Admiral Phillips finest hour

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Juha Tompuri » 14 Jan 2011 12:16

Sunbury wrote:Brewster Buffalo's are a bit off topic and
...the tales and facts about them should be discussed at the relevant threads, like the mentioned at Takao post above ( the other starting already from http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... it#p363613 )

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Juha Tompuri » 14 Jan 2011 12:21

Markus Becker wrote:
Sunbury wrote: Another telling comment from the book, was the note that the engine officially had to hand pumped for fuel approaching 18,000ft. Japanese aircraft routinely flew higher, so a Buffalo pilot had to fly one handed, pumping fuel with the other if trying to engage Japanese Bombers at 20,000ft and the fighters above.

Edit I just read Juha's comments on attacking bombers. The Buffalo had extreme difficulty in gaining height to do so, pilots had to pump fuel by hand whilst climbing. As I said, 18,000 ft was the official start of pumping but worn engines meant a lot lower height was realistic. I dont know of any other fighter pilots faced with such a task in any other theatre of war. Joystick one hand, hand pump in the other and that was before engaging an enemy.
That´s quite a disadvantage if one attacks high flying level bombers. Some of the Nell that initially attacked Force Z level bombed and even scored one or two hits but the 550lb bombs did next to no damage. The TB approach at a low altitude and attack almost at sea level. The Buffs technical troubles would not have mattered in this case.
According to this site, at least the 2nd Japanese bombing raid (that used 500kg bombs against Prince of Wales, with both great accuracy and effects) was done at 2560m (~8400ft)
http://www.rina.org.uk/c2/uploads/death ... leship.pdf

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Takao » 16 Jan 2011 03:20

"SunBurst: The Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power, 1909-1941" has the horizontal bombers at about a height of 1,500 meters(5,000 feet) and the torpedo bombers coming in at 30 meters(100 feet).

So, the bombers were nowhere near as high as they could have been, this would probably account for their fairly accurate bombing. Thus with the given heights of the bombers, the Buffaloes should not have any problem engaging their targets. Plus, given the approx. 20-30 minute gap between attacks, it is likely the fighters could have repositioned themselves to engage the torpedo bombers. However, the question remains how much ammunition they had remaining. The fighter would unlikely be able to hold off all attacks, but half-a-chance is better than none at all.

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Sunbury » 16 Jan 2011 05:03

I am sorry I didn't clarify myself very well when I wrote on the Buffalo above. I apologise. I was writing in general terms of the aircraft not the specific role of providing a CAP to POW and Repluse.

At the height the Japanese bombers flew that day, yes the Buffalo could have intercepted easily and I believe they could have been effective in disrupting the attack. Trouble is of course they weren't called till it was to late.
Who discovered we could get milk from a cow? and come to think of it what did they think they were doing at the time? Billy Connolly

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 16 Jan 2011 15:52

Closest comparison I can find for this is the attempted raid of the US/ANZAC TF 11 on Rabaul 20 Febuary 1942. The Japanese detected the approach of the Allied TF & intercepted it with Mitsubushi G4M1 or 'Type 1' bombers. The F4F interceptors from the Lexington shot down two of three well armed Kawanishi H6K reconissance aircraft, and over half the bombers over the TF. Of the 19+ bombers sortied two damaged aircraft made it back to Rabaul, one made it as far as a auxillary airfield on another island, and a few other aircrew were rescued near crash sites. Only a minority of the Lexington's interceptors were launched in time to fight. Only a dozen Wildcats actually got in position to attack the bombers. The remainder were either still on deck, or returning from pursuit of the reconissance aircraft, or too far out of position to intercept the bombers.

The Japanese were using similar aircraft to those which attacked the British ships, and similar ordnance & tactics. The differences obviously are the Wildcats vs Buffalos as interceptors, and the relative size of the bomber force to the interceptor force.

What it suggests is one or two squadrons of Buffalos would have had significant sucess in breaking up the Japanese bomber attack, greatly reducing the ammount of ordnance actually released on the ships. Perhaps enough to give them a chance to get away.

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Markus Becker » 17 Jan 2011 15:48

Takao wrote:However, the question remains how much ammunition they had remaining. The fighter would unlikely be able to hold off all attacks, but half-a-chance is better than none at all.
There might be more fighters on the way to provide an continous CAP.

