ABDA Wank

ABDA was a short lived multi national collaboration that ended in disaster .

The main objective of the command, led by General Sir Archibald Wavell,[1] was to maintain control of the "Malay Barrier" (or "East Indies Barrier"), a notional line running down the Malayan Peninsula, through Singapore and the southernmost islands of Dutch East Indies.

Here is a list of ships according to Wikipedia that were under ABDA campaign - how could ABDA have been better ?

American Edit
USS Houston (CA-30)
USS Marblehead (CL-12)
USS Boise (CL-47)
USS Alden (DD-211)
USS Barker (DD-213)
USS Edwards (DD-265)
USS John D. Edwards (DD-216)
USS Whipple (DD-217)
USS Parrott (DD-218)
USS Edsall (DD-219)
USS Bulmer (DD-222)
USS Stewart (DD-224)
USS Pope (DD-225)
USS Peary (DD-226)
USS Pillsbury (DD-227)
USS John D. Ford (DD-228)
USS Paul Jones (DD-230)
USS Asheville (PG-21)
USS Tulsa (PG-22)
USS Holland (AS-3)
USS Canopus (AS-9)
USS Otus (ARG-20)
USS Langley (CV-1)
USS Childs (DD-241)
USS Heron (AM-10)
British Edit
HMS Prince of Wales (53)
HMS Repulse (1916)
HMS Exeter (68)
HMS Dragon (D46)
HMS Danae (D44)
HMS Durban (D99)
HMS Emerald (D66)
HMS Electra (H27)
HMS Encounter (H10)
HMS Express (H61)
HMS Isis (D87)
HMS Jupiter (F85)
HMS Scout
HMS Tenedos (H04)
HMS Thanet (H29)
HMS Stronghold
Dutch Edit
HNLMS De Ruyter (1935)
HNLMS Tromp (1937)
HNLMS Java (1921)
HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën (1909)
HNLMS Evertsen (1926)
HNLMS Kortenaer (1927)
HNLMS Piet Hein (1927)
HNLMS Van Ghent (1926)
HNLMS Banckert (1929)
HNLMS Van Nes (1930)
HNLMS Witte de With (1928)
Australian Edit
HMAS Perth (D29)
HMAS Hobart (D63)
HMAS Adelaide (1918)
HMAS Vampire (D68) (ex. HMS Vampire)
HMAS Vendetta (D69)
 
The problem is that with the forces available to ABDA in late 1941/early 1942 there's just no way they can defeat the Japanese. And realistically no way they can prevent the IJN/IJA from taking most of the Philippines, Malaya, and the DEI. Actually trying to use the heavier units in a stand up fight is guaranteed to eventually result in their destruction. The most sensible thing to do would be to withdraw the heavy units from the DEI and basically assume that those islands are doomed. Use the subs and destroyers I suppose for raiding Japanese shipping.

The problem is that outright abandoning the DEI is completely unacceptable for the Dutch at the time.
 
The problem is that with the forces available to ABDA in late 1941/early 1942 there's just no way they can defeat the Japanese. And realistically no way they can prevent the IJN/IJA from taking most of the Philippines, Malaya, and the DEI. Actually trying to use the heavier units in a stand up fight is guaranteed to eventually result in their destruction. The most sensible thing to do would be to withdraw the heavy units from the DEI and basically assume that those islands are doomed. Use the subs and destroyers I suppose for raiding Japanese shipping.

The problem is that outright abandoning the DEI is completely unacceptable for the Dutch at the time.
It also invalidates the entire strategy. If you can’t hold at least a good chunk of the DEI, you can’t hold Singapore. Even if you stop the Japanese in Malaya. So either you try and hold basically all of it or you abandon the whole thing. Malaya, Singapore, DEI, Philippines. That is not going to be acceptable to any party involved.

You can wank the ADBA by following the “British do better in Malaya” threads (Better performance in Med/NA allows for more reinforcement to the Far East, combined with much better use of them in general). But to really achieve their mission, you need that, plus having Britain guarantee the DEI, joint defense plans and commonwealth troops assigned to help defend Borneo. This might save the DEI. And if it pulls enough Japanese troops to attack a beefed up Malaya it could maybe help the Philippines.

