byChristopher Roach a.k.a. Cockroach
December 8th 1941, Singapore, 0245 Local Time (GMT+8)
Admiral Sir Tom Philips surveyed the scene from the bridge of HMS Prince of Wales . No one knew how the three strange ships had got there. Less than half an hour ago they had just -well there was no other way of putting it- appeared from nowhere. Admiral Philips turned to Captain John Leach.
"So what do you think these ships are?"
"Judging from its size the one furthest away would appear to be a medium sized cruiser. The other two appear to be too small to be cruisers but are larger than most destroyers I have seen… Maybe they are French ‘Contre Torpilleurs’ or Mine-Layers similar to the Abdiel class, Sir…"
A search light illuminated the forecastle of the nearest vessel.
"… but none of them seem to mount more than a single gun, Sir…"
Captain Leach gestured towards the usual assembly on the deck of the nearer vessel.
"Perhaps that unusual mount is some Rocket system?"
"Well hopefully we will know soon Captain…"
There were simply no way the strange ships could get up to any mischief… at least not if the crews wanted to survive. Already the ten 14-inch guns of Prince of Wales and the six 15-inchers of Repulse as well as numerous smaller weapons were trained on the three ships. A search light slowly tracked a motor launch as it headed for the nearest vessel.
The launch drew alongside; a pair of sailors threw grappling hooks onto the deck and dragged themselves up before letting down a rope ladder. Lieutenant William Whitting -the captain of the destroyer HMAS Vendetta- looked up the side of the hull, ideally he would have instead been sitting a couple of hundred yards away with his tin can’s torpedos trained on these ships. But Vendetta was undergoing a refit and so he had been assigned to lead the boarding party.
He clambered up the rope ladder. Upon reaching the deck he withdrew his service revolver and looked around, to the stern he could see a man slumped over a machine-gun of some kind. A seaman went to check if the man was dead, unconscious or asleep while Lieutenant Whitting and others pressed on. It took a good five minutes to locate an open door. His small band of sailors passed room after room, some -as predictable on any ship- were clearly accommodations and messes while others were filled with strange equipment. Scattered all over the place were unconscious (or so they assumed having examined several) men and even, rather surprisingly a few women.
After a good fifteen minutes of looking they stumbled on what was evidently the ward room. A brief search revealed (in addition to half a dozen unconscious officers) a few books; two appeared to be of particular interest: "The Centenary of the R.A.N., 1913-2013" and "Jane’s Fighting Ships, 2014".
Lieutenant Whitting leafed through "Jane’s Fighting Ships". It seemed strange to him, there was not a single mention of Battleships anywhere and there seemed to be all kind of unusual acronyms, for instance what the hell did SSM or VLS stand for? It took him a good few minutes before he stumbled across an entry that seemed to match the ship he had boarded, under "Royal Australian Navy" he found "Adelaide class missile frigate"… this only increased his confusion. Frigate? The word had only recently been revised to designate the so called "twin screw corvettes" of the River class . But this ship? Its Displacement was closer to that of a light cruiser and (if the information in "Jane’s Fighting Ships" was correct) had a speed to match… Surely you couldn’t call this vessel a frigate?
December 8th 1941, Semarang, Central Java, 0440 Local Time (GMT+7)
Major General Daryanto was confused; the head splitting headache certainly didn’t help… But then again the entire city appeared to be confused. After all what could have caused the entire population of a city to fall unconscious? What had stopped all communication with the rest of Indonesia? And then that train crash from half an hour back? The engine was quite clearly an antique and it appeared all the passengers were firmly mad (after all why did they insist the year was 1941?) but most inexplicably what were so many Europeans doing on it ?
Well, the problems would just have to wait until day break…
December 8th 1941, Christmas Island, Indian Ocean, 0455 Local Time (GMT+8)
The entire island was in an uproar… an attack of some variety was expected any moment. SBLT Edward Goodwin felt encumbered by all the gear; for the first time since training he wore a bullet proof vest while an F-88 Austeyr assault rifle hung from his shoulder.
A platoon of infantry had just marched in to secure the power plant. With the defences established he found himself dragged into a conversation with the infantry lieutenant:
"So who do you think was responsible…?"
"For whatever’s going on? I can only guess one of the major powers. Who else could manage to knock out all satellite links?"
"But how do you explain the entire garrison falling unconscious?"
"Some non-lethal chemical weapon? If I recall correctly the Russians used something of that nature…"
"But why this island? Who the hell wants the land-crabs? "
"Logically the Indonesians see the island as potentially being a major forward base despite the fact that the damn military has placed next to no forces here. Now, as I was saying the Russians used some form of ‘knock-out gas’ to bring an end to a hostage situation back in the early 2000s … the results were… shall we say quite catastrophic… But maybe a decade or so of further development lead to this?"
December 8th 1941, Singapore, 0507 Local Time (GMT+8)
The situation was tense. Just over two hours back Captain James Ferris and the dozen sailors and officers manning the Combat Information Centre had come round. It took a matter of minutes to determine that the ship had been boarded and to grab weapons, body armour and Night Vision Goggles from the armoury. Leaving three men to secure the CIC, Captain Ferris had taken the other nine to repel the boarders.
From there things had gone pare shaped. For starters none of the other crew members had yet regained consciousness. The initial skirmish with the boarders had gone okay. They had found four boarders examining a mess room; Petty Officer Baldwin lobbed a smoke grenade in. The four boarders never knew what hit them, in perhaps ninety seconds two were dead and the other two on the floor wounded.
The second skirmish was when things really fell apart. Again a smoke grenade opened the action. But this time Captain Ferris’ force lacked overwhelming numerical superiority (two men had been left to guard the prisoners) and with the discovery that several pairs of NVGs (including his own) were faulty things went much worse. Captain Ferris was the first into the smoke; he spotted an enemy just as his NVGs malfunctioned, he fired just as the ‘boom’ of a boarder’s rifle rang out. Captain Ferris distinctly heard two bodies hit the floor. Suddenly a bayonet on the end of a rifle loomed out of the smog, he dodged sideways and opened fire blindly… but James Ferris hadn’t been quite quick enough, the blade gashed his left arm before who ever was on the other end withdrew it.
Captain Ferris dashed for what he hoped was the nearest exit from the room. He was unlucky; in the smoke he had become disorientated and had taken the wrong door, now he was cut off from help. Captain James Ferris turned on his microphone, up until now he hadn’t used it as all talking had been face to face. He hesitated for a moment before issuing the order:
"Fall back, get back to the CIC and don’t forget to grab those prisoners on your way"
A reply came over the radio:
"And what about you, sir?"
"I’m bloody well cut off and wounded, don’t mind me just get the hell out of here…"
From out of the smoke a figure dragged itself, it took Captain Ferris only a matter of seconds to realise that it was Petty Officer Kate Baldwin. She was an utter mess, her nose was clearly broken (a rifle butt in the face perhaps?) while blood seeped from the side of her head. A number of gashes on her arms told Captain Ferris that she had also narrowly avoided several bayonet thrusts. Looking more closely he could clearly see a bullet wound –most probably from a pistol- on her right leg. She was conscious but apparently delirious with the pain. Again his radio crackled:
"Captain, what’s your status?"
"I’m more or less okay, a bit of a cut on my arm but nothing major. Petty Officer Baldwin on the other hand is in a bad way…"
"Good, so she’s with you. Got anyone else there, sir?"
"No, I suppose that means we’ve lost someone…"
"Well, Able Seaman Coffey isn’t with us… we also have another two wounded enough to keep them out of the fight"
"Well if you can get some more men together have another try, if not just hold the CIC as long as possible"
"Aye, Aye, Sir"
Captain Ferris turned his attention back to Petty Officer Baldwin. He looked around and found a first aid kit. It took a minute or two to apply bandages and dressings to the worst of Petty Officer Baldwin’s wounds, he also jabbed her with a painkiller. Suddenly she spoke for the first time since she had dragged herself out of the smoke…
"What the fucking hell happened… uhm, sorry sir…?"
"Doesn’t matter, well we are in a right fix. We are cut off and both wounded -you much worse than me. I have told the others to go and hold the CIC until help arrives but I very much doubt any help will arrive in time…"
A sound interrupted their chat, undoubtedly more boarders coming to deal with them. Captain Ferris overturned a table to use as a barricade -he knew it probably wouldn’t stop a bullet but there was something reassuring about having some cover- before dragging Petty Officer Baldwin behind it. He pointed his F-88 Austeyr towards the door and called "First man through this door is a dead man". Minutes passed, the vague sounds of a conversation drifted in. Suddenly a man -by his dress probably an officer- appeared in the door with what looked like an old Thompson submachine gun levelled at him. For a moment Captain Ferris was intent on pouring the entire magazine of 5.56mm ammo into this man… but he hesitated… The ‘enemy’ officer called:
"Drop your weapon…"
"And who might be requesting that?"
"Lieutenant Whitting, HMAS Vendetta. And who exactly are you?"
The name of the ship was familiar but Captain Ferris knew the name Vendetta hadn’t been used by the RAN since the Daring class of the forties and fifties.
"Captain Ferris, HMAS Newcastle… Now why the hell have you boarded my ship?"
"Well I think the Admiral would be a better person to ask, Sir."
Both men slowly lowered their weapons.
"And who exactly is this Admiral you want me to see Lieutenant?"
"Sir Tom Philips, Sir…"
"Hell! Do you expect me to believe that my vessel has gone back to 1941?"
"Well come topside and look, Sir"
Captain Ferris decided to go and see. After leaving Petty Officer Baldwin with an apparently competent doctor he set off. A rattle of gunfire somewhere in the guts of the ship reminded him… "Hell, I’d better order my men to cease fire!" he screamed. Lieutenant Whitting dashed after him as he ran. Lieutenant Whitting noticed that Captain Ferris fingered something on the side of his helmet and spoke. They approached what looked to have been the front line of the recent skirmish… It appeared shear weight of numbers had driven Captain Ferris’ men back, but the three men dead or wounded on the deck told Lieutenant Whitting that the fight had been hard. One of the boarding party -a junior officer Lieutenant Whitting didn’t know- levelled a pistol at Captain Ferris. William Whitting watched in horror as the man fired… The Captain took the round right in the chest and keeled over. "Cease fire you fool, that was the bloody Captain of this ship you just killed" screamed Lieutenant Whitting. The Lieutenant looked around; Captain Ferris had already dragged himself up onto his knees…
"Are you okay, Sir?"
"Yeah, I should be fine, I’m just winded and undoubtedly there will be a nice little bruise Lieutenant"
"How the hell did you survive that, Sir?"
"Well, the ballistic plate took the impact… now I just have to hope no one shoots me there again…"
"So Lieutenant, a little confused? Well this vest I have on is called a bullet proof jacket. It is a jacket made from Kevlar with Ceramic plates inserted at the front and rear… rather an old model; I wouldn’t like to take a rifle round in it… Still confused? Well things will only get worse…"
They rounded a corner and passed one of Captain Ferris’ men standing guard. James Ferris opened a door, Lieutenant Whitting followed. The room was a shock… Lieutenant Whitting noticed the displays flashing up all kinds of information –almost all utterly meaningless to him- only two could he make immediate sense of, one flashing "No Signal" (of cause he didn’t have any idea what had ceased signalling) and another that showed a view that he guessed came from the bridge or the mast. This view panned round until two massive shapes appeared in the centre. Captain Ferris turned to one of the men:
"Well Warrant Officer, what do you make of that?"
"Well Sir, those two are too bloody large to be anything less than a Kirov or Ticonderoga class but neither looks right… hell, they both appear to be way too big. If I didn’t know better I would say they were battleships… But there is no friggin way the yanks could get the Iowas back in commission and out here without us knowing."
"And Warrant Officer if I was to say those were Battleships… other than suggesting I’m crazy what would you say?"
"Well Sir, I ain’t a history buff the one further away has a tower bridge, suggesting that it’s a British vessel…"
"… Built after 1920 or reconstructed in the 1930s…" chimed in Sub-Lieutenant Thomas Duong
Captain Ferris thought for a moment; Sub-Lieutenant Thomas Duong was of Vietnamese descent and had acquired something of a reputation as a history nut. Ferris decided he would take his word for it.
"Go on Sub-Lieutenant…"
"Well can we get more detail, Sir?"
Captain Ferris nodded and the image zoomed and changed. The image focused amidships, clearly visible were four turrets separated by what looked like a catapult.
"Sub-Lieutenant, what do you reckon?"
"Well Sir, that layout was typical of the British 5.25"Dual Purpose guns, which would make it either a King George V class or Vanguard. That’s unless one of the unbuilt Lion class have materialised…"
Ferris turned to Lieutenant Whitting.
