Essai en Guerre: an FFO-inspired TL

Part 13.1
Part 13. Nullum magnum ingenium

Extract from ch.10, The Fall of the Rising Sun, Brendan Green

During late 1942 the south-east Asian theatre had temporarily become a backwater. During the summer the Japanese had turned their attention to the Pacific, with disastrous results at Midway Island. After a destructive sea battle, the Japanese attempted an amphibious landing, which the US Marine garrison bloodily repulsed. The loss of men and ships gave such a blow to Japanese amphibious capabilities as to deter any further seaborne assaults. A proposed thrust into the Solomon Islands was cancelled, with efforts going instead into the unavailing campaign in New Guinea and the small-scale but savage fighting in the Indies theatre. ‘Borneo remains the pivotal theatre of the war,’ wrote General Imamura, ‘how much we need our sole source of oil! We must hold it at all costs, and make renewed efforts to take Sumatra.’

However, the Japanese never managed to assemble the necessary assets for a second attempt on Sumatra. The growing strength of China, nourished by American supplies via the Burma Road, consumed Japanese attention from the summer onwards. ‘We cannot contemplate any further transfers of air units from China,’ noted Tojo in August, ‘the enemy’s strength grows there.’ By the end of the year the American 'Flying Tigers' had been joined in China by a British fighter wing, nicknamed 'the Red Dragons'. Some Chinese and American officers opposed this, but London insisted, for propaganda and morale reasons. Meanwhile the Allies continued to build up their land-based air power in the Malaya-Sumatra region, so that by the time of the East Indies monsoon, in the autumn, the Allies had gained air superiority over the waters within two hundred miles of Singapore, and the Eastern Fleet could return there.

By the winter Allied decision-makers knew that the phase of Japanese strategic offensives had concluded. General Wavell, having returned to the theatre after extended leave, wrote to the War Council at Christmas 1942: ‘We have stopped the enemy, but no offensive possible by us for some months. Weather alone prevents it currently. If successes in Mediterranean permit transfer of aircraft and landing craft, we envisage taking offensive in April or more probably May.’

Allied commanders had difficult decisions to make this winter, and the challenges of alliance warfare raised their heads. Each of the three theatre commanders for the war against Japan, Nimitz, Macarthur and Wavell, had strong views, and moreover had political masters with strong views of their own. The French, Australian and Dutch had placed their forces under command of the theatre commanders, but retained their own views about their best employments, and retained the right to veto participation in operations in extremis. Finally, Wavell in particular suffered from a complex command structure beneath him. Admiral Cunningham gave steady cooperation, but the same could not be said for his Army and RAF subordinates. General Montgomery in particular made no secret of his belief that he ought to have the supreme command...

All could agree that the liberation of Timor would make a useful first step, relieving Canberra of any anxiety in that quarter, distracting and attriting the Japanese, and giving a base for further operations. US Marines and Australian troops made their landings in March and by the end of April secured most of the key points on the island, including its airfields, though Japanese resistance continued for months in the mountains. Small sea actions were numerous, in which the Allied forces gradually gained the upper hand, especially once USMC aircraft began operating from the island itself, and the Japanese suffered further heavy attrition in the air. ‘They are down to their second squad,’ said one USMC pilot, ‘we shoot them down six or seven to one.’

The main campaign though had to occur further west, making use of the facilities available at Singapore. ‘Borneo or Java - really that is the only question,’ said Admiral Esteva at the Darwin Conference. Many voices, not least the Dutch, argued for an invasion of Java, in order to restore easy sea and air communications with Australia, liberate the capital of the DEI, and free the population from a harsh military rule. ‘We understand Java,’ said Admiral Doorman, ‘we understand the fragility of its economy. We think our Allies under-rate the risk of famine there.’ Fears of famine were a constant undercurrent in Allied debates at this time. Timely shipments of food from Burma averted mass hunger in Bengal, while the Allies struggled to feed Sumatra…

With regard to Java, most Allied governments took the legalistic view that the feeding of the Javanese civil population was, under international law, the responsibility of the occupying power. ‘We can accept no responsibility for the Javanese civil population while Japan occupies the island,’ wrote Churchill, and the French and Americans concurred. Several decision-makers expressed the view that the Javanese had broadly welcomed the Japanese, and should now face the consequences. ‘They did everything they could to hinder our troops last year,’ noted one Australian general. ‘They made their bed…’

Taking the military view, most commanders preferred Borneo. ‘Java is just a political target,’ commented Wavell. ‘Borneo is the key.’ The Japanese, as noted, certainly regarded Borneo as more essential, as it contained the all-important oil. General Macarthur also preferred Borneo as a possible stepping stone to the Philippines, and the French saw it as heading in at least roughly the right direction towards Indochina. Against this, Dutch concerns over Java had little weight. This might have been the right military judgement, but was to have terrible consequences, and led to lasting post-war controversy.
 
