The Showboat Saga - Possible POD in story.

Joined: May 1st, 2006, 2:26 am

January 9th, 2018, 5:04 pm #1

As I mentioned earlier I'm planning on restarting the story and using my somewhat weird imagination had come up with a possible point of departure.  In this instance Coral Sea did not take place as a result of my version of Wake Island.  Taking a page from the Germans decide to do a little commerce raid using a new class of cruisers as the main combatant.  As of yet I have not come up with either names for the class or for the ships themselves but I'm working on it.  Normally I would never say this but in this case I will.  Don't be afraid to tell me what you think, rip it apart.  I'll take what you write and adjust the story or dismiss it outright.  In any even feel free to enjoy.

Somewhere in an undisclosed location 2 long range Short Sunderland British patrol bombers based out of Singapore on a anti-sub patrol at their maximum altitude of 16,000 ft had come across a small group of unidentified warships about 20 distant from them.  This small group of warships appeared at least to pilots of both aircraft to be on a southeast heading, speed undetermined.

Although it was a lookout on the lead patrol bomber who initially spotted the group of ships it was the pilot who first responded to the sighting.  The first thing that he ordered was for the planes navigator to get a possible position of the ships.  Second thing he ordered was to get a sighting report off before contacting the other pilot.

“Hey Jocko” he yelled over the aircrafts radio to the other Short do you see what I see?”

“Aye I do but are they ours or the Japs?”

“Guess we have to close in to find out.  Already had the navigator to get a possible fix on those ship’s position and had the radio operator get off a flash sighting report.  Not sure if those ship’s are ours or Japs”.

“Wasn’t there an intelligence report some weeks ago about some unidentified warships in the Gulf of Thailand by a yank sub?”

“Kind of recall it but as I remember the sighting mentioned in the report had some important details missing not to mention the sub’s skipper didn’t have much time as the ship’s were moving fast and wee some distance from the sub”.

“Same here.  But as far as I can recall there has never been any reports of Jap warships in this area before. 

“None?”

“Not to my recollection or at least not without any carriers”.

“Then I guess it would be prudent of us to investigate those ships”.

“Reckon so”.

So with that said both aircraft altered course and locked on a heading that would take them directly in front of the group of warships before changing course several times which would place them on a parallel course.  The one thought almost to a man was that if they were Japs whey were they steaming in these waters without carrier support.

Meanwhile of the apparent flagship of the unidentified warships reports have been coming in from just about every ship in the group of approaching aircraft presumably British since they still controlled Singapore.

“Admiral we’ve been getting numerous reports of approaching aircraft throughout the squadron, these sightings have been verified by our own lookouts”.

“What kind of aircraft Captain?”

“Unknown at this time Admiral but if I were to speculate I would say long range patrol bombers, either Sunderland’s or Halifax’s but I because they are flying over water I would say the Sunderland”.

What is their current distance?”

“Approximately 20 miles and closing fast.  My estimate is that they will be upon us in about 7 to 9 minutes”.

“Very well Captain maintain course and speed and under no circumstances are we to open fire on them.  Our mission objective is clear we are to give every appearance that we are nor Japanese warships.  That’s why this ship and her sister ship were designed and built to resemble British ships of similar type”.

“I’m aware of that Admiral and it is also why the 2 other cruisers and destroyers were also rebuilt to resemble British ships”.

“That’s correct Captain, or mission is to confuse the Americans and British long enough for us to get amongst their supply convoys and sink as many as their ships as possible.  The _____________ and the ___________ were designed right from the start to resemble an enlarged version  York class heavy cruiser in almost every way but with a few important differences.  Our armor protection is greater, we are at least 2 knots faster and we carry 8 x 10" guns and not 8".  We also have 6 x 5" guns as secondaries.  In every sense of the word we are the largest nnd most powerful class of heavy cruisers in the world.  The 2 ships in this squadron are just the first in a class of 10."