"Well it looks like you told the truth… that is Force Z out there. So what the hell has happened?"
The view panned again… the lights of 21st century Singapore were gone…
December 8th 1941, East of the Cook Islands, 0827 Local Time (GMT+12)
Day break had revealed a disaster beyond comprehension. The water was littered with debris: bodies, tables, chairs, beds, rafts… Captain Bailey couldn’t help but look on shocked. It was still less than two hours since the unthinkable had happened. No one had been conscious to see it but the footage was if anything worse. Captain Bailey pressed play and watched it again. Out of nowhere the old Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate USS Ford had just been cut clean in half… or more accurately the entire ships aft of the 3" gun had just disappeared. It took just over forty seconds for what remained of the Frigate to turn turtle and sink. The Captain pressed another button and the view changed… a massive carrier this time. Again part of the ship –in this case the stern up to and including the rudders- just disappeared. The Captain hit fast forward… the carrier ploughed forwards clipping the stern of the Landing Platform Dock USS Somerset.
Captain Bailey didn’t need to watch any more of the recording; he knew full well what came next. He had come to just over an hour ago and had watched the carrier settle deeper and deeper into the waves. The carrier had finally slipped below half an hour back taking most of her crew with her. Captain Bailey had simply been unable to do anything; he had maybe four other sailors conscious… not enough to man a life-boat let alone attempt to rescue the five thousand plus men on USS Ronald Reagan. USS Somerset was a different case; the ship was still afloat and sufficient numbers had come round on all surviving ships to try something.
It suddenly occurred to the Captain that with the loss of the Admiral aboard the carrier he was now the senior officer in the battle-group. Captain Bailey thought for a moment… the forces at his command were considerable: his ship the missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea; the destroyer USS Truxtun; USS Bataan, a Wasp class LHD; the two LPDs and two thirds of the 3rd MEU. But what good could they do in the face of whatever had destroyed the Carrier and Frigate?
December 7th 1941, Near Oldenburg, Germany, 2220 Local Time (GMT+1:00)
Major Kingsley came round with a terrible headache, he didn’t have the faintest idea how he had got it… he didn’t recall touching a single glass of alcohol in the last week let alone last night. He glanced around… it was still dark; he glanced at his watch… a mere four hours since he had gone to sleep. He dragged himself up, grabbed a pistol and went for a walk. It didn’t take long for the major to notice the complete lack of sentries… or to stumble over a sentry collapsed atop of his rifle. It took a matter of seconds’ investigation to determine that the sentry was a West German and only a few more to find the Panzergrenadier was unconscious.
Major Kingsley dashed back to camp… the first five men he checked were also out cold. Finally he stumbled on a man who was conscious if more than a little groggy. The major recognised the man immediately; he was a German NCO who had been manning the radio in the M113 earlier that day. The German slowly dragged himself to his feet.
"Was ist los?"
Major Kingsley’s German may have been passable -certainly he could safely order a meal- but it wasn’t up to explaining that most of the force was out cold and that he thought the Soviets may have something to do with it. A wild exchange of gestures soon brought the German round to speaking English.
"What is it, herr... uhm, Sir?"
"Half the bloody camp is unconscious. Can you get the ‘brass to send some assistance? "
The two men walked to the nearest APC. The German turned on the radio… minutes passed.
"Any progress yet?"
"Nein… Sir, there is no one on the correct frequencies."
"Could the Soviets have attacked? Maybe a Nuke has gone off?"
"Nein, the radio would be kaput… Sir"
The Major thought for a moment, of cause if a nuke had gone off nearby the electro-magnetic pulse would have fried all electronics… yet the radio still worked so evidently a war hadn’t started. The radio-operator scanned through other –nominally civilian- radio frequencies before stopping on one, apparently catching the tail end of a news bulletin. Major Kingsley realized at once something was wrong…
December 8th 1941, Singapore, 0627 Local Time (GMT+8)
Captain Ferris felt distinctively uncomfortable. He shared the Admiral’s cabin with two men who –if history was to run it’s course- would be dead with in the next few days. In addition to Admiral Sir Tom Philips and Captain John Leach there was quite an assortment of officers: Captain Tennant of HMS Repulse; Captain Collins, famed for HMAS Sydney’s fight with Colleoni; General Percival, who if history held true would loose the coming campaign and numerous others of whom James Ferris knew little about. Only two other twenty-first century officer was with him, Captain Willis and some Ensign both from USS Halsey –apparently the captain of HMS St Albans was still out cold.
The Ensign fired up the laptop and digital projector that they had brought with them. None of the local officers had yet had enough time to look at any of the technology and it was hardly surprising to Captain Ferris that they displayed some slight shock. Captain Willis started the whole thing off…
"Well Gentlemen, the situation in the Pacific is already desperate, the Japanese are ashore up north. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour…" Captain Willis glanced at his watch "… a bit under five hours ago. The US Pacific fleet has been more or less eliminated; four Battleships have been sunk –although only one is a total loss- and another four damaged… only through a stroke of fortune did the three US carriers happen to be out of port; historically they were vital in all the early naval battles of the war –Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal. This session is a chance for you to find out both about the capabilities of our ships and learn a lesson or two that would have cost you a lot in blood, sweat and tears…"
"Will we win the war?" chimed in some naval officer James Ferris didn’t recognize
"Well, if history keeps on course yes… but not for another four years. If we can help it probably sooner…" said Captain Willis as he started a short history of the coming years of war.
Images of a ruined Berlin, of the atomic bombs, of the Japanese surrender showed on the screen, James Ferris guessed Captain Willis had had the foresight to throw together some slideshows on likely issues.
General Percival asked the next question: "Do you think we can hold the Japs back here?"
Captain Ferris decided to answer…
"Maybe or maybe not, Sir. Historically you didn’t…" Captain Ferris hesitated, should he describe the loss of Malaya as a series of accidents or risk offending his ‘hosts’… "… due to a wide variety of reasons. Probably the most major one was a chronic habit of underestimating the capabilities of the Japanese … hell! that is almost the entire story of ’41 and ’42! Take aircraft as an example, the Buffalo is well and truly inferior to what you will encounter…" The officers raise a racket protesting this statement… "Yes, it is more heavily armed and somewhat faster than the Japanese army’s KI-27 but the IJN has a little something known by my time just as the ‘Zero’ and perhaps known to you as the Mitsubishi A6M2… The A6M2 may be slower than the Hurricane II and more poorly armed… but its pair of 20mm cannon and its two 7.7mm Machineguns make it more formidably armed than the four fifty calibres of the Buffalo. However the one big advantage the Zero has is its brilliant manoeuvrability. In the hands of a good pilot the Zero can even out manoeuvre the Spitfire…" Another howl of protest "… So some of you honestly believe the stereotype of the Japanese… well believe me, you are in for a massive shock…"
Another few questions on the state of the war followed before Captain Tennant finally asked a question that led onto a different subject…
"Have any other ships from your time have also been brought back?"
Captain Ferris was stumped, between fighting off boarders and getting to HMS Prince of Wales he hadn’t had time to check if there were any signs that they weren’t alone… Captain Willis on the other hand did seam to have…
"Well we have picked up signals that seem to indicate that at least some ships of the Anglo-Australian Carrier Battle Group have also been ‘transported’…" Captain Willis stopped for a moment and picked up his PDA "… my crew have just reported that they have picked up a signal from the garrison on Christmas Island and on a less pleasing note they have also intercepted a television transmission from Indonesia…"
"Why is that such a problem?"
"We were at war with Indonesia, the ‘successor’ to the Dutch in the East Indies…"
"Do you expect these ‘Indonesians’ to side with the Japs?" asked Sir Tom Philips
"Well Sir, the Dutch have oppressed the indigenous population badly but the Japanese treated them just as badly if not worse… I would guess the Indonesians will be all too keen to boot the Dutch out but won’t be keen on letting the Japanese in…"
"Well Sir, the most probable outcome is we end up with a co-belligerent, somewhat like Finland…"
The discussion continued. Captain Ferris took a moment to glance at his PDA, the latest messages were two from the second in command of USS Halsey with the same content as Captain Willis had already discussed… there was also a third from HMAS Newcastle confirming that signals from AACBG and Christmas Island and also mentioning a signal believed to be coming from Darwin. Finally Captain Leach asked the question that James Ferris had been expecting from the beginning…
"So what forces do these other ‘future’ fleets and bases have available?"
"Well…" replied Captain Willis "… If the entire Carrier Battle Group has come through we should have two Destroyers, three Frigates, a Submarine, HMAS Australia –a Landing Platform Helicopter, although she is currently being used as a STOVL carrier- and –well, this could cause a little confusion- the carrier HMS Prince of Wales. If I recall correctly HMAS Australia usually has been operating an airgroup of ten AV-8B Harrier IIs and fifteen Helicopters pending the arival of the RAAF’s F-35Bs… but recently she has embarked the surviving Sea Harrier FA Mk3s from Ark Royal…"
"What exactly are the capabilities of these ‘Harriers’?" chimed in a RAF officer
"Well the AV-8B Harrier II has a maximum speed of 1065 km/h –that’s 570 odd knots to you- and a combat radius of 170 miles with a near full bomb load. It is capable of carrying up to 3000 kilos -7000 pounds- of bombs, rockets, air-to-air missiles or air-to-surface missiles. The Harrier series is VTOL -vertical take and landing- capable but in practice a short take off run is used to increase the load carrying capabilities…"
"What about the carrier’s airgroup?"
"HMS Prince of Wales carries thirty six F-35s, four or five Hawkeye AWACs -RADAR planes- and several Helicopters. Before you ask about the F-35 lets just say that its speed of Mach 1.8 means it’s all but untouchable by any current weapons system."
"What about the garrison on Christmas Island?"
"Two hundred infantry, two or three patrol boats, a squadron of JAS 39 Gripen Fighters and a flight of F/A-18s."
Again the whole thing degenerated into a discussion of the technical aspects of the weapons and aircraft, never mind that the officers didn’t understand four-fifths of what was said. As this finally cleared up Captain Ferris joined back in…
"Yet more news… It appears that Darwin may have also undergone the… uhm… transition. Depending on the exact area that came along we can probably add quite a large force… at most two frigates, a destroyer, the two Kanimbla class LPAs, a few Patrol Boats, five or six infantry battalions, five fighter squadrons and around 150 tanks…"
December 8th 1941, Near Oldenburg, Germany, 0246 Local Time (GMT+1:00)
Major Kingsley kept his head low as a 7.92mm round whistled past his ear. He lifted his M16 and let fly with a three round burst at an enemy. The field was dimly lit by the burning wrecks of a M113 and two Panzerkampfwagon-IIIs. Nearly five hours had passed since he had come round and three hours since this little recon expedition had started.
It may only have been three hours since Major Kingsley had thrown together this rag-tag bunch of Americans and West Germans… but hell, it felt more like a week since the four M113s, the pair of M41 light tanks and the trio of 106mm Recoilless Rifle armed Jeeps had set out. What they had found only confirmed what listening to the radio had indicated… the company of PanzerGrenadiers and the two US Mech Infantry companies had both ‘slipped’ either back in time or into a parallel universe.
A burst from the enemy’s Machineguns tore a man apart mere feet from where Major Kingsley lay… a flash showed that a shell from the surviving M41 Bulldog had silenced the MG-34 for the moment. A rumble announced the reemergence of the Nazis’ surviving PzKw-III, Major Kingsley looked uselessly for a moment… it took him a few seconds to realize the noise came from behind. The PzKw-III opened fire… the bow machinegun cut down two men while the 50mm main gun drew a bead on the Bulldog.
It was over in a matter of seconds; the 50mm shell hit the M41 in the rear of the turret and penetrated with ease while an American turned his M72 LAW on the Panzer. The Major glanced towards the M41, two men dragged themselves out just before the tank exploded. The firing died back. For an instant Major Kingsley was confused; was the enemy falling back or… a series of blasts rocked his troops… Mortars! One mortar shell hit one of the Jeeps; another landed on the slope up to the left and set a German truck alight.
