There is Always Hope v.2.0
A Fearless Leader WWII TL©
POD: The Battle of The Java Sea, February 27 1942
By January 27th 1942 all hope for the Allied forces in the Dutch East Indies seemed forlorn. The only Island left under Allied control was the tiny island of Java now cut off by the Japanese capture of Bali and Timor. Java itself was poorly defended, while having up to 30,000 troops stationed on it they were all of poor quality and would not put up much of a fight. The only real line of defense Java had was the ABDA strike force consisting of a motley bunch of ships with exhausted crews. The Japanese had assembled a huge invasion force of 41 transports protected by some of the finest ships in their fleets. The taskforce set out in good spirits seeing that this was going to be a very easy operation and that no real Allied resistance was going to be encountered. However they were soon to find that the God of War was not on their side…
The infamous Battle of the Java Sea began precisely at 1620 hours when the British Destroyer Electra spotted the Japanese Taskforce. 4 tense minutes passed before the Japanese cruisers Haguro and Nachi entered the picture and began lobbing shells at the allies. The Jinstu and her destroyers seeing their favorable position attempted to take up a superior position to launch a torpedo attack upon the Allies. The Allies however were totally caught in disarray, Rear Admiral Karl Doorman of the RNN seeing that the Japanese were going to "cross his T" ordered the taskforce to alter course to avoid this. However at this point in time the Allies communications completely broke down and the Taskforce continued on its course carrying them ever closer to the Japanese (1).
Finally after nearly 5 minutes of total chaos communications were re-established and the Taskforce changed course narrowly avoiding a torpedo attack from the Japanese Cruiser Jinstu and her contingent of destroyers (In TTL due to no course change the Jintsu launches a torpedo attack earlier however an allied course change causes the torpedoes to miss.
To compare in OTL the first Japanese attack used more torpedoes (72) and only sank one ship). Both sides were now in nearly point Blank range. Almost immediately the Allied Cruisers begin to trade shells with the Japanese forces. After nearly 8 minutes of intense firefight the Allies score a critical victory. At 1634 hours an 8-inch salvo from the Exeter’s "B" turret impacts on the Nachi 2 out of the 3 shells explode normally doing minimal damage but one shell does more. Flying through an open door the fortunate 8-inch shell easily rips through 2 bulkheads and explodes within the Nachi’s forward magazine.
The resulting explosion was tremendous, the Nachi is completely and totally obliterated. Besides losing a critical cruiser, the Japanese have now lost a flagship, Rear Admiral Takeo Tagaki is killed instantly (2). The Japanese fleet is in complete and total disarray. The convoy is ordered to turn north, and seeing this the Jintsu and her group turn north as well.
The Allies take full advantage of this, altering course to pursue the retreating Japanese. Retreating Japanese Destroyers are mauled by the superior guns of the Allied Cruisers, the Yukikaze is sunk by 3 8 inch shells and 10 5.9 inch shells almost instantly. The Hatsukaze suffers a similar fate as the Japanese scramble to re-organize. Meanwhile the Haguro alters its course to try and cover the retreat of the convoy. However the timing is bad as it gets the full attention of 5 allied cruisers. The resulting Salvo’s disable the cruiser and a torpedo attack by the Evertsen gives it a heavy list. The Haguro is effectively out of action. Meanwhile the 3 British destroyers in the head of the ABDA column find themselves in a constant firefight with the remaining Japanese Destroyers.
The Japanese however have one trump card, the Light Cruiser Naka and 6 destroyers never entered combat due to the most fortunate hit on the Nachi, but now with the re-establishment of communications, they head back into the fray engaging the rear of the ABDA column. In the north the Allies are gaining on the Japanese, Allied cruiser shells prevent the Japanese destroyers from doing much damage, and 8 inch shells from the Houston and Exeter rain down on the Japanese transports.
For the next hour the Allies will fight a running battle with the convoy and the battered remnants of its escorts. However things are not all going well for the Allies, in the south the Perth alters course to lead 6 Allied destroyers in a battle against the Naka and 6 Japanese destroyers. The Japanese use their superior torpedoes and gunnery to sink 3 Allied destroyers however the brave Allied crews stand their ground and force the Naka to turn back.
In the North Allied gunfire and torpedo attacks massacre the convoy. The Jinstu is taken out of action by a series of salvos from the Houston, and the Japanese destroyers find their situation constantly worsening. Soon after the Jinstu withdraws they follow ordering the convoy to disperse.
The result is total massacre for the convoy. Only 8 ships survive out of the 41 transports that set out. But the battle is not over, after the Battle the Northern contingent of the ABDA strikeforce turns south to head back to Java when they are met by the Destroyer group under the Naka, tired and weary the engage them opening fire with whatever they still have left.
They are soon joined by the Perth and 3 destroyers which turns the tide of the third stage of the battle. The unexpected entry of the Perth caused the Naka to receive several devastating hits forcing her to turn back and with her the rest of the destroyer group. And with that the battle was over, in the most hopeless of situations somehow the Allies had prevailed. The war would never be the same…
Part II: The Aftermath 2/28/42 – 3/31/42
The Allied victory at the Java sea came as a surprise not only to the Japanese, but to the Allies as well. As far as Wavell was concerned Java was a lost cause, for the most part the other members of the ABDA force had all but pulled out of the Dutch East Indies. Yet the victory at the Java Sea proved once again that there was always hope, and so Wavell began moving and reorganizing to aid the Dutch in Indonesia.
His First action was to reform the ABDA command with a heavy Dutch influence. Karel Doorman was made commander of all ABDA naval forces he would now be responsible for organizing all the naval actions in the Dutch East Indies. Air Marshal Richard Pierce returned to his post of supreme Aerial commander with relish, however he was soon to find a daunting task before him.
