MWI 41081015 The Air Reinforcement Route

Fatboy Coxy

Monthly Donor
1941, Sunday 10 August;

The leading Blenheim pilot waved his wings, and then turned into what would become a holding circle above the airfield, the next aircraft began his descent for a landing, while the last three Blenheim’s followed the leader. On the ground, RAF and RCAF officers, pilots and ground crew all paused in their efforts to watch the aircraft come in. The pilot eased the plane down, and while not quite a perfect landing it was better than many of the pilots watching would be capable of.

As she taxied off the runway so another aircraft made her descent, the rest making another circuit around the airfield. Again, a good landing, and so it continued, until it was the turn of the leader, who’s landing was beyond the criticism of any fair-minded person. For most of the people watching, the show was over, and the Seletar airfield fell back into her normality, excepting the small reception party for the five air crews.

Tomorrow, maintenance crews would begin giving each aircraft a full overhaul, the long journey, the dusty climates, and the heat would have taken a toll, despite the nursing of the planes along the way. For their pilots, it would be several days of rest and relaxation, before boarding a BOAC flight back to Egypt, where no doubt more aircraft awaited to be ferried who knows where.

The aircraft use to fly to Egypt from the old route of UK, Gibraltar and Malta, but the entry of Italy into the war had effectively closed that route. Beginning in late 1940 the British had constructed a trans African route, which required aircraft, having been built in the UK, to be disassemble and packed in crates, shipped to West Africa, where they were reassembled, and flown across Nigeria, on through French Equatorial Africa, stopping at Fort Lamy, and then on into Sudan, including Khartoum, before heading north to Egypt. Last month, over 150 aircraft had completed this route, and as facilities improved, and staff became more proficient, this number was expected to rise.

From Egypt, another air route existed to Singapore, over five and half thousand miles, flying through Iraq, Persia, across India, over to Rangoon in Burma, and then down to Victoria Point, the most southerly point in Burma, on the western side of the Kra Isthmus, before making this last leg to Singapore. It worked well, although single engine aircraft needed far more intermediate stops, owing to their shorter range. Flown by ferry pilots, flying in small groups of up to six aircraft at a time, it was a cheaper, and far quicker way of moving aircraft to Singapore from the Middle East, despite the obvious risk of aircraft breakdowns, or worse, crashes.

The numbers flying into Singapore were but a trickle, but should things turn ugly, this was how the RAF proposed to reinforce the theatre, whole squadrons following the route down. Which all sounded fine, until thoughts were given to the ground crews left behind, most of who would still have to come by ship. And the precarious route along the Kra Isthmus supposed that neighbouring Thailand wouldn’t fall into the enemy’s hands, allowing the quick capture of Victoria Point, the furthest point south for Burma, or the small airfields along the Isthmus north of it which the single engined aircraft relied on, being unable to divert onto longer flights routes, like the twin engined aircraft could. Meanwhile the shipping of crated aircraft into Singapore continued, their totals, especially Hurricanes, increasing significantly.
 
and

The boats of the 2nd MTB Flotilla are very much obsolescent as far as Fast Attack Craft go for this period, the Germans, with their S-Boats, or E-boats as us Brits like to call them, were so much further advanced, bigger ships, with diesel engines, much less likely to catch fire (see also tank warfare of this time), larger guns and very seaworthy. And that's without discussing the launching torpedoes, which as CB13 posted


Slowing down, and erecting the lattice framework to launch the torpedo will expose the boat to danger, her speed in combat being her only real defence. So they have to effect a surprise attack, otherwise it will get a bit hairy for them. As for guns on the boat, I believe they carried twin Lewis Guns, mounted fore and aft, and may have mounted a fifth machine gun, Lewis or Bren, within the bridge.

There's a nice little video here which gives some idea of their capabilities and frailties.
.
Thanks that was very interesting. A daylight attack like that takes a lot of guts. Their torpedoes were useless, so just having Lewis Guns to do any damage is amazing. So, looking at this video gives me the impression they had internal launch tubes? Don't worry so much about the slowing down to launch torpedoes. In this case the MTBs have launch tubes. In later PT boats with roll racks the captain cuts back on the throttle, and sharply turns in towards the enemy. The boat will lose speed almost immediately, they can then fire, and accelerate away. PT boats maneuver like speed boats. It may be a quick way to die, but for a sailor it's a cool way to fight a war. On the upside if you live you may get elected president someday.
 
