(Alternate Universe Solarium)
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The alternate universe of Solarium diverged from the world as we know it during the period 1810-1850. The widest change is in the Antipodes where the lands known in our world as Australia and New Zealand become the Federated States of Australis. The general names of North and South Island are changed to reflect some of the migrants that arrived in 1750-1800 from Holland, Drenthe and Brabant respectively.
Looking at the world from this perspective, who is to say this is not correct? It is only because the so-called Northern hemisphere astronomers drew the maps first - they had to put themselves on top.
While Australis holds a mixed racial population it is based on the European "White & Christian" peoples from mainly the United Kingdom with pockets of Dutch, French, Germans, Italians, Spanish and others. These peoples were sure of their ascendancy over the dark skinned races and wars with the Aborigines and Maoris were inevitable and led to the virtual genocide of both races. The lands that were opened up by this cleansing of the land of the ungodly (only those 'heathens' that had converted and accepted Christianity survived) were deeded to soldiers who had fought for the crown and others who had proved themselves worthy of land grants in other ways. Early settlers paid a premium to the Crown in Britain for land unseen until they arrived after 3-5 months travel that not all survived. (I know its not very PC but white supremacy was rampant during this time)
The idea of Australis is to turn what is now "Australia and New Zealand" upside down and improve the place into a green and growing nation, where many peoples can live. To do this requires a bit of give and take with history (Alternate Universe) from about 1850 onwards.
It is the industrial revolution that has the ability to make Australia a great nation within the Commonwealth. Britain had ensured that Australia would remain 'industrially' poor till after 1945 when Australia became its own self governed country though gleams of this desire started showing in the 1920-30's, the 2nd World War made it inevitable. While Australia has had the ability to become a manufacturing power the rise of the "Cheap East" labour pool and lack of oversight of the major corporations has meant that Australia has remained a minor power though its government has an overinflated sense of its own self.
The power of people to help drive the industrial revolution can be seen throughout those countries that were at the heart of the revolution, Britain and its colonies were the greatest power in the world, resources poured into Britain at an amazing rate with the results of the resources going back into the world as manufactured products. We need to siphon off some of those production facilities to Australia and to enlarge the Australian population in ways that allow the new 'people and manufacturing power' to support each other.
Some of Englands greatest feats of engineering took place during this 1800-1900 period, the building of the Canal and railway networks (virtually by hand) being two notable events that Australia needed to copy.
For Australia to become 'Australis' requires people, and these people need to arrive in Australis during a time when 'sail' was still king so transporting large numbers of people is difficuilt when the ships carrying capacity is still small. From 1890 to 1910 it is far easier to do the same transport job with the powered vessels then available.
The next question is where to get people from that will integrate into the largely white/christian British based population. White and Christian are the main requirements - language can be learned quickly enough - and these people are available in what is then the Ottoman Empire and Balkan states. The Turks come a close second (to Germany) when it comes to ethnic cleansing, the Christians of the Ottoman Empire do not fare well with 2-3 million being killed and expelled during the 1850-1930 timespan. Industry again fuelling this pogrom as the minor peoples of the land began increasing at a faster rate placing strains on the infrastructure. The Empiric way to cure this is to get rid of the problem - goodbye Assyrians, Armenians, Circassians etc. The point is to get someone in that region reporting to Australis that these events are beginning to happen and Australis to do a deal with the Ottoman Empire and Russian Empires to transport all the people the Turks wish to expel to Australis, where the people are used to fuel the growth of the Australis infrastructure by getting water projects into place (dams, canals, irrigation), laying the road and rail systems and helping the growth of the manufacturing centers.
Coal and iron ore are the major requirements for the continued growth of industry. Iron & Steel to build the machines and a lot of the infrastructure requires it too.
Australis: being the central government of the confederated states of Australia and New Zealand (which was retained tied to Australis past the 1840 Waitangi date). This joint nation has access to lots of the resources required to fuel their own industrial revolution (plus a few extras 'given' to them in this universe). Iron sands of high quality abound down the West coast of North Island and high quality coal from the West coast of South Island (oil and gas in the future too) meant that NZ would remain tied to Australis. Shipping these resources to UK was expensive - shipping the same resources accross the ditch to Australia is no problem. Australia has its own coal, iron ore and (in the future) oil/gas resources to make the Australis Industrial Revolution a reality.
One of the problems is where to make the Industrial Revolution take place in Australis and how to get the resources to where they are required.
