comparison, Ocean is a 30,800-ton ship with 14″ main guns.
The new budget is a real kick in the teeth, doubled in intensity by our invention of quality-0 16″ guns so soon after the naval treaty. The building program will, alas, be somewhat reduced.
Somewhat delayed by the treaty budget, the first Arromanches-class carrier hits the shipyards. In four months or so, we’ll be in position to try an Ocean-class follow-on, budget-wise.
Suffren, our next in the Ocean series of battleships, goes into the design studios. She’s almost identical to the Ocean class, but drops a half-inch of belt armor and a few secondary guns in exchange for torpedo protection 3 and fitting in under the weight limit.
Project ‘annoy Austria-Hungary into a war they can’t win’ proceeds without a great deal of success.
It does make us enough money to pay for Suffren and a destroyer, at least.
Britain’s working on an interesting cruiser. High speed, light armor, light weight.
The middle way in an African crisis puts us in a good position financially. Rather than decide what to spend it on myself, since we’re right at the end of an update, I’ll put it to a vote. Read on.
Plans and Intentions
Tensions are low-ish across the board, with Austria-Hungary and Germany taking the lead at about halfway up the to-war meter.
Currently, we’re running a surplus of 1,352 funds per month, with three ships under construction: a Glaive-class destroyer, our first Arromanches-class light aircraft carrier, and Suffren.
That surplus is enough to do one of three many things, in combination with what we have in the rainy-day fund:
Rebuild the Redoubtables, our 1913-era battleships, with modern fire control, anti-aircraft guns, and 25-knot speed, one at a time. That would give us a decent 24-knot battle line,
Build another two of the new Condillac overseas-service cruisers. That would save us a little bit on maintenance as we pull older ships out of service.
Build some destroyers. We have a good number already (third-most in the world, and many more than our standard competitors Germany, Italy, and Austria; we don’t have many corvettes, though).
Potentially in concert with building destroyers or a Condillac, update the submarine fleet. We’re quite a bit behind in submarine count.
Build another aircraft carrier.
Build a new fleet-service light cruiser, with a burly dual-purpose secondary armament for maximum future-proofing.
Improve our air bases on the Channel Coast to help in future wars with Germany.
Last week’s readership made three strong suggestions:
Stick with new battleships, rather than big refreshes of old ships. (I may still do one now and again, as budget allows, just to start bringing the fleet speed up to 24 or 25 knots.)
Build some airbases in northern France, given the proximity of that part of the country to two major potential foes.
Build another seaplane carrier or two. The most important thing aviation can do for us right now is to provide fleet scouting, and seaplane carriers are a way to do that without spending aircraft carrier money.
To those suggestions, I add my own item:
Start refreshing our old light cruisers with a new, cheap model for foreign service.
We’ll see how much we get done. I’ll start with two airbases, one at Cherbourg and one at Dunkerque.
We have a shot at an alliance. I try Britain again, but they turn us down.
A mild crisis (a cruiser of ours runs aground off of a neutral power’s shore while conducting wireless intercept operations) sees tensions up to about the midpoint with Germany, Austria, Italy, and Britain, but buys us some extra budget in exchange.
Nieuport gets the nod for our next-generation flying boat. It’s quite a bit faster than our old one, and has a range in excess of 250 nautical miles—an excellent scout.
The British aren’t messing around with their new dreadnought.
The money’s on hand for a seaplane carrier now. This one is somewhat more capable than our previous two.
In particular, it has AA guns, and carries 10 seaplanes instead of 5. It should make a good fleet scout in the future.
With the seaplane carrier well on its way, I can now turn my attention to a light cruiser.
I wanted to call the class Lavoisier, but forgot I still have some of those around. I settled for Condillac instead, and will call the first ship Lavoisier.
The Germans are saber-rattling again; tensions continue to creep upwards with them.
A peace conference in the midst of tensions with Germany produces no results, but does slightly lower tensions across the board.
The Austrians catch a French spy. I elect to make him a national hero, but the Austrians barely respond to the provocation.
The defense minister wants 15 new destroyers building. I don’t intend to have that many going at once, but I am willing to take his money and try a new design.
The Glaive class has six torpedo tubes, four turrets in a superfiring-fore-and-aft arrangement, mines, and a moderately heavy anti-aircraft armament.
We’ve secured a new colony in Albania! The only problem is that it bumped tensions with Germany considerably above the halfway mark.
All in all, a quiet two years, although war with Germany is looking increasingly likely.
Interlude: Fleet Exercise
I wanted to show some of the ups and downs of early carrier combat, and the fleet exercise is a natural way to handle that. Pay a bit of cash, get some fleet experience in return.
Money is a bit too tight for that, though, so I’m going to savescum it as an exercise in battle-writing. In-universe, we’ll say it’s junior staff officers messing around with chits and a mapboard.
