Author Topic: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?  (Read 1601 times)

Offline Volkodav

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What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« on: July 13, 2018, 03:41:48 PM »
What if, either Singapore (and by default Malaya) was successfully defended, or it was basically abandoned rather than men and materiel being wasted to a lost cause.  As per usual this idea is growing exponentially and resulting and lots of reading and more ideas, through in some Hearts of Iron IV trying various things and it gets even weirder.

Just some interesting things I've come across.

•   Many, if not most, Regular Australian (senior) Officers believed that the Singapore strategy was deeply flawed and impossible to carry off as it relied citizen soldiers, conscripts and colonial troops, being able to defend against seasoned, highly motivated professional Japanese troops.  This was assuming the planned (significantly less than the requested) numbers of men and scales of equipment were delivered.

•   Senior British officers requested approximately 50% more forces than they were promised, they received about half of the promised amount.

•   Gordon Bennet, though personally brave and a proven battalion and brigade commander, was unsuited to divisional command due to his almost total lack of diplomacy, low opinion of the regular staff corps and disdain of the British.  He believed tanks would be useless in Malaya so didn't even request any, then had his forces routed by a small quantity of generally inferior Japanese armour.

•   The campaign was run on a shoe string by the Japanese and, unless they were willing and able to deploy far greater forces, it likely would not have taken much to have changed the result.

•   Rerouting the 2nd AIF 7th Division to Australia instead of Java probably saved Port Moresby, as even if they hadn't been lost in Java, they would never have had time to re-deploy to the battles along the Kokoda Track.

•   Australia made do with small numbers of quite diverse equipment, in particular aircraft, in the early phases of the Pacific / SEA war.

•   The British general staff and individuals such as Montgomery, desperately wanted to retain at least some of the 2nd AIF in North Africa and for future use in Europe, as they, like the Canadians and New Zealanders, were very much considered to be elite.

This raises several questions and extrapolated what if possibilities.

•   Could Singapore have been saved?

•   What would it have taken to save Singapore? 

•   What would the cost of abandoning Singapore and withdrawing to Australia have been?

•   What difference would the men and materiel saved have made if employed elsewhere in more defensible locations?

•   What would it have taken to convince Australia to leave one or more divisions in North Africa?

•   What would it have been worth to the Allies to retain the 2nd AIF in Africa / Europe?

•   What forces could Britain have transferred to Australia in compensation for keeping the 2nd AIF?

•   Could beefing up the RAN, in conjunction with saving the 8th Division have been enough not to need the return of the 6th and 9th divisions?

•   Once Australia was safe from invasion could the 1st Armoured Division have been available for Europe instead of sitting in Western Australia until disbanded?

Ideas?




Offline Rickshaw

  • "Of course, I could be talking out of my hat"
Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2018, 05:10:48 PM »
There are many arguments pro and con defending Malaya and Singapore against the Japanese.  The Japanese did run their campaign on a shoe-string.  They committed a smaller force to defeating the Allies than the Allies to defending against them.   The Japanese relied on capturing supplies and transport as they marched southwards towards Singapore.   The British used largely inexperienced colonial (Indian) troops which they had neglected to train adequately.  The British and even the Australian troops themselves were largely ill-trained.  The Australians made up for that by being quick learners and had a real fighting spirit, which many in the British and Indian forces lacked.

All this was further compounded by flawed British strategic thinking on the forces they sent to defend Malaya and the methods they used to fight the Japanese.  While they had correctly surmised that the best way to defend Singapore was to defend as far up the peninsular as possible and had plans prepared to actually invade Thailand if necessary, they lacked the resources to do so adequately.  They believed that the largely non-existent Jungle still existed (most of it had been removed for plantations well before the outbreak of war) and so they tied themselves largely to the roads, whereas the Japanese did not.

As to whether it was worth defending Singapore, it might have been if Singapore had been set up to be defended.  The Colonial administration refused to prepare the island's defences to met the Japanese threat.   The British had only prepared the island to meet a naval attack, their guns were emplaced incorrectly and had the wrong sort of ammunition to fire against an infantry attack.   They faced the open sea, rather than the straits of Jahore, behind the island.

Singapore wasn't impregnable.  The Australian Government was correct that the 2nd AIF should be sent to Australia (although, initially they were to be deployed to Java and the Dutch East Indies).  Churchill was wrong to try and divert them to initially Singapore and then Burma, against the Australian Government's instructions.  Singapore, because of British ineptitude was a lost cause.  It had insufficient aircraft, ships and men to adequately defend it.

