Task Force 34 vs. Kurita's Center Force

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Jason01
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Task Force 34 vs. Kurita's Center Force

Postby Jason01 » Sat Feb 04, 2012 5:26 am

Hi all,
I'm new to the forum.
One question: What if Halsey dispatched his battle line to guard the San Bernardino Strait during the Battle of Leyte Gulf?

Here are the sides:
Task Force 34 under Admiral Willis Lee:
4 BB-
Iowa
New Jersey
Alabama
Washington
2 CA
3 CL
14 DD

Center Force under Admiral Takeo Kurita
4 BB-
Yamato
Nagato
Kongo
Haruna
6 CA
2 CL
11 DD

Which side will win?

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Re: Task Force 34 vs. Kurita's Center Force

Postby tommy303 » Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:12 pm

According to Morrison, Halsey's ambiguous order was for Lee's force to be formed with:

BATDIV 7 MIAMI, VINCENNES, BILOXI, DESRON 52 LESS STEVEN POTTER, FROM TG 38.2 AND WASHINGTON, ALABAMA, WICHITA, NEW ORLEANS, DESDIV 100, PATTERSON, BAGLEY FROM TG 38.4 WILL BE FORMED AS TASK FORCE 34 UNDER VICE ADMIRAL LEE, COMMANDER BATTLE LINE.


Consequently, I would favor the Japanese force if it is at all well handled.

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19kilo
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Re: Task Force 34 vs. Kurita's Center Force

Postby 19kilo » Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:23 pm

Judging by how the Japanese force actually performed in action, I would say they would have been slaughtered.

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Re: Task Force 34 vs. Kurita's Center Force

Postby Dave Saxton » Sun Feb 05, 2012 4:27 pm

tommy303 wrote:According to Morrison, Halsey's ambiguous order was for Lee's force to be formed with:

BATDIV 7 MIAMI, VINCENNES, BILOXI, DESRON 52 LESS STEVEN POTTER, FROM TG 38.2 AND WASHINGTON, ALABAMA, WICHITA, NEW ORLEANS, DESDIV 100, PATTERSON, BAGLEY FROM TG 38.4 WILL BE FORMED AS TASK FORCE 34 UNDER VICE ADMIRAL LEE, COMMANDER BATTLE LINE.


Consequently, I would favor the Japanese force if it is at all well handled.



I concur. Such a significant numerical advantage would be very difficult to overcome. I woudn't expect the IJN to be very inept in the situation of a long range gun battle and Lee doesn't want to get in a torpedo dual. Washington was relatively lightly protected as well.

A lot could depend on the tactical circumstances though. For example, If Lee discovers Kurita's course and position early enough and can ambush him as he emerges from San Bernadino St. in limited visibilty of early morning, he may be able to overcome his numerical disadvantage. Nonetheless, if Kurita can emerge from the strait in good shape it doesn't look too good for the out numbered Lee.
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: Task Force 34 vs. Kurita's Center Force

Postby boredatwork » Sun Feb 05, 2012 6:49 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:
tommy303 wrote:According to Morrison, Halsey's ambiguous order was for Lee's force to be formed with:
BATDIV 7 MIAMI, VINCENNES, BILOXI, DESRON 52 LESS STEVEN POTTER, FROM TG 38.2 AND WASHINGTON, ALABAMA, WICHITA, NEW ORLEANS, DESDIV 100, PATTERSON, BAGLEY FROM TG 38.4 WILL BE FORMED AS TASK FORCE 34 UNDER VICE ADMIRAL LEE, COMMANDER BATTLE LINE.

Consequently, I would favor the Japanese force if it is at all well handled.

I concur. Such a significant numerical advantage would be very difficult to overcome.

... it doesn't look too good for the out numbered Lee.


I'm sorry but maybe I'm missing something but I'm not seeing a "significant numerical advantage".

I'm guessing possibly you skimmed past BATDIV 7 and saw only Washington and Alabama listed by name, and assumed TF34 was to have only 2 BBs?

Iowa and New Jersey are included (BATDIV 7 from TG38.2). Likewise DESRON 52 and DESDIV 100 imply approximately 12 DDs. 4 BBs vs 2 BBs & 2 BCs, 2 CAs & 3 CLs vs 6 CAs & 2 CLs, 14 DDs vs 11 DDs. Given that the 4 US BBs have a considerable quality advantage over 3/4 Japanese ships, unless the Japanese are particularly lucky and score some early disabling hits, if they press the attack they'll be overwealmed before they can effectively use their one major advantage (Torpedoes).

