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The Navies

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by corpcasselbury, May 29, 2004.

  1. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    There were several contributing factors that caused the uncoordination of the US strikes. Some were inherent in the US system, some were "that's just the way it goes." In at least one case, it was because a squadron leader simply REFUSED to do as he was told. Lt Com Waldron claimed he knew better than his commander where the Japanese were and he had no intention of wasting time flying to an empty spot on the ocean--and he was absolutely right.
    We have a year or more ahead of us before we get a look at Jon Parshall's new Midway book, but I'm sure it'll be worth the wait.
    Warships1 has a good Midway OoB:
    http://www.warships1.com/index_oob/index.htm
    I have a revised version that I haven't posted yet, but the one that's there is good enough for our purposes. You can see where all the Japanese carriers are, though the air group info isn't all on-target.
     
  2. tankerwanabe

    tankerwanabe New Member

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    I just checked my sources. I'm taking back my argument that the multiple American waves were in lieu of the American carriers was spread out. The American strike came from two task force, but the two task forces were in visual sight of one another. So they would essentially come from a single staging area.

    And I think the cause to the Japanese fleet's destruction was because the marjority of the Japanese wing was softening up Midway defenses. There were several other blunders of course, such as the Japanese leaving bombs stacked on deck which prevented their planes from taking off when the Midway strike force returned and had to land.

    And there was Admiral Nagumo, who I very much dislike and so I'm refraining from offering an opinion in lieu of its predjudice.

    Explain to me what happenned to the Yorktown. Why didn't its radar pick up the Japansese strike that trailed the York town's own strike force back to the Yorktown.
     
  3. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    The Japanese strike force was picked up by the Radar of TF17 (Yorktown) and by TF16 (Enterprise & Hornet) as well. USN fighter control using radar was poor and the fighters were kept too clsoe to the ship to be able to destroy or disperse the strike. Fear of another Japanese strike kept the Enterprise and Hornet fighters from joining the defense of Yorktown. USN fighter control improved greatly after the temporary assignment of a British carrier to the Solomons in 1943, when the U.S. was down to two carriers. They brought the same level of control the British had pioneered for their ground based radar.
    The stikes for TF 16 & TF 17 weren't coordianted. They just happened to hit at the same time by luck. TF 17s dive-bombers left later (Yorktown had launched a search group earlier), but took a more direct route than those of TF 16. When the TF 16 dive bomber group reached the intercept point the Japanese fleet wasn't there. The Hornet's dive-bombers (about 30) turned the wrong way (towards Midway) and missed the battle on June 4. Enterprise Cmdr Wade McCluskey correctly guessed the Japanese course (towards the U.S. carrires) and his gorup of 30 dive bombers caught up with the Japanese at the same time as Max Leslie's flight from the Yorktown. Leslie's flight had lost six bombs due to a faulty eletrical arming system and only 12 still carried bombs (Leslie wasn't one of them).
     
  4. tankerwanabe

    tankerwanabe New Member

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    Prior to the attack on the Japanese carriers, did the Japanse command know that there was an American fleet in the area?

    Was the decision to strike at Midway Island a calculated risk or a complete blunder?
     
  5. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    No, the Japanese plan required that they deal with Midway before the Americans arrived in the area. There was a feint attack on the Aleutians, with the light carriers, intended to draw any USN forces in Hawaii away from Midway. They had a plan to have seaplanes, refueled by submarines, recon Pearl Harbor but this was also aborted since the USN knew of the plan through the code breakers and had stationed ships at the fueling point. The Japanese used float planes launched from cruisers to carry out most of their aerial recon, but due to technical problems the one with the critical search zone left late. The first contact reports only identified surface ships, but no carriers. The Japanese had a second strike wave originally armed for ship attack, but the first raid on Midway didn't knock out the defenses, and the Midway based planes had been attacking all morning. The Japanese also needed to land the planes that had carried out the raid on Midway or risk losing them. When the carriers were identified they switched to anti-ship arms again. Preperations were nearly complete when the dive bombers struck.
     
  6. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    One big mistake the Japanese made at Midway was entering into the operation with two objectives, neither of which apparently had priority over the other. First, to occupy Midway; second, to destroy the US Pacific Fleet. There is an old Japanese saying: He who aims at two hares hits neither. The US Navy won in part because the requirements of the two Japanese objectives tended to get in each other's way. Had Nagumo concentrated on finding and attacking the American carriers, he would likely not have been caught flat-footed by the SBDs the way he was. His tactics in attacking Midway are also questionable. Had he hit the atoll with all of the planes from two of his carriers, rather than some from all four, then the jam up that occured when the Midway strike force returned would not have happened; two carriers would have recovered the planes while the other two, with rearming not delayed by landing the strike planes, would have launched an attack on the American carriers. I highly recommend "Miracle At Midway" by Gordon W. Prange as a good, solid, readable account of the battle and the errors both sides made.
     
  7. SgtBob

    SgtBob New Member

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    I agree. And as I recall, the American CAP was fairly stripped to provide escort fighters for the strikes. When the last Japanese strike came in after Yorktown, most fighters they had were refueling or newly launched and in no position to intercept. BTW my first WW II book, some 35 years ago, was "Rendezvous At Midway", the story of the Yorktown.
     
  8. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    Actually, it was the other way around; the escorts were kept to a minimum in order to maintain an adequate CAP over the carriers. American carrier air groups contained far too few fighters in those days.
     