Offline Chris

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2018, 05:15:19 PM »
Part of my alternative WWII scenario involves France fighting on, not only from North Africa but also in Far East. This leads to the Anglo/French forces being able to hold the Japanese in Malaya/Southern Indo-China. However because of the proximity of Japanese Air Forces Singapore is regarded as not being safe enough to be used as a main fleet base and the Allies Eastern Fleet is still pulled back to Ceylon.

As another part of this scenario the US Navy loses at Midway which has lots of consequences the main one of which is that the Allies formulate a Pacific rather than Europe first policy.

Although I have copious notes covering the main points of  this "history" it really is no more than a framework to enable me to build models and I fully realise there are more holes in it then the average pair of fishnet stockings.  ;)




Offline Volkodav

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2018, 09:24:41 PM »
There are many arguments pro and con defending Malaya and Singapore against the Japanese.  The Japanese did run their campaign on a shoe-string.  They committed a smaller force to defeating the Allies than the Allies to defending against them.   The Japanese relied on capturing supplies and transport as they marched southwards towards Singapore.   The British used largely inexperienced colonial (Indian) troops which they had neglected to train adequately.  The British and even the Australian troops themselves were largely ill-trained.  The Australians made up for that by being quick learners and had a real fighting spirit, which many in the British and Indian forces lacked.

All this was further compounded by flawed British strategic thinking on the forces they sent to defend Malaya and the methods they used to fight the Japanese.  While they had correctly surmised that the best way to defend Singapore was to defend as far up the peninsular as possible and had plans prepared to actually invade Thailand if necessary, they lacked the resources to do so adequately.  They believed that the largely non-existent Jungle still existed (most of it had been removed for plantations well before the outbreak of war) and so they tied themselves largely to the roads, whereas the Japanese did not.

As to whether it was worth defending Singapore, it might have been if Singapore had been set up to be defended.  The Colonial administration refused to prepare the island's defences to met the Japanese threat.   The British had only prepared the island to meet a naval attack, their guns were emplaced incorrectly and had the wrong sort of ammunition to fire against an infantry attack.   They faced the open sea, rather than the straits of Jahore, behind the island.

Singapore wasn't impregnable.  The Australian Government was correct that the 2nd AIF should be sent to Australia (although, initially they were to be deployed to Java and the Dutch East Indies).  Churchill was wrong to try and divert them to initially Singapore and then Burma, against the Australian Government's instructions.  Singapore, because of British ineptitude was a lost cause.  It had insufficient aircraft, ships and men to adequately defend it.

The reason Bennett got the 8th instead of the 6th or 7th Division was his flaws were to an extent recognised and the best available were used to get the earlier divisions fully trained and ready for combat.  It could be claimed that some of the other senior officers attached to 1 Corps could have done a better job preparing the 8th and that could have made a very real difference.  The work other general officers did in the med, including rebuilding after Greece, and then after the initial reverses against Japan suggests a number of them could have done better in Malaya.

So many things could have made a very real difference, better training, better staff work, better understanding of armour and terrain, greater cohesion built through better relations with other commanders in the theatre.

Then again, realising that with the UK tied up at home and the med, that the Singapore Strategy was dead, is something I have only recently discovered was very well understood by the majority of Staff Corps Officers.  Their task was the training, development and support of the militia divisions, to do this the best and brightest trained at the best collages and service schools in the empire and undertook extensive exchange postings with the British Army.  The older more experienced among them were WWI veterans whose business was to stay abreast the latest developments and have a deep strategic understanding of the likely threats. 

The Staff Corps, more than anyone, realised the difference between inexperienced civilian soldiers and seasoned, regular, veterans.  They, almost to a man, saw the Singapore Strategy as folly and believed building land forces to defend Australia was the better use of limited resources.  There were exceptional reservists but in general the regulars were better soldiers and commanders, there just weren’t enough of them.

The real shortage was probably the lack of a professional Corps of senior non-commissioned officers, this more than anything made the raising and training of fresh units more time consuming and challenging.

Offline Volkodav

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2018, 09:36:28 PM »
Part of my alternative WWII scenario involves France fighting on, not only from North Africa but also in Far East. This leads to the Anglo/French forces being able to hold the Japanese in Malaya/Southern Indo-China. However because of the proximity of Japanese Air Forces Singapore is regarded as not being safe enough to be used as a main fleet base and the Allies Eastern Fleet is still pulled back to Ceylon.

