Buffaloes save Force Z, now what?

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Both sides willfully underestimated and suffered confirmation bias when looking at their opponent. Japan's misreading of the US culture and people is classic, how did they think that destroying the US Pacific Fleet would somehow scare Americans to ask Japan for peace? The utter failure of the Russians on land and sea

We're not much better today when we assess the potential combat effectiveness of China, one seemingly beset by poor eyesight and sh#tty kit.
Vikor Bout, the merchant of death, is doing a great job, while conducting a press tour, confirming your point about confirmation bias being inherent to both sides with his characterization of Americans as all having similar beliefs to the person caught smuggling hash oil into Russia that he was traded for.
 
The fighting in Java Sea was in part to protect the approaches to Australia. He would certainly do that, or Curtin would have an even-bigger shitfit.
Starting at 5:26 I can appreciate that the longer range fire of HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse would have been welcome.



Throw in Hermes and a dozen Stringbags as a unbeknownst to the IJN recent arrival, and we have a chance.
 
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Starting at 5:26 I can appreciate that the longer range fire of HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse would have been welcome.



Throw in Hermes and a dozen Stringbags as a unbeknownst to the IJN recent arrival, and we have a chance.

All of which assumes of course that the Japanese don’t change their ship dispositions in light of the increased threat.
 
All of which assumes of course that the Japanese don’t change their ship dispositions in light of the increased threat.
Indeed. Presumably Phillips has arrived very recently, presumably from Ceylon or Darwin without the IJN's notice. Much to the relief of the RN, RAN and USN ships about to embark on dysenteric Doorman's suicidal charge.
 
All of which assumes of course that the Japanese don’t change their ship dispositions in light of the increased threat.
The Armoured BCs Kongo and Haruna weren't leaving the theater until PoW and Repulse either left or were at least mission killed.
Note BatDiv 3 also has CruDiv 4, and 7 DDs. And CruDiv7, DesRon 3 plus 4 DDs from Malayan invasion force are in theater. Plus 8 Submarines.

By 14/Dec, CV Ryujo, CruDiv 5, DesRon 2, DesDiv 15 & 16 could be released from Philippines as there wasn't any American response if some remnant of Force Z still existed.

Allies needed to counter 2 BBs, 1 CVL, 10 CAs, 4 CLs, 21+ DDs & 8 SS. Force Z never stood a chance.
 
Throw in Hermes and a dozen Stringbags as a unbeknownst to the IJN recent arrival, and we have a chance.
The Mizuho shows up.
Japanese_seaplane_tender_Mizuho_1940.jpg

Launches 12 F1M float planes as a CAP, Stringbags are toast.

Actually carrier not even needed.
Another 12 float planes using 550lb bombs help pick off Allied cripples.
 
Allies needed to counter 2 BBs, 1 CVL, 10 CAs, 4 CLs, 21+ DDs & 8 SS. Force Z never stood a chance.
Fair point. Let’s have Force Z save what it can. Phillips on HMS PoW with Repulse alongside arrives at Surabaya before Doorman sails on 27 Feb 1942. Phillips orders HMS Exeter, HMAS Perth, HMS Electra, HMS Encounter and HMS Jupiter to breakaway and follow him to Darwin - a distance of 1,200 nmi, enabling even the short ranged Repulse to run at 18 knots and arrive at Darwin in less than three days time. The five USN ships are invited to come along if they wished.
 
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Fair point. Let’s have Force Z save what it can. Phillips on HMS PoW with Repulse alongside arrives at Surabaya before Doorman sails on 27 Feb 1942. Phillips orders HMS Exeter, HMAS Perth, HMS Electra, HMS Encounter and HMS Jupiter to breakaway and follow him to Darwin - a distance of 1,200 nmi, enabling even the short ranged Repulse to run at 18 knots and arrive at Darwin in less than three days time. The five USN ships are invited to come along if they wished.
We have discussed Darwin before. You seem to have a completely false impression of what it had to offer in early 1942.

Firstly it was a town with a non-aboriginal population of about 4,000 people, most of whom were evacuated due to the threat of Japanese invasion following the air attacks on 19 Feb 1942.

Secondly, it’s facilities were limited. In 1939 planning the Admiralty called for berthing facilities for 1 capital ship, 1 carrier, 3 cruisers and 8 destroyers and other smaller vessels for local work. There were to be anti-submarine booms and indicator loops to detect vessels entering. The booms, although begun in late 1940, were not finished until the end of 1942, with other works going on until 1944.

With those facilities incomplete, Darwin harbour is open to midget submarine attack, as happened at Pearl Harbor the previous December and would happen at Sydney & Diego Suarez, Madagascar in May 1942.

Thirdly, there were virtually no repair facilities, dry docks etc.

Oil. In 1936 the Admiralty oil storage in the whole of Australia & New Zealand totalled 120,000 tons. Only part of this was at Darwin. It didn’t even rank in Admiralty plans for any increase at that point. There were 9 tanks in 1936 plus another 2 added in 1941.

