Driftless

Donor
With the blown bigger bridge, would you need a crane, to both clear some of the debris and help install new materials? Depending on how much of the bridge is knocked off its piers, and how deep the river/gorge below, the Japanese could cutting torch some, dynamite some. Would some of the span still need to be hoisted out of the way for replacement construction.

It may be expedient just to get the scrap out of the immediate construction lane, but leaving steel or wood structure in the river bed invites later flood damage(it's a snag trap, which becomes very problematic). But the Japanese commanders may say "screw it", we need the trains back on track now! We will worry about monsoon flooding when the time comes.
 
Japanese logistic could be pretty light when needed, it would not surprise me they just patch the bridge in the short term for either foot/bicycle traffic or truck traffic if they could not fix the bridge for train fast enough.
Obviously this create problems in the middle term, when the fighting against the British become bogged down and not enough supply can be brought for heavy operational tempo.
 
At sea the RN which is used to operating in the North Sea and Atlantic, some of the most tempestuous waters in the world, will have little problem in operating during the monsoon. In fact the monsoon will have some advantages for the RN, in that it will restrict the ability of the Japanese to conduct aerial reconnaissance and surveillance missions. And during daylight and nighttime reduce the ability of Japanese surface ships and submarines to see the RN vessels, as they will be able to hide under clouds and behind rain storms. Whereas those British vessels equipped with radar, can see the Japanese through the rain and the darkest night, as long as their radar stays operational. This means that during the monsoon season ships not equipped with radar could pass within miles of one another without realising that they were there. And submarines which could detect ships using hydrophones, even if they surfaced wouldn’t be able to see their target if there was a major rainstorm or weather front about. While conversely small units like MTB’s could hide behind a weather front and suddenly burst out to attack, which will not give major units the time to respond before the torpedoes hit. I would expect the first monsoon season to be one of much reduced activity, given the weather situation, while by the onset of the next season, the British will have the majority of their ships equipped with radar, and be able to conduct operations at normal or enhanced levels
Adding to this any ship that doesn’t get the forecast will be in for a bit of a pinch if they are caught out in a pretty badd blow also need to consider as well it will effect any ability to get troops ashore and offload supplies as well anyone not used to it in a transport will be painting the walls which will probably make them a bit worse for wear. It may also cause the break up of any formation if ships as well especially the smaller ones to try and ride out any bad weather, you may see formations scattered which makes things more chaotic for surface elements and means they may loose some as well if they are truly unlucky, like imagine the damage something large and unsecured could do if it bounces around or worse is highly explosive.
 
Once the Japanese have destroyed Force Z the IJNAF in Saigon can launch long range strikes and put a small number of Zero's over the landing area 2 light carriers would provide air support until airfields were secured. They don't need a huge air fleet to do it. The Japanese have many options once they establish naval dominance. The RAF forces in Malaya aren't that strong even in this TL.
Which Light Carriers,? CVL Ryujo will be tied up until January ,when suitable air bases were set up in the Philippine.s
 
With the blown bigger bridge, would you need a crane, to both clear some of the debris and help install new materials? Depending on how much of the bridge is knocked off its piers, and how deep the river/gorge below, the Japanese could cutting torch some, dynamite some. Would some of the span still need to be hoisted out of the way for replacement construction.

It may be expedient just to get the scrap out of the immediate construction lane, but leaving steel or wood structure in the river bed invites later flood damage(it's a snag trap, which becomes very problematic). But the Japanese commanders may say "screw it", we need the trains back on track now! We will worry about monsoon flooding when the time comes.
The Japanese do have the Thai railroad service to work with. It was their bridge that got bombed. I'm sure they had bridges collapse and track that got washed away before. This isn't the Bridge over the River Kwai. The Japanese will lose time no matter if they stick with an invasion from the north or shift to an east coast landing.
 
Which Light Carriers,? CVL Ryujo will be tied up until January ,when suitable air bases were set up in the Philippine.s
After the Kido Butai return to Japan in mid-December the Hosho & Zuiho would be available and do just fine for the job. Hosho could at least provide ASW support and some CAP with her A5Ms.
 
AFAIK there were not Railway engineering units that went to Thailand initially other than a few small groups, 5 to 10, actually RR engineers( civil not run the train). Given it was a Thai existing RR bridge they would have plans for said bridge and be able to look at the plans, you don't even need a civil engineer to do, and mark what sections of the bridge is gone, what is still there but not in place, and what is still in place. This could be done by an experienced RR section foreman and a set of plans that would let him mark them, crayon or ink works in different colors for what the damage is, and he can also explain what is there and not.
 
