A Bastard of a Place : The Japanese Invasion of Australia, 1942

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Ian_W, Feb 8, 2019.

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  1. EddyBoulevard Your friendly suicide bomber Banned

    Nov 28, 2018
    Davao City, Philippines
    You killed Mcarthur?!
  2. Ian_W Well-Known Member

    Aug 2, 2015
    Damn right I did.

    Because of that, you can accuse this of being an Allies-wank if you want.
  3. RyuDrago Italian? Yes, but also Roman

    Nov 30, 2010
    I am thinking more of a nastier Pacific war.
  4. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2014
    1123 6536 5321
    Dug out Doug is not particularly liked or respected on this forum and his death - particulalrly earlier in the war as a given POD is seen a an improvement to the Allied conduct of the war.
  5. Driftless Geezer

    Sep 16, 2011
    Out in the Driftless Area
    The Philippines are still doomed, particularly in light of Mac's deeply flawed preparations. To be callous about it, if Sutherland and/or Willoughby perished as well, that may be helpful to the Allied cause as well.

    One of the big pluses for this TL, no McArthur should improve US/Australian military relations from the get-go. It should really help when the veteran Australian divisions arrive and are deployed. The US 32nd troops were green as grass and not at all trained for jungle warfare(on New Guinea), so they consequently suffered through a long and steep learning curve. Mac was little help there too.
    RyuDrago likes this.
  6. RyuDrago Italian? Yes, but also Roman

    Nov 30, 2010
    Well I guess the Philippines would always be doomed at the earlier stage of the war, if else for logistical reasons, but I don't know at all of Macarthur's or the US as whole military organization there so I can't judge at this. I am a bit curious to know more after reading the latest replies on the matter.
  7. Ian_W Well-Known Member

    Aug 2, 2015
    Sorry for the foreshadowing, but it's the reverse.

    McArthur had one sole guiding light of his military strategy - "my front should get all the stuff, so I can do offensives and look good".

    The Curtin government was primarily focused on protecting Australia, as opposed to winning the war.

    With Mac in Australia, the Curtin government has a military ally in their requests to Washington for much more stuff to protect Australia and it's approaches.

    In this timeline, they don't. And a Japanese invasion isn't a possibility, it's happened.
  8. Ian_W Well-Known Member

    Aug 2, 2015
    Fifty Years from the Invasion : The Illawarra and the War. Illawarra Mercury, 7 March 1992


    Sidebar illustration https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/RELAWM30622.007/

    In the desperate days of March 1942, just after the first set of Japanese invasions, Australia needed every weapon we could get. The first American convoy took most of it's contents to New Caledonia, and North Queensland was practically undefended, with Australian Vounteer Forces needing to bring their own weapons.

    The Woolongong Lysaght factory was where the Australian designed Owen submachinegun was being built, so on 7 March 1942 a contingent of NSW police, led by the legendary rugby league player Detective Sergant Frank 'Bumper' Farrel came to collect "every weapon they had" for shipment to North Queensland.

    Mr Wardell, Chief Engineer of Lysaghts said of the day "We just handed them over. They had a letter from the Premier, and another one from Frank Forde, the Army Minister, and the Army had been stuffing us around, so we gave them to them and said we'd have another fifty next week, and a hundred the week after".

    The weapons, packed in new suitcases from Mark Foy's Department store, then went to Queensland with Detective Farrell, accompanied on each leg by Railwaysmens Union officials and a personal authorisation from both the NSW Premier, Mr McKell, and the Federal Army Minister, Mr Forde.

    A similar convoy came from Lithgow, with Vickers machine guns, mortars and ammunition from the Lithgow Arms Factory.

    After a harrowing trip interrupted by Japanese bombs and sabotage the weapons arrived in Cairns on 19 March 1942.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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  9. Sam R. Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2011
    I’m assuming this is commonplace hysteria or lies? The mythmaking around 1942-44 historically was heightened. 90s, Mercury, and the difficulty of the Japanese recruiting rail and road saboteurs are my clues at least?
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  10. kent Well-Known Member

    Jul 5, 2009
    Pleasanton California
    Germany first was a real bother for the war in the Pacific. FDR and Churchill really screwed all the allied forces in the Pacific with their Germany first plans.
  11. Ian_W Well-Known Member

    Aug 2, 2015
    Yes, and with Mac dead there is one less general arguing for Pacific First.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
  12. Ian_W Well-Known Member

    Aug 2, 2015
    Volume 1 of 8
    War Plans and Files of the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet
    Running Estimate and Summary maintained by Captain James M. Steele, USN, CINCPAC staff at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, covering the period 7 December 1941–31 August 1942

    March 20
    Task forces proceeding as before.