  9. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    The Hornet - Enterprise strike had 20 fighters. The Yorktown strike had six! These were to provide cover for a total of 84 dive bombers and 41 torpedo planes. All three carriers would have had a total or 75-80 fighters.
    "Incredible Victory" by Walter Lord is a great read in addition to "Miracle at Midway" and "Rendezvous at Midway". S.E. Morrsion's official history, "US Naval Operations in WWII: Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Operations" is also good (I can't remember which volume number it is). The short version of the whole USN war experience, "The Two-Ocean War" by S.E. Morrison is also very good, it is the source for the info above.
     
  10. tankerwanabe

    tankerwanabe New Member

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    Nagumo was still shocked by the near misses from B-17 strikes and became indicisive at the wrong moment. He had 1 hour 27 mimutes from the moment his recon first spotted the American fleet. He had about 1 hour before his recon spotted the first American carrier. He had 27 minutes before his recons reported the first wave of American torpedo bombers heading his way. And still he persisted at attacking both Midway and the American fleet in lieu of understanding that the whole purpose of Midway was to lure the American fleet in for an ambush. He sucked.

    In my opinion, there were two reason as to the American victory at Midway. American intelligence pinpointed the whereabouts of the Japanese fleet which was confirmed by floatplanes, and two, Nagumo.
     
  11. Ebar

    Ebar New Member

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    Back up a bit

    If I might be permited I'd like to drag us back to the original question on the relative qualities of the main fleets.

    I would argue that the big three had their relative specialisms. The British were undoubtedly the best in antisub technology and techniques, were good at traditional surface engagements and night actions. However their AA and carriers were hamstrung by flawed prewar thinking.

    The Japanese were red hot on night actions, torpedo warfare and course air operations. But were weak in AA, Radar, sub and antisub operations.

    Not sure the US was the best at anything but it was a good all rounder plus was big enough to survive learning lessons very painfully.

    I don't think anyone could argue that the RN and the USN were fighting two very different wars. The RN was involved in a grinding war of attrition while USN fought a number of large scale battles to which there were no real european equivalents.
     
  12. Zhukov_2005

    Zhukov_2005 New Member

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    Good point. The great naval battles the US fought in the Pacific could be compared to the great land battles fought between Russia and Germany.

    Yes the Japanese were quite good with torpedos, especially those suckers that could reach 10-20 miles.

    I didnt even know they used AA. :D
     
  13. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    I wouldn't say the Japanese were particularly poor in AA.
    I understand the latest Proceedings has a wretched article on Midway which perpetuates a lot of the America-centric misunderstandings. Chances are, the folks who wrote up a recent study for the NWC will have come comments on this. Proceedings really has degenerated....
     
  14. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    As always the question of who was better carries a qualifier of when.
    The USN was equal or superior to the IJN in just about everything, except torpedo quality, by the end of 1943, although this doesn't mean the IJN was bad. I would also say the USN was best in the world at carrier and amphibious operations.

    I'm curious about British night surface actions, I haven't read about them. Do you have some examples that you relate?
     
  15. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    In the Mediteranean, the British had some romps that make Savo look almost like a draw. And speaking of Savo, I think Canberra's performance hints at what the Commonwealth was capable of. The crew performance appears to have been exemplary, if only their ship hadn't let them down.
     
  16. Ebar

    Ebar New Member

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    Night fighting

    The RN hadn't done that well at night fighting during Juland and so it was one of the big areas they worked on between the wars. Added to that was that the RN had better radar than their opponents. Battle of cape matapan is the best known example. The battle itself was pretty one sided but it did show British confidence that they could fight and win night actions.
     
  17. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    I don't like showing my ignorance in public, I thought Cape Matapan was essentially a daylight action. I like learning something new and having misconceptions corrected.
     
  18. Ebar

    Ebar New Member

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    Cape Matapan

    Cape Matapan started as a daylight engagement with British cruisers clashing with Italian cruisers and a battleship. Albacore torpedo bombers attacked the Italian ships. Lacking aircover the Italians retreated but were attacked again this time damaging the battleship and crippling the Zara class heavy cruiser Pola. The Italian admiral send several destroyers and two of Pola's sister ships back to assist. Unfortuniately for them the British had continued to steam after them with a force including three Queen Elizabeth class battleships Barham, Valiant and Warspite despite the growing darkness. The battleships held their fire till inside 5 miles of the Italians (whites-of-their-eyes range for battleships) before opening up on the unsupecting Italians. The two heavy cruisers were obliterated in seconds with the luckless Pola being sent to the bottom by British destroyers.

    This victory came hard on the heels of the Taranto raid and futher sapped the confident to the Italian navy and was probably a factor in the Italians failure to molest the British evacuation of Crete a few months later.
     
  19. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    I will be creating a topic for discussing the naval battles of WW2.
     
  20. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    The Imperial Japanese Navy is, in my opinion, an incredible study in contrasts. They had the best trained naval aviators in the world in 1941, yet had no air/sea rescue service to pick up any of them that went down. They had the finest torpedoes in the entire war, bar none, yet were often terrible shots with them. They elevated night fighting to an art, then failed utterly to give their ships radar to maintain their advantage. The IJN's officer corps was one of the finest in the world, yet it was saddled with an archaic seniority system that often prevented the best men from occupying important posts. Worse than that, they were instilled with the code of bushido, which led to many fine officers choosing to go down with their ships or otherwise commit suicide when disaster struck (Yamaguchi is a prime example). It's sad to see so fine a weapon so badly misused.
     

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