And then there's the cruel and harsh logic of war: It seems that Java's population will suffer terribly. But by taking Borneo faster, taking the correct military decision, will the war not be ended sooner? Will that not alleviate the suffering of more people elsewhere?

The Allies cannot prevent the suffering. They can only choose who it is that suffers.
 
With a later & smaller QI movement, I suspect the government doesn't jail Congress. Could the 1945-6 elections come sooner (or later) in the altered circumstances, and what effect might that have? The other question I have to think about relates to the communal constituencies - presumably the prospect is that with Congress able to maintain political momentum, the League does not manage to unite all Muslim votes such that Congress manages to win more of the seats reserved for Muslims. And of course if the League knows its likely future position is weaker, that makes them more amenable to compromise in 1943.
Even jailing the Congress leadership wouldn't be a big deal. They were used to it. The crushing of the Congress in 1942 was so complete that it would be correct to say that Congress no longer exists. If Cripps offers what he offered OTL it would probably be accepted by Indians and then pressure would mount on the British to accept it from within and with a stronger hand Churchill might just accept it. It wipes away all the minor gains that the Muslim League had made since the resignation of the Congress so they would be pretty much fare just like the 1937 elections. The brutal crushing of the QI Movement destroyed all talks of Dominion status so if that is a fruit offered then it would be accepted immediately.
 
And then there's the cruel and harsh logic of war: It seems that Java's population will suffer terribly. But by taking Borneo faster, taking the correct military decision, will the war not be ended sooner? Will that not alleviate the suffering of more people elsewhere?

The Allies cannot prevent the suffering. They can only choose who it is that suffers.
The thing is, this is mostly as OTL. Java suffered terribly, due to Japanese forced labour demands and the general economic dislocation of the war. Here, since Java is closer to the front line (to an extent is the front line), it's going to be worse. I felt it best not to sugarcoat this: although this TL avoids many disasters, this one would be worse, and would also be higher in public consciousness because it would be more visible, and also something of a point of contention among the Allies at the time. Hence there would likely be greater discussion of the question in historical texts like the fictitious Mr. Green's opus.
 
If Cripps offers what he offered OTL
Probably the offer would be along the same lines, but maybe not Cripps making it. I get the feeling that his diplomatic skill was over-estimated OTL, and that he didn't handle matters well - though he stood little chance in any case. In the different circumstances of the ATL, different personnel might be involved. In particular I'm also thinking of Linlithgow, who should have been replaced sooner.
 
Hello,

I'm one of the authors of FFO (FTL in French) and I'm currently reading this very good work. I'm still only at page 7 (Part 4.5). I would like to make a lot of comments, but I'm lacking time, this will perhaps come later.
But here is one comment on Part 4.2 (Extract from War in the Middle Sea by James Gleeson, ch.4) about the fighting over Malta: OTL, the first Hawk-81 A1 (French order of 140 planes) flew on June 6, 1940. After the armistice, GB took over the order (under the name Tomahawk I). The first planes reached England in September of 1940 (some still with French equipement). So you can expect that the first Hawk-81 will be in French fighter units around December 1940/January 1941. Or course, protection of North Africa is a priority, but the French still have lots of D-520 (some of them would have been upgraded to D-523 standard, which is quite a good answer to the earlier Me-109F). Therefore, you can expect that Malta could be defended more earlier than you wrote by French fighters. One side note : if I'm not wrong, the D-520 has a better climbing speed and service ceiling compared to the H-81 A1, so it would perhaps be a better choice to defend Malta.

Yours

Loïc

EDIT : corrected typo
 
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The thing is, this is mostly as OTL. Java suffered terribly, due to Japanese forced labour demands and the general economic dislocation of the war.
This is surprising. Java was pretty much of a backwater during the war. It was also a fairly populous place; the Japanese would have to conscript a lot of workers to disrupt the whole economy. Why did the Japanese need a lot of forced labor there? Did they send Javanese labor to Borneo or other areas? In which case liberating Borneo would rescue those men.

Of course one shouldn't underestimate the ability of Imperial Japan to FUBAR anything they controlled.
 

Deleted member 2186

Part 13. Nullum magnum ingenium

With regard to Java, most Allied governments took the legalistic view that the feeding of the Javanese civil population was, under international law, the responsibility of the occupying power. ‘We can accept no responsibility for the Javanese civil population while Japan occupies the island,’ wrote Churchill, and the French and Americans concurred. Several decision-makers expressed the view that the Javanese had broadly welcomed the Japanese, and should now face the consequences. ‘They did everything they could to hinder our troops last year,’ noted one Australian general. ‘They made their bed…’
Knowing the Japanese, they have no problem in starving the population on Java if it suits their own needs.
 
