Suppose Nishimura had waited at Leyte

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Dave Saxton
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Suppose Nishimura had waited at Leyte

Postby Dave Saxton » Wed Jul 01, 2009 9:16 pm

At Leyte the original IJN plan had called for Nishimura to pass through Surigao St right when Kurita arrived just north of the strait. The time tables got thrown out of whack when Kurita was forced to delay entering San Bernadino St. Nishimura knew this, but decided to keep to his original schedule anyway, thinking he stood a better chance in darkness. What if he had adjusted his time table to force the strait at the same time Kurita arrived just to the north of the strait?
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: Suppose Nishimura had waited

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:17 am

Interesting. We are assuming that the action would have taken place at daylight?
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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited

Postby Bgile » Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:28 am

It sounds to me like he would be attacked from the air while transiting the strait, where he lacked room to maneuver. That might be very bad for him, and probably what he was trying to avoid.

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited

Postby Dave Saxton » Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:48 am

Karl, during daylight yes, but not right at dawn. Kurita needs time to travel from exiting from San Bernadino St. to his appointed position north of Surigao St. If Nishimura waits, Kurtia has an appointment to keep. Thus Kurita has a reason to not be diverted too much by the (escort carrier) groups or to turn around. Historically, Kurita knew that Nishimura and Shima had been virtually anihilated. He did say that was a contributing factor as to why he dawdled off Samar and eventually turned around. He felt there was no point in pressing on if Nishimura and Shima had already been wiped out. Essentially we would have Shima having joined up with Nishimura, and the three IJN battle groups arrive at roughly the same place, and at the same time.

Yes Steve, a big problem for the IJN groups in such a case is US airpower after dawn. This was one reason why some of IJN survivers thought Nishimura wanted to keep with the original time table. However, the US airpower wasn't really that strong locally that morning. Halsey had hauled off to the north with the powerful carrier task forces (with the fast BBs) and the remaining main carrier task group had withdrawn from the area eastward to re-fuel.
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: Suppose Nishimura had waited

Postby RF » Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:21 pm

Would it have strategcally altered firstly the outcome of that battle and secondly, following from that , the course of the Pacific War?

I am inclined to think not. Japan had already lost the strategic initiative.
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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited

Postby Dave Saxton » Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:05 pm

I don't think it would have altered the eventual out come of the war either. It could have been a nasty shock for all the fat transports and supply ships parked in Leyte Gulf, however. It would have presented a difficult problem for those tasked with defending the transports and supply ships too. What would Oldendorf do? Would he divide his forces to deal with multiple threats? What about his ammunition supply? This thing had the potential to turn into another Savo Island, and the re-taking of the Philippines would be much more complicated and costly.
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: Suppose Nishimura had waited

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Fri Jul 03, 2009 12:15 pm

Dave, sorry... but I have been quite busy lately and haven´t paid a great deal of attention (I haven´t even been able to read carefully Lundgren´s account of Guadalcanal´s issue with sout Dak being hammered): This timing issue puts Kurita ON the San Bernandino Strait or already at his target position?
Being the second case things could get nasty if we grant that Halsey had already bite the trap with the Japanese carriers.

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited

Postby Dave Saxton » Fri Jul 03, 2009 2:28 pm

Karl, no need to apologize.

Anyway, Kurita needed to already be in Leyte Gulf, north of Surigao St., when Nishimura forced Surigao St. Nishimura and Shima had no chance otherwise. Kurita had been forced by the heavy air attacks to delay passing through San Bernadino St. and was therefore several hours behind schedule. Once Kurita had turned away the afternoon previous, Halsey assumed that he had been beaten and was therefore free to go after Ozawa's carriers with the third fleet. However, Kurita had only turned away temporarily and passed through the San Bernadino St. unoppossed. Nishimura needed to adjust his time table accordingly, for the IJN plan to have a chance of success.
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: Suppose Nishimura had waited

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Fri Jul 03, 2009 2:51 pm

Dave,

If Halsey has taken the bite and went for the carriers and then, a determined Kurita appears through the San Bernardino Straits and positions himself north of Surigao in timely manner with Nishimura (too much "ifs" but let´s remember that this is how the Japanese battle plans were drawn in the first place), we can have an apocaliptic combat here, very much violent and uncertain than the real scenario.

The US forces, even with their numrical superiority will hace only Oldendorf in place to deal with this, aside form the destroyers escorting the light carriers. Maybe Oldendorf will "feel" safe by spliting because he control Surigao, is already "crossing the T" of Nishimura and has RDFC (and it´s daylight). The torpedo boat and destroyer screens south west of Surigao would not be as lethal as in the night action because they could be seen, plainly by the Japanese and engaged. That doesn´t mean they are harmless, only that their aims would be carried in a much difficult manner. Maybe some destroyer or torpedo boat skipper will display some heroic action. And also maybe the Japanese, using daylight and not being cowards a bit, would fight a more resolute battle. I don´t believe, anyway, that Nishimura could pass through to Surigao with even half of Oldendorf units there. But there is an "if" on the other side that could save Nishimura:

If half the BB fleet plus destroyers and everything that can floats engage Kurita´s force then it´s mayhem. But in this combat Kurita has Yamato´s powerfull 18" and the stereoscopic´s range finders and it´s daylight. After early misses, as in the real combat, the Japanese will find the way and nail those old bathtubs which stand not a single chance against such a Japanese force which includes Yamato. I´m not saying that Yamato would deal with them single handed but the whole force will be greater than the sum of their parts:

Japanese:

1 super BB: Yamato
2 BB
6 CA
2 CL
11 DD

US:

18 CVE
9 DD
8 DE

plus half Oldendorf vessels:

3 BB
2 CA
3 CL

The 29 DD and 39 PTs will have to deal with the other forces at Surigao.

