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

  1. #5661
    Pantomacatalasecesionanis ta

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    As far as I can tell, the Nambusword wasn't meant to be use as both a sword and a gun. If you look closely you'll see that the trigger has been removed. I suppose it's some kind of "artistic" work or a particular demand by some "would-be" samurai.
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  2. #5662
    Trekaddict

    Good update and good to know that someone [of the good guys] know that Ian and mates are coming. With some decent equipment, if quickly distributed, it could be that the Japanese force will disappear into the jungle and never be heard of again. I'm also wondering if Takahashi could well have a significant role in their downfall.

    I think a good reason for the general not to give the force any armoured cars, apart from any fuel shortages, would be that I suspect they would be highly unsuitable. Expect that much of the activity would be off-road and probably deep in the jungle so they would probably be an impediment.

    Can't remember how the Philippines end up post war in TTL but if they come under the communist yoke I suspect they will also face some unrest.

    Sorry to hear about the Glorious, as with any old warrior, especially for the RN. Hope she lives up to her name.

    Steve

  3. #5663
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Alas, I can't reveal too much here, or I couldn't write anything with even a little suspense.

    Also, update time!
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  4. #5664
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    Chapter 318




    The old Wellington that the Royal Aircraft Establishment had rebuilt to be a testbed for advanced aerial weapons was, like her four sister flying a mile each behind the next one, even better now in performance than when it had come out of the factory in 1939. The engines were the most powerful engines the mountings and the airframes could take, the wings had been extended for better altitude performance and by removing all the gunners the aircraft had greatly increased payload even when one accounted for the various scientific instruments fitted.



    The Weapon they carried now was the culmination of more than two years of work and they were the first to test-drop it on a target similar to the ones it was intended against.



    That HMS Glorious was being expended as a target in a war where every carrier deck was worth it's weight in gold was due to a number of factors.[1] First and foremost was that even as a pure fighter Carrier her utility had come to an end now that considerable strategic depth and the airbases of three different countries had become available to the Allies. German and Soviet Naval aviation rarely ventured far from the French coast and her remaining sister were, when loaded with Swordfish ASW aircraft, more than able to escort the convoys.

    The second factor, and probably the most important one was that three months ago when on the run back from Gibraltar she had hit a mine, either left over from the Spanish Civil war where the Germans had supplied a small number of sea mines to the Nationalists or one of the periodically laid free floaters that the Soviets had originally developed to disrupt supply movements in the sea of Japan.

    Damage had been severe, mostly to her steering gear in a way that reminded many of the damage HMS Warspite had suffered at Jutland. Hull integrity had eventually been restored but without being able to steer she had to be towed back to Britain and in the end it had been discovered that the mine had also done heavy damage to part of her fuel-handling system. With another Implacable Class coming off the slips in a month and the decreasing threat posed by the Axis U-Boat Fleets it had been decided that repairing her would not be worth the effort it would take, let alone the time she would block a dry-dock for other, newer and more capable ships.

    The problem of what to do with her had been solved quickly and she had been stricken from the list with surprising speed. She then been towed to this spot off the Shetlands that was suitably remote and also near an RAF base where the RAE tested various new weapons.



    Mk.VI Guided Weapon before being painted with RAF markings[2]




    The five Wellingtons carried the first five hand-built prototypes for the new weapon. Early on Barnes Wallis had decided that in the Pacific getting close enough was dangerous to say the least, especially if one flew lumbering tactical aircraft like the Wellington. As it had been while they had tested the bouncing bombs for Operation Chastise[3] he was on board the first Wellington personally.

    In fact he was poised over the cathode ray tube that had been borrowed from Bomber Command's H2S system that connected to the camera in the weapon itself while a second observer had his eyes on the surface-search RDF set in the nose of the bomber.


    “Target is within range.” the RDF operator announced.

    HMS Glorious was moored three miles out from the nearest Islands so she stood out clearly from the background clutter of the land under the bombers and when Wallis pressed the release button the singular Mk.VI under the belly dropped clear. The rocket motor ignited and the cheap, small and under-powered RDF set began to operate. That they launched from this close in was due to guidance.


    But the Mk.VI flew only for seconds before her internal gyro failed and sent the weapon into a tailspin down towards the ground. Wallis silently cursed and hoped that the next one would have more luck.

