Is Admiral Phillips finest hour about to begin

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Fatboy Coxy
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Is Admiral Phillips finest hour about to begin

Post by Fatboy Coxy » Tue Aug 07, 2018 5:12 pm

We all know what happened to Force Z (HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse) on 10th Dec 1941, but things could have gone very differently. Up until late evening of the 9th December, the weather in the South China Seas had been poor, with low cloud cover and frequent rainstorms, part of the monsoon season for that region.

What if….

At 14.15 on the 9th December the most easterly IJN submarine, I-65, of a screen sighted Force Z on course 340, speed 14 knots, and the Japanese acted accordingly. The IJN 7th Cruiser Squadron, of four 8-inch heavy cruisers, screening the Japanese invasion convoys, are put on a course likely to intercept, and are joined by the Light cruiser Sendai and the four destroyers of DesDiv 19. They are ordered to make contact and conduct a night torpedo attack. Admiral Kondo with the battleships Kongo and Haruna, heavy cruisers Atago and Takao, and destroyer screen, will hope to join them the next morning.

The other IJN ships are tasked with escorting the now empty transport ship back to Cam Rah Bay, hugging the Indo-China coast. The 22nd JIN Air Flotilla had already been out in force, and had returned back to base, exhausted, with a couple of losses due to flighting in such bad weather. They will not be able to be ready for another sortie until 4am

HMS Prince of Wales has a fully working radar, and Tenedos is retained as part of the destroyer screen. A RAAF Hudson sights the IJN cruiser sqn and is able to give a reasonable fix on location, speed, direction and force makeup.

However, the weather remains bad, rough seas making submarine sightings less likely, and the rainstorms hampering air observation, both sides are roughly aware each other but are groping in the dark, so to speak. Both sides are at a high level of alert.

At around 9pm, 9th December, the radar on POW picks up the IJN Cruiser force at 15 miles, just over 26,000 yards, both sides sailing west, on a slightly converging course. Mikuma is slightly ahead of POW

British sailing order is Express, POW (Flag), Repulse Tenedos, with Electra (north) and Vampire (south) 1000 yds off beam of POW.

IJN sailing order is Sendai, Kumano (Flag) Mikuma, Mogami, Suzuya, with Destroyers 1000 yds off beams (north and south) of Kumano and Mogami

Is Admiral Phillips finest hour about to begin...

Kev D
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Re: Is Admiral Phillips finest hour about to begin

Post by Kev D » Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:05 am

If that scenario took place then.........................with all due respect to the dead and families, and speaking selfishly, there probably would not have been a British battleship and a British battle cruiser to have been able to dive on in the South China Sea. :shock:

But............there are LOT of variables, and a night battle is an dire event, so only a reverse looking crystal ball could truly predict the outcome. :whistle:
We are off to look for trouble. I expect we shall find it.” Capt. Tennant. HMS Repulse. Dec. 8 1941

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Dave Saxton
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Re: Is Admiral Phillips finest hour about to begin

Post by Dave Saxton » Thu Aug 09, 2018 12:33 am

15 nautical miles is about 30,000 yards. POW's 273 picking up IJN cruisers at that range might be a stretch under normal conditions. That's not to say it could not have happened. Radar pickup range can vary quite a bit. Sometimes it could exceed expectations by quite a bit. Sometimes it could fail meet expectations by quite a bit. Then there are sometimes cases of abnormal propagation where a radar pickups a target several times the maximum range that it normally should, although that is more likely with a metric wavelength radar, and rather unlikely with a centimetric radar.

Then there are cases of a radar displaying phantom targets. In this case the echo is of a real object far away but it doesn't return to the receiver during its set of pulses, but is from a previous set of pulses. The echo gets displayed on the scope at much shorter range than it actually is. This is likely what happened when the USS Washington detected and then fired upon several radar pips displayed at 18,000 yards away, while operating east of Savo Island, during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. There were no enemy warships there at that range. This may of happened in the case of the Luetzow's Seetakt radar picking up a surfaced submarine at 15 km in 1940 (then again it may of happened just as reported).

The possibility of this phenomenon happening is determined by the pulse repetition frequency (PRF) of the radar. With a PRF of 2000, for example, the minimum range the target might be away and not register as a phantom target is only 75 km. With the PRF reduced by 1/2 it becomes 150 km, and with it further reduced to 500 PRF it becomes 300 km, which makes a phantom target registering on the scope nearly impossible.
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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