Suppose Nishimura had waited at Leyte

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited

Postby mcubed » Mon Jul 13, 2009 1:50 am

Halsey clearly failed to effectively communicate what he was doing; both Kinkaid and Nimitz thought Halsey was taking steps wrt TF34 formation when Halsey was not. Regardless whether US intelligence saw the Japanese carrier force as combat-effective or not (and I don't know what the then current intelligence appreciation said. It is an interesting side question); Halsey had a basic duty to communicate effectively.

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Tue Jul 14, 2009 12:05 am

It seems that, given this scenario, there is not a clear position in what regard an USN countermeasure strong enough to match a Kurita-Nishimura pinzer at Surigao. Then Oldenforf´s bathtubs would have been slaughered by a combined effort from North and South whilst Halsey was pursuing a ghost in one of the greatest naval mistakes ever. Mistake that wasn´t so crucial given Kurita´s strange behaivor when he retreated of an almost certain victory. But, if this particular scenario would have taken place, then, gentlemen, USN would have been hammered and Old Mac´s would have to look for another PT boat to return to Australia.
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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited at Leyte

Postby lwd » Tue Jul 14, 2009 12:13 pm

Not at all. First of all the scenario has to be defined a bit better. If you assume all other factors stay the same except of Nishimura slowing down then his wing gets engaged about the same time that other wing engages the Taffies. While daylight will allow the Japanese to spot the PT boats and DDs easier it will allow the latter to spot the Japanese as well. In addition US aircraft can get in on the act. This can be critical as the Japanese cruisers and DDs are quite vulnerable to even relatively small bombs as long as they have their torpedoes and that's where any drastic improvement in their performance is going to need to come from. Given daylight and the fact that the the other wing has been spotted I would expect the US BBs to open up from longer range possibly with HE rounds on the southern force. The object would not be so much to destroy them but damage them sufficiently that they will either have to turn around or will be slowed to the point where they will be subject to torpedoe hits and or out of the action. At that point the battle line turns around and heads back for Leyte gulf where they can arrive in time to cap the T again. With US DDs laying smoke in front of the battle line and radar allowing them to fire through it and given the scatter nature of the northern force I see an allied victory.

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited at Leyte

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Tue Jul 14, 2009 2:24 pm

lwd,

But the overall firepower of Oldendorf´s vessels will be greatly diminished having have to split his forces to engage Kurita as well. And those forces at the northen side of the battle would be fighting a much powerfull force which includes a BB that has an overall IZ against everything they are firing at it. On the other side the Japanese could also fire from a much far position because everybody will be relying in the opticals. RDFC uselsullness will be diminish. The cruisers longer and more powerfull firing range will prove a strong oposition for the PTs and destroyers on the southern section of the battle.

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited at Leyte

Postby lwd » Tue Jul 14, 2009 5:33 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:lwd,

But the overall firepower of Oldendorf´s vessels will be greatly diminished having have to split his forces to engage Kurita as well.

Well if everything other than Nishimura's speed is unchanged then then all of Oldendorf's vessels will initially be opposing the southern wing. The Northern wing will be delayed as historical by the Taffeys and may not even reach Leyte as per the historical case.
And those forces at the northen side of the battle would be fighting a much powerfull force which includes a BB that has an overall IZ against everything they are firing at it.

Except for torpedeos.
On the other side the Japanese could also fire from a much far position because everybody will be relying in the opticals. RDFC uselsullness will be diminish.

The US will be relying on a mix of opticals and radar. Indeed for some of the ships including the BBs this will be of considerable aid as those BBs with older radars had a problem acquireing targets historically. The big advantage for the Japanese IMO is not the optical fire control it's that they will be able to target ships with their type 93's that they weren't able to historically.
The cruisers longer and more powerfull firing range will prove a strong oposition for the PTs and destroyers on the southern section of the battle.
...,

On the otherhand they will be subject to more or less continuous air attacks. PT boats are not always easy to spot either. I'm not sure if the same front that was producing the squalls of Samar was also producing similar weather in the straits.

