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Would the loss of both Enterprise and Hornet at Santa Cruz doom the Guadalcanal campaign?

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by USS Washington, May 24, 2015.

  1. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Ran across this thread over on jaircraft
    http://www.j-aircraft.org/smf/index.php?topic=15698.0
    it introduces a book that might be useful on the topic at least if you speak French.
     
  2. DT1991

    DT1991 New Member

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    Enterprise didn't but her aircraft did. Air Group 10 played a major role in the Air Attacks that sank the Hiei and battered Tanaka's Reinforcement Convoy in the November battle.
     
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  3. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    good call DT....I just saw this on the Cactus Air Force website, and I had that slight memory in my mind...so the Enterprise was out of the picture...it was ''lost'' for the time being, but it's air crew were on the unsinkable carrier.......what were the Japanese capable of, not what might they have done??...this is a well known intelligence and strategy doctrine...
    also, think of it this way...the battle was already won....it's like other campaigns where all they needed was to capture the airfield and area nearby...they didn't need to wipe out the enemy or capture the whole island....
    and, as with the facts stated in post 18, I think we all agree, the Japanese were not going to take the airfield anytime soon, if at all....
    now that you mention it, I'll have to re-read my father's book ''The Big E''...it used to be on his table all the time......and I just found it, along with some other old books, as I was searching for pictures to post..
     
  4. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Well the '03's were only a minor part, it was machine guns, mortars, 75mm and 105mm howitzers and two 37mm anti-tank guns firing cannister rounds that did the bulk of the damage. 70% of an infantry units intrinsic firepower resides in it's crew served weapons. In fact, while the battle ended with a decisive defeat, there was a point when it could have gone the other way. Private Al Schmid was part of a .30 cal water cooled machine gun crew with H 2/1 during the battle. The fighting and mg positions on either side of his were knocked out early in the battle. The gunner (Pfc. John Rivers) was killed, and Schmid took over with Cpl. Leroy Diamond spotting and loading. Then Diamond went down hit in the arm. Schmid fired and loaded. The water jacket got shot up, Schmid babied the gun firing in shorter bursts, but it still glowed red. A grenade then wounded and blinded Schmid and further wounded Diamond. Schmid returned to his gun and continued to fire until relieved in the morning a total fight of about four hours. When relieved they counted 200 Japanese in front of his position, 1/4 of Ichiki's 800 men. What if he'd been killed or just stopped after his wounding? A portion of Ichiki's men would without a doubt have penetrated the perimeter. Most likely more would have funnelled towards the breach away from the stronger defenses at the sandbar. They would have headed for the airfield, headquarters, turned right and taken the positions at the sandbar in rear or flank or turned left and hit the positions of the 11th Marines battery's located to the south southwest. Cates who ended up using the company being held as battalion reserve to restore the lines near the sandbar after the first attack, had the portions of 1/1 held in divisional reserve, released back to him and he used these troops to flank Ichiki and his survivors, bottled them up and wiped them out. What if he had to use this force to restore the lines near Schmid's position, hunt down and reduce the breakthrough, or save the position at the sandbar? He would have definately suffered many more casualties. Ichiki did not have enough men to threaten the 1st MarDiv with defeat, but he could have made things hairy for a while, and it is likely that he and a portion of his force would have fallen back and escaped.

    Another fight that came very close to going the other way, except for "Red Mike" that position would have likely not held. Hell, when the Para Marines came down off the ridge their numbers had dwindled to the point (76% of the unit had been lost since 07 August) that Vandegrift shipped them off the island despite his desperate need for troops.

    Only three of the 16 infantry battalions Vandegrift had available, at that point, were Army, and as pointed out earlier 70% of an infantry units firepower was in it's crew serveds. While the garand was a definate improvement, it was not as significant an increase over the '03, to unit firepower as you suggest.

    What you seem to be missing is that a major change in the situation will change the decisions/actions of those involved, both friendly and enemy. So we have the Enterprise being sunk on 26 October. If the Japanese know she is lost they will react differently than they did historically thinking her just damaged and not knowing to what extent. If the Enterprise managed to break contact and sail towards Noumea, and sank enroute, Japanese actions would probably not change much from the historical, but would change later when they had reliable intelligence that she had been lost. NO American carriers left in theater. Even so, with a damaged Enterprise, that Halsey was going to apply Herculean efforts to repair. Nimitz did the following: (from a Naval Institute article on Santa Cruz)

    "on Navy Day—27 October—1942, SOPAC was in the direst of circumstances. From Pearl Harbor Nimitz directed Halsey to complete arrangements for the defense of rear bases in the South Pacific. Both admirals asked authorities in Washington to request the loan of a British aircraft carrier for service in SOPAC. Meanwhile, Halsey set all hands to work in a race against time to repair the Enterprise, the only U.S. aircraft carrier left in the Pacific."

