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Thread: Against all Odds: The British Empire in World War Two

  1. #5261
    Bravo, an excellent piece Trekchu. there is a sense of devastation in the re-telling of felix's return home.

  2. #5262
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Agent Larkin Thank you!

    Kurt_Steiner Not going to happen. The war will last long enough as is.

    Deathsheadx Thank you very much!
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    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Chapter 295




    After several days of battle the Japanese bulge in the western defences of Singapore Island had not been reduced,in fact it had grown when the Japanese, with a mixture of suicidal bravery and Banzai tactics funnelled ever more troops into the battle, crossing mostly at night. By the morning of the 25th they had close to two Divisions on land. British Artillery was now however at last succeeding in cutting the supply lines of the 10th and 14th Japanese Divisions who were now faced with a do or die mission to capture Singapore.

    The shell that had guarded the Island for so long was strong but proved to be thin and unit that had spent month after month defending static fortifications suddenly found themselves needed to fight the sort of conflict that was found farther east and farther west. That this also had entailed the loss of a goodly number of forward gun positions did not do anything to ease Browning's mind. In fact, if the Japanese were to advance much further the westernmost guns of Lion Battery would have to be blown, Lion One was the closest to the Japanese lines.

    The frantic defenders of the 8th Australian Division and the Singapore Division were hard pressed to contain the Japanese. Already one of the airfields had fallen and the other one was not large enough to accommodate everyone, which radically increased the turnaround times of everything that still flew, and that they were kept flying was vital as the Japanese kept sending medium-sized raids once or twice a day, all the while every functioning long-range wireless transmitter, even including the Radio Station that had been closed 'for the duration' was screaming for help towards Australia and India.


    What likely prevented the Japanese from breaking the thin line of foxholes north of the then-city limits was that Kuribayashi failed to comprehend that the Allied air assets on the Island were beyond the breaking point and that most of the Air Flotillas that he had counted upon to support him were being withdrawn to support the 42nd Army. Thus instead of the envisioned constant relay of Japanese bombers and Sino-Japanese fighters over the Island only one or two raids a day were flown, and that allowed the remnants of the Allied Fighter Force to fight back and at the same time rebuild as much as possible. However the Allies would not find out about this until much, much later, and for the moment the situation on the ground was falling apart fast.

    Tengah Aerodrome had not yet fallen but was closed as Japanese machine gunners kept firing salvos across the main runways. It was however heavily defended by No.42 Squadron, RAF Regiment, backed up by by a two-thirds strength Company who had become separated from the 8th Australian Division and it was here that the main assault would fall.



    Part of Red (Mortar) Section, B Flight, No.42 Squadron, RAF Regiment[1]



    Amidst burning Spitfires and Hurricanes the Commonwealth soldiers braved the storm by the best part of two Japanese Infantry brigades, aided by the buildings that greatly favoured the defence and the rain that hindered both sides equally.

    The first charge actually pushed clear across the westernmost runway but ran into an almost solid wall of fire, with the British using the tower of the airbase to direct mortar fire.

    For the next four hours most of the base degenerated into one confused battle, with small groups of Japanese soldiers trying to infiltrate the British positions between the burning base buildings and the British trying to stop them. Fierce and brutal hand to hand combat was the result and slowly, but surely, one strong-point after another the British were pushed out from the area between the hangars, but not before the tower was used to call for help before being given up.

    Following the fall of the tower the remaining defenders concentrated themselves around the base housing. As a block of concrete building that had been built shortly before the siege had started these were perfectly suited for defence as the Japanese only had those heavy weapons they could carry across in the boats and as long as the defenders had ammunition and water they would hold out.

    Seven Japanese charges were repelled by the defenders over the next hour, each from a different direction. They fired so much that that for each of the two surviving guns two men had to be detailed to do nothing but provide the seven pints of water in the jacket.


    Members of the 8th Division on an exercise, several days earlier[2]

    Fighting lasted for most of the day and night. Running short of ammunition the Flight Lieutenant who was the senior surviving Officer was contemplating a desperate breakout attempt when from the north-west a red flare was visible.