    Received Cominch's 191400, 191401, 191402 in which plans were made known for bases at Tongabatu, Efate and a Samaon system of bases. These expeditions from East and West Coasts will total 13 transports and 15 cargo ships. The Samoan group will continue to be Marine-garrisoned; the others, Army. It will be seen that this requires Task Force 13 to be diverted to Efate (Roses). (CinCPac 210533). Also mining at Bleacher will be delayed.
    Some convoys continue to go to Australia there being one en route from San Francisco and one from the East Coast. There are also large numbers of cargo ships proceeding singly by circitous routes. General Brett, who stepped up after General MacArthur's plane crash, is emphasising that we are hitting back at the Japs from Australian air bases, and Australia is still in the fight. Nothing on relief of Philippines.
    Our B-17's from Townsville continue to bomb the enemy at his new Port Darwin base, though only four have been used recently. Cominch has asked about the ability to use TF13 aircraft from land bases. Possible use of Navy aircraft from bases in Townsville/Brisbane ?
    Sent 210111 to Samoa in regard to initial movements to Western Samoa. Received Cominch's 192055 concerning local defence forces for Samoa - apparently to be supplied from HawSeaFront.
    Comanzac's 202256 indicates some of the questions the Department is now asking about Australia. They don't know how 'all-out' our help needs to be either.
    The enemy still maintains the Screening Force in the Homeland-Bonins area, and a good many units in and around Truk and Rabaul. In general he appears to be reorganising and making plans for his next moves, probably against NE ANZAC.
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  13. Ian_W Well-Known Member

    Aug 2, 2015

    The formal CGS specification for an Australian produced cruiser tank was finally issued on the 11th of November 1940. The CGS specification was a lengthy document still cluttered by the technological indecision and tactical confusion that had prevailed previously.

    The major points were as such. An immediate requirement for 340 tanks to equip one armored division and a further 119 tanks for the 1st Australian Corps and the AMF (84 and 35 respectively), an additional 400 tanks for 12 months reserve, with a total production of 859 tanks. No weight restriction was issued beyond the lowest possible allowing for all other requirements to be met, with armor required at 50 mm (1.97 in) minimum, although this was later amended to 65 mm (2.56) frontal with 45 mm (1.77 in) minimum sides and rear.

    Dimensions were restricted to conform to the loading gauge of Australian railways, a maximum width of 9 feet 4 inches and maximum height of 8 feet 6 inches with no restriction on maximum length. In regards to mobility, it was requested that the tank be able to operate on sand or black soil, with no requirement for cold weather operation.

    Minimum required top speed was to be 35 mph (55 km/h) on level ground, with a slope traverse of 45 degrees, and trench and vertical obstacle crossing capabilities of 6 foot 6 inches and 3 foot 6 inches respectively. Operational range was specified as a minimum cruising range of 150 miles (240 kilometres).

    Armament was to be one Ordnance QF 2 Pounder accompanied by one .303 machine gun mounted in the turret with another machine gun mounted in the hull considered desirable. Minimum ammunition load was set at 120 2-pounder shells and 5000 rounds of small arms ammunition for the machine guns (7000 if two guns were mounted).

    With the tank project arriving at a relatively late juncture in the Australian munitions program there were no available facilities equipped to roll armored plate in the thicknesses required. The solution devised was to cast the hull in six sections which would be bolted or welded together to form a rigid whole. Additionally, Australian stocks of nickel, typically used in cast armour, were earmarked as critical war resources and thus unavailable.

    To deal with the nickel problem metallurgists at Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP) developed a new armored steel formula, Australian Bulletproof Plate 4 (ABP4), utilising zirconium in place of nickel. Zirconium was chosen due to Australia possessing some of the world’s largest readily available stocks of naturally occurring zircon sand.

    The engine presented yet another problem. In order to meet the army’s requirement of a 35 mph (55 km/h) top speed it was estimated that an engine of at least 300 hp would be needed. However, both the intended original engines, the radial Pratt & Whitney Wasp and the Guiberson diesel, were not available.