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited at Leyte

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Fri Aug 14, 2009 2:56 pm

I´m re reading Willmott´s "Battle of Leyte Gulf" and he brought up, again, a topic that we have discussed before. According to Willmott the Japanese plan, as flawed as it was, called for the empty CV as a "bait" that we all know Halsey bite hard. If that was the bait which purpose had to split Kurita´s, Nishimura´s and Shima´s forces over several routes? Moreover, we can speculate that we have some two options here that could have, very well, worked in real life:

1. All the forces (7 BBs including the BB killers Yamato and Musashi) go though the northern route and try a break through San Bernardino and catch the light CVs at Samar.

2. All the forces (Kurita, Nishimura and Shima) try a break through Surigao (this is Willmott´s big "if") and confront Oldendof´s bathtubs there.

I can, also, add that if the Japanese wait long enough to try to do a daylight break instead of a night action, it will deny the USN BBs of what can be regard as their main advantage of RDFC. I do suppose we could have here the real last big gun battle of all time with far more bigger consequences.

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited at Leyte

Postby lwd » Fri Aug 14, 2009 3:12 pm

A lot of this is dealt with in Tully's book that you mentioned you had on order.

*** Just reread your post on the book forum and realized you are planning on ordering rather than having this on order. The southern force was not apparently part of the original plan and at least parts of it were very spur of the moment according to Tully. I look forward to your comments on this topic after you've read the book.

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited at Leyte

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:46 pm

lwd,

One problem with the Japanese were their intrincate impossible plans. They took Sun Tzu´s maxim of cloaking your plans to such a scale that the smallest issue will bring all the plan to hell. A plan that calls for a diversionary manouver is one thing. But then they forgot completely about the "force concentration maxim". They used their units piecemeal.

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited at Leyte

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Sat Aug 22, 2009 12:08 am

Got important information that could clear a bit the hypothetical scenario here:

1. I was wrong it seems: the Japanese would have prefereed a night engagement any time. Even for the wrong reason.

2. If we have Nishimura and Shima forces joined with Kurita at the Surigao Strait the odds in favor of the Japanese were bigger than first thought.

According to Willmott´s (page 144) the Americans possessed numerical and positional superiority against the Japanese... but they could only fight a very short battle. Oldendorf´s bathtubs have been providing since the Leyte landings close fire support for formation ashore which is why that three fourths of their shells were high explosives (remember old Kirishima?). Some of the vessels had only 12% of amunition left. There was shortage of AP shells because the support ships didn´t have much (or any). Also the vessels were not in their best shape in what fuel requires.

On the other hand we have that the battleline didn´t perform that well, considering that the original Nishimura unit was down just to the Yamashiro and Mogami after the destroyer attacks (the PT ones were also disspointing). Mississipi could barely fire a single full salvo and Pennsilvannia didn´t fire at all. We had, then, four BBs firing against a (another) aging damaged BB and claiming a spectacular victory?

If we allow to think that the formation had Yamato, Musashi, Nagato, Haruna and Kongo plus Fuso and Yamashiro then things get pretty hairy for Oldendorf´s bathtubs. In the original approach the Japanese avoided early detection using the South route (Surigao) but were detected later. This was beause Nishimura was trying to respect the timetable he has with Kurita that calls for both units to rendevouz at dawn October 25th at Leyte. But if ALL the formations go together then there was no need to slow the approach and Oldendorf did not have the 18 hour forewarn he had.

Anyway, we can allow some air strikes to happen here, as in the actual action. And also this air strikes sunk Musashi after getting 20 torpedos and a dozen bombs. Also, at night the PT Boats carry on their pitifull attack and then came the destroyers sinking Fuso and damaging several cruisers and destroyers, even sinking most of them. Yamashiro could be damaged as in the Historical scenario. Then at 0350 Yamato, Nagato, Haruna, Kongo and Yamashiro attack the USN Battleline; a battleline with 12% amunition, not a lot of AP and also low in fuel. What can West Virgina do against Yamato with "just" HE shells? Let´s say that all the battleline concentrated to put Yamato out of action ASAP. Maybe the HE barrage of the radar capable BB (just three of them) do turn mighty and beautiful Yamato in a wreck. What about the rest of the fleet? Those ships have plenty amunition and now had close the range enough to give a very hard time. It´s payback time Bushido Style. Nagato´s 16" plus the rest of them will fight in more than even terms against an enemy that could barely fight back, depleted of the right amunition.

