April 1942 Alternate Indian Ocean

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Zheng He, Feb 9, 2014.

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  1. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    The RAF is actually in pretty good shape with a couple extra fighter squadrons than OTL and they are getting stronger. The Japanese are not in good shape and getting weaker (they are about to lose the 11th Sentai to Rabaul, that's straight OTL). The raid the Japanese just pulled off is not the norm, they don't have the capacity.
     
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  2. Viper91 Donor

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    Aug 29, 2017
    Some of this is less a case of not enough units and to me more a case of some units probably in need of being reequipped with new aircraft. Though eventually getting two or three additional squadrons into the region wouldn't hurt. Another thing that would be helpful but possibly more of an army issue would be getting another two or three battalions worth of AA guns to protect key areas.

    Any major reinforcements direct from the UK though will likely still require the situation in North Africa to be resolved at the very least before substantial additional reinforcements can be freed up.
     
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  3. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    1430 Hours, 23 November 1942, 50 Miles Southeast of Akyab, Bay of Bengal – The old cruiser HMS Frobisher had been moved to picket duty south of Akyab the previous day after seeing her convoy to Chittagong and her crude Type 286 radar picked up the incoming Japanese raid when it was just under 60 miles from Akyab. The Royal Navy’s ships operating offshore were not integrated into the air defense network and Frobisher simply sent a message to Akyab stating a raid was inbound. This was enough to get things moving and a few minutes later, Akyab’s radars gained contact as well. Two sections of four Hurricanes from No. 67 Squadron were vectored toward the incoming raid while eight more Hurricanes from the same squadron coming down from Cox’s Bazar were ordered south as well. For the 16 Hurricanes from No. 135 Squadron at Chittagong, fuel efficiency was no longer a concern, the pilots could always land at Akyab. The fighter pilots increased power and continued to climb, the race was now on.

    The IJN pilots from Mergui did the same. When they passed over HMS Frobisher the Betty pilots knew they were getting close to the target area and they increased power and entered into shallow dives to gain speed and so they could make their attacks at low altitude. The veteran torpedo bomber pilots knew their survival depended on it. Meanwhile their Zero escorts were stacked in sections of eight at 10,000 feet, 15,000 feet, and 20,000 feet, the fighter pilots scanning the skies above and ahead of them for Allied fighters.
     
  4. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    1440 Hours, 23 November 1942, 15 Miles Southeast of Akyab, Bay of Bengal – The Hurricanes from No. 67 Squadron arrived in four sections of four and found themselves engaged with the two higher groups of escorting Zeroes. The pilots of No. 67 Squadron were veterans of the furious fighting over Burma from the previous spring and over the summer the entire squadron had made a trip to Ceylon for two weeks of training against the CATS. During the trip, the pilots also spent time with Jimmy Thach during his visit to Ceylon. Suffice to say, the Hurricane pilots knew exactly how to handle themselves against their nimble opponents and as soon as they found themselves engaged, they split into fighting pairs and executed by now well-rehearsed beam defense maneuvers.

    The tactics of the RAF pilots combined with the 20mm cannons on their Hurricane IICs were deadly against the escorting Zeroes and the results showed with seven Zeroes shot down in exchange for two Hurricanes destroyed and one damaged. However, the Zeroes did succeed in keeping the fighters off of the Betties.

    Unfortunately for the Allied ships offshore, No. 135 Squadron’s fighters were still 50 miles out when the wave hugging Betties began their attack runs. Four P-36s from No. 155 Squadron with partial loads of fuel and ammunition did manage to get into the air and the pilots headed straight for the ships that were under attack.

    The Betties bored in on the deck with pilots selecting their targets individually. The ships offshore had all weighed anchor and were maneuvering and the destroyers HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, HMS Duncan, and USS John D. Edwards, the light cruisers HMS Capetown and HNMLS Sumatra, and the sloop HMS Egret joined the anti-aircraft guns on the freighters and put up a hail of fire. The Mohawk pilots from No. 155 Squadron flew right through the ships and claimed two Betties with Mohawk shot down by anti-aircraft fire and the ships’ guns claimed six more torpedo bombers before they could make their drops. The 16 Betties that made drops did well. The sloop HMS Egret, the Australian grain carrier SS Formion, and the American merchant ship SS Viper91 all took crippling hits and sank. Worst of all, the RFA Brown Ranger was hit by a torpedo and the Betty that dropped it and quickly capsized, fortunately she had already discharged her precious cargo of aviation fuel. In addition to the damaged Betty that hit Brown Ranger, one final torpedo bomber was claimed by anti-aircraft after it dropped.