    The Pratt & Whitney Wasp had been produced in Australia under licence by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) since the mid-1930s, but immediate war needs meant that all Australian Wasp production was tied up in aircraft orders for Australia and the UK. To circumvent the engine issue, Watson proposed the use of three regular Cadillac V8 346 in³ 5.7L engines, arranged in a clover-leaf formation through a transfer case leading into a common driveshaft, giving a total output of 330 horsepower.

    In April of 1941 the clover leaf Cadillac setup was assessed by Professor Burstal of the University of Melbourne and the Chief engineer of the Vacuum oil Company, Mr Alfred Reginald Code, with both men concurring that while the setup was less than ideal it would be workable as an expediency.

    The last issue to be overcome was that of the gearbox. The US M3 Medium tank used a state of the art synchromesh gearbox with helical toothed hardened steel gears running on multiple bearing races, and was difficult to produce even in the USA. In Australia, the machinery required to cut gears of that type was not available and a shortage of bearings meant that the synchromesh gearbox could not be manufactured in Australia. The solution was to simplify the gearbox to a crash type design that used the same gear blanks and maintained the dimensions of the synchromesh type. This meant that the gearbox could be replaced with the more modern type should supplies become available from the USA. The gearboxes were produced by the firms Coote & Jorgensen, and Sonnedales.

    While remarkable progress had been made in the first six months of 1941, the AC I was still on the drawing board and no closer to the arrival of a pilot model. Noting the inefficiencies of the established organisation Prime Minister Menzies again intervened in June of 1941 to create the Directorate of Armoured Fighting Vehicles Production (originally titled AFV division), with Alfred Reginald Code appointed as Director. Code was known both as a respected engineer and a skilled administrator and Prime Minister Menzies deliberately gave the DAFVP an unorthodox structure beyond both the Ministry of Munitions and the Army in an attempt to fast track tank production.

    Code immediately set to building a skilled staff of designers and production engineers in order to simplify the tank design into the most viable design for Australian industry. Australian foundries had been emboldened by the idea of a cast hull for the tank and insisted that not only was it possible, but that it could be cast as a single large piece with only the axle housing and other external fittings being bolted on separately.

    Proof of this concept was borne out in August-September of 1941, when the first test hulls were cast in foundries at the New South Wales city of Newcastle. The one piece cast hull reduced the amount of time required in machining and assembling the tank. Additionally, the new team at the DAFVP made several revisions to the design to streamline assembly. This included modifying the final drive design so that they could be installed from the side after the axle housing had been fitted and implementing a new ‘scissor’ type Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension (HVSS) bogie, resembling the French Hotchkiss H35, which offered equal performance to the American type while being easier to manufacture.

    The suspension changed configuration during the development stage, with prototype vehicles having a trailing return roller, and production vehicles having the return roller on top. The AC I was designed to be able to use either locally produced steel tracks of a similar configuration to those used on British Cruiser tanks or alternatively US produced rubber block tracks. Installation of each type of track required the fitting of a different drive sprocket. Australian manufactured road wheels were functionally identical to US produced M3 road wheels, however they can be identified by either 4, 6, or 8 holes drilled radially around the inner diameter of the wheel.

    The turret was fully cast with a 54 inch (1.37 m) turret ring, very similar to the British cruiser design, and the hull kept a low profile as intended. Armament was also similar to the British tanks, with the Ordnance QF 2-Pounder (40 mm/1.57 in) as the main armament. Due to the BESA machine gun not being in production in Australia, secondary armament consisted of one coaxial Vickers .303 (7.7 mm) machine gun and one hull mounted Vickers .303 machine gun protected by a massive cast armor mantlet, encasing the machine-gun watertank.

    Ammunition for the main gun was 46 rounds stowed horizontally in the rear of the turret with 74 rounds stowed vertically in two racks bolted to the hull floor under the turret basket. The turret was rotated either manually or via an electric power traverse. The traverse mechanism was a 40 volt system with current drawn from a dynamo in the transfer box linking the three engines to the main drive shaft. To ensure consistent power supply at variable RPM three shunt motors were provided to stabilize the current flow.

    An industrial mould packing machine was purchased from the USA but shipping delays meant that it did not arrive until late 1942 at which point the Bradford & Kendall foundry men were confident that they could hand pack the moulds at the same rate as the machine. It therefore went unused. Assembly of AC I tanks was contracted to New South Wales Government Railways with work carried out at Chullora Tank Assembly Workshops at Chullora, Sydney.

