Admiral Phillips finest hour

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Baltasar
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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Baltasar » 18 Jan 2011 17:06

Markus,
the Blenheim IF was designated as a fighter of sorts, but had not been built with that role in mind. This plane does not have the top speed, climbing or turn rate to qualify it as a fighter. While finding the Japanese bombers would be less problematic, these bombers would approach in groups of a few planes each. The Blenheim IF would not be able to deal with one group and then be in place to deal with another.
That said, a plane this size would also face a serious fuel shortage. Regular fighter planes do consume a lot more fuel in dogfights than in transition flights, I would expect the Blenheims to burn up their fuel rather quickly as the two engined aircraft would need more fuel simply because of it's mass. Does anybody have data on range / transistion speed / max climb or decent rate for this version?

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Markus Becker
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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Markus Becker » 18 Jan 2011 18:53

Baltasar wrote:Markus,
the Blenheim IF was designated as a fighter of sorts, but had not been built with that role in mind. This plane does not have the top speed, climbing or turn rate to qualify it as a fighter.
That´s a problem IF you face enemy fighters, but not when facing bombers. The top speed of the G3M and G4M were lower than the Blenheim´s, even without 550 to 2,000lb of bombs/torps.

While finding the Japanese bombers would be less problematic, these bombers would approach in groups of a few planes each. The Blenheim IF would not be able to deal with one group and then be in place to deal with another.


That too might not matter much. Here is a TL of the attacks:

10:15: Japanese snooper spotted
11:13: 8 Nells attack Repulse with 550lb bombs
11:40: 8 Nell TB cripple PoW, Repulse is attacked by 8 Nell TB, then a few Nell LB, then seven Nell TB
12:20: 26 Betty TB hit PoW and Repulse multiple times, Repulse sinks like a stone
12:40: 17 Nell LB attack the still afloat but sinking PoW with 1.100lb bombs

The Blenheims can´t stop all attacks on their own but the 1st and the last attack didn´t matter. No.2 does, No.3 is the critical one. Furthermore they would not be the only fighters to cover Force Z. First arrivals would be No.453 Sqn Buffalos, they could be there by 11:13. 2nd and 3rd would be No.242 and 488 Sqn. Given that they had to fly twice the distance the Blenheims would probably not have been send to cover Force Z but if they had been there by 12:20 they could have messed up the TB´s attack pretty good. In order to score a hit the TB need to attack the target from both sides at the same time, so it can´t turn away from all the torpedoes. That is easier said than done if you go after a warship that twists and turns at 30 knots. Some enemy a/c bursting into your formation with all guns blazing would throw one arm of the pincer attack into disorder, allowing the target to turn away from the other.


That said, a plane this size would also face a serious fuel shortage. Regular fighter planes do consume a lot more fuel in dogfights than in transition flights, I would expect the Blenheims to burn up their fuel rather quickly as the two engined aircraft would need more fuel simply because of it's mass. Does anybody have data on range / transistion speed / max climb or decent rate for this version?
http://www.battleofbritain1940.net/0012.html

Range is similar to a Buffalo as far as that can be determined. It´s ~300 land miles from Sungei Patani to Force Z but Kuantan and Mersing are 80 to 90 land miles away. They could refuel there on the way back home.

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Baltasar
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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Baltasar » 18 Jan 2011 19:19

All nice and shiny, but this would be a more than just optimal timing for the UK forces. Considering their rotation, either of the covering groups would only have so much fuel for dogfights and only one group would be present anyway unless Philipps somehow convinces the pilots to fly until they are dry and then ditch next to the ships to be picked up. In a more reasonable scenario, the Japanese would spot the UK ships and report their position back, commenting that there were planes present as well. This could result in the Japanese planes not arriving piecemeal but in one or two larger groups, attacking from different angles and altitudes. The handful of fighters very hard pressed to stop the Japanese from scoring hits on the larger ships.

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Markus Becker
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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Markus Becker » 18 Jan 2011 19:44

Japanese not attacking against all odds? Very un-Japanese and the later they attack, the further away the ships get and the more enemy fighters could be there. Also what is it with the dogfighting? There were no enemy fighters, hence no need for dogfights. And it´s ~150 land miles from Singapore, less than 100 to the next airfield and a Buffalo had a range of ~1.000 miles.

The handful of fighter were three squadrons. If that´s not enough to have one over Force Z all the time, there were 8 Hudsons and 8 Blenheim I at Kuantan. 17 Blenheim IV were in Singapore. Technically they are even less fighters than Blenheim IF but that did not stop Costal Command Hudsons and Dornier flying boats from shoting each other down over the North Sea on a regular basis during the Phoney War.