After Reorganizing ABDA Wavell set about re-enforcing it. Seeing the importance of air power in the region, he organized a convoy to transfer whatever RAF elements he could spare under his command. These elements were to be escorted by reinforcements for the battered ABDA taskforce. 2 Heavy Cruisers (Cornwall and Dorsetshire) and 6 destroyers were too escort over 100 planes crews and equipment to the battered little island.
On the other side of the coin the Japanese too were faced with a problem. They had just lost a huge amount of men and materiel destined to invade Java. The loss in transports was just as problematic. The Japanese could not continue on with their present rate of expansion and try and retake Java. Simply put they were stuck. So it was decided to put off the Invasion of Java until more troops could be made available. Instead of an invasion, an all out aerial campaign would bomb the defenders of the Island into the dust. Soon the IJAA was preparing for its most audacious campaign yet. Dozens of Fighter Wings and Bomber Wings were gathered on Borneo, Celebes, Bali, and Southern Sumatra to participate in this bombing campaign. Thus the epic battle of Java was set to begin…
The Battle of Java
The series of air skirmishes grouped together to form the epic battle of Java officially began on March 3rd 1942 when the IJAA units began bombing Allied positions on Java. These first few raids were fiercely contested by the Allied air units already on the island, but the Japanese still had a substantial kill ratio of 2 Allied fighters to every 1 Japanese fighter downed. However even with the losses Allied fighters and flak were beginning to drain the Japanese forces.
However with the daily arrival of new fighter wings and bomber wings the Japanese could easily afford to take these losses. This was the first major dogfight took place on March 15th with the arrival of the British convoy. The resulting air battle over Tjitlap naval base saw the Allies come out in force against the Japanese.
In that battle the Allies committed a combined force of about 100 aircraft, mostly fighters. The Japanese committed around 200 with a near equal mix of fighters and bombers. The battle itself was a narrow win for the Allies and a crucial loss for the Japanese. The Japanese lost over 75 aircraft and failed to sink the convoy. The allies lost nearly 80 aircraft but they protected the convoy and allowed a further 3 squadrons of much needed Hurricanes to arrive on the island.
These were to be followed by 3 USAAF squadrons (In OTL sent to Port Darwin). These reinforcements desperately aided the Allied cause and helped stave off the Japanese invasion. These reinforcements also had an added effect of causing the Japanese to commit their highly trained carrier based forces against the battered islands plucky little defenders. This gave the Japanese nearly a 3-1 numerical advantage not to mention the inherent advantage the Zero had over the varied Allied Aircraft.
As the month came to a close things were looking dire for the Allies on Java, although planes and Squadrons were trickling in they could not stand up to the combined Japanese force. As Java was being systematically turned into a glorified bomb crater the Allies did manage to score a major victory, a Zero crash landed nearly intact outside of Batavia. This Zero was then sent to Ceylon where it was examined and the facts were used to further the Allied cause in the war (This event happens about 4 months before it did in OTL).
The Second Phase of the Sumatra Campaign
It could be argued that March 8th 1942 began the second phase of the Sumatra campaign. With the air battle over Java raging the Japanese did not really expect to much from the beleagured and unorganized defenders of Northern Sumatra. A severe surprise awaited them when they landed in northern Sumatra. A large number of KNIL troops awaited them however things were not as good as they seemed. Most of the KNIL elements on the Island were poorly equipped and badly trained however they were motivated and would prove a very capable foe for the Japanese to encounter.
By March 8th the Dutch command on Sumatra had been reorganized into two main areas. There was the Middle Area of Sumatra which was defended by troops under Major-General Overakker, and there was Northern Sumatra defended by troops under Colonel Gossenson. March 12 saw the Japanese Invasion of Northern Sumatra. Crack Imperial Guard Battalions landed all over the island and were immediately engaged by the KNIL forces under Colonel Gossenson.
In the south the Japanese 38th division began a ferocious attack aimed at crushing the KNIL forces under Overakker. However the irregular forces of the KNIL proved their mettle time and time again in the early stages of this campaign. Repeatedly throwing off Japanese attacks. In the north things were further complicated with the advent of a general rebellion by the Islamic residents of the Atjeh province.
The dire situation in Northern Sumatra caused Wavell and Der Poorten the two allied Land commanders a great deal of consternation. Finally it was decided that Northern Sumatra must be held no matter what the cost. So after pulling the ABDA strike force out of Java a relief convoy was sent to Northern Sumatra.
Very quickly the Airfield at Medan became a center for Dutch resistance to the Japanese. 3 battered squadrons of Fairey Fulmar Fighters arrived there on the 20th to provide air support for the Dutch Forces there. They were followed by elements of the American 25th infantry division and 2 fresh Brigades from India. These troops soon found themselves deployed in the Atjeh region fighting not only the Japanese but the Islamic citizens as well.
These new reinforcements eventually helped turn the tide in the Battle for Atjeh. After Colonel Gossenson’s counter attack on the 28th, the northern part of the island was secure more or less allowing the Allied forces to focus on stopping the rest of the Japanese Army which they did. By April 5th a front had been established 5 miles south of the crucial airfield at Medan. The Imperial Guard had been forced to withdraw to the south and yet another piece of the Malay Barrier had held its ground.
(In OTL the KNIL forces defending northern Sumatra were surprisingly effective in fighting the Japanese. Some resisted until late March 1943. The fall of Java in OTL severely hampered their operations meaning that in OTL official resistance ended March 28th. However in TTL Java does not fall and as a result troops are re-directed to Sumatra to aid the ailing KNIL forces. Due to no Dutch Surrender the Dutch Forces on Sumatra are also more motivated than TTL leading to the defeat of the Imperial Guard on the beaches and its eventual rout south to join up with the advancing Japanese units.)
