Author Topic: What if the fall of Singapore didn't happen?  (Read 1651 times)

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.
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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?
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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.
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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.