Aircraft Carrier with Force Z 1941

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: Aircraft Carrier with Force Z 1941

Post by Juha Tompuri » 27 Apr 2013 19:01

aghart wrote: he thought he had only high level bombers to deal with. Phillips knew that these aircraft were of no real threat to Force Z. Phillips was unlikely to call on the RAF if he felt his ships could deal with the expected air threat with ease.

According to this:
http://www.rina.org.uk/c2/uploads/death ... leship.pdf
...the bombers were sort of a threat.
Phillips should/could have called for RAF help when he knew Force Z had been detected or at least after the first Japanese torpedo attack.

another topic related discussion:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 3494&hilit

Regards, Juha

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Re: Aircraft Carrier with Force Z 1941

Post by aghart » 15 Oct 2019 22:31

The Book, Bombers Vs Battleships, confirms that HMS Indomitable would have docked at Gibraltar on 20th November 1941, if she had not been damaged and sent for repair. This confirms that although earmarked for Singapore, she was always going to be a late arrival and would not in any circumstances have been at Singapore when Force Z sailed. Also, HMS Ark Royal, the only modern CV in the Mediterranean was sunk on 13tn November. With Singapore still at peace, The Mediterranean at war, I doubt that Indominatable would have been allowed to join Force Z. I suspect she would have ordered to replace Ark Royal.

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Re: Aircraft Carrier with Force Z 1941

Post by T. A. Gardner » 17 Oct 2019 20:51

I'd say the Japanese still sink force Z starting with the Illustrious. The IJN bomber pilots would have zeroed in on the carrier first and either crippled or sunk it before going after the battleships. The few planes on CAP, as was British practice, wouldn't be enough to stop them. The Destroyer escort is worthless in contributing to the AA defense, and the whole formation would have maneuvered independently to evade attack, just as they did historically.
Once Illustrious can't launch planes, the Japanese either come back with fresh waves of planes, or the ones still with bombs and torpedoes go after the battleships. They sink those just like they did historically.

The RN needs more than a carrier with a relative handful of fighter planes aboard to fix their problems with Force Z. The formation needed to be steaming in one that would maximize air defense, and that is the circular one the USN was using.
Next, Force Z needed destroyers that could put up an effective AA defense, and that wasn't happening. A few obsolete 3" guns manually aimed, a few pompoms and 20mm aren't going to contribute much, if anything, to the formation's defense against air attack.
Repulse also has a badly deficient AA battery at the time.

Had Zero's been sent to escort the bombers, that would just add insult to injury. They would have dominated the small British CAP, particularly the rather unwieldy Fulmars. Then the bombers sink or cripple the carrier and it's fins for Force Z.

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Re: Aircraft Carrier with Force Z 1941

Post by LWD » 01 Oct 2023 23:16

My understanding was that the Japanese bombers were at close to their max range and well beyond escort range. Even a small CAP can be effective in breaking up an attack especially if the attackers are close to max range. Force Z was also in range of friendly land based fighters from what I recall and once an attack is made they can get cover from that source.

Caveat - It's been a while since I've read much about this so the above may not be accurate. Please correct anything I got wrong.

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Re: Aircraft Carrier with Force Z 1941

Post by T. A. Gardner » 01 Oct 2023 23:36

LWD wrote:
01 Oct 2023 23:16
My understanding was that the Japanese bombers were at close to their max range and well beyond escort range. Even a small CAP can be effective in breaking up an attack especially if the attackers are close to max range. Force Z was also in range of friendly land based fighters from what I recall and once an attack is made they can get cover from that source.

Caveat - It's been a while since I've read much about this so the above may not be accurate. Please correct anything I got wrong.
The Zero was capable of as much range as the D3A and B5N (all three loaded are at about 900 miles range total, give or take). I would expect the strike to have a serious A6M escort versus most likely the FAA's Fulmars and the latter being shot to pieces in short order as they are clearly no match for an A6M.

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Re: Aircraft Carrier with Force Z 1941

Post by LWD » 02 Oct 2023 00:25

From what I've read the attack force consisted solely of G3Ms and G4Ms with 3 scouts supporting them. The range of the G4M being about twice that of what you listed for the Zero.

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Re: Aircraft Carrier with Force Z 1941

Post by T. A. Gardner » 02 Oct 2023 00:45

LWD wrote:
02 Oct 2023 00:25
From what I've read the attack force consisted solely of G3Ms and G4Ms with 3 scouts supporting them. The range of the G4M being about twice that of what you listed for the Zero.
A quick look at Google Maps shows Force Z was about 700 to 800 miles from the bases in French Indochina. An A6M with an external fuel tank and flying conservatively and make about 1900 miles so it is still possible that an escort could have been arranged. These were available for the land based A6M's at the time.

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Re: Aircraft Carrier with Force Z 1941

Post by LWD » 02 Oct 2023 01:01

Were there any operating at those bases though? It also been stated that the bombers were near their max range when they attacked. That was in part due to them having to do some searching to find Force Z.

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Re: Aircraft Carrier with Force Z 1941

Post by EwenS » 02 Oct 2023 10:42

There were some 25 A6M at Soc Trang near Saigon.

