Thursday, April 16, 2009

Atler-Nations - Kingdom of Hawaii Part 1

It's funny where a simple chat can lead. Recently, in a comment to a post on "Victoria's Boys in Red", I half-jokingly threw out the idea of doing Hawaii as a power in a VSF setting. Nothing big, just a lark. Then I talked to other geeky-minded folks at work and some more with Mr. Womack and the concept really started to take form.

I think what makes it a great idea is that Hawaii almost made it, they really did. If not for a few little problems, easily glanced over or corrected in an alternate history, they might just have made themselves into a Pacific island nation of note. Add to this the fact that their history really is a fascinating one and you have good makings of a VSF nation.

The first thing you need to do is to change a few things and have things go better for Hawaii. King Kamehameha was enamored with western cultures and really strove to learn about them and bring the advantages of those places to his people. What didn't go so well were his dealings with foreign nations which really ended up setting his newly formed united Hawaii up to become the puppets of other countries.

If we can concede a more forward thinking Kamehameha or successors to him that might have carried on a more productive continuation of what he started, we can imagine a Hawaii that became a trade partner to many nations, becoming a sort of trade point nestled in the middle of the Pacific and accessible to those plying their trades through Asia and India and beyond.

One can also envision a Hawaii that continued to learn and master elements of European ship building and developed its own shipyards capable of building and maintaining a home and trade fleet as well as offering port services to ships moving through the pacific. Add to this some rather exotic exports such as sugar and several fruits and Hawaii could become a comfortable little island nation, indeed.

MILITARYWhat would their military look like? I have found little information on their army or its uniforms but I do know that its early armies were little more than up-gunned native troops. This isn't much fun for a VSF army, though and we can draw on the Hawaii dynasties' love of things European as an inspiration of how an organized army of the Kingdom of Hawaii might look. There might still be ill-equipped, poorly uniformed provincial troops in support of the standing army and they might look much more like traditional Hawaiian warriors.

When I tinker around with uniform ideas, I imagine that most of the Hawaiin army would function in a dual capacity as marines as nearly every part of their kingdom is accessible by water and a short march. But I do not want them to look just like the marines of other nations. What I can imagine are solider wearing conventional uniform coats and possibly some wide-brimmed hats on the upper portion but wearing either short pants or even those waist wraps you see there now days who;s name escape me now. I also imagine that they might fight in bare feet.

Cavalry might exist but would likely be rare, perhaps drawn from local farmers and herders or island police forces. Their dress would depend on what capacity they filled in their regular daily lives with police wearing a variation of the military uniform and militia cavalry wearing typical Hawaiian provincial dress.

Artillery would likely be in the form of smaller guns, often those taken from ships' armaments and moved along with infantry. Kamehameha I used this sort of rolling gun tactic well in his wars of unification, even marching guns in fights up mountains. Mountain guns and light pack guns might be the norm.

Thus ends the first installment of a look at what might be a plausible VSF alternate history Hawaii. I hope you enjoy this and look forward to reading your responses and input. I'll be posting more about this idea when I have time and after I have a chance to digest some of the feedback I've received. It should be noted that I am no expert on Hawaii and also that this idea is likely full of a lot of holes that really needn't be addressed in the context of fictional history.




  1. You're spot-on in regards to cavalry. Fairly useless in Hawaii.

    Mountain guns, screw guns, and Gatling or Nordenfelts would be popular choices. Maybe Hotchkiss rotating cannon as well, in the 3-pdr range.

    I like your uniform idea as well. European coat, native pareo(kilt), and some sort of headgear.

    Neat idea.. keep looking into it.

  2. On the subject of headgear, I am a bit stumped on that. I would imagine that some sort of wide-brimmed hat might be fitting though I saw some miniatures on QRF's site that might fit in well.

    I'm thinking of ordering a sample pack at month's end. I cannot remember the name of the figs but they are in the History of Mexico ranges.


  3. You know, I really feel like a doofis with this post. The more I read, the more I realize that Hawaii didn't "almost" make it as a modern nation, they DID make it and then had it taken from them.

    A later post will address these rather ignorant assumptions on my part.


  4. Yes Eli you are on to something huge. I would say the navy ships are fast little destoyers or corvettes as they are inexpensive and can use swarm attack techniques and in the VSF world they would have steam powered torpedoes to use against bigger ships.

    The Royal Hawaiian Marines with wide brimmed hats coats, canvas kilts and maybe some sort of strapped sandals (just for the coral protection).

  5. Mr Cox, good to heaar from you again. Enjoying your Venus fiction.

    I am still on the fence about the wide-brimmed hat and footwear, butg that has more to do with available miniatures. I suppose in 15mm scale, sandals might just as easily painted on to naked feet.

    The Freikorp minis I ordered are wearing a shako that looks like traditional Hawaiian headgear in a sort of militarized way.


  6. Original and inspirational! Looking forward for future developments.

  7. Thank you for the kind words. Have you read through to Part 4 yet? The idea grows almost daily.

    Thanks for reading,



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