Royal Navy in Eastern Waters – Linchpin of Victory 1935 – 1942 – Review

The Royal Navy in Eastern Waters – Linchpin of Victory 1935-1942 by Andrew Boyd, Foreword by N A M Rodger, published by Seaforth Publishing on 20th March 2017, ISBN: 9781473892484. This book contains 538 pages and is a heavy tome to read cover to cover. The book is well researched and is good value to the reader wanting to know some specific things from this era and area.

I must confess however that when I first saw the title, then the sub-title of “Linchpin of Victory, 1935-1943” I was ready to hold a negative opinion from the start – although perhaps that is not such a bad way to approach a book review. I felt that describing the Royal Navy in Easter Waters as the linchpin to victory was to downplay the considerably larger contribution to victory of the Atlantic and Arctic Convoys, not to mention the hard yards performed by the USA and Allies in the Pacific. Boyd’s book, however, lays out the strategy that saw the creation of the British Pacific Fleet in 1945 which was the most powerful British Fleet ever and capable of standing up to anything the IJN had left. Perhaps a more accurate title may have been Linchpin to the British Part of the Victory.

As I started to look through the book I was pleasantly surprised. It is not a book that is easy to sit down and read from cover to cover as it is written in an academic style. The amount of research in the book is simply outstanding, the notes alone stretch from pager 416 to page 500 with a further 27 pages of bibliography. The book is split into 4 parts contaning 8 chapters overall:

  • *Part I Prpararing for a Two-Hemispehere War
    • The Royal Navy 1935–1939: The Right Navy fir the Right War
    • Naval Defence of the Easter Empire 1935–40: Managing Competing Risks
  • *Part II Existential War in the West
    • Securing Eastern Empire War Potential after the Fall of France
    • The American Relationship, ABC-1 and the Resurrection of an Eastern Fleet
  • *Part III July 1941: The Road to Disaster in the East
    • Royal Navy Readiness for a War with Japan in Mid-1941: Intelligence and Capability
    • Summer and Autumn 1941: Reinforcement and deterrence
    • The Deployment of Force Z and its Consequences: Inevitable Disaster?
  • *Part IV An Inescapable Commitment: The Indian Ocean in 1942
    •  The Defence of the Indian Ocean in 1942
  • *Conclusion

In addition to the chapters, there are maps and tables as well as some illustrations. THe oreward is by noted naval historian N A M Rodger.

The book looks at the background of the fleet over the period, not the battles although some are mentioned such as the Force Z disaster. Rather this book concentrates on the politics, committees and people who effectively ensured that by 1945 the supply lines from Asia to the Mediterranean had been kept open across the Indian Ocean whilst at the same time building the most powerful British Fleet ever in time for the closing stages of the Pacific War.

There are some areas in the work that may raise eyebrows, like, for example, Boyd’s claims about what the Fleet Air Arm may have achieved should a carrier battle have occurred in the Indian Ocean. That said, the book is sitting at an easy to reach place on my bookshelf, where I can refer to its information as I read further about the British Pacific Fleet in particular.

Rodger notes that “this new account ought to startle the many comfortable ideas which have been doxing too long in the arm-chairs” and I would agree that Boyd’s work is a challenge to long held “truths”. It certainly achieved its aims with me in many areas and the prodigious amount of research present in the book does saves a lot of additional research for the reader while at the same time encouraging the reader to research more.

Well Recommended.

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The British Pacific Fleet – The Royal Navy’s Most Powerful Strike Force – Review

I first came across the British Pacific Fleet when I read Peter C Smith’s Task Force 57, published in 2001. I was working in Ulaanbaatar at the time and was looking for anything that referred to the sea to read. I had become interested in some of the British formations, Task Force 57 and Force H for example. I have picked up various works on the British Pacific Fleet since.

The British Pacific Fleet – The Royal Navy’s Most Powerful Strike Force by Davis Hobbs in 2011, Seaforth Publishing, a Pen & Sword imprint has been released in paperback on 12 April 2017, ISBN 9781526702838 for £13.50.

The British Pacific Fleet (BPF) has a connection to Australia and Sydney and other Australian bases in particular as its logistical base was Australia and much of the training of aircraft was performed at Schofields, Nowra and Jervis Bay.

The BPF was born from the British desire to re-exercise some power in eastern waters. The Royal Navy (RN) had been expelled from the Pacific by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and raids by the IJN on the then Ceylon ensured the RN presence was restricted to the edge of the Indian Ocean, essentially protecting the supply lines from Australia to the Middle East.