    Expecting Japanese reinforcements the defenders steeled themselves for yet another attack, but mortar fire started falling among the Japanese instead of sweeping the roof clean, soon followed by the unmistakable sound of engines and the tacking sound of more Vickers and Lewis Guns.

    It was the scratch Baker Force consisting of what remained of the Singapore Tank Brigade, supported by two Companies of Australian Infantry. Under this onslaught the Japanese fell back, chased by the jubilant British who had experienced the high-water mark. The RAF Regiment Officer, Flight Lieutenant Taggart was wounded four different times and lost two toes and a finger but was awarded the Victoria Cross for this action along with a liberal sprinkle of Military Crosses and other decorations.



    Australian Infantry watching the last Japanese holdouts near the Aerodrome[3]







    These fresh and well supplied forces swept across the field and pushed the Japanese After coming down the road from Arma Keng they had destroyed a Japanese probing attack without loss and were now driving straight into the deepest Japanese penetration. Air Vice Marshal Browning likened this to piercing the Ulcer and in effect this was what it was it broke the Japanese Division that was already nearing the breaking point anyway, running low on ammunition and having suffered grievous losses during their march into line after line after line of British and Australian Field fortifications that were more fitting for the Western Front of 1918 than Singapore in 1942.

    It was now that Browning allowed himself a sigh of relief because thanks to he ease with which Baker Force was driving into the teeth of the Japanese he was led to suspect that the remains of the Japanese on the Island itself were nearly spent and in fact while it would take another two days to root out the last Japanese the gravest danger to the Fortress was turned away.


    Just how desperate the situation overall was is best summed up by reading the message that Browning sent to India and Australia that night.

    'Last positions on the mainland lost under overwhelming Japanese assault. Landing on Island itself contained and heavily attacked. The Fortress is secure for the moment. Twenty percent of remaining Artillery ammunition either lost or expended. Small Arms ammunition at forty percent nominal stocks. Water for one month at emergency rations for troops and remaining civilians. Request urgent help. Browning, AOC Singapore Fortress District.'


    This did put Field Marshal Auckinleck into trouble as the next supply convoy for Singapore wasn't due to depart India for another two weeks and most of the freighters had not even reached the assembly point yet, and for all the lack of Japanese forces in the Indian Ocean Auckinleck had to assume that the waters were infested with Japanese submarines.

    In what he had to see as an incredible gamble he decided to send the convoy as it was with the next morning tide.

    Instead of twelve freighters only five were already loaded sufficiently to make them worth the risk sending and they were escorted by a French Cruiser who was to join the Allied Pacific Fleet at Darwin and six old British Destroyers, a weak escort but one tailored for the expected submarine threat in the Indian Ocean.

    It was this Convoy that saved Singapore. Going with by then standard British practice ammunition had been loaded first and these ships brought just what the Fortress needed, while the pouring rains of the next days helped alleviate the water situation.



    On the other side of the straits General Kuribayashi was not pleased at all. The Commonwealth Forces on the Island had proven themselves to be much more resilient and resourceful than imagined and his forces had been beaten by British Light Fortress troops. (Kuribayashi had not really grasped the idea of the RAF Regiment and had dismissed the presence of the same)

    He also knew that unless more troops were sent his way before the Allies moved into Siam in force (something that wasn't expected until after new year, considering that there were still strong if rapidly weakening forces in Burma) then this was the last throw of the dice. He had no illusions about the Army troops on Java to hold on for long that close to Australia and he knew that once the Island was gone the Allies would be able to use land-based aircraft to escort their convoys from Australia all the way.

    Never mind that behind his line the Partisan activity had almost doubled since he had attacked the fortress and his men were beginning to fear the men in the green berets[4] and the local militias more than the regular forces.

    The Chinese units that were supposed to be guarding his supply lines were worse than useless in counter-insurgency work and sometimes defected in troves to the Allies who loudly began to proclaim the existence of the Free Chinese Army.

