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Who Attacked The HMAS Hobart?

November 13 2010 at 11:38 PM
Tom Womack  (Login TomWomack)

On February 27, 1942, while forming part of ABDA's Western Striking Force, HMAS Hobart was bombed by 8 Japanese aircraft while returning to Tandjoeng Priok from an abortive sortie into the Western Java Sea. Per several records, the WSF put into port at 1420 JST after having been bombed; Hobart was near-missed and lightly damaged with 5 crew wounded.

G. Herman Gill in The Australian Navy At War, Volume 2 (page 608) simply says "8 aircraft" without ID of their unit.

Bloody Shamble, Volume 2 (Page 233) says that Betty bombers of the Kanoya Ku and Nell bombers of the Mihoro Ku were operating over the western Java Sea at the time. Also Betty bombers from Takao Ku. But according to this source, none made an attack.

In his "Chronology of the War at Sea, 1939-45" (Page 126) Rowher says "A sortie made by the Allied Western Force with the cruisers Danae, Dragon and Hobart and the destroyers Scout and Tenedos from Batavia to the area of Banka and Billiton on 26-27 February finds nothing. However, attacks by Japanese aircraft from Ryujo, Chiyoda and Kamikawa Maru are also unsuccessful."

It would seem like Ryujo, Chiyoda and Kamikawa Maru are the most likely culprits. Does anyone have more info on this attack or attacks?


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Melmoth the Blunderer
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It warn't CHIYODA

November 14 2010, 4:37 AM 


CHIYODA is definitely wrong. RYUJO maybe (I know where her kodochosho are, but much too busy at present to do that research. Her planes are involved in the bombings of Feb. 15th in the Gaspar Strait mess.)
KAMIKAWA MARU maybe...Can't tell from her combinedfleet TROM.

However, Howden's WesStrikFor was being shadowed and tracked, with accurate reports, all the time by Sentai 7 planes, among others.

Wouldn't surprise me if some 11th Koku Kantai planes were involved, though.



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Tom Womack
(Login TomWomack)

11th Air Flotilla

November 14 2010, 7:12 AM 

Hi Melmoth...

I doubt it was the 11th Air Flotilla. So far as I can tell, all of its aircraft were operating out of Balikpapan; seems like that would be a really long way to go. Even if they were in range, there were several other air units operating from Sumatra and Singapore that were closer, so I can't imagine the 11th AF coming all the way down/over to the Western Java Sea.

BTW...do you have any idea from which Takao Ku was operating in late February? Bettys from this unit initially sighted the Hobart squadron in the Western Java Sea.

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Mel thW
(no login)

Re: 11th Air Flotilla

November 14 2010, 9:28 PM 


No, in this case you are a little mistaken, but that's understandable; it was a very fluid situation with many different 11th Kokukantai elements leap-frogging all over the region. 22nd and 23rd Kokusentai units were operating by then out of Sumatra (Gloembang AF) and the Bandjermasin area (Martapoera AF captured 10 Feb) respectively, but only briefly. I have read (in one of the JPN Monogs) that 22nd air flotilla had a large number of naval torpedo attack planes in he Palembang, Sumatra area from 24 Feb until the end of the month.

11th Kokukantai planes were definitely involved in tracking Allied offensive movements in the sea battles off East Java (what we call "the Battle of the Java Sea") and off Batavia, including Howden's striking force. But, I don't know with certainty if they participated in air attacks. (They may well have.)
I'll let you do more research on who made the actual attacks. It doesn't appear to have been CHITOSE, as far as I can tell. And RYUJO's kodo have a strange gap--at least in JACAR--between Feb 17th and 1 March!! KAMIKAWA-MARU looks like a good suspect in some of this, though.

Elements of 23rd's Takao Kokutai had moved through Makassar (around 17 February) down to Bali (about 22 Feb), and were involved in attacks on Allied shipping in the Indian Ocean thereafter. This includes, of course, the bombings that destroyed LANGLEY. (All of this is in PAWNS OF WAR and BLUE SEA OF BLOOD, BTW!)

I didn't realize 23rd Bettys found Howden's group. I would've suspected 22nd planes flying out of Sumatra at that point.

Now, what have you got for me?



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Tom Womack
(Login TomWomack)

Your Last Note (Attention: MTW)

November 19 2010, 4:04 PM 


I haven't forgotten you and I'm not ignoring you! I've just been really tied up at the office getting some marketing plans planned out for next year. we're also heading out on vacation later this morning so I'll be out of touch for the next week or so. Talk to ya soon!

Tommy Wo

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Melmoth the W
(no login)

No hurry, Tom; I'm busy, too N/T

November 19 2010, 5:29 PM 

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