Force Z. The Japanese "flare"

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aghart
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Joined: 02 Jun 2011 19:39
Location: Poole, Dorset, UK

Force Z. The Japanese "flare"

Post by aghart » 22 Nov 2019 11:03

Hopefully, the naval types amongst us will be able to help. Everything I have read says that the Japanese flare which was dropped on the night of 9th December, was spotted by lookouts on Electra and reported as visible on the horizon for a few seconds and then disappeared. It was estimated to be about 5 miles away. This had led to years of discussions about the night surface action that nearly was. It is also recorded that the night was "pitch black" you couldn't see your hand in front of your face? On a night like that surely a flare dropped by an aircraft would be noticed by everyone who was on lookout that evening? POW & Repulse's lookouts would have been higher up than Electra's and thus been able to observe to a greater distance. Yet it appears that only Electra saw the flare.

If as I suspect that Electra was the nearest ship to the flare, and the only ship to see it, it would appear to me that the distance between Force Z and the Japanese cruisers was in reality much greater than the accepted "estimated" distance of 5 miles.

Have I missed something? or have I simply noticed a simple fact that has been overlooked, because the "estimated" distance to the flare has over the years been accepted as fact?

I await replies from nautical experts!

cstunts
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Joined: 17 Aug 2006 04:45
Location: USA

Re: Force Z. The Japanese "flare"

Post by cstunts » 22 Nov 2019 16:57

It was more like 15-20 miles separating the two forces, as I recall. But, certainly alarming to the IJN. I dug into the Japanese records a year or two ago on this very matter.

However, bear in mind that the only Japanese ships out there at that hour were heavy cruiser CHOKAI and the destroyer SAGIRI.

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