    What's more, the 'Republic of China Air Force' was roaming all over Malaya in strength ever since he had attacked Singapore directly and he cursed himself for not thinking that the Allies might be more willing to risk their aircraft if this particular fortress was on the line.





    It was time to rethink what he wanted to do here beyond maintaining the siege. If against all expectations the Navy proved worth the steel wasted on it then things might yet play out in his favour.


    +-+-+-+-+-

    Comments, questions, rotten tomatoes

    It's amazing how many good pictures I found for this one...


    [1] Decent period pictures of the Regiment are surprisingly rare on the net...

    [2] If you count the MG3 and the MG42 as different guns then the Vickers is the longst-lived machine gun of all time. On the net I've read that the Royal Marines kept some of theirs in stock as late as the early 1980s, and I've also heard a lot of stories on how reliable it was. Kudos to Vickers for this fine piece of engineering.

    [3] This picture was really taken in 1945. Shows just how crap the Japanese Tanks and AT weapons were...

    [4] It's THEM of course.
    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
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  4. #5264
    Pantomacatalasecesionanis ta

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    As Corporal John Young, 12th MG Company, stated about the Vickers: "Often, in a pinch, when water was short we were forced to fil the barrel jacket with urine - it helped make the war a bit more personal".

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  5. #5265
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    You've got to love the ROC paint scheme for aircraft.

    Also considering there isn't any "Flying Tigers" in TTL (Unless there is a group of US ex-pats somewhere in China making life difficult for Japan) the ROC Air Force will really have to do well.

    And I know this is probably wrong but when I read "Green Berets" I instantly thought "What are the Royal Marines doing there?"

  6. #5266
    not a beta for HoI3 Moderator Derek Pullem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Larkin View Post
    You've got to love the ROC paint scheme for aircraft.

    Also considering there isn't any "Flying Tigers" in TTL (Unless there is a group of US ex-pats somewhere in China making life difficult for Japan) the ROC Air Force will really have to do well.

    And I know this is probably wrong but when I read "Green Berets" I instantly thought "What are the Royal Marines doing there?"
    Since that is a Spitfire Mk V (unless I'm very much mistaken) then the ROC is either supported by Empire pilots (ANZACs?) or emigre Americans
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Pullem View Post
    Since that is a Spitfire Mk V (unless I'm very much mistaken) then the ROC is either supported by Empire pilots (ANZACs?) or emigre Americans
    If it's emigre Americans I'm still hoping for TTL Flying Tigers.

  8. #5268
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Kurt_Steiner I did hear that annecdote too but didn't put it in because I couldn't verify it anywhere...

    Agent Larkin&Derek Pullem So far it's mostly Empire Pilots, Indian and ANZAC, but they plan to have trained enough actual Chinese pilots to man these two Squadrons by mid '43. As shown the morale of the Chinese Ground Forces on the Japanese side isn't that great and PoWs are already rather open to recruitment and as time goes on that will only increase.

    The model in question is a Vb, as it's closest to the alt-marque currently in most use.

    Agent Larkin ITTL Commando Green as such doesn't exist. Jungle Green is a lighter shade of Rifle Green and exclusively worn by the Special Air Service. SBS wears a colour close to what we'd call UN blue albeit somewhat darker and the Booties (RM) wear Navy Blue, as the Royal Marine Commando doesn't exist ITTL.
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  9. #5269
    Manners Makyth Man Demi Moderator Lord Strange's Avatar
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    The urine anecdote I am sure is true. Standard way of cooling/cleaning guns. Brits used to clean muskets using Urine...
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  10. #5270
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Strange View Post
    The urine anecdote I am sure is true. Standard way of cooling/cleaning guns. Brits used to clean muskets using Urine...
    I was aware of the gun cleaning, but wasn't sure about coolant.
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    Pantomacatalasecesionanis ta

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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    Kurt_Steiner I did hear that annecdote too but didn't put it in because I couldn't verify it anywhere...
    Goldsmith, D.L. (1994). Grand Old Lady of No Man's Land, The: Vickers Machine Gun. Cobourg, Ontario, Canada: Collector Grade Publications. (If Amazon is right about the price of that book, f*** me).

