A history of the second HMAS Australia

1554 27 February 1942, - Enemy in sight
1554, 27 February 1942, IJN Haguro, past the Makassar Strait

Rear Admiral Takao Takagi had overall command of the operation, shepherding the the 41 large transports that contained one pincer of the Java Invasion Force, the first pincer in fact. He shuddered as he lookeed at the transports. The 20 mile long convoy was quite a spectacle, to be sure, yet an obvious laxity prevailed with their ill-trained crews. Many transports emitted huge clouds of black smoke from their funnels, their station keping much to be desired. He had a powerful force at his disposal, the big heavy cruisers Haguro and Nachi, the old light cruisers Naka and Jintsu, plus 14 destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral Shoji Nishimura. All of his destroyers were modern types equipped with the Type 93 "Long Lance".

None of his ships were equipped with radar, so his lookout were keeping a steady eye out for enemy vessels and aircraft. With Nagumo's carriers sweeping the sea near Christmas island and the light carrier Ryujo covering the second invasion force, Takagi had no air cover, so had been unable to avoid the enemy reconnaissance aircraft that had dogged him for two hours that morning.

It was at 1554 the report came in of a single mast steering in the general direction of his ships. This remained the case until 1600, when more reports of masts started to emerge, along with the top hamper of a ship. He ordered his transports to turn away, whilst his destroyers took up position at the front of his cruisers in an arrow shaped formation.
 
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1556 27 February 1942 - Enemy in sight II
1556, 27 February 1942, HMAS Australia, off Java

The enemy force had been expected to be in sight just after noon, so Waller had ordered the men fed early, the smell of the friend black pudding still hanging around. The ship had gone to action stations at 1150, yet it had been four more hours before the ships, in line ahead, with De Ruyter, Exeter, Perth, Java, Houston and finally Australia, with the destroyers in a spearhead formation in front. All armament had been cleared for action. Only Exeter had radar, which was very much in it's infancy, so each ship had extra lookouts posted. Australia, by virtue of her extra height, had made the first sighting at 1553. Two thin black masts, like pencils, jutted over the horizon. More came, to both left and right, until a virtual miniature forest of black lines marched out of the sea.

A single flag came up De Ruyter's mast, held taught by their 20 knot speed of passage. "Enemy in sight." Two minutes later came the command. "Destroyers, clear the line of fire." The little ships formed their own line, well clear to port. To bring all turrets to bear, Doorman dressed the line of six ships to starboard. Each ship, including Australia, shook out it's battle ensign. The enemy force was clearly visible now. At 1617, two of the enemy ships opened fire. Waller was unconcerned, at 27,800 yards he judged his ship to be safe enough. Sure enough, the shells fell 2,000 yards short. He would keep his powder dry. Due to the non homogeneous nature of the ADBA ships, all equipped with varying weapons and varying ranges, Doorman had ordered ships to engage individually. The old ship had not had the elevation of her guns increased and was actually out-ranged by the modern heavy Japanese cruisers. In fact, at 23,800 yards maximum range, she was also out-ranged by Exeter and Houston. For all that, Waller thought a hit at greater than 20,000 yards was unlikely.
 
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1627 27 February 1942, - Fire is exchanged
1627, 27 February 1942, IJN Haguro, off Java

By 1627, the two competing columns of ships had turned broadside on. All the Japanese columns were steaming west, parallel to the Allied ships. Rear Admiral Takagi, a submariner by training, and his aide, Nagasawa, were experiencing their first surface action. The enemy line had placed what seemed like their two largest ships, a U.S Northhampton or Pensacola Class ship and a ship with an older style fighting top, possibly a Royal Navy Hawkins Class vessel. The second last ship had already opened fire, blood-red columns of water created by her near misses near Haguro's sister ship, Nachi.

Finally, the last ship in the allied line opened fire at 18,500 meters. There was a ripple of flame, a large ripple of flame from her. 44 seconds passed before a sound like ripping cloth occurred and eight garish orange geysers of water sprouted from the sea, some 450 yards to starboard and astern. His aide was the first to put his thoughts into words "By the Gods, those are battleship projectiles."
 
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Yeah, a Japanese Myoko Class Heavy Cruiser isn't going to enjoy getting hit by a 1410 lb 13.5in Greenboy.
Unfortunately, the same is true of the Australia II wrt to 8" shells hitting its deck or thin sections of the belt. And given the respective rates of fire it could suffer more of them.
 
Unfortunately, the same is true of the Australia II wrt to 8" shells hitting its deck or thin sections of the belt. And given the respective rates of fire it could suffer more of them.
True to a degree. Her underwater protection, even for shells pitching short, is worse than the cruisers. However her belt is twice as thick over vital areas. With an extra inch on the decks, it triple the cruisers thickness.
 