The Battle of The Malacca Strait
With Major Gossenson’s rout of the Imperial Guard in Northern Sumatra, and the subsequent halt of all offensive operations on that island the Japanese High Command desperately thought up a way to regain the initiative on that front. Another amphibious invasion was to be launched (Also note that in TTL due to the massive loss of shipping at the Java sea the earlier landing at Java was much, much smaller than OTL, a lot of units that made it ashore in OTL did not in TTL and as a result they are being used here in addition to the forces used in the OTL invasions of Iran Jaya, the Andaman Islands and Christmas Island.)
All told around 16,000 troops were amassed compared to the paltry size of the earlier invasion of 8000. Among them were several field artillery brigades and an armored brigade, not to mention various construction battalions. The convoy set out on April 2nd with the actual landings taking place the night of April 5th.
However they were not totally un-opposed. The newly reinforced ABDA strike force having been forced to retreat from Java had established a temporary base at Port Blair on the Andaman Islands. Consisting of 4 Heavy Cruisers(3 RN, 1 USN) , 3 Light Cruisers (2 RNN, 1 RAN) and 13 Destroyers (1 RNN, 1 USN, 11 RN) was more than ready to take on the Japanese.
Arrayed against them were the Convoy’s escorts of 2 Light cruisers (Yura, Sendai) and Around 14 Destroyers. Also in the Area were the 5 Cruisers of the 7th Cruiser Division (Chokai, Kumano, Suzuyu, Mikuma, Mogami). The following naval battle between these two forces would be essential to the fate of Northern Sumatra.
Departing from Singapore on April 2nd the Japanese convoys were spotted on April 3rd by a Catalina operating out of Medan. The Japanese Completely unawares continued on towards their desired landing zones. Meanwhile the ABDA strike force sailed with all haste from Port Blair in the Andamans. Sailing down the Malacca Strait they were constantly protected by Fairey Fulmar fighters operating out of Medan.
The actual battle of the Malacca strait took place when the elderly allied Destroyer Vampire spotted the Japanese Convoys at 2315hrs on April 5th. The Japanese transports were in an incredibly vulnerable position unloading troops and so their escorts scrambled into action. Immediately available to the Japanese were the destroyers of the 5th division (4 all told) and the Cruiser Sendai. The Yura and 6 other destroyers were not too far off and the cruisers of the 7th Cruiser division were at least 30 minutes away.
This gave the Allies at least a temporary advantage. Almost immediately the transports came under attack from the cruisers Cornwall and Dorshetshire. This prompted the convoy commander to order the convoy to turn back to Singapore. Meanwhile the Allied Destroyer Screen found itself the recipient of a very nasty Japanese torpedo attack. 2 Destroyers were sunk in the attack with 2 others damaged. Meanwhile The De Ruyter, Java and Perth swung up behind the Allied Destroyers and engaged the Japanese destroyers with superior gunnery.
The Sendai became the Allies next target 8 inch shells from the Exeter and the Houston quickly reduced it to a burning wreck. As the remaining Japanese destroyers pulled back the Yura and her destroyers arrived. They were immediately greeted by a hail of gunfire which caused them to disperse. Several Hits to the Yura from the 8 inch guns of the Houston caused the elderly cruiser to erupt into a brutal maelstrom of chaos, confusion and flame.
3 destroyers were sunk by the vengeful guns of the ABDA taskforce before the 7th Cruiser division arrived. Engaging the Cruisers Cornwall and Dorshetshire they covered the retreat of the battered convoy only to be engaged themselves by the rest of the ABDA strike force. The result was a brutal firefight which ended in a torpedo attack from the regrouped Japanese destroyers.
2 More Allied Destroyers were sunk, the Allies also lost the Cruiser Exeter to the guns of the Chokai, and the remaining Allied ships all limped away from the battle with some sort of damage whether it be severe like the Java or minor like the Perth. All told the Japanese lost 2 Light Cruisers, and 3 Destroyers. The Allies fared slightly worse losing 1 heavy cruiser, 6 destroyers, and having all of their ships damaged in some way or another. However the Allies did force the Japanese to retreat, and the Damage to the convoy would delay the renewed Japanese invasion of Northern Sumatra permanently.
(Note that the ABDA taskforce is now much better than the ABDA taskforce at the Java sea. Morale is high, and communications are excellent. The strategies developed by Karl Doorman have been put into practice making the ABDA taskforce one of the most efficient taskforce’s in the fleet.)
The Outlook for the Japanese in early April ‘42 is not quite what they had expected. The Allies somehow had managed to salvage the situation in the East Indies and are now prolonging the campaign. Yamamoto is frustrated, victory seemed to be within his grasp but now it is slipping elusively away. The Allies on the other hand have managed to hold the Malay Barrier together somewhat with their victories on Java and Sumatra. The transport situation for the Japanese is beginning to worsen as they reel from heavy losses at the Java Sea, the Malacca Strait, and now Allied Submarines. And ever so slowly the Oriental Steamroller is beginning to run out of steam.
Part III: Shield and Sword 4/1/42 - 6/1/42
The Japanese High command was frustrated. Despite their rampant successes during the first months of the war the Allies vaunted Malay Barrier was still intact. Despite the fact that over 400 aircraft pounded the island of Java, its defenders still continued to resist. Despite repeated land and naval offensives the Allies still continued to hold out in Northern Sumatra and prevent any Japanese expansion into the Indian Ocean. Even though the Japanese were prepared to spend up to 6 months conquering the Dutch East Indies they had no idea what they were up against…
The Battle of Java
The intense series of air-battles over Java continued as the Allies continued to rush more fighter squadrons in. Japanese casualties were mounting as the allies were becoming increasingly adept at inflicting heavy losses among the raiders. April ’42 also saw the Allies pull their remaining long range bombardment units back to Darwin where they would operate against Japanese airfields bombing Java. These raids would prove to be a constant harassment to the Japanese forces.