Major Kingsley stopped and thought for a second… the mortars didn’t seem to be aimed at his troops specifically but at the general area… had his men found their way to the middle of an allied offensive in 1944 or 45? The sound of gunfire restarted but little of it seemed to be directed at them. Again the all too familiar rumble of tanks restarted… but Major Kingsley swore the noise sounded familiar, more like the M48 Patton than a Panzer-III. Another series of blasts rocked the surrounding hills and suddenly a great dark mass reared over the top of the hill in front. Major Kingsley prayed that his guess was right and that it was a West German or American Patton and not a Tiger… It was only then he noticed the soldiers running towards his survivors. He examined the oncoming Germans; it sure as hell wasn’t a charge... from their disarray it was probably more of a rout…
Several minutes passed, his small band poured fire into the routers and took a few prisoners. The first of three tanks slowly drove down the slope, followed by two platoons of infantry. There could be no mistake, these men were friends…
Half an hour later the survivors had reached ‘camp’. But the major’s ordeal was far from over; he still needed to report to the Lieutenant-Colonel. He found Lieutenant-Colonel Hill in the rear of amodified M113 equipped as a command post
"Major, I hear you had -shall we say- an interesting time…"
"Well, get on with your report"
"Well Sir, we started off well enough. My detachment set off in the general direction of Bremen. We reached the town of Delmenhorst with in an hour… without encountering any resistance. I ordered the detachment to halt outside of the town before dispatching a team of scouts. The scouts contacted us by radio stating that the town hall seemed to be decked out in full Nazi regalia –seemingly confirming the earlier observations…"
"Go on Major…"
"Sir …the scouts had an -uhm- ‘run in’ with the local police… The Germans soon had the ‘homeguard’… I mean the Volkstrum called out. I decided to take the rest of the detachment to the aid of our scouts. In the resulting action a M41 Bulldog was immobilized before we reached the scouts. Having rescued the two survivors from the scout team and the crew of the Bulldog we withdrew.
"So your total losses at this stage?"
"One missing, one killed and two wounded, Sir"
"Continue please, Major"
"We diverted south west -towards Ganderkesse- rather than return the way we came. We soon encountered a convoy of four trucks and an armoured car. We destroyed all five before continuing… one man was wounded in the encounter. Returning to a major road we soon ran into a roadblock… in the case of the leading Jeep quite literally. The enemy troops fled after a short skirmish… we captured one, he said they believed our APCs were tanks… the prisoner was killed in the next engagement."
"Your losses in this engagement, Major?"
"One man wounded by enemy fire, two men injured in the Jeep crash, Sir. Continuing on we ran into a force of three tanks and three or four infantry platoons. In the subsequent engagement we lost a M113, a Bulldog and three infantry before help arrived. We lost another Jeep and two men to friendly fire."
"So what was you total losses, Major"
"Two tanks –one with two crewmen- two Jeeps and a M113… seven infantry killed or missing and another eight wounded out of thirty nine men including myself. Over half my force, Sir"
"Major, I wouldn’t usually congratulate someone for taking that level of losses, but you did a good job getting any of your troops back."
"Yes Sir. But what will we do now? I mean we are apparently trapped right in the heart of the Third Reich…"
The Lieutenant-Colonel didn’t answer; he merely turned on the radio. The reports were confirmed what was already know. Somewhere an American voice reported a skirmish with the Volkstrum while somewhere else an Englishman reported that his airbase was under attack. A brief scan of know Soviet channels turned up similar panicked voices.
"So, what are we to do, Sir?" asked Major Kingsley
"We simply don’t have the time or resources to aid any of them… we have just one choice Major… to run and hope we can make it out…"
"Sir, that seems all but impossible… the prisoners we have interrogated indicate that the year is 1941. In other word the only neutral nation we could get to is Switzerland –and that’s well beyond the range of our M113s and tanks…"
"Perhaps Major, but I didn’t have that in mind. Tell me, what is the operational range of a M113?"
"Nominally 300 miles, Sir. However I know that several of our APCs are already short of fuel…"
"Well, let’s make it 200 miles to allow for some fuel shortages and any off road work. Now major, how far do you reckon it is to the Dutch coast?"
"Maybe 150 to 200 miles, Sir… So Sir, you want to dash for coast and hope we can get the poms to pick us up?"
December 8th 1941, Biggin Hill, England, 0652 Local Time (GMT)
The trio of Spitfire Vs struggled into the grey light of the new day. As was usual the entire flight received a vector to the unidentified aircraft from the local operations room. But to Squadron Leader Peter Townsend  there was something clearly wrong… had the WAAF ground controller really said that the target was moving at six hundred miles an hour? The figure seemed simply absurd… if it was correct what the hell was he to do? It was a good two hundred miles faster than his Spitfire could manage; it wasn’t as if he could hope to catch whatever these incomings were.
It was a matter of minutes before the flight finally sighted the incomings. He quickly counted them… four, not merely was his flight outclassed but outnumbered as well. The aircraft looked unusual to say the least. They didn’t seem to have any tail planes but only a large triangular wing; there were no propellers evident; perhaps these aircraft were power by rockets?
The incoming aircraft slowed and Peter Townsend’s radio was filled with a French accent asking for the vector of the nearest suitable airfield. He looked over these unidentified aircraft again –the French roundel was clearly emblazoned on them. He got on the radio, sorting this out would take some time…
Suddenly half a dozen puffs of smoke appeared… an AA battery had opened up on them. Out of the corner of his eye Peter Townsend saw one of the French aircraft catch alight and yawl to the port side. The crippled aircraft started to roll… suddenly a trail of smoke shot clear of the cockpit and moments later a parachute deployed. He had no time to think about it as the first of the surviving three French ‘planes lined up to land at Biggin Hill. The first overshot and turned to make another attempt, the second went in verging on stalling (but still a damn site faster than a landing Spitfire…) and only pulled up at the very end of the runway. The third wasn’t so lucky, the aircraft stalled at a height of perhaps two hundred feet… again a trail of smoke shot from the cockpit and somewhere up above a Parachute appeared, the wreck ploughed into the ground fifty yards short of the ‘strip. The first came round for a second try and like the seconds managed to pull up with no runway left. Squadron Leader Townsend guided his Spitfire into land. He taxied off the runway and clambered out. He looked around; the strange aircraft were already swarming with armed men…
December 8th 1941, Trondheim, Norway, 0815 Local Time (GMT+1)
In one of the major oddities of the transition the city of Trondheim and the surrounding region ended up split between three ‘time lines’. The most unusual ‘split’ occurred at the town of Hell twenty kilometres east of Trondheim. The boarder between the 1969 and 2015 Norwegians ran more or less right down the middle of the local airport. The event had caused confusion –indeed in the general chaos ten men had been killed in skirmishes at the airport.
Now however those incidents were in the past. The matter at hand was ridding the city of Nazi troops. Colonel Johannesen looked over his force, it was to put it lightly quite a mixed bag. In total he had three companies of 21st century troops –cobbled together from whatever permanent and Home Guard units he could find- and five companies of ’69 infantry. He couldn’t help but think how comical the equipment of the ’69 troops was… how they could be expected to be supplied –let alone fight- with such a weird mish-mash of odds and ends was beyond belief.
The ‘sixty-seven-ers’ Howitzers opened up on the nearest German position As the first rounds exploded Colonel Johannesen couldn’t help but see some irony in the fact that many of the guns were leftovers from the Nazi occupation. The bombardment ceased and the first tanks, a platoon of M48s supported by his two Leopard 2s advanced…
December 8th 1941, Semarang, Central Java, 1455 Local Time (GMT+7)
Major General Daryanto looked over the pile of briefings and notes… it seemed that the nutters from the mornings train crash had been right and the year was indeed 1941 and the rest of the archipelago was under Dutch control. A knock on the door brought his mind back from the swirl of half formed plans…
A junior officer appeared carrying more reports and a sack containing something.
"Sir, I have brought the day’s reports and also the uhm… evidence you wanted about the deed…"
So the sack contained the head of the local chief Islamic nutter. Major General Daryanto thought for a moment… the Islamic Extremists had been useful allies during the coup and one part of their ideas –an Indonesia stretching from Southern Thailand all the way to New Guinea- resonated with the military. In this situation thought they would only be a dead weight… Major General Daryanto already knew that to survive he would need to pick sides. But which side? The Japanese oppression had been worse than the Dutch, but was there a hope of the allies accepting his aid with his inevitable conflict with the Dutch? He thought not, especially now word had arrived that western forces had also come thought the ‘event’.
December 8th 1941, South China Sea, 1608 Local Time (GMT+8)
The first six Gripens of No. 2 Squadron RNZAF and the pair of KC-130s descended into Singapore. Captain Willis watched the whole process on USS Halsey’s radar… it would be good to have better air support than a collection of Buffelos. Undoubtedly it would change the situation vastly if the Japanese launched an air attack as they historically had. Not that the Japs’ airforce stood much chance anymore… Force Z was now accompanied by the all the survivors of the Singapore Escort Force: The Type 23 frigate HMS St Albans; HMAS Newcastle, an Adelaide class missile frigate; his own USS Halsey and a pair of Republic of Singapore Corvettes .
Captain Willis turned his attention to the day’s messages. The first was from Naval Command Darwin promoting him to Commodore and placing him in command of the Singapore Escort Group. Second was another set from Darwin, ordering him to provide the support he saw fit to Force Z. He turned his attention to the third and most recent… again from Darwin, but this time mentioning the fact that contact had been made with the US government about his vessel. Captain Willis’s thoughts turned for a moment to what the US would say… he was quite sure the Government and Military would initially think the entire thing quite mad but undoubtedly sooner rather than later he would be ordered to Hawaii. Another thought struck, his ship was named after the Admiral who would command the Pacific Fleet’s Carriers for most of the war… how the hell would he take finding a ship named after him?
A series of beeps brought Captain Willis’s attention back to the screen. Another communication from Darwin, contact had been established with the USS Ronald Reagan’s CBG… or rather what was left of it.
* * * * * *
Captain James Ferris climbed out of the Seahawk onto the deck of HMS Repulse. He was followed as rapidly as her crutches would allow by Petty Officer Baldwin and a sailor carrying a box. The presence of Kate Baldwin caused something of a fuss amongst the crew they passed but apparently the bandages and the reports of the boarding party had apparently made it clear not to mess with her. The trio were soon ushered onto the bridge. It took them a matter of moments to find Captain Tennant.
"So Captain Ferris, what’s the reason for your presence here?"
"Well Sir, assuming you mean on this ship it is rather simple…"
The sailor with the box stepped forwards and opened it. Captain Tennant looked for a moment…
"Clearly some variety of optical instrument. Some form of telescope perhaps?"
Petty Officer Baldwin chimed in "Close Sir, actually it is a laser range finder and target designator I er, uhm… I mean some of the crew -shall we say borrowed- it off the SAS during that operation a few weeks back…"
December 8th 1941, River Ems, Germany, 1046 Local Time (GMT+1:00)
The Ju-87s came tearing in ready to unleash death upon the column of M-113s. Major Kingsley could only watch on horrified, a similar attack earlier that day had wiped out an entire platoon of West Germans. Half a dozen 50 caliber guns turned to face the incomings but none had the range to do anything until the dive-bombers were almost on top of them. There was only one hope and from what he had seen of the Redeye teams earlier Major Kingsley had little hope in that.
The FIM-43 Redeye was by its very nature unsuited for the task; the weapon was designed to lock onto the hot exhausts of aircraft, which back in 1969 had meant it was only good for tail chases.The first missile fired and soared uselessly away a good hundred yards left of the planes. The second locked on and headed straight for the leading Ju-87… the bomber exploded in a ball of flame. The third exploded a short distance from the target showering the Stuka with shrapnel.
The two undamaged aircraft turned away while the damaged Stuka passed directly overhead. Over the din of the fifty calibers the Major swore he could hear the plane’s engine spluttering. The Stuka ploughed into the ground perhaps a hundred yards from the M-113s.
Still shaking Major Kingsley turned on his radio and contacted Lieutenant-Colonel Hill
"Sir, Major Kingsley here… how’s taking the bridges going, over…"
"Still little progress Major, no problems at the rear yet? Over"
"We just beat off an air attack, over and out"
* * * * * *
Lieutenant-Colonel Hill looked towards the front line again… the two 88mm AA guns on the other bank had already knocked out one of his two remaining M41s and forced him to keep his other tanks back out of range. As a result it was taking longer than hoped to dislodge the German infantry.
A sudden crackle of static dragged the Colonel’s attention back to the radio… he listened and heard radio chatter. It took a few moments to realise that it was from a flight of aircraft and a few more moments to register the very clearly British voice...
