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Sempill

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NickForder View Drop Down
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    Posted: 26 Jun 2012 at 09:15
"I saw the programme on Lord Semphill - again v interesting and it makes you wonder quite frankly how he got away with it. Lesser mortals would have been hung, drawn etc."
 
It was not usual for Western Powers to send military missions overseas, both to influence foreign policy and to sell arms. The British had sent naval advisers to Turkey before the Great war, just as the Germans had advised the Turks on their army and the French on their air force. Two Turkish warships, built in British yards, were commandeered by the Royal Navy on the outbreak of war. These were the two the Germans 'offered to replace' with the Goeben & Breslau.  

 

I suspect that the only real issue that questioned whether the Mission to Japan should be official or not was the influence of Admiral Beatty, who was against it.

 

The use of 'semi official' missions continued resulting in, for instance, the sale of Lightnings to the Saudis.

 

The British Government sent jet engines to Russia, sold Canberras to the Argentinians and, I was reminded on Saturday, sanctioned attempts to sell the Nimrod AEW to Saddam...

 

So, nothing new !

 

At the time, the Mission was regarded as enough of a success for somthing similar to be planned for Greece (presumably at a time when the Greek Government had money to spend ?)

 
'Brackles' (the biography of HG Brackley, an instructor with Sempill's mission) contains a very long, and detailed, list of subjects that the Japanese were interested in and wanted him to investigate when he returned to UK on leave in July 1922. The implication is that this information was being discussed freely with the Japanese at the time. It is unclear what action Brackles took, the choices being to refuse to have anything with the request (difficult, given his employment status); gather information for the Japanese or tell MI5.....
 

As to Herbert Smith's role.

 

He designed less than half a dozen aircraft for Mitsubishi.

 

Of these, the Type 10 IMT1N triplane torpedo bomber was a failure (the recent Journal article specifies why), and his 3MR3 design lost out to the Blackburn design (HP was invited to tender also, and did so) which became the Type 89 'attack' aircraft. 

 

The IMF1 Carrier Fighter and 2MR1 reconaissance aircraft (a development of the fighter) remained in service until about 1930. These are notable as 'firsts', though this was as much because 'Hosho' was the first purpose designed carrier to be commissioned. They gave the Japanese useful carrier experience (though note that the early deck trials were carried out by the ex-Sopwith pilot Jordan, then working for Mitsubishi), but it is unlikely that this was significantly different from what would have been learned from operating the range of British aircraft sanctioned to be available via Sempill's Mission.

 
The last of Smith's designs, the B1M3 designed in 1923, was not adopted for service until 1931 (hence its Type 13 designation, as this relates to year of introduction in to service); although it was supposedly a replacement for the unsuccessful 1MT1N (which lasted less than 12 months in front line service after introduction in 1922).
 
So, as far as torpedo carrier borne aircraft are concerned, Smith's contribution was largely restricted to the Cuckoo.
 
Smith returned to UK in June 1924 and, if he witnessed the Japanese practicing dive bombing, it has to have been before this date. 
 
I do wonder from where the Japanese were thought to have gained the idea of precision dive bombing of warships if they didn't think it up themselves ? Mitchell's trials didn't use dive bombing and, whereas there are cited examples of so-called 'dive bombing' (glide bombing ?) in the Great War, this does seem to have been individual practice (?)
 
One must remember that the Japanese approached the British for advice relating to naval aviation only. The French sent a mission to advise on military aviation, and the consequences of that can be seen in a wide range of Japanese licence built French designs. Of course, this was, and remains a well-tested means of obtaining technology. Vickers did it as a matter of policy (if they couldn't buy the company), and Avro aircraft such as the Anson benefited greatly from the Fokker technology gained through licence production of the Fokker FVII as the Avro Ten.
 
The question remains as to 'how secret' was the information Sempill allegedly passed to the Japanese and, given the state of British naval aviation in the interwar/ early WW2 period, how much use was it to them ? 
 
 
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Adrian Roberts View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Adrian Roberts Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2012 at 02:01
It seems that "Rutland of Jutland" was so over-awed by the Japanese military that he went even further than Semphill in working for them.
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Dogzbody View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dogzbody Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2012 at 20:24
Nick, Alex and John,
                               It has been suggested Churchill deliberately ignored the concerns expressed by Intelligence about Lord Sempill spying for the Japanese.
It also implies Churchill had been aware of the impending attack on attack on Pear Harbour.
What ever, Churchill could not afford to take his eye off the ball at that critical time.
The post war general election may have had something to do with the Sempill affair being pushed further under the carpet.
Re- Rutland what a pity he was not allowed to clear his name in court, I wonder why?    Dogzbody.  
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NickForder View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jul 2012 at 08:37

Aware as I am of the danger of going seriously 'out of subject area', I would think it fair to say that the Japanese managed to do what Churchill had been hoping for : brought the USA in to WW2.

Hitler's declaration of war on the US, followed by the US decision to beat Hitler first must have been the best 'christmas presents' Churchill could have hoped for.
 
With the benefit of hindsight, Pearl Harbour was inevitable.
 
The US was denying Japan exports of the grades of oil needed for aircraft. This gave the Japanese the choice of stopping their expansion in to China (possibly, somewhat naively, what the US was hoping for ?) or secure supplies in places like Summatra.
 
This would bring the Japanese into direct conflict with the British, Dutch & French (all with priorities elsewhere) and the US.
 
In order to get what it wanted, and not be drawn in to a long war with the US it couldn't win, the Japanese needed a significant victory over the USN.
 
Taranto proved to the Japanese that, despite what they believed (and, who knows, Sempill may have told them), it was practical to air launch torpedoes in shallow waters.
 
The planning for Taranto can be linked with the proposed Wilhelmshaven raid by the Sopwith Cuckoos (which, I believe, David Hobbs did in an Air Enthusiast article ?), and the notion of torpedo attack on warships in harbour was discussed, freely, with the Japanese during the sanctioned Sempill Mission.
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