aikoku maru и другие.

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press

новичок
В Объединенном флоте была такая 24-я дивизия - вспомогательные крейсера "Хококу Мару", "Айкоку Мару", "Киёсима Мару" (контр-адмирал Такеда). Какой был смысл в тактическом предназначении этих кораблей? Видимо, с германской концепцией каперства ничего общего не было? Кто знает, были ли в их судьбе реальные боевые эпизоды (имеется ввиду до их переоборудования в войсковые транспорты - кто уцелел :) )? Позорный бой с "Бенгалом" не в счет.
 
RU Алексей #18.06.2004 02:06
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Алексей

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Пишут, что планировались именно как рейдеры.
 
Это сообщение редактировалось 18.06.2004 в 02:25

TbMA

опытный

"Айкоку Мару" и "Хококу Мару":

12 дек. 1941 атакован и потоплен пароход "Винсент" (к северу от Питкерна, шедший из Сиднея в Нью-Йорк через Панамский канал).

31 дек. 1941 около Таити пароход "Малама" атакован гидропланами с "крейсеров", затоплен командой.

9 мая 1942 в Индийском океане, захвачен танкер "Генота" (15000т, переименован в "Осё")

5 июня 1942 потоплен пароход "Элизия" (около Дурбана)

12 июля 1942 захвачен пароход "Хаурака" (позже переименованый "Хоки Мару"), шедший из Фримантлa (Зап. Австралия) на Цейлон.

11 ноября 1942 - "бенгальская история" ;)
 
Это сообщение редактировалось 18.06.2004 в 03:37
RU 140466(ака Нумер) #18.06.2004 08:17
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А что есть "бельгийская история"?
Весь флот - на иголки!  
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israel

модератор
★★☆
140466(ака Нумер), 18.06.2004 07:17:47 :
А что есть "бельгийская история"?
 


не бельгийская, а бенгальская. они вдвоем напали на танкер, конвоируемый ТЩ. вот как это описано в МК:

Ясным декабрьским днем 1943 года по слепящей глади спокойного в тот час Индийского океана медленно двигались два корабля — большой и маленький. Большим был голландский транспорт “Ондина”, который должен был доставить 6000 т топлива из Австралии на острова Диего-Гарсия, а маленьким — его эскорт, тральщик “Бенгал”, шедший под индийским флагом и имевший смешанный англо-индийский экипаж. Видимость была прекрасной, и когда впереди по курсу были замечены два больших парохода, окрашенных в серый цвет, командир тральщика капитан-лейтенант Вильсон быстро опознал в них японские рейдеры. Вильсон действовал образцово: приказав “Ондине” уходить, он передал на базу подробное сообщение, после чего смело пошел прямо на противника. Шансов на спасение у “Бенгала” практически не было. Однотипные японские вспомогательные крейсера “Хококу-Мару” и “Айкоку-Мару” в сумме имели 16 140-мм орудий, 8 торпедных аппаратов и даже несли 4 гидросамолета — и все это против единственной 76-мм пушки тральщика. Водоизмещение противников отличалось почти в 50 раз! Уклониться от боя “Бенгал” был не в состоянии: японцы имели превосходство в скорости хода на 5 узлов. Вскоре после полудня рейдеры открыли огонь. “Бенгал” вынужден был приблизиться к противнику почти вплотную, чтобы эффективнее использовать свое орудие. Единственным его преимуществом было то, что промахнуться по 150-метровому крейсеру было трудно. Снаряд за снарядом рвались в огромном корпусе головного “Хококу-Мару”. На нем возник большой пожар, а через час сильный взрыв потряс японский корабль, и тот мгновенно исчез под водой. Неповрежденный “Айкоку-Мару”, пытаясь угнаться сразу за двумя зайцами, вел огонь то по “Бенгалу”, то по “Ондине”, но Вильсон продолжал защищать танкер даже после того, как его тральщик получил значительные повреждения. Японский рейдер выпустил несколько сотен снарядов и две торпеды, после чего, посчитав противника уничтоженным, повернул спасать остатки экипажа незадачливого “Хококу-Мару”. Но вопреки всему оба корабля союзников остались на плаву. Танкер вернулся в порт Фримантл, а “Бенгал” после экспресс-ремонта в открытом море пересек весь Индийский океан и дошел до Цейлона. Так завершился один из самых удивительных морских боев второй мировой войны — бой, за который “Бенгал” получил ласковое прозвище “маленький бенгальский тигр” и в котором он доказал отличную живучесть стандартных английских тральщиков типа “Батерст”...