May of ’42 saw the Allies begin to use new tactics against the Zero which decrease the Japanese Kill ratios dramatically. Now the Allies gain the upper hand in the air slicing through Japanese formations and inflicting heavy losses. By the end of May the Japanese have lost over 150 aircraft and the carrier crews are quickly becoming a spent force. The Japanese have stopped sending aircraft in, while the Allies keep on sending more and more planes and squadrons to help the beleaguered defenders out.
By the end of May things are looking up for the defenders of Java. Japanese raids are lessening in intensity and Allied fighters and AA batteries are having more and more success against them. Things are worsening for the Japanese in Java and they know it.
April and May of 1942 saw even more fighting in Northern Sumatra. Allied reinforcements in the form of the 41st and 35th US infantry Divisions and an Australian Brigade about 3400 strong, poured in and greatly aided General Overakker in succeeding in a number of offensives, which created a 10 mile buffer zone around the crucial airfield at Medan.
Both sides fought hard in dismal conditions losing far more men to jungle diseases than to combat. Sanitary conditions were dismal, not nearly so dismal as the supply conditions. Numerous attempts by the Imperial Guard to break the Allied line were met with staunch resistance and often futile counterattacks. By the end of May 1942 the situation in Java had descended into one of stalemate with both sides unwilling to launch offensives and more than willing to dig in and fortify positions.
Indonesia would also see the Allies under Wavell go on the offensive in an effort to rock the Japanese back on their heels. With the arrival and commissioning of 2 new B-25 bomber squadrons for the RNEIAF, a new bombing campaign began focusing on destroying Japanese merchant marine, and oil refineries in Indonesia. It is this campaign that really hits the Japanese where it hurts. They need the resources from Indonesia to fuel their war machine and without it their armed forces and industrial base will surely collapse. Coupled with the increase in Allied Submarine operations the Japanese are in real dire straits.
Coupled with these renewed bombing offensives was the first Allied Amphibious invasion of the war. Launched by primarily British forces the ABDA taskforce under Karl Doorman was backed up by elements of the British Eastern Fleet provided naval support while the No.5 Commando Unit, the 29th Independent Brigade, and the 70th Infantry Division did the dirty work. Heavy bombing of the Sunda Islands and near total and complete surprise gave this operation immense success. Commencing on May 15th 1942, all 4 of the Lesser Sunda Islands were assaulted simultaneously. The only real resistance came on Bali and Timor where the Japanese had a significant number of troops.
The Fighting On Bali primarily took place between the No.5 Commando Unit and the Japanese Garrison unit there. The Japanese were worn down by constant bombing and the superior training of the British Commando’s allowed a quick and easy victory for the British. The only real fighting on the island took place when the Commando’s moved in and took the airfield. An intense firefight raged for almost 30 minutes before the Commando’s prevailed and captured the Airfield intact.
Timor was a different situation all together. The Japanese had just over 6000 men on the island at the time of the invasion and the Allies knew this. Thus this part of the campaign received heavy Air and Naval Support. Landing were the 29th Independent Brigade and about half of the 70th Infantry Brigade (The other half was stretched out over the lesser Sunda Islands). The Allies immediately met staunch resistance when they first landed. Only the 15 inch guns of the Warspite prevented the Japanese from crushing the furtive beachhead.
Close support provided by carrier aircraft from the Indomitable and Formidable and Dutch B-25’s from Java allowed the Allies to make minor gains on West Timor. This coupled with the Australian Diggers launching an all out offensive to link up with the beachhead sent the Japanese reeling. Soon the Japanese were divided. A small pocket of about 1000 were isolated in South East Timor while the Larger pocket of about 3000 was stuck in North East Timor. Combat then slowed down as the Allies were running short of resources to continue the offensives on Timor. However they had succeeded in breaking the isolation of Java.
Besides the intensive Submarine campaign there was really only one naval battle of Note that took place between the Allied forces and the Japanese fleet in the area. Towards the end of May it was decided to try and evacuate the larger pocket on the island of Timor. A heavily guarded convoy of 8 transports was sent to evacuate them. However the 2nd Light ABDA squadron (Perth, Java, 4 Destroyers) was in the area ensuring no more supplies arrived in the area.
The Resulting Night Engagement resulted in a draw with each side losing a destroyer. The Allies lost contact with the Japanese convoy and thus the Japanese successfully evacuated the northern most pocket on Timor. Both the Perth and the Java were put out of action by this battle. This coupled with the bombing of the De Ruyter on May 30th prompted the Dutch Government in Exile to send its 3 remaining cruisers to the US for modernization. Meanwhile Karl Doorman transferred his command to the Carrier Hermes and resumed command of the ABDA naval forces.
Part IV: "If at first you don’t succeed maybe failure is your thing" 6/2/42- 8/4/42
As the Allies barely managed to take back the Sunda Islands and Timor, the situation for the Japanese grew even worse. The Indonesian campaign was dragging on far too long. Japanese planes were being shot down in droves over Java, Medan, and now Bali. Yamamoto feared that the mighty 1st air fleet was becoming a spent force and so prepared a desperate plan to draw the attention away from Indonesia.
June, July and August of ’43 saw things grow constantly worse for the Japanese. First came the Free Dutch Reinforcements of 1 cruiser, 3 destroyers, 1 Spitfire squadron, and 2 Hurricane Squadrons. These were followed soon after by a further 3 Spitfire Squadrons all of which were sent to Java where they wreaked death and destruction upon the Japanese airforce.
By July the intensity had lessened as the Japanese High command realized that there was no real reason to be fighting for the now worthless Indonesian Islands. As the Japanese began pulling units out of Indonesia the Allies soon switched to the offensive, increasing bombing raids over the Japanese held Indonesia and sinking more Japanese ships.