Churchill suggested to Roosevelt in September 1944 that a British fleet should become involved in the operations in the main theatre against Japan. The BPF was formed in November 1944 under Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser and its main base was established at Sydney.

While in the Indian Ocean the precursor to the BPF had been conducting operational training and equipping its units which included a large increase in aircraft carriers and changes to the operation of the Fleet Air Arm. The fleet also equipped with an expanded floating supply organisation with about 60 vessels being included in the RN “Fleet Train”.

The BPF eventually was built with vessels from the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy, Royal New Zealand Navy and Royal Canadian Navy, as well as blue funnel line vessels requisitioned.

The Allied commanders in the Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz had differing opinions on where the fleet shout be deployed. MacArthur wanted it in and around the Philippines and Borneo area whilst Nimitz wanted it covering the invasion of Okinawa and the advance on Japan. Nimitz was backed by London and the politicians and so the BPF covered the invasion of Okinawa.

While Smith’s book covers Task Force 57 at a fairly high level, Hobbs goes into detail. He covers:

  • Planning and training
  • Strikes against Sumatran oil refineries
  • Australia and logistical support
  • Operations Iceberg I and II
  • Replenishment in Leyte Gulf
  • Operation Inmate
  • Repairs in Australia and improved logistical support
  • Submarine and mine warfare
  • Strikes against the Japanese mainland
  • Victory
  • Repatriation, trooping and war-brides
  • Peacetime fleet and retrospective

There are a number of appendices covering, among other topics:

  • the composition of the fleet in January 1945, August 1945 and January 1948
  • Air stations and air yards
  • Commanding and flag officers
  • Aircraft

This is a very complete look at the BPF amply illustrated throughout – one of my favourites being HMS Vengeance in Sydney Harbour with the bridge as a back drop, no Opera House, no tall buildings, just a lot of bush around the foreshores.

If you are at all interested in the days when Britain had more than two aircraft carriers at sea, the British Pacific Fleet by Hobbs tells a tale of politics, organisation, operations and dogged persistence. That Hobbs’s writing style is easy to read is added bonus.

A Self Indulgence – the Wargaming Tasks for 2017

Last weekend I had the time to indulge myself in my fantasy – the painting queue for 2017. I had originally thought it was not that extensive as I had not purchased all that much in the way of new lead in 2016 and besides, I did not have too much left over for painting from 2014 and 2015.

The painting queue follows in not particular order!

World War II Aerial Combat. The aircraft mix in these packets are from Raiden Miniatures and are in 1/285th scale. They are:

  • Russian
    • 6 x Tupolev SB-3
    • 6 x I-16 ‘Rata’
  • Finnish
    • 4 x Fiat G.50
    • 4 x Fokker D.XXI
    • 4 x Brewster Buffalo

Russian/Finnish WW2 Aircraft
The rules are Raiden Miniatures Fast Play Aerial Combat Rules. I have version 1.1.

Any of the World War II aerial combat rules could be used. The beauty with the Winter War is that a mix of aircraft seldom seen on the wargames table is possible with the Finns using equipment from Italy, the Netherlands and the USA, among others.

Raiden also make a US WW2 aircraft carrier flight deck, the USS Enterprise, for flight and combat operations. It is a kit in 51 parts and I am not sure if it is made or not currently. See http://www.raidenminiatures.co.uk/4.html for details.

Thunderbolt and Lightning Air Combat Rules
Thunderbolt and Lightning Air Combat Rules
Starmada vessels from Brigade Models. In this case, the PacFed fleet. I have a PacFed Future War Commander Army tucked away up here and this is the off-planet version of those. The PacFed are loosely based around a “Pacific Federation” and contain a lot of vessels with Australian type names.

PacFed Starship Fleet
PacFed Starship Fleet
As an opponent to the PacFed I looked to ONESS – loosely based around German forces. Somewhere at mum’s I have the ground fleet to complement this. This also is from Brigade Models.

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The ONESS Starmada Fleet
Baccus 6mm figures make up the rest of my Singapore DBA Project. Armies still to be painted are:

  • II/9a Syracusan in Sicily 410-210BC
  • II/8 Campanian, Apulian, Lucanian and Bruttian 420-203BC
  • 11/39a Iberian 240-20BC
  • II/11 Gallic 400-50BC
  • II/32a Later Carthaginian 275-202BC

The 6mm Ancients
The 6mm Ancients
Speaking of Brigade Models, I acquired a US Aeronef fleet. This was for part of the Peshawar project but with the purchase of Imperial Skies, the project has expanded somewhat (see below for how much). Of course what is illustrated and discussed here does not mention the British, French and Prussian Aeronefs that are already in the collection.