справедливости ради надо отметить, что "Ондина" имела 102мм пушку на корме, и во время боя пользовалась ею весьма активно. так что, не все заслуга "Бенгала
Помните, что война с арабами - это война ловушек, засад и убийств из-за угла. (с) Атос, граф де ла Фер ( с помощью А. Дюма)  

press

новичок
TbMA, 18.06.2004 02:15:54 :
"Айкоку Мару" и "Хококу Мару":

12 дек. 1941 атакован и потоплен пароход "Винсент" (к северу от Питкерна, шедший из Сиднея в Нью-Йорк через Панамский канал).

31 дек. 1941 около Таити пароход "Малама" атакован гидропланами с "крейсеров", затоплен командой.

9 мая 1942 в Индийском океане, захвачен танкер "Генота" (15000т, переименован в "Осё")

5 июня 1942 потоплен пароход "Элизия" (около Дурбана)

12 июля 1942 захвачен пароход "Хаурака" (позже переименованый "Хоки Мару"), шедший из Фримантлa (Зап. Австралия) на Цейлон.

11 ноября 1942 - "бенгальская история" ;)
 


А где можно информацию найти по их дебюту в войне? о немцах известно очень многое, о японских рейдерах - почти ничего нет.
Интересно, откуда они выдвигались в Полинезию и когда получили камуфляж?
 
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apple17

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Japan's forgotten sea raiders
Owen Gault. Sea Classics. Canoga Park: Jul 2003. Vol. 36, Iss. 7; pg. 46

ISSN/ISBN: 00489867
Full Text (4262 words)
Copyright Challenge Publications Inc. Jul 2003


[Headnote]
Seeking to emulate the success of the disguised raiders of their Nazi ally, the Japanese met disaster when they converted 14 large steamships into armed merchant cruisers early in the Pacific War


By any stretch of the imagination it was a most uneven combat. Certainly the odds favored two fast powerfully armed Japanese raiders pitted against a plodding Dutch tanker and her bantam-sized Royal Indian Navy escort. In firepower alone, the Japanese raiders boasted 16 5.5-in guns in their main battery. Numerous 25mm AA guns sprinkled their superstructures along with twin 21-in torpedo tubes. Against these were ranged the lone 4-in gun of The Netherlands motor tanker SS Ondina and the single 3-in of its out-matched Australian-built Bathhurst-class minesweeper escort.

Indeed, the laws of probability indicated the contest should have been decided with the Japanese raiders Hokoku Maru and Aikoku Maru's first salvoes. But natural law sometimes contradicts its own precepts. In what should have been a swift encounter with a predictable outcome, the odds suddenly shifted. Under a blazing tropic sun what commenced as certain victory quickly transformed into a running fight between hound and hare - the hunter becoming the hunted. Suddenly the tables turned; it was the Japanese who felt the sting of shattering defeat. Even more profound, the outcome of this fierce clash on a lonely speck of the Indian Ocean was to have long-lasting consequences in distant Tokyo. Though seemingly an isolated skirmish which would hardly affect the outcome of Japan's bid for domination of the Pacific, the result of the meeting between these four protagonists was to influence Japan's strategic naval policy in a manner few could have predicted.

ESTABLISHING LINES OF CONQUEST

The alliance between Japan, Germany and Italy was an uneasy one at best. Formed in 1940 in what came to be known as the ten-year Axis Pact, the only commonality shared by the three dictator-ruled powers was a ruthless desire to attain world dominance at any price. By virtue of self-determined economic necessity each Axis partner adopted ambitiously expansive plans which proclaimed that any territory which could not be procured via treaty or negotiation would be taken at the point of a bayonet. Thus, the finalization of the Tripartite Act sowed the seeds of World War Two and the inevitable discussion of exactly how the world would be divided by the victorious Axis trio.

