[edit – I did start off titling this as the Scandinavian Confederation but I had a change of mind, so we now have the Scandinavian Union. The post has been edited throughout to reflect this]
Last week we revealed some new Aeronef masters, with a rather cryptic headline (if the truth be told, it’s a rather awful pun) concerning their origin. One or two on our forums surmised from this that the new fleet is Swedish, which is a pretty good guess. In fact, we’ve taken as our starting point the C.19th historical union between Sweden and Norway, extrapolated this a bit, thrown in a bit of Denmark for good measure and have come up with the Scandinavian Union. The Scandinavian countries aren’t mentioned at all in either the Aeronef or Land Ironclads timelines, so there wasn’t anything official to go on – so we’ve made it all up, but have tried to get it all to fit within the existing history.
The historical union resulted from a series of events in the Napoleonic wars, involving a Norwegian breakaway from Denmark, then a war with Sweden, Denmark handing Norway over to Sweden under threat of being overrun by German, Swedish and Russian troops (led by Crown Prince Bernadotte, formally one of Napoleon’s generals).
In our (unofficial) Aeronef timeline, the Swedish/Norwegian union has been joined by Denmark and controls most of the Scandinavian peninsula, Iceland, Greenland, the Faroes and of course the Kattegat, Skagerrak and the Danish Straits between the Baltic into the North Sea.
The Union is a primarily defensive organisation, with no expansionist agenda, merely a desire to look after the territory and peoples of the three countries.
The Aeronef fleet is divided into two main arms, each with their own distinct function. The Home Fleet has a purely defensive mission, keeping the borders of the Union safe from incursion. It mostly comprises smaller vessels, patrol boats, corvettes, frigates etc with long endurances for these patrol functions. These vessels are stationed in bases close to their assigned border patrol areas. The Home Fleet also has a number of Heavy Squadrons, positioned more centrally but still within easy reach of the borders. The task of these squadrons is to act as a blocking and delaying force when any breach of Union territory is detected. To accomplish this, the Home Fleet heavy squadrons have been successively bolstered by the addition of increasingly heavier cruisers and, more recently, light battleships.
The second main component of the Union aerial forces, the Pursuit Fleet, is much the more glamourous arm, the aerial cavalry to the Home Fleet’s foot-slogging infantry. Equipped with fast, heavily armed vessels, their task is to act as a hammer to the Home Fleet’s anvil, sweeping in at speed to deal with enemy forces detected (and hopefully delayed) by the patrol forces. On occasions where enemy forces are too swift or too distant to be dealt with by the Home Fleet, the Pursuit Fleet is expected to intercept and engage these forces alone, hence the recent entry into service of well-equipped Lillehammer battlecruisers. Once the intruders have been broken, the Pursuit squadrons apply the coup-de-grace, pursuing the battered, fleeing enemy back whence they came.
Fortresses and Bases
The heavily crenelated Scandinavian coastline is ideal territory for concealing Aeronef bases. Scattered among the fjords of Norway’s Atlantic coast, and the Swedish Baltic coast, are the bases of the Home Fleet. Some of these bases are literally dug into the cliff faces, with landing pads for lighter craft projecting from artificial caves. Protecting these bases are fortified gun positions and turrets, often with heavier ordnance than could be fitted to an Aeronef.
Further out to sea, and also in the mouths of the larger fjords, are sea forts, similar to those designed by the British military architect Maunsell, but fitted with turrets of Swedish design. These installations carry between one and four turrets and make any foe think twice about approaching the coast.
The Danish Straits leading to the Baltic are also heavily fortified with forts on the many islands. Some are becoming rather dated, originating from the Napoleonic wars, but a modernisation programme is slowly seeing them updated and the 18th century smoothbores replaced by more modern breech-loaders.
Conflict in the late 19th Century
Although the Union has a defensive outlook, politically and militarily, the strategic position at the mouth of the Baltic and the wealth of natural resources (Swedish iron ore being much prized) means that predatory powers often turn their gaze to the north. In keeping with the fickle politics of the age, alliances and treaties are made and broken with alarming regularity, and allies can become foes in the blink of an eye.
Skirmishes throughout the Baltic are regular occurrences with Russian flyers, although the Russians tend to try to keep the Scandinavians onside to preserve their access to the Atlantic.
The Germans, with their own pathway through the Kiel Canal, have less need of the Danish Straits, but they would still prefer to have the area under their own control to restrict the movements of their perennial foes in Moscow. In 1891, during the war between Britain, France and Germany, Prussian forces landed on the Baltic islands of Zealand, Funen, Lolland, Falster and Mon in an attempt to seize control of the straits without attacking the main Jutland peninsula. After a campaign of many months, the Prussians, weakened by the demands of the ongoing war against Great Britain, were finally repulsed with the aid of the Russian Baltic fleet and a small British Expeditionary force drawn from the colonies.
Further afield, the islands of the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland are coveted by other powers, not so much for their resources as for their strategic location. It has even been rumoured that Japan has eyes on remote areas of Greenland as a staging post for surprise raids on the American east coast and the Aeronefbase of New York ! The vast areas of the the Greenland tundra make it very difficult to patrol effectively, so for all that anyone knows there could already be a Japanese base in place.
A more mundane task for the Home Fleet is convoy escort duty and regular sweeps against sky pirates in the Baltic, preying on the iron ore convoys from Sweden, a menace that can never completely be eradicated.