As another part of this scenario the US Navy loses at Midway which has lots of consequences the main one of which is that the Allies formulate a Pacific rather than Europe first policy.

Although I have copious notes covering the main points of  this "history" it really is no more than a framework to enable me to build models and I fully realise there are more holes in it then the average pair of fishnet stockings.  ;)

Same here, this is fun in terms of reading and learning but at the end of the day I am thinking in terms local production Matilda I and II infantry tanks supporting the 8th division, or perhaps even captured German equipment being used against Japan.  Refurbished STUGs and Panzer IIIs supporting the forces defending Malaya, FW190s in foliage green, maybe a wing of Whirlwinds based in Singapore.


The idea I am leaning towards is Renown and an armoured fleet carrier or two being transfered to the RAN with Vangard accellerated along with Implacable and Indefatigable to serve in the Far East, possibly as the core of a new RAN Fleet Unit.  Ironically Ark Royal and Vangard were both intended to bolster the defence of SEA against Japanese agression.

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2018, 11:55:07 AM »
Ah, Bennet.  I know two authors who have written books about Bennet.  A very complex personality.  He fled Singapore because he believed he was in the running to be put in charge of the "home defence" army in Australia, over Blamey.   Blamey however, knew he was to be put in charge and left the Middle-East early just to thwart Bennet, flying home by Catalina.   Bennet was an adequate officer, he however had too much of a "personality" to endear himself to subordinates or superiors.

The 8 Division was handicapped because it was made up basically of the left-overs from the other divisions of the AIF.  Indeed, it's last units didn't even reach Singapore until after the Japanese had attacked Malaya.   It had some severe problems with discipline IIRC.   What they needed was an enemy to fight and the Japanese provided that.   Bennet proved he was better than the Japanese commanders.   As the Japanese hadn't started training for Jungle warfare until a few months before they were sent to Malaya, they did an adequate job but just barely.   I'd recommend reading the Japanese account of the campaign written by Yamashita's supply officer after the war.  It makes fascinating reading and shows just much of a classic "close run thing" the campaign was.   If the Japanese had been delayed a few weeks they would have failed to take Singapore.   As it was, even before they reached the Straits, they were starting to lose units to the Burma campaign.

There is a British author, who's name escapes me at the moment who suggested that if Churchill had sent a quarter of the materiale' that he wasted on the Russians, to Malaya, the Japanese would have been stopped.   They may well have but would the Germans be stopped in Russia?  The point is, the British were trying to defend everywhere while the Axis could choose where to attack and bring all their forces to bear against the British.  If the British weren't stretched by bolstering Stalin, then more than likely they'd have been able to defeat the Japanese, with of course, American materiale'.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2018, 07:30:52 PM by Rickshaw »

Offline Chris

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2018, 04:45:11 PM »
maybe a wing of Whirlwinds based in Singapore.



Ah one of my favourite aircraft. I currently have a Merlin engined version planned. Going to use an old Airfix Whirlwind and two Italeri Spitfire V's as the engine donors. This one will be Italian based, but one (I have 4) of my Special Hobby ones is planned to be RAF Far East based. I have a bit of a thing for SEAC roundels.

Offline Volkodav

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2018, 08:23:31 PM »
maybe a wing of Whirlwinds based in Singapore.



Ah one of my favourite aircraft. I currently have a Merlin engined version planned. Going to use an old Airfix Whirlwind and two Italeri Spitfire V's as the engine donors. This one will be Italian based, but one (I have 4) of my Special Hobby ones is planned to be RAF Far East based. I have a bit of a thing for SEAC roundels.
I have an Airfix example that I was thinking would look great in Foliage Green.  Don't know whether the back story will be all RAF Whirlwinds are transferred to Singapore and survivors to the RAAF or weather production of the type is set up in Australia. 

The issue with the later is the RAAF had a requirement for a long range two seat fighter and the Whirlwind was a short range single seater.  That said I have thought of a scenario where Australia is licence producing the RR Kestrel as part of its selection of the Hawker Demon for local production in the early 30s to build a local aviation industry.  Originally my thinking was RR Australia would switch to the Merlin and Hawker Australia would start building Henleys and perhaps Hotspurs as Demon replacements, but then I thought why not have RR Australia switch instead to the Peregrine and perhaps specify a long range version of the Whirlwind with extra fuel in extended nacelles and possibly a second seat, either under an extended canopy or in the fuselage with side windows and an astrodome, and or even a ventral window/dome/gondola.