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Baltasar » 18 Jan 2011 20:10

What I meant was that your assumption is a bit too much in favor of the UK forces and does not take into account possible problems on their side, Japanes alternative actions and a 100% successful transit / relieve ratio for Force Z CAP. Besides, earmarking all those assets for Force Z in turn means that there would be no planes left for their original tasks; ie air cover for Singapore and whatever places they else were assigned to.
The comment about dogfights was meant as in steep curves (at the very least when chasing from one enemy group to the other), a lot of climbing / decending (which has to be done within certain limits) and last but not least, returning to CAP position. All of this burns fuel quite fast and the Buffalo range of 1000 miles does not include that sort of maneuvers.

Also, with all assets being earmarked for Force Z, wouldn't that leave other areas particularily vulnerable? And in the end of the day, the destruction of Force Z would be a bonus for the Japanese, who were busy protecting their transports with smaller capital ships. Even if they lost all planes in the attack, the landing would still be successful, unless Force Z attacks the Japanese, in which case their CAP would face longer ranges to cover plus the erratic movement of fleets in combat.

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Markus Becker » 18 Jan 2011 20:57

edit:

With regard to my assumptions being a bit too much in favor of the UK forces, IOTL everything went 100% in favor of the Japanese forces: then landings, the air war, Jitra, The Ledge, Kota Bharu, Force Z, Churchill supplies ...

Baltasar wrote: The comment about dogfights was meant as in steep curves (at the very least when chasing from one enemy group to the other), a lot of climbing / decending (which has to be done within certain limits) and last but not least, returning to CAP position. All of this burns fuel quite fast and the Buffalo range of 1000 miles does not include that sort of maneuvers.
A Buffalo´s yardstick range was ~1.400 miles, meaning 1.000 miles is the real life range. Yes, the more the engines runs at full power the less the range and linger time will be but there would not be much climbing necessary. The planes would approach at 10 to 15k feet. To engage TB they just need to put the nose down and gravitation does the rest. Also, the RAF knows the real life fuel consumption, so they know when to send the next batch of fighters.

What I meant was that your assumption is a bit too much in favor of the UK forces and does not take into account possible problems on their side, Japanes alternative actions and a 100% successful transit / relieve ratio for Force Z CAP.
??? The number of servicable fighters was known too, one or two returning with engine trouble would not be a disaster and any Japanese action that does not include an attack on Force Z would only help the Allies.

Besides, earmarking all those assets for Force Z in turn means that there would be no planes left for their original tasks; ie air cover for Singapore and whatever places they else were assigned to. ... Also, with all assets being earmarked for Force Z, wouldn't that leave other areas particularily vulnerable?
One needs to make priorities. Singapore had a strong garrison, shore batteries, could not be sunk and had already survived one or two air raids. The Mersing-Endau area was guarded by the 8th Australian, that leaves Force Z as the only base not covered. It also represented the only decent allied capital ships in the Far East.

And in the end of the day, the destruction of Force Z would be a bonus for the Japanese, who were busy protecting their transports with smaller capital ships. Even if they lost all planes in the attack, the landing would still be successful, unless Force Z attacks the Japanese, in which case their CAP would face longer ranges to cover plus the erratic movement of fleets in combat.
An attack on the beachheads is a moot point. The Japanese were already on the ground and the transports had scattered to the north, plus RAF bases up there were under heavy attack. Getting Force Z out in one piece is all one can do and what Phillips intended. The IJN bombers represented 1/3 of all japanese twin engine bombers in the theater of operations.

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Takao » 20 Jan 2011 16:26

Markus Becker wrote:A Buffalo´s yardstick range was ~1.400 miles, meaning 1.000 miles is the real life range. Yes, the more the engines runs at full power the less the range and linger time will be but there would not be much climbing necessary. The planes would approach at 10 to 15k feet. To engage TB they just need to put the nose down and gravitation does the rest. Also, the RAF knows the real life fuel consumption, so they know when to send the next batch of fighters.
1,400-1,600 miles was the "ferry range", flying at optimum altitude for range and with the controls set to their minimum requirements for range. 1,000 miles was the "normal" range for the Buffalo and for combat it would be even less. IIRC, the rule of combat was 1/3 out, 1/3 for combat, and 1/3 for the flight back; for the Buffalo, that would give you a circle of some 325 miles for it to fly, fight, and return.

Also, your dive to attack for the opening of combat, will give the fighter one attack, after that, he will be well to the rear of the attacking force, and will have to turn around and fly back to reengage. The fighter could dive, attack, and climb again to gain altitude, but again he will be well past the attacker, who is moving in the opposite direction.