"Calling Blue leader… we urgently need air support, over"
"Blue leader here… who exactly is ‘we’? Over"
"A collection of Americans and West Germans… Over"
"Were exactly are you? Over"
"At an Autobahn bridge on the River Ems…" Lieutenant-Colonel Hill took a moment to look over the map and read out the coordinates "… We want you to take out two AT guns… Over"
"Any AA defences in the area? Over"
"Well, the pair of 88s we want you to take out and a couple of 20mm guns… Over"
"Too bad, guess we will have to try anyway… Over and out"
Lieutenant-Colonel Hill waited; the minutes seemed to stretch to eternity… Suddenly from the South East came a roar that was certainly multiple jet engines. A matter of twenty or thirty seconds later four jets screamed overhead. The 88mm Flaks’ crews never stood a chance. There was simply no way they could bring the 88s to bear let alone fire a shot before the first aircraft was on them. Their demise was short and violent, it started with a hail of rockets and cannon shells and ended with a shower of Napalm. The 20mm guns fared better by virtue of being only secondary targets… by the time the planes turned their attention to them all the Napalm had been dropped and only a few rockets remained.
Lieutenant-Colonel Hill watched the slaughter unfold… the sheets of flames engulfing the enemy guns… the explosions as ammunition ‘cooked off’ from the heat. It was like something out of Vietnam… it wasn’t something he had expected to see here in Europe. A sudden burst of 20mm fire struck the leading jet –which he recognised by now as a Hawker Hunter. The Hunter turned towards the river before the pilot lost control. The pilot ejected and drifted down into a tree on the far side.
December 8th 1941, Biggin Hill, England, 1058 Local Time (GMT)
The two strange French aircraft –Mirage IIIs their pilots had called them- were safely stored in a heavily guarded hanger but the transition was about to throw more weirdness the way of Biggin Hill.. The engines were heard a good minute before the first of the new aircraft came into view.
Squadron Leader Peter Townsend watched on as three Spitfires climbed to meet these unexpected arrivals. How on earth had these aircraft managed to get so far unobserved? How had they got past the Chain Home Radar sites? And above all else what were they? Peter Townsend quickly counted the aircraft… three, no four large four-engined planes and another half dozen smaller twin tailed aircraft. A closer look revealed a black cross emblazoned on the smaller aircraft… Peter Townsend could only watch on dumb struck … the Jerris were bloody well attempting to land! A sudden bang reverberated around the airfield as the first 3.75 inch AA gun opened up, quickly followed by further blasts as the rest of the battery opened fire…
* * * * * *
Flight Lieutenant Webster wrestled with the control column of the Hercules. Why he had been stupid enough to volunteer to fly the first British plane in? If the rough plan cobbled together over the last hours worked the RAF Hercules should have landed first hopefully allowing some time to sort out the issue of the Germans… But of cause that hadn’t happened, through a series of damn mix ups the Krauts were going in ahead… it could only mean trouble…
Flight Lieutenant Webster looked ahead. A series of greyish puffs of smoke appeared amongst the West German aircraft. It took a few seconds for the dull cough of the flak to reach the Hercules and by that time a German plane was already going down…
* * * * * *
The echo of the first barrage had barely died when the guns fired again but Squadron Leader Peter Townsend had no time to look on. Rather he dashed about trying to ready any men he could find for the inevitable struggle… there was simply no way the heavy AA could wipe out these Krauts and the 40mm guns wouldn’t have time to aim before the first one was on the strip. This conflict would come down to an infantry battle…
* * * * * *
Flight Lieutenant Webster watched the German Noratlas limp down into a field before skidding into a farm house and exploding. Normally he would have been horrified at such an incident but now there simply wasn’t time… already flak was exploding all around his plane and a fighter had already made one pass. He pulled the Hercules into as tight a turn as a fully loaded transport could manage… Suddenly out of nowhere a Fighter appeared dead ahead. Small flashes of light appeared on its wings and a matter of milliseconds later the first 20mm and .303 rounds tore into the cockpit.
Nothing registered, not his Co-Pilot’s head exploding or the Navigator being torn to shreds… Flight Lieutenant Webster had just one thing on his mind, surviving. The Hercules jinked and turned like mad as he attempted to shake off any fighters on his tail. Finally Flight Lieutenant Webster glanced at the control panels… two dead engines! He had no choice but to put the Hercules down and hope for the best…
* * * * * *
The leading aircraft came in… two lines of tracers converged on it but it pressed on, passing directly over the wreck of the Mirage from earlier in the day. With a sudden thump the aeroplane landed. It hadn’t even stopped when Squadron Leader Townsend gave the order and his hastily organised band opened fire. The first man stepped out of the plane…for a moment Peter Townsend hesitated, the man’s uniform simply didn’t look that much like current German uniforms. A matter of seconds later, before Squadron Leader Townsend could do anything the man was gunned down… as were the next three out of the plane.
* * * * * *
Flight Lieutenant Webster carefully lined the plane up… fail this and he would be responsible for ninety-odd deaths. He tried to drop the landing gear… no response, the hydraulics were dead. He had no choice but to put the Hercules down on its belly and pray the damn thing held together. A few final corrections and he passed the point of no return… the aircraft touched the ground… bounced… shook like buggery and skidded to a halt. Flight Lieutenant Webster just sat there for several minutes expecting at any instant to be engulfed by a ball of flame but it never came… He had made it down alive.
* * * * * *
The fight raged on. The RAF ground crew fought with pistols, Lee-Enfields, Lewis Guns, Spanners, random bits of wreckage… what ever they could lay their hands on. Squadron Leader Townsend knew it was all for naught, already another two of the twin tailed aircraft and one of the four-engined monsters had landed and his random band of ground crew and pilots couldn’t stop these attackers. He had one choice, to fall back towards the operations building where the few guards were entrenched… and hope like hell the army got here soon. It took a good few minutes to get the order round and even longer to convince the men to obey but eventually he got the his men to retreat. But he issued the order too late, already enemy troops had outflanked his small force.
December 8th 1941, East of the Cook Islands, 2305 Local Time (GMT+12)
On the bridge of the USS Philippine Sea Captain Bailey looked over the orders… they started off unusually and only became stranger. For starters the orders came from an Admiral in Darwin rather than from Pearl Harbour. Even more unusual was the order to proceed to Wake Island. The reason why made him think the damn Admiral had gone crazy… "…in order to repulse a Japanese attack due on the 11th of December…" But then again the rest of the report sounded authentic and having slipped back to 1941 would explain the unusual radio intercepts; the loss of the satellite links and perhaps the loss of the carrier. He turned to his second in command.
"Signal the Taskforce to make course for Wake Island"
"Aye, Aye Sir… Any reason Sir?"
"It seems either some damn Admiral has gone mad or else the entire damn world has gone mad… How long should it take Lieutenant?"
"Well Sir, we a limited to twenty knots by the Amphibs… so we can manage 480 nautical miles per day. Wake is around 2900 nautical miles North West, so it will take somewhere near six days Sir"
"Damn it, we won’t be able to get there fast enough… we bloody well need to be able to offer some support by the 11th."
"Sir, by the 11th we will be with in one-thousand-five-hundred nautical miles… we could launch the AV-22s  and F-35s…"
"True… if we were to use drop tanks on the F-35s. But they wouldn’t have the range to get back…"
"Well Sir, why not fly a couple of V-22s full of munitions and fuel to Wake? Then we can operate our aircraft from the scene… hopefully there aren’t too many problems?"
"Well, other than the Japs and their invasion? I somehow doubt the garrison will be expecting us… they will probably shoot first and ask questions later…"
December 8th 1941, South China Sea, 1912 Local Time (GMT+8:00)
Force Z had been at sea for just over three hours. While Captain Willis and Captain Ferris had questioned the Admiral’s decision to sortie Sir Tom Philips had just ignored them… indeed he decided to leave earlier than history had it.
Captain Willis thought back over the debate:
"Admiral, I question the wisdom of taking these ships against the Japs…"
"Captain, you said the Japanese air-threat could be more than defeated by your ships’ uhm, ‘missile systems’… Do you mean to tell me you have lied about you capabilities?"
"No Sir, it is a simple problem. My ship, USS Halsey currently has only sixty SM-2s aboard while HMAS Newcastle has a total of thirty-two. As I said earlier Force Z was attacked by eighty-eight Japanese planes, now we have ninety-two medium range missiles… even assuming a one hundred percent hit rate that leaves just four missiles to engage any further attacks…"
"You said there was a significant stock of these ‘missiles’ in Darwin…"
"Sir, do you really think the Japanese will give us the chance to return to Darwin or ship sufficient missiles to Singapore before they attack again? Personally I doubt it…"
"Well Captain, try to bloody well not use them all… you did say you also had short range ‘missiles’ and that your guns could reliably target aircraft."
"Yes Sir, but that doesn’t allow much room for error…"
"Damn it… we are putting to sea if you bloody well like it or not…"
And what happened if they survived any air attack? The answer was simple… Force Z would be overwhelmed in a surface action. After all the Japanese had two Battlecruisers, ten cruisers and countless destroyers in the South China Sea. Another question sprang to mind… could the missile armament of his ships knock out sufficient Japanese vessels to even the odds?
December 8th 1941, Trondheim, Norway, 1215 Local Time (GMT+1:00)
The Norwegian troops had already fought their way well into the centre of Trondheim. Several hundred Germans had been encircled in the streets surrounding Kristiasten Festning while the rest had fallen back across the river. In the wake of the retreating Germans the city burned…
The first troops reached the one remaining bridge and started to cross… only to be mown down by Kraut MG-34s. A M48 Patton opened fire… the first shot detonated with a satisfying bang on a three story building. The tank moved onto the bridge… the bridge collapsed with a god-almighty blast. The span complete with the tank plunged into the depths…
Further down stream a pair of captured fishing boats started ferrying troops across. The Germans opened up with a 37mm gun… the fishing boats replied with rifle and machine-gun fire. The range closed, someone on the boat took a pot shot with a Bazooka. A second 37mm opened joined in and within seconds the fishing boat was reduced to a burning mass of wreckage.
In response an F-5 swept in to neutralise the guns. A burst of 20mm fire and a single bomb silenced the first 37mm AA. The plane turned to attack the second gun… but the gun crew was too fast. Tracers tore into the port wing of the Freedom Fighter… the aircraft climbed for a moment, jettisoned its bombs then exploded scattering debris over the town.
Colonel Johannesen couldn’t help but look on horrified as the fires coagulated and the entire old city slowly turned into a massive inferno. This wasn’t how he intended for things to happen…
December 8th 1941, Near Groningen, Netherlands, 1426 Local Time (GMT+1:00)
Major Kingsley adjusted the fuse on the demolition charge then ran like hell. He took cover, the fuse slowly burnt down. The blast tore the roof off the M113 while the diesel-fuelled fire did the rest. The Major couldn’t help but feel annoyed but there was simply no choice… the M113 couldn’t move and there wasn’t a hope in hell he would let the Krauts acquire it.
It certainly wasn’t the first time one of the vehicles had to be destroyed. Indeed over half the three companies’ APCs and armor were gone… only one-third of that had been due to enemy action. Most losses were due to break downs or running out of gas… there simply wasn’t time to get the vehicles going again. The losses in terms of men had been equally bad…already a third of the men were missing including Lieutenant-Colonel Hill.
Major Kingsley looked over a map… it was perhaps an hour’s drive to the coast and hopefully –if Lieutenant-Colonel Hill had been successful in contacting them- the RN would be waiting.
December 8th 1941, Saint-Nazaire, France, 1438 Local Time (GMT+1:00)
Even to a submariner like Admiral Karl Doenitz it was plainly obvious these three ships were of immense value. And to think of his reaction when he first heard about them… well how could the claim of ships appearing out of thin air be taken as anything more than a joke? Of cause while he had been quite pissed off at the damn Commodore’s insistence about the ships he had decided to take the train journey to find out…
And what a set of prizes! A carrier and a pair of –what the crews had called- ‘guided missile destroyers’. The Admirals eyes glanced around the harbour again and settled on a grey mass.
"Kommodore, is that the hull of a ship?"
"Yawohl Herr Admiral, we managed to board three of the four ships but that one… I believe she was called the La Galissonniere put up a fight… I had to let the Schnell-Boots loose on her…"
"Kommodore… What about these other ships?"
"Herr Admiral, the carrier is called the Foch, her officers claimed she entered service in 1963… I know it seems ridicules but there are things aboard her that we simply can’t believe…"
"Well Kommodore let’s go see them…"
December 8th 1941, Biggin Hill, England, 1358 Local Time (GMT)
The situation was still understandably tense but at least the shooting had stopped. Squadron Leader Townsend found it hard to believe he or indeed anyone had survived. His small band of survivors was escorted to the front line by half a dozen paratroopers carrying their unusual rifles… SLRs he had heard them referred to as.