Offline Rickshaw

  • "Of course, I could be talking out of my hat"
Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2018, 11:52:41 AM »
The Merlin isn't all that much larger than the Perigrine in physical size:

General characteristics Perigrine

    Type: 12-cylinder supercharged liquid-cooled 60-degree Vee aircraft piston engine
    Bore: 5 inches (127 mm)
    Stroke: 5.5 inches (140 mm)
    Displacement: 1,296 in3 (21.2 L)
    Length: 73.6 in (1,869 mm)
    Width: 27.1 in (688 mm)
    Height: 41.0 in (1,041 mm)
    Dry weight: 1,140 lb (517 kg)

General characteristics Merlin

    Type: 12-cylinder, supercharged, liquid-cooled, 60° "Vee", piston aircraft engine.
    Bore: 5.4 in (137 mm)
    Stroke: 6.0 in (152 mm)
    Displacement: 1,649 cu in (27 L)
    Length: 88.7 in (225 cm)
    Width: 30.8 in (78 cm)
    Height: 40 in (102 cm)
    Dry weight: 1,640 lb (744 kg)[nb 16]

I'd rather see the Merlin in a Whirlwind than the Peregrine.   The Peregrine always was a bit of an orphan and Rolls Royce didn't have the ability to improve it sufficiently whereas the Merlin with it's larger capacity was much more important and in use in more aircraft types.   Downunder RR Australia might have had sufficient personnel to improve the Peregrine (and the time to do so) but the engine's capacity for improvement was limited.

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2018, 12:58:54 PM »
The Peregrine was also at the far tail-end of its development potential, whereas the Merlin was still in the early stages of its.

The extra 1,000lb may have been a bit of an issue but some development of the Whirlwind's wings & fuselage should have fixed that, & the extra 490 hp (combined - assuming Merlin X) would have been nice.

Single-seat, twin-engined long-range fighter/fighter-bomber would have been useful in the SEA/Pacific Theatres, with improved survivability & excellent flight characteristics.
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Offline elmayerle

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2018, 01:34:20 PM »
I'll agree with Old Wombat, the Peregrine was about as far as the basic Kestrel structure and architecture could be developed while the Merlin had, as demonstrated, plenty of room for growth.

I've often thought that a "growth" Whirlwind with Merlins might share some aspects of line with the Mosquito or Hornet.

Offline Rickshaw

  • "Of course, I could be talking out of my hat"
Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2018, 02:08:28 PM »
I think the Whirlwind, while attractive was a bit of a dead end as far as development went.  Westlands only won the contract because Supermarine as too busy with the Spitfire to develop their twin engined fighter design.    Westland was stretched to develop the Whirlwind and while it had potential I have often felt they went the wrong way with a too slim a fuselage which precluded much in the way of growth.     As the Welkin proved, there also wasn't development potential in the wing shape - basically it resulted in a design which was too near it's stall speed once it reached altitude so the aircraft was balancing between stall and flat out all the time.

Something the size of the Beaufighter was really a better deal.  It had enough room for more fuel tanks inside the wing/fuselage and heavier armament (the Beau' carried the heaviest gun armament to see RAF Operational use - 4 x 20mm plus 10 .303 MGs).  It also carried a second crewman to act as navigator on long range sorties - not to be sneezed at in the Pacific.   If Westland had grown the Whirlwind and adopted a better wing design, they'd have had a winner.

Now, here is an outside thought.   How about a radial engined Whirlwind?  Something with Taurus or even Hercules or something American.   Armed with 4 x 20mm plus 4 x .303in, plus either a torpedo, bombs or rockets.  It's fuselage would need to be about 25% larger in diameter, it's wings about 15% wider.   

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2018, 05:52:28 PM »
If the actions of the Indian troops on Christmas Island are any indication, the lack of training & pro-Axis elements within their units may have limited/negated the presence of Indian troops in the defence of Malaya & Singapore at best. Of course, with an excellent intelligence network & a British intelligence officer among their spies, the Japanese were pretty well informed about Commonwealth forces & plans anyway.