In general, you probably need the whole theatre to both manage their resources better, and have more resources to manage. But considering the tight schedules of the Japanese attacks if you can throw off the Japanese anywhere, you can cause some pretty major derailments.
 
Last edited:
It also invalidates the entire strategy. If you can’t hold at least a good chunk of the DEI, you can’t hold Singapore. Even if you stop the Japanese in Malaya. So either you try and hold basically all of it or you abandon the whole thing. Malaya, Singapore, DEI, Philippines. That is not going to be acceptable to any party involved.

You can wank the ADBA by following the “British do better in Malaya” threads (Better performance in Med/NA allows for more reinforcement to the Far East, combined with much better use of them in greater). But to really achieve their mission, you need that, plus having Britain guarantee the DEI, joint defence plans and commonwealth troops assigned to help defend Borneo. This might save the DEI. And if it pulls enough Japanese troops to attack a beefed up Malaya it could maybe help the Philippines.

In general, you probably need the whole theatre to both manage their resources better, and have more resources to manage. But considering the tight schedules of the Japanese attacks if you can throw off the Japanese anywhere, you can cause some pretty major derailments.

Anyway you could change the history of Dutch Colonization in the DEI's enough that signifigant ethnic populations/protectorates (So sort of like the various bits of British india ruled by local princes) actually interested in at least for the moment preventing the Japanese from conquering them (If not have the dutch keep the DEI's in some sort of commonwealth deal). From what I can tell it seems there was very very very little fondness for the Dutch rule and at least initially the locals didn't oppose the Japanese conquest heavily.
 
So basically the best that can be achieved is a least worst case scenario
Holding the Malay Barrier is the best case scenario. Do that for long enough and the Japanese will use up their reserve material and will likely be a significantly reduced threat. But until Germany and Italy are neutralized the main force of the allies are not likely to be deployed in this theater.
 

HJ Tulp

Donor
If you are going for a wank there are plenty opportunities depending on the point of departure. It helps if ABDA is set up before hostilities start, even if it means that the Americans don't (officially) join at that point. Get the British to send commanders who suffer less from OTL's Singapore-obsession. If the POD is 7 December 1941 what could help would be an earlier concentration of forces instead of wasting them on escorting forces to Singapore where they will end up in PoW-camps anyway. The battle of Balikpapan showed that there were opportunities to do damage to the Japanese invasion forces. Hell, at the very end at the Battle of Java Sea Doorman's Combined Strike Force was merely a fast-tracked sighting report away from engaging the Japanese troop convoy.

EDIT: What would make life for ABDA's naval forces much, much, better would be a less insane division of labour between ABDAIR and ABDAFLOAT. The job of recon-planes is to be the eyes of the fleet, so integrate them with the fleet dammit! How the Britons could think this would work is beyond me.

Anyway you could change the history of Dutch Colonization in the DEI's enough that signifigant ethnic populations/protectorates (So sort of like the various bits of British india ruled by local princes) actually interested in at least for the moment preventing the Japanese from conquering them (If not have the dutch keep the DEI's in some sort of commonwealth deal). From what I can tell it seems there was very very very little fondness for the Dutch rule and at least initially the locals didn't oppose the Japanese conquest heavily.
One does not have to go back that far. There were plans for native conscription in the '30s and '40s but that would require at least some political reform and that's not going to fly with the right-wing cabinets of the Interbellum.
 
Last edited:
I feel obligated at this stage to point out that by 1942 Langley had been converted to a seaplane tender, and she was thus designated AV-3.

I have to wonder, would she have been more useful to ABDACOM as a carrier? Even with her limitations, surely she could still give them some extra scouting capabilities? I mean honestly, she had the Grumman F3F, which was a biplane but comparable to early monoplanes in terms of abilities, and she could have carried Douglas Devastators too.

Devastators weren't perfect, but they could help.

I would honestly suggest this as one way to improve the Allies' chances of not necessarily winning the South Pacific, but coming out of the defeat in better shape. Somehow stop U.S.S. Langley being converted to a seaplane tender, and ensure she has a decently full air wing and stock of bullets and bombs when the war starts.

