Yamato Instead of Kirishima 13th Nov 1942

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Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Yamato Instead of Kirishima 13th Nov 1942

Post by Carl Schwamberger » Fri Oct 05, 2018 12:20 pm

Byron Angel wrote:
Fri May 17, 2013 11:19 am
...
The survival of the two American BBs versus the shoals of Japanese torpedoes launched against them that night was a small and inexplicable miracle, especially in connection with Sodak. Why the US DDs were successfully targeted by torpedoes but not Sodak or Washington remains a mystery.

B
My take is the Japanese had better observation of the destroyers and targeted them, leaving the two BB outside the clusters of torpedo tracks. The Japanese were 100% dependent of visual observation and the slightly closer destroyers may have been clearly identified first, leading to them as the aim points.

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Dave Saxton
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Re: Yamato Instead of Kirishima 13th Nov 1942

Post by Dave Saxton » Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:07 pm

The Japanese reports as well as the commentary by Adm Kondo cited by Frank, claim that the torpedoes launched against the BBs were fired under ideal conditions to obtain multiple hits. It is a puzzlement.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: Yamato Instead of Kirishima 13th Nov 1942

Post by Thorsten Wahl » Mon Oct 08, 2018 10:31 am

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 12:20 pm
My take is the Japanese had better observation of the destroyers and targeted them, leaving the two BB outside the clusters of torpedo tracks. The Japanese were 100% dependent of visual observation and the slightly closer destroyers may have been clearly identified first, leading to them as the aim points.
Remarks in the US battle summary listed the visibility conditions as excellent night conditions.

Before the decisive action against Kirishima both US BBS had fired several salvoes at longer distance, so its impossible that any japanes Captain misidentified them.

Obviously the speed or distance of the US ships was underestimated by Japanese.
the Japanes fired the torpedoes ample time bevor the firing of the main guns started. I suspect at least 5-8 minutes.


For me the performance of Kirishima appears puzzling, Kirishima could have loaded armor piercing ammo or should be prepared to shoot AP as far as possible and it should achieved much more hits on South Dakota given the time of preparation, distance and visibility conditions.

Aditionally puzzling, the the track of the US ships does not show any sign of torpedoavoidance.
only straight course over comparativly long distance with single speed. It appears as an invitation for torpedoes.
Could have easily ended with a catastrophic result.
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Re: Yamato Instead of Kirishima 13th Nov 1942

Post by paul.mercer » Thu Oct 11, 2018 10:08 am

Gentlemen,
A most interesting discussion.
What seem to be saying is that if we take out the Japanese destroyers and their torpedoes, it would require two US 16" ships to tackle Yamoto with any chance of success - rather like two KGv's against Tirpitz!

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Re: Yamato Instead of Kirishima 13th Nov 1942

Post by GiZi » Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:48 am

If we look at what hits Kirishima was historically able to achieve on South Dakota, that could perhaps give us some insight.

Kirishima scored five hits, plus the cap from one of her APC shells hitting South Dakota's belt.

One shell (Type 0 HE) hit the side of the hull forward of the No.1 turret - I'm not sure if that would've just over-penetrated, or perhaps gone off within the ship. I suspect the former.

Another Type 0 hit the ship against the belt armor between the two fore 5" mounts, which had it been APC (35.6cm or 46cm) would've likely penetrated the main armor belt and gone into the area above the machinery spaces (probably detonating in the space between the main armor deck and the splinter deck directly below it). That would've likely caused considerable damage.

Two Type 3 AA shells hit high up in the superstructure, which broke up when they hit - if APC, they would've almost assuredly been over penetrations and gone straight through without detonation.

The one APC hit was on the barbette, which failed to penetrate (base-slapped agains the barbette iirc?). Perhaps if it was a 46cm APC shell it would've done so?

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Re: Yamato Instead of Kirishima 13th Nov 1942

Post by Dave Saxton » Fri Oct 12, 2018 3:15 pm

GiZi wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:48 am
If we look at what hits Kirishima was historically able to achieve on South Dakota, that could perhaps give us some insight..........

Another Type 0 hit the ship against the belt armor between the two fore 5" mounts, which had it been APC (35.6cm or 46cm) would've likely penetrated the main armor belt and gone into the area above the machinery spaces (probably detonating in the space between the main armor deck and the splinter deck directly below it). That would've likely caused considerable damage................
The one APC hit was on the barbette, which failed to penetrate (base-slapped agains the barbette iirc?). Perhaps if it was a 46cm APC shell it would've done so?
The hit against the barbet would have likely been the same result 18" or 14". The shell first hit the armoured weather deck at a very acute angle which de-capped it. A de-capped shell will shatter against face hardened armour. Several sailors claimed that this hit knocked out the main battery electrical power for a period of time, although it is not attributed to this hit in the official report.

A 14" or an 18" APC could certainly penetrate the US belts at these ranges. The ships were more or less broadside on. The 14" can penetrate about 19" at these ranges, and the 18" about 25". SD's belt was sloped 19 degrees, but it is completely over matched regardless in this scenario. Additionally, USN class A armour was of poor quality.