1941, Sunday 10 August;

The leading Blenheim pilot waved his wings, and then turned into what would become a holding circle above the airfield, the next aircraft began his descent for a landing, while the last three Blenheim’s followed the leader. On the ground, RAF and RCAF officers, pilots and ground crew all paused in their efforts to watch the aircraft come in. The pilot eased the plane down, and while not quite a perfect landing it was better than many of the pilots watching would be capable of.

As she taxied off the runway so another aircraft made her descent, the rest making another circuit around the airfield. Again, a good landing, and so it continued, until it was the turn of the leader, who’s landing was beyond the criticism of any fair-minded person. For most of the people watching, the show was over, and the Seletar airfield fell back into her normality, excepting the small reception party for the five air crews.

Tomorrow, maintenance crews would begin giving each aircraft a full overhaul, the long journey, the dusty climates, and the heat would have taken a toll, despite the nursing of the planes along the way. For their pilots, it would be several days of rest and relaxation, before boarding a BOAC flight back to Egypt, where no doubt more aircraft awaited to be ferried who knows where.

The aircraft use to fly to Egypt from the old route of UK, Gibraltar and Malta, but the entry of Italy into the war had effectively closed that route. Beginning in late 1940 the British had constructed a trans African route, which required aircraft, having been built in the UK, to be disassemble and packed in crates, shipped to West Africa, where they were reassembled, and flown across Nigeria, on through French Equatorial Africa, stopping at Fort Lamy, and then on into Sudan, including Khartoum, before heading north to Egypt. Last month, over 150 aircraft had completed this route, and as facilities improved, and staff became more proficient, this number was expected to rise.

From Egypt, another air route existed to Singapore, over five and half thousand miles, flying through Iraq, Persia, across India, over to Rangoon in Burma, and then down to Victoria Point, the most southerly point in Burma, on the western side of the Kra Isthmus, before making this last leg to Singapore. It worked well, although single engine aircraft needed far more intermediate stops, owing to their shorter range. Flown by ferry pilots, flying in small groups of up to six aircraft at a time, it was a cheaper, and far quicker way of moving aircraft to Singapore from the Middle East, despite the obvious risk of aircraft breakdowns, or worse, crashes.

The numbers flying into Singapore were but a trickle, but should things turn ugly, this was how the RAF proposed to reinforce the theatre, whole squadrons following the route down. Which all sounded fine, until thoughts were given to the ground crews left behind, most of who would still have to come by ship. And the precarious route along the Kra Isthmus supposed that neighbouring Thailand wouldn’t fall into the enemy’s hands, allowing the quick capture of Victoria Point, the furthest point south for Burma, or the small airfields along the Isthmus north of it which the single engined aircraft relied on, being unable to divert onto longer flights routes, like the twin engined aircraft could. Meanwhile the shipping of crated aircraft into Singapore continued, their totals, especially Hurricanes, increasing significantly.
Good work. Just a note the biggest problem for single engine aircraft on these long-distance routes was navigation. If visibility becomes any kind of a problem, it's very hard for fighters not to get lost especially over water. Japanese fighters' often self-deployed, and flew long range combat missions over water, and thousands of them got lost ran out of gas and crashed into the ocean never to be seen again. Having a bomber type aircraft with a proper navigator aboard to guide the fighters was a life saver, but it couldn't always be done, and sometimes fighters would lose sight of the guide plane. Navigation technology was still very primitive in WWII. Airlines were still working on it for peacetime service.
 
The battles off the west coast of Italy are little know today but were tough fights. The Germans were running supply convoys down the coast, and the Allies tried to intercept them. USN PT boats had radar, so they'd help lead RN MTBs & MGBs in night battles. The Germans would escort freighters with S-boats, and what they called Lighters, small coastal ships loaded out with all kinds of guns from 20 & 37mm AA guns, 75 & 88mm flak guns, and up to 105mm howitzers. Some of the PT boats gave up their torpedoes and loaded up with guns up to 75mm. Whatever kind of light artillery they could get ahold of and bolt on the deck of a PT, or MGB to match the firepower of the German Lighters. Many of the coastal freighters drew too little water to be hit with torpedoes, so it became more, and more of a gun fight.
and some of those lighters were still in use by the Italian navy well into the 1980's according to my copy of Janes 88
 
Did they use Siebel ferries at this time or were they later on?
I think he means Marine Fahrprahms or MFP, the Italians, build there own versions of the typ
MFP%20-,,.jpg
R_WOII_108.jpg
 
MWI 41081210 Tiger Meets Doug

Fatboy Coxy

Monthly Donor
1941, Tuesday 12 August;

The pride of the BOAC’s flying boat fleet, the Short S-33 Cleopatra, glided across the water, her four Pegasus XI engines working hard to generate the speed to enable her to lift off and depart the Pan American Airways base at Cavite, destination Singapore. She had been loaned to Lord Gort, with the expressed reason of allowing him to visit Manila. He, and his staff, sat belted in the passenger saloon, the roar of the engines, along with the noise and vibration of the airframe stopping all chat, for the brief period of take-off.