But in the early hours of 10 Dec 1941, the Japanese didn’t know exactly where Force Z was. They had had some sighting reports but these were out of date. 0500 9 G3M took off to search with max fuel & 2x50kg bombs. 2xC5M were also sent out to search. There was a lot of ocean to cover. 85 G3M & G4M of the strike force followed between 0625 & 0800. From their bases around Saigon they flew about 400 miles SW (per Bloody Shambles vol 1) then due south. It was 1015 before Force Z was spotted by which time the strike force had almost reached the limit of its search and had to turn back to intercept.

So the distance the strike force intended to fly was much longer than the direct line between Saigon and the location that PoW & Repulse were sunk.

Map of movements here
https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/UK/ ... S-14-5.jpg


Force Z was however within range of RAF Buffaloes at Singapore. Due to various misunderstandings they were not called for until too late. They were about 1 hour flying time away but by the time they arrived it was all over bar the rescuing of survivors.

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Re: Aircraft Carrier with Force Z 1941

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 02 Oct 2023 13:47

T. A. Gardner wrote:
17 Oct 2019 20:51
I'd say the Japanese still sink force Z starting with the Illustrious. The IJN bomber pilots would have zeroed in on the carrier first and either crippled or sunk it before going after the battleships.
Would be worth a look at the hits the bombers achieved vs the the Brits ships OTL. that would give some basis for estimating the likely damage to a hypothetical carrier with Force Z.

Triva note: The air group of 17 bombers that attacked the Lexington in February 1942 included aircrew that had flown against the PW & Repulse. The units had been reorganized and renamed as part of rebasing from FIC to Rabual, but they were the same veterans of the China war, with many present in the attack vs Force Z. Against the Lexington the CAP broke up one group of eight bombers, preventing any from getting close to the TF, the second attack group was massacred by the AA fires of the TF, and a single stray F4F from the CAP.

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Re: Aircraft Carrier with Force Z 1941

Post by T. A. Gardner » 02 Oct 2023 18:06

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
02 Oct 2023 13:47
T. A. Gardner wrote:
17 Oct 2019 20:51
I'd say the Japanese still sink force Z starting with the Illustrious. The IJN bomber pilots would have zeroed in on the carrier first and either crippled or sunk it before going after the battleships.
Would be worth a look at the hits the bombers achieved vs the the Brits ships OTL. that would give some basis for estimating the likely damage to a hypothetical carrier with Force Z.

Triva note: The air group of 17 bombers that attacked the Lexington in February 1942 included aircrew that had flown against the PW & Repulse. The units had been reorganized and renamed as part of rebasing from FIC to Rabual, but they were the same veterans of the China war, with many present in the attack vs Force Z. Against the Lexington the CAP broke up one group of eight bombers, preventing any from getting close to the TF, the second attack group was massacred by the AA fires of the TF, and a single stray F4F from the CAP.
Well, RN practice at the time was each ship for itself when it came to AA fire. So, the carrier was on its own. RN doctrine, at the time, also called for AA fire to be the primary defense of the ship along with maneuvering. The RN CAP would likely be something like 4 Fulmars up to take on the raid. So, you have what amounts to--sort of--four Fairey Battles up for fighters. That is, the Fulmars are like F2A Buffaloes dragging a couple of large sandbags trying to take on Zeros. What they aren't is tough little F4F's that are a match for the escort when it comes down to it. We know from the Fulmar's performance over Celyon that it was no match for a Zero.

The AA fire from a single ship isn't going to have anywhere the same impact as a battlegroup operating in a ring formation where every ship in range is firing on the attackers in support of the carrier. With Force Z you have three capital ships (2 x BB 1 CV) maneuvering independently to avoid attack. On of the BB's has pretty crappy AA capacity on top of that.

The escorting destroyers, such as they are, have for all intents zero AA capacity. Typically, they had something like a couple of quad .50 Vickers mounts or maybe 4 20mm and an antique, ancient, 3" HA gun with no fire controls. They were going to contribute nothing to the air defense.

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Re: Aircraft Carrier with Force Z 1941

Post by LWD » 02 Oct 2023 18:17

But there wasn't an escort with the Japanese bombers and if there had been they would have had to turn back before they found Force Z or ditched on the way home.

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Re: Aircraft Carrier with Force Z 1941

Post by T. A. Gardner » 03 Oct 2023 15:50

LWD wrote:
02 Oct 2023 18:17
But there wasn't an escort with the Japanese bombers and if there had been they would have had to turn back before they found Force Z or ditched on the way home.
In the historical case, the Japanese bombers spent time trying to find the British ships before actually doing so. The exact location of the British fleet was not known to the bomber crews. A better 'what-if' here might be the bombers fail to find the British ships and they escape unscathed. What would come next?

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Re: Aircraft Carrier with Force Z 1941

Post by LWD » 03 Oct 2023 17:05

I read somewhere that Churchill was considering sending them to the US West Coast. Not sure the route or how difficult or time consuming the journey would have been.

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Re: Aircraft Carrier with Force Z 1941

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 03 Oct 2023 17:07

LWD wrote:
03 Oct 2023 17:05
I read somewhere that Churchill was considering sending them to the US West Coast. Not sure the route or how difficult or time consuming the journey would have been.
This was roughly the same time Churchill wanted the US Pacific fleet, or a large part of it to rebase to Singapore?

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