The World Today

The World Today
Earth in 2013

Sunday, December 25, 2011


I've been really slacking on updates, but for a fair reason. My laptop is several years old, and parts of it are failing. Parts like the keyboard and the hard drive, not to mention the software. The OS is easy enough to fix (wipe it and reinstall), but the rest of it... Unfortunately, they don't make them like they use to, and I'm attempting to save up for a new laptop. Since mine is so old, the cheapest I could buy today would likely outperform it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Attenborough Plateau

The first of the “islands” in the Galapagos Mountains is the northwestern most, named Attenborough. The island is roughly the size of France that sits on average some six kilometers above the Sunspot Desert, and divided by a ridge that rises 12 kilometers above sea level. The Diamond Mountains receive their name from large, exposed deposits of quartz and other clear crystals. They sparkle in the sunlight. Had Hypnale orbited a whiter star, the Diamond Mountains would shine like diamonds. As is, the Ruby or Garnet Mountains might have been a more apt name. The mountains are steep, with some sheer cliffs of over a kilometer. Animals similar to mountain goats, geckos as well as the mountain sloth live in the otherwise barren mountains. Because of the crystal deposits, little in the way of soil exists in the mountains, and only the hardiest of lichen can survive there.
The western side of Attenborough is covered in dry scrubland forest. It is far less “verdant” than the rain forests straddling the planet’s terminator, but it adds a dash of purple to the otherwise bleak landscape far below. The forest exists since most of the rivers of Attenborough flow to the west, before ending in evaporating waterfall, seldom touching the desert below. Like with the mountains, the Forest Shores are populated by the diversified descendants of animals trapped by one mean or another atop the plateau. As mentioned, dozens of rivers flow from the Diamond Mountains. The forest is most lush on the banks of the rivers, but quickly thins over distance. The constant bombardment of direct sunlight supercharges the plants. Only water supply limits their conquest of all land around them. Animals of the forest have sizes inversely proportional to the density of the forests.

The eastern side of the plateau is covered by a sea of purple ferns. The Scarpian Plains are similar to savannas of Earth, only without the grasses. Animals can grow large on the plains. Again, their limit is dictated by water supply, not food. At least not directly. Lake Vincennes sits on the western edge of the plains, separating it from the mountains. The lake is deep, formed by a fissure in the crust. It can sink as low as three kilometers. The lake is fueled by rivers from the mountains (which are in turn fueled by mountain springs) or by water bubbling up from within Hypnale’s crust. There are no gilled animals this high away from life’s original water source. Animals found within the lake evolved from land-dwelling animals trapped on the plateau.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Galapagos Mountains

Siting near the southern coast of the Sunspot Desert is a rather tall mountain range, with some peaks exceeding ten kilometers above sea level. The mountain range is divided into four main plateaus, each over six kilometers high and covering over a hundred thousand square kilometers. From northwest to southeast, the plateaus are named Attenborough, Darwin, Hanzhou and Coppin. What makes the Galapagos Mountains of special interest is that at their altitude, the air is drastically cooler. Despite being in perpetual sunlight, the Galapagos have a relative comfortable temperature, something a kin to the Ethiopian Highlands.

They get their name from the islands on Earth, where life is extremely diverse over a small area. Like their namesake, the Galapagos Mountains are a workshop for evolution. They are oases in an otherwise inhospitable environment. Any lifeforms that can climb their steep slopes to the flatter area above the heat of the desert, quickly adapt and thrive. Parts of the mountains have surface water, mostly in the form of springs bubbling to the surface. Winds, which blow out from the desert, make rain extremely rare. Aside from the springs, the land is still rather arid.

The environment is mostly steppe in nature, with vast fields of purple spread out before the observer. Where water is plentiful, forests of drought-resistant plants grow. Several of the desert species’ seed were blown up the side of the Galapagos, but not all adapted. Some of the Sunspot Desert’s plants are so specialized, that too much water can kill them. Hunting pods will not be found in the Galapagos. For those plants that did survive, they grow far larger than the desert plants, and over the course of millions of years, one desert species can evolve into an entire family, with numerous genera and species.

Desert Sloths

Pseudosloth (Pseudosloth family)

Description: The name is derived from the knuckle-walking feature of the animal, which protects long claws. The arms of the creature are parallel to the fossilized remains of Terran ground sloths. They are one of the large animals that can be found in the Sunspot Desert, nearly the size of a bison.

Head: They have a powerful beak that can slice through tubers and roots, and jaws that can grind them. Their teeth are lined with a thick enamel that prevents degradation by sand. Their long nostrils allow them to smell food through several meters of soil, as well as springs from kilometers away.

Body: Their short tail serves as a fat reserve, with it swelling up large enough to simply look like an extension of the torso. The rest of the torso is rotund, with thick skin to protect them against dust storms and predation.

Limbs: Their rear limbs are unremarkable, but their forward ones make up for this deficiency. Their forward limbs are longer than their rear limbs, as their fingers are twice as long as their toes. At the tip of each finger is a claw that can measure up to thirty millimeters in length. These powerful claws can be used for digging, as well as grasping at cliff faces and even trees in the Galapagos Mountains. To protect these claws, the animals walk on their knuckles. They shuffle along at a surprising speed for such an ungainly animal, with short bursts of 30 KPH.

Color: Various from species to species, though types of brown tend to dominate.

Internal Structure: Their stomachs are complex and multi-chambered. Given their size and the rarity of plants in the open desert, pseudosloths must utilize every scrap of food they can find.

Diet: Plants of all types. They eat leaves, roots, tubers, and anything their jaws can grind. They even feed upon hunting pods, whose spears can not penetrate the hides of adults. In return, hunting pods can feed on any young that stray too close.

Lifecycle: Pseudosloth of the desert live nomadic lives, constantly on the move. As such, they can not stay behind to protect their young. Eggs are laid in mass, and hatch around the same time. Thousands of hatchlings can emerge within an hour, overwhelming the stomachs of any predators in the area. Once free of their nests, the animals begin a lifetime of wandering. They reach full size in five years, and can continue grazing the desert and highlands for upwards to forty years.

Reproduction: Each female can produce up to fifty eggs. Their reproduction strategy is much like a sea turtle, in that they lay many eggs so that a handful can reach maturity. Females will lay all their eggs in a large, communal nest. The nest is surrounded by round rocks, that look very much like the round eggs. Large rocks in the ground make reaching the eggs more difficult for burrowing animals.

Sociability: Depending on the species, the size of the herd can range from twenty all the way to one hundred. Their size and sparseness of food limits the size. Given their friendly and docile nature, pseudosloth could form herds as large as those that roam East Africa. The instinct to herd is strong, and formed as hatchlings. Since the eggs are abandoned, the young must band together to increase their odds of surviving.

Habitat: Pseudosloths range across the desert, and have climbed into the Galapagos Mountains. Given the steep terrain leading to these mild plateaus, the pseudosloth is the dominate large animal in the region. The species evolved into a dozens of new species and genera to fill the vacant niches in these high mountains. Their development parallel the finches in Earth’s Galapagos Islands, and thus is why the mountains share the name.

Communication: Pouches in their noses inflate to produce a loud, honking noise. The noise is surprisingly high-pitched for an animal of their size. The calls are used more for locating each other than any form of information transfer.

