The Dutch Navy's Challenge

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
MVictorP
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The Dutch Navy's Challenge

Post by MVictorP » Sat Nov 19, 2011 4:45 pm

This is a project in the line of "How Would You Improve...' focusing on an eclectic little navy with one heck of a challenge - WWII's Dutch naval forces, the Koninklije Marine (KM).

Netherlands' position in the Baltic is one of a small player, but this little nation with a great naval tradition also is a colonial power, notably holding the oil-rich fields of Java and Sumatra, between the Indian and Pacific oceans, and in the Japanese's aim.

The Dutch admiralty deduced, correctly, that a Nippon invasion force would have its heavy units battling the Americans and the Brits (as well as, potentially, the French), leaving cruiser forces to defend against (hence the 1047 project battlecruisers). But these Japanes cruisers are quite something: fast, all in offensive, daring and armed with a terrible torpedo the Allies do not know about yet.

So, let's pretend you are the flag & staff officers of the KM, and that you have effective power as soon as 1919. Here is what you've got (we'll focus on the larger, cruisers and up, units here):

- Kortenaer, an 3 465t Evertsen class coastal BB, to be discarded in 1920.
- 3x 5 000t Koningin Regentes coastal BBs, Two to be discarded in the early 20s and another one that's hulked into 1945.
- Coastal BB Martin Harpertzoon Tromp (5 200t, discarded 1932),
- 4 920t Jacob Van Heemskerck Coastal BB (Hulked 1948) and
- 6 530t De Zeven Provincien, also a coastal BB that was on the KM's lists until 1942.
- 3x 3 970t Holland-class protected cruisers, two of them stricken by the early twenties.

You also have three (two since 1917) "modern WWI" cruisers being built, the Javas, but war stopped their construction (they would eventually be completed in the 20s according to the original plans, making them obsolete ships at their own launch).

What was historically laid down were:
- An additional 6 440t light cruiser, De Ruyter, in 1933
- Two 3 400t scout cruisers Tromp, 1936 and 1938, the last one being finished in UK

What was planned but not not completed for WWII:
- 2x 8 350t De Zeven Provincien muscular light cruisers, laid down but not completed.
- 3x 28 000t battlecruisers, the famed project 1047, not laid down.

Netherlands is bound by no treaty but by severe economics - don't strand too far from the actual tonnage. Their construction yards builds fine ships, a little conservatively and late on the newest advances, maybe, but otherwise commandable work. Notably, the Dutch adopted the 40mm Bofors AA gun, but had no naval air arm of its own.

One of their biggest problem is that they're always a bit late on their own needs - but I'll allow you some retrospection to build a nave able to stop, or at least delay for 1 year the Japanese cruiser invasion forces like they happen in that theatre, historically.

So, what will it be? Will you take the KM's historical adoption of the WT cruiser, or will you persist in building coastal BB like your Baltic - and Philippine - neighbours? How about some naval aviation, maybe a Gotland-inspired seaplane cruiser for starters?

How do plan to take on the Dutch Challenge? Would that help win the Java Sea Battle?
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ede144
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Re: The Dutch Navy's Challenge

Post by ede144 » Sat Nov 19, 2011 5:58 pm

MVictorP wrote:
One of their biggest problem is that they're always a bit late on their own needs - but I'll allow you some retrospection to build a nave able to stop, or at least delay for 1 year the Japanese cruiser invasion forces like they happen in that theatre, historically.

So, what will it be? Will you take the KM's historical adoption of the WT cruiser, or will you persist in building coastal BB like your Baltic - and Philippine - neighbours? How about some naval aviation, maybe a Gotland-inspired seaplane cruiser for starters?

How do plan to take on the Dutch Challenge? Would that help win the Java Sea Battle?
I wonder which Baltic neighbors you are speaking from?

Regards
ede

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Re: The Dutch Navy's Challenge

Post by MVictorP » Sat Nov 19, 2011 6:08 pm

ede144 wrote: I wonder which Baltic neighbors you are speaking from?

Regards
ede
Sweden, Finland, Danemark.
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19kilo
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Re: The Dutch Navy's Challenge

Post by 19kilo » Sat Nov 19, 2011 11:07 pm

Holland is on the Baltic? Was the North Sea renamed in this scenario?

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Re: The Dutch Navy's Challenge

Post by MVictorP » Sun Nov 20, 2011 2:36 am

Gee, guys, where would you be without rethorics? How about "its neighbours from the Baltc sea, not too far" huh, "professor"?

Any more smart-assery? If not, you are welcome to this thread. If so, please commit it somewhere else.
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Re: The Dutch Navy's Challenge

Post by 19kilo » Sun Nov 20, 2011 4:19 am

Sorry. I can be a smartie! As to the scenario I'm thinking that if the Dutch had gotten the battlecruisers they wanted, things might have been a little different in early 42......maybe. BIG maybe there. The Japanese werent slouches, and if the Dutch had a capital ship in the East Indies I'm sure the IJN would have reacted accordingly.

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Re: The Dutch Navy's Challenge

Post by Dave Saxton » Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:27 pm

The problem with these type of scenarios is that we benifit from hind sight that the original planners did not have. It's easy to say that some one should have built carriers or developed radar quicker and so forth, but that in many cases is not realistic considering the historical circumstances. If we take this back to 1919 then we must preclude expensive carrier aviation or early development of advanced technolgies for the Dutch Navy. It's difficult to arrive at an altarnative to the cruiser course they did take historically. One thing they could have used, well everybody could have used, are modern fleet destroyers. Destroyers are always handy in just about surface action role, as well as well known defensive missions. One asset the Dutch had in the Pacific was bases and fuel reserves. They don't really need to preclude destroyers because of typical range limitations. The Dutch also don't need to pay much attention to what their European neighbors are doing. As the 20's took its course it became obvious that local sea lanes such the those close by in the North Sea could be controlled by land based air power in the near future. The Dutch can concentrate on their naval interests in the far east instead.