In Sumatra the real "Hammer Blow" came to the Japanese with the arrival of more ABDA troops and more importantly…tanks. Operation "Hells Hammer" was personally organized by Wavell with the objective of driving the Japanese completely off Sumatra. But the Japanese were not about to go down without a fight. The offensive itself began June 16th when Allied "Stuart" and "Grant" Tanks smashed through Japanese roadblocks. They were soon followed by scores of infantry and heavily air supported.
The Japanese forces, reeling from the ferocity of these attacks, desperately tried to stall the Allies until a stable defensive line could be established in front of Palembang. To the credit of the Japanese troops, they were successful… In part at least, casualties among the Japanese were upwards of 75%. This was mostly due to the fact that the Japanese had no real Anti- Tank Weapon, so they were forced to use the only method of AT defense available to them which consisted mainly of a landmine attached to a bamboo pole.
General Horii meanwhile was appalled at the losses but was happy that Japan still held the city of Palembang. Wavell’s forces meanwhile had come up against the "Horii" line and were making no progress and taking heavy losses. So in light of the fact that Palembang was now a glorified smoking hole in the ground and a constant target for Allied bombing raids, and the fact that his troops were tired and at the end of their ropes, Wavell ended his offensive. Digging in the Allies began to move most of their troops elsewhere. Sumatra then becomes a fairly quiet theatre of the war with the only real action coming from the occasional artillery duel and or air raid.
Yamamoto is in a dire situation. Indonesia, the cornerstone of Japanese strategy in the Pacific, is now a worthless collection of rocks sitting there and eating Japanese men, planes, and ships. Japan’s entire war industry is utterly dependent on Indonesia and the area in and around it. Allied Submarines are also not helping matters by making it nearly impossible to extract resources from the region. Yamamoto realizes that he only realistically has enough "oomph" for one more offensive. This offensive would be Japan’s very last hope at securing favorable peace terms. So taking the entire fate of the Japanese nation into his hands, Yamamoto designs the master Japanese offensive of the Pacific theatre; Plan ‘X’.
This near perfect plan in Yamamoto’s mind is a big gamble but a necessary one, it will consist of 4 phases.
Phase 1: The Assault
5 Divisions (3 Armored, 1 Imperial Guard, and about a divisions worth of special units) are to make their way towards the Hawaiian Islands via the Central Pacific. Under heavy escort these Divisions are to participate in a full all out invasion of the main Island of Hawaii. Their objective is to secure the island and inadvertently draw the American Carriers out into battle. After Securing the main island of Hawaii the troops are to move on to conquer the rest of the islands and secure the archipelago.
Phase 2: The Blow
Almost every carrier asset in the IJN was committed on this mission in order to completely crush American sea power in the Pacific. All told 11 carriers could be committed for this task. Of those 11 only 4 were fleet carriers, the rest were light carriers carrying fewer aircraft. Air power wise, the carrier wings had been substantially drained by the missions in Indonesia and so the Navy took first priority in selecting the cream of the crop to replace the fallen airmen. Thus every carrier taking part in this mission was to have a full complement of aircraft and pilots. However the caliber of the pilots was much lower than that of the beginning of the war.
Phase 3: The Kicker
The two fleet carriers not taking part in the Battle for Hawaii were assigned a much greater role to play in the grand scheme of things. The Panama canal, decisive to the American Strategy in the Pacific was to be destroyed by Aircraft flying off the carriers Soryu and Hiryu. Under a rather small escort they were to proceed to the Canal under complete secrecy, bomb it and then head back to Truk where they would be re-assigned.
Phase 4: The Sideshow
Spearheaded primarily by the remaining forces in SE Asia the sideshow would be a desperate attempt to draw the other Allies attention away from Hawaii. Spearheaded by ships deemed too slow for the Hawaiian operation were regulated to oversee the invasion of Port Moresby and Australia. Troops marshaled from China and Burma were to gather in Rabaul for a final push to knock Australia out of the war. An amphibious invasion of Port Moresby followed by an invasion of Queensland by the same forces, was destined to be a doomed operation. However it was deemed necessary and was pushed ahead no matter what Generall Horii said…
Japanese troops began preparing for this offensive on July 30th the operation itself was to take place on August 14th 1942 it would prove to be a decisive day for the outcome of the Pacific war…
Part V: Plan Xecuted 8/5/42-8/20/42
By August 5th 1942 the board was set and the pieces were moving in anticipation for Yamamoto’s master offensive, "Plan X". A gargantuan convoy secretly began making its way towards the Hawaiian Islands, almost every ship remaining in the Japanese navy was on the move. Thus began the last major Japanese offensive of the war…
On the Flipside…
The Allies were scrambling to decipher the Japanese communiqués involving this new upcoming offensive. By the time they had finished deciphering the codes it was already too late, the Japanese were well on their way to their objectives. In the massive scramble that followed, the Americans sought to marshal every Naval asset at their command to try and stave off the Japanese invasion of the Hawaiian islands. All told 4 carriers (Enterprise, Saratoga, Wasp, Yorktown) could be marshalled immediately. The Hornet and the Lexington were about half way to Australia escorting a massive convoy carrying supplies essential to the region.
It was decided that the Cruisers Astoria and Vincennes would escort the convoy while the Lexington, Hornet, and 2 destroyers headed north to help defend Hawaii. In Indonesia, the ABDA strikeforce rendezvoused with elements of the British Eastern Fleet to combat the Japanese invasion of Port Moresby. Almost all of the RAAF was sent to Port Moresby and Queensland to participate in the battle. By August 15th most of the Allied Units were in position and the greatest naval battles of the 20th century were set to begin.