Also are the US carriers being considered? The original plan called for 1 of Halsey's fast carrier groups to be left behind. Even if he takes it north with him instead, TF77 is still nearby and could be called upon to provide airstrikes, which she is likely to be more efficient at than when under direct fire from the Japanese ships. (having historically fatally damaged 3 heavy cruisers)

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Re: Task Force 34 vs. Kurita's Center Force

Postby Dave Saxton » Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:47 pm

Yes, it's correct that I'm not considering Iowa and New Jersey. I may be wrong, but I'm not sure Iowa and New Jersey were meant to be part of TF34? Halsey is himself on board New Jersey. If he's going north is he not going to do so on his flagship? Is he going to switch flagships or is going to stay behind as an observer and send Mitscher instead?

During Philippine Sea, Spruance had concetrated the battleships into one Task Group but Lee did not want to seek a night battle if it could be avoided. Adm. Hustvet's task group (Iowa and New Jersey) was included but the Japanese then avoided the battle line in attacking the carriers leaving the carriers much more exposed. In the re-assesment it was decided this was not to be repeated in the future and that the fastest battleships would be kept with the carriers.

IIRC, McCain's task group was out of gas and had to de-camp during the night to seek the fleet supply train.
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: Task Force 34 vs. Kurita's Center Force

Postby 19kilo » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:53 pm

So, knowing how Kurita's force fared against escort carriers and destroyers you actually think they would have done well against battleships?! Has anyone here actualy studied the second world war?!

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Re: Task Force 34 vs. Kurita's Center Force

Postby boredatwork » Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:01 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:Yes, it's correct that I'm not considering Iowa and New Jersey. I may be wrong, but I'm not sure Iowa and New Jersey were meant to be part of TF34? Halsey is himself on board New Jersey. If he's going north is he not going to do so on his flagship? Is he going to switch flagships or is going to stay behind as an observer and send Mitscher instead?


It's difficult to argue a hypothetical scenario which is dependant upon a person's nature when that person's nature negated the hypothetical scenario and led to the historical outcome. Obviously Halsey thought the main danger was in the north and was not content to leave it Mitscher's hands and took all of TF34 with him.

To assume he leaves TF34 behind implies we ignore his nature and he does what he says he would in the signal. The signal is only ambiguous as to when and under what circumstances TF34 would form, not the composition of said force (aside from the DDs actually involved):

BATDIV 7 MIAMI, VINCENNES, BILOXI, DESRON 52 LESS STEVEN POTTER, FROM TG 38.2


He clearly indicates BATDIV 7 from TG38.2. The Iowa and New Jersey were BATDIV 7. The only Battleships in TG38.2 were Iowa and New Jersey: http://www.angelfire.com/fm/odyssey/LEYTE_GULF_THIRD_FLEET_.htm He does NOT say "BATDIV 7 LESS IOWA AND/OR NEW JERSEY".

Therefore I think it a reasonable conclusion that IF hypothetically Halsey did what he said he would and form TF34 then he will do what he said he would and form it with 4 BBs.

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Re: Task Force 34 vs. Kurita's Center Force

Postby alecsandros » Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:38 pm

19kilo wrote:So, knowing how Kurita's force fared against escort carriers and destroyers you actually think they would have done well against battleships?!...

I woudl add it was the only time in history when a carrier sank a heavy cruiser by gunfire... The IJN force did not use it's torpedoes (I never understood why), and the ships were uninspiredly lead... So I woudl favor the USN... with or without carriers in support.

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Re: Task Force 34 vs. Kurita's Center Force

Postby boredatwork » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:37 pm

alecsandros wrote:I woudl add it was the only time in history when a carrier sank a heavy cruiser by gunfire...


What heavy cruiser was sunk by carrier gunfire?

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Re: Task Force 34 vs. Kurita's Center Force

Postby Dave Saxton » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:44 pm

19kilo wrote:So, knowing how Kurita's force fared against escort carriers and destroyers you actually think they would have done well against battleships?! Has anyone here actualy studied the second world war?!