After the Kido Butai return to Japan in mid-December the Hosho & Zuiho would be available and do just fine for the job. Hosho could at least provide ASW support and some CAP with her A5Ms.
Your putting 2 cvs with about 60 planes between them in a box with still a decent amount of allied air. The Darwin raid was a massive strike that overwhelmed the defense as the Kido Butai was able to do off of that many fleet carriers. 2 light carriers could end up in a bad situation. Only takes one bomb hit and they are down to one deck.
 
(Regarding Japanese AA, possibly present in Malaya and Thailand: ) ...maybe not anything beyond MGs.
The Japanese Army had a number of 13.2mm HMGs, all license-derived from Hotchkiss designs, starting before WWI. The most-current HMG as of 1941 was the Type 93. It had single and dual mounts. Here's a dual mount, behind an artillery position:

Japanese_Navy_Land_Based_Artillery_Early_War.jpg

And here's a more-clear photo of the same gun from French Hotchkiss, with various versions of the French sights...the last one being on a naval rather than ground mount:

Rom-25mmHotchkissAt-AAgun1.jpg

300pxhotchkiss132mmx2aa.jpg

VPH_03.jpg

The Japanese considered the outer range limit for any chance of effective fire with 13.2mm HMGs to be 1000 meters, slant range.
 
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Fatboy Coxy

Monthly Donor
Well...certainly not anything even that good, and maybe not anything beyond MGs.

The Japanese-mass-produced Type 96 autocannon was a design-license-purchased version of French Hotchkiss's 25mm AA autocannon.

The purchasing evaluation began in 1935. Japan bought a few units manufactured by Hotchkiss, with evolving design customizations, as the Types 94 and 95. The Type 96, built in Japan, began to be fielded in early 1937. These were all duals...the triple was first fielded in late 1941 and only for shipboard use, and the single was first fielded in 1943. The Type 96 is sometimes said to have been an IJN (naval) gun only, but in fact it was officially adopted by both the Army and Navy. There were two-wheel-carriage and truck-mount versions of the Type 96 dual and single mounts...but only about 100 of all those types combined in the entire war. There however were quite a few guns throughout the war that were installed in defensive fixed land locations, by both the Army and Navy.

So were there any in Malaya? Unlikely but possible.

Note however that the Types 94, 95 (French Hotchkiss made) and 96 (Japanese made) superseded the Japanese version ("Model BI Type 91") of the Vickers Mark II LV two-pounder pom-pom, which remained in service until replaced...and since that replacement tended to occur first in the most prestigious locations and units, perhaps pom-poms would be more likely than Type 96s to have found their way to Malaya. I know of no information regarding Model BI guns mounted on wheeled carriages or to trucks/other mobility means, but such was done by the British and also by the Thais, before WWII, so certainly it was possible.

Here's a Model BI dual in a fixed defensive installation in Thailand. It's unknown when this gun arrived...it might have been later in the war, not during the initial occupation. There was at least one Model BI single at this location too.

This gun was essentially identical to AA guns on many RN ships...especially those with older installations...and the single mounts were identical (gun-wise) to the pom-poms bought by Thailand directly from Vickers in the 1930s.

Model_BI_Type_91_25mm_Vickers_Mark_II_LV.png
Hi JWilly48519, thank you for this and the lovely photo. Yes it's unlikely the IJA had any of these fielded, their light/medium AA guns would be the Type 98 20 mm AA machine cannon, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_98_20_mm_AA_machine_cannon, and the Type 93 13 mm heavy machine gun, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_93_heavy_machine_gun. The IJN fielded the bigger 'light' AA guns, like what we have above, as well as some older 2-pdr Pom-Pom guns, although these were being phased out.
 

Fatboy Coxy

Monthly Donor
The Japanese Army had a number of 13.2mm HMGs, all license-derived from Hotchkiss designs, starting before WWI. The most-current HMG as of 1941 was the Type 93. It had single and dual mounts. Here's a dual mount, behind an artillery position:

Japanese_Navy_Land_Based_Artillery_Early_War.jpg

And here's a more-clear photo of the same gun from French Hotchkiss, with various versions of the French sights...the last one being on a naval rather than ground mount:

Rom-25mmHotchkissAt-AAgun1.jpg

300pxhotchkiss132mmx2aa.jpg

VPH_03.jpg

The Japanese considered the outer range limit for any change of effective fire with 13.2mm HMGs to be 1000 meters, slant range.
Hi JWilly48519, ha ha, our posts crossed, although yours on the Type 93 is much better!
 

Fatboy Coxy

Monthly Donor
One thing comes to mind, but I don't know the impact. The Japanese military engineers and their worker troops would be kept busy for a few days working on restoring the bridge(s) and railbeds, when they would likely be usefully employed in other important early-days invasion support tasks. More gravel in the invasion works that potentially slows the advance
Hi Driftless, I rate the Japanese Field Engineer regiments as very capable, their only restrictions were a lack of heavy equipment and the logistical supply lines providing lots of extra building material.
 