Having little trust in Hitler's Germany, Japan early sought to set the boundaries of its sphere of control as far as was practical from Tokyo. After considerable haggling, it was decided to delineate the operational limits of their respective navies at a line set at 70-deg east latitude; roughly dividing the Indian Ocean in half some 400 miles east of Madagascar.

Though possessing the world's third-ranking navy, the Japanese were forced to admit to their new Axis allies that the fleet would be stretched precariously thin if they took on Great Britain and the United States in their quest to conquer the Pacific. Pointing out the fabulous successes of the German U-boats and sea raiders, the admirals of the Kreigsmarine suggested that Japan might also achieve similar results against merchant men were they to employ armed merchant cruisers as makeshift raiders.

In 1940/41, disguised Nazi raiders such as the Atlantis, Michel, Steir, Thor and Komet had accounted for more than 820,000 tons of Allied shipping sunk; a remarkable achievement considering that it was accomplished with only ten former merchant vessels inexpensively converted into heavily-armed auxiliary cruisers.

FOR THE GLORY OF THE EMPEROR

Eager to please and emulate their Nazi cohorts, the Japanese could hardly argue the success of Germany's commerce war against merchant men. Great Britain had almost been forced to its knees by the stranglehold U-boats placed on its Atlantic lifelines. Hanging on by the trickle of supplies that managed to reach British ports in 1941, the Allies well-recognized the importance of unrestricted submarine warfare and commerce raiding. In any ocean, victory or defeat hung in the balance of keeping the supply lanes open.

However, due to their vastness the Indian and Pacific Oceans posed special operational considerations which many in the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters felt were not properly addressed with the use of ad hoc unarmored warships. A joint army-navy top command, Gen. Hideki Tojo's Imperial General Headquarters, made all of Japan's strategic military decisions. And Japanese naval philosophy of that era stressed the importance of control of the sea via the influence of the main battle fleet. Speed was everything, propounded Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, C-I-C of the Combined Fleet. Little value was placed in the merit of small-scale independent actions such as commerce raiding as exemplified in Germany's privateer-style strategies of board, capture and sink.

Though older "battleship" admirals like Yamamoto believed strongly in "hit hard and run" fleet assaults a la Pearl Harbor there were a number of overzealous mid-ranked staff officers who were greatly impressed by the accomplishments of the German sea raiders. Often at odds with their senior commanders and wielding considerable influence over the old guard at Imperial General Headquarters, these politically ambitious mavericks were overwhelmingly in favor of commerce raiding as an inexpensive yet highly effective means of starving one's enemies into submission. In the end, the outspoken contingents of headquarters staffers won out by emphasizing the potential to inflict great damage on the enemy by employing what the skeptics defined as Nazi-style "sideshow" tactics.

By mid-1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) had commandeered 14 merchantmen of medium tonnage for conversion into auxiliary cruisers. All built in the late 1930s, displacements ranged from the 355-ft Ukishima Maru's 4730 tons to the 4:92-ft Hokoku Maru's 10,439 tons. From four to eight guns ranging from 4.7-in to 5.9-in were fitted in open mounts along with a variety of smaller 13mm and 25mm anti-aircraft weaponry, plus 21-in torpedo tubes. Larger vessels such as the Hokoku, Aikoku, Gokoku, and Kinryu Maru carried one or two Aichi E13A1 seaplanes while the Bankok, Kinjosan and Saigon Maru were equipped to lay 400-500 mines each. Crews varied from 250 to 350 officers and men.

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Converted into one of Japan's 14 armed merchant cruisers, the near-new 10,437-ton Aikoku Maru is seen in camouflage paint at Seletar, Singapore, in July 1942. Armed with eight 5-in guns she and sister ship Hokoku Maru were Japan's two most successful raiders. Aikoku Maru reconverted to a naval transport in October 1943 and was sunk early in 1944.



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Outfitted for extended patrols in the Indian Ocean, the AMCs also carried additional fuel, torpedoes and supplies for Japanese submarines thereby bestowing on them a secondary role as improvised submarine tenders. As envisioned in Tokyo, the raiders would emulate their Nazi partners by marauding as teams with Japanese submarines. In this manner a stream of fresh supplies could replenish the submarines without necessitating their return to base.