    Urine was used in both world wars, methinks.
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  12. #5272
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    You know I believe that the Vickers is one of those things that can't really be replaced. They say the only replacement for a Blackburn Buccaneer is another Buccaneer and it's similar with the Vickers....
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    Pantomacatalasecesionanis ta

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    That happens to me with the Vickers, the Vulcan, the Centurion and the Bren.
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  14. #5274
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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    I was aware of the gun cleaning, but wasn't sure about coolant.
    in a pinch you use what's handy. i actually put out a small fire on a job site once that way.

  15. #5275
    Monarchist Griffin.Gen's Avatar
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    Seems that urine has lots of different uses on the battlefield...

    I really like the RoC markings on the Spitfire. Are you the one who made it or did you find it somewhere?

    Fan of the week 12/06/10, Thanks trekaddict!

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    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Griffin.Gen View Post
    Seems that urine has lots of different uses on the battlefield...

    I really like the RoC markings on the Spitfire. Are you the one who made it or did you find it somewhere?
    Over on the What-if Modellers Forum there was someone who made this and a few others for me on request. He has since gone on hiatus but it's full of good stuff.
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    Chapter 296



    When during the first week of fighting the Japanese had fallen back readily when they had been overwhelmed by superior Allied Firepower as the Allies were edging ever closer to the coveted Island Capital resistance stiffened. Japanese Engineers and forced conscript labour had been busy while the frontline forces were fighting the enemy and now every road junction, every ford and every bridge, path and road westward that the Japanese knew about and some that ran north-south was defended by field fortifications that became more extensive and intricate the closer one got to Batavia.

    Correspondingly the Allied rate of advance slowed almost to a crawl as line after line of log bunkers reinforced with everything from actual concrete to earth-filled oil drums that proved to be invulnerable to anything but the heaviest machine guns in the Allied arsenal. In a first experience of what would be their daily bread in the future the Canadian Marines more often than not were forced to use PIATs or satchel charges to remove the Japanese from their positions when no flame thrower, mounted or otherwise was available.

    Slowly but surely however superior Allied firepower told and the Japanese were pushed back in spite of stubborn resistance.

    By now the Allies had covered about a third of the way towards the Western Coast of Java and in the light of the desperate news from Singapore where the Garrisson was under siege and would eventually run out of everything Admiral Cunningham became increasingly impatient. An end-run was suggested to get around the threatened stalemate but this was quickly discarded as there were not enough forces to spare to do it and in any case the preparations for it would take too long. The Fleet could also not be counted upon forever as sketchy SIGINT reports indicated that there was fleet movement in the north and frankly if the Japanese Navy was coming south there was only one place for them to go. Resources needed to be husbanded as the Carriers also shared the task of keeping the Japanese Air Forces in the theatre from interfering with the campaign.


    The Air Forces were already doing their utmost to isolate the Japanese front and so as things where there was nothing to do but slam into the Japanese lines until they gave way.



    In his Darwin Headquarters Cunningham considered all this as he poured over a detailed map of Java and pondered the situation when Colonel Bratton, his Chief of Communications. A short, stocky man with rapidly receding red hair the New Zealander and his cryptology team had proven themselves as important out here as whatever ULTRA actually was for the European theatre.


    “The latest JMN-2[1] Intercepts, Admiral.”


    Cunningham looked up from what he had been studiyng and looked at Bratton. With the look on the Colonel's face it was clear to him that it had to be something good.

    “Anything special, Colonel?”

    “For one we confirmed that Yamamoto is dead, the Japanese are doing a state funeral for him as we speak, and secondly we have...not confirmed but some more indications that Yamato is part of the Task Force the Nips are sending south, Sir.”