This little procession was met by a similar one moving in the opposite direction. Squadron Leader Townsend glanced over them… a small bunch of aircrew and a few soldiers escorted by what looked like a Home Guard Squad. Peter Townsend turned and picked out the senior airman in the bunch, a Flight Lieutenant from the look of his uniform.
"You’re Name, Flight Lieutenant?"
Flight Lieutenant Webster looked back… the man looked vaguely familiar, like someone he had seen on the news once… but he couldn’t place a name
"Timothy Webster, Sir"
"How did you come to be in this predicament?"
"Well Sir, your fighters got at us…"
Squadron Leader Townsend grunted in satisfaction.
"… and I had to put the Hercules down in a field. I lost ten men to your damn aircraft and another four on landing… then the damn Home Guard arrived to clean us up. It wasn’t as if we were capable of putting up any resistance… but the bloody Home Guard insisted on shooting at us. I lost another five dead before they decided that we had surrendered…"
"How the hell did you end up with the damn Krauts?"
"You mean those West German Paratroopers, Sir? They just happened to be deployed at our airbase…"
"No, I mean after the Great War and this War which god-damn idiot decided to trust the Jerries with an army of more than two men…"
"Sorry Sir… That requires an understanding of history… or in your case the future. You see the allies did actually win this war… hard as that may be to believe at this moment. Germany was divided into four occupation zones… British, American, French and Soviet. In addition Berlin was divided along similar lines. Starting more or less the moment the war ended Stalin went about setting up communist governments in Eastern Europe. Things came to a head in 1948…"
"Another war, Flight Lieutenant?"
"No Sir, although it easily could have been. The Commies blockaded the Western zones of Berlin… We responded with a massive airlift and managed to keep the city supplied until Stalin gave up. Since then we have been in what has become know as the Cold War…"
"So you haven’t been at war then?"
"No Sir… We fought communist forces in Korea in the 1950s and the Yanks are fighting the Commies in Vietnam… uhm that would be Indochina to you…"
"Why haven’t these other conflicts resulted in a wider war?"
"If Russia causes trouble in the wrong place they will get blasted into a nuclear wasteland… unfortunately the same also applies …or is that applied to us…"
Squadron Leader Townsend looked rather confused…
December 8th 1941, near Kota Bharu, Malaya, 2310 Local Time (GMT+8:00)
The two JAS 39 Gripens swept in at an altitude of perhaps four hundred meters. Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth briefly glanced out of the canopy… already thought the gloom he could see fires dotted here and there. Undoubtedly a cluster-bomb would make a nice mess out of whoever was encamped there.
Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth turned his attention back to the HUD… he quietly cursed. The Inertial Navigation system may have been good but if he didn’t want to hit friendlies here he needed an accuracy of two or three meters not two or three hundred meters. With the GPS out and the lack of time to set up a batch of beacons it simply couldn’t be done. It didn’t really matter anyway… his objectives lay out in the bay not ashore. The two cluster-bombs and thirty odd rockets were intended for the Japanese ships.
Minutes passed… a row of tracers shot into the air apparently not aimed at all. Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth flicked a switch bringing up the view from the FLIR pod mounted under the fuselage. There directly ahead was a Destroyer while off to the right was a large steamer… a perfect target. He spoke into the radio:
"Kiwi two… Have a visual on two targets. You take the Destroyer"
"Roger that Kiwi one… Wilco"
Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth adjusted his heading. The Steamer was clearly in the middle of his view while the HUD already was counting down to bomb release. The Gripen closed the range… the count hit zero and Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth released the first cluster-bomb and climbed away. A second later the cluster-bomb opened scattering the bomblets from one end of the ship to the other. The flashes as the bomblets detonated illuminated the scene for a moment… spread before Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth was a mass of ships: one large warship –perhaps a cruiser; a dozen destroyers and escorts and countless transports. His aircraft turned… off to the port side were the two targets now both alight from stem to stern.
Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth dived to perhaps one-hundred and fifty meters and followed the sweep of the shore. On the FLIR he noticed a clump of barges, boats and tenders… the perfect target for his rockets. He lined the aircraft up and let fly… the hail of 70mm rockets and 27mm shells tore three of the barges to shreds and set another two alight.
The aircraft climbed back up. Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth had only a single cluster-bomb left. It was time for a last big target… the Cruiser. The Gripen closed with the target… a burst of tracers sailed past the cockpit at what to Edward Ellsworth to be a matter of centimetres. The range closed and the time ticked down. Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth had everything lined up perfectly ready for release when another burst of tracers came at him. This time there was no mistake… the clunk of metal on metal and a small flash somewhere astern told him a round had hit. He broke hard left and released the bomb before piss bolting out of there.
The final bomb while not well aimed still did detonate sufficiently close to the Cruiser to spray the stern with bomblets wiping out the crews of three 5.5 inch guns and setting the ship afire.
December 8th 1941, North Sea Coast, Netherlands, 1826 Local Time (GMT+1:00)
Major Kingsley was on the verge of giving up hope when the lead Destroyer began to resolve itself out of the twilight. Ten minutes later the last vessel materialized from the gloom. So two Destroyers and four Motor Torpedo Boats had been sent to evacuate a shade under four hundred men? Well it would be a squeeze but they should fit…
A launch from the nearer Destroyer reached the shore. A naval officer got out and walked up to Major Kingsley.
"Sir, are you Lieutenant-Colonel Hill?"
"No… I am the surviving senior officer, Major Kingsley."
"Well Sir, you had better get your troops off the beach then…"
One of the surviving PanzerGrenadiers wandered past muttering something. It didn’t take long for the RN officer to take notice…
"… what you have f*%$ing Kraut on the loose!" He glanced back towards the boat "… This must be an f&%$ing trap…."
"Sorry Lieutenant but I thought you would have been told…"
"Told what you bloody imposter?"
"Lieutenant, I am not a damn German agent trying to lure you into a trap… I am a Major in the American Army and I am from the future…"
"You’re bloody well nuts…"
"Look at our damn weapons you fool… Do you really thing the Nazis could have built them?"
The Lieutenant considered it for a moment. It was true, the surviving Tank looked nothing like the Jerries armor and the rifles looked… well more like a Sub-Machinegun or Light Machinegun than a rifle.
"Well I will take you out to the ship but I don’t think we can let your men on yet…"
An hour had passed in negotiation but the Poms had eventually accepted that this wasn’t some Nazi scheme and another hour had passed loading the first two-hundred and fifty men. Major Kingsley was back ashore supervising the destruction of what couldn’t be salvaged when the report arrived. A Sergeant dashed up…
"Sir, the sentries have spotted enemy forces nearby…"
"Oh Shit! Go and get as many men into the boats as possible… I will try to organize a rear guard…"
* * * * * *
Lieutenant-Colonel Hill was stuck in this damn half-track with some gorilla of an SS officer. It was bad enough being a prisoner of these barbarians but being dragged along with them to watch the attack on his comrades was even worse. The SS gorilla -a Standartenfuhrer or whatever their equivalent to Colonel was- turned to speak
"It’s Lieutenant-Colonel you dimwit…"
The Nazi slapped Lieutenant-Colonel Hill round the face.
"… Show your captors more respect. As I was saying soon the rest of your little force will be in the bag…"
"Not likely… The West-Germans will fight to the death and quite probably the Yanks will too…"
"… We shall see…"
* * * * * *
The perimeter had shrunk to the extent it was held by two platoons and a screen of scouts. Slowly the first German tank materialized from the gloom… a shot from a 106mm Recoilless Rifle mounted on a M113 knocked the Panzer-III out immediately. More tanks closed in and the battle commenced. Men armed with 90mm Recoilless Rifles and LAWs turned their weapons on the tanks and in a matter of seconds a pair of Panzer-IIIs was left burning, quickly followed by a Panzer II. The last of the excess men cleared the beach and the two Destroyers departed. The German infantry charged and were thrown back. A trio of StuG-IIIs advanced along the shoreline… a response came quickly as the Leopard Main Battle Tank brought its 105-mm gun to bear. Soon all three StuG-IIIs had been reduced to charred wrecks.
Following this last rebuff the firing died down as the Nazis backed off to regroup. This would perhaps be the only chance to for the survivors to escape… Major Kingsley gave the order and the men started piling into the MTBs. He himself did one last round to check that all demolition charges were correctly set before also boarding the Torpedo-Boat.
December 9th 1941, North of theAnamba Islands, South China Sea, 0948 Local Time (GMT+8:00)
The Seahawk off HMAS Newcastle hovered for a moment as it dipped its sonar. Petty Officer Picton listened for the return signals… there it was again, a firm contact. There was something out there –and if the briefing was correct the contact went by the name I-65. He briefly spoke to the Pilot, a Lieutenant-Commander Brookes. The helicopter returned to forward flight as it closed the range before releasing its single ASW torpedo.
The spout of water that shot skyward thirty seconds later signalled the death of I-65.
* * * * * *
Captain Willis grunted with some satisfaction with the news of the destruction of I-65. But a more urgent issue was on hand. A message had come up from the CIC that three or possibly more bogeys seemed to be closing on the Seahawk. Captain Willis thought for a moment, the helicopter was well beyond SM-2 range and none of the Gripens were available… even if any were they would be unable to get to the Seahawk in time. All he could do was hope and pray that those contacts were RAF Buffalos and not Zeros or Ki-43s.
* * * * * *
"Halsey to Hunter One, You have incoming Bogeys… repeat, you have incoming Bogeys…"
"Shit…" screamed Lieutenant-Commander Brookes.
He knew at once they didn’t stand a chance but the possibilities went through his mind anyway… one by one he scratched the possible escape routes. There wasn’t a hope in hell of out running any fighters. The enemy had no RADAR so he couldn’t get lost in the ground clutter. Perhaps he could out manoeuvre them? It would work if there were fewer airplanes but at the moment it was three or maybe even four on one… the Seahawk would just end up boxed in and shot down.
There was nothing to say they couldn’t go out with a bang…the torpedo was gone but the rocket pod and 7.62mm Minigun –both of which had been intended for use if the Submarine had been on the surface- were still available. The range closed and the Bogeys appeared, it was immediately clear that they were Zeros. Lieutenant-Commander Brookes carefully lined up on the lead aircraft… the range closed and he opened up… the hail of 7.62mm rounds tore the Zero to shreds. As the flaming mass of wreckage fell away the Seahawk climbed like mad. The surviving three fighters were soon on top of them. Lieutenant-Commander Brookes dodged and turned the helicopter like mad in the hope of keeping the Zeros at bay. But the inevitable happened and the ‘chopper ended up boxed in with one Zero circling well above and the other two near level. There was only one way out… down. As the Seahawk plunged the Zeros dived… 20mm shells tore into one of the Turboshafts and the helicopter lost power. Lieutenant-Commander Brookes wrestled with the control and finally managed to get the Seahawk level, a final burst of power slowed the aircraft enough to make the crash survivable…
The Seahawk hit the water with a massive splash and within seconds the emergency floats had deployed. The Zeros circled overhead like vultures. Lieutenant-Commander Brookes took advantage of the few free moments to take stock of the situation… here he was sitting in a half-flooded helicopter which the moment the Japanese decided to strafe them would drag him to the sea floor. The prospects out in the water weren’t any better… but then again a 20mm round to the torso was presumably quicker than drowning.
The Zeros came in for a strafing run. 20mm shells and 7.7mm bullets cut into the port side floats and the fuselage. The Seahawk turned turtle and Lieutenant-Commander Brookes suddenly found himself submerged. He struggled briefly to free himself from the seat and then swam like mad to get out. He surfaced to find the sky clear of aircraft and Petty Officer Picton sitting on the upturned fuselage…
* * * * * *
Captain Ferris listened to the recording again…
"Mayday, Mayday… Hunter One is under attack by four… repeat, four Zeros…"
The unmistakable rattle of gunfire followed.
"Splash One… Splash One… Halsey, Make that three Zeros. Can we paint up that kill?"
This was followed by a scream…
"Mayday, Mayday… the bastards are on top o..."
There was another rattle of gunfire, a scream then two or three shallow breaths and finally silence.
It was disturbing listening to the death of one of his men but there had been some hope, a few badly garbled signals had been picked up so apparently at least one of the aircrew had survived. Getting Admiral Phillips to detach a ship to rescue any survivors would be another matter; already an attempt to speak to him via the liaison team aboard HMS Prince of Wales had been a dismal failure.
December 9th 1941, Singapore, 1022 Local Time (GMT+8)
Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth walked into the hanger. Laid out before him was the little maintenance equipment that had come in with No. 2 Squadron RNZAF. Also in the hanger was his Gripen. He turned to one of the technicians.