Christmas Island Revolt: https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/revolt-on-christmas-island-20120313-1uy5q.html
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Offline Volkodav

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2018, 06:50:14 PM »
If the actions of the Indian troops on Christmas Island are any indication, the lack of training & pro-Axis elements within their units may have limited/negated the presence of Indian troops in the defence of Malaya & Singapore at best. Of course, with an excellent intelligence network & a British intelligence officer among their spies, the Japanese were pretty well informed about Commonwealth forces & plans anyway.


Christmas Island Revolt: https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/revolt-on-christmas-island-20120313-1uy5q.html

Interesting, I had heard of the Indian Legion, but not of this.  Thanks.

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2018, 01:15:02 AM »
In a the jungle, if you didn't have to go too far too fast, perhaps, but the Matilda's lack of speed & inability to be up-gunned were major factors in their withdrawal from front line service everywhere except the SEA theatre.

Mind you, the Churchill, which replaced it, was, if anything, slower; it just had a bigger gun but, like the Matilda, it couldn't be up-gunned.

Both tanks did, however, possess the ability to traverse terrain that could stop other tanks.


*********************************************************
PS: Found this M41 pic while looking up some info on tanks in SE Asia.




*********************************************************
PPS: I'm just playing Devil's Advocate here, I'm liking your thought processes. ;)
« Last Edit: July 16, 2018, 01:20:11 AM by Old Wombat »
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2018, 12:05:55 PM »
There has been quite a bit that I had forgotten, or had never realised that I have come across recently in relation to this and other topics.  For instance the 6pdr not only had better penetration than the 75mm used on British tanks (same ammo as the Sherman 75mm) it also had better penetration than the 3" the Brits used on the Churchill GMC.  Logically then, a local production Matilda II with a Churchill III or IV turret and 6pdr gun (GM 6046 and VVSS) would be a very affective medium tank and could have served the CMF post war well into the 50s with suitable mods.

David Fletcher in one of his books has a picture of an upgunned Matilda with what appears to be a Cromwell turret on it.  It required the hull to be built up with a new turret ring.  It featured large domed covers over the rivets.  It was judged "not worthwhile" as a viable upgrade to the base vehicle when Churchills were available.   It had a 75mm gun.   The problem appeared to be that you needed a new hull top with a ring spacer.

The British 75mm was basically a rebored 6 Pdr.  It used a 6 Pdr. mounting.  It had a slightly lower muzzle-velocity compared to the US 75mm from the M3/M4 (which was in fact an adoption from the French 75mm from WWI).  They both used the same ammunition.  Interestingly, the German 75mm L/24 used essentially the same ammunition as well and after el Alamein, the 8th Army was forced to remanufacture a large quantity of German ammunition as it's own stocks were running short (they had to change the fuses and the driving bands to ensure they fit the US 75mm rifles of the M3/M4s).

The 6 Pdr was an interesting design.  The original gun was slightly longer than the production version because the British lacked the lathes required to produce it, "as designed".  The shortening didn't really affect performance of the weapon.   The Americans produced the slightly longer version as their 57mm AT gun.   The 6 Pdr was quite a good weapon but circumstances after Dunkirk prevented it from being manufactured and the British had to rely on the 2 Pdr for about six months too long when the decision was taken to produce more of them and leave the 6 Pdr.   The 6 Pdr's arrival in the Western Desert was a great relief for 8th Army as the 2 Pdr was being outranged by the German tank guns.

Offline tahsin

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2018, 06:57:33 PM »
Let me get this straight. Rommel defeated the British tanks with 105 mm fire and not 88 as has been depicted for the last 70 years? Or Matilda I was supposed to be safe from all German fire aslong as it was not a 105 field gun on direct fire a la Great War? With the British thinking air defence guns would not be in?

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2018, 09:00:09 PM »
Let me get this straight. Rommel defeated the British tanks with 105 mm fire and not 88 as has been depicted for the last 70 years? Or Matilda I was supposed to be safe from all German fire aslong as it was not a 105 field gun on direct fire a la Great War? With the British thinking air defence guns would not be in?

They're talking about Japanese weapons &, as far as I'm aware, the Japanese didn't use the German 88mm.
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2018, 09:55:47 PM »
Let me get this straight. Rommel defeated the British tanks with 105 mm fire and not 88 as has been depicted for the last 70 years? Or Matilda I was supposed to be safe from all German fire aslong as it was not a 105 field gun on direct fire a la Great War? With the British thinking air defence guns would not be in?