Enemies: As adults, they have only a few; that being the largest predators. As young, all the predators feed upon them. If a pseudosloth can survive hatching and run the gauntlet of predators on the first day, their odds of long-term survival increase greatly. They grow larger every day, which means that many fewer predators can threaten them.

Salamander of the Sand.

Sanphibian (Humupiscis serpentor)

Description: Sanphibians derive their name from the fact that they swim through the sand in the less rocky regions of the Sunspot Desert. They are between 1 and 2 meters in length and mass about fifty kilograms. They look much like salamanders and newts of Earth, though the appearance is superficial.

Head: Sanphibians have a strange head. At the very top of their head, upon small mounds, are a pair of eyes that only look directly above them. These eyes stick out of the sand and are sensitive to motion, though poor in resolution. They have very wide mouths, more than twice the width of the rest of their bodies. These mouths are tipped with equally long scent-receptors, capable of detecting scents at least ten times better than a vulture. Their mouths are lined with sharp teeth for grasping prey. Once caught, the powerful jaws crushes the life out of the prey before it is swallowed whole.

Body: Their bodies are a tan to red color, blending in with the sands where they are native. They are built much like a fish or an amphibian, best adapted to ‘swimming’ through the loose sand. Their backs are lined with poisonous spines, an evolved defensive mechanism. They do not work against their own species, and many smaller sanphibians can fall prey to cannibals.

Limbs: Limbs are stout and strong, used to propel the animal through the sand. They are also strong enough to support the animal on rockier lands, for when the sanphibian lays eggs.

Internal Structure: Sanphibian lungs are proportionally larger than most desert animals, suggesting they tend to burrow deep enough to require oxygen reserves.

Diet: Anything they can catch that will fit in their mouths. They are ambush predators, waiting for more active desert animals to stumble across their path. All their water is acquired from their prey.

Lifecycle: For the first Earth year after hatching, sanphibians stay in their rocky nurseries. While this small, they are easy prey for pretty much anything. While in the protected areas, the young feed on small desert bugs, either ambushing them, or burrowing after the subterranean arthropods. Once large enough to risk life in the open sands, they abandon their nursery, but do not head into the deep sands. They will continue to hover around rocky areas for the next two years, growing larger and stronger. If they survive these years, then they will head into the deeper sands. Sanphibians live for upwards to twenty years.

Reproduction: Though they might look like newts, they do not spawn. Mating takes place out of the sand in more rocky areas. Here, the eggs are laid in crevices to protect them from both sun and predation. The eggs are colored and textured the same as the rocks, and take two months to develop.

Sociability: They are neither friendly nor aggressive. Aside from instances of cannibalism, sanphibians are largely indifferent of their own kind. No truly social interactions have been observed.

Habitat: Loose, sandy areas of the Sunspot Desert, usually near rocky areas.

Communication: Communication is not understood. They do not communicate by sound, and being buried most of the time, not by sight. It is theorized they communicate by scent.

Enemies: The desert being extremely unforgiving, enemies of the sanphibian include anything large enough to eat them.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Desert Duck-bills

Grover (Ansersaurus fossura)

Size: The grover is the largest animal to call Hypnale’s Sunspot Desert home. They are ten meter long herbivores, massing up to seven tonnes. In Earth-terms, they largely resemble extinct hadrosaurs in shape.

Head: The general layout of the grover’s head is streamline enough to allow them to burrow through the sand with minimal resistance. Their eyes and noses have flaps that close tightly while the creature is pushing through the sand. The nostrils are at the tip of the snout, which will stick out of the ground while they sleep out of the sun. They have powerful jaws that can grind any plant matter, including needles and thorns. Teeth are not replaced, but rather grow constantly. The act of chewing the tough, and often sandy food wears them down. Their lower jaw juts down into a plough-shape. It is not used for digging, but is rather a pouch in which the female stores the eggs.

Body: Their bodies are stout and rotund, with a large hump sticking out of their backs.

Limbs: Grovers have long, slender limbs, excellent for moving over great distances. Their rear legs are strong enough to allow the grover to rear up on their hind legs, and even to allow them to run for short distances. They have stubby feet that are tipped with hoof-like claws on their hind feet, and large bear-like claws. They use these to tear into the ground

Their hides are tan with brown stripes. They are covered in rough, sand-like scales, thick enough to protect them from the harshest duststorms and to allow them to blend into the ground when they burrow.

Internal Structure: Their skeleton has a series of spines protruding from the backbone These support a fatty hump that can store twenty days worth of water.

Diet: Eating whatever plants they can find. They burrow into the sandy ground to escape the sun, and to root for roots and tubers.

Lifecycle: Both parents carry the share, and as soon as the eggs hatch, they are released to join the small herds of grovers. The hatchlings stick to the middle of the herd, sheltered from the worst of the duststorms and from any predators. If a grover can survive their youth, then are almost certain to live over fifty years, and even as far as eighty. Genetic material is exchanged between herds during the grover’s youth, when the hatchlings wander to far from their home herds and are adopted by passing herds.

Reproduction: As stated before, after the female lays the eggs, she scopes them up with her mouth and they drop into the characteristic pouch on their chins. Grovers mate for life, only taking on a new mate if their previous one dies. Their lifespan is long enough that old females will cease fertility around the age of sixty.

Sociability: Grovers travel in herds of up to fifty, mostly to protect the young. Grovers have a strong parenting instinct, where unrelated adults will care for another’s young. So strong is it, that should one herd’s young be separated and come into contact with a rival herd, that herd will take in the young.

Habitat: They do not range completely over the desert, but rather along the subterranean rivers that exist there, and bubble up into springs. They will move between these oases, or follow the underground rivers, never straying far from reliable food sources.

Communication: Grovers communicate with loud honks.

Enemies: Adult grovers have no natural enemies, but adults will compete over grazing lands. The young will be picked off by any predators capable of handling them.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Desert Crawlers

Crawler (rutil-capitis repsi)

Size: One of the few predators in the Sunspot Desert, the crawler is a three meter long predator with an abnormally large head for their body size. They are light weight for their length, with a mass of only about one hundred kilograms.

Head: The head of the crawler is shaped like a shovel and is as wide as the body and comprises 30% of the total length. Most of the head is jaws, lined with serrated teeth. These teeth grown back constantly as the crawlers lose many in securing prey. Securing prey is the reason why they have so large heads. In the Sunspot Desert, prey animals are few and far between, meaning crawlers can not afford many failed hunts. Their eyes are small, and covered by a membrane that keeps out dirt and reduces glare.

Body: The name crawler comes from the fact that they crawl along the sands of Hypnale’s deserts. Because of this, their bellies have thick skin that insulates the rest of the body. Their bodies are water tight, not permitting any lose of water, not even through the mouths. Their scales are a parched brown, blending in with the eternally baked rocks of the desert.

Internal Structure: The digestive system of the crawlers is incredibly efficient. Not only do they not lose any water through it, excreting only dry, solid waste, but they are also buoyant. Their bones are hollow and filled with a hydraulic-like flood that supports their skeletons. It also serves as a fat reserve.

Diet: Their diet comes from whatever they can catch, and crawlers will band together to take down larger prey should the opportunity arise. Crawlers will on average eat only a few large meals per Earth year.