Unfortunately, the same is true of the Australia II wrt to 8" shells hitting its deck or thin sections of the belt. And given the respective rates of fire it could suffer more of them.
Provided the magazines weren't penetrated or subjected to flash back the Splendid Cats proved to be tough ships at Jutland. Tiger for example was heavily hit without effecting either its seaworthiness or combat capabilities. I wouldn't put Australia II against a WWII capital ship, but a heavy cruiser should be well within her capabilities to handle.
 
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Unfortunately, the same is true of the Australia II wrt to 8" shells hitting its deck or thin sections of the belt. And given the respective rates of fire it could suffer more of them.
Unless it's at very close range at night and torpedoes decided it, it should only go one way?

We are taking 1,257 lbs. (570.2 kg) or maybe 1,410 lbs. (639.6 kg) compared to 242.5 lbs. (110 kg).......................

Even with the rate of fire and 10 v 8 guns, the issue is that the large shells only really need to hit anything important on a cruiser once and the fight is over.
 
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Provided the magazines weren't penetrated or subjected to flash back the Splendid Cats proved to be tough ships at Jutland. Tiger for example was heavily hit without effecting either its seaworthiness or combat capabilities. I wouldn't put Australia II against a WWII capital ship, but a heavy cruiser shouldn't be well within her capabilities to handle.
Yes the only issue with a modern 8" Heavy Cruiser is that they tended to outrange unmodernised WW1 BBs and BCs as the British found with the Rs, Barham and Malaya when they faced Italian Modern Heavy Cruisers early in the war

Tiger got badly shot up a couple of times and survived

The main threat is the dangerous (if massively over rated) Long Lance torpedoes

However to the Japanese Commanders they are under attack by a Battleship and might over react!
 

nbcman

Donor
Yes the only issue with a modern 8" Heavy Cruiser is that they tended to outrange unmodernised WW1 BBs and BCs as the British found with the Rs, Barham and Malaya when they faced Italian Modern Heavy Cruisers early in the war

Tiger got badly shot up a couple of times and survived

The main threat is the dangerous (if massively over rated) Long Lance torpedoes

However to the Japanese Commanders they are under attack by a Battleship and might over react!
Or the Japanese commanders may send a couple or four of the hopped up BCs that were either accompanying the KB or on a raiding mission to sink merchies escaping from Java to deal with the additional threat. Or the IJN could pull back and let the KB slaughter the ABDA fleet on the 28th. Or any number of other iterations as there was so much of the IJN in and around Java during this time frame to deal with any scratch ABDA force that could be pulled together. While I am enjoying the writing so far, it is going to be difficult to see anything plausibly different than the annihilation of the enhanced ABDA fleet as what happened IOTL based on the balance of forces there. It may take a few days longer and may delay the invasions of Java a bit but that's it.
 
Or the Japanese commanders may send a couple or four of the hopped up BCs that were either accompanying the KB or on a raiding mission to sink merchies escaping from Java to deal with the additional threat. Or the IJN could pull back and let the KB slaughter the ABDA fleet on the 28th. Or any number of other iterations as there was so much of the IJN in and around Java during this time frame to deal with any scratch ABDA force that could be pulled together. While I am enjoying the writing so far, it is going to be difficult to see anything plausibly different than the annihilation of the enhanced ABDA fleet as what happened IOTL based on the balance of forces there. It may take a few days longer and may delay the invasions of Java a bit but that's it.

If the KB gets pulled too far South to attack the ABDA force, it could put them in range of Dutch submarines, whose torpedos work.
 
Or the Japanese commanders may send a couple or four of the hopped up BCs that were either accompanying the KB or on a raiding mission to sink merchies escaping from Java to deal with the additional threat. Or the IJN could pull back and let the KB slaughter the ABDA fleet on the 28th. Or any number of other iterations as there was so much of the IJN in and around Java during this time frame to deal with any scratch ABDA force that could be pulled together. While I am enjoying the writing so far, it is going to be difficult to see anything plausibly different than the annihilation of the enhanced ABDA fleet as what happened IOTL based on the balance of forces there. It may take a few days longer and may delay the invasions of Java a bit but that's it.
Yes - possibly.

But as of 'right now' as far as the story is concerned neither the 'Australia's' half sisters nor the KB are there!

What I am suggesting is that the Japanese Command orders the the convoy to scatter and this inflicts a delay on OTL ops
 
Yes the only issue with a modern 8" Heavy Cruiser is that they tended to outrange unmodernised WW1 BBs and BCs as the British found with the Rs, Barham and Malaya when they faced Italian Modern Heavy Cruisers early in the war

Tiger got badly shot up a couple of times and survived

The main threat is the dangerous (if massively over rated) Long Lance torpedoes

However to the Japanese Commanders they are under attack by a Battleship and might over react!
She does not have the range, but does have the throw weight, yes.
Johnboy, do you like us so much that you will producue two top quality TLs at the same time?
I like doing it. I actually have four on the go at present. I'll be taking abreak in a week's time as I will be in Europe for two months on holiday, then back into it late October.
 