    The Chullora Tank Assembly Workshops were repurposed for construction and maintenance of rail stock post war, and still exist to this day. The first production vehicle (no. 8001) arrived in July of 1942. The first 12 vehicles delivered were found to suffer from temper brittleness, which caused certain pieces of casting to inconsistently harden during the tempering process. As a result, the armor of these tanks was deemed potentially unreliable, but they were still put on the railways to Queensland to fight the Japanese.

    ( Slightly modified from http://www.tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww2/Australia/AC1_Sentinel.php which rocks)
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  14. Jellico Well-Known Member

    Dec 14, 2017
    You know that hull machine gun is going to lead to a very specific niche form of anime after the war.

    It gets enough comments now. Just imagine if it actually got some combat exposure. Hmm. Actually it will get some very specific artwork during the war.
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  15. Ian_W Well-Known Member

    Aug 2, 2015
    As a tank with a 2 lb main gun and a .303 Vickers, it's got some very severe issues. But it's the one Australia can build, so it's going to be built and put on trains to the front until they can get meaningful numbers of Shermans :)
  16. Pangur The Cat Donor

    Dec 28, 2010
    would making Sherman's here be out of the question?
  17. Ian_W Well-Known Member

    Aug 2, 2015
    Once the 'We don't have any shipping. Or troops. Or .50 cal' emergency of early 1942 passes, it's a lot easier to build Shermans in Detroit and put them on a boat.

    But in this timeline, it is the emergency of early 1942, so Eddie Ward is collecting pistols from criminals, commo wharfies in Melbourne are ripping off American shipments to New Caledionia and sending the stuff to North Queensland, and the Sentinel is being built.
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  18. Pangur The Cat Donor

    Dec 28, 2010
    Don't get wrong I love the day lights out of this TL and the thing is that its so plausible
    Ian_W likes this.
  19. Errolwi Well-Known Member

    Jun 5, 2013
    Auckland, NZ
    Liking the format filling in the detail from well before the POD, very useful.
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  20. Ian_W Well-Known Member

    Aug 2, 2015
    Adelaide Advertiser, 15 March 1942

    Devastating Raids On Japanese Ships and Bases
    Planes Destroyed On
    Ground At Darwin

    CANBERRA, March 17
    Further devastating attacks by Allied air forces on Japanese
    bases in the Northern Territory area in the past three days
    have resulted in the sinking of one heavy Japanese
    cruiser at Darwin and serious damage to another, the
    destruction of 12 Japanese aircraft on the ground
    and serious damage to another five on the ground, and
    the shooting down in aerial combat of at least two,
    probably more, Japanese fighters.
    A devastating attack on shipping in the Darwin harbor on
    Friday was followed by another successful attack on
    Darwin yesterday.
    The attack was preceded by a strong attack on the
    Japanese-occupied aerodrome. Despite intense
    AA fire from the ground, and repeated attempts by
    Japanese aircraft to drive off our bombers, the attack
    was pressed home with outstanding success.
    Three Japanese heavy bombers and nine
    fighters were destroyed by fire on
    the aerodrome, and five other
    Japanses planes were damaged

    Heavy casualties are believed to have
    been inflicted on the Japanese
    personnel at the aerdrome who raced
    for cover when the attack began.

    In addition to tbe attacks in the Northern
    Territory area, Allied air forces at the
    week-end continued to harass the
    Japanese occupied town of Rabaul
    in New Guniea.

    The campaign is costing
    the Japanese navy dearly, as it is
    estimated that seven cruisers and four
    destroyers, besides transports and
    auxiliary vessels, have been sunk or damaged

    Other features of aerial activity in the
    North Australia zone were Japanese air
    raids at Katherine and Cairns.
    The attack on Katherine marks a new
    development in the Japanese tactics in
    North Australia. Katherine is the most
    inland point in Northern Australia so
    far reached by enemy planes.
    The raid on Katherine, which is about
    120 miles from Darwin, was on a small
    scale and little damage done. One aborigine
    was killed and another wounded.
    At Cairns no damage or casualties were
    Unidentified planes have been
    reported over Brisbane in the past
    two days. Single aircraft flew high
    over the city at about midday today
    and yesterday.
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