The Battle for Hawaii was truly one of the most climatic battles of the Pacific theatre. Involving nearly 17 carriers and 2000 aircraft. It began August 18th 1942 and would last a complete 48 hours without stopping. On August 18th a US Catalina flying boat flying patrols south of the main island of Hawaii spotted what seemed to be a truly massive convoy of ships headed towards the south side of Hawaii. Nimitz sitting comfortably on the Enterprise’s command deck was shocked when he heard this. Almost immediately all US land based aircraft on the Hawaiian islands were rerouted south to help defend the island. All 4 carriers in the area also headed south to intercept the Japanese convoy. The Battle itself consisted of 3 phases.
The First was fought primarily between the US land based aircraft and the Japanese Fighter cover over the invasion convoy. Utilizing new tactics the Americans managed to sweep the skies clear of the Japanese fighter cover and operate against the convoy with near impunity. The first ships to go were the pair of escort carriers providing air cover for the convoy, both the Ryujo and the Zuiho received multiple hits within a short amount of time.
The invasion convoy faced with the loss of its meagre air cover pushed on hoping for the planes from the main striking force to protect it from the planes of the USAAF. The army pilots gave no mercy however sinking the Kongo class Battleship Haruna, 3 Destroyers, 7 Transports, and damaging many others before the convoy turned back.. All told the Americans had lost 73 aircraft to around 50 Japanese aircraft. USAAF and Marine Corps planes flew over 200 sorties against the convoy, turning the Japanese back and giving them complete and total victory in the First Phase of the battle..
The Second Phase of the Battle was fought between the Combined Japanese carrier fleet and the 4 American Carriers currently available around Hawaii. Again the superior tactics of the American pilots gave them the advantage when fighting with the nimble but fragile Zero. This advantage proved fatal allowing the Americans to launch several large scale bomber waves against the Japanese. The hardest hit were the Japanese light carriers who were all sunk in quick succession. Within 15 minutes of the beginning of the 1st wave both the Shoho and the Hosho were sunk and their taskforce in disarray.
The other 6 carriers however held their ground, staving off the American attacks and surviving for the moment. Then the Japanese launched a massive assault from all 6 carriers against the only taskforce they had contact with: the Wasp and Yorktown. Both Carriers and their taskforces held out valiantly, the Japanese launched over 200 aircraft at them and lost nearly all of them. Both the Yorktown and the Wasp were heavily damaged, the Wasp so much so that she could not receive aircraft. The Yorktown, damaged though she was took on the Wasps aircraft, enough to bolster her battered Air wing to a strength of just over 20 planes…
The Enterprise and the Saratoga however moved in and covered the former carriers retreats trading blows with the 1st Air fleet for the rest of the day until night fell. By then both sides had lost contact. The Americans had lost just over 100 aircraft in this phase of the battle, the Japanese meanwhile had lost over 250 aircraft and things were about to get worse…
Yamamoto was in shock, his grand plan to recapture Hawaii was in total disarray. He had lost all of his light carriers. The Invasion convoy had been routed and his airwings were almost completely drained what with the intensive air battles. His forces were scattered and in disarray pulling back from Hawaii and the last thing he expected was the arrival of the Lexington and the Hornet. However arrive they did under the command of Admiral Fletcher.
American Submarines had been shadowing every one of the Japanese taskforces and Fletcher quickly targeted the most important ones. A massive Dawn strike against the 1st Air fleet saw 90 American Aircraft sink 4 carriers in 20 minutes. All together the Americans lost 30 Aircraft. As the rest of the Japanese fleet retreated both the Lady Lex and the Hornet launched wave after Wave of attacks against the remaining forces crippling the Japanese fleet and putting it out of the war for good…
The Canal Battle
The next phase of the battle took place between the combined airwings of the Soryu and Hiryu and the American forces centered around the Panama canal. A USAAF Squadron and planes from the escort carrier Long Island were the only planes available to combat the Hordes of Japanese planes. The Battle lasted for 3 intense grueling hours. The Americans lost all aircraft present at the battle, the Long Island, and the Canal was put out of action for 2 months. The Japanese lost around 75 aircraft with no other real losses. This was the only action of Plan X that actually resulted in a Japanese victory.
The Battle of the Coral Sea
The Battle of the Coral sea saw what remained of the Japanese fleet be reduced to burning hulks and saw the last remaining strength of the IJAA go down in flames. A Staunch aerial defense around Port Moresby coupled with Karel Doorman decisively defeating the Japanese invasion force spearheaded by their old 12-inch Battleships. Swordfish and Sea Hurricanes from the Hermes proved decisive in the sea battle.
The Japanese were quickly forced back when the ABDA surface taskforce headed up by the Warspite thoroughly mauled the Japanese invasion force and forced them to turn back to Rabaul. All told the Japanese lost both the Fuso and the Ise in addition to several other smaller vessels. This operation, doomed at the start was one of the final nails in the coffin of the once mighty IJN
The Epic Battles for Hawaii, Panama, and the Coral Sea spelled the end for the once mighty IJN. Left with only 2 fleet carriers and a handful of battleships the IJN’s days as a formidable force were over. Yamamoto distraught by the fact that his plan single handedly lost Japan the war committed seppuku in his private quarters onboard the Yamato. Admiral Ozawa then assumed command of the Imperial Japanese Navy or what was left of it. The Japanese defeats also had domestic consequences Tojo was promptly sacked and replaced. His replacement was ordered by the Emperor to make peace with the Allies and pull Japan out of the conflict.
On the other side of the Pacific plans were laid for the American re-conquest of the Philippines and the Central Pacific. Work on the Panama Canal was sped up and within 2 weeks of the attack it would be fully operational. Wavell laid out his plans for an offensive to drive the Japanese out of Burma and reopen the Burma road to send more supplies to Chiang. Roosevelt was overjoyed about the decisive victory scored by the Allies over the Japanese and looked forward to the end of the war in the Pacific.
