RogerBW's Blog

One for the Brow part 2: France 18 April 2014

I'll come back to what the British are up to, but the historical enemy has to be considered.

It all starts going wrong in May 1968. The student strikes are joined by workers' sit-ins, the UNEF holds a 50,000-person meeting in the Stade Sebastien Charlety demanding a new government, and de Gaulle flees the country for French military headquarters in Germany. So far, so historical. But his helicopter vanishes en route, believed to have been shot down by parties unknown, and with no firm hand the situation in Paris grows worse until the rioters overwhelm the Paris police and the CRS.

After hasty elections, Guy Debord declares the Sixth Republic and forms the new Situationist government. While the post-Dadaist artistic flowering that follows is the envy of the world (at least that part of the world that's under thirty), other states can't help noticing how there now seems to be a Soviet sympathiser, a nuclear-armed one at that, embedded within Europe.

The Soviets covertly supported the revolt because they thought that they could hollow out the new government and get a handy puppet state. This didn't quite work; the Situationists were much more hostile to communism (which they had been fighting since well before the revolution) than outsiders had expected. Political realities leave the French dealing with both the USSR and China, generally trying to play them off against each other.

As far as naval forces are concerned, Clemenceau and Foch are joined by Joffre, of similiar design but with updated sensors; similarly Jeanne d'Arc is joined by Charlemagne. The Super Étendard is rushed into service early; it's unreliable at first, but gives the carriers a stand-off strike capability via Exocet that the earlier Étendard simply can't achieve.

Submarines are mostly Daphné and Aréthuse diesel attack boats, but the Redoutable, Terrible, and Foudroyant SSBNs are in service by 1975 with Indomptable nearly ready.

Smaller combatants include five frigates of the Tourville class, and four Suffrens.

(Next: weapons)

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