    That made Cunningham look up. The Japanese super-Dreadnought was the stuff of legends in his command and the most ridiculous rumours ran around about the ship. Unfortunately intelligence about the Yamato was scarce at best, while she was the pride of the Japanese Navy the Allies were not even sure about what calibre of guns she carried. Most believed it had to be 16 or 17 inches while some even suggested that 18 was closer to the mark.

    Cunningham was a Carrier Admiral to the core though and for him the Yamato was just another target. However if Yamato really was part of what had to be the Japanese relief effort and ran into Doorman's ships then his own gunline was in danger. Partially because it would endanger his heaviest Naval Guns for shore support and because it might also incite the Japanese to send more of their fleet south. While the Allies had near parity in Carriers by now Cunningham wanted to forestall the big clash until the two Carriers currently under construction in Europe arrived.

    He nodded and turned to Bratton. “Any inkling on when they will arrive down here?”

    “Well, the latest decoded intercepts,” he handed the Admiral several pieces of paper, “that we have place them off Okinawa two days ago, so by now they should be clearing Formosa. They are escorting some transports...”

    “So most likely it's still another week or so before they reach the East Indies.” Cunningham nodded again.

    “Thank you, Colonel Bratton. Get back to me as soon as you get anything more, however unconfirmed and vague.”


    “Yes, Sir.”

    The New Zealander saluted and left the Office while Cunningham picked up the phone on his desk.


    “Get me General Abercromby[2], Air Vice Marshal Cole,[3] and Colonel Dunston.[4] Oh and make a big one.”

    That told the secretary that the Admiral desired that at least a gallon worth of his favourite Darjeeling Tea, scarce as it was, had to be in the works by the time these Officers arrived.


    ~**---**~



    By the time the group was assembled in the expansive Office Cunningham was sipping his second cup of Tea and had formed an idea as to what he wanted to say.

    “Gentlemen, as you probably know by now the sons of the Sun are sending a strong reinforcement convoy and recent intelligence is telling us that the Dreadnought Yamato is part of the Surface Escort.”

    That excited some comment from the other Officers but they quietened down almost immediately.

    “What about their Carriers, Sir?” Cole asked.

    “Not that we are aware of. The Americans are doing a good job at diverting their attentions. Rumour has it that they will attack Midway Island by mid-November and as you know we suspect that the Japanese are aware of that.”

    He shook his head and then sipped at his cup.

    “Now, we can expect for certain that the Japanese will support that move with an effort by their Land-based Air Forces.” Cole said and rose to his feet. He walked over to northern wall of the Office that in it's entirety was taken up by a map of the Command Area of PacCom.[5]


    “They have at least two Air Flotillas on Sumatra and Borneo, mostly equipped with Nells and Betties. They could easily support the Japanese line, even more so if they take the western route, and we won't be sure about that until after they've made an appearance.”


    Cunningham set his cup down.

    “What I want from you Gentlemen is to prepare an appropriate battleplan. I want to avoid a gun engagement if possible and for that we need to attack that convoy or whatever it is from the air and sea as soon as possible. Thomas, what Submarines do we have in that area?”

    Abercromby pinched the bridge of his nose for a second as he thought.

    “Not much, Sir. Most of our subs are in port for refit. We have the Taurus on picket duty north of Sumatra and they are only a few days out of base, and the two Dutch Submarines on the way could be diverted to cover the area east of Borneo.”


    That was awfully thin but Abercromby was right. Most of the Allies Submarines were currently at anchor or heading back towards their bases. Allied Submarine strength wasn't as great in the Pacific as Cunningham would have liked to begin with, two thirds of the British Submarine Force was in Europe, backing up the skeletonized Surface Fleets there.

    “Get more of our boats out there as fast as you can, General.”


    “Aye, aye Sir.” Abercromby replied.

    “Now Air Vice Marshal,” Cunningham went on, “I hate to divert attack aircraft from Java but we might just need those Beaus on torpedo duty.”



    And right there was the biggest hindrance of Allied Air Power in the Pacific. The Spitfires were outpacing everything the Japanese had and Allied pilots were by now highly experienced in the tactics needed to defeat superior maneouverability, but they were awfully short ranged for the distances at which this theatre was fought. The Australians were very, very interested in Avro Canada's Mustang and if this aircraft was what the company promised it just might turn the Air War into the Allies' favour.