    Now, the "defense of rear bases" was to provide a fallback point if Guadalcanal were lost. Both Nimitz and Halsey thought the presence of an active carrier, of such importance to their defense plans that they were trying to borrow a British one! This was WITH an Enterprise that would return to duty. How would they have reacted if she were sunk and they weren't ever getting her back? I would imagine that Nimitz and Halsey, (plus Vandegrift) were those on the American side, best able to decide if the situation was critical or not.

    Gotta head back to the hospital, will finish later....
     
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  5. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    let's review .... Tenaru battle-- US losses 40
    JA 600

    Bloody Ridge US 60
    700

    Henderson Field 85
    2000

    look at those totals..that's the whole story right there...would you say, these numbers are not even close??...the JA tactics and weapons are not even close to getting the job done....at Bloody Ridge, did they have enough troops or heavy weapons left to exploit a breakthrough??..where would they get resupplied from?? the US has available troops and supplies nearby....you can't exploit a breakthrough if you sustain heavy casualties..those are just KIA numbers........sure the USMC units were hit hard, but the JA had many more dead and wounded....and the Ridge was held...that was September...I just put that fact out, to show the pattern of how the JA was not defeating the USMC at all in the major battles.....2-5 was in reserve..see following paragraph

    '' By 0400, while the attack was still going on, companies of the reserve battalion--2d Battalion, 5th Marines--began to be committed to bolster up the disorganized left flank. The companies were committed singly, making their way first to a predesignated assembly area between the northern extremity of the ridge and the western end of the airstrip. Company G, arriving first, went into position on the eastern slope of the hill, coming under intense machine gun fire as it moved in and receiving casualties. The other companies, following at intervals, were not aware of the fact that a part of the Raiders' line had been withdrawn since their reconnaissance of the previous day, made their way up to, and in some cases through the lines. Filling the gaps in the Raider Battalion's positions, they helped in standing off the final efforts of Kawaguchi's infantry.''62

    so the US forces won the battles at Tenaru and the Ridge without the semi autos....so when some of the US forces get semi autos, the US forces are going to do worse??? it's a godsend for the JA? they will breakthrough now that the US has semi autos? my point is, if they can't breakthrough and are getting wiped out with 03s, how will they breakthrough when US troops have a much better infantry rifle, to support the crew served weapons?? isn't that a big plus??

    let me add that the US was on defense...they had it much, much easier to move troops [ with Garands ] and supplies around the perimeter to hotspots... the JA had to move through deadly jungle terrain....the US can move heavy weapons easier....

    so, looking at all 3 of those major battles, the JA would have to do a 420 degree turn, not 180, to even begin to have a chance at taking the airfield...

    again, over 2000 JA KIA in the October battle vs 85 for the US...this is not counting the many, many that died in the jungle, from wounds and no food...this is after the Ridge...the JA decisively defeated and destroyed....again
     
  6. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    sorry, I had to break...
    1. I'm well aware of the importance of the crew served weapons, but they were not alone....they were supported by the riflemen who put out firepower....., let's just say 1, just 1 battalions' number of semi autos, is that not a significant addition?? a company with semi auto firepower would not have a significant effect on a battle, compared to one with bolt actions? they can parcel these companies to the hotspots, which they did..I knew someone would bring it up that not everyone carried an 03...I knew it....5 men with Garands have a lot more firepower than 5 with bolts.....they have overwhelming fire superiority, no?? you are saying, a company armed with Garands does not have significantly more firepower than one with bolt actions?? the squad with at least 7 M1s supporting the MG, will not significantly effect the battle area as 7 with bolts?? it's going to be a lot harder knocking out the MGs if the M1s are covering it

    2. you do agree 2000 is not even close to 85?


    my main point regarding the topic, is, the JA is not only retreating, but dying as they do so, after receiving a catastrophic defeat in October...and this has been the pattern for the JA using tactics of bamboo spears vs auto and semi auto weapons..so they will not be able to take the airfield for some time, no?? so the US is in control of the airfield and will use it to their advantage...the loss of one carrier is not enough to significantly alter the outcome of the land battle

    http://www.auto-ordnance.com/Reviews2010/guns_magazine.asp tells of how firepower of Garand more important in jungle warfare, than the bolt action 03..this should be common knowledge for war historians.....the Garand was no slouch in hitting power either

    http://www.ndguard.ngb.army.mil/history/164WWII/diaryofsamuelbaglien/Pages/default.aspx tells of how the 164th, armed with Garands, held the line and inflicted ''tremendous'' losses on ''wave after wave'' of enemy...they were in the hotspot of the battle with their Garands

    let me put it another way, the US was increasing their firepower, while the JA was not...another plus for the US forces

    thanks all replies
     
  7. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    how many did the 164th have?
     