Lifecycle: Crawlers have short lives, only about twenty years. Their bodies are bombarded by the red sun above, and their rugged terrain wears down the animals in a hurry. Crawlers start life in clutches, the hatchlings banding together for the first half-year of life. They have little to fear from larger crawlers, since each animal has a strong instinct to not eat their own. This is largely due to the fact that the Sunspot Desert is a harsh enough place to survive without a species fighting amongst itself. When they grow large enough to take their own small prey, the clutch breaks up and scatters across the desert.

Reproduction: With no seasons and living on a tidally locked world, reproduction among crawlers is a sporadic affair. When a female is ready to mate, nearby males pick up the scent and investigate. They attempt to impress her by doing push-ups, and showing off their large heads. This is also used to intimidate rivals. After successfully mating, the female will lay a clutch of between eight and eighteen eggs. The eggs not only resemble rocks, but are as hard as them. With little shelter, and no peace around oases, crawlers lay their eggs out in the open. The thick shells are covered with a highly reflective mineral, keeping the developing hatchling from overheating. When ready to hatch, the crawler releases an enzyme a day before that begins to dissolve the egg from the inside.

Sociability: Crawlers are known to hunt in groups on a regular basis. Not as a pack, but only as a temporary cooperative hunt. This about covers their social grace; not ripping each other to shreds while feeding on a larger carcass.

Habitat: Despite their adaptation to living in the sun-baked desert, crawlers routinely ambush prey from oases. They hide beneath the water and wait, in the same manner as crocodilians. Crawlers have no set territories, as almost all animals in the desert are nomadic. The search for food drives individuals on long treks. At the end of their lives, it is not uncommon for a crawler to have crawled some ten thousand kilometers.

Communication: Crawlers communicate intentions through a series of jerking motions. The most obvious is nodding their head, which is meant as a threat.

Enemies: These are one of the few species on the planet where their own kind are not their own worst enemy. They seldom compete for food, and will share large kills. Their biggest enemy is the environment itself.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Killer plants.

Hunting Pod (Vesicafolium insidious)

Size: One of the more insidious species living in the Sun Spot Desert is a black, shrub-like plant known as the hunting pod. The plants stand about one meter tall.

Appearance: Their trunk is shaped like a pod, hence their name. Branches extend underground, as far as five meters from the pod. They rise to the surface, bearing leaves and a speartip at the very end. This spear is used to skewer any animal that passes in range. Hunting Pod’s leaves are ultraviolet, appearing black to human eyes.

Internal Structure: The Hunting Pod’s main “body” consists of a pit in the top of its trunk. Inside this pit are the toxins and digestive juices the Pods use to kill their prey and extract the nutrients. They detect prey by hundreds of root-like tendrils that extend from the branches and are sensitive to the slightest vibration. The skewering branches are also covered with leaves as well as the pod. The spears branch out to a radius of five meters, and its roots extend ten meters directly into the ground in a spike-like shape.

Diet: So poor in nutrients and water is the desert, that these plants have evolved a way of extracting both from animals that pass to near. The prey is lifted into the air and dropped into the pod, where they are quickly poisoned and begin to dissolve. These predatory plants rely upon at least one far size kill every fifty or so days, but will take smaller prey that stubbles upon them. The Hunting Pod does not “eat” its prey, instead uses the nutrients taken from it, as well as the water, to power the photosynthesis that makes a plant a plant.

Life cycle: The lifespan of a Hunting Pod is not clear. Though they die when they release their seeds, they could have dozens of clones that have propagated off from the main body, and grown to full size. Afterwards, the clones produce clones of their own, making the genetic code of an individual effectively immortal.

Reproduction: Hunting Pods’ main way of reproducing is a method of cloning called propagation. Only once in a few decades will the plants produce flowers to attract insects. After they are pollinated, the pods begin to bloat and develop seeds. When the seeds are ready to spread, the Hunting Pod will explode, casting the seeds into the air. The seeds are light and have a large surface area, appearing like propeller blades. This allows the air to carry them far from their parents. Seeds will remain dormant until enough water is available for them to germinate. Unless they land next to a spring, a Hunting Pod seed will remain dormant for decades or even centuries.

Range: The Pods are found only in the Sunspot Desert, and only close enough to the springs and oases. They seldom live more than five hundred meters from sources of water. They do not necessarily take the water through their roots, though they do in times of low traffic. Instead they rely upon the nutrient-rich animals that venture towards the spring to drink or take shelter.

Enemies: Hunting Pods, at least their branches and leaves, are vulnerable to the larger herbivores of the Sunspot Desert, such as the Grovers. They can try to spear, but Grovers’s hides are thick enough that the spear can not penetrate. On the rare occasion that they do, the branches tend to be torn off when the grazer runs away.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hypnale: The Sunspot Desert

Directly beneath the sun on tidally locked Hypnale sits the most inhospitable piece of real estate on that planet, and most other biofaring worlds. The Sunspot Desert is constantly bombarded by Lalande 21185. In some part of the desert lowlands, temperatures hover around 350K, quite lethal to anything from Earth. As well as deadly for Hypnalaforms. Directly beneath the sun, virtually nothing lives. No free water flows anywhere on the surface of this desert. Underground rivers and lakes are a source of water. These sources have prompted the plants that grow in the less inhospitable regions of the desert to evolve deep roots, as well as vicious defense mechanisms to ward of herbivores.. The animals that make the desert home are all adapted to burrow to avoid the worst of the heat, as well as in search of food and water. Animals that can not go underground do not survive long. Where lakes are closest to the surface, natural springs offer their own form of shelter to the wildlife.
If not for the constant convection of air from the Starward Hemisphere, the desert might well exceed the boiling point. The desert helps regulate the planet’s overall climate. Heat from the desert rises, which forces air from other parts of the world to rush in and fill the void. The hot air flows on the atmospheric conveyer toward the darkness, where it sinks and cools. The heat it transfers prevents the Starward Hemisphere’s seas from freezing completely.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ecological overview of Hypnale

Life on Hypnale is some of strangest yet encountered. To start with, skeletons (in animals that have them) are based on cartilage instead of regular bone. This means fossils are virtually absent. The exact process of how the ‘bones’ form is not known, for cartilage alone would not support land animals. High pressure marrow also acts as a support. The hides of animals, especially in the terminator, are resistant to acid, as are leaves on the plant. They coat themselves with similar enzymes that are found within the stomach. Lack of iron in their blood does not stop them from taking oxygen from the air. Oxyginating yellow blood cells care oxygen from the lungs to the rest of their body. This gives their blood an oozing yellowish appearance, much like the innards of a crushed bug.
Vision on Hypnale, like any world, is dependent on the star. Hypnalaforms can see in the range of infrared to green. Blues and purples are not detected by their eyes, since the parent star emits so few of these frequencies. To their eyes, blue and purple would appear as black as ultraviolet light does to a humans’. Infrared plays a big role in plants. All the flowers are either infrared or red. These means they are slightly warm to the touch. Insects are attracted to heat sources since they are likely food sources. The plant eaters have evolved powerful jaw that are capable of making chewing motions. This allows them to digest the hardy plants easier. Another common trait in virtually all herbivores is that they have stubby feet that end with a thick, armored sole. Predators usually move about on all fours, and appear like a quadruped theropod.
Life on Hypnale are carbon based, with water as a medium and breath oxygen. They have adapted to make use of the chlorine in the atmosphere to generate chlorides within their bodies, such as producing their own salts. Plants on Hypnale have leaves that range from dark blue to ultraviolet. This is because they absorb infrared and red to use in photosynthesis, and reflect everything else.