    A few minutes after the attack was over, the Hurricanes from No. 135 Squadron arrived on the scene and were ordered to provide cover to the rescue operations now underway while the Hurricanes from Mohawks that had successfully engaged the Japanese began landing at the local airfields, all low on fuel.

    At Chittagong, as the results from the attack came in, a despondent Air Vice Marshal Brand called in impromptu meeting with his top staff officers. The day certainly could have been worse but it his eyes it had not gone well either and he wanted things fixed immediately.
     
  5. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    1600 Hours, 23 November 1942, Force A Eastern Fleet, 200 Miles East of Trincomalee, Indian Ocean – Almost 1000 miles away from where the main action was taking place, Rear Admiral Boyd’s task force had met up with the old oiler USS Brazos and her escorts. Boyd’s thirsty destroyers were taking on fuel from Brazos, an evolution that lasted for the next several hours. The ambient light of the full moon made refueling during the night hours easier although choppy seas caused operations to be temporarily suspended more than once. However, by 0600 hours the next morning, Force A was on its way to Colombo while Brazos and her escorts turned west for Trincomalee where she would discharge the rest of her fuel oil.
     
  6. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    1800 Hours, 23 November 1942, Colombo Harbor, Ceylon – One of the problems for the Japanese in Burma and the areas along the coasts of the Bay of Bengal was that while they were desperately trying to make do with what they had, the Allies, particularly the Eastern Fleet and the RAF were continuing to get stronger. After a lengthy transit from Port C, the US Navy’s S Class Submarines, S-23, S-28, S-32, S-33, S-34, and S-35 arrived to support operations in the Bay of Bengal. The submarines tied up to the tenders Columbia and HMS Adamant and their captains stepped on shore to meet with Admiral Somerville and Vice Admiral Helfrich, leaving the details of replenishment and maintenance to their executive officers.
     
  7. Triune Kingdom Well-Known Member

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    Nice developments. Slowly, but surely Allies are growing in strength, numbers and experience, while Japanese are feeling the pressure of having too much territory and too few forces to cover it all properly.

    These recent airbattles show it well, while Japanese are dangerous opponents still, and not to be underestimated, Allied airpower has gained strength and more importantly experience to succesfully combat them, and forced the Japanese to pay a high price for these attacks.

    Now, how soon are we likely to see some Allied operations on the ground? They are starting from a bit better position then IOTL, and can expect much greater support from both naval and air forces in the area, so their task will be somewhat easier then OTL.

    Also, what can Allies expect from India in regards to war material, are there any numbers around for guns, ammo, ships and the like?

    Great work so far, I hope to see more soon.
     
  8. Driftless Geezer

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    At some point, some of the Allied aircraft will be needing replacements, even for the clapped out Buffalos, Battles, P-36's, old model Hurricanes. Those past-their-prime aircarft have served very well in this theater, but I'd guess that they'd be running low on parts, even parts scavenged from wrecks and hanger queens. Without digging into the history of the thread, I think Zheng He has also plugged old Vindicators, and Vildebeests and other 2nd tier planes into the lineup; but they may have already flown off into the aluminum smelters over the horizon

    *edit* I really have enjoyed seeing those 2nd tier aircraft come into good use, in a plausible way.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  9. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    Aug 3, 2013
    In most cases yes. The Indian No. 7 Squadron never operated Battles OTL but got them ITTL so they stand up earlier. However, like OTL they will began swapping those out for the Vultee Vengeance in March 1943. The Mohawk squadrons will still be around for a while. OTL No. 5 did not give up its P-36s until June 1943 and No. 155 kept theirs through January 1944. It will be a similar ITTL. The RAAF Battle squadron at Christmas Island (No. 15) will be fine given the large number of Battles sent to Australia for training and target tug towing so they will operate those through 1943 when they then get Beauforts like they did OTL. In fact, OTL the last Battle delivered to Australia arrived in December 1943 (yeah I was amazed by that too). Not sure about No. 25 Squadron RAAF. OTL they operated Buffaloes through most of 1943 but did so in backwater areas like Perth. Here they have a frontline role because their range makes them useful as escorts. They will probably need to be swapped out earlier.
     