Combat against battleships at long range was the type of senario that the IJN battleships trained for and expected to fight. The close presence of carriers (escort or not) and aggressive DE's was not. We can't assume that poor performance in one combat situation translates to poor performance in another combat situation.


and the ships were uninspiredly lead


Kurita seemed to be confused by the unconventionality of the historical enccounter and remained unsure and situationally unaware throughout. In a hypothetical scenario that is actually quite conventional we can't assume that he would drop the ball as he did historically.

Therefore I think it a reasonable conclusion that IF hypothetically Halsey did what he said he would and form TF34 then he will do what he said he would and form it with 4 BBs.



I don't necessarly disagree with that B@W. But I don't know if its that clear that it would have included all 4 BBs if the carriers left the area. The new policy was to not leave fleet carriers without BBs. Halsey probably would not have bound himself to policy, but this may well have influenced his thinking at the time he drafted the ambiguous directive. Certainly Iowa and NJ would be included in TF34 if the carriers remained in the area, and this may have been in his frame of mind at the time. There's also the possibility that TF34, if formed, was intended mainly to protect the 3rd fleet carriers from surface threats rather than guard the strait and the northern approachs to the gulf. Halsey later contended that he considered the gulf suffciently guarded by the 7th fleet and it didn't matter if TF34 was formed or not concerning that potential scenario.
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: Task Force 34 vs. Kurita's Center Force

Postby boredatwork » Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:55 am

I don't necessarly disagree with that B@W. But I don't know if its that clear that it would have included all 4 BBs if the carriers left the area. The new policy was to not leave fleet carriers without BBs. Halsey probably would not have bound himself to policy, but this may well have influenced his thinking at the time he drafted the ambiguous directive. Certainly Iowa and NJ would be included in TF34 if the carriers remained in the area, and this may have been in his frame of mind at the time. There's also the possibility that TF34, if formed, was intended mainly to protect the 3rd fleet carriers from surface threats rather than guard the strait and the northern approachs to the gulf. Halsey later contended that he considered the gulf suffciently guarded by the 7th fleet and it didn't matter if TF34 was formed or not concerning that potential scenario.


Jason01 wrote:One question: What if Halsey dispatched his battle line to guard the San Bernardino Strait during the Battle of Leyte Gulf?


I just think you're going overboard in your analysis - Jason01's initial question is pretty clear - not the likelyhood of Halsey adopting other approaches to the one he did historically, but rather IF he had acted according to how Nimitz and Kincaid both misunderstood his intentions - that he was forming TF34 to guard the strait and that TF34 was composed with 4 battleships as indicated in the message - what would be the outcome?

I would agree with you that Kurita, unless ambushed while transiting the strait itself, would likely have given a better account of himself against a battleline than against the CVEs and DDs. The latter were doing things to frustrate the Japanese efforts that would not necessarily happen in a BB vs BB engagement. Hard maneuvering, smoke screens, running away, all conspired to reduce the effectiveness of Japanese gunfire and the ability of Japanese DDs to get into good torpedo position.

When he mistook the fleeing escort carriers for 33 knot fleet carriers he ordered a general chase and lost control of the battle. If the enemy line doesn't flee presumably the Japanese are more coordinated than they were historically.

I think in the end if he presses the attack he'll probably be lose most of his fleet, but I don't see it out of the question that the cost of victory is numerous heavily damaged American ships, possibly even a BB sunk as well.

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Re: Task Force 34 vs. Kurita's Center Force

Postby 19kilo » Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:02 am

Sorry. No. He had a battleship commanders DREAM! Regardless of their being CVEs or CVs he had an enemy carrier task group under his guns with no heavy escort.....EXACTLY as his plan had called for, and HE SCR**D IT UP. To say that he would have done better against the massed fast battleships of the US Navy is so far beyond the pale that until now I couldnt image that anyone could possibly go there.

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Re: Task Force 34 vs. Kurita's Center Force

Postby Dave Saxton » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:01 am

boredatwork wrote:I just think you're going overboard in your analysis - Jason01's initial question is pretty clear - not the likelyhood of Halsey adopting other approaches to the one he did historically, but rather IF he had acted according to how Nimitz and Kincaid both misunderstood his intentions - that he was forming TF34 to guard the strait and that TF34 was composed with 4 battleships as indicated in the message - what would be the outcome?



Okay.
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: Task Force 34 vs. Kurita's Center Force

Postby Dave Saxton » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:06 am

19kilo wrote:...he had an enemy carrier task group under his guns with no heavy escort.....EXACTLY as his plan had called for, ...


What was his plan at that point exactly?
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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