Amiral Charner, our lone CVL, cruises in company with two light cruisers, three destroyers, and a seaplane carrier. Altogether, they are Team Red. The enemy fleet, Team Blue, is Redoubtable, a mid-tier battleship, and an exact mirror of Team Red’s supporting force.
We’ve started at standard range, because this whole aircraft carrier thing is very new, and we’re not sure how it’s going to play out.
As a quick reminder, Amiral Charner‘s air group is eight fighters and fourteen torpedo bombers.
Given that Team Red knows Team Blue is in the area, Amiral Charner prepares a strike. She has room on deck to spot thirteen planes. I expect we’ll have the enemy in sight before crowding out our CAP becomes a problem.
Our light cruisers, ten miles in Amiral Charner‘s van, spot the enemy. The carrier and her supporting seaplane carrier turn away, while the light cruisers prepare to run interference—and hopefully spot the enemy battleship.
The red specks are aircraft formations.
The wind is out of the east-northeast, problematic given the range and location of the enemy forces.
The light cruisers spot an enemy ship sailing a) toward the battle and b) solo, which is probably the battleship.
The light cruisers and scouts confirm that it is indeed the battleship.
A strike takes a little while to ready and spot, and in the meantime, reconnaissance aircraft and CAP planes are returning, clogging the deck.
By the time that the deck is clear, and that your intrepid correspondent remembers that he has to check the boxes next to the aircraft rows to actually give them orders, not just highlight the rows, the opportunity is lost. The January sunset fades into a wintery night, and the scenario ends without combat.
We’ll try this again in the summer, provided we aren’t at war with someone by then.
Plans and Intentions
We uncovered two major technological items: improved directors on the fire control front, and torpedo protection 3, which adds (still more) weight but protects better against torpedoes.
Our current research priorities are naval aviation, anti-submarine technology, and turrets and gun mountings. Should we leave it that way, or focus on other items (light forces, guns, amphibious operations, machinery and hull design, other things)?
Ocean is nearly complete—she’ll be ready in three months. Should we build a slightly improved version when she’s done, improving her fire control and torpedo protection?
Should we perhaps build a battleship with an eye toward survivability in the coming age of aircraft? That is, heavy deck armor, lots of room for anti-aircraft firepower, and battlecruiser speed? Should we hold off on more battleships altogether?
Soon, we’ll be able to convert ships to full-size carriers. The 24-knot Duquesnes seem like perfect candidates—their machinery is very old, so giving them reasonable speed should be easy, and they have the displacement to support an air wing of decent size.
Other ships on the ways include Commandant Teste, our large seaplane carrier, three light cruisers to take over some colonial duties, and three Glaive-class destroyers (with minelaying technology!). Should I build another seaplane carrier, or lean harder on the light forces?
In more general terms, at present, our destroyers are about 35 knots, our light cruisers and battlecruisers go 27 to 29 knots, and our battle line goes 22. Is it worth rebuilding the slower ships in the battle line (the Redoubtables, Requin) to get their speeds up to, say, 24 knots? Should I push for faster light forces?
France is again a middle-tier naval power:
Germany has an edge on us if you count dreadnought ships in total. The US and the UK are both far ahead. Austria-Hungary, Italy, and Japan are clearly inferior.
Tensions are middling. Germany is rattling sabers again.
[Abbott (the health care equipment manufacturer) has a coronavirus test coming soon](https://www.abbott.com/corpnewsroom/product-and-innovation/detect-covid-19-in-as-little-as-5-minutes.html0 – Also, the ‘lab’ it runs in is a toaster-sized box that looks like it was designed by an Apple alum. Abbott expects to have five million tests produced in April, which would more than double the current test-per-day capacity in the US if they can all be processed.
A guy on Twitter reads a biochemistry paper so I don’t have to figure it out for you – It proposes a mode of action for the coronavirus, by computational analysis: the virus makes proteins which kick iron out of hemoglobin, reducing oxygen delivered by the blood. Lung issues are a result of lack of O2 in the blood, not its cause. Chloroquine binds to the hemoglobin-busting proteins, hence its effectiveness. In the Discord, boomerang-pigeon provides some additional context.
Space internet company OneWeb goes bankrupt – I saw it observed that someone’s going to get a sweet deal on a bunch of orbital hardware, and that railroad companies in the 1800s oftentimes grew in similar ways. First, you go bankrupt. Then, someone buys your assets at a deep discount, finishes the last bit of the work you couldn’t, and turns out to be massively profitable.
The crude oil market is broken – Worldwide oil demand is down by 25%. Wyoming Asphalt Sour, was bid at -$0.19—they’ll pay you to take it. Also, apparently, there are only about 700 oil refineries worldwide1.
Unrelated, but I found out this last week that there are 700,000 active ham radio licenses in the US. I would have never guessed that community is some 20 times larger than the USPSA community. ↩