Yes - possibly.

But as of 'right now' as far as the story is concerned neither the 'Australia's' half sisters nor the KB are there!

What I am suggesting is that the Japanese Command orders the the convoy to scatter and this inflicts a delay on OTL ops
It does create a problem for the Japanese, simply based on the timings of the operation, which, like all IJN operations in WW2, involved various arms of the operation doing various things on set timeframes.
 
1631 27 February 1942- First hit
1631, 27 February 1942, De Ruyter, off Java

Rear Admiral Doorman winced as the light cruiser suffered the impact of an 8 inch shell. It had struck on the forecastle, however, it had thankfully proven to be a dud, creating a hole but doing little real damage. Yet, it was a concern that they had the range so quickly at such a long range. Doorman had other concerns, as well.

Some two days before the battle he had reported moral had collapsed within the fleet. The fact was that so far ABDA had enjoyed scant success against the remorseless Japanese advance; their strength whittled away by air attacks, accidents, wear and tear. The men of the fleet had very little rest; Houston’s crew, had stood twelve-hour watches at battle stations for two nights running. The men who manned the old “four-pipers” were dog-tired, having seen the most action. Some ships were lacking maintenance, others damaged. Their ships were tired, in need of refit. The strain of weeks without a letup was shown in visible exhaustion and tight nerves.

Doorman ordered a turn to the West, concerned that the faster Japanese formation, which held a seven knot advantage, might cross their T. Doorman had restricted the speed of his entire force to 26 knots. This was the destroyer Kortenaer’s best speed; she was still having propulsion problems caused by her grounding prior to the Battle of Badung Strait. The cruiser Java was not capable of that much faster due to age, wear and tear.
De Ruyter firing in action
Screenshot 2022-08-11 095724.jpg
 
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1634 27 February 1942 - Naka and friends launch
1634, 27 February 1942, IJN Naka, off Java

The light cruiser Naka was leading Destroyer Division 4, consisting of Murasame, Samidare, Harukaze, Yudachi, Asagumo and Minegumo, Admiral Nishimura knew his force was of little use in a long-range gunnery duel. He them column Southwest, across the bows of the other Japanese columns. At 1633 Naka launched four long lance torpedoes at 15,000 yards. The six destroyers of his division followed suit at 1640, sending another 27 torpedoes toward the allied ships at ranges between 15,000 to 13,000 yards.

However, Doorman's ships soon after changed course to almost directly at the Japanese force and no torpedoes were to hit.
 
1644 27 February 1942 - Firing at a distance
1644, 27 February 1942, HMAS Australia, off Java

It was the sort of long range duel that did not suit the older ship, thought Hec Waller. The main Japanese force between the transports position, which had been confirmed by aerial spotting and the allied ships, consisted of two heavy cruisers and a large number of destroyers. It was not like they could simply charge the Japanese force, not with all those destroyer torpedoes. Not long after his first salvo, the Japanese had withdrawn, opening up the range to almost 22,000 yards. This was only 1,000 yards inside the old ship's range. Her maximum range was less than both De Ruyter and Perth. Houston was pumping salvos at the rate of four to five a minute. The Japanese fire was split between De Ruyter, with her impressive forecastle and masts, Australia and Exeter. Straddles were common enough, but no ships had been hit so far aside from a single hit on the flagship. Obviously, the longer range was of no help to the Japanese, either.

Waller had actually ordered Australia's rate of fire slowed to one salvo per minute. It would serve to keep the Japanese light forces under pressure and at arm's length. The chances of actually hitting he felt were low.

Below, in the bowels of the ship, in the upper handing room of A turret, the hoist stopped opposite the gun loading cage, where the shells and cordite were moved across and the main hoist sent down below for the next load. The gun loading cage would then be hoisted up to the gun, stopping at the lower layer, the gun in the load position with breech open. The shell would be rammed in to a preset distance, so that the copper driving bands at the base of the shell would engage with the rifling in the gun barrel. The rammer would withdraw, the cage moved down one level and the two quarter charges would be rammed home. The loading tray and cage would withdraw, the breech was slammed shut and rotated to the lock position. The breech lock would then release, allowing the gun to elevate to it's firing position. Once all the safety interlocks opened and the gun aligned with the direction and elevation dials fed from the main battery director transmitting station, the gun ready lights would come on in the main battery director and the gun could be fired. This was how it all worked. It had not changed since before Jutland, despite her fire control update, the basic functions of loading and firing differed little.
 
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