Not all the tanks were full and they varied in size. 7 tanks were destroyed completely (2 were empty) and another 2 damaged, with some 20,500 tons of oil lost in the Feb-June 1942 air raids. Another of the surviving tanks had been empty throughout the period for cleaning and repairs. So maybe in Feb 1942 there might have been about 30,000 tons of fuel available.

It was only in Nov 1942, after the threat of invasion had passed, that work began on underground oil storage. With the loss of the DEI refineries any replenishment was going to have to come from the Abadan refinery at the top of the Persian Gulf, but first the additional tankers would have to be found.

By way of comparison, in 1936 Singapore had 1.328 million tons (plus another 500k in protected storage planned) and Trincomalee had 1.248 million tons plus another 72k at Colombo. Even Rangoon by itself held 102k tons.

PoW and Repulse each needed c4,000 tons to fill their tanks. Plus that for cruisers and destroyers. Those reserves at Darwin are not going to last long.

AA defences. 16x3.7” + 2x3” + some Lewis guns.

Fighter defences. 12 squadron RAAF with 14 Wirraways in Feb 1942 spread over several bases in the Darwin area. It was only in March / April that the 49th FG USAAF began to deploy to protect Darwin. (Note the P-40s present at Darwin on 19th Feb were not based there. They were in the process of being ferried to Java).

There is a general lack of fighter aircraft in Australia at this time. The focus is on moving what is available to Java by ferrying or sea transport (USS Langley lost 27 Feb and SS Sea Witch)

Susceptibility to air attack. As well as the devastating attack by carrier borne aircraft from 4 of the Kido Butai carriers on 19 Feb, there was a second attack that day by land based bombers. G3Ms from Ambon and G4Ms from Kendari (Celebes). Further raids followed over the coming months. One of the results was loss of the fuel storage.

The damage done on 19 Feb stands as testament to the lack of defences at Darwin.

And that leads us to what the Kido Butai was doing historically around the time of your proposed retreat to Darwin. 15-21 Feb it sorties from Staring Bay Celebes to strike Darwin. After refuelling it sorties 25 Feb - 11 March to operate south of Java in support of Japanese invasion. Or are you now wanting the Japanese to send it elsewhere so your planned retreat can work without interference?

Bottom line is that a retreat to Darwin is a road to nowhere at best. At worst it is a trap for the unwary.
 
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My timing is off, as the fuel tanks at Darwin (holding about 82,000 tonnes on fuel oil) were entirely destroyed by the Kido Butai on 19 February 1942. This renders HMAS Melville unusable in the immediate term. So, Force Z upon collecting the RN/RAN units at Surabaya must make for elsewhere.

If Ceylon, we'll need to avoid the direct route via the Sundra Strait and instead go east to Bali and around. This will take a lot of fuel.

map.jpg
 
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I think without the RAF not being able to provide air supremacy over Singapore, the RN was always going to withdraw its major units back to the Indian Ocean, and if Force Z did escape the torpedo attacks on December 10th, then that's what they would have done. Trying to find a comparator, I don't think Portsmouth had any major units based there, despite being very heavily defended, with a successful RAF air defence. But perhaps Malta might be a better comparator.
 
I think without the RAF not being able to provide air supremacy over Singapore, the RN was always going to withdraw its major units back to the Indian Ocean, and if Force Z did escape the torpedo attacks on December 10th, then that's what they would have done. Trying to find a comparator, I don't think Portsmouth had any major units based there, despite being very heavily defended, with a successful RAF air defence. But perhaps Malta might be a better comparator.

Right, this is the conclusion this discussion has led me to share.

I hadn't realized Darwin was in such poor state even before the raid in Feb made a shambles of it. Knowing that it couldn't harbor an ABDA beefed up with two battlewagons and more destroyers, even in pre-raid good state, is something the admirals on-scene would certainly have considered. Fuel capacity alone would have militated against that.
 
I would note that the Two British capitol ships don't bring quite as much to the gun fight as supposed.
The Repulse did not have her turrets refitted and was limited to 20 degrees of elevation and could not, on paper, out range the Japanese 8in cruisers. She may have had better accuracy at limits of her range than the 8in cruisers enjoyed however.

I have no idea if the British had any spare 15in ammo anywhere in the area except Singapore. The British had a rather astonishing variety of 15 in shells and powder charges for them so be sure you are comparing the right stuff.
The PoW had very good range but she only had about 100 rounds per gun (if full) and there was nowhere east of Suez (if there) that had spare ammo. She has to be very careful of using up ammo in a cruiser duel and being short should she run into capitol ships later on.
 
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Agreed. Dec 10th, boogie for Ceylon.

Repulse never had a chance to complete her planned upgrades to AA and radars. Now‘s the opportunity for a deep refit and the above upgrades.

... and hope they're done by the end of March 1942, before KdB strikes in early April. Repulse may end up having that work done in South Africa, while PoW and available destroyers buttress Force C?
 

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