However, unlike their German counterparts, Japan's AMC marauders felt no compulsion to adopt the kind of clever deceptions employed so successfully by the German raiders. Disguises asseemingly innocent neutral merchantmen allowed the Germans to often draw very close to their prey before unfurling their true colors. It was often the shock value of looking down an enemy gun barrel at close range that minimized casualties by quickly convincing the enemy resistance was futile; that they could neither out-run, out-gun nor out-fight their adversary.

GIDDY WITH VICTORY, THE JAPANESE ADVANCE INTO THE INDIAN OCEAN

Following the lightning successes of their attacks on Pearl Harbor, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Java, the Japanese Fleet - flushed with "Victory Fever" - flexed its muscle with a series of fast carrier strikes against British positions ringing the Indian Ocean. Calculated to stun what was left of the battered Royal Navy into virtual submission, late in March 1942 the Japanese invaded tiny Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean with the idea of building an airstrip there. Quickly overwhelming the 100-man British garrison, the Japanese soon hadsecond thoughts about building what could only be a small airfield on an isolated outpost. Abandoning the idea and the island, Nagumo's carriers next struck Columbo, Ceylon, on 5 April where they covered the landing of Adm. Oawa's large Second Expeditionary Fleet which struck and bombarded coastal positions south of Calcutta, east of India. Off Calcutta they also engaged in a cat and mouse game that left two British cruisers, two destroyers, a sub tender and supply ship sunk in its wake.

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The 10,439-ton Hokoku Maru was also built by Tama in 1939. Seen in 1942 the raider wears camouflage paint designed by the Kure Navy Yard where she converted into a raider in 1941 with the addition of eight 5-in guns, two 21-in torpedo tubes, 25mm AA guns and two scout planes. Hokoku Maru was sunk 11 November 1942, by a Royal Indian Navy minesweeper.


Four days later Ozawa and Nagumo's ships and planes raided Tricomalee, Ceylon, in a three-pronged assault which netted 23 Allied freighters sunk for a loss of 116,830 tons at a cost of only a few Japanese aircraft. In four months of continuous action, not one Japanese ship had been lost. Even more telling, in Nagumo's final 150-plane raid on 9 April, the British light carrier HMS Hermes had been sunk 65 miles south of Trincomalee along with the Australian destroyer Vampire.

Having been at sea continually since 26 November 1941, Nagumo's carriers were sorely in need of refits; his weary flight crews long overdue for R&R. Leaving behind a small force of destroyers and light cruisers to guard their latest conquests, the seemingly invincible main fleet returned to Japan. Indeed, by May 1942, the IJN had run the Brits out of the Indian Ocean; had the Americans reeling in the Pacific, and stood at the gates of Australia, ready to invade Port Moresby.

Realizing that the Indian Ocean was pregnant with largely defenseless Allied shipping the Japanese moved the 8th Submarine Flotilla into the area. In addition to the flotilla's eight fleet-type submarines, three midget subs were carried piggy-back on the mother submersible's deck. Two of the 2800-ton "I-boats" also had Aichi floatplanes stored in tubular deck hangars.

Supporting the submarines were two of the large new Japanese merchant cruisers (AMCs) -Aikoku Maru and Hokoku Maru. Equipped with eight 5-in guns each, four 25mm AA guns, two 21-in torpedo tubes and two seaplanes, the raiders took up central positions along well-traveled trade routes which made them readily available to resupply the submarines, or attack the enemy at will.

The raiders did not have long to wait.

On 9 May 1942, the two marauders overtook and captured the 12-knot 7986-ton Dutch motor tanker SS Genota some 465 miles southeast of Diego-Suarez, Madagascar. An unarmed easy conquest, a prize crew was placed aboard Genota and she was soon commissioned in the IJN as the oiler Ose. A few weeks later a seaplane from the submarine I-10, flagship of the 8th Flotilla, overflew Diego-Suarez where she spotted the British battleship HMS Ramillies under repair. The following day I-16 and I-20 each launched their midget submarines. Breathless hours later, the harbor boomed with the sound of an exploding torpedo which luckily flooded only one of Ramillies compartments. Minutes later a second torpedo from the other mini- sub struck the tanker British Loyalty, sinking her on the spot. With clouds of thick black smoke darkening the sky British subchasers sprang into action rapidly depth-charging several sectors of the harbor.

