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Subject: Guadal Canal - USN makes loosing look good
RockyMTNClimber    8/4/2007 11:03:58 AM
Midway was an important event for the USN in the war in the Pacific. But another battle was probably just as important. Midway, was the IJN's defeat. Guadal Canal was a defeat that the Imperial Japanese Forces shared in toto! The Japanese originally held the Island and were building an airfield when the US Marines landed and took it the old fashioned way, by killing the enemy. The Japanese and US Navies were licking their wounds from Midway and it was clear that no major carrier action was going to cut this fight short. The Japanese Army, Air Force, and her vast surface navy were spoiling for a fight and decided to make Guadal Canal the place. If the Japanese held the island they would threaten the lines of commerce and communication from the US to Australia. If the US drove the Japanese off of the island it would demonstrate to everyone that the Japanese were defeatable (remember our allies had their hats handed to them in the first 6 months of WWII). Payback time. After the US landed and held Henderson Field (the Japanese airfield under construction captured on day one of the invasion), the IJN drove down from their bases in to reinforce their land forces still on the island. Both the Allies and the Japanese had land aircraft in the area, neither had a carrier. During the next 6 months the USN and the IJN, as well as UK forces from Australia and New Zeland, began what amounted to a heavy weight brawl for control of the seas. Both sides sent battle ships, cruisers, and destroyers by the dozen into the fight. Most nights in the waters around Guadal Canal were filled with the booming of massive guns, the sinking of ships, the dead and dieing being consumed by sharks. History records the USN and her Allies as the victors in this titanic struggle. A series of battles that would make Nelson himself shiver. The US won Guadal Canal but in doing so, she lost 25 ships to the Japanese Navy's 17 (damaged and withdrawn or sunk). The Japanese might be said to have won many of the battles but the USN was willing to sacrifice anything for its objectives. The vaunted IJN warrior ethic waivered in the waters around Guadal Canal (just like it did ashore against the USMC). The Imperial Japanese forces did not know what they were getting into, they thought the US would retreat in face of a all out conflict. They were wrong. Check Six Rocky ht**tp://www.combinedfleet.com/guadal.htm
 
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caltrop    More Halsey   8/11/2007 12:32:42 AM
Halsey's staff was so screwed up in that they ignored several warnings and failed to alert Halsey that the IJN center force had reversed its withdrawl and was about to hit the flank of the invasion force in Leyte Gulf.  Halsey and Mitscher (his Chief) have to take the blame for this.
 
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Herald1234       8/11/2007 2:01:05 AM

Very informative post, though I have not read all or digested all the facts, I knew that Guadalcanal was not a theater of WW2 that got a lot of press write ups or movie glorification. However I did not realize that it was such a close thing between the Japanese and American forces.

One would get the idea that the Japanese soldiers would fight fanatically till the end, but looking at the Japanese marines, they often like to practice sneak up in or out covert operations in attack or withdrawals. But turns out it is the US forces that had an attitude of fighting to the end and not giving up an inch. I was just surprised from the numbers how much the US would commit to halting the Japanese for good in Guadalcanal.

Although in hindsight it would look as though the US forces would win either way, anyone cares to give their 2 cents as to what would have happened if Kurita did not pull out his forces? As the naval to naval contest seemed to be rather even with casualties alternately swinging from side to side, it is hard to tell the outcome of a prolonged conflict at Guadalcanal, would the Japanese manage to contain the US in at Guadalcanal and delay the island hopping pacific campaign?  I do know that even if both sides did not go on the offensive, the Japanese forces that were landed were already dying from starvation and the sicknesses that follow when malnourished in an unforgiving jungle environment, so some sort of imminent decisive action would definitely take place.


1. Please do not confuse The Battles of Guadalcanal with the Leyte Campaign. 
2. If Kurita kept coming he would have collided with Jesse Oldendorf's battleline of Pearl Harbor veteran battleships. Disorganized he would have a major surface battle on his hands with his own scattered ships all over the place. Oldendorf's problem is that he's short of naval armor piercing rounds and his destroyers are short of torpedoes where he's just destroyed Nishimura's ragtag fleet in the Surigao Strait.
 
Assuming that Jesse Oldendorf fought a surface battle with Kurita it would have been a lot like this;
 
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1226/1079028324_18ec4d4489_o.jpg" width=640 border=0> 
 
It would have been Oldendorf's mission to act as a cork until the Third Fleet came up to reinforce. Walter Kruegers Sixth army would have been savaged by Kurita's fleet for maybe a day until McCain hurried up to bomb him into destruction or surrender. Presumably by this time a furious Nimitz would have Halsey relieved and under arrest and Lee as next senior Admiral would be pounding south with Sherman leaving Mitscher north with instructions to hammer Ozawa using Bogan's carrier group. If Oldendorf can hold Kurita for as little as six hours the Battle of Homonhon should have been spectacular and very one sided as the cross fire of US aircraft and the crushing firepower of the US Pacific battleline would have replayed the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay with nthis difference that the US fleet was a far better force than the one the feckless Admiral Ainsworth mishandled during that battle. Kurita would have been slaughtered.
 