The coal to fuel the revolution is along the East Coast of Australia and west coast of Brabant (South Island). The major iron ore deposits are based in Western Australia and South Australia. Other metals come from Mt Isa and the Broken Hill region. The major sources to export to in the 1850-1910 timespan are Europe and the US. Though if the products are available to the Eastern nations (Japan, China etc) at a rate favourable to them, those markets would also be available for manufactured goods.
Where, that is the major problem - Darwin would be ideal but is not that agreeable in climate and surrounding areas untill medicine is available to cure its problems. Darwin has a magnificent harbour and is one of the prime Naval bases.
Having to send the resources a long way to process them lowers their value with every mile they travel. Then to turn around and send the product to another point for either further processing or export further reduces the value. Because of the vastness of Australia their need to be at least 4 processing points for the basic resources. Auckland, Perth, Adelaide and Sydney.
Where you have land access to all the points you wish to travel to then rail travel is the link of choice with sea links and eventually air links.
1869 with the opening of the Suez canal and the opening of the southern European nations to Australis travel and sales markets for food is the time when Australis' population jumps significantly: 1850 = 800,000 / 1870 = 2.4mil / 1880 = 4.5mil / 1890 = 7mil / 1900 = 11mil / 1910 = 16.5mil. The ships leave Australis with produce and return with immigants.
Several things fuelled this growth - the enforced migrations as noted above (6mil 1850 to 1910) the gold rush era and the normal migration of people from (southern) Europe to the new promised land.
To make this work the enforced migrants have to do a 5 year bond of employment to the government to pay for their transportation and their eventual deed of ownership of the land they help clear and access. This gives the government a workforce of at least 1/2 million a year to build the infrastructure required to get ahead of the population curve. Water Water Water, that is what drives how fast an area can grow. The capture and retention of water and funelling it where it needs to go is paramount. During the same period the building of the road & rail networks between points of manufacturing and processing is also undertaken.
The way to future growth of Australis is the reclaiming of the semi-desert regions. Again it is the rail/road water infrastructure that is needed to do this. The carrot to the people to do this is the ownership of the land. Smallholdings growing food to feed those on the land with an excess for sale gives more and more advancement of population growth. Farms/farmers produce large families with greater growth. The excess children of working age fuel the city/urban population growths. It becomes exponential.
Once the canal, road & rail systems are in place and finished with dams and manmade lakes at strategic positions to feed the canal system the people used to produce these modern wonders start fueling the population in family growth and using the manufactured goods made in Australis, eat the food produced throughout Australis. One of the very first set of learning institutions produced was a set of universities offering 'medical' training in both Doctor, Nurse categories. The need for medical people at the canal/railheads was forseen and imports with carrots were first used untill the university system could produce enough of its own. The roads and rail system would have been pushed through at the same time as the canals and all 3 would have been dug out and laid at the same time. The land being opened up at the 'head' of the system as it moved on. The dams would be fitted as hydro-electric production centers, feeding an ever growing need for electrical power. New Zealand being further north of Australia does not require the same amount of resources to create a verdant land with plenty of rivers and lakes to provide the necessary water resources for population, infrastructure & economic development. New Zealands population increased at the same sort of rates as the Aussie half of Australis with population reaching 3 million in 1910, the same indenture system operated for New Zealand for creating the dams and hydro systems required for the growth of industry in mainly the south Drenthe region.
A double tracked rail link would need to be created between Sydney to Adelaide, Adelaide to Perth and Adelaide to Darwin. This link system would carry the vast amounts of resources and products to each center while Perth and Sydney were the main export centers. In New Zealand the two main centers (equivalent to the Australian State capitals) were Auckland (for Drenthe) and Christchurch (for Brabant). Auckland being the manufacturing and production center while Christchurch handled the prime foodstuff production. Though the sooner Darwin can be brought into a full working harbour and export port the better as Darwin is closer to the main Eastern markets and is also the linchpin for the defence of northern Australia. Norstralis benefits from the canal system majorly with the fresh water brought to the area supplanting the swamps and marshes eradicating the fever problem, which was also helped with preventive medications becoming available, such as manufactured quinine.
Distance 1200 miles NZ to Australis. Australis Flag.
Please note: all of the outcomes of this alternate reality are drawn directly from my imagination and are not to be taken seriously, though parts of this are drawn from reality to create the historical start point.