These then are the US Aeronef fleet. Quite a tidy force. I have been trying to think of an alternative paint scheme other that the Great White Fleet colours of, well, white!

US Aeronefs
US Aeronefs
The perfect opponent for the Americans above – the forces of the Rising Sun. Both Fleets (the US and Japanese) are substantial and would be the two most powerful fleets in the collection.

As with the Americans I am trying to think of a colour scheme that is not the Japanese naval vessels at Tsushima!

Japanese Aeronefs
Japanese Aeronefs
I wanted a bit of fun so I added a Scandinavian Union fleet. Dumpy vessels certainly but they have a certain attraction as well. These are also from Brigade Models and I am pondering colour schemes for them.

These were never envisaged for the Peshawar Project however they will make a good opponent for the BENELUX forces described below.

Scandinavian Union
Scandinavian Union
For a little South American Aeronef action I picked up some Argentinians. These look sufficiently different to other ‘nefs to keep the interest up.

Rather than a standard grey or Victorian Livery for these I have been toying with the idea of basing a paint scheme around light blue and white – same colour as the shirts of the Pumas. Again, Brigade Models.

Argentinian Aeronefs
Argentinian Aeronefs
And if the Argentinians are light blue and white then the Brazilians should be both hairless and based around green and gold colours. I have an idea for that with an antique style of gold colouring.

Brazilian Aeronefs
Brazilian Aeronefs
An opponent for the Scandinavian Union, and possibly the Italians. The Benelux Aeronef fleet consists of vessels from Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Benelux Aeronefs
Benelux Aeronefs
The above-mentioned Italian Aeronefs.

Italian Aeronefs
Italian Aeronefs
The last of the Aeronefs in this years paint queue, the Russians. They are also one of the protagonists in the Peshawar campaign. For colours on these I am thinking, maybe, something like Port Arthur 1905.

Russian Aeronefs
Russian Aeronefs
A couple of years ago I picked up two armies for the Great Pacific War. Here are the Chilean/Peruvian Army and the Bolivian forces. I am planning on using these with the 1859, 1866 or 1870 rules. A project that has been on the back-burner for three years now.

10mm Chilean/Peruvian and Bolivian forces
10mm Chilean/Peruvian and Bolivian forces
I have had an interest in both the English Civil War and the 30 Years War for many years and picking up Baccus 6mm‘s English Civil War boxed set seemed like a good way of getting into it. The set gives me two armies, a couple of houses, Polemos rules and 60mm bases.

I am planning on using these with the Baroque Rules from Dadi and Piombo as well.

ECW - Polemos and Baroque
ECW – Polemos and Baroque
Navwar 1/3000 scale World War I Austrian ships – battleships to destroyers/torpedo boats. I have their main opponent, the Italian fleet, painted and here already. It must be said that during the war, both the Italian Royal Navy and the Austro-Hungarian Navy kept their most modern capital ships inside their bases (Pola and Kotor for the Austrian Fleet, Brindisi and Taranto for the Italian fleet), leaving mostly submarines, destroyers, torpedo boats and scout cruisers to do any fighting.

World War 1 Austrian Fleet
World War 1 Austrian Fleet
Heroics and Ros figures have been used for my Cold War Poles – an opponent for my Cold War Danes.

Cold War Commander Poles
Cold War Commander Poles

In addition to all that, there are a few other items on the list including:

  • Anthony’s 20mm World War II British
  • Finish off the 1/285 scale World War II Japanese
  • 1/285 scale World War II Hungarians
  • 1/300 scale Cold War Commander Danes to be completed
  • 1/1200 scale Coastal Warfare Ships
  • The 1/3000 scale Jutland Fleets
  • Houston Ships Italians and Austrians from the Battle of Lissa
  • Dystopian Wars fleets, and
  • Peshawar, 2mm ground forces

So – a painting queue that for 2017 should keep me busy well into 2020!

23 April 2017 – Update: Nothing. Nada. Not done a thing! Maybe I need to motivate myself and buy some more figures.

WIP – More WW2 Japanese Being Prepped

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Two battalions ready for sand on the bases. Rear one is GHQ Models, front battalion is Ros and Heroics

I had prepared one Japanese World War 2 infantry battalion along with three AA elements. I decided to prepare the next, as well as starting to set up the third for painting along with the rest of the heavy weapons, the artillery and  such.