    The next Wellington did indeed get a clean separation and the Weapon flew reliably and on a steady and shallow ballistic arc. The RDF guidance system acquired the distinct shape of Glorious at her buoy. The weapon twice adjusted it's flightpath.

    Had there been a camera installed or had the weapon been a living thing it would have noticed how fast Glorious drew nearer but since it wasn't it aimed at the forward section and slammed into the side of the old, worn carrier a few yards from the Island.

    It detonated as designed but since the ship had been emptied of all combustibles were possible and was stationary damage was less than what would have been to a ship at sea.

    This was when things started to go seriously wrong. The next weapon merely clipped it's wings on the bridge windows and careened into the sea, the following one plain missed and flew on out to sea where it would eventually find its way to the bottom of the ocean.


    Bombs No.3 and No.4 worked more or less, one hitting Glorious' side and actually penetrating into the Hangar before detonating and the other being on course until the guidance system on this one failed too and it flew on until hitting the water. Glorious remained afloat and at anchor and as Wallis stood at the shore and stared at the form of the Carrier through a pair of binoculars.


    He placed them down and turned on his heels. Nearby and leaning on the car was Wing Commander Stockton, formerly of RAF Coastal Command. The Wing Commander was a tall man with black hair and good looks that were only marred by a scar running across his right cheek and the patch over where one of his eyes had been. This had taken him away from his beloved Beauforts in the Med, but after his convalescence he had found himself promoted and sent here to the Seaforth Test Range, then, in June last year, hardly more than a collection of four huts and a workshop. Before then there simply had not been the resources to seriously expand this old abandoned weather station to anything more.

    “We were extremely lucky with the weather today, Wing Commander.” Wallis said.

    Stockton glanced upwards where dark clouds were gathering already. “True enough,” Stockton said and looked back at Wallis. “I'd wager it will start to rain again within an hour at most.” He stepped away from the car and trained his own binoculars at the Carrier in the distance. “So, what do you reckon?”

    Wallis shrugged. “As I told the MoD. The guidance system is still a bloody shambles. If they hadn't insisted on doing the test today and instead postponed it for two more months we would have gotten more than one hit, and that one was luck.”

    Stockton grimaced and said: “You are aware that I recommended against postponing, are you, Mr. Wallis?” Stockton then looked at the distant shape of Glorious again. “Though I must admit that it would probably have been better to wait as you suggested.”


    'Not probably you bloody beancounter.' Wallis thought though he said instead: “No worries, at least now they will give my little group of boffins the time to make this thing work. I want to have another look at the steering mechanism and the aerodynamics anyway.”


    Stockton didn't notice how forced the cheerfulness in Wallis' voice was, nor did he seem to care that the few scientists permanently stationed here hated his guts for while he was, or rather had been a good pilot in his day but now he was a beancounter of the worst sort, he had even once questioned the need for a second set of cups in the commissary when the local population had tripled or complained that the boffins were using too much stationary for research notes. He had lately claimed that postponing the test for two months would cost too much in the way of money to maintain the over-establishment personnel on station.


    Rushing the test had been cheaper in terms of production but dear god if he'd had more time to work on the guidance system... Some ground-level tests to see if they were at least theoretically working had all they'd been allowed.

    He mentally shrugged. He had only been here to supervise the assembly of the prototypes from components that had been flown in and conduct the tests. The main work would be done by others anyway, his own attentions were focused on the Victory Bomber, this whole three-week jaunt had only been to camouflage what he was really working on. If he was to be honest, the times when one person alone could design an entire aircraft were going to be over sooner rather than later, but here the security implications that even he wasn't fully aware of prevented any team effort.


    Wallis had long since given up on trying to find out just what sort of weapon the enormous bomb bay was to take eventually, a visit from a member of the 'Home Office' and the Ministry of Defence in the dead of night had seen to that. They had assured him that it was vital for the security of the realm and that was that.


    “Well, get it done then, Mr. Wallis.”

    Stockton turned around and marched off towards the nearby observation hut where a good hot cup of tea could always be had, even if it was the dreary wartime slop, and Wallis stared at his back.

    He shook his head and threw a mock salute before getting into the car. The road back up to the huts that served as the camp was luckily covered with gravel because before he had covered three yards the heavens opened up as if there was too much rain for the clouds to hold in. They had indeed been lucky.