A detailed map of the climate.

A useful, labelled map of climate.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Atmospheric Survey of Hypnale

Temperature maps
Rainfall Map

The atmosphere is far denser than on Earth, and problems with oxygen toxicity can come into play, with more than 600 millibars of oxygen. For a Terraform, over 500 mb can become toxic. However, any non hypnalaform breathing in the atmosphere will be killed by the chlorine and fluorine, long before oxygen levels build too high in their system. Because the air is denser, winds feel stronger. Hurricanes on the sunward side are seldom weaker than a class four. An additional10 mb of methane keeps the atmosphere toasty warm, with a global average of 300K, even after factoring in the chill of the darkside.

The atmosphere of Hypnale works similarly to the oceans. Warm air on the sunward side rises, creating a pressure difference, which draws in air from the starward side. The warm air is then pushed by more warm air over the terminator, where much of the moisture falls, and into the darkness of the starward side. Here, it cools, falls back towards the ground, and begins the cycle again. This current causes the planet to suffer from constant breezes. Seldom is their calmness in the air. Wind speeds at high altitudes are greater than what are found on most F3 worlds, sometimes flowing twice as fast as Earth’s jet stream.

In the upper atmosphere, water vapor is struck by the feeble ultraviolet radiation of Lalande 22185. This breaks it into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen atom combines with 02 to form ozone. The hydrogen interacts with chlorine to form hydrochloric acid. Chlorine is constantly being washed from the atmosphere, only to be replaced by the acid begin broken into hydrogen and chlorine on the sunward side. Rain mostly falls in the terminator, but snow does fall on the starward side. Because there is so little land in the starward side, the snow falls into the ocean and melts. Temperatures on the starward side of the planet can be 100K lower than the sunward side. Only constant movement of the atmosphere maintains a balance able to support life.

Weather on Hypnale seldom changes within its given climatic zone. The Terminator always sees rain, and the Sunward Zone is always baked dry. However, the heat from the sun that constantly cooks the Sunspot Desert also heats the ocean around the desert. This causes evaporation and the convection of the atmosphere forces the moisture starward. However, the differences in temperature between air and water causes great storms, shrouding the sunward coast of the Terminator in an almost perpetual cloud cover, with daily rain in some places.

The sky of Hypnale varies depending on which part of the planet one stands. On the sunward side, the sky is a pinkish-white, with the orb of Lalande 21185 always glowing above. The terminator suffers from pink and red skies. The darkside is a dark midnight blue. Directly below the sun, it appears to be red and white at the same time. At sharper angles, such as from the Terminator region, the sun is a pulsating, never-moving red orb, bathing the landscape in a reddish glow.

Hypnale suffered from a tidally locked climate. This means the climatic zones are not from the poles to the equator, but rather from the sun to the stars. The sunward side of Hypnale is under constant bombardment from the sun. Lands directly below the sun are baked dry, with rain never falling. The only source of surface water comes from springs that bubble up from underground rivers. The desert is also hotter than the hottest deserts on Earth, with temperatures averaging 340K or higher. Directly under the sun, no life lives. However, further away, where shadows are casts, life clings on to existence in the desert. The oceans beneath the sun are home to continuous storms.

The terminator is where most of the biomass congregates. It is a temperate area covered in vegetation. The closer sunward one travels, the more drought resistant the plants become, with scrubland ringing the Sunspot Desert. Since the terminator is bombarded with rainfall, it is also home to many swamps. The terminator offers a band of purple and ultraviolet that separates the sun and the stars.

The starward hemisphere is locked in perpetual night. Any creature living here must navigate by starlight. More often, they use infrared, echolocation, electric currents and even smell to navigate. The few landmasses on the starward side of the planet are locked in thick glaciers. The snow that falls here never melts. Glaciers build up and are forced into the ocean, where the icebergs are eventually absorbed by the ocean. The air temperature is well below freezing. Only the constant flow of water keeps the ocean from freezing.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Voyage to Hypnale - part 1

I will now be traveling some distance from the Netherlands and into a new, untitled project I've been thinking about. It'd borrow from AHN, Stardust and Wing Commander, but will be something entirely different. It will take place in the Year 10,000. For the moment, I'm just working on the background material, something to frame future stories.

Ok, onward towards the first planet humanity visited. It's also the first planet in the Lalande 21185 System. When humanity did visit its first oxygen-rich world, it was quite a shock.

Geological Survey of Hypnale

Hypnale is the first planet in the Lalande 21185. Discovered in 3013, the planet orbits its star at a distance of 0.11 Astronomical Units. So close that Lalande has robbed the star of its
rotation, leaving it tidally locked. Both day and year take 19.646 standard days to complete. The standard calender would be all but useless on this planet. It has no moons or any natural satellites. Orbiting closer to its star than Mercury does Sol, one might expect the planet to be useless. Not so; some years after its discovery, the planet’s atmosphere was analyzed, proving its has sufficient life to generate a large volume of oxygen.

The planet is larger than Earth in terms of volume and mass. Where its volume is almost twice that of Earth (1.979 Terran Units), its mass is only approximately 1.2 Terran Units. This stems from a low content of heavy metals in the planet, giving it a density of 0.652 Terran Units. Hypnale has plenty of titanium and aluminum to be exploited. This would prove a treasure trove, if not for the fact th at Luna alone provides more than enough of these light elements for human consumption. The planet has a small metallic core, surrounded by a mantle of silicates proportionally larger than Earth’s.

Plate tectonics have grinded to a halt on this ancient world, stopping the recycling process of elements such as carbon dioxide. Given that the world was tidally locked, it is not suspected to ever have been particularly geologically active. Many of the ancient mountain ranges that formed eons ago have erode. Hypnale’s acidic rain does more to erode the rocks and wash the minerals into the ocean than anything on Earth. The soil of Hypnale contains traces of many different types of chloride. Lack of an internal dynamo has also stalled the planet’s EM field. Fortunately, this will not prove a problem as it will take a span of time longer than our species will ever exist for the atmosphere to be stripped away by the star’s paltry stellar winds.

Oceans cover 77% of the planet’s surface. Do to the content of the planet’s atmosphere, hydrochloric acid exists within the ocean at trace levels. The acidity gives the ocean a slight electric current, not enough to kill an unprotected human (far more quicker ways to die on Hypnale than electrocution), but it would certainly be felt. Though the planet has virtually no EM field, the currents in the ocean act as a sort of guidance system for marine life. Almost all the life in Hypnale’s oceans have evolved methods of detecting electrical current.

Away from the center of the Sunward Hemisphere, the planet has a copious amount of rain to deal with, especially in the terminator regions. This produces a verdant– a poor choice of words, given that planets on Hypnale are purple to ultraviolet– a purple belt along its terminator, where rainfall is nonstop in some regions, as are storms. As already mentioned, the rain is acidic, forcing plants to have evolve defense mechanisms against it, usually in the form of enzymes that coat the leaves. These enzymes have a few parallels to those that line the stomachs of Terran lifeforms.

