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GRAND FLEET is a moniker for my extensive "what if..." variant of the board game "to VICTORY THROUGH SEAPOWER" which itself is my homemade (and elaborately redeveloped) version of a combination of Avalon Hill's "VICTORY in the PACIFIC" and "WAR at SEA" games. Leaving the actual game aside, the accompanying monographs on Japanese ships (and other contemporaries) were developed as a "Rogue's Gallery" of illustrations for the conception, development, and combat histories of the fictitious warships that appear in the game. The "VTS rating" shown in the descriptive tables is based largely on the "VITP" format to rate individual game pieces' characteristics. Tonnage expressed is 'standard'.

This "GRAND FLEET" variant seeks to explore the effect of increased numbers and variety of naval participants during the World War II era. The "GRAND FLEET" world is miraculously richer in materials and manpower, allowing more generous expenditures on naval assets. More countries join the war, making the conflict even more global. Both the Allies and Axis navies are about a third more powerful.

Much of the increase is reflected in concepts and designs that were proposed and nurtured in the inter-war years but were discarded, never completed, or completed too late for the historical time frame of the game. In the "GRAND FLEET" world the Washington Naval Treaty that effectively curtailed large warship development (they became smarter, not larger) is delayed, for about five years in its implementation (c. 1926) allowing the victors of WW I to use their economic power to build more shipyards and fleet units. Interest in nautical aeronautics speeds development of naval aircraft, catapults, arrestor gear, and ships to carry them, resulting in aircraft that are a 'generation' better than their historical counterparts.

The grandiose building schemes of the early 'twenties could be only partially realized regardless of Treaty restrictions due to enormous costs. Most nations look for ways to 'economize' their warships, either making smaller units or sacrificing some salient characteristic to keep within Treaty limitations until the renewed threat of war in the mid-'thirties spurs development and shipbuilding programs. The Treaty collapses about 1936 and a worldwide naval race ensues. Older units are modernized; new designs are rushed to completion. War erupts before all the plans can be fulfilled, but bigger and better ships, and different kinds of ships (such as the 'large cruiser' and flight-deck gunship) are at sea or in the making.

Japan reluctantly embraces the Treaty after Tosa and Owari were done, and only built one conforming battleship (Hiraga) before building the Treaty-busting Kii in secret. The sudden presence of the huge Kii in 1936 started the world-wide naval arms race as countries rushed to renounce the Treaty before they fell too far behind.

Japan invests heavily in shipbuilding, particularly ships that carry aircraft. Great hope is placed in her battlecruiser conversions and numerous seaplane carriers until her building programs can supply the new fleet carriers envisioned. She supplies ships and aircraft to her Asian puppet states, but is more careful to rein in her jingoistic military so she can stockpile steel and oil imported from disapproving countries without getting cut off prematurely. Though her enemies have not been idle either, the Imperial Japanese Navy that starts the war in "GRAND FLEET" is more powerful and looks a bit different than her historical counterpart.

Admiral U. Furashita

For more information on the game "Grand Fleet"

To view the mapboards for "Victory Through Seapower" (and "Grand Fleet")

to French Navy  |   to German Navy  |   to Italian Navy

to Minor Countries' Navies   |   to Royal Netherlands Navy   |   to Royal Navy

to Soviet Navy   |   to United States Navy

Japanese section of Furashita's Fleet and 'About the Author'

Main Imperial Japanese Navy Page