The British Far East Fleet
The first recorded case of a main warship being attacked and sunk in an aerial attack during a military maneuver was recorded during the Battle of Malaya. This set includes the British Navy battleship Prince of Wales, the stylish battle cruiser Repulse, two E Class destroyers Electra and Express, the Australian destroyer Vampire, and a number of Japanese bombers to enable a recreation of the December 10, 1941 battle.
About the Battle of Malaya
The British battleship Prince of Wales and battle cruiser Repulse both departed for Singapore on December 2, 1941. It was England’s plan to both fortify Singapore also deter Japanese aggression in the area. But on December 8 before dawn, the Pacific War broke out after the attack on Pearl Harbor, with Japanese forces invading Malaysia the same day. In the evening, the British Far-East Fleet consisting of the Prince of Wales, Repulse, Electra, Express, Tenedos、and the Vampire left Singapore under the command of Admiral Philips.
The following day (December 9) was an ideal day for secretive maneuvers due to the low cloud cover and poor weather conditions. However, in the evening the British were forced to give up their strategy as the weather cleared and the force was spotted by Japanese scout planes. Also due to lack of fuel, the warship Tenedos was forced to return to Singapore. Later that night at about 10pm, after the canceling of the operation, the British heard that Japanese forces had started landing in Kuantan and decided that they would attack these landing forces, but upon arrival they realized it was a false report. Because of this, they decided to follow the first plan and return to Singapore. On the 10th, Japanese Naval fighter squadrons left base and were prepared for immediate action. At 11:45am, a Japanese scout plane found the fleet and an hour later at 12:45pm the 22nd Air Flotilla started attacking Repulse. Although the Repulse was hit by one bomb, it was still able to turn starboard and evade most of the oncoming torpedoes. However, her luck ran out when she was hit in succession by a skillful pincer attack. The Prince of Wales at this time had also sustained serious damage and at 2:03pm, the Repulse had sunk.
Meanwhile, after being struck by a catastrophic torpedo hit, the Prince of Wales was crippled and slanted to port, was flooding, and her speed fell from 30 knots to 15 knots. Furthermore at 1:50pm, the Prince of Wales was attacked again by six Japanese bombers, and although she continued fighting back with anti-aircraft guns she was hit by two torpedoes near the stern. At 2:03pm, the Mihoro flying corps had started another bombing attack, hitting the right side of the bridge deck with a 500kg bomb causing extensive damage and explosions, and at 2:50pm she disappeared into the waves, with Admiral Philips sharing the same fate. After the battle, destroyers Electra, Express, and Vampire arrived and rescued the survivors. As a result of the destruction of the Prince of Wales and Repulse at the Battle of Malaya, their names have remained in history as the first capital ships to be sunk by an aerial attack.