  8. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Less than they had before the Marines started moonlight requisitioning them.
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Does anyone know what damage the IJN though they had inflicted at Santa Crus? They thought they had sunk 2 carriers at Coral Sea and I seem to recall they thought they sunk or damaged 2 at Midway as well. Did the overestimation apply to Santa Cruz as well? If so then there might be no change in their historical reaction.
     
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  10. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    IIRC, they had reported two or three carriers as sunk. However, what they claimed and what Yamamoto and the rest of the IJN high command believed could be two different things.
     
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  11. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    I wonder if the lack of coordination between the army and navy prevented a combined attack that would have done the trick. Japan never grasp the extent of the US effort until it was too late and the Japanese attacks were piecemeal and thus gave the US time
     
  12. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    Well I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree on this subject, nonetheless, I appreciate you and everyone else here for responding to my thread and turning it into a lively and informative discussion. :cheers:
     
  13. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    all excellent points and as USS Washington states, informative....steve801, they continued to underestimate the total US forces... ...
    http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Battle_for_Henderson_Field .....here it is under 'Troop Movement' paragraph.... please add this to the list of advantages ....thank you steve..and , it was also hard for the JA to coordinate the attacks because of the jungle terrain and distance, as stated before...they not only had to postpone attacks sometimes, but it also led to lack of coordinated ground attacks, ...another advantage for the US


    yes, many thanks for the discussion, as it brings back memories of reading and reading all summer long, and other years, of the campaign...
    very funny Takao
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Another problem for the Japanese if they decided to heavily reinforce Gaudalcanal may have been the efficiency of their cargo movement system. I remember reading in the Caiden work on Sakai (so it may or may not have been accurate) that Sakai was amazed at how rapidly the US unloaded it's cargo ships. Of course this may be another place where Caiden was putting words in Sakai's mouth. Anyone else read anything on this?
     
  15. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper Patron  

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    The US was using landing areas already prepared by the Japanese. ..Japan had to use Rat Runs in order to replentish their supplies.
    Is this what you are referring to LW.
     
  16. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Sorry for not participating the last several days. Complications with my daughter-in-laws pregnancy, sitting in the hospital, baby and mom in distress, an emergency C-section, new grandbaby, mother and baby doing fine, then attending nephews and neices graduations, back to hospital to visit the new arrival. Takes precedence over debates.

    They knew they had severely damaged one (Hornet) and it and damaged the other (Enterprise). Hornet had been reported as in the process of sinking. Abe's and Kondo's surface forces had been ordered to advance at best possible speed to the last reported position and finish off the US ships in a surface engagement. If the 11:21 strike by Junyo's aircraft had finished off Enterprise, they would have known that both were neutralized. The US loss in aircraft (and more crews) would have also been much more devastating because, after the 11:21 strike Enterprise landed 57 of the 73 aircraft still aloft and had earlier taken aboard a number of Hornet's aircraft that had been airborne when she was hit. So all of these aircraft plus a number of crews would have been lost during the process of ditching, if Enterprise had been lost.
    In reality, at 11:35, the Enterprise was ordered to retire south (leaving the Hornet) by Kinkaid because he guessed there were one ot two operational Japanese carriers left. At 09:40, Nagumo on board the damaged Shokaku had ordered her and the damaged Zuiho to retire northwest at 28 kts, while Zuikaku was split off and ordered to join the "Advance" force and Junyo. Nagumo remains aboard because he wants to get the damaged carriers out of the area before possible follow-up strikes by the Americans can arrive. He also doesn't want to delay Zuikaku in it's mission to continue the attacks and to join Junyo, so he remains aboard Shokaku instead of transferring his flag. In the historical timeline the 11:21 Japanese strike did not report having sunk the second carrier, if they had Nagumo would not have felt so pressed for time that he couldn't stop to transfer ships. He was probably more capable than Kakuji Kakuta to whom command was passed.