The RAF can make an "educated guess" as to fuel consumption(or have their pilots radio in once X fuel is reached), but in combat, paper figures "go right out the window."

Markus Becker wrote:One needs to make priorities. Singapore had a strong garrison, shore batteries, could not be sunk and had already survived one or two air raids. The Mersing-Endau area was guarded by the 8th Australian, that leaves Force Z as the only base not covered. It also represented the only decent allied capital ships in the Far East.
Yes, priorities. Singapore had already been attacked by bombers and it's AA fire was "underwhelming, thus it could not be left unprotected. Further if the dock area is damaged or heavily damaged, then Force Z is SOL for an operating base. Thus Singapore needs fighter protection. Also, you have Japanese troops landing in Malaya and IIRC, the have already captured some airfields, so fighters will be needed for other operations aside of Force Z's movement, unless you are willing to leave your airbases unprotected and the Blenheims unescorted.

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Baltasar » 20 Jan 2011 17:42

Takao,
Markus argument, if I understood him correctly, is that the Blenheims won't need escorts in their fighter role as they would not face fighters anyway. However, I'm still not 100% sure that UK command knew about Japanese fighter / bomber ranges at this point. I also agree with the problem regarding the set objectives for the RAF and the neccessity to cover more than just Force Z.

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Juha Tompuri » 20 Jan 2011 18:51

Takao wrote:Also, your dive to attack for the opening of combat, will give the fighter one attack, after that, he will be well to the rear of the attacking force, and will have to turn around and fly back to reengage. The fighter could dive, attack, and climb again to gain altitude, but again he will be well past the attacker, who is moving in the opposite direction.
If I uderstood correctly, that procedure is not neccessary.
Once behind the enemy bombers the attacking fighter could then continue in flying at the same speed as the enemy bomber formation, and attacking one enemy plane after another.

Regards, Juha

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Markus Becker » 20 Jan 2011 22:02

Takao wrote:1,400-1,600 miles was the "ferry range", flying at optimum altitude for range and with the controls set to their minimum requirements for range. 1,000 miles was the "normal" range for the Buffalo and for combat it would be even less. IIRC, the rule of combat was 1/3 out, 1/3 for combat, and 1/3 for the flight back; for the Buffalo, that would give you a circle of some 325 miles for it to fly, fight, and return.
And that would be all one needs given the distance from Singapore and to the next friendly airfield.

Also, your dive to attack for the opening of combat, will give the fighter one attack, after that, he will be well to the rear of the attacking force, and will have to turn around and fly back to reengage. The fighter could dive, attack, and climb again to gain altitude, but again he will be well past the attacker, who is moving in the opposite direction.
Or the other way round. Usually fighters attacked bombers from the rear. Head on attacks were tricky due to the high speed of both sides but they were very effective in breaking up formations. And when the fighter attacks from above it always has a much higher speed. Even if the fighters attack head on, they could make the turn in a climb and than a shallow dive back towards the bombers. Since they are much faster than bombers even in a level flight little time would pass before the next attack.


Yes, priorities. Singapore had already been attacked by bombers and it's AA fire was "underwhelming, thus it could not be left unprotected. Further if the dock area is damaged or heavily damaged, then Force Z is SOL for an operating base. Thus Singapore needs fighter protection. Also, you have Japanese troops landing in Malaya and IIRC, the have already captured some airfields, so fighters will be needed for other operations aside of Force Z's movement, unless you are willing to leave your airbases unprotected and the Blenheims unescorted.
Force Z was sunk on Dec.10th. By that time the RAF had already been decisively beaten in northern Malaya and pulled the remaining planes out to be able to escort the convoys comming into Singapore. Something the japanese barely interfered with at all before the last week of the campaign.

From Niehorster, wiki and the official UK war history it looks like Singapore´s triple-A consisted of four heavy AA regiments(minus two batteries). At 8 guns per battery and three batteries per regiment that´s 80 heavy guns. There were also one or two light AA-regiments(minus one battery).

With regard to what the RAF knew about Japanese fighter range: They were clueless before Dec.7th(8th in Malaya) and afterwards they were convinced that Zeros had taken off from carriers, refusing to believe any fighter could have such a range. Bomber range is another matter. Saigon-Kuantan is not even 550 land miles. Tricky for a Blenheim I, easy for a IV.

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Takao » 21 Jan 2011 01:36

Baltasar wrote:Takao,
Markus argument, if I understood him correctly, is that the Blenheims won't need escorts in their fighter role as they would not face fighters anyway. However, I'm still not 100% sure that UK command knew about Japanese fighter / bomber ranges at this point. I also agree with the problem regarding the set objectives for the RAF and the neccessity to cover more than just Force Z.
Forgive me, perhaps I misunderstood. I thought the "range" Marcus was talking about pertained to how long the Brewster Buffalo could fly as CAP for Force Z, and how soon its relief would need to come.