“This is not new to me Admiral as I was told all about her capabilities when I was chosen to be her Captain more then a year ago.  I’m fully versed on specifications and what she is capable of but the only question that I had which was never answered satisfactorily was why they were based on a British design and not one of ours or even that of an American cruiser”.

“Simple Captain, for one since it was determined that our main adversary would be that of the Americans they could easily see through the deception and the second is that we have a history of either acquiring ships from the British or at least using their designs.  Take the Kongo for example, it was designed and built in Britain but the rest of the class was built in Japan”.

“Now I understand but why do we fly the flag of Thailand?  Surely the British or Americans are not stupid enough to believe that Thailand has such ships in their navy or for that matter even have a navy?”

“True enough Captain, we do it only to further add to the confusion but we are now flying the British ensign.  When the pilots of those aircraft flyover they will see us and think of us as being British and we will act like we are British.  However more then likely the pilots of those planes will contact their headquarters to find out if the British Navy has ships in the area, I know I would if I were one of the pilots.  But I’m counting on that they don’t and accept us for being British.  But in the event that they do contact their headquarters we will be out of range of any land based air attack”.

As the pilots of the Shorts closed the range to the group of ships they were surprised that they didn’t come under AA fire which would be the usual case if they were Japs.  This confused them a bit as they knew that by now they should have been identified by any number of lookouts or crew members on those ships.  Then a few of them began to have an unsettling feeling that by not be fired upon they were being drawn into a trap like a fly into a spider web.

With orders to all ships that topside be vacant except for lookouts the group of ships continued on not even attempting any kind of evasive maneuvers adding further confusion to the crews of the patrol bombers.  Soon the range closed enough for the lookouts of the patrol bombers to begin to attempt to identify each of the ships.  A number of the on the lead plane thoroughly familiar with quickly came up with a possible identification to at least the 2 larger ships.

“Skipper I think that the 2 larger ships are York class heavy cruisers although a bit larger then from what I can remember”.

York class?”

“Yes skipper”.

“And what of the others?”

“Not certain at the moment going through the books now but I must say it’s not only unusual to found our ships out this far from base but for us to try to identify our own ships”.

“True enough airmen Jones.  How soon on identifying the other 5 ships?”

“Working on it now.  Give me a few minutes”.

“Very well”.

Within a minute the airman came back online with the identification of the other ships.

“Skipper 2 of the other larger ships are of the Carlisle class of light cruisers and the third is of the Danae class.  The rest of ths ships are destroyers of the W class.  Now one problem skipper is that I don’t have sufficient information to individually identify each ship by name especialy the heavy cruisers as they seem to be a larger version of the original class”.

“Larger?  Just how much larger?”

“Not certain skipper but perhaps at least 25% larger.  Could be more, could be less hard to tell.  Perhaps they are an improved version”.

“Perhaps airman but you are certain that they are British ships?”

“Yes sir”.

“Very well airman.  Radio operator see if you can raise those ships on the radio”.

“Aye skipper”.  But after some unsuccessful minutes he gave up.

“Skipper sorry but I can’t get through.  Not sure if we have the proper frequency for those ships or they are operating under radio silence.  But I did send a followup message to headquarters informing them that the ships have been identified.  Waiting on a response now.

“Very well I guess that is all that we can do for the moment.  Guess we can leave and head back to the barn as it seems that we’re done”.

“Aye skipper”.

With that said he ordered the other plane to alter course and head back to base but not before wagging their wings.

“Admiral it seems our ploy worked.  In fact better then I had expected.  They even wagged their wings in salute”.

“I noticed Captain, I noticed.  When they are no longer in view by our lookouts change course to the one that I had previously ordered.  Next objective of our mission is to allow us to be seen by allied ships, whether warships or merchants.  Once this is accomplished we will withdraw for a few days before striking”.

