Keynes' Cruisers

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by fester, May 19, 2016.

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  1. Viper91 Donor

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    Even if the Japanese achieve their objectives in Timor and Java, the forces they commit are going to bleed heavily by the time things are done.

    Looking at objectives going forward, no Midway obviously, especially since the US still holds Wake Island and is actually starting to stage limited offensive strikes from there. The Aleutians campaign will more then likely not take place. OTL, that theater was actually probably a bigger drane on US resources then it was for the Japanese. The Japanese took more casualties overall, but it did tie up a larger number of US and Canadian units that could have been used elsewhere.

    The Solomons Campaign has likely been butterflied away by now. The US has hit Rabaul twice with multi carrier strikes, doing significant damage each time. Plus the mounting losses to Japanese cruisers and destroyers isn't helping. Despite a couple of carrier battles and battleship actions, OTL that theater was mainly known for numerous cruiser and destroyer engagements. The Japanese may not have enough for sustained operations.

    Looking at current operations, Somerville and other Allied units can't stop Nagumo or the Japanese fleet. But they can bleed it, grind different units down, force the Japanese to either reorganize or go into future operations with a less then ideal setup. Nagumo's carriers, as an example, are probably going to have to return to Japan after this operation. Even if none of the carriers get so much as a scratch, this is probably going to wear down the aircraft squadrons.

    This is also going to buy time for Nimitz to build up his fleet. He has five carriers available, a sixth that will be repaired soon from an early war torpedo hit, plus their is also the possibility of USS Wasp coming from the Atlantic if need be. A number of light and escort carriers are also going to be joining the fleet soon, if one or two haven't already been commissioned a month or two sooner then OTL.
     
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  2. Alanith Well-Known Member

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    Nimitz also has the advantage of operating five to six carriers with full (or nearly so) air groups. If the Kido Butai is operating above two thirds strength, it's only via stripping every other source of carrier qualified manpower to the bone.
     
  3. Threadmarks: Story 1319

    fester Well-Known Member

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    Southeast of Surabaya 1200 May 4, 1942



    A battalion of light tanks leading a regiment of infantry had pushed through the Canadian infantry battalion holding the inland flank of the blocking position. The rest of C-force began the dangerous process of disengaging from probing and holding attacks while under artillery and air attack. They were only secured in their movement because the 1st Free Dutch Infantry Brigade held back-up positions twelve miles closer to the port city. That brigade would cover the movement of the Canadians who would set up secondary positions in the port to force the Japanese to fight house to house and street by street.


    Overhead, most of the air group from Akagi searched for targets to strike. They were not trained for close air support so they hit bridges and road junctions without direction from the ground.
     
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    fester Well-Known Member

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    Singapore 1800 May 4, 1942


    The King George VI Graving Dock had been drained by midday. A pair of cruisers that were under repair had been removed. One was afloat with an army of coolies bringing aboard supplies for the next round of repairs while HMAS Sydney was moved to the floating dry dock. Antiaircraft guns were manned, and fighter planes circled lazily overhead. Two minesweepers re-cleared the channel leading to the massive naval base while a trio of tugs pushed HMS Ark Royal to her berth for the next two months. The Admiralty was debating whether or not to do a full repair in Singapore or to patch her enough to send her to either Norfolk or the Clyde. That decision could be put off for two weeks as there would be no way for her to safely steam without at least temporary repairs. Norfolk would be able to give the heavily used carrier a full refit but at the cost of a year of unavailability. She might be available in the fall if she was repaired but only minimally updated in Singapore, assuming that she was not bombed.
     
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    fester Well-Known Member

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    Straits of Malacca 2023 May 4, 1942


    Four torpedoes streaked through the water. Cries of danger were raised. The tug boat captain looked at his tow line and then looked at the damaged cruiser Phoebe he was dragging back to Singapore. He looked at the men racing to bring axes to the stern if needed.

    Seventy two seconds after the first torpedo exited the Japanese submarine, it struck the damaged cruiser. That would probably have been enough to sink the ship, but two more torpedoes slammed into the hull over the next few seconds. Even before the last torpedo passed astern, teams of men were hacking away at the hawser connecting the cruiser to her crutcher and the call to abandon ship had been issued.

    Half of her remaining crew was able to enter the water before the light cruiser turtled. The tugboat, a pair of trawlers and an American four stacker destroyer began to pick up the survivors while the two British destroyers hunted, unsuccessfully, for the cruiser's killer.
     
  6. Paulo the Limey Donor

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    My gut feeling is that they'll want Ark back in service ASAP; In a year's time there'll be additional reinforcements available from the Med or new construction, whereas they are in a fairly critical phase of the war right now. If they can blunt the attacks in the DEI and possibly even attrit the Kido Butai, they'll be in a far better strategic position, and Ark can support that earlier if she doesn't go in for a refit.
    @fester- last chapter is missing the thread mark.
     
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  7. Threadmarks: Story 1322

    fester Well-Known Member

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    Near Kharkov May 5, 1942


    As the previous day lost itself into the new day, the commanding general nibbled on some bread. A patrol had gotten back from the front lines with the fascists and they were drinking tea and sharing a sausage. He had been told that they had some worthwhile news so he walked over to the tent.

    “Good evening comrades, your colonel told me your patrol was successful, can you tell me what you saw”

    Over the next hour, the general heard and saw how his men spoke about the increasingly deep interlocking defensive belts. They were able to go up a small gully and find an observation post where they watched the German battalion go through their daily routine. The Germans had well prepared positions on the far side of the river but they were getting a bit too comfortable in their routine and this patrol noticed enough chinks in the German breastplate where either a sledgehammer or a stilleto could cause fatal wounds.