Herald 
 
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caltrop    Herald what if... Oldendorf to the rescue   8/11/2007 11:04:10 AM
Something to ponder:
Speculating that Kurita's center force presses its attack on Taffy 3 and then moves on to Taffy 2.
Correct me if I am wrong but Oldendorf is re-grouping his forces at about the time Kurita is attacking Taffy 3.
 
From yourj map, can Oldendorf intercept Kurita at your blocking point before the IJN can strike at the invasion forces?
 
Assuming Oldendorf leaves a token reserve at Suriago, he can move North with 6 BB, 4 CA, 4 CL, and 18 destroyers.  His fleets movement is obviously limited by the speed of the older BB.  He is low on ammuition but from an article on NAVWEAPS (*ww.navweaps.com/index_tech/tech-079.htm) he has the following:
 
Appendix
US Battleship Ammunition at Surigao Strait
Ship
Capacity
Total On-Board
AP
HC
Rounds Expended
(all AP)
West Virginia
800
375
200
175
93
Maryland
800
685
240
445
48
California
1200
318
240
78
63
Tennessee
1200
664
396
268
69
Mississippi
1200
744
201
543
12
Pennsylvania
1200
453
360
93
Did not fire
 
It seems his force will only be able to engage for perhaps an hour or two before all heavy AP/HE is essentially exhausted.  I'm unaware of the ammo status in his Cruiser divisions.  His ships have fire control radar.
 
But he is engaging an IJN force that has been already beaten up.  When Kurita broke off his actual attack, his force had been reduced to 4 BB, 2 CA, 2 CL, and about 10 destroyers with some damaged.  It seems likely that Taffy 2 would have also caused some damage to Kuritas forces before being dispersed / sunk in this hypothetical scenario.  What I am also unsure of is what the IJN ammunition status would be at this point.  They wasted a lot of AP on the jeep carriers and escorts that usually passed through the hull without exploding.
 
Weighing all the info that I have, if Oldendorf can intercept Kurita and with the support of increasingly coordinated and properly armed air strikes, it seems likely that the USN should be able to turn the IJN back before they enter Leyte Gulf.
 
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Herald1234       8/11/2007 12:21:16 PM

Something to ponder:

Speculating that Kurita's center force presses its attack on Taffy 3 and then moves on to Taffy 2.

Correct me if I am wrong but Oldendorf is re-grouping his forces at about the time Kurita is attacking Taffy 3.

 

From yourj map, can Oldendorf intercept Kurita at your blocking point before the IJN can strike at the invasion forces?

 

Assuming Oldendorf leaves a token reserve at Suriago, he can move North with 6 BB, 4 CA, 4 CL, and 18 destroyers.  His fleets movement is obviously limited by the speed of the older BB.  He is low on ammuition but from an article on NAVWEAPS (*ww.navweaps.com/index_tech/tech-079.htm) he has the following:

 


Appendix
US Battleship Ammunition at Surigao Strait




















































Ship

Capacity

Total On-Board

AP

HC

Rounds Expended
(all AP)

West Virginia

800

375

200

175

93

Maryland

800

685

240

445

48

California

1200

318

240

78

63

Tennessee

1200

664

396

268

69

Mississippi

1200

744

201

543

12
 
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displacedjim       8/11/2007 4:17:32 PM
...wow...
 
I never really thought about the details of the "what if" before.  That would have been the most incredible day of naval warfare in the 20th century and, depending on how you want to measure things, maybe in many centuries.  Of course eventually (assuming the Japanese stuck it out to the bitter end) we'd have sunk them all.  But this was a golden opportunity for the Japanese to achieve whatever success they could against us.  Their best hope was to get our forces separated and attempt a defeat in detail.  I'm not sure that I'd say "it almost worked" but it came closer to working than we should have let it come.
 
 
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Herald1234    Here is a what if for you.   8/11/2007 9:40:53 PM
What if the victor of the the Mariannas Turkey Shoot had led with his Fifth fleet staff at Leyte Gulf?
 
Any thoughts?
 
Herald
 
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Herald1234    Spruance at work.   8/12/2007 12:54:08 AM
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1180/1088768885_5bef795aae_b.jpg" width=788 border=0>
 
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caltrop       8/12/2007 11:15:49 AM
A new book on the Marianas Turkey shoot is next on my summer reading list.
 
No arguements with what you wrote.  IIRC, since Halsey had his flag on one of Lee's fast BB, he insisted that the BB division accompany the fleet while running down Ozawa so he could be present and get full credit for the kill.
 
Reportedly, Halsey did take full blame for screwing up to both Nimitz and King and they brushed it off.
 
 
 
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RockyMTNClimber    Some very good presentations on Halsey   8/14/2007 11:38:18 AM
I really dislike the Bull. He killed a lot of GOOD men.
 
Herald
 
I can see where you get your 'tude about Halsey. I am going to have to go back and read that stuff again to absorb it a little more. He wasn't our best that is for sure...
 
Check Six
 
Rocky
 
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