They're talking about Japanese weapons &, as far as I'm aware, the Japanese didn't use the German 88mm.

Yes and no.  The Japanese captured several 88mm guns from the Chinese.  However, they were land versions of the German Navy version of the 88mm.   They then copied this weapon, so they were using the naval version of the 88mm gun which predated the Germany Luftwaffe/Army version by about 5 years IIRC.  It was primarily employed in the defence of the Home Islands.  It was the Type 99 88 mm AA gun
« Last Edit: July 17, 2018, 02:37:46 PM by Rickshaw »

Offline apophenia

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #19 on: July 20, 2018, 04:47:53 AM »
Interesting about the Type 99 AA gun. Does anyone know if the 8.8 cm SK C/30 and FlaK 18 or FlaK 36 used the same 88x571mm round?
Under investigation by the Committee of State Sanctioned Modelling, Alternative History and Tractor Carburettor Production for decadent counterrevolutionary behaviour.

Offline M.A.D

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #20 on: October 10, 2018, 05:52:38 AM »
Actually, and I was surprised to discover this, the Matilda I had armour protection that was second only to the Matilda II and were only be taken out by the 105mms.  Being armed with a .303" Vickers, cramped internal arrangements and mechanical unreliability, made it just better than useless in Europe, but as a cheap, mobile pill box, that was impervious to Japanese fire, operating in direct support of the infantry, it could have made a real difference, especially if operated in conjunction with the Matilda II.

I am not suggesting that these were ideal but rather am looking at what could reasonably have been expected to available and fit with the doctrine of the day.  The Matilda I was meant to be available in numbers to directly support the infantry, being impervious to enemy fire and able to close with and take out their support weapons, while providing suppressive fire.  Not the best concept for western Europe but would have worked just fine in the plantations in Malaya.  Also being cheap and looking like a tank, I could see Australian politicians loving the things and even arranging local production pre-war with the intent of issuing them on a scale of six or eight per infantry battalion as a replacement for the Vickers MMG.

The Matilda II would be much better and was available in the time frame.  Having a cast hull and turret it would even be a local production possibility for Australia, but maybe with local expediencies.  One thought that comes to mind is the Matildas engine bay was actually quite large and could probably have fit the GM 6046 (originally developed for the proposed US built Matilda II) and GM had facilities in Australia at the time that were producing DH Gypsy Major engines.  Then there is the possibility of Australian production of the 2pdr HE round that the developed in the UK but never issued, it would have made perfect sense for Australia.

Very interesting Volkodav, as Ive been reading Fallen Sentinel: Australian Tanks in World War II again, which is prodomantly about the AC Sentinel series!
I've never been able to get my head around the redicoulous 2-pounder HE issue (aka neglect), so I find your analogy very intriguing!!
I think the Australian Army and government was obsessed by the need of any Australian operated tank facing German threat, which always confused me as to why they endorced the 2-pounder being the main armament of the AC-1 Sentinel?.....
Excuse my ignorance, but do you think an Australian-made Matilda could have been modified (turret ring) in production to except a 6-pounder (57mm) gun? This would just make more sense in regards to anti-tank, but also in busting field fortifications!


M.A.D
« Last Edit: October 10, 2018, 07:23:44 AM by M.A.D »

Offline Volkodav

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #21 on: October 10, 2018, 06:35:25 PM »
The Matilda II turret ring was almost identical to the Churchill which not only had a 6pdr but later the 75mm rebore of the 6pdr.  Its a whiff I have the kits to do, a Matilda II and a Churchill IV (dumb me bought a Churchill III with a welded instead of the IVs cast turret).  Considering M-3 Grant / Lee HVSS suspension to go with the GM engine option.

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #22 on: October 10, 2018, 07:05:32 PM »
An Australian Matilda, armed with a 6 Pdr would have been an interesting, non-standard vehicle.  The Australian Army wanted to use the same weapons as the British Army partially because of tradition and partially 'cause it made sense when deployed with a major ally that you'd be dependent on their supply chain.

That was what really killed the Sentinel.  For use in the defence of the Australian homeland?  Fine.  For use in North Africa?  No deal, 'cause no one else used them and so anything that needed fixing, it had to come all the way from downunder.   The Australian Army believed they needed a tank for the enemy they were fighting in 1940-41, not who'd they'd be fighting in 1942-45.   So, the Sentinel was originally designed to mount the common British tank gun - the 2 Pdr, then the 25 Pdr and finally the 17 Pdr.   Indeed, it's ability to be upgunned was quite phenomenal and compared very well with the Panzer IV and ultimately it led to the Sherman Firefly.