In the melee one of the two-man midget subs ran aground on a shoal; its crew taken prisoner and later executed. The other midget was never seen nor heard from again; ostensibly sunk by depth charges.

Although this action marked the greatest success of the midget submarines, their mother subs and the two AMCs continued to ply the heavily traveled waters of the Indian Ocean adding considerable tonnage to their scores. Early in June Aikoku Maru and Hokoku Maru, steaming together, managed to sink the 6740-ton British freighter Elysia with shellfire. In nearby Mozambique Channel, the I-boats sank three cargo ships at the same time. Other submarine successes followed in rapid order which sent the bulk cargo ship Loch Loman and freighter Elknaren, among others, to the bottom. By 9 July, the I-boats had accounted for 18 vessels, or 146,680 tons of shipping lost to the Allies.

Not to be outshone by the submarines they supported, the two raiders managed to conclude their first successful patrol by catching and sinking their third victim; the 7205-ton Huakari bound from Fremantle to Columbo, Ceylon on 12 July. Caught sailing alone nearly 800 miles southeast of Diego-Suarez, the hapless Huakari succumbed to the pair's torpedoes. Sharing considerable jubilation over their victories the surface raiders and their undersea companions departed for a long anticipated period of relaxation if not rest with the bawdy ladies of Penang's infamous brothels.

IMPRESSIVE BOX SCORE FAILED TO IMPRESS THE HIGH COMMAND

A glance at the operational box score should have been persuasive evidence of the value of the AMC/submarine commerce raiding program. The Japanese had damaged a British battleship sufficiently to keep her out of the war for many months; had sunk 19 British merchantmen totaling more than 150,000 tons; caused the Brits to divert critically needed warships from other areas to search for the elusive raiders - all at a cost of only two midget subs and four men! Yet, oddly the Japanese mindset was blind-sided by the lure of still bigger naval game. Impatient for more notable success, the Japanese High Command elected not to continue the AMC/submarine raider program. Instead, the surface raiders would operate alone; the submarines deployed against the Allied Fleet.

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HMIS Bengal was one of four steel-hulled 650-ton Bathurst-class minewseepers built in Australia for the Royal Indian Navy. Similar to the Brit's Bangor-class, 38 Bathurst-class were built in Australia for the Royal Navy, but most flew Aussie flags. 186-ft long, they all served as 15-knot escorts; had a crew of 60 men and were generally referred to in the land down under as "corvettes."


By early fall of 1942, Japan's bloated sense of naval invincibility had been thoroughly shattered. The Battle of the Coral Sea nullified their plan to invade Australia and their costly defeat at Midway dulled the cutting edge of their offensive capability - their vaunted lost carriers and experienced air crews. Worst yet, Japan was now denied the leadership and insights of Adm. Yamamoto, whose plane had been ambushed and shot down over Bouganville by 16 American P-38s. Though Yamamoto's battle skills were questioned by many, he alone seemed to realize that Japan was fighting a war of logistics; that the ticking clock was its worst threat - the most critical element in their hope for ultimate victory. If Japan could not quickly consolidate its many conquests and continue to keep the Brits and Americans at bay, Yamamoto predicted Japan would lose the war!

Never having been in a commerce war Japan's hide-bound naval planners completely failed to appreciate the importance of interdiction - attacking enemy supply lines. Paradoxically, within months of removing their subs from the commerce/interdiction role their own merchant fleet began to be decimated by far-ranging American fleet submarines. In the end, it was the submarine - not the surface ship nor the carrier - that broke the back of Japan's vitally needed merchant fleet.

Defining the submarine's principal value as a fleet asset, Japanese planners insisted that I-boats hunt American warships even though attacking well-protected Task Forces was far riskier and less productive than going after plodding merchant men. Adopting these dangerous tactics Japanese losses soon mounted, prompting Tokyo to blame the submarine skippers not the manner in which they were foolishly deployed. As the complexion of the war changed and America gained control of the skies over the Pacific Japan's once formidable submarine force was further squandered by being relegated to carry troops and supplies to outposts which could no longer be logistically supported by surface ships. Diverted from the role for which they were designed, through no fault of their own Japan's submarine force soon ceased to function on a scale commensurate with their destructive potential.