This map of the Sunward Hemisphere was not created by me. Don't know the real name, and only have the user name Shevek23 to go on. But, I must give credit where it is due.

These other two are all me.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Second Edition - Complete

Having nothing better to do on my day off, I went through the remaining chapters of An Alternate History of the Netherlands and finished revising. Three hundred pages in one day? Not a problem. The whole concept of WWII has been removed, and in its place are the anti-communard crusades. As wars have the habit of doing, this one spills out of the Balkans. The Dutch and Japanese still go to war, but the U.S. is out of that one. In fact, the U.S. is only in so far as restoring their ally, the Kaiser, back to his throne. Much of this was done with the American Foreign Legions. If I ever start a Third Edition, it'll be refined even further.

As of now, An Alternate History of the Netherlands has only 13 chapters.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Second Edition - Chapter 6

Chapter 6 feels a bit clunky, and is more a merger of other chapters and sections spread out across many AHN works. Merging them together was the whole goal of the 2nd Edition. The clunkiness is necessary, since the title of the chapter is Revolutions. This discusses the America, French and Brazilian revolutions, the later being non-violent.

One thought has occurred to me. As the Twentieth Century in the Second Edition will be drastically different, that would kind of alter the whole career of Clive Arnold. This means the whole Columbia Front short story/outline deal I've been written might be useless now. Don't know if I'll continue it or not. There hasn't been a whole lot of demand for it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Second Edition - Chapter 5

Chapter 5 has been revised. Not only have I went into a little more detail about the Swedish adventure, but I also gave it a new name. The Chapter is now called The Balance of Power. It still deals with the dynastic wars of the 18th Century, and how the United Provinces' alliance with the British keep on dragging them into said wars. Aside from the Seven Years War, which was not very dynastic, the Dutch gained little from the wars. This leads to the reopening of the rift between the two nations in Chapter 6.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

State of the Union: Michigan

The flag is not one of my own production.

January 27, 1837
Population: 11,241,811
Area: 253,793 km2
Capital: Detroit
Largest City: Detroit
Crops: Grapes, hops, blueberries, sugar beat
Resources: Timber, fish
Industry: Automotive, agricultural machinery, machine tools

For much of its history the land that would become Michigan was fought over by the Americans and the British. During the Revolution, and again when the British conquered it during the Second Anglo-American War. Detroit was bombarded, and several coastal towns raided during the Third Anglo-American War. During the Great War, it served as a launch-off point for the invasion of Ontario, as well as naval bases for the naval war on the Great Lakes. Following the signing of the Anglo-American Permanent Peace Treaty, Michigan demilitarized.

Since the start of the 20th Century, Michigan, along with other states along the Great Lakes, are the industrial heartland of the United States. Today, Michigan is one of the largest producers of automobiles in the world. It suffered a slight recession during the 1960s when tariffs were relaxed for a time, and cheaper, more efficient foreign automobiles threatened the industry. By the 1980s, Detroit modernized and began producing the cars that the consumer wanted. Along with automobiles, various parts, such as engines and transmissions, are made in Michigan, along with agricultural machinery giants such as John Dear. Precision machine tools are produced in great quality and quantity at factories around Lansing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Second Edition - Chapter 3 and 4

Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 of the Second Edition of An Alternate History of the Netherlands is now online. The further along I go in the Second Edition, the more changes will be made.

Not much was changed in these chapters, but that will not be the case with the Fifth Chapter. The entire issue between Sweden and Russia has caused a great deal of flak from those who have read the First Edition. Swedish Russia will remain, but its conquest would not be so easy. Instead of a simple conquest (which was written for the sake of simplification), Sweden is going to spend decades to over a century bringing Russia under control. Since assimilation goes both ways, the less numerous Swedes are going to be impacted far heavier than in #1.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Second Edition - Chapter 1 and 2

Chapter 1 of An Alternate History of the Netherlands has been updated to the new Second Edition, as has Chapter 2. In this second writing, I'm going to be making a few changes (in the case of the first chapters, very few) to this alternate history. So don't be dismayed if the AHNuniverse website is in disorder for a while.

Monday, August 8, 2011

State of the Union: Iroquois

Statehood: November 15, 1791
Population: 3,301,136
Area: 31,253 km2
Capital: Oneida
Largest City: Albany
Crops: Apples, cherries, plums, peaches, potatoes, maple syrup
Resources: Timber, minerals
Industry: Military Academy, agriculture, forestry, mining, construction

The Iroquois Confederacy had long standing trade relations with the Dutch and British colonists during the 18th Century. When the British colonies rebelled, the Iroquois at first kept neutral. However, British incursions, and the fact that the Six Nations were tied far more closely to the colonists than Britains itself, the tribes threw in their lot with the Americans. The Iroquois sent delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. However, they were not admitted into the Union until 1791, after Vermont. Despite their alliance with the Americans, there was still some reluctance in Congress to admit an almost exclusively Indian state into the new republic.

During the mass of immigration from Europe, few immigrants settled in the state of Iroquois. The tribes were not eager to let in more white men, and to this day the state is more than 90% Native according to the census. Despite not wanting outsiders to move in, the state has allowed much exportation of its own population. With the start of the skyscraper boom, several construction companies of Mohawk and Oneida took to working high above the streets of New Amsterdam and Chicago, building the steel frames. The most famous denizens of Iroquois are the members of the 231st Regiment, which in turn is part of the 101st Airborne Division.

The admission of Iroquois as a state had a profound impact on Federal relations with other Indian tribes. Those Indians who were loyal allies with the Federal Government were rewarded, allowed to keep their lands free of settlers, and even appropriate the lands of their enemies. The plains tribes, and tribes forcefully relocated by the former Confederate government now form their own states of Lakoda and Oklahoma respectively. Those Indians who resisted the Federal Government were ruthlessly crushed, their lands stripped, and in some cases, all but wiped out.

Because Iroquois was largely bypassed by waves of immigration, it is the only state on the East Coast to still have large stretches of wilderness surviving to this day. The state is also home to the United States Military Academy at Fort Arnold.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On the Columbia Front, Part 5

Former Canadian Trench

Columbia Front

August 18, 1913

Clive Arnold was starting to develop a distinct dislike of the Cashmere Valley. The geography of the valley was quite vexing. After storming a ridge held by the Tories for the past few weeks, he reached the top of it, minus a good chunk of his company, only to discover more hills and ridges beyond. This time, the enemy occupied a hilly ridge to the south of the Wenatchee River, as well as a rocky outcropping north of it. Any American push further west would be divided by the river, and caught in a crossfire.

If Arnold was in command of the Twenty-Third Division, he would have smashed the fortified hillside towards the north first. It was the lesser of two evils, and lightly manned. The only downside was that its hillside was lightly vegetated, giving advancing soldiers little in the way of cover. It was not a position worth keeping, and the Tories knew it. They placed just enough soldiers and machine guns among the rocks to chew up any advance towards the better developed trenches on the valley’s south side.