Hello,

I'm one of the authors of FFO (FTL in French) and I'm currently reading this very good work. I'm still only at page 7 (Part 4.5). I would like to make a lot of comments, but I'm lacking time, this will perhaps come later.
But here is one comment on Part 4.2 (Extract from War in the Middle Sea by James Gleeson, ch.4) about the fighting over Malta: OTL, the first Hawk-81 A1 (French order of 140 planes) flew on June 6, 1940. After the armistice, GB took over the order (under the name Tomahawk I). The first planes reached England in September of 1940 (some still with French equipement). So you can expect that the first Hawk-81 will be in French fighter units around December 1940/January 1941. Or course, protection of North Africa is a priority, but the French still have lots of D-520 (some of them would have been upgraded to D-523 standard, which is quite a good answer to the earlier Me-109F). Therefore, you can expect that Malta could be defended more earlier than you wrote by French fighters. One side note : if I'm not wrong, the D-520 has a better climbing speed and service ceiling compared to the H-81 A1, so it would perhaps be a better choice to defend Malta.

Yours

Loïc

EDIT : corrected typo
The presence of the first Hawk 81s in units somewhere in Free France is likely, but there would still be a lot of Hawk 75s in the winter of 1940. Historically Malta was defended by Gladiators and Hurricanes while Britain was full of Spitfires, I find it very plausible that under similar political calculations Malta has the 75s while the 81s orbit lazily around Algiers and Casablanca. Dewotines and Blochs are all very well, but if the factories producing spares for them are under enemy occupation they're a diminishing resource and they're much better off being concentrated together where they can be serviced most efficiently instead of penny-packeted out to Malta, Greece and the Mediterranean Islands.
 

Driftless

Donor
I believe that the French Hawks used both the P&W1830s and later models used the Wright R1820's. Other French purchases of American aircraft would have been using those engines in that time frame. Is that adaptable supply chain enough incentive to keep the Hawks flying?
 
The presence of the first Hawk 81s in units somewhere in Free France is likely, but there would still be a lot of Hawk 75s in the winter of 1940. Historically Malta was defended by Gladiators and Hurricanes while Britain was full of Spitfires, I find it very plausible that under similar political calculations Malta has the 75s while the 81s orbit lazily around Algiers and Casablanca. Dewotines and Blochs are all very well, but if the factories producing spares for them are under enemy occupation they're a diminishing resource and they're much better off being concentrated together where they can be serviced most efficiently instead of penny-packeted out to Malta, Greece and the Mediterranean Islands.
One word about the US engines and parts: French orders always included spares (airframes, engines,...). The is really no problem to get spares, as long as the French pay. OTL, USAAC agreed to have their own first P-40 delayed so the French could get theirs. Of course, armistice arrived.
For the French engines, along with the evacuated spares, there is a way to get some from the Swiss and the Yugoslavs who build them under licence.

The Blochs would have been left in France, along with the VG-33. That's a pity for the MB-157 (a Thunderbolt one year before) and the VG-33 (quite cheap to build). Perhaps some MB-152/155 could escape and would be given to the Greeks who already had some.

How to use them :
- there is Corsica and Sardinia (if conquered as in FFO) to defend, with of course Malta and Tunisia, this is the first line, the best fighters must be there
- Algeria and Morroco are out of reach of German or Italian fighters, so you need a good warning system, quick climbing planes and night-fighters to welcome ennemy bombers; of course also a couple of good groups to reassure politicians and to keep Spain calm :)

The French fighter force at the beginning of 1941 could look like that (numbers coming from FFO):
- 6 groups on Hawk-81: around 120 operational planes with 70 more in storage
- 9 groups still flying on Hawk-75: 180 operational and 140 in storage; groups are moving to H-81 as the deliveries continues, so this type is being phased out, planes can be given to other Allied countries (Belgian, Greeks, Czech, Polish, ...)
- 6 groups on D-520 (incl. upgraded versions): 120 operational, 100 in storage and another 100 still undergoing conversion to upgraded versions (*)
- 2 groups on Potez 631 (heavy fighter/night fighter): 40 operational and 40 in storage; being replaced by Glenn-Martin M-167 with 4x7,5 mm (and later 2x20 mm) in the nose
- 1 group with the last MS-406/MS-410, which would have bored (with the H-75 of course) the brunt of the fighting over Libya (around 200 planes in North Africa at the time of armistice), would be based in East Africa, Syria/Lebanon, Cyprus (also Rhodes in FFO): 20 operational, 10 in storage, the rest in schools and for advanced training; probably 15-20 planes in Indochina at this time (20 OTL minus losses by accidents)

(*) the number of D-520 is of course linked to the time allowed to move planes to North Africa and the date the factory in Toulouse is shut down (note that a in the last week of production OTL, around 10 planes were produced daily); here are the OTL numbers on 25th June (production stopped):
- produced: 437
- lost (all causes): 105
- in North Africa: 176
- in GB: 3
- still in France: 153
So with more produced, of course more losses as fighting continues, but more evacuated, there is no problem to have around 350 D-520 in North Africa.