    As the conversation ended, he sent the squad back to their rifle company. He made sure that the company commander would get a commendation for encouraging aggressive and intelligent patrolling in the highest tradition of the Red Army. Good men should be encouraged to do good work.

    Another round of patrols were out and about throughout the night right now, and they would help him and his too small staff plan the division’s role in the upcoming offensive. At the broadest level they knew their objective; hold the German’s attention but if he could do so in a way that did not destroy his division by killing thousands of his men, he would seek that way.
     
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    fester Well-Known Member

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    Makassar Straits 0356 May 5, 1942

    O-19’s periscope came back under water again. She had been moving to the west to guard one of the more likely retreat routes for the Japanese carrier fleet. On the surface, her look-outs had a far greater range than her hydrophones could hear while she was recharging her batteries and moving at twelve knots. One man saw something on the horizon and as the boat made the deliberate preparations to dive, the hydrophones were hearing a symphony of noise. Her skipper called in a contact report as she dove beneath the tropical waves.

    Now the young commander silently swore. Forty slow ships and a dozen escorts were bearing down on him. He ordered the batteries checked and as soon as he heard they were at ninety seven percent, the submarine sprinted back east for twenty seven minutes. The convoy, riding high in the water after unloading the supplies for the Eastern Java invasion force was heading back to Palau and then to a dozen different ports.

    An hour after the first spotting, the periscope came down once more. Seconds later, the last torpedoes aboard the submarine were fired. Two hit an empty tramp steamer, breaking it in half while a third torpedo struck but failed to detonate against a second line destroyer. The submarine was already descneding to one hundred meters and rode out the counter-attack safely.
     
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    fester Well-Known Member

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    Norfolk Virginia, May 5, 1942

    USS Hagerstown was the lead escort of one of the first coastal convoys. A minesweeper, and the first pair of the wooden wonders, small subchasers, were the rest of the escort force. Thirty merchant ships had waited for the escorts to be assembled rather than fire brigading north. Some ships had decided that they could steam during the day and rely on the black-sky anti-submarine air cover of inexperienced naval aviators and Army bomber pilots to protect them but most men decided that the contract was worth less than their lives.

    Five hours after she left the harbor, the convoy had finished assembling. That was only an hour longer more than planned and less time than her skipper expected. Their destination was Boston. Some ships would unload to feed the gaping maws of New England's industry while the the larger ships would be transferred into the Boston-St. Johns-Liverpool convoy system.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
  10. Threadmarks: Story 1325 the end of the Battle of the Java Sea

    fester Well-Known Member

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    Straits of Makassar 1300 May 5, 1942

    A trio of B-17s dropped the last bombs of the Battle of the Java Sea. The Japanese carriers were high stepping north. The raid had sunk half a dozen minor Allied warships, a dozen freighters and allowed for a 40,000 man lodgement to make it ashore on Eastern Java. Admiral Nagumo was satisfied although concerned as his air groups were operating at no more than three quarters strength. Junyo and Ryujo were due to meet the fleet at Truk where replacements would be cross-decked and the striking force rebuilt yet again.

    As he listened to the briefing being given by his quartermaster, a string of five hundred pound bombs landed square on the battlecruiser Kongo. Two bombs were defeated by the turret armor. One scarred the turret while the other was deflected into the sea. One bomb punched through the forward deck before exploding and the last bomb was a near miss, poking holes into the thin structural steel near the bow and letting some water in. She slowed for half an hour as damage control teams assessed the damage and put out half a dozen small fires before the old battlecruiser increased speed to twenty eight knots to resume her escort position. She would need some time to repair the modest damage but she had not lost much of her combat capability.
     
  11. Paulo the Limey Donor

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    USAAF: "Scratch one battleship"
     
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  12. Crowbar Six Well-Known Member

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    Bugger me the B17's actually hit something other than water and hapless fishes.
     
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  13. fester Well-Known Member

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    Piker ---


    "Scratch four battleships"
    UPDATE: At this point, the B-17 and B-24 squadrons based on Java are claiming 3 carriers, 2 battleships, a trio of heavy cruisers and at least a dozen transports sunk or CTL. That is what they are claiming.

    Drop enough bombs and sooner or later something has to get hit.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
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  14. Oldbill Well-Known Member

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    Going by memory here Fester, but didn't the IJN system mean the carrier went back to Japan and got the replacements, who then trained with the remaining aircrew of the carrier? Off the cuff, been busy this morning and haven't had time to look this up but IIRC their system was radically different than ours. We fed people in as needed, they used the aircrews until they were too far depleted then sent the whole ship back for new aircrews?
     
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  15. Tjyorksgeezer Well-Known Member

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    About bloody time too! (I think I despise King more than MacArthur).
     
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  16. fester Well-Known Member

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    They would send the carriers back to train with new crews, but replacement airframes for Constructive Total Losses (CTLS)/planes pushed over the side/planes ditching near destroyers where the air crew were rescued and in good flying shape could be sent forward. Throw that in plus a few aircrews that were part of the KB but were stuck on shore recovering from injuries etc as replacements. Nagumo and Yamamato want to keep the KB in a forward swing position at Truk because they know that there is going to be multiple operations into the Java Sea and the US PacFLT is getting ambitiously active.

    Sending new airframes and very limited replacement aircrews forward keeps the KB available as a powerful (albeit brittle) hammer. Pulling back several carriers to rebuild their air groups precludes any offensive option for the rest of the summer.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
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  17. Winestu Well-Known Member

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    A string of proverbial golden BB’s....
     
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  18. David Flin Three coded messages. Gone Fishin'

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    All these grey war canoes are fine, but what about Anne-Marie?
     
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  19. fester Well-Known Member

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  20. David Flin Three coded messages. Gone Fishin'

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