  10. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    Ground operations in Burma for both sides are starting soon. The problem is that the 1942 monsoon season both OTL and ITTL lasted a bit longer than usual and there were still heavy rains in early December.

    The Japanese are feeling the pressure ITTL, even worse than OTL. They are about to lose the 11th Sentai to Rabaul so that will cut the number of fighters in Burma by 1/3. You'll notice I have a few Thai units participating. That is a not OTL and it is happening ITTL because the Japanese are starting to feel the pinch. One thing that amazed me in doing my research was that for a couple of months in late 42 and early 43 the Japanese only had one fighter Sentai in Burma (about 40 planes), the 50th. The 11th went to Rabaul and the 64th went back to Japan to get new Ki-43 Mark IIs (it did come back to Burma). I couldn't believe that when I read it.
     
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  11. Donald Reaver Still alive Donor

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    Jan 25, 2004
    It does sound like that this is the last major attack by air for the Japanese in this theater of operations. They have shot their bolt, overwhelming force is coming their way soon.
     
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  12. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    The Japanese are losing aircraft in a negative ratio compared to the Allies, and the Allies can replace their losses - planes and crew - while the Japanese really can't.
     
  13. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    Attrition warfare sucks. It really sucks when you are on the side that is poorer in resources.
     
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  14. Barry Bull Donor

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    While this is not the first time IJA/IJN aviation faced radar-equipped opponents (esp. the IJN), I think this is the first time that the Japanese forces faced a BoB esque large scale integrated air defence system in Asia. It would be interesting to see the final no. of causalities of both sides.

    It would be the start of a accelerating down hill slope for the Japanese, when the ground offensive pushing them from forward airfields and better allied aircrafts arrive in theatre.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
  15. Look More Closely Later Gone fishing means 'responses unlikely' Gone Fishin'

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    Aug 18, 2014
    Zheng He:
    Are the troops - which in the original timeline carried out the Chindit raids - in Akyab to reinforce there in this timeline?
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  16. jeandebueil Well-Known Member

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    Jul 7, 2016
    BTW, did the Dutch aren't considering to replace the old Sumatra cruiser? It's quite useless in a battle, has poor protection and is quite gourmand when it comes to fuel. Perhaps it would be better to replace it with two modern destroyers like the N-Class (since they already bought two of them). Two flottila leaders (the Tromp class) and four N destroyers: that's quite a powerful surface squadron, both good for escort and naval battles. Plus the 155mm guns of the Sumatra can be kept for spare of the Flores gunboats like OTL but sooner.

    Anyway, story's always as good :)
     
  17. USS_Ward Well-Known Member

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    Jan 15, 2019
    Nice update, still waiting for my four stack destroyer to get sunk lol.
     
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  18. nbcman Donor

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    Jan 6, 2009
    Your namesake is probably still laid up at Puget Sound Navy Yard getting converted to an APD in Nov 1942. She didn't sail back to the Pacific until Feb 1943. This is assuming the Author doesn't have plans to change her OTL fate.
     
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  19. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    Aug 3, 2013
    The Free Dutch Navy has been busy ITTL. Tromp was sunk on 10 September during operations near Christmas Island, Heemskerk took a torpedo in the same operation and is in dry dock at Colombo. Three modern Dutch destroyers (including two N class ships) are part of Force A (the carrier task force). Sumatra, as you point out is not in great shape but she can still make 15 knots and her guns work fine so she is being used to escort convoys because she is fine for shoeing away merchant raiders and her seaplanes can help with ASW. You also have eight submarines (there were nine by K-XII was lost) including two small old ones being used as piggy boats at Ceylon along with the submarine tender Columbia and the Do-24s (survivors from the fighting in Java) operating out of Port C.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  20. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    Aug 3, 2013
    0600 Hours, 24 November 1942, Colombo Harbor, Ceylon – As Force A was detaching from the support group and resuming its return voyage to Colombo, the merchant cruiser HMCS Prince David arrived after her run from Port C with a high priority cargo of Mark X torpedoes for the recently arrived “sugar boats” of the US Navy. Prince David tied up next to HMS Adamant and by 0800 hours the torpedoes were getting transferred to the tender.
     
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