Carl Schwamberger wrote:Closest comparison I can find for this is the attempted raid of the US/ANZAC TF 11 on Rabaul 20 Febuary 1942. ... The Japanese were using similar aircraft to those which attacked the British ships, and similar ordnance & tactics.
That was the action where "Butch" O'Hare shot down three out of nine G4M and damaged two more. The Buffalos would have a a somewhat easier job as none of the planes attacking TF-11 carried torpedoes. Just bombs, meaning they came in higher and faster.

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Tim Smith » 17 Jan 2011 16:48

Markus Becker wrote: There might be more fighters on the way to provide an continous CAP.
With RAF Buffalos flying from land? With only 2 squadrons available?

Then I think continuous CAP would require flying in flight strength of 6 aircraft each. So that each squadron provides 2 flights, and the 4 flights cycle in relays - each flight doing 2 missions during the day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. So a total of 8 missions from the 2 squadrons.

Since unlike carrier-based CAP, there's a long flight to and from the fleet to account for as well as the on-station patrol time.

A mere 6 Buffalos might have a hard time stopping an attack by 30+ bombers....

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Markus Becker » 17 Jan 2011 17:50

Why not also use the Blenheim IF? And the CAP needs to be continued only until Force Z is out of range. At 28kn three hours add ~100 land miles. Wasn´t Force Z almost out of range anyway?

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Baltasar » 17 Jan 2011 19:39

Did the British have the 'fighter' version of the Bristol Blenheim available down there?

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Terry Duncan » 17 Jan 2011 23:04

Did the British have the 'fighter' version of the Bristol Blenheim available down there?
I believe there was a single squadron used as nightfighters, though I would not be able to confirm that easily I believe others here would be able to do so. The Blenheim IF really did not have a good record as a fighter during its limited use in Britain during and after the Battle of Britain, and was used as a night fighter, so the idea that they would be seen as suitable might be stretching things if there is any thought of facing fighters.

Quite how much CAP could be maintained over the ships is another matter, if sent as soon as Repulse noted an enemy sighting, as would be quite what the thoughts were on the Japanese being able to escort strike aircraft at the time - we know the attacks were unescorted, but what exactly was known at the time? If Force Z is outside of the imagined strike range, then CAP is pointless, and if it were thought escorted strikes were possible in some way, then sending relays of six buffalo's is not going to be sufficient either.

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Juha Tompuri » 17 Jan 2011 23:14

Tim Smith wrote:
Markus Becker wrote: There might be more fighters on the way to provide an continous CAP.
With RAF Buffalos flying from land? With only 2 squadrons available?
This site mentions:
FIt Lt Mowbray Garden of 243 Squadron:
“I received a signal from Ops on the telephone to scramble my flight and take off in pairs at intervals of 20 minutes, and fly on a bearing 100 from Kallang, which would take us into the China Sea. I did not know what to expect, but I had been told (on the telephone) that I had to look after an ‘important’ ship which was being bombed.
http://warandgame.com/2010/02/19/buffal ... -capnot-2/

This site mentions:
Early on the morning of 10 December, No. 488 Squadron was told that it might be required to provide air cover for two warships: no names were given. Two aircraft were to take off every half hour, fly to a given patrol area, remain there for half an hour, and then return. Later in the morning news was received that the battleships Prince of Wales and Repulse were being attacked by enemy aircraft some 170 miles from Singapore. The two ships had arrived at Singapore with escorting destroyers a few days before war broke out, and when attacked they were returning from an attempt to intercept enemy convoys in the Gulf of Siam.
http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2AirF-c7-2.html

Baltasar wrote:Did the British have the 'fighter' version of the Bristol Blenheim available down there?
From the same source:
In the first two days of the war the Japanese established bases in northern Malaya and occupied the aerodromes at Kota Bharu, Alor Star and Kuantan. Two squadrons of the Dutch Air Force arrived to reinforce Singapore. One, a bomber squadron, was stationed at Sembawang, and the other, a fighter squadron of nine Buffalos, joined Nos. 488 and 243 Squadrons at Kallang.

