A Force Z What If

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
Fatboy Coxy
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A Force Z What If

Post by Fatboy Coxy » Thu Nov 19, 2020 4:08 pm

Hi all, a simple ‘What If’ based on the composition of Force Z and the Japanese ‘Main Body’ covering force meeting.

Force Z is commanded by Vice Adm Sir Tom Phillips
HMS Prince of Wales, battleship
HMS Repulse, battle cruiser
HMS Electra, destroyer
HMS Express, destroyer
HMS Tenedos, destroyer
HMAS Vampire, destroyer

IJN Main Body is commanded by Vice Adm Kondo
Haruna, Fast Battleship
Kongo, Fast Battleship
Atago, Heavy Cruiser
Takao, Heavy Cruiser

4th Destroyer Div

8th Destroyer Div

Parameters are, it is Wednesday 10th Dec 1941, invasion forces have landed two days ago, Force Z is 100 miles off Kuantan, heading south, this is mid-morning, visibility is only 20,000 yards, due to rain squalls, both PoW and Repulse have fully working radar, all Japanese cruisers and destroyers have ‘long lance’ torpedoes, both sides are using their seaplanes. Neither side has any help from land-based aircraft, ie Nell/Betty torpedo bombers, Vildebeest/ Hudson bombers, or any other recon aircraft. Other Japanese ships, ie 7th cruiser Sqn are not able to close before nightfall.

How badly do the Japanese want to destroy Force Z’s big ships, what losses would they take, and does Phillips fancy his chance with the advantage of radar?

Fatboy Coxy
Fatboy Coxy

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Re: A Force Z What If

Post by HvKleist » Thu Nov 19, 2020 4:30 pm

The scenario is simply too unrealistic if you remove all ground-based air support...Nonetheless, the DD advantage is heavily in favor of the IJN as would be torpedo performance. If I had to, I'd bet on the Japanese in a surface action.

To answer your question: the Japanese were absolutely determined to find Force Z (or any substantial Allied surface units) & destroy them, but they also relied extremely heavily on their air forces. Even without air support--as in this fantasy scenario--I believe they would have engaged, but the fly in the ointment is having Kondō in command...This again makes no sense in the scenario, since VADM Ozawa had command in reality of the Japanese naval forces (Malay Force in Southern Exped. Flt) and was given a free rein by Yamamoto in person before the campaign...i.e., he would have acted more aggressively than Kondō IMHO. (Chōkai & her DD were much further south already than Kondō's ships, etc.)

But, with these forces it doesn't seem to me that Kondō would have felt any real qualms about engaging. And the Japanese would have had better scouting forces (floatplanes) available from Sentai 3 & Sentai 4.

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Dave Saxton
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Re: A Force Z What If

Post by Dave Saxton » Sun Nov 22, 2020 4:56 am

Kondo will try to position his fleet to cut off Phillip's path to Singapore and beyond. Then he will send in his destroyers. He probably doesn't want a running fight from plus 20,000 yards going toward Singapore to the west of the Anamaba Islands. There was minefield there that both sides knew about.

A functional type 273 surface warning radar on PoW and a visibility of 20,000 yards gives the British a huge advantage. This advantage is not for attacking the Japanese. The type 273 can probably give Phillips enough of a situational awareness to see that this a fight he does not want and he can slink quietly away before Kondo can find him-unless Japanese scout aircraft find him first.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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