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DAVID MEETS GOLIATH

Though no further submarine offensives were undertaken in the Indian Ocean the AMC raiders still put to sea loaded with diesel fuel and torpedoes in case submarines were suddenly dispatched to their operating areas. In this manner, Hokoku Maru and sister Aikoku Maru embarked on another commerce raiding sortie late in October 1942 after lengthy refits saw their fuel bunkers expanded to accommodate more aviation fuel and increased varieties of munitions.

By this time, Tokyo had a chance to evaluate the pros and cons of the AMC program including the missions of the three AMC mine layers. Most apparent was the fact that, when operating alone without submarines, the AMCs failed to lure many victims into their snare. Nor did the AMCs put up much of a fight as attested to the loss of the 7043-ton raider Kongo Maru early in March 1942. Perhaps most damning of all was the widely shared opinion in Tokyo that while combing the seas for victims, the merchant cruisers were little more than joy-riding cruise ships whose valuable hulls were desperately needed to cany hardpressed Japanese troops.

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The Japanese hoped but never managed to achieve the success of German raiders like Michel which sank 18 Allied ships for a total of more than 126,000 tons before she herself was sunk by the American submarine Tarpon in the Pacific. Unlike the Germans, the Japanese did not disguise their raiders as innocent neutrals.


Two weeks into their patrol, the twin Japanese surface raiders suddenly spotted the Royal Dutch Shell tanker Ondina and her small escort HMIS Bengal 500 miles southwest of Cocos Island, en route about mid-point from Fremantle, Australia, to Diego-Suarez. Since neither raider made any pretense of disguising itself Bengal's youthful skipper, Lt. Cdr. William H. Wilson, RINVR, rang battle stations and full revs on the minesweeper's triple expansion engines in the hope he could outrun his pursuers. When the Japanese raiders cranked on speed, Wilson knew he couldn't make a run for it. He would have to stand and make a fight of it even though his 186-ft minesweeper earned only a single 3-in 12-pounder, one 40mm Bofors and two bridge-mounted 20mm Oerlikons.

Ordering the ponderous Ondina to make maximum speed to escape the trap, Wilson swung his Aussie-built escort around to face the oncoming enemy headon. Aware of the futility of his David and Goliath struggle Wilson remained undaunted, ordering his 3-in bow gun to open fire even as the Aikoku Maru sheered off from Hokoku Maru's beam to begin chasing the fleeing Ondina. Sworn to protect the tanker at all cost, Wilson also knew that had she been alone Ondina would in all probability have surrendered without firing a shot. Just about then Ondina's WWI-vintage single 4-in gun began to lash out furiously at the raider, causing her to zig-zag to avoid being hit.

With the chance encounter now a hot chase between all four vessels Bengal's sweating gunners fired as fast as the breech could be reloaded. Though out of range of the fast approaching Hokoku Maru, the 20mm Oerlikons joined in with the Bofors to show their defiance if not their sting. Luckily, though belching fire from four of her 5-in the Japanese gunner's aim was little better as shells splashed harmlessly into the sea far from the hard-steaming minesweeper. Then a miracle happened. On its seventh shot, one of Bengal's shells caused a fiery explosion aboard Hokoku Maru. Despite being struck, the raider pressed on even as swirls of flame and oily smoke began to engulf its superstructure, further impeding the gunner's aim.

Seeing her sister ship afire, Aikoku Maru swung her main battery toward Bengal and quickly succeeded in holing the sweeper's steel hull with splinters from near misses. Then she scored a direct hit. Bengal staggered under the impact which snapped the stays of her polemast and left it quivering like an arrow. Shaking off the debris littering her decks Bengal's gunners continued to pour 40mm shells into Aikoku Maru until the frustrated raider broke away to resume her pursuit of the fleeing tanker. In a burst of speed, Aikoku Maru managed to position herself to put two torpedoes into Ondina and no less than three shells into her superstructure; setting the tanker ablaze and killing her master. By then the Dutch crew had enough. Firing their gun until it ran out of ammunition, they abandoned ship and took to the boats.