The 2 Pdr was perhaps the best of the 37-45mm guns.  It had an adequate armour penetration until the introduction of the Panzer III Ausf J was introduced.  It had a HE round but British Army intransigence worked against it being widely fielded until 1943-44 in Europe and 1943 in the SW Pacific.  When the British Army did finally start widely issuing HE rounds, they found their adoption of the "Little John Adapter" prevented it's use in the armoured cars still equipped with 2 Pdr guns.  For Australia, the 2 Pdr HE round saved the day and allowed the Matilda to soldier on.

A 6 Pdr gun armed Matilda would really need to be redesigned fairly heavily.  The limit on the original Matilda design was the British loading gauge on their railways - the width that could be allowed to overhang the wagons and still allow the train to go around the relatively tight turns and through the small tunnels they had.   Downunder, we had much larger turns and wider tunnels, our problem was the change of gauge between the states.   The Americans wanted Australia to address that, rather than build tanks.   Tanks could from the US perspective, come from the US much more easily than they could be moved around Australia.    So, I'd expect an Australian designed Matilda to look similar but not the same as the British designed vehicle.  It'd have basically the same hull, perhaps a foot or so wider, with a larger three man turret.   


Offline Volkodav

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #23 on: October 10, 2018, 10:53:30 PM »
The Matilda and the Churchill had virtually identical turret ring diameters meaning any of the Churchill turrets would have fit the Matilda with minimal modification, as it was a Centaur/Cavalier/Cromwell turret could be fitted with an adaptor.  The Matildas hull was cast and bolted together, its engine bay was quite large and more suitable for reengining options than the Churchill.  Its suspension bogies were bolted on the hull sides in a similar fashion to the US designed M-3 and M-4 mediums, meaning those suspension units could be bolted on the Matilda. 

Basically the Matilda was a design that in reality provided effective service through out WWII and had local production been initiated early enough could have made a very real difference in Malaya, as well as supporting the Infantry Divisions deployed to North Africa and the Middle East.  Now assuming there was local production and it continued as the Japanese threat developed as well as more capable German armour appearing in North Africa, it could be assumed that Australia would consider evolving the design to increase the capability of the in production Matilda rather than try and switch to something else.

The UK wanted the US to manufacture Matilda IIs, the GM 6046 diesel used in various M-3, M-4 and variants was actually developed for this project.  There is little doubt, had the project gone ahead other US equipment would have been adapted and incorporated into the basis design, leading to something very similar to my notional Australian evolved Matilda.  Some may disagree, but I can see that an evolved Matilda could well have been a better tank than the stop gap M-3 Grant/Lee, before being replaced in production in the US by the more modern and capable Sherman.

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #24 on: October 12, 2018, 07:47:28 PM »

That was what really killed the Sentinel.

Errr...what really killed the Sentinel was a simple lack of resources combined with a more easily/practical solution from overseas, which in turn allowed better allocation of previously mentioned scarce resources.
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #25 on: October 13, 2018, 12:41:50 PM »

That was what really killed the Sentinel.

Errr...what really killed the Sentinel was a simple lack of resources combined with a more easily/practical solution from overseas, which in turn allowed better allocation of previously mentioned scarce resources.

That might be what played out but what the Americans wanted counted, Greg.  What Uncle Sam wants, Uncle Sam invariably gets.   In this case, the intransigence of the states prevented that from happening:

Standardisation of Australia's Interstate Track Gauge:

Quote
   
History of Rail

The process standardising Australia's interstate track to a standard, 1435 mm gauge commenced in the 1930s, and was only completed in 1995.