That doesn´t seem that "easy" for US forces north of Surigao. Don´t think the US forces could win over the Japanese BB line until Halsey has come back in a hurry.

Maybe that means that McArthur will be in serious trouble.

Best regards
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Sat Jul 11, 2009 1:33 pm

Okay. It seems to me that, given the lack of opposing reasons then it seems that, if given the exposed circumstances, then the Japanase could have achieved some sort of tactical victory at Surigao when nailing Oldendorf bathtubs in the middle of a coordinated pinzer attack.

By achieveing this it seems intersting how much time will take to Halsey to return to the trap he las lured and fall upon in order to try to save what´s left at the beaches in Leyte. I think that, at least, the Japanese have some 10 - 16 hours to hammer badly Mac´s supply ships and landing assembly areas. If the Japanese are inteligent enough (and they were not the tactical morons some tend to think) they can even flee before Halsey arrives.

That will also mean that Halsey will go to Court Martial.
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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited

Postby lwd » Sat Jul 11, 2009 2:51 pm

A big part of this one is where does Nishimura wait?

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Sun Jul 12, 2009 12:05 am

lwd:

A big part of this one is where does Nishimura wait?


The basic asumption is that Nishimura coincides with Kurita. If we are granting this (a basic asumption as that the RDFC is infalible, you see?) then this means that they are comunicating. If they are comunicating then Kurita has informed Nishimura of his whereabouts and estimates. That means Nishimura does not need to wait, just adjust the speed in order to coincide. Nobody, I believe, would wait in such adverse conditions in no place: too many enemy subs and the USN dominion of the skies is dangerous.

Given this simple asumption or premise then, again, we got the scenario of the pinzer attack in which the Oldendorf´s bathtubs are going to be in serious danger. Without Halsey the USN forces at Leyte are not that impressive and the balance is a little more "fair". That would be a very good battle, much better than the dawn punishment that a numerical superior and better positioned battleline gave to a numerical inferior Nishimura.

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited

Postby lwd » Sun Jul 12, 2009 3:15 pm

He has to spend the extra time somewhere. The question is where. It's important because where he spends it effects what intel the US has and what possible attacks he is subject to prior to the reaching Leyte.

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Re: Suppose Nishimura had waited

Postby Dave Saxton » Sun Jul 12, 2009 5:40 pm

The US recon planes first spotted Nishimura shortly after 0900 on the 23rd just south of Negras entering the inland sea between Mindanao and Bohol. At 2300 when he was again contacted (this time by PT boat), he was still off Bohol having only progressed about 150 miles in the previous 13 1/2 hours, so he stepped up his progress considerably between 2300 and 0400. I can see what Karl is alluding to: By slowing or maintaining his net speed instead, he spends the night time hours progressing from south of Bohol to the channel entrance at the tip of Panaon Island. The only threats he faces are from PT boats south of Panaon Island. The PT boats failed to penetrate his defences between 2300 and 0100 historically. The DD's that historically devastated Nishimura,s command with torpedoes prior to 0400 were stationed farther up the channel -toward Surigao St. itself. With a protracted time table he probably faces the DD's in day light instead of darkness and with Shima's group having caught up. The average width of Surigao St is about 30km, but with Hibuson Island in the middle of the exit into Leyte Gulf.
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: Suppose Nishimura had waited

Postby Dave Saxton » Sun Jul 12, 2009 6:01 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:If Halsey has taken the bite and went for the carriers and then, a determined Kurita appears through the San Bernardino Straits and positions himself north of Surigao in timely manner with Nishimura (too much "ifs" but let´s remember that this is how the Japanese battle plans were drawn in the first place), we can have an apocaliptic combat here, very much violent and uncertain than the real scenario.




It was the typically complex Japanese plan. Successful penetration of Leyte Gulf is contingent upon a pinzer attack, which is in turn contingent upon Kurita and Nishimura both being there at the same time, which is is turn contigent upon Kurita having passed through the San Bernadino ST intact, which is turn contigent upon the San Bernadino ST being uncovered, which is in turn contingent upon Ozawa having successfully lured away the 3rd fleet.

I try to avoid being too critical of Halsey because he could not know, as we do now, that the IJN carriers were only paper tigers and only being used as bait. He must assume that they were fully capable and therefore represented a serious and dangerous threat. If he did not take every precaution concerning the Japanese carriers, based on what he knew at the time, he would have been derilict in his duty in my opinion.
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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