|What if this never happened?|
Over the holidays I sketched out some ideas for a counter factual clash between the Royal Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy, prior to the outbreak of the Russo Japanese War in 1904. This may seem a bit far fetched but, before the 1902 Anglo-Japanese Alliance, the latter were seen as a significant potential threat to British interests in South East Asia and specifically in China. Although Russia was the bigger problem, the increasing economic and military strength of Japan together with her obvious ambitions for regional expansion, seemed equally worrying to the government.
If the Alliance had not occurred and the British had instead backed the Triple Intervention in 1895, then it wouldn't be entirely off the wall to have some sort of diplomatic 'incident' between the two rival powers. How about an alternative Boxer Rebellion in which Japanese forces stood by while the foreign legation was overrun? Or the Japanese mistakenly torpedoing a British cruiser or battleship in error, thinking it was Russian? This would then open up the possibility of a naval clash of some sort, perhaps even drawing in other countries with competing interests in the region like the USA, Russia and Germany.
|...or perhaps not?|
If the diplomatic relationship between Japan and Great Britain had nose-dived instead of blossomed, then the Japanese navy could still have acquired it's pre-dreadnought fleet from British yards before things deteriorated into conflict. As most of the shipbuilders concerned were private firms they would meet Japanese orders regardless of the position of the government, while at the same time building warships like the Canopus class pre-dreadnought battleships in response to the rising naval strength of Japan. The Japanese also bought warships from Italy, the USA, France and Germany and were constructing their own battleships by 1905 too
Anyway, the initial idea now is to build up a force of pre-dreadnought warships for the Royal Navy using the composition of the China Station fleet c1904, as a basis for the project. This is relatively straightforward and, on paper at least, would create a small but powerful naval force with some modern battleships, armoured cruisers, protected cruisers and torpedo boat destroyers. I have worked out that I can cover just about everything from the Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale range as well, except for a couple of light cruisers.
Just an idea but I think it has potential.