Raids into the Indian Ocean | Nihon Kaigun

Raids into the Indian Ocean
(March 31 - April 9, 1942)

Having effectively put an end to Allied naval strength in the South Pacific with the annihilation of the ABDA forces around Java, Kido Butai (the Japanese carrier striking force) raided westward into the Indian Ocean so as to destroy the remnants of British naval power there. By attacking the main British fleet bases at Colombo and Trincomalee on Ceylon and driving the Royal Navy from the area, the westward flank of the Japanese defensive perimeter would be secure, and operations in Burma could continue unmolested. Starting on March 31, 1942, five Japanes carriers (Kaga had returned to Japan for engine work on March 2) began shooting up practically everything that moved in the Bay of Bengal. On April 5th, Nagumo hit Colombo and sank a number of ships. That afternoon the Japanese also caught two British heavy cruisers offshore and quickly sank them. On April 9th they attacked Trincomalee, and in the process discovered and sank the British light carrier Hermes, a destroyer, and some auxiliaries. Nagumo turned for home upon the conclusion of this raid.

During this entire episode, the bulk of the British Eastern Fleet had either kept out of the way, or had tried rather feebly to track and attack Kido Butai. Given that the British fast striking force had only two full-sized carriers (Indomitable and Formidable) and a single fast battleship (Warspite) to Japan's five and four, respectively, it is probably just as well that they never made contact. All other factors being equal, their only likely fate would have been to be whomped on.

Raids into the Indian OceanJapanAllied
Starting Forces x6 (later 5)
x4
x2
x1
x11
x350
Force A (Fast)
x2
x1
x2
x2
x6

Force B (Slow)
x1
x4
x3
x8

Losses roughly two dozen planes shot down, total
x1 sunk (Hermes)
x2 sunk (Cornwall, Dorsetshire)
x2 sunk (Tenedos, Vampire)

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WW2DB article on Raids into the Indian Ocean


Map noting the operations of the Japanese Navy First Air Fleet/Carrier Striking Force, 7 Dec 1941-12 Mar 1942Aircraft carrier Akagi shortly after leaving Port Stirling, Celebes for the Indian Ocean, 26 Mar 1942; note B5N torpedo bombers on flight deckBritish cruisers Dorsetshire and Cornwall burning during the Indian Ocean Raid, 5 Apr 1942; photo taken from a Japanese aircraftD3A dive bomber taking off from carrier Akagi, Indian Ocean, 5 Apr 1942HMS Hermes sinking off Ceylon, 9 Apr 1942; photo taken from a Japanese aircraft
Map noting the operations of the Japanese Navy First Air Fleet/Carrier Striking Force, 7 Dec 1941-12 Mar 1942Aircraft carrier Akagi shortly after leaving Port Stirling, Celebes for the Indian Ocean, 26 Mar 1942; note B5N torpedo bombers on flight deckBritish cruisers Dorsetshire and Cornwall burning during the Indian Ocean Raid, 5 Apr 1942; photo taken from a Japanese aircraftD3A dive bomber taking off from carrier Akagi, Indian Ocean, 5 Apr 1942HMS Hermes sinking off Ceylon, 9 Apr 1942; photo taken from a Japanese aircraft
Map showing Japanese offensives in Malaya, Burma, and the Indian Ocean, Jan-May 1942
Map showing Japanese offensives in Malaya, Burma, and the Indian Ocean, Jan-May 1942

See all 6 photos of Raids into the Indian Ocean on WW2DB


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