"So is my kite okay?"
"Well, there isn’t any structural damage…" The two men walked up and inspected the aircraft closer "… but we think the electronics may have taken a hit…"
"So how long to fix that?"
"Well, depends… I think it’s only a few wires cut by shrapnel but we still need to double check. Once the rest of the ground staff gets here it should only be quick but at the moment we don’t have the equipment for a proper repair job. If things were desperate I suppose we could just solder the broken wires together…."
"Well we still have eleven aircraft airworthy and those two spares down in Darwin so things aren’t desperate yet… but if any other aircraft get damaged then we may need to think about it… By the way, how long should it be until the rest of the ground crew gets here?"
"I don’t know… I think the damn Aussies have given more priority to getting troops and armour in... So when we hit the flight hours for servicing these birds we may need to ship them back south."
It was bad news, No. 2 Squadron was already hard pressed as it was… they had to have two fighters with the HawkEye AWAC at all times in addition to maintaining four ready to scramble to either intercept air raids or to protect Force Z. Half the Squadron in the air or ready to scramble… Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth knew it simply wasn’t sustainable.
December 9th 1941, Gulf of Thailand, 1136 Local Time (GMT+7:00)
The Chakri Naruebet dodged and turned as plumes of water were thrown up all around her. The Thai Carrier was fighting for her very survival. One of the ship’s four surviving Harriers swooped in to attack the nearest enemy vessel, successfully hitting the Destroyer with three 500 pound bombs. But Captain Tho Songrung knew it was a losing battle. Here his ship was bereft of any escorts and facing four large gun-armed vessels and at least seven smaller ships.
He watched for a moment as one of the AV-8s touched down… the deck crew were immediately into action refueling and loading the plane. The Harrier taxied towards the ‘ski-jump’ ready to take off again when all hell broke loose as an eight inch shell struck the deck. In an instant a massive ball of flames engulfed the Harrier before spreading over the deck… Captain Tho Songrung knew it was the beginning of the end…
* * * * * *
Vice Admiral Kondo couldn’t help but respect the captain of the Aircraft Carrier he had stumbled on. He had put up a good fight, indeed in many ways too good a fight. Already those weird aircraft had disabled HIJMS Atago and left the destroyers Oshio and Arashi in sinking condition. He gave the order, the signal flashed to the surrounding vessels in Morse code and the Destroyers were set loose. The Destroyers dashed into a range of perhaps five-thousand yards before turning and releasing their tin fish. Thirty or forty seconds passed before the first explosion echoed across the waves… followed rapidly by another two or three as more 24-inch Type 93 torpedoes struck home.
December 9th 1941, North of theAnamba Islands, South China Sea, 1241 Local Time (GMT+8:00)
"Captain, we have just picked up a distress call…"
James Ferris turned to the Petty Officer… this wasn’t the first time today they had intercepted a distress call but most had been too badly garbled to make much out of.
"Where’s it from? Could it be from the Seahawk?"
"Sorry sir, it is certainly not from our Helicopter crew..."
"So where is it from Petty Officer?"
"It originates from the direction of the Gulf of Thailand, which would correspond with its contents…"
He passed the captain a transcript of the message and Captain Ferris started reading.
"Mayday, Mayday, Chakri Naruebet under attack by estimated 11 vessels, repeat under attack by 11 vessels…." He skipped a few lines giving details of the location.
"… Two Seahawks and two Harriers lost. Have damaged three enemy ships…"
A brief note followed saying the next few lines were too garbled to make any sense of. James Ferris turned his attention to the last line of the transcript.
"… have been hit, flight deck on fire. Repeat, flight deck on fire…"
The transmission terminated.
* * * * * *
Sub-Lieutenant Thomas Duong walked onto the bridge of HMS Prince of Wales. He made his way directly to Admiral Philips.
"Sir, I have that briefing you wanted…"
"Sir, I also have report from Captain Ferris confirming that they have been receiving a distress call from a Thai Light Carrier. Apparently the Carrier is believed to either sunk or disabled…."
"Let’s hope it has been sunk… I don’t want the Japs getting their hands on any advanced weapons."
"… Incidentally Sir, Captain Willis believes that the Carrier encountered the main Japanese naval force in the region. He requests permission to launch a volley of Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Japanese…"
"Tell Captain Willis I am denying him that permission until he can confirm that…"
"Aye, Aye, Sir."
December 9th 1941, Singapore, 1422 Local Time (GMT+8)
The first C-130 touched down and taxied off the runway. General Percival looked on not quite knowing what would happen next. He assumed the officer commanding these new arrivals would come to meet him but with these soldiers from the future who knew what could happen… General Percival actually wasn’t entirely sure if he could trust them.
The ramp at the rear of the aircraft lowered, General Percival expected to see the CO of the unit it was walk out but instead what looked like a Tank rolled out. General Percival took another look at it. The vehicle appeared to be three feet shorter than the Matilda IIs that made up most of the armour under his command… yet the hull alone seemed if anything taller than a Matilda Infantry Tank… Hell, the entire thing looked like nothing more than a box built atop a bulldozer.
The "Tank" pulled up just in front of the General. A head popped out of the cupola situated just forwards of the turret…
"Major Ennis reporting for duty, Sir…"
"What exactly are these uhm… tanks of your Major?"
"M113 Mobile Gun Systems, Sir. More or less the hull of an M113 APC with the gun and autoloader from a M1128 Stryker dumped on top of it."
"Major, How many of these tanks are going to be deployed here?"
"Sir, first of all the M113 MGS doesn’t meet the standard to be a tank… at least not where I came from. As for the issue of numbers Sir, I was told the intention was to deploy the three squadrons of the 2nd/14th Light Horse that came through the event. I must however point out to you General that only two of the three squadrons are equipped with the MGS… the other one just has the bog standard M113AS2/3 Armored Personnel Carrier."
An hour or so passed as the other four cargo planes off loaded the two troops of Armor and a detachment of Engineers. Major Ennis was already thinking of what his small force would face. Questions raced through his mid… could the Japanese 37mm AT Guns threaten his M113s? What about the Japanese tanks?
December 9th 1941, North of theAnamba Islands, South China Sea, 1559 Local Time (GMT+8:00)
The small fleet steamed north. USS Halsey and the two contemporary Destroyers, HMS Electra and Express took the lead while the Capital ships followed with HMAS Vampire, HMS St Albans and the two Singaporean Victory class Corvettes screening the flanks and HMAS Newcastle bringing up the rear.
Captain Willis sat reading in a corner of the bridge. He knew the turmoil of battle was imminent and had decided to use what little peace he could find. He was suddenly and rudely interrupted by one of the ship’s officers.
"Why the hell did you disturb me?"
"Captain, we have two surface contacts. The nearer one is located 160 nautical miles almost due north… the radar returns seem to indicate one or possibly two vessels. The second contact is nearer 180 nautical miles Nor-Nor-East, it appears to be made up of at least four ships. Also Sir, we have a contact that’s consistent with a light aircraft coming directly at us…"
"Get Prince of Wales on the radio… and how long until the aircraft’s in range?"
"Aye, Aye, Sir. I will get someone onto it immediately. And Sir, we could hit the aircraft with an SM-2 now or give it five minutes and we will be in gun range…"
"Lieutenant we will wait until it’s within gun range…"
It took several minutes to get into contact with the Admiral and even longer to convince him to allow a missile strike. By that time the incoming aircraft, which had turned out to be a Japanese float plane was within range of the Destroyer’s 5"/54 Mark 45 gun. The gun spat out three shells over fifteen seconds. All three shells detonated with in a matter of meters of the float plane. Captain Willis watched the aircraft tumble seawards before turning to the Lieutenant.
"Did they get any transmissions off?"
"I will just check, Sir."
* * * * * *
A good hour passed as Force Z closed to Harpoon range. USS Halsey briefly increased her speed to thirty knots before turning to bring her Starboard Harpoon launcher to bear on the target. In less than sixty seconds all four RGM-84s were away. The Destroyer then turned again to bring her Port side launcher to bear...
The eight Harpoons took just under ten minutes to traverse the hundred and forty kilometres to the targets. Of the first batch of four missiles one malfunctioned while two of the three survivors locked onto the Destroyer Sagiri. The results were devastating, with in minutes the ship was aflame from stem to stern. The other Harpoon was wasted against the armoured belt of the Cruiser Chokai.
The second wave of four Harpoons arrived roughly two minutes after the first. On missile locked onto the already crippled hulk of the Sagiri while the other three continued on course for the Chokai. A lucky hit by a 25mm gun destroyed one of the missiles but the other two struck home. One hit the bridge wiping out Vice Admiral Ozawa and the ship’s captain. The other ploughed directly into a 24" torpedo mount. It took mere seconds for the inferno to take hold and within minutes of impact the torpedo warheads cooked off blowing the cruiser clean in half.
December 9th 1941, North of the Cook Islands, 2005 Local Time (GMT+12)
Captain Bailey walked the deck of the USS Philippine Sea. It was damn annoying… surely the bloody admiral could have done the thirty seconds to research to determine that the initial Japanese attack on Wake Island would be repulsed. Along with the thought of his lost wife and children it made him rather depressed.
The ships ploughed on, their bow waves barely visible through the growing darkness.
Captain Bailey turned to head for the bridge when he ran into one of the Junior Officers.
"Sir, we have received yet another signal from Darwin…"
"What this time? Do they want us to dash to Singapore or the Philippines now?"
"No Sir, actually they have managed to sort something out with the Pacific Fleet. USS Lexington and whatever escorts she has will rendezvous off Wake with us as soon as possible after she has finished ferrying aircraft to Midway…"
"How long should they take to get from Midway to Wake?"
"I would think four or maybe five days Sir…"
"Signal the Captains of the other ships to come aboard… We need to start planning…"
December 9th 1941, Central Java, 1511 Local Time (GMT+7)
The Sikorsky S-58 touched down in a rice paddy. Within seconds Colonel Mulyadi was out and looking at the town his troops had seized that morning. Like most small town’s built during the colonial era the town consisted mostly of the hovels and huts of Javanese peasants interspersed here and there by more substantial building –the homes of merchants and shop keepers. The town was rounded out by two or three almost mansion like building that were the residences of the local colonial administrators.
He waded a short distance through the mud then clambered into a Jeep. The Jeep swept into town past a trio of AMX-10 Heavy Armoured Cars… past Infantry from the Regular Army carrying Pindad Assault Rifles… past reservists equipped with FN-FALs or BM59 rifles. The Jeep finally pulled up in front of one of the "Mansions".
Colonel Mulyadi walked inside only to hear the sounds of an argument.
"Sir, we were specifically ordered not too…"
"Captain, these people are responsible for the way our nation is… They stole our wealth for the better part of three centuries…"
"But still it gives you no right to shoot them in cold blood…"
"One more comment like that and you will go join those Dutchmen…"
Colonel Mulyadi strode into the room and the two arguing officers saluted.
"What is going on? Major would you care to explain?"
"Sir, I took the liberty…"
"You had them shot in cold blood after they had surrendered…" chimed in the Captain.
"… and damn Captain Handoko here has been insubordinate…"
"Major, what exactly did you do?"
"Sir, I ordered the Dutch Administrators and Officers shot…"
Colonel Mulyadi looked at the Major for a moment. To be perfectly honest he didn’t give a damn what happened to the Dutch prisoners. However the Captain was right, General Daryanto had specifically ordered all prisoners were to be spared. Hell, the General had specifically explained to Mulyadi why he didn’t want any needless killings… and now he needed to explain it to this dimwit yet again…
"Look Major, Captain Handoko is quite correct, the General has ordered that no prisoners are to be shot. The General’s logic is that we don’t have the administrative staff to take over control of any liberated territory so it is logical to keep the Dutchmen around until we can train sufficient numbers to replace them… besides what will the world think of such acts? The Japanese may welcome it but do we really want to side with them?"
"Major, I am afraid I cannot trust you not to execute any more prisoners so I am relieving you of command… However you did well in taking this town and I will recommend the General to place you in charge of training new recruits… Captain, you are to take over from the Major…"
December 9th 1941, North of theAnamba Islands, South China Sea, 1755 Local Time (GMT+8:00)
Battle was imminent; Captain Willis knew it even with out looking at the radar… a quick glance showed that the Japanese Cruisers were just over 30,000 yards out from the fleet. Captain Willis glanced at a screen nearby… the image was unmistakable, the rear Quad 14" turret of Prince of Wales slowly turning. Any second now the Japanese were going to get the shock of their lives…
* * * * * *
Petty Officer Baldwin and two sailors off HMAS Newcastle sat in the open atop the Bridge of HMS Repulse. She glanced round before putting her face to the tripod mounted laser range finder.
