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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 The US won Guadal Canal but in doing so, she lost 25 ships to the Japanese Navy's 17 (damaged and withdrawn or sunk).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://
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RockyMTNClimber    A future President on PT 109 During the Battle of Guadal Canal   8/4/2007 11:10:35 AM
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RockyMTNClimber    A timeline of events   8/4/2007 11:13:46 AM

This time line is derived from various sources.

Date Events
7-Aug-42 US Marines land on Guadalcanal. Tulagi seaplane base taken. Japanese air units from Rabaul counter attack.
8-Aug Japanese air units (Bettys armed with Torpedos w/ Zero escrot attack, seeking US carriers. When not found, attack launched against USN landing and supply ships. No torpedo attack effective; most attackers destroyed.
9-Aug The airfield is taken. Due to the threat of enemy torpedo bombers, USN air cover - and most of the rest of the navy - pulls outs.
12-Aug Engineering unit arrives at Guadalcanal to complete the air field. Minor Japanese air attacks occur. The Japanese knew they did not have the density of aircraft to dislodge troops by bombardment, so they did not press the matter. They did not notice any work being performed on the airfield (by Marines by hand using captured Japanese equipment).
20-Aug With Henderson Field (basic runway) completed, Wildcats 19 and 12 Dauntlesses from MAG-23 fly in, having flown off USS Long Island from 190 miles out.
21-Aug to 15-Sep Series of almost daily Japanese raids all between 1100 and 1400 hrs, attempting to close the airstrip or damage the few reinfrocement vessels sent. USMC sends attack missions against Japanese reinfrocement convoys (Tokyo Express) and occaisionally direct air support missions.
22-Aug 19 P-400s (P-39Ds) from USAAC 67th Fighter Squadron fly into Henderson field.
24/25-Aug Battle of the Eastern Solomons. IJN moves to catch US carriers. USS Enterprise and IJN Zuikaku damaged, IJN Ryujo sunk.
31-Aug USS Saratoga damaged by IJN submarine. Survivors of the air group sent to Guadalcanal as reinforcements.
15-Sep to 1-Oct Build-up of air units on both sides. Japanese beef up 11th Air Fleet.
9-Oct Japanese open Buin air field. 7 of the initial 15 Zeros damaged on landing.

VMF-121 adds 20 Wildcats, plus 5 SBDs and 3 TBFs.
14/15-Oct Major Japanese reinforcement convoy lands 5000 troops. Battleships and heavy cruisers bombard Henderson Field, destroying or damaging all bombers and 1/3 of the fighters available. However, a handful are repaired before the end of the day and are sent to chase off the reinforcement convoy.
24/26-Oct 11th Air Fleet awaiting outcome of land battles to seize Henderson Field. Units standing by for transfer.
26/27-Oct Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. Henderson field aircraft participate. USS Wasp sunk, IJN Zuiho and Shokaku damaged - and a reinforcement convoy turned back.
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RockyMTNClimber    5 of the major battles   8/4/2007 11:23:17 AM
Battle of Savo Island -           Aug. 9 1942                         IJN ships lost: 2       USN ships lost: 7
Battle of Cape Esperance -    October 11, 1942                 IJN ships lost: 3        USN ships lost: 3
First Battle of Guadalcanal-    November 13, 1942             IJN ships lost: 10      USN ships lost: 6
Second Battle of Guadalcanal November 14, 1942             IJN ships lost: 4        USN ships lost: 2
Tassa Faronga                       November 30, 1942              IJN ships lost: 1       USN ships lost: 4  
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Herald1234       8/4/2007 3:10:25 PM
Battle of Santa Cruz

Some would call that USN defeat the actual death of the IJNAF.


