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Old 05-08-2015, 01:02 PM
47 posts, read 45,407 times
Reputation: 70


Ok, A separate thread elsewhere gave me this idea.

After 1918, not everything was going swimmingly in the world until Hitler. There was a build up of naval power among the UK, USA, and Japan. The US had plans for 50 battleships to be built, and the UK and Japan had major naval expansion plans as well to counter this. The British Empire was still the nation to beat, despite the manpower losses suffered in the Great War. However, American Naval power was expanding, and making some British concerned with American intentions. Luckily a combination of American isolationist sentiment and British war weariness led to the Washington Naval Treaty in 1921, as well as the following London Naval Treaties. But no one in 1920 knew this was the way things were going to go.

What if there hadn't been a Washington Naval Treaty, and the UK, Japan, and the USA had continued their arms race to the conclusion of an open war? Yes, I understand it didn't happen, and in hindsight, wasn't probable. That's not the question I'm posing. I'm asking what would have happened had a war been declared? Assuming a few years of arms race, some naval skirmishes (similar to the start of the War of 1812) and finally a breakdown in relations to the point of war in, say, 1924.

Basic questions:

What would have been the likely result of the war, in detail?

Who would have come to the aid of either side of a USA/UK conflict in 1924? Japan? France? Germany? Italy? Spain? Mexico?

What would have been the best or most likely strategic goals and campaigns for the UK or USA?

The world in 1924:

United States:


British Empire:
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Old 05-08-2015, 02:00 PM
Location: Howard County, Maryland
5,677 posts, read 3,653,594 times
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Are you positing a war between the U.S. and Great Britain? I see no reason why this would have happened, with or without the naval treaties. The British might have been a bit alarmed if the treaty-less Yanks surpassed them as a naval power, but I can't imagine that this would have led to war between the two.

Historically, the naval arms race was bankrupting Japan, which is why they agreed to the terms of the treaties. These terms were less disadvantageous than a flat-out arms race would have been. Even if Japan had achieved its Eight-Eight fleet goal, the U.S. would have still crushed them, numerically speaking.

I can imagine two possible outcomes. One, Japan might have initiated a war in the early 1930's, before their inferior position became even worse. Though, they would have lacked the aircraft carrier superiority that they achieved later on, so it's hard to say how their qualitatively superior but numerically inferior battle fleet would have done, especially if it was used offensively instead of defensively as they had planned. But another possibility is that cooler heads might have prevailed in the face of a crushing U.S. and U.K. superiority, and they may have chosen not to go to war in the first place.

An interesting question, to be sure.
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Old 05-08-2015, 04:11 PM
Location: Port Charlotte
3,927 posts, read 4,783,698 times
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The US was already dealing with several recessions before 1929. We would not have continued the arms race, due to financial problems leading into 1929. The Roaring 20's weren't all that roaring for much of the country. Further, the US was very isolationist, had to be dragged kicking into WWII by Japan. Even after the US was attacked, the US did not declare war on Germany, rather Germany declared war on the US. GB would not have moved to start a war, nor would the US.

The more likely thing would have been a simmering pot. Germany was going to explode due to the armistice terms after WWI, just boxed Germany into too tight a box leading to its financial collapse. When you have nothing to lose, it leads to a fight. Even if Hitler had been replaced by another strongman, some war would have take place, possibly earlier than 1939. Had Hitler not been the egomaniac leader, the war may have been limited to part of Poland, eastern France and eastern Belgium, creating a stronger Germany. It would not have brought GB or the US into the war, or attacked Russia.

There probably would have been a war between GB and Japan, given Japan's ambitions. But so long as Japan limited its expansion to China, Burma, Korea, again the US would probably have remained neutral, being a supplier of arms and material.

It was the over-reaching ambitions of Japan and Germany which expanded the wars from regional conflicts to the world conflagration.
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Old 05-10-2015, 10:17 AM
Location: Texas
35,271 posts, read 19,307,980 times
Reputation: 20904
Default What if... WW2 had come early? USA vs Japan and UK?



I've got one!

What if Japan and the UK ganged up on America but FDR had a secret underground army of immortal zombies to turn loose on 'em?

That right there would be a history changer, boy! Think about the movies and AMC series they could get out of that one.

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Old 05-10-2015, 02:37 PM
Location: Howard County, Maryland
5,677 posts, read 3,653,594 times
Reputation: 16618
Originally Posted by Old Gringo View Post
What if Japan and the UK ganged up on America but FDR had a secret underground army of immortal zombies to turn loose on 'em?
Given Japan's unexpected technological superiority at the time, it seems likely that they would have had a smaller, but more advanced and more efficient army of immortal zombies on their own.

In looking back over this thread, it dawns on me that I didn't really answer the OP's question. The actual question was, what if war had somehow broken out in the 1920s? Japan's naval plans called for a defensive action that would take place somewhere fairly close to Japan, probably around the Philippines. If somehow war had broken out, they would presumably try and "lure" the U.S. Navy and Royal Navy in close, so they could attempt to first whittle our fleet down through attrition (using their battle cruisers and submarines) and then knock us out with their planned Great Fleet Battle.

But the problem was, in the 1920s neither the U.S. nor Britain would have been distracted by Adolph Hitler. Instead, we could use our combined forces solely against Japan. And that is exactly what I would imagine would happen, because it is inconceivable to me that neither side wouldn't join with the other, if Japan had attacked either one. Thus, the Imperial Navy would find itself caught in-between two vastly superior forces, coming at them from at least two different directions at once.

The "Greater East Asia War" would be over practically before it started, with Japan having lost all or nearly all of its ships in a defeat of epic proportions. Later on, assuming that the European War started according to its historical timeline, the U.S. could devote all of its resources to that conflict, without being "distracted" by the Pacific War that didn't happen. It seems likely that the European War would have ended sooner as a result.

What I draw from this is, the highly ironic conclusion that the Washington and London naval treaties actually had a hand in making World War II a much larger and more destructive war than it otherwise might have been. Talk about unintended consequence!
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Old 05-14-2015, 02:27 PM
2,331 posts, read 1,349,691 times
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usa would have destroyed japan and uk...just would have taken longer
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Old 05-15-2015, 11:55 AM
Location: colorado springs, CO
4,966 posts, read 2,290,118 times
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..but what if it came LATE? Imagine Hitler in the age of mass media, social media & the world wide web.
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