    For the moment however one fought with what was available.

    “In any case, the Carriers will have to preserve their aircraft and ammunition. As from this moment they are to cease support operations for the Land Forces and instead patrol north of Java. I want Doorman to keep supporting the advance where he can for now, but he is to stay within easy combat range of the Carriers so that they can cover him as needed.”

    Cunningham looked around the room and then dismissed them after no more questions were forthcoming.




    +-+-+-+-+-

    Comments, questions, rotten Tomatoes?

    [1] Also known as JN-25. Here it means: 'Japanese, Military, Naval' and the 2 denotes that it is the second code broken by this far-eastern Bletchley Park.

    [2] Cunningham's Chief of Staff. British Army

    [3] AOC Allied Air Forces Pacific. Royal Australian Air Force.

    [4] Australian Government liaison to Cunningham's Headquarters. Australian Army.

    [5] Said map can now be gazed at in the Australian War Museum.
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  18. #5278
    Trek

    Great, an update, although things look like their going to be bloody tight. Hopefully intel is right and the Americans are going to keep the Jap carriers up north. If so, then the problems of co-operation between land and naval based air could help us, especially with the 'good' relations traditional between the Japanese army and navy. Working on the assumption here that the air forces on Borneo and Sumatra are from their army.

    One question, in terms of will the priority target be the Japanese fleet or the transporters their bringing with them? An argument for ignoring the battlefleet, if you can avoid combat with it and bashing hell out of the reinforcements their coming. The Japanese can do some shore bombardment but probably not for long and stopping a load more troops and supplies arriving could be important in clearing Java. [That is assuming their heading there. Extra troops to support an attack on a weakened Singapore could be very nasty.]

    If the fleet is reliant on Seafires for fighter cover then they will have problems, both in terms of range and because they weren't really tough enough for carrier use, but then the FAA will be aware of that by now. Hopefully they have something of similar quality but rugged enough for repeated landings.

    Anyway, going to be interesting.

    Steve

  19. #5279
    Major
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    How to wake your neighbours in the morning.

    Step 1. See this AAR is updated.
    Step 2. Read through till you see the jaw-droopingly beautiful Beaufighter.
    Step 3. Yell yes because those planes are your favourite.
    Step 4. Cue neighbours knocking on your wall.

    Anyway great update trekaddict. The situation in the Far East sounds good. Also please tell me we are going to see the Yamato sunk by a Beau. It would make my week,

  20. #5280
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    stevep Well, the Japanese are for the moment relying on their Land-based Aircraft to help keep the Allied Carriers at bay. The Army very reluctantly is working together with their Navy, but that functions nowhere near as good as, say, in Australia.

    The Japanese Fleet is the priority target. Cunningham figures that unescorted transports are no threat either because they can't fight or because if they run they can't deliver their troops and the idea is anyway to send Doorman's force in to finish them off. I will say no more on where they are heading though.

    The Fleet is unfortunately still reliant on Seafires unfortunately even though Hawker is working double shifts on getting the Sea Fury ready. When the big clash comes in the future (not saying exactly when, but let's just say 1944 won't just see the Queen's 18th Birthday and coronation ) the Seafire will for the most part have been replaced by the Sea Fury.

    For the moment however the FAA is flying the Seafire Mk.III which is the OTL F Mk XVII minus the Griffon engine with the conventional Canopy and not quite as much range.

    Suffice it to say the iconic FAA fighter of the war will be the Sea Fury.


    Agent Larkin Hehehe.

    I'm more partial to the Mosquito, but what with the lamination difficulties and the fact that the Aussies needed planes yesterday when the war broke out in the Far East Beauforts and Beaufighters make more sense.
    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
    "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." - Carl Schurz
    Against all Odds: The British Empire in World War Two (ongoing) Last updated 09/22/14 Index - Index 2 - Index 3 - Knowledgebase -
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