Part VI End in the Pacific 8/20/42 – 2/7/43
Indonesia/Australia (August ‘42- February ’43)
The Last Phase of the Pacific War saw very little action in this theatre. Allied Bombing raids continued destroying whatever was left of the Japanese Airforce in the region. The only real action in the theater was that of the Indonesian independence groups. In Borneo and Makassar the Indonesian Puppet Governments began secretly equipping their own Brigades and preparing for an uprising against the Japanese.
In Atjeh Japanese commando’s continued to reorganize resistance there preparing for a full-scale insurrection. As Indonesian rebels continued to reorganize they prepared for their most daring operation yet the rescue of several major nationalist figures held in Javan prisons under the watchful eyes of the Dutch.
The Dutch however suspecting a Japanese plot had these prisoners excessively guarded and so when the attempt was foiled they were promptly executed. With both Sukarno and Hatta dead any unifying force in Indonesia was gone leaving the unborn nation its fate of division and war…
Central Pacific (September-October 1942)
The Central Pacific saw one of the first all American advances in the region. The Western Caroline Islands were targeted by brigades from the 1st Marine Division. Heavy fighting occurred as the US forces sought to cut off the remaining Japanese island garrisons in the Central Pacific. With the Western Caroline’s under their control, the Allies would have cut off every Japanese garrison in the Gilberts Marshals and the other Islands. This campaign also saw the narrow escape of Japan’s last 2 remaining carriers the Soryu and the Hiryu. However this was to have little impact on the rest of the war as the American advance continued on relentlessly…
Philippines (November- December 1942)
McArthur’s promise finally redeemed itself in November 1942 as American troops of the 7th Army division spearheaded by Marines of the 1st Marine Div supported by the Enterprise, Yorktown, Saratoga, and Lexington landed on the Island of Leyte. With a reduced garrison on the Philippine islands the Japanese soon found themselves overwhelmed by the American troops, Airpower, Naval presence, and Phillipine resistance groups. American supply drops allowed the Philippine rebels to gain control of several smaller Islands although Luzon and Mindao still remained under the control of the Japanese invaders.
The Garrisons on Leyte fought bravely stalling the Americans enough to prevent an offensive towards the larger two islands. However overwhelming airpower gave the Americans the advantage allowing them to retake the island. However what the Japanese really hinged their hope upon was the last sortie of their Battle Fleet. 2 Carriers, 6 Battleships, supported by dozens of other ships sortied towards Leyte.
Thus began the epic battle of Leyte Gulf. American Aircraft from the Yorktown began the attack by sweeping the air clear of Japanese fighters. Then USAAF, USMC, and planes from the other 3 carriers in the region continued to pound on the Japanese fleet sinking the 2 carriers and 3 Battleships. As night fell the American Battleships North Carolina, Washington, and South Dakota moved West and engaged the Japanese fleet in the only Battleship vs. Battleship battle of the war. In the battle they fought the numerically superior Japanese battleships to a standstill sinking the Hei, Kirishima and Haruna. However their biggest achievement was damaging the Massive Yamato albeit at the cost of their own ships. As dawn broke 350 American aircraft swept in and finished off the last heavy units of the Imperial Japanese Navy…
Burma (August–October 1942)
In Burma, a long neglected front for both sides the hammer finally fell on the Japanese. Reinforced British Units smashed through the threadbare Japanese lines. Orde Wingate’s smashing use of the Chindits proved decisive as the Allies drove through Burma capturing Rangoon, Mandalay and driving the Japanese down the Malaysian peninsula. Supplies then began to trundle along the Burma road once again to rendezvous with the Nationalist Chinese. Wavell had once again succeeded where everyone else thought he would fail.
Thailand was now faced with a dilemma they could continue their policy of appeasement towards the Japanese, they could join the Allied side and perhaps gain some land, or they could become neutral and expel the Japanese. For the Thai the third option seemed the best however the Japanese were not very happy and soon the meagre Thai armed forces found themselves fighting a total war against the Japanese.
Wavell’s offensive however had run out of steam and so the only Allied aid the Thai got was the services of Orde Wingate and his Chindits. The Japanese were however incredibly weak in the region and so the Thai had little real trouble in dealing with the Japanese forces. As the tattered remnants of the IJA retreated south towards Singapore they prepared to face the might of both the British and the Thai…
Casablanca Conference (January 1943)
The Casablanca conference went much as it did in OTL with a few exceptions. Roosevelt’s proposal of unconditional surrender was accepted towards only Germany. Japan, due to its incredibly bad position, was put in the same category as Italy. In that conference Chiang Hi-Shek along with Roosevelt and Churchill decided upon what terms they wanted Japan to accept peace. Chiang Hi-Shek proposed a Versailles like treaty however the moderating influence of Roosevelt and Churchill allowed it to be moderated somewhat. Other than deciding peace conditions for the Japanese, the Casablanca conference went exactly as OTL with even more emphasis going to Germany.
Peace in the Pacific
After the Battle of Hawaii Japan began to seek out peace with the allies. Original ludicrous peace demands were soon reduced to more reasonable levels. Peace was finally negotiated in early February and was signed off the coast of Java on board the USS Washington. The peace states
-Japan must withdraw completely from China and any occupied Allied territory
-Japan must relinquish all claims to any territory outside of Japan proper, The Kuriles, and Southern Sakilin Island.
-Japan’s army is limited to a size of 50 divisions
-Japan may not have more than 500 aircraft in their airforce
-Japan’s navy is limited to 5 cruisers and 10 destroyers.
-Japan must hand over all uncompleted hulls over to the Chinese government as part of war reparations.
-Japan must pay war reparations to China for the conflict there.