With sufficient speed, she left the water, climbed into the air, and then began a slow, almost lazy banking turn towards the South-West. The steward came down from the galley, “Lord Gort sir, the bar is open, would you care for a drink?” “Ah, Pink Gins all round please Roberts, and make them bloody big ones, I think we’ve earnt them; don’t you think so chaps?” Gort looked around at his companions, seated close by, who gave nods, thumbs up and pleases, while Gort continued talking “All this be nice to the Americans, we need their help, I honestly don’t think I could have suffered another minute of all that bowing and scraping to MacArthur, surely he has to be the biggest American strutting peacock I have ever met, how did they promote such a jumped-up nincompoop to such a position is beyond me, but what can you expect from Americans?”

Col Thomas Scott spoke up “Sutherland, MacArthur’s Chief of Staff was very disparaging of the Asiatic Fleet, called the ships, a collection of tin cans led by old donkey Hart, said they’d be better off under MacArthur’s control”.
“How did you find Sutherland? Tommy”
“The chap lacks manners Sir, has no refinement, acts like a school ground bully”.

Captain Terence Black, his Naval Liaison Officer, joined in “They’re not all like him Sir, Admiral Hart has been pretty decent enough in all our dealings with him”.
“Yes Terry, indeed, but he doesn’t seem to command any respect from Washington, plenty of talk about improving the army and air forces here in the Philippines, and Sutherland does have a point about the age of Hart’s cruisers and destroyers, I didn’t hear of him being promised anything new. But I can see why Layton thinks he’s a good egg”.

With the appointment of MacArthur as commander of the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), Gort had seen it as an opportunity to promote the line of a closer policy of defence in the Far East, which translated into the old Admiralty line of falling back to Singapore. They had flown out on Sunday, the earliest a meeting could be planned, and had a series of talks throughout the entire day yesterday. With a full-on charm offensive, he’d given it his all, but the truth was Hart had been almost apologetic about it, that opportunities to work with the Far Eastern Fleet was limited, to say the least, while MacArthur had been bullish enough to suggest that it wouldn’t come to that! The fact that the Americans were so far out of step with the British with regard to the defence of Singapore, and MacArthur with reality, wasn’t lost on Gort, Britain was on her own out here.

Roberts came back with a tray of Pink Gins, which he duly served, Gort taking his and continuing “Bloody la de dah Douglas, well now, he has Roosevelt’s ear, they will reinforce the Philippines like nobodies business, indeed he expects to be made a full general, at least that’s what he told me last night. Says it’s only a matter of time, he deserves it; indeed, destiny has brought him here. It sounds more like Chinese Gordon returning to the Sudan to me. And guess what, not only is he building the Philippine Army into a fighting force, but the Philippine Scouts are already better than, how did he say it, ah yes, ‘those Gurkha boys we have. He boasted that singlehandedly he’s changing the entire strategic plan in this part of the world, we just have to defend our empire, all delivered in such a condescending way. You know, he’s going to save us all from the Japanese, ha! I just ask myself, who’s going to save us from him!”.
 
Slowing down, and erecting the lattice framework to launch the torpedo will expose the boat to danger, her speed in combat being her only real defence. So they have to effect a surprise attack, otherwise it will get a bit hairy for them. As for guns on the boat, I believe they carried twin Lewis Guns, mounted fore and aft, and may have mounted a fifth machine gun, Lewis or Bren, within the bridge.
From what I've read of North Sea MTB's, the standard attack was to sneak slowly & quietly to the launch point. The 3x1000hp aero engines were for running away afterwards
 
Lord Gort. Desperate news. The Americans have beaten us to the pinnacle of the Staffs that are conceited, hide bound and danger to their own troops. This leaves us third, behind the Japanese.
 