A mile away, the hard-fighting Bengal was in bad shape with little prospect of any future. Taking water through her sieved hull, her pumps barely managed to keep her afloat. Worse yet, Bengal's 3-incher was almost out of ammunition; the Bofors ammo already exhausted. One more direct hit would send Wilson and his plucky Indian matelots to eternity. Yet for all of their damage, not one sailor had been killed or seriously wounded.

Swinging around to present the smallest profile to the Japanese gunners, Wilson was suddenly astonished to see the onrushing Hokoku Maru erupt in a tremendous explosion. Consumed in a giant ball of fire, the raider vanished. Feeling the blast's concussion on Bengal's bridge a half mile away, Wilson later reported that when the smoke disappeared their was no sign of the Japanese raider except for the rain of debris and body parts that fell from the sky. Hokoku Maru had blown up, obviously destroyed by the fires that reached the avgas and explosives stored deep within her.

Shocked by the explosive fate of her sister, Aikoku Maru took some parting shots at the men in the boats then departed the scene at high speed after briefly attempting to search for Japanese survivors. Inspired by the fight put up by the little minesweeper; the swift end to one of their attackers, and worried that their machine-gunned and badly holed lifeboats might sink Ondina's survivors decided to reboard the abandoned tanker. In a matter of hours, her fires extinguished and engine back on line, she was soon underway toward her original destination with her valued petro-cargo intact. Valiant escort Bengal proceeded to Columbo, was repaired, her captain and crew decorated for bravery, and soon back escorting other merchant men.

When word reached Tokyo about the incident on the distant Indian Ocean, the four admirals were forced to take a hard look at the disastrous AMC program. The passing months had seen several other AMCs lost in action without attaining any measure of success against merchant men. The coming of 1943 saw the entire complexion of the war changed, even in the Atlantic. By then the "Happy Days" of the U-boat campaign were a fast fading memory that had turned into a grueling nightmare. Growing numbers of Allied anti-submarine escorts and jeep carrier/destroyer-escort hunter-killer teams virtually swept the seas clean of undersea and surface marauders alike. Three out of four U-boats sent to sea never returned.

In January 1943, one German raider-Michel - was ordered to operate out of Japanese waters because the Atlantic was no longer an Axis lake. Upon reaching Kobe in March, Michel's crew was given a cool reception by their Japanese hosts. Embarrassed by the failure of their AMCs, the Japanese were jealous because of the success the Germans found in their sea raiding endeavors. But even then Michel's days were numbered. She was sunk 17 October 1943, by the submarine USS Tarpon just south of Yokohama. A few survivors reached Japan, but 290 were lost to Tarpon's torpedoes.

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The Japanese raider program was soon abandoned. The end of 1943 saw five of the original 14 AMCs lost in action without a single additional Allied merchant men sent to the bottom. Realizing the program was a failure, seven of the AMCs were reconfigured to other roles. Aikoku Maru reconverted into a transport in October 1943 and was sunk 17 February 1944. The two remaining units - Akagi and Saigon Maru were lost late in 1944.

There was much speculation as to why Japan's commerce raiding program failed so miserably. Obviously, the early successes of Hokoku and Aikoku Maru while operating with submarines bode well for the initial promise of the program. Had it continued there is no way to estimate the damage and delays its future success might have cost the Allies. At the very least, its continuance would have complicated and prolonged the campaigns in Burma and India and possibly interrupted MacArthur's timetable to return to the Philippines.

But the role of the raiders was problematical at best. After 1943 even the Germans were forced to abandon this form of warfare when fewer and fewer mid-Atlantic refuges remained for Hitler's raiders. Germany kept its U-boats at the Allies jugular until the very end when the contest was won by the country that built ships faster than any enemy could sink them. The same can be said for the tenacity of the raider's crews. Though Japanese naval training stressed rigid discipline and obedience to orders these restrictive attributes may have worked against them in an isolated combat environment that often called for bold initiative and resourceful leadership. Left to operate on their own under the direction of officers who had little experience waging a war of interdiction, the Japanese raiders may have missed many opportunities to give a better accounting of themselves.

Though the failure of Japan's commerce raiders can be laid to many factors, the old adage that victory never comes cheaply certainly proved true in their case. Once again, history proved that makeshift measures seldom achieve their goal. SC
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