    So the first strike reports Hornet sinking, second strike wave thinking Hornet sinking attacks Enterprise (she was hidden by a rain squall during the first strike) and correctly reports her as damaged. Then Zuikaku's torpedo planes arrive and attack Enterprise (also South Dakota, Portland and the DD Smith). When the 11:21 Junyo strike arrives Enterprise has put out the fires and resumed flight operations. IMO, this is where the start of the Japanese post battle report of three carriers came from. They know there was one reported sinking and one damaged. They arrive and Enterprise is operational and the Hornet is dead in the water, so it appears there is an operational US carrier, a damaged US carrier and the third has sunk. So they further damage Enterprise, and inflict moderate damage on South Dakota and San Juan. The Japanese now think there are two damaged US carriers in the area. When Kinkaid withdraws at 11:35 leaving Hornet behind, arriving Japanese aircraft would assume that a second US carrier had sunk. Hornet is being towed when Junyo's 15:20 strike arrives and torpedoes Hornet, and it is decided to abandon ship. The crew is in the process when the final Zuikaku strikes arrive and hit her with two more bombs. Later at 22:20 the Abe/Kondo surface force arrives and consider capturing Hornet, but decide she is too badly damage and have the DD's Makigumo and Akigumo sink her with torpedoes (she sinks at 01:35 27 October, number three?)
     
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  17. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    this is another interesting aspect of the campaign....http://www.combinedfleet.com/guadoil1.htm I think this page has been up before..I like the site...it is about the IJN..you can go to the home page and check it out......most of the link is about the IJN oil predicament, regarding Guadalcanal...there are a couple of small paragraphs near the end about resupply and needs of the JA....it says they were using mostly DDs, which was very inefficient at landing a good amount....also they used drums filled with supplies that they pushed into the water.....they were nowhere near what they needed to keep the JA supplied [ italics mine ]..........as Poppy says, I would think the US had designated landing areas prepared with 'heavy' equipment...yes, how would they have landed all the amount if they made it in the November battles? then they have to move over long trails....

    from the IJN link conclusions<> In the end, Japan's inability to sustain the voracious fuel needs of her warships meant that those warships could not make a sustained effort against Henderson Field or the U.S. Navy. The bitter irony of this situation cannot have been lost on Combined Fleet's logisticians.
     
  18. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Combined Fleet is a great source. I use it all the time. The TROM 's of the individual ships give a good deal of additional information on what the ships were actually doing, when and where. They help flesh out the battle narratives found elsewhere from other sources.
     
  19. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If that's an area of interest people should be aware that the TROMs are being updated periodically. So if a current question comes up it may be worth rechecking them. There's are also TROMs on some of the cargo ships now I believe.
     
  20. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I check back all the time. They're continually adding new items and areas and updating their information based upon the most recent research. I have it bookmarked and IMO is one of the best Pacific War reference sites. For those that would like to bookmark it, here's their main page:
    Combined Fleet-- http://combinedfleet.com/

    Another good Naval site I use, mainly to cross reference data I get elsewhere is Navypedia. Here's the link:
    http://www.navypedia.org/index.htm

    For Japanese Aircraft, Dave's Warbirds has a lot of good info. I have Rene J. Francillon's, "Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War", IMO the best reference about Japanese Aircraft, but when I'm reading something and want quick info, I go to Dave's. I have yet to find information there that varies to any degree from Francillon's (in fact most list it as their sorce). Here's that link:
    http://www.daveswarbirds.com/Nippon/Japanese.htm

    He also has info on many other aircraft, WWII and other topics, most of the "others" I haven't perused, the main page is here:
    http://www.daveswarbirds.com/

    For a quick reference, and well researched information, on many aspects of the WWII Pacific, Pacific War Online Encyclopedia is a very good resource:
    http://pwencycl.kgbudge.com/

    For data on Armored Vehicles, here's a good site:
    http://afvdb.50megs.com/index.html

    For information on Naval Weapons, NavWeapons is hard to beat. You can spend days reading there:
    http://www.navweaps.com/

    Now I freely admit to being a bit of a Naval Geek, though I don't pretend to have the knowledge base of Takao, who I sometimes suspect is actually an AI (Artificial Intelligence) posing as a real person. He knows just too much, and is always accurate. When I do start researching something though I want to get into the subject in depth, understand the smallest nuance and detail. For US Naval Weapons subjects, this site is the shit. Official information, so reliable:
    For many different topics on naval subjects go here:
    http://www.hnsa.org/resources/manuals-documents/

    I love this one, Naval Gun Mount and Turrent Catalog
    http://archive.hnsa.org/doc/guncat/index.htm

    Heres the link to their online copys of official publications. Look at the diverse number of topics:
    http://archive.hnsa.org/doc/index.htm#guns

    And last but not least, an indespensable source HYPERWAR!!!!!
    http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/
     

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