Some things that's very important are making the warships they can build as effective as possible. This is were such things as having state of the art; firecontrol, gunnery, and other weapons systems really matter. This is more important than armour tonnage, protection schemes, maximun speed, and size and numbers of guns.This is were a minor naval power can have problems. They did good to seek the help of a more experienced naval power in such matters, but a more experienced naval power will likely not be very forth coming in providing help in usually highly classified technologies.

The Dutch Navy did show a keen interest in the development of radar, however. Moreover, Philips Electronics was one of the world leading private firms in then state of the art electronic componants. Philips supplied magnetrons and other vacuum tubes to GEMA during the early development of Seetakt. A Philips developed air warning and Search Light control radar was demonstrated to the Dutch Navy only weeks before the Nazi invasion. An earlier test in sea survielence mode had failed because of sea clutter, but the Philips radar did prove effective at tracking indvidual aircraft. The Philips radar operated on 70cm wavelength and was powered by a Philips magnetron. Two of the scientists and the admiral overseeing the project escaped to England with a complete set and were absorbed into the British effort. After the war the Dutch and Philips were eventually angered by the fact the British claimed so much credit for the development of modern radar without thanking the Dutch for their help. The Dutch can make a good case here.
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Re: The Dutch Navy's Challenge

Post by MVictorP » Mon Nov 21, 2011 12:04 am

Thanks for that fine answer, Mr Saxton.
Dave Saxton wrote:The problem with these type of scenarios is that we benifit from hind sight that the original planners did not have. It's easy to say that some one should have built carriers or developed radar quicker and so forth, but that in many cases is not realistic considering the historical circumstances.


I decided that, for the sake of this scenario, I would allow retrospection. That's the fun of these projects. However, I expect the designer to realize that the ennemy will certainly adapt - retrospection, but not vaccuum. In this case, Netherlands' europeean commitment, as light as it is, must also be respected. After all, the real question this thead asks is "Would the Dutch navy be able to stop, or at least delay the Japanese cruiser invasion force", and if yes, with what.
If we take this back to 1919 then we must preclude expensive carrier aviation or early development of advanced technolgies for the Dutch Navy. It's difficult to arrive at an altarnative to the cruiser course they did take historically. One thing they could have used, well everybody could have used, are modern fleet destroyers. Destroyers are always handy in just about surface action role, as well as well known defensive missions. One asset the Dutch had in the Pacific was bases and fuel reserves. They don't really need to preclude destroyers because of typical range limitations. The Dutch also don't need to pay much attention to what their European neighbors are doing. As the 20's took its course it became obvious that local sea lanes such the those close by in the North Sea could be controlled by land based air power in the near future. The Dutch can concentrate on their naval interests in the far east instead.

Some things that's very important are making the warships they can build as effective as possible. This is were such things as having state of the art; firecontrol, gunnery, and other weapons systems really matter. This is more important than armour tonnage, protection schemes, maximun speed, and size and numbers of guns.This is were a minor naval power can have problems. They did good to seek the help of a more experienced naval power in such matters, but a more experienced naval power will likely not be very forth coming in providing help in usually highly classified technologies.
So I take it you would propose a destroyer fleet, assembled around old coastal BBs? Would you go for big destroyers à la Fantasque or for a more economic design like the RN O-class (or for that matter, like the historical Dutch ones)? Would 28-30knts coastal destroyers suffice? Do you think the Tromps were a step in the right way in this regard? Would you rebuilt some of the coastal BBs? How about a ship like the Finnish Vainamoinen: How would such a design have worked at the Java Sea Battle?

Tech-wise, I heard that DeRuyter (the 1933 cruiser) had excellent fire control; The Tromps, a little less. The 40mm Bofors demonstrated flair, but the mounts were overly sophisticated and their placing, problematic. The Dutch lacked a reliable, medium range AA gun like a 76 or a 88mm, but I guess Bofors can see to that. What surprises me is, why being so up-to-date about AA and not developp a minimal aviation arm, shore-based, or maybe even a seaplane tender if definitely not a carrier?
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Re: The Dutch Navy's Challenge

Post by RF » Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:08 pm

I don't really see that the East Indies can be properly defended by the Dutch, even with allies, especially if the Japanese overrunn Malaya and Indo-China, as they did. Neither is it helped if the Germans overrun their homeland, as they did, which in fact is what encouraged the Japanese to covete the East Indies. They didn't expect the Dutch to put up a fight.

The Netherlands post Napoleonic Wars never pretended to be a world power. It doesn't have the resources to have the large war machine necessary for a determined defence. I doubt for example, that the three proposed Design 1047 Dutch battlecruisers had they been built and put into service would have deterred the Japanese.

The only option on a long term basis is to plan a defence using a navy of small ships and submarines to exact as great as cost as possible on the aggressor. Landward that would need an Army trained in guerrilla warfare to tie down the Japanese until the Americans build up their strength and turn the tide against the Japanese.
To an extent Dutch naval forces, particulary submarines, were active throuhout the Pacific War period. Realistically they put up as good a performance as they could. Beefing them up pre-war wouldn't alter the overall tactical or strategic situation or the course of WW2. Neither on final victory in 1945 would it have improved the Dutch prospects of holding on to their regained colony, which in reality they very quickly realised they just couldn't hold.
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