"Okay I’ve designate the lead ship… 27,000 meters… Bearing 340 degrees true…"
One of the sailors repeated the range and bearing into a radio. Twenty seconds later the Battlecruiser’s 15 inch 42 calibre guns opened fire…
The roar was immense… Kate Baldwin couldn’t help but be overawed by the shear raw power of the blast. The shells took a little over thirty seconds to fly the twenty seven kilometres before crashing into the waves a good six hundred meters beyond the Cruiser. Petty Officer Baldwin turned to the second sailor:
"How’d that go?"
"All shells over…"
"Damn…" she glanced back down the range finder "… 26,500 meters…"
* * * * * *
Captain Willis stared at the radar screen… the enemy was still outside the range of his ship’s 5"/54 but at the current speed that would soon change. For a moment he smirked wondering what effect twenty 70 pound shells arriving in one minute would do to one of the Cruisers. He glanced at another screen… several flashes appeared on the lead Cruiser -the Japanese had finally responded. Captain Willis counted… ten, twenty, thirty seconds… the first shells splashed into the waves a kilometre from HMS St Albans.
* * * * * *
For the fourth time the guns of HMS Repulse roared. Yet again Petty Officer Baldwin flinched. She looked back toward the enemy, for a moment she sat in thought… three broadsides, one over, one under and a straddle… surely they had to hit soon. As if in answer a column of smoke and flame suddenly sprang up marking the death of HIJMS Mikuma .
* * * * * *
The rumble of the death of HIJMS Mikuma had barely died away yet already the Japanese were hitting back. Captain Willis watched on as a full broadside of eight inch shells come pelting down on HMS St Albans… a pair of Sea Wolf SAMs climbed from the ship’s VLS to intercept the shells. Captain Willis knew there was next to no hope that the missiles or CIWS would stop the shells. Yet a sudden flash showed that against the odds one of missile had hit… but nothing would stop the remaining nine. Seven of the nine missed but the sudden blossoms of flames from the Bridge and the Hanger made it clear the other two had hit home.
"Sir, we’re in range now…" said one of the Destroyer’s crew and Captain Willis finally drew his attention back to his own ship.
"Fire at will… Let’s get the bastards…"
* * * * * *
The battle raged on. From her vantage point Petty Officer Baldwin had a clear view… off to starboard the cruiser Suzuya turned helplessly in circles, her steering gear knocked out by USS Halsey… down astern the glow of the burning hulk of HMS St Albans reflected off the waves. She glanced back in the direction of HIJMS Suzuya… it took a few seconds to notice the slight whiteness of the bow waves… the three bow waves moving in a coordinated fashion…
"Shit…" she turned to the sailors "… Get the warning out. We have three vessels incoming… a Torpedo run by the look of it…"
The warning was too late for any coordinated action to be taken by Force Z… HMAS Vampire and the Corvette RSS Vengeance tried to intercept the Japanese Destroyers only to receive a spread of Torpedoes from Fubuki. The 600 tonne Corvette took evasive action a few moments too lat… the Long Lance Torpedo struck and blew RSS Vengeance clean in two. Within twenty seconds the Corvette was gone leaving behind an oily smear on the waves. HMAS Vampire dodged the Torpedoes and proceeded to duel briefly with her Japanese opposite numbers. But the results were a foregone conclusion, the World War One vintage V/W class Destroyer withdrew with two of her four-inch mounts out of action and a fire amidships.
* * * * * *
The Japanese Destroyers had brushed aside the escorts. Captain Willis knew that it now came down to his ship and the secondary batteries on the two Capital ships.
"Target the lead Destroyer…"
"Aye, Aye Sir"
The Five inch gun flashed as the first rounds took flight. A matter of seconds later the barrage hit Fubuki. USS Halsey kept up the barrage for a good minute until Captain Willis was convinced the Destroyer was out of action before shifting her fire to one of the other Destroyers. But by then it was already too late… Hatsuyuki and Shirayuki were already lining up unleash their tinfish.
* * * * * *
The first Torpedo struck home and Petty Officer Baldwin was thrown sprawling to the deck. Seconds later another blast rumbled across the waves. She started to clamber back to her feet just as another loud blast tore through the air… she glanced round, up forward of A turret there were flames… she glanced back astern… another blast rent the air, a bright flash filled her vision and then there was only blackness.
December 9th 1941, North of theAnamba Islands, South China Sea, 1938 Local Time (GMT+8:00)
Vision and feeling finally returned to her Kate Baldwin dragged herself up and looked around. The Range Finder and her other equipment was mangled, and of the other crew off Newcastle only tattered bits of flesh remained. She then looked at herself… miraculously she seemed more or less uninjured, here and there were scratches and burns but they were nothing… she had survived.
* * * * * *
Admiral Sir Tom Philips paced the bridge of Prince of Wales waiting for the Captains’ of his various ships to come aboard. The first of the "time travellers" appeared, that American Captain William or was it Willis? A minute or two later the Australian joined them, James Ferris wasn’t it?
"So how do you think it went?"
Captain Willis took a few moments to think about the battle…
"A Pyrrhic victory, Sir. We’ve sunk two Cruisers and a Destroyer on top of having bagged Chokai earlier. But in exchange…"
"… We have taken heavy losses, yes I know Captain. Repulse was hit by two torpedoes, Vampire and Electra have been riddled with shells and I believe you have lost two of you ships…"
"Not quite, Sir. HMS St Albans is still afloat although given the damage I doubt we can get her back to port…"
"Well damn well try…"
December 9th 1941, Trondheim, Norway, 1250 Local Time (GMT+1:00)
It had been an utter slaughter… god only knew how many people -Nazi soldiers and Norwegian civilians- had died in the inferno that had burnt the heart out of Trondheim. All Colonel Johannesen knew was that the three to four hundred Germans who had managed to flee had fallen victim to his F-5s and F-16s… he had seen the burnt out wrecks of trucks and the mangled lump of flesh that passed for corpses. So it wasn’t that surprising he had developed a little sympathy for the hundred and fifty prisoners taken around Kristiasten Festning.
However there were other things on his mind at the moment. It was only now at the sight a RAF Catalina flying-boat touching down… only now when he had to leave Norway that he really noticed his losses… his family, gone… his home, also gone… his friends, not quite all gone. His motor launch drew alongside the Catalina, he clambered in. The flying-boat accelerated and finally lifted free from the water… it climbed steadily and two F-16s loaded to the brim with fuel commenced to orbit around the Catalina.
December 9th 1941, 10 Downing London, 1910 Local Time (GMT)
To be quite honest Winston Churchill hadn’t believed any of the hoo-ha about time travellers.
Or at least that had been true until a few hours back when he had encountered his first one… a Colonel in command of the unit of Paratroopers that had landed at Biggin Hill.
But now his office was infested with quite a considerable number of them. A quick glance caught a clump of army officers –that Paratrooper and two British Generals, an American Major the RN had pulled off a beach in Holland, a Norwegian Coastal Command had flown out of Trondheim and strangest of all a German General who had also come in with the Paratroopers. A glance at the other side of the room showed two Naval Officers –from a pair of Aircraft Carriers that had appeared in the middle of the Atlantic- and a quartet of RAF Wing Commanders. Mixed in with the ‘time-travellers’ was quite a wide range of contemporary officers, politicians and civil-servents.
The Prime Minister called the meeting to order.
"Gentlemen, welcome… in the wake of this… uhm ‘transition’ I can see that the war lies in the balance… and you are the men who will determine which way it shall swing. I gather you have already started briefing the RAF, RN and the army on you’re equipment and it’s capabilities?"
All the assembled officers replied before Churchill resumed.
"…Colonel Johannesen, I believe you are pressing for reinforcements for your forces in Norway?"
"Yes, Prime Minister…" responded Colonel Johannesen in rather heavily accented English "… My forces have already liberated the city of Trondheim and I believe that for the immediate future we are more than able to hold the city. However I lack the forces for any further offensive action or for an extended defensive action. Think of it… if I can carry out my plans we can drive the Germans out of Norway. Hence securing the convoys to Russia from harassment and providing more options for Bomber Command…"
One of the British Generals interjected.
"I see your plan asks for four battalions of ‘modern’ British troops in addition to whatever contemporary forces can be provided. That is simply impossible… we have a total of seven infantry battalions counting the Paras –who I believe are rather short of equipment following their escape from Germany. Besides things are desperate enough as is in North Africa without a side show to take away resources… Indeed I would suggest we withdraw all forces from Norway as soon as possible…"
"What do you propose then?" retorted Colonel Johannesen "Should I withdraw my forces and give up what they have won with their blood? More importantly can the Navy spare sufficient vessels to get my troops out in one go?" The Colonel paused for a moment "The first is quite clearly no… the second also appear to be a no. So what choice do I have but to leave my men in position?"
The American -a Major Kingsley if Churchill recalled correctly- interrupted.
"Just thinking… the situation in Norway provides a perfect bit of news or propaganda… we are actually hitting back… we are liberating occupied territory rather than just annoying the Italians in North Africa…" Several of the contemporary army officers kicked up a fuss in response and the damn yank shut up. Certainly he had chosen the wrong words but his message was certainly right… Winston Churchill decided now was the time for a decision.
"Colonel Johannesen, your forces will remain in Norway. However I do not think we can spare the forces for you to take any offensive action." The Prime-minister turned towards the RAF officers "I gather Air Marshal Harris has already mentioned the rather unusual activity seen over Germany by a squadron of Wellingtons last night?"
One of the RAF Wing Commanders replied…
"Well from the descriptions I have I would say they ran across a SAM -that’s Surface to Air Missile- battery…" the look of confusion on the faces of the contemporary personnel caused the Wing Commander to briefly divert "… more or less a large, guided Anti-Aircraft rocket… But the sketches I have been shown don’t seem to fit any SAMs in service in 1969… The weapon in question seems to bear a distinct resemblance to the German V-2 or A-4 ballistic missile…"
One of the other Wing Commanders promptly chimed in.
"Well, I haven’t seen the sketches yet but the missile certainly sounds like a Wasserfall … which is bad news…" The first Wing Commander turned to speak again but was beaten to it by Colonel Johannesen…
"A Wasserfall? How is that possible? The Germans certainly didn’t have it service in 1941… hell, it wasn’t even close to completion when we defeated them in 1945…" The Officers from 1960 briefly looked startled before the Naval Officer –a Commander in the Fleet Air Arm- replied: "What do you mean we defeated the Germans in 1945? We had only just taken Paris then…" The sudden realisation dawned on the Commander "… so we have different histories? We are from different ‘time streams?"
Before anyone could respond to the question Churchill had already started speaking.
"Gentlemen, lets leave this discussion of history and philosophy until another time. What I and indeed the entire British Empire want to know is what you can do about this? After all we lost half a squadron to these ‘Missiles’, ‘SAMs’, ‘Wasserfalls’ or what ever else you want to call these weapons…"
Colonel Johannesen responded first: "If I had more aircraft I would be glad to offer them but I have twelve aircraft all up… I simply cannot spare any"
One of the RAF Officers from 1960 followed.
"I don’t think my squadrons can do much. The Hawker P.1081  is outmoded and simply won’t stand a chance… the Gnat F4  lacks a useful bombload for such a mission. I guess the Canberra bomber is the only possibility but it isn’t exactly suitable for dodging SAMs… and there is certain to be more than just the Wasserfalls. The Germans make use of a layered system… the Wasserfalls are the long ranged defence but they usually have Rheintochter  batteries and AA guns for shorter ranges."
"The answer is so damn simple…" chimed in one of the Wing Commanders from 1969 "… It looks like the perfect opportunity to try the TSR2  in combat…"
The discussion promptly degenerated into a discussion of the finer points of air power.
December 9th 1941,Wewelsburg Castle, Germany, 2135 Local Time (GMT+1:00)
Oberführer Rommel had enjoyed a rapid rise up the ranks –admittedly largely thanks to his father the famous Generalfeldmarschall. Indeed he was only 32 and there was already talk of him being appointed as a General. But this… now this was an honour he never expected… a face to face meeting with Heinrich Himmler… a man who in Oberführer Rommel’s own time had been the Fuhrer –succeeding Hitler following his demise back in 1955.
