This Order of Battle alone already explained why the British Royal Navy suffered a crushing defeat off Malaya

Jul 2018
496
Hong Kong
#1
The Japanese Order of Battle in the Malaya Naval Campaign

The overall commander of the naval force operated in the Malaya Campaign : Vice-Admiral Kondo Nobutake

The Southern Troops (mainly based on the 2nd Fleet)
Component : 2 battleships, 2 heavy cruisers, 10 destroyers, 12 ship-based aircraft
Commander : Vice-Admiral Kondo Nobutake

The Malaya Troops (mainly based on the Southern Expeditionary Navy)
Component : 5 heavy cruisers, 4 light cruisers, 3 seaplane carriers, 16 submarines, 2 1/2 land-based air squadrons organized of 191 aircrafts
Commander : Vice-Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo

The land-based air force available in total (on paper)

Component : 5 1/2 land-based air squadrons organized of 308 aircrafts, 2 destroyers

The air force actually joined in the operation

The 1st Air Troops (based on the 22nd Air Combat Group and part of the 23rd Air Combat Group)

Components :

Motoyama Air Squadron - 36 Type-96 land-based attack aircraft (12 in reserve)
Commander : Group Captain Maeda Kousei

Bihoro Air Squadron - 36 Type-96 land-based attack aircraft (12 in reserve)
Commander : Group Captain Kondo Katsuji

Kanoya Air Squadron - 27 Type-1 land-based attack aircraft (9 in reserve)
Commander : Group Captain Fujiyoshi Naoshirou

Yamada Squadron - 27 Type-0 aircraft, 6 Type-96 reconnaissance aircraft (2 in reserve)
Commander : Wing Commander Yamada Yukata

Overall Commander : Rear-Admiral Matsunaga Sadaichi

The 2nd Air Troops (based on the 12th Air Combat Group)

Commander : Rear-Admiral Imamura Osamu

The Submarine Troops

Components : Submarine Squadron 4 + Submarine Squadron 5
Commander : Rear-Admiral Kozo Yoshitomi

(not sure were these submarine troops directly under the command of Vice-Admiral Ozawa and actually a portion of the Malaya Troops)

=========================

The British Order of Battle in the Malaya Naval Campaign

Force Z (reinforcement for the Far East Fleet)

Commander-in-chief : Admiral Sir Thomas S. Phillips

1 battleship (HMS Prince of Wales), 1 battlecruiser (HMS Repulse), 4 destroyers (Electra, Express, Vampire and Tenedos)

=========================

Phillips asked for air support from the British garrison in Malaya, but the latter declined due to the oncoming Japanese aerial bombardment on the airports and full of obsolete aircrafts providing little help, thus leaving his fleet in operation without air cover.

Just examine the wide variance and the overwhelming amount of the Japanese naval units, and the fact that the Force Z didn't even have a single aircraft in providing air support or reconnissance while the Japanese had enormous, it's not surprising that HMS Repulse and HMS Repulse ended up with utter destruction.

I totally had no idea why Winston Churchill thought that just sending two battleships plus a carrier with some obsolete aircrafts (which even ran aground and was unavailable to the campaign) alone could "deter" the Japanese invasion of the British colonies in the Far East. Was that really due to the lack of intelligence and the utter ignorance or overconfidence in the British High Command's behaviour ? I want to hear your opinion.
 
Jun 2011
295
The Old Dominion
#2
1. The British obviously had no idea what was headed their way.

2. Naval personnel might have some objection to being referred to as "troops". :)
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,516
Dispargum
#4
When the decision was made to send two battleships (I know BB and BC) to Malaya, Pearl Harbor had not yet happened. The aerial threat to battleships was known but thought to be manageable. No battleship maneuvering at sea had ever been sunk by aircraft. Bismarck would have been towed to port if not for KGV and Rodney. At Taranto the Italian battleships had been in port. Ostfriesland had also been stationary, hadn't fought back, and had all of her water tight doors open. The belief was that PoW and Repulse could avoid bombs and torpedoes by maneuvering. There has to be a first time before we can expect people to know something. Prior to the first time, it's all unproven theory.
 