From what news he gathered of the outside world, warring fronts across the planet were turning into similar mazes of trenches. Virginia reportedly already had a lovely line of trenches leading from the Appalachians to the Chesapeake Bay. Kentucky was not a whole lot better off. The Ohio Front worried him the most. It had been a couple of weeks since he heard from his old man, the esteemed general. The old man was likely far enough from the fighting to be safe, unless some Confederate airplane lucked out and dropped a bomb right down his chimney.

As if thinking about airplanes were to make them appear, Arnold’s attention soon turned skyward. Inside a trench, even one dug by the Tories, gave him a narrow view of the blue sky above. The sky appeared to be the only part of his world not set ablaze. On either side of the ridge, as well as the river that flowed around it, once lush orchards were burned to the ground and reduced to toothpicks. With his duties to keep him busy, Arnold never once considered what happened to the people who worked the land. He heard a few made it to the relative safety of Cashmere, which only faces intermediate bombardment as of late.

He glimpsed briefly the aircraft, and its American stars upon its wings. A observation plane, probably flying out of the Francher Aerodrome. He still remembered a time before man took to the sky in powered flight. Unlike balloons, airplanes could evade fire from below. Of course, if they did evade, the observer would fail to receive accurate photography. He could not fault the intelligence the Twenty-Third. Reconnaissance did an excellent job on this ridge; too bad they did not say just how to take the position.

The past couple of days gave him a lull in combat. The enlisted men were far from relaxed, but their duties lightened up. Officers– as much as the enlisted man enjoyed grousing about officers, those grunts had a few good breaks. One of the responsibilities of an officer was to record the dead. It was one Arnold did not like. He could think of no officer who liked the task. Despite the lull, he sent out pickets to patrol for weakspots in the Tories’ lines. Three of them did not return.

Three more telegrams. Three more families about to receive the worst news. No, Arnold suppose it was not the worst. Those were the cripples. Still young, Arnold would rather lose his life than his limbs. At least dead, he would not have to live with it. He knew his own mother was one of the millions of mothers across the country waiting in fear for the Union Express. Arnold thought he should write each of the letters himself, but it was not the army way. Telegrams were easier to mass produce.

Arnold rubbed the throb within his temples. Here he was, sitting in a dirty trench, the summer sun pounding down upon him, with certain death waiting the moment he stuck his head out of the trench, and he was stressing over telegrams. Some officers would just let the system deal with it. Arnold felt he owed it to those families to personally write the telegrams. No, they were not letters, but the way this war was starting to drag on, the efficient way would prevail. He only hoped that the losses ahead did not callus himself to the point where he no longer bothered.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Site Construction

The Wing Commander reboot site has undergone a bit of reconstruction, with each of the short stories being allocated their own section, and the Kilrathi War condensed in term of pages.

Plans have also been made for a Second Edition of An Alternate History of the Netherlands, though the reconstruction of that would take considerably longer as entire chapters may be rewritten and revised.

State of the Union: Cuba

Statehood: July 14, 1852
Population: 22,314,555
Area: 110,861 km2
Capital: Havana
Largest City: Havana
Crops: Tobacco, coffee, pineapples, tropical fruit
Resources: Timber, oil,
Industry: Tourism, medical, biotechnology

Cuba was purchased along with Florida from the Spanish government in 1819. It was admitted to the Union as a slave state in 1852, but did not secede upon the election of Abraham Lincoln. Cuba remained in the Union during and following the War Between the States. During the Third Anglo-American War, Confederate sympathizers rose up and overthrew the state government, and invited the C.S.A. to ‘liberate’ them. Following 1885, Cuba remained a Confederate State until the Great War. In 1914, after fighting their way through the Bahamas, American forces landed on the island, and drove the Confederates from it. At the end of the war, the Union Government was reinstated in Cuba, and Cuba was readmitted to the Union in July of 1919. During the first weeks of World War II, Confederate Marines landed on Cuba and attempted to take the island, only to be delayed by American Marines long enough for reinforcements to force their surrender. Cuba acted as a stepping stone for the invasion of the Confederate Gulf Coast.

Today, Cuba is home to over twenty-two million Americans, nearly half of them over the age of sixty. It is the most popular destination for retiring workers, and this influx of old folks helps spur Cuba’s economy. It drove a great deal of research into medical technology, and even started a biotech boom in the 1990s. Cuba exports a few tropical cash crops, along with oil off its shore, however the bulk of its income comes from retirees and tourists.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

State of the Union: Costa Rica

Statehood: August 12, 1869
Population: 4,187,355
Area: 126,617 km2
Capital: San Jose
Largest City: Panama City
Crops: Coffee, Bananas, Sugar, Potatoes
Resources: Timber, Minerals
Industry: Tourism, Pharmaceuticals, Plastics, Panama Canal

Following the Mexican War, several private ventures by Americans into the Central American provinces of Mexico lead to military filibusters. By 1854, such an adventure under the command of William Walker created the Republic of Costa Rica, which immediately petitioned the Congress of the United States for annexation. Costa Rica was added as a free territory shortly before the Civil War. During the Civil War and Third Anglo-American War, the enemies of the United States made no serious attempt to seize Costa Rica. In the 1880s, France in their recently aquired Mexican colony began construction of the Nicarugua Canal. In 1903, the United States purchased the province of Panama from Grand Colombia and annexed it to the State of Costa Rica. During the following decade, a joint American, German and Dutch venture went into constructing a competing canal to the Anglo-French project in Mexico. During both the Great War and World War II, Costa Rica played a strategic role in allowing American victory in both wars. Following the war, ships grew in size, prompting the construction of a third set of locks to the Panama Canal, which were opened in 1979.

Monday, July 11, 2011

State of the Union: Cascadia

Statehood: August 13, 1933
Population: 3,394,155
Area: 450,192 km2
Capital: Vancouver
Largest City: Vancouver
Crops: Wheat
Resources: Timber, minerals, fish
Industry: Forestry, mining, tourism, fishing

The State of Cascadia comprises of the Oregon Country lands between the 49th parallel and 54'40. The land saw little action during the Great War, but was nonetheless ceded to the United States as part of the Permanent Peace between the Americans and the British. The territory was sparely populated, and as with today, more than 60% of the population lived within Vancouver. It was admitted as the 51st state in 1933. During World War II, Vancouver served as a naval base, and as a staging area. The staging area was not so much for Americans, but for Canadians who went off to fight the Japanese in the Aleutians and aid their British cousins elsewhere in the Pacific.

Today, Cascadia is most a sleepy backwater. Much of its economy is based off the resources that are housed in its large area. The biggest industry is that of tourism. The wilderness of Cascadia attracts tourists and vacation-goers from around the county. In the summer, there is hiking and camping, and during the hunting seasons, hunters from both the United States and Canada try their hand. Winter sports keeps the tourists flowing on in, despite Cascadia being one of the coldest states during that time of the year. Its climate allows for less-than-ideal growing seasons, which means much of the state’s food is imported from warmer areas.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Battle for Yuma

The fighting along the California-Jefferson border proved to be the only bright spot in the entire Confederate war effort. Even a month after the battle of Gettysburg and weeks after the disaster at Cairo, the Confederate western hook reached its apex. The advance across Jefferson was slow, not even reaching within a hundred kilometers of California by the time of Gettysburg. Battle was too strong a word to describe the conflict out west. Since the start of the war, the State of Jefferson has been nothing but a four-month long running battle, skirmishes between small units. The battles were mobile, but consisted of mechanized infantry and artillery. Only a few tanks were seen on either side of the battle. With a large portion of the aerospace industry in California, Americans had a decisive advantage in air power.