As a result of the efforts to strengthen the defences of Malaya over the past few years there were, at the beginning of December, some twenty-three airfields on the mainland in various stages of completion and of various sizes, and four on Singapore Island itself. The available air forces comprised one Hudson squadron with seven operationally serviceable aircraft, two squadrons of Mark I Blenheim bombers and one of Mark I Blenheim night fighters, with a total of twenty-seven aircraft, and the Operational Training Unit at Kluang, on the mainland of Malaya. On Singapore Island there were two squadrons of Vildebeeste torpedo-bombers with twenty-seven serviceable aircraft, one general reconnaissance squadron with three Catalina aircraft, one general reconnaissance squadron with eight Hudsons, four fighter squadrons with a total of forty-three Buffalos, one bomber squadron with seventeen Mark IV Blenheims, and an anti-aircraft co-operation unit with twelve miscellaneous aircraft


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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 18 Jan 2011 00:08

It occurs to me the Japanese landing force was already established ashore, and a few days worth of supplies unloaded. Plus the Siamese or Thai government had been forced into submission. Even if they defeat the IJN surface fleet the Brit ships cant do much decisive anyway by this date.

Perhaps the question could be reframed in the context of the two making their sortie from the 6th or 7th, so they might threaten the Japanese amphibious fleet before it has unloaded much of the assualt force? Does that change any of the conditions of the surface or air battle?

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Takao » 18 Jan 2011 07:58

Markus Becker wrote:Why not also use the Blenheim IF?
Baltasar wrote:Did the British have the 'fighter' version of the Bristol Blenheim available down there?
Yes, there was the RAF 27 Squadron with 10-12(depending on source) Bristol Blenheim Mk 1f's stationed at Sungai Petani, but that is up on the west coast near the Thai border, that's a good 250-300 miles away.

As to the question of providing a "continuous" CAP over the fleet, with only 1 squadron(453 squadron), there would likely be too few aircraft over the fleet at any given time. Even, as Tim Smith wrote, 2 squadrons would be hard put to provide a "continuous" CAP over the fleet. I also disagree with Carl Schwamberger's comparison to the USS Lexington action, CAP operating from a carrier is far different than relying on land-based air cover. For instance, look at what the British set aside for their air cover for the POW and Repulse, 11 fighters. Then look at what the Germans used for their "Operation Cerberus" aka "The Channel Dash", some 250 fighters. I don't think the British had that many fighters in all of Malaysia.

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Takao » 18 Jan 2011 08:27

Carl Schwamberger wrote:It occurs to me the Japanese landing force was already established ashore, and a few days worth of supplies unloaded. Plus the Siamese or Thai government had been forced into submission. Even if they defeat the IJN surface fleet the Brit ships cant do much decisive anyway by this date.

Perhaps the question could be reframed in the context of the two making their sortie from the 6th or 7th, so they might threaten the Japanese amphibious fleet before it has unloaded much of the assualt force? Does that change any of the conditions of the surface or air battle?
It would definitely make the battle more interesting.

However, the British knew the Japanese invasion convoy was on its way, yet where were the Prince of Wales and Repulse when the Japanese landed? Ensconced in Singapore harbor, not at sea. Still, the British are unsure of the convoy's intentions and the British commander, Air Chief Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham, outside of ordering continued air surveillance of the convoy, was unwilling to take any action that might ignite an already tense situation. Even, the loss of a PBY from 205 Squadron on December 7 at 0845hours(local time), sent to shadow the Japanese convoy, was not enough to move the British to action.

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Markus Becker » 18 Jan 2011 14:52

Terry Duncan wrote: I believe there was a single squadron used as nightfighters, though I would not be able to confirm that easily I believe others here would be able to do so. The Blenheim IF really did not have a good record as a fighter during its limited use in Britain during and after the Battle of Britain, and was used as a night fighter, so the idea that they would be seen as suitable might be stretching things if there is any thought of facing fighters.
During the BoB and the Blitz the night fighter´s problem was finding the bombers without onboard radar. The next problem was the rather limited firepower of 4*303 machine guns. Neither of this would have been an issue here. It was daytime and the IJN bombers had no armour ect. I also think no one would have expected fighters because they usually have a shorter range than bombers. Against the expected threat -unescorted level bombers- Blenheim IF would have been ok, probably even better than the Buffalos due to the longer range of the Blenheims.

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