    A standard gauge line connected Brisbane with the New South Wales system in 1930.
    Melbourne was linked to New South Wales by a standard gauge line in 1962.
    The standard gauges link between Perth and Kalgoorlie was completed in 1968.
    The Broken Hill to Port Pirie line in 1969 completed the standard gauge east-west transcontinental connection.
    Alice Springs was connected to the transcontinental line in 1980 with a line built from Tarcoola.
    Adelaide was connected to the transcontinental line in 1982 with the conversion of the line from Crystal Brook,
    Melbourne and Adelaide were linked by a standard gauge line that opened in June 1995.
    The standard gauge link between Alice Springs to Darwin was completed in January 2004

It was unimaginably difficult to move stuff by Rail during the 1930s-40s.  I remember how hard it was to go to WA from Adelaide in the late 1960s.   We had to take a train from Adelaide to Port Augusta, unload everything, take the transcontinental line to Kalgoorlie, unload everything, take the narrow-gauge line to Perth.  I cannot imagine what it must have been like in the 1930s-40s.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 11:10:13 AM by Rickshaw »

Offline Volkodav

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #26 on: October 13, 2018, 03:51:31 PM »
The US actually initially supported the Sentinel as their own production was still ramping up.  Once it became clear that the required machine tools, plant and equipment, needed to support Australian production was going to be more difficult to source than US build tanks themselves, they removed their support.  By the end of 1942 the US had tanks to spare but still needed machine tools for other purposes.

Many of my relatives were tool makers by trade, its what boys with brains, but no money for a tertiary education, did up until education became more accessible in the 70s.  They were not allowed to enlist in WWII as their skills were critical to munitions production.  One grandfather who served in the RAAF in WWII, initially as a flight engineer, spent the later part of the war sourcing (sometimes even designing) jigs and fixtures required for aircraft maintenance and repairs, while the other alternated between the merchant marine and QA at a munitions plant depending on what had precedence the time (and how desperately he needed space and time away from my grandmother) and neither of them were indentured tradesmen, one was a bush mechanic and the other an ex RAN cook. 

A number of their siblings and inlaws were however qualified toolmakers and even though each volunteered they were rejected because their skills were too critical to the war effort.  A lot of the issue is that there were just so few of them, the industries that had stated to develop before WWI had withered and died between the wars because of economic pressure and short sighted stupidity.  Cruisers had been built in Australia during WWI and destroyers assembled and built, submarines and aircraft were seen as the next step but then nothing.  No work, no trained people and a steeper, more difficult leaning curve to get back to where your were, let alone to where you needed to be.

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #27 on: October 17, 2018, 11:18:05 AM »
Why not simply have Australia get some Shermans?

An excellent point and one I have made in the past.  The M3 medium and the M4 medium were more than adequate to deal with Japanese armour and fortified positions.  Their major problem was weight and size.  The Matilda had superior armour but an inferior gun and it was all in a small, neat package which made moving it around the coast of initially New Guinea and then to the Islands and Borneo an easier solution.   

The RAAC decided that the Matilda was a better option than the M3 or M4.   Their tests of the M4 late in the war, also demonstrated that it was relatively easy to belly a Sherman and immobilise it in attempting to negotiate terrain.  Something the USMC had discovered with the M3 light tank earlier in the war.   It's main problem was that it was simply too broad and flat on it's bottom and it lacked the "oompth" to get itself off the mud and timber the artillery barrages had often created.

The real key to defeating the Japanese was well trained, well motivated infantry, occasionally, when necessary, supporter by well armoured and gunned tanks.

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?
« Reply #28 on: October 17, 2018, 11:25:58 AM »
Some interesting and relivent stuff there thank you Rickshaw

Especially in the case of my want and need your comment:
 
Quote
The British didn't really field it until late 1943 - despite having developed the round in the late 1930s


So technically speaking, Australia would/could be in good stead to request license production of this 2-pounder HE round or even upsize it to 6-pounder/57mm at the beginning of the Second World War or there abouts 😯

There was a 6 Pdr HE round - developed at the same time as the gun and issued fairly liberally as well.  The British had caught onto the value of a HE round and with their experiences against the Germans in the Western Desert felt it was desirable.   There was also a 6 Pdr HE round which dated from the original 6 Pdr naval gun (which was what was used in WWI tanks).   So, there really wasn't a need to "upsize" anything.

In Australia's case, the reason why they developed  a base fused round was because of their experiences in New Guinea facing Japanese bunkers.  The 37mm rounds, used in the M3 Stuart (used at Buna) were found to detonate too early, on the front face often of the bunkers, so it was felt a base fused round would be superior with it's armour penetration.   The British simply stuck with their nose fused round because they used the 2 Pdr primarily in open warfare (and, "Really?  Wasn't that the way we always designed our HE rounds?  Why should we change? Mmmm?"  No doubt played a part in their thinking...)  The 6 Pdr HE round used a nose fuse as well BTW.