Fatboy Coxy

Monthly Donor
As an ex combat engineer I totally agree with the bridging prospects. However, like the other powers they will have their own books of standard bridges, plans for them, and bill of material so they can replace anything that is destroyed, but do agree they will have to import materials other than locally sourced material like large timbers. One thing we were taught to do to a bridge is to blow up the abutments to the bridges themselves before you blow up the bridge. Eliminating the abutment on either end means that that end is dropped and the bridge has no place to be anchored to when they decide to rebuild the bridge. This also would take longer in the Monsoon season because of the need to have a solid place to anchor the end of the bridge whether it is concrete or other material you still have to have a solid place for it. You also can do this with just a cratering charge or two to destroy the ground behind it that would push the more solid parts away from their support and leave a big hole there.
Hi jlckansas, thank you for this, I love the bit about cratering, hadn't read that before, but it makes sense now you've mentioned it.
 
Your putting 2 cvs with about 60 planes between them in a box with still a decent amount of allied air. The Darwin raid was a massive strike that overwhelmed the defense as the Kido Butai was able to do off of that many fleet carriers. 2 light carriers could end up in a bad situation. Only takes one bomb hit and they are down to one deck.
What Allied air power? Other than hitting some transports that landed troops at Kota Bharu what IJN ships did they sink? The initial attacks on the landing beaches and nearby airfields would come from the land-based IJNAF aircraft in the Saigon area, and IJAAF aircraft from southern Thailand. The carriers would move into strike range that morning. How many bombers are going to range out and find a pair of light carriers operating 150 miles off the coast about 300 miles away from Singapore? What bombers are going to fly out and attack them? Now is the chance to really show what the Fairey Battle can do.
 
What Allied air power? Other than hitting some transports that landed troops at Kota Bharu what IJN ships did they sink? The initial attacks on the landing beaches and nearby airfields would come from the land-based IJNAF aircraft in the Saigon area, and IJAAF aircraft from southern Thailand. The carriers would move into strike range that morning. How many bombers are going to range out and find a pair of light carriers operating 150 miles off the coast about 300 miles away from Singapore? What bombers are going to fly out and attack them? Now is the chance to really show what the Fairey Battle can do.
In this timeline the Japanese don't get the airfields at Singora and Patani. They are 200 miles further away. That changes the situation.
 

Fatboy Coxy

Monthly Donor
How will the impending monsoon affect the conflict in Malaysia?

Unlike the campaign in Burma, where the monsoon was a significant factor up until the British forces under Slim and Mountbatten, made the conscious decision to fight on through the monsoon despite the difficulties. The two monsoon seasons in Malaysia are dependent on which one were a talking about and the year in which they occur, can and will have an effect less or more on the fighting on land and in the air, while fighting at sea will be a different story. None of the participants in WWII were set up to continue fighting during the monsoon, and it took a considerable time to develop the logistics and tactics to do so. Along with the medical support system to deal with the problems of fighting during the monsoon, such as fungal infections, especially the tropical equivalent of trench foot, caused by the troops feet being constantly immersed in water and not having the chance to dry out. Tracks that during the dry season were passable by troops and mules, became deep muddy rivers, with an overlaying covering of water. While the primitive unsealed roads became virtually un passable for wheeled vehicles, and very difficult for tracked vehicles. The can be little doubt that the first monsoon season will impose a significant burden on the fighting forces and possibly cause the conflict to be put on hold temporarily.

However if as I believe is probable the British manage to survive the initial Japanese onslaught, and the campaign descends into a semi static attritional conflict. The logistic advantage will lie with the British, who in addition to having a large modern by local standards port at their back. Have also a railway and coastal shipping that can use the west coast, to move their supplies. Along with numerous mechanical plant to assist in keeping their roads semi usable, and in reasonable repair. The British will also have a much greater access to the engineering stores required to build a maintain the roads, plus construct bridges across the numerous streams and rivers, swollen by the monsoon rains. In regard to the airforces the monsoon weather will cause problems both on the ground, and in the air. Airfields that don’t have solid runways and good drainage, plus taxiways and aircraft hard standings, will quickly become shallow lakes, and thus inoperative as aircraft and service vehicles bog down in the saturated soil. Also without hangers, ground crews will find working and maintaining aircraft a nightmare. In particular refuelling aircraft, which at this time involves pouring fuel into the plane, will only be possible if it’s not raining, or some sort of overhead cover is provided, water in your fuel tank is a recipe for disaster.