The first battalion was made up of GHQ models. The second is from Ros and Heroics. There is a nice flag bearer in the Ros and Heroics pack so that does for the command base. I also glued to a base three Medium Machine Gun (MMG) units. As the base is large compared to the figures I based some transport with the MMG.

Next prep will be the third infantry battalion and a large chunk of heavy weapons. I want to be able to start adding sand to the bases next Thursday whilst the APEC holiday is on here.

The Ro and Heroics Command Group
The Ro and Heroics Command Group

 

How Big is the Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank?

Panther on the left, Pershing on the right and the Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank in the iddle
Panther on the left, Pershing on the right and the Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank in the middle

I was curious about exactly how small the Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank so I grabbed the hulls from two other kits I have here to build. A Dragon Panther on the left and a Trumpeter Pershing on the right.

The Type 95 Ha-Go is in the centre. It is tiny.

It occurred to be tonight how much I like Tamiya modelling tools. The modelling knife has a tab on the side, the only purpose of which an be to stop the knife rolling across the modelling bench. This I appreciate as I have managed to stab myself in the thigh a couple of times in the past as a tool drops from the table and my legs react and snap together before my brain can get the message to the legs of “noooooo!”

I appreciate the forethought Tamiya.

Another Kit

Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank
Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank

I had to go collect my laptop from a PC repair after I dropped it at home here a while back. Unfortunately the hard drive was spinning up when I dropped it so the drive had to be replaced. The repair was going to take about a week but I needed a laptop for work so I bought a cheap one to use and put this repair off until the next payday.

I collected it a few days ago. The repair shop is in the Greenhills area of Manila in V-Mall. Also in V-Mall is a good model shop. I saw the Dragon kit of the IJA Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank. I have some in 1/285 scale so thought it would be nice to get one in 1/72 scale as well.

Big Box for small tank
Big Box for small tank

When I got it home I had to have a look inside (actually, a quick inspection was made at the shop to ensure it was all there before bringing it home). The model is tiny, especially when viewed inside the packaging. You can see how tiny the hull is in respect of the box in the picture to the right.

The parts look crisply cast though and I like the use of etched brass for the exhaust cover on the tank. I’m looking forward to building this wee beastie. I will document the build when I do it.

One Japanese Battalion Prepped

The pieces are made ready
The pieces are made ready

I mentioned before that I got some time on Saturday. Apart from setting up the trees, I also managed to finish prepping a battalion while reading some stuff on then Internet (OK, I was looking for some information somewhere else in Thomo’s Hole).

The organisation I am using for Blitzkrieg Commander II, the rules I am using, is 12 bases per battalion, three battalions per regiment. This compares to the 9 bases per battalion of the Russians.

I’m also going to mix up as many different types of infantry on the bases as I can for variety, and because it looks so good.

The battalion is based
The battalion is based

The bases contain a mix of standard infantry, some officer looking chaps just standing to attention (why do you make figures like that GHQ, in a mix of other figures in action poses?) as well as some light machine gunners and Type 89 grenade launchers. They are the things that look a bit like a small trench mortar.

Lastly, a close up of the 20mm anti-aircraft bases. Gunner plus truck for transport.

Figures for the infantry are all GHQ, the 20mm AA and trucks are from Ros and Heroics.

Close up of the Ros and Heroics 20mm AA
Close up of the Ros and Heroics 20mm AA

Next – Some Japanese

The desk, ready with the infantry, heavy weapons and trucks!
The desk, ready with the infantry, heavy weapons and trucks!

I decided that I would start to finish my World War 2 Jaanese. This way I’ll have a local opponent for my early World War 2 Russians. As the armour is mostly done, and the aircraft half painted, it is time to put together the infantry and artillery. Where the Russians are based around 9 bases to the company/battalion, whatever the level is I am playing at, the Japanese will have 12 bases.

Added to that then the heavy weapons support, artillery from the 75mm Field Gun as well as the 70mm and 105mm howitzers, some 20mm anti-aircraft guns and trucks, loads of trucks, 43 of them, then this force will be ready. I also have some fun stuff to add to the army but more on that later.

First off it will be the infantry heavy weapons and artillery. I’ll worry about the trucks and the pack animals later.

Oh, one largely anachronistic item for this army is the beautiful Mistsubishi G4M3 “Betty”. It did not fly over Manchuria/Mongolia but it is a great little aircraft never-the-less.

