Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by skunk works, Sep 30, 2007.
The best account of a sad episode.
The Destruction of Force Z - Morison
Another very interesting 'Force Z' website can be found here:
Welcome to the website of the Force Z Survivors Association
All in all, a horrible incident.
Wow... Indeed an Excellent source of extremely vivid and detailed information. I have Churchill volumes and remember all the quotes, "on that we rested", "the Circus moves on", and the one about how he slept on it while the ships sailed to their doom.
No first rate air power in an area that absolutely depended upon it, and only two of a predicted eight capitol ships (and escorts) to defend the region. I know not available, but then it begs the "why" so little (ships & escorts), with no air cover were deployed and on the attack.
This and other incidents stick in my mind since childhood. Portraying barbarity, tenacity, and total lack of compassion (ruthlessness) of an invader.
Pearl Harbor, Singapore, Nanking, Chungking, Tarawa, Wake, the be headings of Doolittle Raiders, Bataan Death March, and the Banzai Charges & Kamikaze's of the war.
A (in my opinion) "just" anger, combined with a well founded "fear", combining for a (quote from Yamamato) ..........Terrible Resolve.
1. First off Skunk, Great picture of Groucho. I am a big fan of both his movies and his pioneering TV Show.
The man was a true comic genious with his absolutely dead on and Pea your pants histerocally funny social commentary.
I think the great Carlos Mancia has the same talent for really funny social commentary. I would also venture that Groucho
was really no more "Racy" for his time than Carlos is for now. But I digress---))))
2. I'm late to this thread but have long wondered about the circumstances leading up to the tragic sinking of POW and Repulse.
Always seeemd very, very unlikely that after the RN's pioneering use of Carrier air against Italian BBs and Pearl Harbor
any sane Admiral would trust the survival of his only two capital ships to RAF "promises" of air cover, especially as far from
Sigapore as this SAU was steaming.
3. I just read a general article on BBs in WWII. A single sentence mentioned that the HACS AA FC system was inoperative on the BB and BC due to extreme humidity and that materially degraded this ships AA defene. I never heard this expressed before and was wondering if any of you folks with far greater knowledge of the end of POW and repulse would enlighten me.
A more general comment from me...I think Force Z's demise was due to the total western in this case British view of the oriental being of inferior means, methods and man to man not up to us old boy...Not withstanding of course the European and Mid East needs and priorities...Which is quite surprising since the Royal Navy were big in helping the formation and training of the Imperial Japanese navy between the wars. Sending a military mission to help them. The Royal Navy commanders of ww2 at the strategic level were not all they should have been. I cannot help but remember Tovey's comments on HMS Sheffield and other items during the hunt for Bismark. We were generally not served too well by our strategic commanders in all forces in the professional arms of the forces. Dead weight still had a say in strategy for far too long in my own very personal view.
"Tom Thumb" based his strategy on British naval experience in the war(to that time). The crux of that experience revolved around the fact that the British had yet to encounter long-ranged torpedo bombers that the Japanese used. IIRC, he also knew that there were no Japanese carriers in the vicinity only Japanese surface combatants. As such, while the possibility of air attack did exist, it was not considered probable, and if it did come, it would be in the form of level bombers - which would not pose much of a threat to the Prince of Wales & Repulse. Further, Taranto & Pearl Harbor were against anchored vessels, while the hit against Bismarck was a "lucky hit." and the "gun club"s of all naval powers were still not convinced of the supremacy of the airplane over the battleship.
Concerning what British radars were or were not operational(for whatever reasons) for Force Z, has been a matter of contention for some time. For a good overview, read through this thread over on another forum: Radars of Force Z - Naval History Forums
They cover the matter in far greater detail than I can.
TAKAO good info and thanks for the link to
"of these radars had broken down during the long trip to the Far East and were not functional by the time force Z sailed. Phillips had enlisted RAF radar techs at Singapore to help bring them back on line, but due to a shortage of spare parts and technical knowledge they were only partly successful. Apparently servicing the radars was beyond the capability of the ship's personal.
To a US Navy man (RD radarman later OS- Operations Specialist) with 26 years of more or less faithful service this is a truly damning paragraph. To install a key piece of gear, like a radar, aboard a fighting ship in wartime and then send that ship into battle
without trained ratings and spares is outright criminal.
Although it was common practice in the Soviet fleet, I hold the RN to a much higher standard.
It may seem obvious to us in retrospect, but back then radar was a new thing. Most RN capital ships only had it installed in 1941; Barham, sunk in November, never had any radar. Most ships had been fighting the war for two years without it. The idea that a capital ship, sent halfway around the world on an important mission, should decline to conduct that mission because an electronic gizmo wasn't working, was just, well, not on the radar.
Was the Indomitable carrier that was initially destined to provide cover with force z so equipped? If it was and it had been available as planned to be despatched to pacific with the ships would it have been equipped with radar at that time? I believe the other problem the RN had with anti aircraft was a strategic rejection of Tachymetric gun control systems that Japanes and USA had at that time...I'm reading this from a Deighton book but cannot see his source for this. Is he correct?
As a brand new ship, Indomitable would presumably have the latest radar outift. For that matter, Prince of Wales was well equipped, with air warning (what we Yanks call air search) radar and gunnery control sets on both HACS and pom-pom directors. As noted above, the problem was serviceability, due to the Far Eastern climate and the lack of access to expert maintenance personnel. It was a new technology; radar users around the world were still identifying the 'bugs' and developing the infrastructure to support it.
The HACS became a tachymetric system with the addition of the Gyro Rate Unit starting in 1940, so it may have been more that the technology had not been developed by the RN to the point of being ready for installation in HM warships than that it was deliberately withheld. There may have been a degree of over-confidence in the HACS in the early 1930s, but the RN was not unaware of the need for AA defence. They introduced the Fuse Keeping Clock in the Tribal class to give destroyers AA gunfire control (up to the 40 degree elevation of their guns) and developed pom-pom directors for larger ships. Both of these also received GRUs as well as radar.