All of the outcomes are to fuel my
imagination of what 'Australis' may produce for a navy leading up to and into
the second world war. It is entirely probable that the ships would be designs
produced for not only the Royal Navy but also The Australis and South African navies.
Why spend money on designing your own when you can copy someone elses', as long
as the design suits what you want. I figure that even with Australis
participating fully in the Industrial revolution, its shipbuilding industry
would still be limited with material and ships themselves still being sourced
from Britain, untill such time as the necessary experience had been gained.
With many designs from the First World War enduring to take part in the Second
World War it is nice to see what these ships may have looked like with a 1930's
The two major shipbuilding areas are Newcastle and Adelaide. Major ports with large docking facilities are Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane, Auckland, and Christchurch. Other large seaside centers have various infrastructure to support naval vessels. Sydney does have a Navy dockyard which while it is capable of building ships it is mainly used for refit and repair till the later 1930's when it is also used for the rebuilding program of the old ships.
Timeline of the Australis Navy
The Navy building yards were established in Newcastle in 1856 and the Adelaide yard in 1871. Both yards started building minor vessels for the Australis Navy that were mainly in the coast defence style and merchant vessels for the Government. The largest vessels completed during this time are the 36 transport ships for the Government for use in bringing immigrants from Southern Europe and the Middle East areas to Australis while transporting goods to those markets. This period is a learning curve for the yards, gaining in experience with each ship. The first powered, iron ships are built in the 1870's and soon take over the migrant trade route.
The first large Naval ships arrived in Australis waters during this period - 1905. The ex-Chilean Battleships bought from the British builders to stop them falling into unfriendly hands were not to Royal Navy standard so were transferred to Australis. The original names (Swiftsure & Triumph) were changed to Otago and Tasmania to reflect their new owners. Otago was discarded and stripped in 1918-19 while Tasmania was sunk by a U-Boat in 1915. They were accompanied by two Armoured Cruisers of the County class, as both types of ship had the 7.5" gun, to keep the ammunition supply at a reasonable level. Original thoughts of using the names Australis and New Zealand for the new battleships were quashed when the Navy told the government that they would be designing and building bigger and better ships in the near future. It was during this period that the Australis large caliber gun foundry was started in Adelaide with a medium gun foundry in Newcastle. Plans for the new Dreadnought vessels were brought out to Australis with the new ships but the yards were not quite ready for that size of ship. The largest ships built so far were two protected cruisers with 6" armaments for trade protection and these ships were in continuous use (as much as training ships) on the Perth to Red Sea trade route. In 1905 the Navy yards laid down two more cruisers of an enlarged County type to be armed with 8 x 7.5" guns in a lozenge arrangement. These ships were similar to the British Duke and Warrior classes. These ships were followed in 1908 with two Neptune type Battleships and two Indefatigable type Battlecruisers both with 12" main armaments. Another battlecruiser was started in 1910 in the Tiger class type with the first 13.5" guns and was followed in 1911-1912 by 2 more battleships in the Iron Duke type. 1913 saw the introduction of the 15" gun with Australis having received plans for both the R Type and Queen Type battleships. Australis chose the Queen type and laid down 3. The last ship laid down during this capital ship building phase was the battlecruiser of the R class laid down in 1915. This ship differed from its UK counterparts as it was to be armed with the 14" guns from the incomplete Chilean battleship that was completed as the Aircraft Carrier Eagle. Various cruisers were also laid down and completed during this time with 4 Bristol class and 4 Boadicea class being laid down 1906-1909 then a further 6 Chatham class were laid down in 1910-11. Destroyers had not featured greatly in Australis thinking as the range of these ships was to short to make them more than harbour protection vessels. It wasnt until 1910 that the first full destroyers were laid down of the 'I' class and these were followed in 1912/13 by 'L' class vessels.
1914-19 - World War 1
Wartime construction completed those capital ships already building and the only new ship was the battlecruiser laid down in 1915 as noted above. Otherwise new construction centered on cruisers, destroyers, and minesweeper / escort type vessels. Cruisers were of the C type then E type followed by a new Armoured cruiser type. Destroyers followed the UK types with R & S types, VW in normal destroyers with Marksman Class leaders being built for the RS types and then the Admiralty type Leader class ships to go with the VW type ships. Minesweepers and escorts were all of the Hunt type which started being laid down in 1914 and laying down of these vessels stopped in 1917 when victory became apparent. The Hunt type vessels were built in mainly commercial yards to free the Navy yards for major construction and repairs and the finish of the Hunt class varied greatly. Some were of shoddy construction and lasted only a few years in service. All had been discarded by the start of WW2.