    HMS Glorious shortly before the mine hit


    +-+-+-+-+-

    Comments, questions, rotten Tomatoes?

    [1] In fact except for Ark Royal the pre-war CVs left harbour maybe three or four times in the game between the Italian surrender and the end of the war. As it turned out the Ark was more than enough to hold everything down.

    [2] I fear it's not just rule of cool, but also precedent from OTL. Look at any picture of an in-service Blue Steel, I also seem to remember seeing a picture of a Fireflash AAM with RAF roundels.

    [3] Which happened but wasn't directly shown in this AAR as I could never do the Dambusters justice.
    Last edited by trekaddict; 24-09-2011 at 10:30.
    "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
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  5. #5665
    Pantomacatalasecesionanis ta

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    I'm wondering about the fate of the HMS Furious (I'm particular keen on that old lady).
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  6. #5666
    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt_Steiner View Post
    I'm wondering about the fate of the HMS Furious (I'm particular keen on that old lady).
    Given that Furious is a bit older and a less capable design if she's still in service she would probably be a high likelihood for the next test, especially with new carriers entering service.

    Steve

    PS - While the test failed there seems to be some inconsistency in the text. Refers to 3 & 4 when I think it should be missiles 5 & 6? Also Wallis refers to only one hit while #2 and #5 [called 3 in text] seem to have been solid hits.

    Unfortunately that sort of bean-counting is still all too prevalent a [false] measure of 'efficiency'.

  7. #5667
    Pantomacatalasecesionanis ta

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevep View Post
    Given that Furious is a bit older and a less capable design if she's still in service she would probably be a high likelihood for the next test, especially with new carriers entering service.
    That's what I guess... So, the British are going to have their own Hs 293...
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  8. #5668
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Kurt_Steiner In-story she's doing convoy escort, having landed her Seafires for ASW-Swordfishes.

    stevep The Americans would do it that way, but Britain still needs the older decks for the convoys, as there are only a handful of CVLs.

    As for the error in numbering, that's what you get for writing one half in the evening, the rest in the morning. It's supposed to be read as if the missing ones were clean misses.

    Kurt_Steiner Not quite yet. Think of field testing in the second half of 1944.
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  9. #5669
    Manners Makyth Man Demi Moderator Lord Strange's Avatar
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    Hmph. Necessary but... attacking a ship of the Royal Navy!

    Still if it allows us to wipe the Japanese Navy from the sea, then maybe its worth it.
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  10. #5670
    Major Ciryandor's Avatar
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    Any more Philippine-based updates, you can certainly run those by me.
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  11. #5671
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Lord Strange Glorious was/is in effect a Constructive Total Loss, and it's for the good of the Service and the Realm.

    Ciryandor I might take you up on that. I intend to base a major plotline (Smith and his friends) on the Islands. To assuage your fears: the Republic will become a staunch British Ally after the war.


    EDIT: Why the Philippines you ask? Well, I believe that there are too few Warfilms set in the Pacific and the French resistance has been done to death and back. Three times.
    Last edited by trekaddict; 25-09-2011 at 14:49.
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  12. #5672
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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    there are too few Warfilms set in the Pacific
    Not in the cheap video rental stores around here there aren't! More stars and stripes than a midnight zebra party.
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  13. #5673
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    I can only speak of what makes it's way over the pond I'm afraid. I'd wager most people were only vaguly aware of the Pacific Theatre until Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima.
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  14. #5674
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    I must admit I would have most people involved in that test sacked, damned if I can see what benefit there was to a live fire exercise at this stage. Or indeed at all truth be told.

    An exercise with a dummy warhead I could see the advantages to, it allows you to test the guidance system against an actual live target. But what's the advantage of actually detonating explosives, you know they are going to work so why use them? If nothing else a dummy warhead means you do less damage to Glorious (apart from a few entry holes) so you can keep using her again and again.

    So a double shame, Glorious is expended in a weapons test that doesn't work and wasn't even needed. I'm think that's even a worse fate than what I do with a carrier in her state - use her as a decoy in the dockyards to distract bombers from real targets.
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  15. #5675
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Well Wallis was pretty much forced into this test. As stated he repeatedly told the MoD that the weapon wasn't ready for a live fire exercise (mostly due to the guidance system) but he was over-ruled and the 'fully functional test weapons' were ordered. He didn't have much of a choice if he wanted to keep the funding flowing.

