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Thread: New article on the attack on Trincomalee

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    Default New article on the attack on Trincomalee

    I have written an article on KdB's 9 April 1942 attack on Trincomalee which has been posted at http://www.combinedfleet.com/articles.htm. It is titled "91 Bombs: The Japanese Attack on Trincomalee". Here is the abstract:

    This article offers a detailed examination of the Japanese attack on Trincomalee on 9 April 1942, which has not been given the attention it deserves. It was the first attack by Kidō Butai which did not enjoy the element of surprise, the last attack it made on a port, and the only one in which it used level bombers exclusively. It also foreshadowed Midway in a number of ways and echoed Pearl Harbor in another. It was a powerful attack, involving 91 level bombers armed with heavy bombs, but inflicted relatively insignificant damage. The article lays out what was hit, what was missed, and what should not have been aimed at.

    Naturally a good part of the article is about the role of 261 Sqn in defending Trincomalee against the raiders.

    I'd invite everyone interested to read the article and post a comment.


    Cheers,

    Rob

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    Rob, Interesting stuff. i couldnt help but read the other article you have out there "20 Ships, Not 23: Ozawa’s Score, 5-6 April 1942"

    as a matter of interest - You mention at one point "
    It is very probable that Ozawa detached Yura and Yugiri to operate inshore. This may have happened as early as 0602 (0902 JST on Map 2), but possibly it was after 0630, when an unidentified Allied ship or aircraft reported “One aircraft carrier, one battleship [Chokai], two destroyers, one light cruiser” steering 035 degrees at 17.40N, 83.50E, which is about 20 miles east of Vizagapatam. (This report may well have been based on a sighting by an old Wapiti biplane from 6 Coast Defence Flight, Indian Air Force, which was patrolling off Vizagapatam that morning.) "

    I wrote about this sortie of the Wapiti in my book. The aircraft J9754, belonged to the 4 CDF, flown by Pilot Officer Marice Barker and Flt Lt David Small , the CO as the Observer. I quote from my book.


    The first operational sortie was flown at 5.30 am on 6 April 1942 in Wapiti J9754. In the very first hour, the pilot, Pilot Officer Maurice Barker, with his CO Flight Lieutenant D L Small in the observer seat identified a Japanese naval force that had snuck into the Bay of Bengal to carry out bombing of the various Indian ports. Barker and Small tailed the Japanese fleet for over two hours; at one point they had three Japanese zeros fly below them without their being noticed. After radioing the position of the fleet, the pair had to return to the airfield at 7.35 am. .
    Small was later the CO of RAF Vizagapatam, but died in a Hudson crash less than a month into his command. His story is told in one of the threads in this forum.

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    Jagan, thanks very much for your response. I'm glad to have this additional info.

    Incidentally, Ryujo was not carrying any Zeros. Her fighters were all A5Ms, a.k.a. the Type 96 carrier fighter, later codenamed CLAUDE by the Allies. The three Japanese aircraft sighted by Barker and Small could not have been Zeros, but of course aircraft misidentification was a universal problem.


    Cheers,

    Rob

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    Rob,

    You may well be right. I guess in that era and sector, everything was a zero.

    Small's report very clearly states that

    "At 06-50 P/O Barker informed me that three Yellow coloured low wing monoplanes had passed immediately below us. I did not observe the aircraft. I instructed the pilot to take avoiding action and fly 270 degrees towards land"

    But the Form 540 states
    "06.50 : Japanese fighters (three Navy 0) passed below the Wapiti"
    and again..
    "12.15: Formation of three Japanese bombers (Navy97s) accompanied by two fighters (Navy 0s) commenced attack on the harbour"

    So zeroes everywhere!

    Interestingly.. Small also states that he was not a W/Op and the aircraft was not equipped. It seems they landed back at 0740 and reported in person to the Naval Officer in Charge at 0810 who made a transmission about the force.

    Small did take the position of the fleet when he marked them as 17 52'N 83 50'E.. close to what you mentioned.
    Last edited by Jagan; 16th May 2017 at 21:41.

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    Hello Jagan.

    Thanks for your response.

    The passage from 20 Ships, Not 23: Ozawa’s Score, 5-6 April 1942 which you cite:

    It is very probable that Ozawa detached Yura and Yugiri to operate inshore. This may have happened as early as 0602 (0902 JST on Map 2), but possibly it was after 0630, when an unidentified Allied ship or aircraft reported “One aircraft carrier, one battleship [Chokai], two destroyers, one light cruiser” steering 035 degrees at 17.40N, 83.50E, which is about 20 miles east of Vizagapatam. (This report may well have been based on a sighting by an old Wapiti biplane from 6 Coast Defence Flight, Indian Air Force, which was patrolling off Vizagapatam that morning.)

    ... was based mainly on signal 0340Z/6 from the Naval Officer in Charge, Vizagapatam. 0340Z was 0940 local, so it seems that the NOIC took 90 minutes to send out his sighting report, which so far as I can see must have been based on Small's 0810 report to him.

    It's of very great interest to me that Small gave 17 52'N 83 50'E as the position at which he sighted “One aircraft carrier, one battleship [Chokai], two destroyers, one light cruiser”. The possibility that Ozawa's Northern Group was further to the north at 0630 than I had thought would mean that I'll have to take another look at the deductions in my article about the order in which the various merchant ships were sunk, etc, to confirm if all my conclusion are still valid. On the other hand, the passage from your book which you cite says that they shadowed the Japanese for over two hours (0530 to 0735?), so was 17 52'N 83 50'E the position of the Japanese at close to 0735?


    Cheers,

    Rob

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    Rob,
    17 52'N 83 50'E the position of the Japanese at close to 0735?
    Almost.

    "I took a back bearing as we made our landfall and caluclate the position in which we left the naval force at 07-06 as 17 52'N 83 50'E" - Its a two page report. which I have uploaded to the gallery just now.


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