1920-1939 The Inter-War Years
Because of its navies size and its links to Great Britain, Australis was made a signatory of the Washington Treaty with limits similar to France, Italy and Japan. With the completion of the Australis battlecruiser in 1919, Australis' limits were reached. No further capital ships could be built prior to 1930 when Australis was allowed to lay down 2 new ships to replace the old Neptunes. The immediate after-war period was filled with the completion of the ships laid down during the war and as yet uncompleted. 2 E Type cruisers and 2 armoured cruisers fell into this category along with several destroyers. New construction centered on cruisers with first the County types then the new generations of light cruiser. Destroyer construction followed British types with the A-I classes being built during 1928-1936. Early ships started being taken in hand in 1934 for modernisation and reconstruction. Some ships had had refits earlier but these were more just keeping the ships up to date. 1934-35 plans for reconstruction of the battleships, cruisers and dextroyers completed prior to 1920 came into being with the entry into the armoury of the twin 4.5" dual-purpose turret in below deck and free standing mountings. The same gun system was also to be incorporated into secondary armaments for cruisers and battleships while the destroyers would use the freestanding turret as a main armament. With the "Great Depression" still in force Australis only undertook the design of its new battleships. It was not untill 1933 that the first ship was laid down with a sistership in 1935. New escorts to replace the Hunt type started building in 1931 and continued right through to 1944 with the same basic design. The I class destroyers were discarded in 1919-20 and the L's had been discarded on completion of the new A-I types. The old R&S type destroyers started being replaced by ships laid down from 1934 onwards. The first few R&S ships which were completely worn out were sold or discarded/scrapped the better ships were kept and renovated into destroyer escorts with more either anti-submarine or anti-aircraft fittings. New guns and turrets were entering the armoury lists on a regular basis from 1934 onwards, mostly in the Dual-purpose and anti-aircraft range as aircraft showed that they were a force to be reckoned with. Aircraft carrier construction was something that the Australis navy was happy to plan for and build when able. During the period that 2 battleships and a battlecruiser were laid down, 8 aircraft carriers of various types and sizes were also laid down.
The aircraft carriers were made possible because of the setting up of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in 1917 in Melbourne that would produce its own aircraft types and produce UK designs under license. Thus when a new aircraft carrier was being built or converted, an order for aircraft complemement and spares could be ordered through the CAC to be ready for completion of the aircraft carrier.
The period 1930-34 was the interesting area as the London Naval Conference was convened in 1930 in the middle of the Great Depression with Britain calling for even greater restrictions than those already in force. Pushing for 26,000 tons and 12" for battleships, with cruisers to 8,000 tons and 6", this would have helped Britain as they most needed numbers of ships rather than big ships. Japan said 'No' and the US said maybe and with that, those limits never made it. Japan also said it would not be under treaty limits any more as it was going to build new ships. The US of course could not allow the Japanese to build ships without answer. Japan however did indicate that they would act in the spirit of the Washington limits. This is quite interesting as the Japanese designers had been told to think 'maximum' sizes which lead to the Yamato type at 65,000 tons standard displacement. America stated that if Japan had not ratified the Washington limits as redefined in London by 1932 they would no longer be under any obligation either. The Japanese didnt sign and the next arms race was on.
1939-45 World War 2
Again as with the First World War, once war was declared only those capital ships that were building were to be completed. It was not until 1940 that more Aircraft carriers of several different types were laid down. Construction had centered on cruisers, destroyers and escorts. Rather than design new ships for the escorts, the new Escorts and Frigates classes that had been started in the 1930's were kept with and numbers were increased markedly. Cruisers were in two types with an anti-aircraft type and a general purpose light cruiser with 6" guns. A destroyer type of the Modified A-G types was used as the basis for a War Emergency design. It was found, very quickly. that specialised Fleet Replenishment Ships were required for support of the battlefleet. Two types, an oiler and a dry stores ship were designed and built in numbers. Room had to be found for enlarged AA weapons outfits, radar, asdic all got better and required more space not just for the equipment but also for the crew to use them. Ships got bigger while the armament remained the same. The guns fired faster. The older ships performed well against their more modern counterparts with many battles being won by ships that had probably only just escaped the scrap yard.
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