The start of August found the Confederate Army surrounding the city of Yuma. In the morning of August 5, Confederate forces stormed the town. For all day and night, both sides battled in street-to-street, and even house-to-house combat. By August 6, the Confederates had a firm toe-hold on the city. With more time, they likely would have crossed the Colorado River within a week. The battle ended that same day. It was not the fault of the local commander, Brigadier General Howard Wellington III, but the disasters back east forced Birmingham to recall all units out west.

The assault was abandoned after a day, and Confederate forces retreated across Jefferson. With American forces taking full advantage of the retreat, Wellington ordered a scorched Earth policy in his retreat. Railroads and highways were destroyed, any factories in the path of the Confederates were destroyed. Marginal farmlands were destroyed, along with the irrigation network built up by both American and Confederate settlers over the past sixty years. Wellington later stood trial at Charleston for his actions in the retreat. Unlike most Confederates at the Charleston Trials, Wellington was not sentenced to death. Instead, he faced ten years in a federal prison, and upon release he left the restored Union to become an advisor to the rebel government in Mexico.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cuba in World War II

On April 2, 1940, some forty thousand Confederate Marines, under the command of Brigadier General Holland Smith (an ironic name for a Confederate), serged across the Florida Strait. Landing at and around Havana was largely unopposed, save by a few irregular militia. The city fell without a fight, and a supply line was established between Havana and Confederate ports along the Gulf Coast. The lone U.S. Naval squadron in the city found itself victim of the Confederate Air Force. In one of the few clear-cut Confederate victories of the short war, the American squadron was sent to the bottom, with most of its crew.

The victory was short-lived, as Smith failed to carry up his attack and completely subjugate the entire island. Opposing him was but a small U.S. Marine garrison of ten thousand under the overall command of Colonel Marion “Duke” Morrison. Instead of fighting them straight on, and since a USMC unit has never surrendered, Morrison gave the order to break up his unit and take to the hills. The guerilla war lasted until badly needed reinforcements could come in from the north. In response to these attacks, the Confederates enacted harsh reprisals against the civilian populations under their control, including taking of hostages for each attack.

After a month of fighting, and slowly being bled, Smith ceased patrols in the countryside under platoon strength, and fortified his own positions within the cities. As the war entered its second month, the United States Navy began to take control of the waters around Cuba, severing supplies with the mainland. With the landing of the U.S. Army, under the command of Eisenhower, Smith soon found himself outnumbered and now the hunted. He fought a delaying action as Eisenhower slugged his way north and west from Guantanamo (which the Confederates failed to take).

Trapped in Havana and under siege, it was Smith who was forced to surrender along with his surviving Marines, thus ending the existence of the C.S.M.C. in October of 1940. His defeat paved the way for Operation Overlord, and the end days of the Confederate States themselves. For his own actions on the island, Morrison found himself promoted to Brigadier General, and put in command of a Marine Division in the Pacific.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

State of the Union: California

Statehood: September 9, 1850
Population: 37,463,102
Area: 567,366 km2
Capital: Vallejo
Largest City: San Francisco
Crops: Grapes, Citrus Fruit
Resources: Minerals, Lumber, Fish
Industry: Aerospace, Entertainment, Banking

California entered the Union without territorial status. During the Mexican War, Federal agents, such as John Fremont, convinced the Californios that they would get a better deal being one of the United States. Thus, they rose up against the central government in Mexico. Only shortly after gaining control of California by treaty, a gold strike in the Sierras brought in a flood of immigrants from around the world. Further gold strikes brought in more prospectors. Many returned home after they failed to strike it rich, but hundreds of thousands stayed and settled the Central Valley.

The influx of immigration by sea, as well as trade up and down the Sacramento River, lead for San Francisco, and its superb natural harbor to become the largest port on the West Coast. Other ports, such as Los Angeles and San Diego would grow in importance as the 20th Century progressed, with the latter being home to the Pacific Fleet prior the Great War. Los Angeles brought in hundreds of thousand of workers during World War II, and most of those stayed after the war was complete, turning the port into a sprawling urban complex. With the annexation of San Jose in 1947, and Oakland a couple of decades later, San Francisco reclaimed its spot as the largest city in the state, reducing parts of Los Angeles to ghost town status.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

State of the Union: Florida

Florida's population that would have existed within our own world migrated further south, to the State of Cuba, and a few still further south to the State of Costa Rica. Cuba is the most popular relocation destination for old folks in the AHN's United States.

Statehood: March 3, 1845; readmission: May 12, 1948
Population: 7,301,410
Area: 170,304 km2
Capital: Tallahassee
Largest City: Jacksonville
Crops: Citrus fruit, tropical fruit, sugar, tobacco, corn, tomatoes, strawberries
Resources: Timber
Industry: Agriculture, tourism, aerospace

Florida was admitted to the Union on March 3, 1845 as the 27th State. Its union with the United States was short as it seceded on January 10, 1861. Florida served as a strategic location for the Confederate States of America, and held several naval bases, as well as shipyards in the panhandle. Western Florida saw Operation Overlord in 1941, where the United States launched an assault against the Confederacy’s soft underbelly. Following the dissolution of the Confederate States of America, Florida was one of the first former Confederate States to be readmitted to the Union.

Today, Florida is demographically split between the populous north and vacant and largely rural south. The largest city in southern Florida is Fort Lauderdale, home to the 61st Armored Dragoons, with a population of 43,102. Most of southern Florida is given over to the Everglades National Park. Northern Florida holds 6.5 million of the state’s inhabitants along with the bulk of its agriculture and industry. Heavy industries, such as the aerospace giants, Lockheed, Convair and Boeing-Martin employ tens of thousands of workers in the Jacksonville-Gainsville area, as do Lockheed owned shipyards in Pensacola.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Confederate Disaster

Battle of Cairo

Even more so than the events at Gettysburg, a couple weeks earlier, the events on July 17, 1940, sounded on of the death nails of the Confederate States of America. What occurred on that day was the most disastrous attempt at a river crossing in modern warfare. Lacking air support– in fact, the United States had its own Air Superiority over the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers– the Army of the Tennessee attempted a crossing of the Ohio east of Cairo, Illinois. American General Omar Bradley had his own 2nd Army dug into and around the city.

Confederate crossing of the Ohio was but a repeat of the American crossing of the Ohio at the start of the Great War, in 1913, up to the point of using the same technology. Open barges, riverboats, and anything that could float, were brought together by the Army of the Tennessee. Armor faced a more difficult challenge. Confederate riverboats were all the army had to escort it across the river. The gunboats were the first targets destroyed by American dive-bombers. After the gunboats were sunk, American air, river and artillery units chewed to pieces the Army of the Tennessee.