The Oberführer stood to attention as the leader of the SS walked into the room. The Reichsführer-SS gestured for him to sit down and Oberführer Rommel was only too happy to oblige. The first question came immediately and it was more or less what Oberführer Rommel had been expecting… a quick discussion of the future. He tried to keep it brief but gave something of an account of the defeat in North Africa, the bloody campaign in southern Italy and the allied landings in Normandy. It was at that point Oberführer Rommel really broke into his stride… the storm that had wrecked the Allies artificial harbours and kept their damn Fighter-Bombers away long enough for the Panzer to hit the beach-head… the 20,000 Americans and British marched into captivity. He moved on to an account of the Allies second landing in Southern France and the months of bloody fighting as they pushed north. He mentioned in passing the Russian successes… he couldn’t hide the fact losses had been bad in Russia. He swept on… Stalin’s demise in a car crash… the collapse of the Soviet government into a mess of bickering factions after von Kluge defeated Zhukov in Poland. He pressed on through the war of attrition in the west… into 1946 when the allies finally liberated all of France and Japan collapsed. Onto 1947… the obliteration of Nuremberg and Munich… Hitler’s response –a hail of gas and radioactive debris on England and the detonation of a primitive ICBM over New York… the rushed status quo peace…
December 10th 1941, Near Batavia, Java, 0710 Local Time (GMT+7:00)
The Puma transport helicopter and its two escorts –a Mil Mi-35 "Hind" attack chopper and a Bell 205 transport/gunship- flew over the rice paddies, plantations and jungles of western Java. Colonel Mulyadi withdrew his pistol from it’s holster and checked it for the fifth time. He simply couldn’t trust the Dutch no matter how much they had reassured General Daryanto that they wanted to negotiate. But orders were orders and so as much as he wanted to there was simply no avoiding leading the negotiators. Colonel Mulyadi glanced around, mere seats away a young Corporal looked quite clearly anxious. For a moment the Colonel thought of says something but decided not too.
* * * * * *
Half an hour had passed and the three helicopters now hovered over the well manicured lawns of the Governor-General’s residence. Quite clearly visible was a small clump of assorted dignitaries, Colonel Mulyadi wondered for a moment who exactly made up that group? Military officers, businessmen, bureaucrats?
The helicopter inched closer. Suddenly the young Corporal he had noticed earlier in the flight stood up
"What I am about to do is in honour of Sheik…" the corporal uttered some unpronounceable Arab name. Colonel Mulyadi knew at once something was wrong… he lifted himself from he seat and reached for his pistol…
"Allah Akbar… Allah Akbar… Allah Akb…" BOOM.
The roar and flash of an explosion engulfed the cabin… The flash blinded Mulyadi and he distinctly felt red hot shrapnel slice through his flesh yet by some miracle he was still alive… Perhaps…
The Helicopter slammed into the ground and disintegrated in a ball of flame.
December 10th 1941, Off the Coast of Malaya, South China Sea, 0915 Local Time (GMT+8:00)
The two cripples and HMAS Newcastle proceeded south at ten knot while somewhere overhead a pair of Gripens and a trio of Buffalos orbited the flotilla. Captain Ferris sat on the bridge unshaved and feeling like an utter wreck –which he thought was hardly surprising given the events of the last few days… after all it certainly wasn’t every day you got thrown back in time, fought off boarders and then became involved in a major surface action.
One of the ship’s officers walked past and dumped a message into the Captain’s lap. James Ferris glanced briefly at the note. It consisted of a single line of text:
"Durban and Stronghold departed Singapore 0630. Estimated Time of Arrival 1100."
It was reassuring… just two hours and his little flotilla - ‘Cripdiv’  as the crew of USS Halsey had dubbed it- would actually have some escorts. With that reassuring thought Captain Ferris dozed off for the first time in a day and a half…
December 10th 1941, Semarang, Central Java, 0917 Local Time (GMT+7:00)
Even as Mil Mi-35 hovered overhead General Daryanto could see something was seriously wrong. For starters the end of the port stub wing had been shot off taking two missiles with it. Elsewhere there were dents and burn marks obviously made by rifle calibre rounds. Finally but most importantly the Hind’s very behaviour made it evident the pilot was having difficulty controlling it.
The Mil Mi-35 descended and touched down. The rotor slowed placing more and more of the aircrafts weight on the landing gear… the forward landing gear unit suddenly gave way with an almighty crack and the chopper fell forwards crushing the Hind’s FLIR and target designator.
The ground crew rushed forwards to clean up any fuel before a fire could break out but their services were unneeded. General Daryanto followed hot on the ground crews’ heels.
On closer inspection it was even more obvious that the Helicopter had been in trouble… the weapons operator lay slumped over his instrument panel apparently dead… the pilot’s cockpit was a mess with a pool of blood on the floor… of the four man Kopassus detachment there was but a sole -badly wounded and unconscious- survivor.
The general turned his attention to the pilot who was lying on a stretcher with bandages round his chest and legs. The medical team loaded the pilot into an ambulance and General Daryanto climbed in. As the ambulance sped to the hospital he talked to the pilot…
"What the hell happened?"
"Colonel’s Helicopter crashed…" the pilot fell silent for a moment "… Dutch must have shot it down…"
"And then what?"
"… looked for any AA guns… couldn’t find any… the other Helicopter attacked the Governor’s residence…"
"Then you turned for home?"
"Yes… but were attacked by fighter aircraft… other ‘copter was shot down…"
The pilot lapsed into unconsciousness.
General Daryanto knew at once the decision had been made for him. After this incident there was no way the Dutch would negotiate… and without peace with the Dutch there was no way the Allies would be willing to accept him. Only two options remained: to fight the Dutch by himself and accept eventual defeat at the hands of the British and Americans or to side with the Japanese… neither appealed but the second at least had the remote possibility of victory…
December 10th 1941, Over Germany, 0245 Local Time (GMT+1:00)
The flight of TSR2s swept in at a height of perhaps 200 feet followed by a pair of Gloster "thin wing Javalins" . Flight Lieutenant Jones briefly checked with his navigator that they were on course for the RADAR site that had been plotted a few hours before… they were. Now they were less than ten minutes out and no trouble had been encountered. Yet Flight Lieutenant Jones found it hard to imagine the Germans would leave such a significant site unprotected…
Unkown to the British they were not alone… three miles ahead was a German Messerschmitt Me P.1101/99 Night Fighter . The range closed, the Messerschmitt dived and opened up with it’s full weight of fire…
The first thing Flight Lieutenant Jones knew about his attacker was a series of thumps as cannon shells slammed into his aircraft. Immediately warning lights flashed across his control panel… he had no choice… he was going down. He screamed for his backseater to eject before he reached for his ejection leaver… a moment too late.
As the burning TSR2 slammed into the ground the a Gloster was already on the German’s tail and with in seconds a Red Top AAM had flown into the Messerschmitt’s port jet engine, blowing the wing clean off and sending the aircraft ploughing into the grounds.
The two surviving TSR2s and their escort proceeded on and attacked what should have been the Wasserfall battery.
December 10th 1941, Bristol, England, 0730 Local Time (GMT)
Slowly the first of the ships resolved itself out of the morning fog. Sir Dudley Pound couldn’t help but watch on as one after another the two carriers and their assorted escorts emerged. One by one the ships dropped anchor and soon a pair of motor launches left shore and headed for the carriers, just as an unusual aircraft took off from the closest Carrier, rose vertically into the air and turned directly towards him.
The realization quickly dawned on First Sea Lord that it was one of those ‘Helicopters’ on which he had been briefed…
December 10th 1941, Over Malaya, 1550 Local Time (GMT+8)
Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth and his Wingman broke away from the KC-130 having topped up their tanks. The pair of Gripens orbited over land for a few minutes before the radio crackled to life:
"Moa One, Moa One, Control here. We have three bogeys at your nine o’clock, range 310 clicks. Their speed appears to be in the high subsonic range… somewhere between 900 and 1000 kph…"
"Roger that Control, Moa One Wilco."
"Roger that Moa One… Standing orders are to intercept and identify the aircraft before any attack. Command thinks we may receive a few escapees from Vietnam or Thailand and they don’t want them shot down… Control Over and Out."
The range steadily closed and within five minutes the Gripens had a firm contact with their own radars. The two Gripens closed the range further before beginning a wide turn to put themselves behind the bogeys. The range continued to close and Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth unsafed his 27mm Mauser cannon ready for any engagement.
The range closed and Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth finally got a visual on the bogeys.
Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth immediately recognised the aircraft… all three were very clearly F-8 Crusader IIs… he reached for his radio:
"Control, this is Moa One. Have a visual on those bogeys. We have three F-8 Crusaders… repeat Foxtrot-Eight Crusaders… Appear to be in US Marine markings… repeat appear to be in USMC markings. Over and Out."
"Control to Moa One, escort them back to Singapore, out."
The Flight Lieutenant paused for a moment to examine the F-8s closer.
"Moa One to Moa Two… the F-8s are carrying AIM-9s and what look like fuel tanks under the wing. I will close and intercept… you hang back and be ready to engage if anything goes wrong… don’t hesitate to put an ASRAAM into each of ‘em if needed… over and out"
Edward Ellsworth manoeuvred his Fighter to place it level with the lead F-8. He immediately turned his radio to 121.5 MHz 
"Unidentified Marine Corp Crusaders, this is Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. I am directing you to identify yourselves and to follow me to Singapore…"
"Unidentified RNZAF aircraft, Foxtrot Delta One here, say again…"
"Foxtrot Delta One, this is Flight Lieutenant Ellsworth. I am ordering you to formate on me and follow me into Singapore."
"Flight Lieutenant, this is Lieutenant Colonel Blair commander of VMF-235. Why exactly should we follow your instructions?"
"Lieutenant Colonel, I would presume you noticed a force of Japanese infantry outside your airbase… well that problem isn’t exactly localized. As ridiculous as it sounds it seems we must have ‘fallen’ back to 1941. As a result your current heading will place you over Thailand which is in Japanese hands… also all of the airfields in Northern Malaya or in Thailand are too short or primitive for us to operate our aircraft from… and believe me, if we can’t get a Gripen off them there is not the slightest chance that you will be flying your F-8s out…"
"Roger that, I see your point. Foxtrot Delta Flight, form up on that Delta winged RNZAF aircraft."
 Yep it will get confusing with a CVF and a KGV class Battleship sharing the same name.
 I am not actually sure if the River class Frigates were in service by Dec 1941, so this may be a little premature.
 Remember Indonesia is at war with Australia, the UK, the USA, etc. but also has quite considerable sanctions applied by the EU.
 That theatre siege in Moscow involving Chechen rebels a few years back.
 No idea if he was in the area at the time but after all this is AH ;-) Also not sure of his rank at this stage –at the end of the Battle of Britain he was a Squadron Leader but by the mid fifties when his marriage into royalty was thwarted he was a Group captain.
 Lets just say these ships were moored elsewhere so it took some time to locate them.
 Despite the designation the AV-22 is intended more for the assault transport role than as a dedicated attack platform. In most respects the aircraft is like the default V-22 –the one change being the extension of the wings to give some clearance so weapons can be mounted on the fuselage without firing thought the rotors in airplane mode. The AV-22 is armed with one trainable M197 20mm cannon, two fuselage side hard-points (usable in both Helicopter and Airplane mode) and two underwing hard-points (usable only in Helicopter mode). The transport capacity of AV-22 is reduced to 18 men (compared to the plain V-22s 24 men) under assault situations.
 A damn lucky hit… 15 inch shell direct in the forward magazine.
 German WW2 missile project (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wasserfall). OF cause in the TL leading to 1960 the missile has undergone a number of developments, for instance the remote control system is gone in favour of Beam Riding mid course and IR terminal guidance. Target range was 50 km.
 The Hawker P.1081 was one of the designs that ultimately led to OTLs Hawker Hunter.
 The Gnat Mark 4 was a never built version of the Gnat light fighter/trainer developed during the 1950s (http://www.vectorsite.net/avgnat.html#m4). Top speed supposedly would have been around Mach 1.5.
 The Rheintochter (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rheintochter) was another German WW2 missile project. Target range of the Rheintochter III was ~20 km with a maximum ceiling of 10-12 km.
 *Yawn* you must be getting board of this… The TSR2 (http://www.vectorsite.net/avtsr2.html) was a british project of the late 1950s and early 1960s for a Supersonic strike aircraft.
 Joke on the US notation of Crudiv for Cruiser Division… in OTL coined during the Third Fleet’s operations off the Philippines and Taiwan in October 1944.
 (http://www.vectorsite.net/avjavlin.html). Top speed of Mach 1.8, designed in OTL to carry 2 IR guidedFirestreak AAMs and two semi-active radar homing Red Dean AAMs. In ATL armed with 4 Firestreaks and 2 AIM-7 Sparrow.
 Radio frequency of the Guard emergency channel.