The British air force, will have problems in the border region, as will the Japanese, not only because they too are mostly operating from underdeveloped airfields. But also because the met service in Malaya is so underdeveloped so that during the monsoon season, it was difficult to get an accurate met forecast, before setting out on a mission. Note this problem persisted right up until the American involvement in Vietnam in the sixties, as it was only with the development of weather satellites that it became possible to get an accurate picture of the situation in areas without multiple met stations and observers. Whereas in and around Singapore the deployment of British radar will give the overwhelming advantage to the British, as the Japanese will not be able to sneak into the airspace behind a weather front. And they will find that the cloud cover due to the monsoon will make finding their targets, and trying to keep in formation, and meeting up with their defending fighters. Plus the British have the major advantage that they are operating from developed bases with good logistics links, ie fuel can be delivered in tanker trucks, not in drums and having to be hand pumped. Once the monsoon sets in the majority of the advantages will lie with the British, and by the end of the season they will have been able to import a significant number of newer, more modern aircraft from Britain and the United States.

At sea the RN which is used to operating in the North Sea and Atlantic, some of the most tempestuous waters in the world, will have little problem in operating during the monsoon. In fact the monsoon will have some advantages for the RN, in that it will restrict the ability of the Japanese to conduct aerial reconnaissance and surveillance missions. And during daylight and nighttime reduce the ability of Japanese surface ships and submarines to see the RN vessels, as they will be able to hide under clouds and behind rain storms. Whereas those British vessels equipped with radar, can see the Japanese through the rain and the darkest night, as long as their radar stays operational. This means that during the monsoon season ships not equipped with radar could pass within miles of one another without realising that they were there. And submarines which could detect ships using hydrophones, even if they surfaced wouldn’t be able to see their target if there was a major rainstorm or weather front about. While conversely small units like MTB’s could hide behind a weather front and suddenly burst out to attack, which will not give major units the time to respond before the torpedoes hit. I would expect the first monsoon season to be one of much reduced activity, given the weather situation, while by the onset of the next season, the British will have the majority of their ships equipped with radar, and be able to conduct operations at normal or enhanced levels.

The Fairey Battle was a well built aircraft, and a brilliant replacement for its predecessor the Hawker Hart, but it was built at a time of accelerating change in aircraft design and technology, to fore fill a role that was rapidly becoming obsolete. There can be no question that by the time it went to war in 1939 just three short years after its first introduction, it was functionally obsolete in Europe, and coming close to be in the East. The only role that it could fore fill was Imperial Air Policing in the backwaters of the Empire. Were it faced no aerial opposition, and only very limited anti aircraft fire, that at best was from machine guns, in the hands of tribes men who had very little training. It was also useful in the training role especially as a target tug, or for aircrews who were transitioning from basic trainers to more sophisticated aircraft. The ability of this aircraft to fore fill the role of a cheap strategic bomber during the opening weeks of the Malay campaign, provided it is able to conduct its missions against targets that have little to no air cover or anti aircraft capability. Will do much to replace its legend of being totally useless, and for a short time until the Japanese are able to devote the fighter resources needed, it will be able to conduct a number of vital strategic missions. However it’s use anywhere near the front lines, will be a complete disaster, resulting in very high casualties just like in Europe.

The 1000 lb and 500 lb bombs are more than adequate to cause major damage to any rail bridge in the region, providing the hit in the right spot. And the problem for the Japanese is that without the extensive engineering support that the British have, or the emergency bridge system that the Germans, British and Americans had developed. They are only going to be able to use locally available materials to enact repairs, and those will only enable foot traffic and possibly mule or bicycles. To completely repair these bridges, so that trains can be driven across linked to an engine, is going to require custom parts from Japan. Building a bridge that is capable of taking trains is very different from building a bridge that can accommodate basic trucks, in the Far East trucks with a gross weight above 10 tonnes were incredibly rare, while railroad wagons tended to start at 20 tonnes gross and went up to 50 tonnes or more, with locomotives topping out at 100 tonnes. While you can use bamboo or locally sourced timber for a bridge to carry foot traffic and the lighter trucks, you really need steel for anything heavier. And without the extensive temporary bridging equipment that the British had even in Malaya, the Japanese are going to be very much out of luck. And remember it’s not just one bridge that they have to replace, but a number of bridges and the British will be constantly trying to destroy the replacements.

RR.
Hi Ramp-Rat, thank you for this, it helps me keep a focus on the weather, which as you quite rightly say will have a significant impact on the fighting, but I don't expect it to stop the land campaign, just slow it down. One small point, I haven't fielded any 1,000lb bombs, the 500lb being the largest present in the Far East, and they are in limited supply (don't you know there's a war on!). Also I don't think any of the aircraft in the Far East can carry a 1,000lb bomb, maybe a Wellington might if I can get them there, but I'm not sure if that was by a latter Mk aircraft or one current to out TL.
 

Fatboy Coxy

Monthly Donor
What about the Thai railroad service? It is a Thai railroad.
Hi Belisarius II, we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves here, I've only just knocked them down. We'll get round to railway reconstruction, and that will apply to both the Japanese and British, who also rely heavier on the railway for their logistical movements.
 
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