On that single day, Bradley succeeded in doing what Arnold failed to; he destroyed the enemy army. Not since the days of Rome had a single army lost so many soldiers in a matter of hours. More than a few companies within the Confederate Army faced casualty rates upwards to 70%. By night fall, what remained of the Army of Tennessee was in full retreat, in some cases unit discipline all but gone. Bradley faced disorganized resistance in his own invasion of Tennessee, mostly from dissolved units of Confederate who have fell back on bush-whacking and other irregular tactics.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

P-58 Firebat

Type: Pursuit Plane
Crew: 1
Length: 13.6 meters
Wingspan: 11.1 meters
Max speed: 790 kph
Range: 3,000 km
Ceiling: 13.5 km
Armament: 4, 20mm cannon
up to 2,000 kg payload
First flight: 1942
Introduced: 1944
Manufacturer: Convair
Built: 2,500

The Firebat was the United States Army Air Corps’ premier fighter during the later years of World War II. It is one of the few swept-winged piston engine fighters to ever be built. The airplanes saw nearly exclusive combat in the skies over Europe. The aircraft was designed to serve as escorts to the B-23s and B-27s that bombed targets within Fuhrer Germany. Its role as an air superiority fighter was only surpassed with the advent of jet-powered aircraft developed in Fuhrer Germany to shoot down the bombers. Even then, against the primitive jet fighters, the Firebat still held its own. For every 10 P-58s shot down, 7 jets were downed. It is fortunate that the Fuhrer did not order the development of jet fighters in 1942 instead of 1944.

Along with escort duty, the P-58 saw action in close-air support. In the ground attack role, P-58s shot up rail and other infrastructure targets with unguided rockets. It helped smash the Wesser Pocket in early 1946. The aircraft was phased out following the war, and none remained in service by 1950. The P-58 was highly maneuverable and very able fighter; however, with the advent of jet technology, a piston-engine fighter could no longer compete on the world stage.

Air War over Pennsylvania

In the first months of World War II in North America, a fierce battle took place over the skies of Pennsylvania. Both the U.S. and C.S. battle for dominance, though both sides took different approaches. The Confederates, with limited industry of their own, relied upon imported German fighters, and what was built in the south was often licenced from other companies. The Confederate Air Force was predominately a fighter and tactical bomber force. Fast Messerschmidt and Dixie-Martin fighters escorted dive-bombers and twin-engine bombers. Both were used to destroy U.S. Army targets and fortifications. The Confederates put only a token effort into destroying American industry. Those bombers that were not used by Patton on his march north, were often seen terrorizing Philadelphia. A few strategic raids were attempted early in the war; bombing runs on factories in Pittsburgh as well as docks and shipyards in Baltimore and New Amsterdam.

The U.S. Army Air Corp took a different approach. Fighters were used largely as interceptors, shooting down what few bombers the Confederates threw at American cities. Daily, over rural Pennsylvania and Maryland, fighters on both side circled in a deadly serious dance. Hundreds of fighters on both sides were downed in those first three months. The C.S.A.F.’s biggest disadvantage was that of numbers. They simply ran out of skilled pilots before the Army Air Corps. More Confederate bomber pilots were downed by ground fire than American interceptors. The same was said about the American Strategic Air Command. Four-engine bombers produced by Boeing and Convair targeted the industrial heartland of the Confederacy. Though losses were great, the bombers hit cities like Atlanta and Birmingham in daylight hours to great effect. Unlike night-time raids, the daytime bombers could zero in on industrial targets and destroy them, slowly eroding what little industrial capacity the Confederate States possessed.

In the end, the Air War over the Mid-Atlantic States was one of attrition, where the United States had far more pilots and aircraft.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Battle of Gettysburg

At dawn, on April 1, 1940, the Army of Virginia forced a crossing of the Rappahanock river, thus beginning World War II in North America. General George Patton personally lead the Right Hook of his three-pronged war plan, aiming his army at Philadelphia. His original projections was to storm across Lincoln and Maryland, being in the U.S. Capital within a month. His plans relied too much upon the effectiveness of modern armor, most of which he commanded being imported Panzers. What he failed to calculate was the resolve of American militia and the long-term planning of U.S. General Clive Arnold. Patton drove relentlessly north, battling Lincoln and Maryland National Guard units the whole way. It was no straight-up fight, but rather a prolonged guerilla campaign. Arnold used these units to slow down his enemy, whose only real advantages were speed and surprise. Without either, war would bog down like it did during the previous war.

Arnold moved the 1st Army into place in southern Virginia, at a rail and road junction in the little-known town of Gettysburg. To take Philly, Patton would have to pass through this town. Both the railroad and highways passed through the little valley the town rested upon. Arnold fortified the hills and ridges around the town with bunkers and artillery. Tank traps and trenches were dug at the southern entrance to town, between Cemetery and Seminary Ridges, which in turn were dug in with anti-tank gun. Arnold had the traps camouflaged and relied upon Patton’s aggression to have the Confederate General trap himself. He was not disappointed.

On July 1, more than two months behind schedule, the spearhead of the Army of Virginia ran smack into the traps. Stuck tanks were quickly killed by anti-tank guns. The blunted spearhead upon State Route 76, caused a bottleneck of Confederate armor, a perfect target for the M-18 Badgers. Arnold used the tank destroyers to great effect, and Patton would later say it was those very tank destroyers that cost him the battle. Gettysburg was, at the time, surrounded by orchards, making armored movement precarious and unit cohesion difficult. Patton had little choice but to send in infantry, supported afar by tank guns, to storm each of the hills and ridges around Gettysburg.

Some of the bloodiest fighting was seen on July 2, when an entire regiment of Confederate soldiers was chewed to pieces storming the southern most hill, Round Top, where American artillery gnawed away at Patton’s flanks. Patton was a genius on the offense, but his defensive doctrine left much to desire. Confederate soldiers did take Little Round Top, only to be ejected by a costly American counterattack near dusk. At nightfall, both sides remained in stalemate. Night time attacks by Confederate commandos succeeded in capturing land between Cemetery Ridge and the Round Tops, cutting off the defenders there.

At dawn, Patton ordered the Round Tops suppressed by Confederate artillery and dive-bombers, while a full scale charge on Cemetery Ridge commenced. At the time and in his mind, his choices were limited between withdrawing south or charging forward. Never a man to back down, Patton gave the order to charge. For five hours, Confederate and American units slugged it out for Cemetery Ridge, with Confederates achieving limited gains. Had he another day, Patton may have taken the ridge, even after suffering 20% losses in his armor. That was not to be.

Arnold moved the bulk of his own armor, both tanks and tank destroyers, south. The flanking move took most of July 2, moving nearly thirty miles around Gettysburg. While Patton struggled to take Cemetery Ridge, Arnold’s own armor slammed into Confederate supply lines on the highway south. Arnold’s intent was not just to destroy Patton’s supply lines, but to encircle the Army of Virginia and either force it to surrender or to destroy it. With his supplies threatened, and encirclement imminent, Patton reluctantly gave the order to fall back– he never once uttered the word retreat.

The Army of Virginia’s retreat was less than orderly, with damaged vehicles and weapons forming a wake of litter than American fighters followed. It was the high-water mark of the Confederate invasion, and the beginning of the end of the Confederate States as an independent entity. Patton’s own aggression, inability to advance as fast as he planned, and inability to achieve air superiority over the battlefield that cost him the war at Gettysburg. It was Arnold’s own inability to achieve the same air superiority that failed to end the war then and there. Neither side utilized aircraft to their full effectiveness, but both sides did prove the value of armor and anti-armor weapons at Gettysburg.