Likes: sailorsam
Jul 2018
496
Hong Kong
#5
Prior to the first time, it's all unproven theory.
You seemed right. but I added one more point — Churchill actually expected the US Navy would come to help in case Malaya and Singapore were under attack by the Japanese army, he could not anticipate the Pearl Harbor Raid and the invasion of the Phillipines which would strip the US capability of helping his dear ally anyway.
 
Jan 2015
3,190
Rupert's Land ;)
#6
[/QUOTE]
=========================

Phillips asked for air support from the British garrison in Malaya, but the latter declined due to the oncoming Japanese aerial bombardment on the airports and full of obsolete aircrafts providing little help, thus leaving his fleet in operation without air cover.
There was air cover available, a squadron of Buffaloes was on standby, but wasn't called because the first bombing run wrecked PoW's radio, Repulse didn't realize until it was too late.

Just examine the wide variance and the overwhelming amount of the Japanese naval units, and the fact that the Force Z didn't even have a single aircraft in providing air support or reconnissance while the Japanese had enormous, it's not surprising that HMS Repulse and HMS Repulse ended up with utter destruction.
Japan had to escort multiple landings, so if Force Z encountered a few Japanese heavy cruisers, at night, they had a decent chance of destroying the convoy.
Remember that the British ships have search & gunnery radar, capable of firing at night, which the Japanese lack.
For an example, a British force encountered 3 Italian heavy cruisers, at night, during "Matapan", and destroyed them all. The Italian ships had no idea that the British were closing in on them until the Royal Navy opened fire.
 
Jan 2015
3,190
Rupert's Land ;)
#7
I totally had no idea why Winston Churchill thought that just sending two battleships plus a carrier with some obsolete aircrafts
You may consider the Swordfish to be obsolete, but it carries the ASVII serach radar, in 1941 no other nation has strike aircraft with airborne search radar.

alone could "deter" the Japanese invasion of the British colonies in the Far East. Was that really due to the lack of intelligence and the utter ignorance or overconfidence in the British High Command's behaviour ? I want to hear your opinion.
Churchill had the idea that the Japanese would cower in fear of his new battleships and slink back to Tokyo.
Obviously he was badly wrong.

The two ships should have been withdrawn the moment that war was declared and their mission of deterance had failed.
 
Nov 2010
7,404
Cornwall
#8
Rather complex explanation of a cock up to be honest. Lack of appreciation of the situation was common at the start of WWII.

I do recall an anecdote where, in the late 1930s, the entire Home Fleet was firing at a towed target drone in the Skagerrak for 2 hours without anyone laying a hit on it.

Did anyone take note? No
 

GogLais

Ad Honorem
Sep 2013
4,939
Wirral
#9
Rather complex explanation of a cock up to be honest. Lack of appreciation of the situation was common at the start of WWII.

I do recall an anecdote where, in the late 1930s, the entire Home Fleet was firing at a towed target drone in the Skagerrak for 2 hours without anyone laying a hit on it.

Did anyone take note? No
Len Deighton writes about this in Blood, Tears and Folly. The RN had supposedly rejected a more advanced anti-aircraft fire control system and yes, the Home Fleet failed to score a hit on a drone in two and a half hours. Phillips was contemptuous of air power and there was of course a racial underestimation of the Japanese.
 
Jan 2019
6
Kent, England
#10
I do recall an anecdote where, in the late 1930s, the entire Home Fleet was firing at a towed target drone in the Skagerrak for 2 hours without anyone laying a hit on it.
This has been discredited. The ships were using 'innocuous' shells which produced a puff of smoke but no shrapnel, to avoid damaging the drone. There's absolutely no evidence that USN gunfire was any more effective than the RN's - at least once you discount the massive overclaiming that the Americans practised and the British didn't.
 

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