    Now that some persons (looking at you, Winston) have been suitably humbled in this regard future tests will use fewer weapons and dummy warheads.
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  16. #5676
    El Pip

    I would agree that some people need sacking for pushing the test forward before people are ready but, as trekaddict points out the main culprits are highly unlikely to be sacked. Someone lower down the food chain would carry the can if it wasn't such a secret process that it prevents any serious review.

    However I disagree about the need for live fire tests. Some tests with dummy warheads would be useful, if only because you could do it a bit cheaper and more safely and can also reuse targets. However you will want at least a couple of live fire tests, if only to be certain you have the fusing and firing working correctly.

    Steve


    Quote Originally Posted by El Pip View Post
    I must admit I would have most people involved in that test sacked, damned if I can see what benefit there was to a live fire exercise at this stage. Or indeed at all truth be told.

    An exercise with a dummy warhead I could see the advantages to, it allows you to test the guidance system against an actual live target. But what's the advantage of actually detonating explosives, you know they are going to work so why use them? If nothing else a dummy warhead means you do less damage to Glorious (apart from a few entry holes) so you can keep using her again and again.

    So a double shame, Glorious is expended in a weapons test that doesn't work and wasn't even needed. I'm think that's even a worse fate than what I do with a carrier in her state - use her as a decoy in the dockyards to distract bombers from real targets.

  17. #5677
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    stevep,

    While I can see the value of testing the fusing and firing systems, you can do that on a conventional range and I can't see the need to wasting a rare live target on a fairly mechanical test, there's nothing complex in fusing systems. There's also the issue of recovery to consider, you can't recover failures from a live fire test due to the misses being in the sea/inside a sinking aircraft carrier. On a range you can recover them and find out why they went wrong, and it is from the failures that you learn most.

    In short you should be able to get all the systems ready to go on separate tests/ranges to the point where you'd only do a live fire test for confirmation, at which point why not use a live enemy target?

    As for sackings, the higher ups may have made the bad decision but someone was giving them dodgy advice (like the bean-counting Colonel) so even if the men at the top escape at least the bad advisers should go.
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  18. #5678
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    That is actually what I meant with the guidance system being a bloody shambles. They knew it was likely going to fail, they had barely time to solder it together. If Wallis had had his way in the "two months" they would have made tests with dud. But someone higher up the chain, either in the MoD or in No.10 itself rushed things just that much too fast.

    Glorious took only minor damage. Her hull is still waterproof and barring any epicly large storms she will remain that for some time to come.

    It's all part of my new "We are all fallible human beings" drive.
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  19. #5679
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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    Ciryandor I might take you up on that. I intend to base a major plotline (Smith and his friends) on the Islands. To assuage your fears: the Republic will become a staunch British Ally after the war.

    EDIT: Why the Philippines you ask? Well, I believe that there are too few Warfilms set in the Pacific and the French resistance has been done to death and back. Three times.
    Well, some people would be surprised to actually know that Manila and its surrounding localities were held by the British during the Seven Years' War for around a year (1762-63), so it's not the first time a British presence has been in the country. Also, I would presume that A LOT of American exiles would be in-country after the Civil War, probably third to Canada and the UK, and maybe just a bit more than those on Puerto Rico/Cuba. The country was essentially a major provider of coconuts, hemp and other tropical products for industrial and consumer use during the 20s and 30s (like soap from coconut oil, hemp paper and rope AFAIR), and would have definitely built up a trade with the Empire in the absence of the US economy.

    Also, I AM very curious at what has happened to Mexico, now that they have a Communist border; if they then all the rest of the Central Americas would have greater Communist agitation.
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    The best bit in that game is this PM from OY to his packmates:

    OrangeYoshi: ... I'll also put in a preliminary hunt order to Hunt Oky's replacement. (THE_SPLIT if I'm not mistaken). He publicly asked for a sub, and that is slightly more common in Lite if you have some sort of important role.

    This is OY putting in a hunt order on Oky's replacement, who is none other than OY.

  20. #5680
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    Even if the Mexican Communists are weak, after the war a substantial amount of American resources will, I suspect, be used to support la révolution in their neighbours - at least, the ones without Imperial armies stationed in them.
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