MacArthur is full of it the Gurkhas would walk over the Philippine Scouts.
Depends on the Gurkha

There was 2 battalions OTL in Singapore both barely trained and 1 of them arrived full of 18 year olds raw recruits

I would choose the Scouts over them

But in general your point stands
 
Point but I have a burning dislike for MacArthur to the point were I wouldn't spit on him if he was dying of thirst for fear he would crawl to water.
 
I do hope that UK-US cooperation does better then it did IOTL, though considering just how low the bar is set, that should not be too hard. While it is likely that US and PH Ground and Air forces will get IOTL treatment, but maybe Adm. Hart could be spurred into action? With British making an effort, the Dutch building up their infrastructure (was there something about port being built up on the Western coast of Java?), and in general greater sense of purpose and direction shown by their European Allies, that could result in changes? I mean, we are not even talking about warships proper, take the Submarine Tender USS Canopus, any Australian based US submarines would have benefitted greatly from both the expertise of their crews as well as replenishment and sustainment capabilities provided by the ship and its specialized workshops.
 
MacArthur is full of it the Gurkhas would walk over the Philippine Scouts.
The 26th Cavalry Philippine Scouts, was a top level unit comparable with the best U.S. Army Cavalry units . Along with the 2 armored Battalions and SP gun company they provided some of the best defense and rearguard as Mac Arthur precipitously withdrew from Northern Luzon . Attached is a photo of the 26 th Cavalry, moving through one of the armored units during the withdrawl. 1st post of U.S. Armor in action and the last known photo of U.S. Mounted Cavalry in operations.
 

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I want to say that it was the 28th IA Bde in the OTL. I believe they (Gurkha) were mauled, not unexpectedly, due to inexperience and inadequate training and/or provisioning.
They had continual grinding actions at Asun, Jitra, Kroh, Gurun and Ipoh.

The Scouts were a different story. I believe that there were two infantry regiments and the battalion sized cavalry regiment. I believe a third regiment was basically a reserve unit used as a training cadre. There would have been a continual Scout deployment throughout the archipelago. They were probably better than the US 31st Regiment.

Where I blame MacArthur is he never pushed for training and equipment of the PI Army. He started out in 1937 or 38 training about 20,000 PI reservists for about six months.
Those figures come from the PI Govt logs. They did provide the initial funding. Then it dwindled down to practically nothing funded by 1941. Precious time wasted.
the 26th Cavalry, Had a HQ/ HQ troop(Company Strength) 2 Squadrons each of 3 Company strength Troops and a Machine Gun Company. The HQ Troop, machine gun troop, were motorized, as well as a platoon of six Indiana White M1 scout cars, and trucks for transporting service elements. On 30 November 1941, the regiment had 787 enlisted men and 55 officers,[
 
I do hope that UK-US cooperation does better then it did IOTL, though considering just how low the bar is set, that should not be too hard. While it is likely that US and PH Ground and Air forces will get IOTL treatment, but maybe Adm. Hart could be spurred into action? With British making an effort, the Dutch building up their infrastructure (was there something about port being built up on the Western coast of Java?), and in general greater sense of purpose and direction shown by their European Allies, that could result in changes? I mean, we are not even talking about warships proper, take the Submarine Tender USS Canopus, any Australian based US submarines would have benefitted greatly from both the expertise of their crews as well as replenishment and sustainment capabilities provided by the ship and its specialized workshops.
Adm. Hart had been very active , he was fighting inadequate support from Washington and actual interference by Mac Arthur. He was prepared to use War Plan Orange, but Mac Arthur as Supreme Commander U.S. Forces Far East, had forbidden him from approaching Formosa or any Japanese bases in the mandates, any closer then 50 miles with his submarines or PBYs. The Canopus was left behind to service the USN Subs who remained in the PI area until torpedoes ran out (200 destroyed at Cavite @ 50 were MK X's that worked) thanks in part to Mac Arthur moving the USMC search radar unit from Cavite, to 100 km south. the other two Submarine tenders did go South and eventually wound up at Freemantle.
As was discussed in an earlier post, Coxy is going by actual timeline for U.S. forces. To refresh OTL, Hart's wish list (4thMarines out of China mid summer and integrated with 2 Battalions and detachments, attached to 16thNaval District: 2 more cruisers , a squadron of newer destroyers and tender, and his own combat aviation. Need for an aviation unit going back to his predecessor Adm. Yarnell, who prior to commanding the Asiatic Fleet commanded the Lexington and Saratoga in a successful War Game attack on Pearl Harbor.
 
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