The Japanese government reluctantly accepts the agreement and ever so slowly begins to withdraw from their conquests…
Part VII: The End in Africa (July ’42-December ’43)
Due to the increased intensity of the Pacific theater of operations, the Americans under General Marshall in the European theater found their hands somewhat tied by the lack of resources headed in their general direction. Nevertheless Roosevelt was desperate to hit the Germans with whatever the American’s could muster. Throughout July of 1942 various plans were cycled through by the western allies in a vain attempt to open up a second front to Nazi Germany. Finally on July 25th 1942 Churchill and Roosevelt settled on a Plan. Operation Gymnast, the invasion of Vichy French North Africa was born.
Planning Operation Gymnast
Due to fewer American resources Operation Gymnast seemed destined to become almost a solely British endeavor. Though Roosevelt pushed for Eisenhower to be appointed overall commander of the operation Churchill remained firm and seeing how more British troops were going to be involved it wasn’t surprising that Sir Alan Brooke assumed the post. Furthermore, the American suggestion of landing at Casablanca was quickly vetoed in favor of a landing further east.
By mid-September the landing sites were finalized. Two groups consisting mostly of British troops but spearheaded by the Americans would land at Algiers and Oran. A third group consisting solely of Americans under General George Patton would land at Bone. This plan was modified somewhat as Sir Alan Brooke looked to cut off any chance of reinforcing Tunisia. In addition to the three task groups paratroop battalions would land in and around Tunis and Bizerta hopefully pinning the Germans in place until the Allies could link up with them.
Collaboration with the Vichy French
However for Operation Gymnast to go off as planned significant cooperation had to be solicited from the Vichy French. So aided by the American’s the British began to solicit the aid of these disaffected French. Various candidates for the position were considered but in the end only one had enough sway to really prove himself useful. The decision though controversial at the time would later prove to be a godsend to the Allies. Admiral Darlan, the C-in-C of the Vichy forces would rally the Vichy forces to the allied cause. Needless to say despite his anti-British bias, Darlan leapt at the opportunity to betray the German occupiers. Almost immediately he began laying the groundwork for the upcoming defection.
The Allies Land
Operation Gymnast began the morning of November 8th 1942 as troops from the three allied assault forces landed at their assigned beaches. Resistance was extremely sporadic and soon Vichy forces began to lay down their arms, even collaborating with the allied forces. Yet though the landings at Algiers and Oran were incredibly successful it was Patton’s group at Bone which stole the show. Unloading their tanks in record time they lanced towards the Allied paratroopers in and around Bizerta and Tunis. It is reported that General George Patton was so determined to get a move on he said "My men can eat their belts, get me gas and ammunition and we’ll kick those Krauts out of Africa for good!".
The Great French Defection
As the Allies began to land and faced little to no resistance from the French the Germans began to be wary of the Vichy gov’t. On their own accord Vichy French commanders were agreeing to impromptu ceasefires and in some cases joining up with the Allies. Then on November 9th one day after the Allies had landed Admiral Darlan ordered all Vichy French forces to agree to a cease fire.
The Vichy government heavily pressured by the Germans countermands this order, however no one listens. November 9th Darlan (who is in Toulon IATL) sets sail for Algiers with the remains of the Vichy fleet. Moreover the local Vichy commander in Tunisia long aware of the Allied landings and a crucial part of denying the Axis Tunisia began to commence offensive operations against the Axis forces. Kesselring was quick to react and soon the cities of Tunis and Bizerta became cesspools of destruction as the Germans rushed troops in from Sicily.
The End in Tunisia
Any hope for the German’s in Tunisia was gone when Patton’s first tank crossed the Algerian-Tunisian Border. With lightning speed Patton moved to link up with the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion at Bizerta and the 1st British Paratroop Battalion at Tunis. The pitched battles in these two places intensified as the Allied forces arrived to drive the Germans into the sea. Both Rommel and Kesselring realize that if the Allies control Northern Tunisia all hope for the Afrika Korps is lost. However Kesselring lacks the resources to land in force and Rommel is too far away to immediately affect the outcome. Though the battles for Tunis and Bizerta continue the Germans cannot help it as the Allies assert their control over the rest of Northern Tunisia.
The End of Africa
With Rommel in a headlong retreat Montgomery begins a chase that will see the 8th army stretched to its very limits. Several indecisive engagements were fought as the Germans vainly tried to link up with their forces trapped within Bizerta and Tunis. Unfortunately, all of Rommel’s tactical genius could not make up for his deficiency in supplies and numbers. With the fall of Bizerta (Nov. 30th) and Tunis (Dec 4th) Rommel halted his retreat and began to dig in around the Tunisian seaside city of Sousse.
Yet in a startling turn of events Rommel’s motorcade on it’s way to Sousse was ambushed by a group of British Paratroopers sent to occupy the area. With Rommel as an Allied POW any morale that was left in the Afrika Korps vanished. As both Patton and Montgomery moved in it became obvious that the war was over for the troops of the Africa Korps. As the continued allied Airstrikes made evacuation more and more costly the acting commander of the Afrika Korps ordered it’s surrender. Less than 5% of the Afrika Korps was evacuated from Africa, the remainder were more than content to sit out the rest of the war in Allied POW Camps.
The Struggle for Free France
With the end in Africa the Allies looked to Europe but De-Gaulle and Darlan looked to France. Both began to struggle for the overall leadership of the Free French forces. Having survived an assassination attempt on Christmas Eve 1942 Darlan began to solidify his support among the Free French movement. Using his reputation with the ex-Vichy forces and his new found celebrity having greatly contributed to the End in Africa, Darlan began to solidify his position as the leader of the Free French.
This was finalized when General De Gaulle was killed in a freak automobile accident. Churchill and the British not terribly fond of Darlan focused their investigation on him but in the end came up with nothing. Roosevelt though, was quite happy that De Gaulle was out of the picture. So having no alternative Admiral Darlan was invited to represent the Free French at Casablanca.