WIP – 1/1200 Scale Aircraft – Part 3

The three airfleets
The three air fleets

I managed to get some more time at the work table Sunday and decided that as I was progressing well with the 1/1200th aircraft, I should get the first batch based and ready for painting. The photo to the right shows the three air fleets, such as they are, ready for painting. I am planning on painting next weekend, social engagements permitting.

At the rear, the Japanese, the Chinese to the fore and the Indians off to the left.

Close up of the Indian air force ... well, my little portion of it at least :-)
Close up of the Indian air force … well, my little portion of it at least 🙂

The Indians are shown to the left. Two maritime patrol aircraft – an Ilyushin Il-28 and a Tupolev Tu-142 Bear – which I finally got to stand on a base.

Also present are the Ka-28 and Ka-31, and the Sea King helicopters. The Sea Harriers, MiG-29K and Breguet BR1050 Alizes round out that little force.

The Chinese aircraft
The Chinese aircraft

To the right are the Chinese aircraft. Ka-28 and Ka-31 helicopters provide the ‘copters carried by the Chinese naval vessels. A Tu-26 Badger provides maritime patrol. For some aerial punch there are some MiG-21s in the guise of Chengdu J-7s, Sukhoi Su-30s and Shenyang J-15s.

The MiG-21 is small relative to the later aircraft and is modelled with no fuselage under the wing level which is not quite right, however, at 1/1200th scale, I don’t have any rivets to count and for wargaming purposes, it looks like a J-7.

And finally the Japanese
And finally the Japanese

Lastly, the Japanese. As the Chinese have taken Russian designed aircraft and localised them to Chinese requirements, so the Japanese have been building American aircraft under license.

For maritime patrol the Japanese have a Kawasaki P-2J (a licensed version of the Lockheed Neptune). Helicopters are Sikorsky Super Stallions and a local version of a Sikorsky Sea Hawk, the Mitsubishi H-60. For some punch there are a couple of older F-4 Phantoms and some newer Mitsubishi F-2s.

A couple of F-4s bounce a couple of MiG-21s
A couple of F-4s bounce a couple of MiG-21s

Of course, being a wargamer, it is too difficult to pass up the opportunity of having a couple of Phantoms bounce a couple of MiG-21s. However it seems like one of the MiGs has managed to get itself a firing solution whilst the wing man to the Phantom hopes his leader will get a hurry on and get a firing solution on the other MiG.

The last bit of dog fighting before painting
The last bit of dog fighting before painting

Lastly, something a little more modern.

OK, enough playing. Next step with these is to undercoat next weekend when I hope to finally try out my new air brush.

WIP – Modern Naval Japanese – Aircraft

2014-11-11 00.52.24I finally got around to working on the aircraft to support the modern Japanese fleet I built for playing Shipwreck! The ships are 1/3000th scale but the aircraft are 1/1200th scale, purchased from Magister Militum. Magister Militum have two ranges of aircraft, Cap Aero and 617 squadron.with the Cap Aero slightly finer models than 617 Squadron.Having said that, both ranges produce some nice aircraft.

The two ranges cover modern aircraft from the major powers. The aircraft are modelled with wheels.down, I guess as they would have made a good addition to 1/1200 or 1/1250 scale carriers or models of an airfield.

I snipped the undercarriage off in most cases as part of the clean up process. I had some hexagonal bases from Magister Militum as well but I found when mounting larger aircraft they were a little unstable. Enter the Philippine Central Bank The 10 and 25 centavo coins, apart from being magnetic, provide an extra degree of stability.

2014-11-11 00.52.05There are no Japanese Aircraft but fortunately the Japanese companies work with US aircraft manufacturers to produce localised versions. So, the McDonald Douglas F-16 is produced locally in Japan by Mitsubishi with a slightly larger planform (about 25% larger) but to all intents and purposes is an F-16. So, the F-16 doubles as a Mitsubishi F-2.

The Japanese also use F-4 Phantoms so I get to have one of my favourite aircraft on the table. The Kawasaki Company made a local version of the Neptune so the model is filling in for a Kawasaki P-2J Neptune.

The last two aircraft are some helicopters. The Sikorsky Super Stallion, a heavy lifting ‘copter and another MItsubishi local production of an American ‘copter, the Mitsubishi SH-60J Seahawk.

The brass rods these are mounted on are at various heights. 4cm is used for maritime patrol aircraft like the Neptune, 3cm for attack aircraft like the F-2 and 2cm for helicopters. I have plans to mount some missiles on a 1cm base but that may need to wait until after I have a sanity check.

I’m looking forward to getting some paint on these on Sunday.