However, it was not what a Yamato could do to the USN BBs as much as it is what the USN BBs could not do to a Yamato- in comparison to a Kongo. Yamato, although damaged, probably goes on to neutralize Henderson Field. This changes the entire overall battle. With Henderson Field out of operation the Japanese establish air, and much more importantly sea, superiority by day. This allows the Japanese barges containing 15,000 troops to make an amphibious assault on the US perimeter, while at the same time, 20,000 + Japanese troops attack the perimeter from the land side. The result is that the Japanese retake Guadalcanal. This is what was at stake.

Historically, because the IJN failed to neutralize Henderson field, the Japanese barges en route to Guadalcanal were mostly annihilated by US air power and 12,000 of the 15,000 troops lost. This was not the first such disaster for the Japanese. Moreover, the 20,000 + Japanese troops already on Guadalcanal were starving to death. It was the decisive point in time. When the Japanese evacuated Guadalcanal in early 1943, only about 3,000 troops were saved. Guadalcanal was Japan's Stalingrad.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: Yamato Instead of Kirishima 13th Nov 1942

Post by November_SSN » Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:12 pm

I wouldn't call Guadalcanal Japan's Stalingrad ; I'd rather draw an equivalence between Midway and Stalingrad (main turning point, the Allied powers take an advantage with the destruction of the Akagi and Kaga carriers/the German 6th Army) and between Guadalcanal and Kursk (confirmation of Allied superiority, large scale Axis offensive being beaten by the Allies which now have the initiative).

Another difference would be that the fall of Stalingrad would open the road to the Caucasus to the Axis, which would have given at least one more year of existence to the Third Reich (which wouldn't have helped them a lot : had they resisted up to August 1945, Berlin would have gotten the Bomb instead of Hiroshima), while the fall of Guadalcanal to Japanese forces would be quickly countered by the US Navy which already had a significant advantage in the Pacific ocean.

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Re: Yamato Instead of Kirishima 13th Nov 1942

Post by Dave Saxton » Mon Oct 29, 2018 3:53 pm

November_SSN wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:12 pm
I wouldn't call Guadalcanal Japan's Stalingrad ; I'd rather draw an equivalence between Midway and Stalingrad (main turning point, the Allied powers take an advantage with the destruction of the Akagi and Kaga carriers/the German 6th Army) and between Guadalcanal and Kursk (confirmation of Allied superiority, large scale Axis offensive being beaten by the Allies which now have the initiative).

Another difference would be that the fall of Stalingrad would open the road to the Caucasus to the Axis, which would have given at least one more year of existence to the Third Reich (which wouldn't have helped them a lot : had they resisted up to August 1945, Berlin would have gotten the Bomb instead of Hiroshima), while the fall of Guadalcanal to Japanese forces would be quickly countered by the US Navy which already had a significant advantage in the Pacific ocean.
Although their defeat at Midway was devastating, the remaining Japanese carrier groups could still go toe to toe with American carrier task groups, as evidenced by the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, and the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands.

The USN was certainly not stronger than the IJN in late 1942 and early 1943. Wasp and Hornet were both sunk, and Enterprise and Saratoga were out of action with damages being repaired. Battleships North Carolina and South Dakota were out of action. The operational older battleships were forced to ride anchor at San Diego because their fuel consumption was too great. The USN still did not have enough fuel reserves to operate more than one task force at a time. Only two of the new fast battleships, only then because of their reduced fuel consumption compared to most battleships, could be operated at a time. The USN cruiser roster had been devastated by combat losses and damages in recent months. USN torpedoes still did not work most of the time. The USN was still learning how to fight at night. Its warships had not been designed, nor their crews trained, to fight at night.

The Guadalcanal campaign was all about an airfield. The airfield on Guadalcanal was in a perfect strategic location. Who held that airfield held all the strategic cards in the South Pacific. The holder of that airfield was in an unassailable strategic position. If Japan were to retake Guadalcanal they would also retake that airfield. Moreover, the Japanese would hold all the important airfield locations in the South Pacific.

Regaining the initiative for the Americans would have been a very difficult task beginning at a much later date. Having lost Guadalcanal, the Americans no longer have a stepping stone to start from for advancing up the island chain toward Bougainville and taking additional airfields. They no longer have the means to grind down the Japanese air forces, including navy air forces, and their experienced pilots through a long battle of attrition throughout 1943. The Japanese have time to rebuild their naval airpower. Even the American submarine offensive, still awaiting torpedoes that work, is hampered, because the lines of communication with Australia are more limited or cut off. The Big Blue Fleet with its Intrepid class carriers, and their Hellcat fighter planes, is still a year away.

Instead, because the Japanese failed to retake Guadalcanal they failed to consolidate their strategic position in the Pacific. As a result, an estimated one million troops were eventually cut off and left to starve to death on their Island outposts throughout the Pacific. All this was at stake as the USS Washington passed south of Savo Island after midnight on Nov 15, 1942. This is why Japan put more blood and material into the Guadalcanal money pit than it could possibly afford over a period of 6 months. The Japanese leadership blundered by not sending its best battleship into this decisive campaign.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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