“Yes sir”

Soon the group of ships turned onto a heading of 090° drawing them furhter away from Singapore and any possible sighting by British Aircraft.
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wb
Joined: December 2nd, 2006, 8:35 am

January 10th, 2018, 1:11 am #2

Welcome back.  Good handle.
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Joined: June 7th, 2011, 7:55 pm

January 10th, 2018, 9:45 am #3

Welcome back Gunner I for one didn't care if you wrote under the pen name Trixie as long as you kept bringing the stories.
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Joined: March 10th, 2014, 4:40 pm

January 10th, 2018, 3:12 pm #4

Welcome back!

I question one aspect of this start.
Wouldn't the aircrews be 100% up to date as to the deposition of friendly ships in their search region?
I would expect that to be part of the pre flight briefing in order to forestall  Blue on Blue incidents.
There were a few instances of captured ships (An American DD for one) but otherwise very limited.

Would the flight crews also be up to date on RN construction / ship classes or at least have ship identification books on board?



PsycoCavr
Psycocavr
Jeep Driver.. 
Cave Explorer..
Learned to read from Dad's USN ship design drawings.
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Joined: May 1st, 2006, 2:26 am

January 10th, 2018, 5:47 pm #5

PsycoCavr wrote: Welcome back!

I question one aspect of this start.
Wouldn't the aircrews be 100% up to date as to the deposition of friendly ships in their search region?
I would expect that to be part of the pre flight briefing in order to forestall  Blue on Blue incidents.
There were a few instances of captured ships (An American DD for one) but otherwise very limited.

Would the flight crews also be up to date on RN construction / ship classes or at least have ship identification books on board?



PsycoCavr
Thanks for the input as you are the first to reply in the manner I had hoped.  To answer your questions I'll be brief.  I'd expect that aircrews or crews of either ships/submarines to be informed of friendly forces that are in their area to as you say avoid blue on blue incidents.  But as you are well aware this is not always the case.  Many times this information is not passed down the chain of command.  There have been instances throughout history in which friendly forces engaged one another because of communication error and if memory serves me correctly this has happened in both gulf wars and Afghanistan.  So in this instance for the sake of the story's progression this information was not given to any search aircraft or warships.

I'm also aware of certain navies using captured ships just as armies using captured equipment against their former owners but in this story that doesn't apply.

Now as to the level of information aircrews have of RN construction I can't answer that but I'm certain that they don't have that kind of information at hand.  Which brings us to identification books as you had asked about.  If you read the story one of the crew was indeed searching for that information presumably using some sort identification books since as you know they didn't have computers or the internet around at the time.  But these books are limited in what is in them and always carry the latest data on ships.  Most use silhouette type photo's or post construction photo's once the ships are placed into commission.

I'm not sure if my answers are satisfactory but it's all that I can come up with.

Basically consider these ships to be smaller versions of the Yamato's and are the Japanese equivalents of the Scharnhorst & Gneisenau or Deutschland class of heavy cruisers (Pocket Battleships}.
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Joined: August 24th, 2007, 11:14 pm

January 11th, 2018, 2:27 pm #6

Gunner Bob

  I could see the aircrews deciding the ships were friendly despite no such ships being reported in the area.  However once they get back to base I would suspect a good chance questions would be raised pretty quickly.  If they don't report the discrepency quick - if only a "why didn't you tell us we had those friendly ships in the region" some gossip about seeing them gets overheard and questions are raised.

  Which of course might not be in time to help the allies, even presuming they have resources to hunt again or [with political will] to attack the ships if found again.
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Joined: March 10th, 2014, 4:40 pm

January 11th, 2018, 5:02 pm #7

Gunner,
I see how the aircrews could have limited local Intel.
Chaos of the early war timeframe and all.
Now that they have been sighted wouldn't a contact report be sent as a matter of course.. which would lead to some head scratching?
Of course sending a patrol to investigate might end up with its annihilation by the superior forces..

PC
Psycocavr
Jeep Driver.. 
Cave Explorer..
Learned to read from Dad's USN ship design drawings.
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