This time the Japanese will go through. Maybe one or two units will be destroyed in the attempt but the US Battleline will suffer also, very much. At least West Virginia, Tenessee and California would be gone (why them? Because they were the ones that fire more before and the Japanese lookouts and rangefinders got them nailed) by then. The rest would have to manouver in order not to be caught in between the Japanese units that broke the line and those behind.

Then guys, we can have the real closure (and the one History deserved more) for the Battleship era: in an apocalytpic night action that sees, at least, six to seven, BBs of both contenders sunk and the rest a resemblance of the German BCs retuning to Germany after Jutland.

Bottom line is: Oldendorf won bigtime in a clear numerical and positional superiority. But the Japanese having ALL their units together at the Southern Route and getting into the Straits, then, "¡Compadre, que Dios nos agarre confesados!"

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited at Leyte

Postby lwd » Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:21 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:... Moreover, we can speculate that we have some two options here that could have, very well, worked in real life:

1. All the forces (7 BBs including the BB killers Yamato and Musashi) go though the northern route and try a break through San Bernardino and catch the light CVs at Samar.

2. All the forces (Kurita, Nishimura and Shima) try a break through Surigao (this is Willmott´s big "if") and confront Oldendof´s bathtubs there.

Ok. I believe the reason Fuso and Yamashiro were not assigned to the cetral force was that they were significantly slower. This means that the entire force is subject to additional attrition via both subs and air.
I can, also, add that if the Japanese wait long enough to try to do a daylight break instead of a night action, it will deny the USN BBs of what can be regard as their main advantage of RDFC. ...

Not really. Radar is still useful in conjunction with opticals as it gives better ranges particularly at long range. It will also see through smoke. The US PT boats and DDs will likely be making a lot of smoke. The US is also likely to be able to keep spotter planes in the air which the Japanese will have a hard time doing.

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited at Leyte

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Wed Aug 26, 2009 11:14 pm

lwd:

Not really. Radar is still useful in conjunction with opticals as it gives better ranges particularly at long range. It will also see through smoke. The US PT boats and DDs will likely be making a lot of smoke. The US is also likely to be able to keep spotter planes in the air which the Japanese will have a hard time doing.


You´re right and the anyway it seems that the Japanese will never have chosen a day action over a night one. They seem to be convinced about their night fighting superiority which was, of course, mistaken.

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited at Leyte

Postby lwd » Thu Aug 27, 2009 6:47 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:lwd:

Not really. Radar is still useful in conjunction with opticals as it gives better ranges particularly at long range. It will also see through smoke. The US PT boats and DDs will likely be making a lot of smoke. The US is also likely to be able to keep spotter planes in the air which the Japanese will have a hard time doing.


You´re right and the anyway it seems that the Japanese will never have chosen a day action over a night one. They seem to be convinced about their night fighting superiority which was, of course, mistaken....,


I'm not convinced of that. They were becomeing very aware of what US radar could do. The problem was they were also aware of what US avaiation could do. Reading Tully's book it is clear that they just didn't quite have the fire control to make use of the type 93s that night. Given a daylight engagement they might have and they could have had considerable impact.

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited at Leyte

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:21 pm

lwd:

I'm not convinced of that. They were becomeing very aware of what US radar could do. The problem was they were also aware of what US avaiation could do. Reading Tully's book it is clear that they just didn't quite have the fire control to make use of the type 93s that night. Given a daylight engagement they might have and they could have had considerable impact.


That´s very interesting, lwd, indeed. I finished last night Willmott´s book and it´s clear that the USN aviation was the greatest threat they fear. Willmott, nevertheless, does not got into much detail of the ships and the Surigao engagement is explained from the tactical enviroment with not that much attention paid to technical details. Knowing the tendency of Tully for technical details I do imagine that your account is pretty much detailed than Willmott´s.

Them if we do agree that Nishimura would have waited and tried to strike Oldendorf at daybreak (in order to let Kurita attack from the North), what do you think would have happened, given that, anyway, USN had six BBs in place and the Japanese could only muster two in the same sector?
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