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Prince of Wales and Repulse survive

Discussion in 'What If - Pacific and CBI' started by MastahCheef117, Jul 25, 2009.

  1. MastahCheef117

    MastahCheef117 Member

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    Well, I was just inspired to right this as I was playing as the British in Hearts of Iron II. Knowing that Britain's existence in the Pacific (although visible) was somewhat weak compared to the United State's and Australia's holdings.

    Well, on December 10, an air fleet of G3M Nells and G4M Bettys attacked "Force Z", containing four naval destroyers, the new HMS Prince of Wales battleship, and the older WWI-era HMS Repulse. The Japanese attacked the group and within just over an hour both capital ships were sunk with minimal losses to the Japanese attack group.

    This thread ask's the question: what if this didn't happen? What if the Prince of Wales and Repulse survived, or otherwise never came under attack at all by the Japanese?

    They had left Singapore on December 8 to help the defenses in Malaya to hold off the Japanese landings. They had come so close- but were sunk. Because of this, the Allies only had 3 operational capital ships (battleships, battlecruisers) remaining in the Pacific Ocean against a massive naval power.

    Say that they weren't sent to Malaya in the first place. Therefore the attack never commences on Force Z. Malaya falls, but without any more casualties for the British. What would happen next?
     
  2. Kruska

    Kruska Member

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    03. May 1942,

    U 007 communicates....AB 6634 / 73°02'N - 19°46'O ...all torpedoes gone.....two British ...... burning and sink.....ident...HMS Prin.. of Wales.....ident...HMS Repul.....Wolfsrudel EISTEUFEL ....heading home.....

    Kapitänleutnant Hans Fritz's right hand moves around his throat..there is nothing to feel...but soon the Ritterkreuz will be.....

    Regards
    Kruska
     
    Chesehead121 likes this.
  3. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    (giggle) nice hit for a fictional U-boat on an old WW1 battlecruiser (Repulse), I wonder how the torpedoes of early 1942 in the Kriegsmarine arsenal would have fared against the more modern PoW?

    Since only two large (non-carrier) capital ships of the RN were sunk by U-boats, and both were WW1 vets, and the old Royal Oak (29,000 tons) was at anchor, I wonder if the fictional "Kapitänleutnant Hans Fritz" would soon find a Ritterkreuz hanging from his neck. Just out of curiosity how would he get his U-boat to the area?
     
  4. Kruska

    Kruska Member

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    Hello brndirt1,

    What if :D PoW and Repulse would have been convoy escort for PQ-15, where the Lufwaffe was also involved?

    As for the effectiveness of German torpedos; I can't remember the name, but around this time wasn't a British aircraft carrier "almost" sunk? the poor U-boot captain had already mistakenly reported it as sunk, so no RK upon return for him I guess.


    In regards to the Denmarkstraits; were 11 U-boots were to intercept British warships and laid in wait for PQ-17

    29. Juni 1942 U-251, U-376 und U-408 vom Wolfsrudel EISTEUFEL wurden im Laufe des Tages durch U-88, U-255, U-334, U-355, U-456, U-457 ,U-657 und U 703 verstärkt.


    Regards
    Kruska
     
  5. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    I don't know about the other points, but as to the torpedoes, I was thinking of this:

    A commission was set up in mid-April (1940) to investigate the case thoroughly. The commission came out with a comprehensive report in late July, which placed a considerable blame on the Torpedo Department. The TD, it was found, had supplied the boats with the new magnetic firing pistol with four-blade propellers before it had undergone the necessary trials. Consequently, the personnel of the Torpedo Experimental Institute responsible for that SNAFU were court-martialed and sentenced to prison terms.

    Although the negligence of the Institute had been established, it was not until February 1942 that the U-Bootwaffe got to the heart of the matter.

    …Later into the war, in an analysis of torpedo performance in the period January-June 1942 (
    Paukenschlag and the apex of U-boat activity in American waters - the richest single harvest of the whole war), it was estimated that only 40% of the ships had been sunk by a single torpedo during that period, while the rest had either required two or more, or had escaped after one or multiple hits. In light of the more than two million tons of shipping actually sunk (a third were tankers), it is easy to imagine what could have been the outcome had the U-boats been armed with the weapon they really needed. (and this against cargo not warships)

    …In December 1942, well into the war, a new, improved magnetic pistol was introduced which also functioned on contact. It proved very efficient. Until then, writes Dönitz; "the effectiveness of our torpedoes was no greater than it had been during the First World War"
    See:

    uboat.net - Articles

    As to
     
  6. Kruska

    Kruska Member

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    Hello brndirt1,

    Yes, that is known - as for the torpedos magnetic triggering issue. It is certainly the main reason that the U-boot's did not manage to cause the expected sinkings/damage to the convoys.

    However it doesn't out rule the sinking of a Battleship since (like your article shows) multiple torpedo shots still were effective. The chance for a single U-boot to tackle a Battleship would indeed have been very slim.

    But anyway, I believe that MC117's "What if" was hinting more towards South-East-Asia ;) - but how can I be sure :D

    Regards
    Kruska
     
  7. Totenkopf

    Totenkopf אוּרִיאֵל

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    If Chief is asking about what the situation in SE Asia would be I would say that it would be worse, for a while. Much like the Tirpitz in 43-44 simply reports of a battleships presence would cause convoys to scatter. I would imagine force Z simply being at Singapore would have had effects on the Japanese planners.
     