Loïc
 
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The French fighter force at the beginning of 1941 could look like that (numbers coming from FFO):
- 6 groups on Hawk-81: around 120 operational planes with 70 more in storage
- 9 groups still flying on Hawk-75: 180 operational and 140 in storage; groups are moving to H-81 as the deliveries continues, so this type is being phased out, planes can be given to other Allied countries (Belgian, Greeks, Czech, Polish, ...)
- 6 groups on D-520 (incl. upgraded versions): 120 operational, 100 in storage and another 100 still undergoing conversion to upgraded versions (*)
- 2 groups on Potez 631 (heavy fighter/night fighter): 40 operational and 40 in storage; being replaced by Glenn-Martin M-167 with 4x7,5 mm (and later 2x20 mm) in the nose
- 1 group with the last MS-406/MS-410, which would have bored (with the H-75 of course) the brunt of the fighting over Libya (around 200 planes in North Africa at the time of armistice), would be based in East Africa, Syria/Lebanon, Cyprus (also Rhodes in FFO): 20 operational, 10 in storage, the rest in schools and for advanced training; probably 15-20 planes in Indochina at this time (20 OTL minus losses by accidents)
Quite an impressive force, really. What do you imagine to happen with the G-36As that historically became the Martlet Mk.I? France has no proper carriers and the UK is in desperate need of modern carrier fighters, but at the same time France is in desperate need of modern fighters of any stripe. I could see the order being transferred to the UK, kept with France and used as land based fighters or even possibly forming Aeronavale squadrons flying from British carriers.
 
Quite an impressive force, really. What do you imagine to happen with the G-36As that historically became the Martlet Mk.I? France has no proper carriers and the UK is in desperate need of modern carrier fighters, but at the same time France is in desperate need of modern fighters of any stripe. I could see the order being transferred to the UK, kept with France and used as land based fighters or even possibly forming Aeronavale squadrons flying from British carriers.
G-36A didn't have the folding wing.
Now with France being in the Fight, the G-36B that the UK ordered direct as the Martlet Mk.II would be differently equipped
 
Now that we are talking about US built fighters for France again, did France ever pick up a license to build the Hawk 75 in North Africa?
OTL Curtiss sold tooling and plans so both the British could build them in India and KMT in China
 
Quite an impressive force, really. What do you imagine to happen with the G-36As that historically became the Martlet Mk.I? France has no proper carriers and the UK is in desperate need of modern carrier fighters, but at the same time France is in desperate need of modern fighters of any stripe. I could see the order being transferred to the UK, kept with France and used as land based fighters or even possibly forming Aeronavale squadrons flying from British carriers.
They can be passed over to the Greeks, istead of the British mission in the US being a@#$ about it.
 

Deleted member 2186

Now that we are talking about US built fighters for France again, did France ever pick up a license to build the Hawk 75 in North Africa?
OTL Curtiss sold tooling and plans so both the British could build them in India and KMT in China
And how long would it take to build a factory, to train the people and to produce a single plane.
 
And how long would it take to build a factory, to train the people and to produce a single plane.
seems to have been under a year for India and China, quite a bit farther away from the main Curtiss factory in New York, and those two areas less developed than French North Africa
Now wouldn't be a lot of aircraft, but done for the same reason that OZ made aircraft based from NAA T-6 Texan
 

Deleted member 2186

seems to have been under a year for India and China, quite a bit farther away from the main Curtiss factory in New York, and those two areas less developed than French North Africa
Now wouldn't be a lot of aircraft, but done for the same reason that OZ made aircraft based from NAA T-6 Texan
So in the 1942 period then, also if Germany and Italy do not bombing it that is ore something else happens in the meantime.
 
Probably the offer would be along the same lines, but maybe not Cripps making it. I get the feeling that his diplomatic skill was over-estimated OTL, and that he didn't handle matters well - though he stood little chance in any case. In the different circumstances of the ATL, different personnel might be involved. In particular I'm also thinking of Linlithgow, who should have been replaced sooner.
A great man to replace that man did not even allow the Indians to set up a medicine factory as he was a board member of Imperial Chemicals, someone competent like Wavell most probably a civilian should be the Viceroy.
 
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