Juha Tompuri wrote:
Takao wrote:Also, your dive to attack for the opening of combat, will give the fighter one attack, after that, he will be well to the rear of the attacking force, and will have to turn around and fly back to reengage. The fighter could dive, attack, and climb again to gain altitude, but again he will be well past the attacker, who is moving in the opposite direction.
If I uderstood correctly, that procedure is not neccessary.
Once behind the enemy bombers the attacking fighter could then continue in flying at the same speed as the enemy bomber formation, and attacking one enemy plane after another.

Regards, Juha
Marcus Becker wrote:Or the other way round. Usually fighters attacked bombers from the rear. Head on attacks were tricky due to the high speed of both sides but they were very effective in breaking up formations. And when the fighter attacks from above it always has a much higher speed. Even if the fighters attack head on, they could make the turn in a climb and than a shallow dive back towards the bombers. Since they are much faster than bombers even in a level flight little time would pass before the next attack.
Yes, the optimum attack is from behind. However, we are talking about the opening move, which will likely be head-to-head. Given that, to my knowledge, there were no FDOs(Fighter Director Officer) onboard either the Prince of Wales or Repulse. The fighters are likely to receive a bearing and distance to the incoming bombers(height too, if they are lucky), the rest will be up to the fighters.

While what you gentlemen say is okay for the higher horizontal bombers, attack the first bomber - in a dive from behind, pass underneath and pull up to attack the next bomber in line. It will be problematic against the torpedo bombers coming in on the deck. The fighter will be forced to stay high, as diving below the target will put him into the drink. Also, by staying high, he lacks the room to bleed off all of his excess speed built up during the dive, thus if he can still attack the second bomber in line, it will probably be only a brief shot before the fighter overshoots the second bomber. Still, the fighter could pull up into a reversal and attempt to re-engage or if his speed is to high, go into some variation of a scissors maneuver.

Also, the fighter pilot will have to worry about the 20mm tail "stinger" of the G4Ms.

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Baltasar » 21 Jan 2011 02:12

Also, the fighter pilot will have to worry about the 20mm tail "stinger" of the G4Ms.
As the saying goes: If the enemy is within range, so are you.


How early would Force Z be able to detect incoming attackers? I'd imagine that low flying torpedo bombers would be spotted in radar a lot later than level bombers. The TB did the critical damage after all.

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Takao » 21 Jan 2011 02:31

Marcus Becker wrote:From Niehorster, wiki and the official UK war history it looks like Singapore´s triple-A consisted of four heavy AA regiments(minus two batteries). At 8 guns per battery and three batteries per regiment that´s 80 heavy guns. There were also one or two light AA-regiments(minus one battery).
All of that, plus the AA guns of the Prince of Wales and Repulse, failed to down any of the Japanese aircraft that bombed the city on December 8, 1941. So, I think we know how well the AA defenses of Singapore are...

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Takao » 21 Jan 2011 03:05

Baltasar wrote:How early would Force Z be able to detect incoming attackers? I'd imagine that low flying torpedo bombers would be spotted in radar a lot later than level bombers. The TB did the critical damage after all.
Well, that all depends. The destroyer Tenedos(well away form Force Z at this time) reported a large formation of Japanese aircraft at 0950 hours and around 1010 hours reported she was under attack, this would have been the optimum time for Phillips to request his air support, and to ready a second squadron for their relief. At 1015 a G3M "Nell" sighted the British Force and began transmitting their position. The British first reported seeing a Japanese aircraft at 1040 hours, and radar contact with a "formation" at 1100 hours, which were visually sighted within minutes. The level bombers began their attacks around 1115-1120, and torpedo bomber attacks began around 1138.

Times will vary depending on what sources you read.

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Re: Admiral Phillips finest hour

Post by Baltasar » 21 Jan 2011 11:48

Thanks,

this gives me the impression that a) the British were indeed not at all concerned about planes attacking them and b) their radar being relatively ineffective when trying to find flying formations. If Phillips really had a change of mind and had a CAP near Force Z, their warning time would be relatively short and unless they found the Japanese planes a lot earlier than their radar, would have few chances to intercept the incoming planes before they could drop their payload. This would be especially true for torpedo bombers as they'd be harder to find from above and would be picked up by radar very late.
I have my doubts that the rather cumberstone Blenheim IF would be able to do that sort of job. It would have the firepower to go head to head with the Japanese, but it would be too slow to get more than one chance at them before they were within the UK AA box.

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