No, she will not turn the whole show around, but she might help save a few lives.
 
Last edited:

Driftless

Donor
If you are going for a wank there are plenty opportunities depending on the point of departure. It helps if ABDA is set up before hostilities start, even if it means that the Americans don't (officially) join at that point.
If The ABDA countries aren't at war with Japan, prior to December 1941, could they form a neutrality patrol of sorts? Of course, that requires considerable change of heart and commitment from the governments involved. The Commonwealth and Dutch had plenty on their respective plates, and the US was of two minds politically about getting involved.

Even if that POD occurs, its still tough to beat the Japanese at this point with the resources at hand, but maybe you slow them down more?
 
I feel obligated at this stage to point out that by 1942 Langley had been converted to a seaplane tender, and she was thus designated AV-3.

I have to wonder, would she have been more useful to ABDACOM as a carrier? Even with her limitations, surely she could still give them some extra scouting capabilities? I mean honestly, she had the Grumman F3F, which was a biplane but comparable to early monoplanes in terms of abilities, and she could have carried Douglas Devastators too.

Devastators weren't perfect, but they could help.

I would honestly suggest this as one way to improve the Allies' chances of not necessarily winning the South Pacific, but coming out of the defeat in better shape. Somehow stop U.S.S. Langley being converted to a seaplane tender, and ensure she has a decently full air wing and stock of bullets and bombs when the war starts.

No, she will not turn the whole show around, but she might help save a few lives.

From what I understand the problem with Langley by that point was that she was considered way too old, way too slow, and had seen heavy service for multiple decades by that point. She had seen heavy service as a collier before her conversion into a carrier and was never really suited for operational use as a carrier. She was definitely useful as a test bed and research vessel as the USN figured early carrier ops out. But she just wasn't suited for use as an operational combat carrier and by 1941 she's just way too absurdly obsolete to be used in that role. While you might be able (and forced to) stock her aircraft complement with older obsolete designs she'd still need USN trained and rated carrier pilots and all the mechanics and operational personnel needed to operate as a carrier (Instead of the relatively much less demanding role as a Seaplane tender and aircraft ferry). Trying to use her as a operational carrier in a scenario where she would realistically face enemy land and carrier based airpower by that point is pretty much suicide mission. Only this time you lose some much more highly trained manpower that's really rare and valuable in 1941.

By that point if you're even going to try and use her as a carrier you'd pretty much need to absolutely limit her to something like an ASW escort carrier in area's where enemy airpower isn't going to be a concern. (So the Western North Atlantic off the coast of North America or the Pacific east of Hawaii.). That or a training carrier like the Sable or Wolverine. Honestly she's not much more suited for combat duty by that point then either Sable or Wolverine.
 
From what I understand the problem with Langley by that point was that she was considered way too old, way too slow, and had seen heavy service for multiple decades by that point. She had seen heavy service as a collier before her conversion into a carrier and was never really suited for operational use as a carrier. She was definitely useful as a test bed and research vessel as the USN figured early carrier ops out. But she just wasn't suited for use as an operational combat carrier and by 1941 she's just way too absurdly obsolete to be used in that role. While you might be able (and forced to) stock her aircraft complement with older obsolete designs she'd still need USN trained and rated carrier pilots and all the mechanics and operational personnel needed to operate as a carrier (Instead of the relatively much less demanding role as a Seaplane tender and aircraft ferry). Trying to use her as a operational carrier in a scenario where she would realistically face enemy land and carrier based airpower by that point is pretty much suicide mission. Only this time you lose some much more highly trained manpower that's really rare and valuable in 1941.

By that point if you're even going to try and use her as a carrier you'd pretty much need to absolutely limit her to something like an ASW escort carrier in area's where enemy airpower isn't going to be a concern. (So the Western North Atlantic off the coast of North America or the Pacific east of Hawaii.). That or a training carrier like the Sable or Wolverine. Honestly she's not much more suited for combat duty by that point then either Sable or Wolverine.

Yes, she's run down and old, which is why I won't even entertain the idea she could turn things around. If she was still a carrier, my suggestion would be stock her with nothing heavier than her F3Fs and some Devastators, and use her for reconnaissance and maybe, possibly some light nuisance raids against Japanese forces meant to let valuable ABDA heavy surface forces and troop convoys escape/reach their destinations.