  8. JagdtigerI

    JagdtigerI Ace

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    Worse for whom? Japan I assume by reading the rest of your post, but it was a little confusing.
     
  9. Totenkopf

    Totenkopf אוּרִיאֵל

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    My mistake, I was getting at about what he said if force never went to the pacific at all. Japan would have a much less fearful time around Malaya and could have a more permanent effect on Naval supremacy and SE Asia.
     
  10. MastahCheef117

    MastahCheef117 Member

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    I never said that Force Z was ever in the Pacific. I was saying that they stayed in the Pacific, but never went to Malaya.
     
  11. Totenkopf

    Totenkopf אוּרִיאֵל

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    Where would they have been then?
     
  12. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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  13. JagdtigerI

    JagdtigerI Ace

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    Before this thread goes any further I would just like to state that it is quite silly.

    We are talking about 2 battleships. What would have happened? The already dominant and soon to be victorious (3 and 1/2 years soon enough) Allies would have gained a slightly greater advantage. What do you expect to happen...
     
  14. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    The position of Force Z in the Southwest Pacific was quite untenable in 1941-42. The British had to defend Malaya, or they would soon lose their Singapore naval base. In fact, the PoW and Repulse, would have had to either withdraw to theBritish naval base at Ceylon in the Indian Ocean, or attempt to stop the Japanese offensive in Malaya. The problem was that the British did not have enough air power to provide adequate air cover for Force Z in the face of the Japanese air power committed to the Malaya offensive.

    So the PoW and Repulse couldn't just stay at Singapore and hope for the best. They had to be actively committed along the Malayan coast or withdrawn. If they were active along the Malayan coast, or even if they stayed at their base in Singapore, the Japanese also had the opton of bringing in a carrier force to launch strikes against them and they would have had little chance of surviving these strikes with the limited air support the British could provide.

    So, either way, whether Force Z was sunk immediately, bottled up at their base, withdrawn to Ceylon, or sunk a few weeks later by the IJN, it would have made little difference; Singapore would still fall and the British would still be driven out of the Pacific.
     
  15. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Agreed, I wonder what the difference would have been if HMS Indomitable had been able to accompany Force Z as originally planned? Indomitable had sailed to the West Indies in November 1941 for her maiden, true shake-down voyage. Sadly for Force Z, Indomitable ran aground on a coral reef near Kingston Jamaica, and even though she rejoined the fleet in short order (two weeks?), she missed sailing to the far east with the Prince of Wale and the Repulse.

    Lacking in CAP, which would have been supplied by the relatively new carrier, the capital ships were sunk by Japanese. Whether or not the rather "low quality" of the planes carried by Indomitable would have altered the outcome or not is debatable I suppose. While the Fairey Fulmar and Sea Hurricanes she carried may have been technically inferior to the A6M Zeros, they may have beaten off the twin-engined 3GM "Nell" level attack bombers, and the same aircraft carrying torpedoes.

    But, then again perhaps if she had been in the group she too would have ended up on the bottom. I know Indomitable did survive the war, and was hit a few times, so she must have been a tough old girl. The aircraft she carried may have been inferior to the Zeroes, but would their presence have altered the outcome? :confused:
     
  16. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    My feeling is that the Indomitable may have been able to provide enough CAP to have thwarted the initial air strikes by Japanese land-based planes, but as you say that is arguable.

    But the Indomitable was carrying a very limited fighter group and there was no provision to reinforce this group against the inevitable operational and combat losses AFAIK. The Japanese were still operating their carrier fleet as a single force, and, if necessary, could have easily overwhelmed the Indomitable, with massive air strikes. Even with Indomitable, it would have only been a matter of time before Force Z would have either been sunk or forced to withdraw. Sitting at the Singapore naval base wasn't really an option since Japanese air power could easily strike there as well.
     
  17. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    A carrier CAP was possible as HMS Hermes was in the IO at the time of Force Z's passage, and could have taken Indomitable's place. The presence of a 3rd capitol ship and at least limited CAP might have allowed Force Z to survive off Maylay. But then what?
     
  18. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The HMS Hermes was to have been deployed with Force Z, however, it had been decided that she would not, the reason given was her lack of speed.
    HMS Hermes, British aircraft carrier, WW2

    Also, since the HMS Hermes was carrying only Swordfish torpedo bombers, I don't think her CAP would have been that effective.
     
  19. freebird

    freebird Member

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    They could easily have embarked fighter aircraft as CAP though.
    803 & 806 squadrons were in the middle east at the time, and could have been sent with the Hermes. (They later ended up in ceylon in Feb/Mar 1942, with Fulmars & Hurris)

    Speed wasn't that big of an issue, the PoW could only make 28 knots, just 3 faster than the Hermes.
     
  20. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    The Japanese had a couple of Kongo class fast battleships in Malaya and a number of lighter ships. If force Z engaged we may finally know if the long lances worked in their intended role!
    Most likely outcome if force Z survives, is it becomming part of Sommerville's force in the Indian Ocean like Indomitable eventually did. Having now an obvious big gun superiority, Nagumo had all available fast BBs but the four Kongo are, on paper, no match for 7 British BBs, will Sommerville try for a surface action with Nagumo? With a fast BB squadron available to Sommerville Ozawa's raid against merchant shipping is a much bigger risk.

    I doubt the 25 knot (at best) Hermes could operate the high wing loading fighters, certainly not without carrier qualified pilots, were 803 and 806 fully trained?
     

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