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YelliChink       8/4/2007 5:40:58 PM
The whole Battle for Guadalcanal is a war of attrition. Although it didn't appear to be so when it was happening, the actions around Soloman Islands let to IJN's loss of not only materials, ships and airplanes, but also experienced and well-trained crew, pilots and infantry. Though IJN scored several defeat and caused trememdous casualty on the US side, this is the warfare that they couldn't afford to fight. The repeated minor defeat also wiped USN of incompetent commanders, and allowed the USN to device new tactics and doctrine in the final destruction of IJN. The mentality of self-preserving didn't help IJN, especially when they won a battle. IJN tended to fled, instead of exploit the situation, after defeating USN forces. In the end, the USN paid heavy price to win this battle, and the IJN lost the battle that they couldn't replenish. Even if IJN had eventually taken Guadalcanal, what would they do when Americans come back with 4 or even more times of their own naval assets only a few months later?
The Japanese thought that they could achieve a land slide victory and force Yankees to talk in their terms. It is a total miscalculation. The Japanese leadership was hoping for a Illusion that they might be able to secure some of their empire after Guadalcanal by making the war lamer and lamer.
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RockyMTNClimber    Leadership and Committment   8/6/2007 10:57:08 AM
The combined US forces, along with their allies, demonstrated their willingness to make tactical sacrifices for the strategic victory. The IJN thought themselves superior and on paper they had better ships, position, numbers, and every reason to win this fight. They seemed to under estimate the Allies and unable to react to the Fog of War when their careful plans disolved at contact with the enemy.
The Allies kept fighting smart regardless of the current circumstance and the Allied leadership continued to think their way through the problems. Demonstrating superior leadership.  Underestimating US fighting forces seems to be something people just should not do.
That is as true today as it was in 1942.
Check Six
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Herald1234    Replacing Ghormley with a total idiot.   8/6/2007 11:22:40 AM
Replacing a mentally exhausted Ghormley with the "Bull" was at the time the correct "morale" choice. In retrospect it was the WRONG tactical choice, since that idiot committed American forces to battle and did so piecemeal and in such fashion that he fouled up Nimitz's attempted scheduled force buildup.

1. Halsey made a hash of interservice communications and cooperation. CACTUS was the WATCHTOWER exception, not the Halsey rule. Where he commanded, US naval staffwork, always suspect [unless you worked for Spruance] was appallingly bad.
2. Halsey failed to give arriving American reinforcements time to work together as organized fleets. This disorganization and lack of training time as a squadron more than anything explains the defeat suffered by Callaghan and Scott.
3. Halsey interfered with Fletcher and Kincaid during their carrier battles causing unnecessary US tactical confusion. I blame him PERSONALLY for the loss of Hornet and Wasp.

I really dislike the Bull.


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displacedjim       8/6/2007 11:59:32 AM
Wow, Herald, I rarely read criticism of Halsey.  I, too, have always wondered why he had/has such a good reputation given the actual results I've ever read.  It seems to me he messed up in a couple key battles, at least.  In addition to your observations, I figure it's pretty much his fault the Japanese were given a chance to actually succeed off Samar/Leyte in the first place.  I guess maybe it was his early war reputation as a leader anxious to fight that stayed with him through the rest of the war that help gloss over his poor decisions?
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Herald1234    DJ reply   8/6/2007 1:05:03 PM
With the galaxy of really first rate admirals that the USN produced, men like Connolly, Barbey , Lee, Oldendorf, and Morton among the surface warfare guys, the genius, Arleigh Burke [ah if only he could have staff exercised with Callaghan and Scott for even a week, before First Guadalcanal.] and the carrier admirals! We had the Shermans,  McCain,  the  absolutely brilliant "Ziggy" Sprague, the underrated Fletcher, unlucky Fitch,  Kincaid, who never gets the credit he deserves, the best admiral of the twentieth century R. A. Spruance, Nimitz himself etc.

We even had a couple of decent submarine commanders in Lockwood and Christie

Consider that after Sprague saved the Leyte invasion off Samar, Halsy ran the fleet into a couple of typhoons that cost the USN as many ships and lives as his near Leyte disaster [The Battle of Bull's Run]?

How did a tyro like William Halsey climb ranks to command the Third Fleet?

Can anybody explain this one to me?


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VelocityVector       8/6/2007 1:53:39 PM

American culture favors jocks and daredevils over nerds for leadership positions.  Halsey was perceived as being both an uber-competitive athlete and aggressive risk-taker due to his participation in sport and flight qualification.  He had built a cult of personality around these attributes.  That's simplistic but perhaps Gen. Shinseki might agree with me on this one, the smartest guys tend to finish last in the popularity game and that's what matters most as you climb the ladder typically.

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