I will say right now, she is almost certainly still lost unless she runs south as quickly as possible.
 
Even as a test bed carrier the best that can be said of Langley is that she was better than HMS Vindictive. They chose the wrong ship to convert as even in the 1920's 15kt was far too slow.
 
Even as a test bed carrier the best that can be said of Langley is that she was better than HMS Vindictive. They chose the wrong ship to convert as even in the 1920's 15kt was far too slow.

Yeah it's not great when in 1941 you're carrier can possibly outrun by a sloop or something.
 
I have this idea for a story where USS Langley, the Monitor HMS Terror and a handful of Corvettes and Sub Chasers are brought together in the worlds only Slow Attack Carrier Task Force somewhere in the South West Pacific Area after the fall of the Malay Barrier.
 
Even as a test bed carrier the best that can be said of Langley is that she was better than HMS Vindictive. They chose the wrong ship to convert as even in the 1920's 15kt was far too slow.

Yeah it's not great when in 1941 you're carrier can possibly outrun by a sloop or something.

True, though considering her age and the fact in her previous life she hauled flammable rock I'd say 15 knots is decent.

If we're doing a full wank she tears it up, sinks half the I.J.N., takes no damage, etc...

More realistically her best case scenario here is doing recon work and raids, like I said, since it's likely her magazines are low, and being the lazy slow-boat she is, lightning raids on enemy landing forces...aren't in the cards.

On another issue, I think a previous post said it too, but some sort of cooperative pact being in existence before the war would most likely have done a lot of good. This might defuse the issue mentioned in a previous post of assets like reconnaissance aircraft not being directly linked to the fleets they were meant to serve.

More and newer ships, for multiple navies.

British tanks in Singapore and Malaya.

Build the Singapore defenses to defend from hostile forces inland, not just out to sea.

Faster movement to concentrate forces and launch a serious counter offensive.

Etc...
 
If the Allies had a force in the Dutch East Indies and Malaya sufficient to defend these places, would the Japanese have attacked the Dutch East Indies and Malaya?
 
Best use for carrier Langley is an Atlantic convoy escort. US version of HMS Audacity

Excellent idea.

If the Allies had a force in the Dutch East Indies and Malaya sufficient to defend these places, would the Japanese have attacked the Dutch East Indies and Malaya?

It's entirely plausible. That said, if they do not because they feel they can't win, ABDACOM is the ultimate success.

Breaking the will of the enemy without fighting.

If you want to wank ABDACOM, you could do worse.
 
I feel obligated at this stage to point out that by 1942 Langley had been converted to a seaplane tender, and she was thus designated AV-3.

I have to wonder, would she have been more useful to ABDACOM as a carrier? Even with her limitations, surely she could still give them some extra scouting capabilities? I mean honestly, she had the Grumman F3F, which was a biplane but comparable to early monoplanes in terms of abilities, and she could have carried Douglas Devastators too.

Devastators weren't perfect, but they could help.

I would honestly suggest this as one way to improve the Allies' chances of not necessarily winning the South Pacific, but coming out of the defeat in better shape. Somehow stop U.S.S. Langley being converted to a seaplane tender, and ensure she has a decently full air wing and stock of bullets and bombs when the war starts.

No, she will not turn the whole show around, but she might help save a few lives.
I mean, between storage and a redone Deck I imagine she could support at least a quarter of F-35Bs. With each loaded heavy, say, 6 2,000lb JDAMs, and assuming a operational group of 3, I'd say that they could sink four cruisers per group sortie (3 total sorties per group sortie). At that rate, I'd say that once located, the Jappanese groups deployed to ABDA area will be ineffective after no more then 3 group sorties, I'll say ten total bombing sorties. With the 35's able to do recon too, the IJN should effectively never be able to take the offshore Dutch properties. :)

---
Realistically, the American forces could have done better, but given that they were barely days into the war it shouldn't have really been expected. Oh, Houston could have dished out a few more shell hits, and the Destroyer raid could have sunk a couple more cargo ships. The real underachievers here though are the RNs vessels.
 
Top