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TF 34 against the Center Force

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by ULITHI, Jan 19, 2011.

  1. ULITHI

    ULITHI Ace

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    I don't know if this has been discussed at length, but I apologize of I missed it in the search.

    If Halsey formed Task Force 34 to guard San Bernadino strait, what would have been the probable outcome? Would it be similar to the action at Surigao Strait?

    Was there a plan to straddle the strait in order to "cross the T" again?

    If this would have transpired, I guess this would have been the only chance to have the Iowas go up against the Yamato, right?

    However, if Halsey didn't follow the bait and kept TF 38 around with the carriers, would they even bother with risking the Iowas against the Center Force?
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If they had stayed around there probably would have been picket DDs in the straits and it would make sense to try and cap it. On the other hand I believe San Bernadino is considerably wider than Surigao and the timing is such that a daylight engagement would be likely. I believe all the US BBs with Halsey had the more advanced radar suites so it likely would have been a long range engagment. Since the battleships went with Halsey in part to give them a shot at the Japanese CVs and given a dawn penetration of the strait and the proximaty to the transports I beleive there would have been a surface engagement.
     
  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Technically this is a borderline What-if, but I think it is worthy of discussion. Please keep it in the realm of believability and carry on.
     
  4. nevarinemex

    nevarinemex Member

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    I believe that the Japanese were both surprised and relieved as they transited and emerged unmolested from the restrictive waters of the San Bernardino Straits. San Bernardino Strait is considerably narrower for sea room than the Surigao Strait. This would have been another midwatch battle. The distance from San Bernardino Strait to a line off Taft is about 130 miles. Or about 7 hours at 20+ kts. That's where the battle began off Samar around 0700 that morning.
    The outcome depends upon what tactics Adm. Lee employs and where he employs them. There are about four miles between Capul Island and Luzon. There is a similar distance between Capul Is. and San Antonio. However the channel for deep draft vessels is considerably narrower than four miles. More like a mile to one and a half miles. More like the mouth of Pearl Harbor. Kurita needs to emerge deployed nearly single file and most likely in a van. Ouch!
    Adm Lee has four BB's in TF 34, but not necessarily both the Iowas. In addition he is assigned five cruisers and fourteen destroyers. I would suspect that radar could pickup Kurita's approach as they navigate between Bulan on Luzon and San Jacinto on Ticao. Across there are probably about six navigable miles there. A good place to reform your line as a task force approaches the much narrower strait. A nice place for two DesDivs to cause considerable damage and confusion.
    Again, on the US side, there are two heavy 8" and three light 6" cruisers. There are at least one 16/50" and three 16/45" battleship, although I'd suspect its two of each. Maybe even all six BB's as only the Iowas can keep with the fast carriers. So there will be a minimum incoming straddle of 36 16" shells, perhaps as many as 54 and 40 to 60 5/38" against at best 6 18" and 3 6" if the Yamato leads the way. The cruiser heavies can throw 18 8/55" and 10 5/38". The cruiser lights can throw 36 6/47" and 24 5/38". All this is predicated on broadsides, of course.
    Kurita does have 4 BBs, 6 CA's, 2 CL's and 11 DD's. He is addled the next morning during the Samar battle. So what is his state of mind without any rest? There is no room for manuever. Furthermore, sight lines are restricted outside of perhaps 330 degrees to about 060 relative. How effective can he be in this situation?
    Adm Lee has an 360 degree unrestricted view. Adm Lee can pace himself over fifteen or so miles as he is withdrawing up the Strait. He can concentrate his fire on one or two ships. He's firing anywhere from 12,000 yards from the get go. Point blank. 54 16", 18 8", 36 6" and 94 5". Even the Yamato isn't immune from that carnage. Their forward batteries, conning tower and bridge would be a shambles in minutes. Nagato, the Battlecruisers Kongo and Haruna would last even less time. The fires erupting from the IJN ships would silhouette every ship charging up the strait. The strait would be littered with flaming hulks requiring dodging, further their diminishing effectiveness.
    Message traffic goes out around 2330 23 OCT 44 and Adm. McCain perhaps reverses his carrier group TG 58.1 NLT 0030 24 OCT 44. That's at least 8 hours earlier and maybe 200 miles closer for TG 58.1. Adm Halsey is quite please that he stuck around.
     
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  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    A lot depends on when the US first becomes sure the Japanese have turned around again. If it's from a picket DD in the narrow part of the straits is it in time to prevent the Japanese from moving into wider waters? Historically I believe the first sighting was by a torpedo bomber on ASW patrol after dawn. He did drop his depth charges on a Japanese cruiser hoping for near misses and a mining effect. Apparently actually got a direct hit.
     
  6. nevarinemex

    nevarinemex Member

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    If TF 34 guards the Strait, then confirmation is coming NLT 0000 hrs. That's historically about the time that Central Force passed through. I think that the most propitious attack is performed as the Central Force approaches the Strait. This would be their most burdened time.
    A real advantage exists for the US and TF 34. The familiarity with where to pick your battle. Prior to the war, USN navigational charts, navigators and quartermasters had familiarity in the seas surrounding Mabate, Luzon and Samar. CenFor was assembled with elements from elsewhere.
    I'm not certain how long the various CenFor commands functioned together. Moon set that evening was around 2330 local. In the two hours leading up to entering the Strait CenFor needs to perform major course heading corrections, from 150 true to 090 true, then to 030 true before finally steadying on 000 true to emerge into the Strait. All of this occurs while burdened by a lack of sea room for manuever, speed changes and most likely reducing from a dual column to a single file van. It's the tropics, so haze from the land has the potential to murky things up in a pitch black night.
    I can imagine that you would try for an ambush in the narrows between Ticao and Luzon. DD's launching their Mk 15's and then scooting back out the Straits. The DD's can observe the approach on radar, and mainly hide in the lee of Luzon. Emerge, Fire your spread, lay smoke, before dashing back out into the Strait.
    Adm Kurita is now going to be dodging torpedoes, trying to regroup and wondering about flanking attacks from the channel islands. He can chose to continue heading SSE and exit W past Mabate. Or he can force a contested battle by turning E and heading towards the Strait.
    Adm Kurita has one tough decision, of course. Continue with the plan, engage Adm Lee and pray that should he still be afloat the next morning that there isn't a task group of fleet carriers searching for him. Or that there is going to be another round of submarine attacks in these restricted channels. Then again, he can just continue SSE and head back to Tawi Tawi. His element of surprise is gone for good.
    Otherwise, CenFor is going to have a 20 mile long battle before reaching open water. There is standing rule in Naval Warfare. Do not allow ANYTHING to block your egress to open water. The IJN have to emerge from a bottleneck and survive long enough to reform into a battle formation. The USN can open distance up the Strait.
    There is little chance that the 9 18 in guns on the Yamato can be effectively brought to bear on the assembled US BB's, which are anywhere from four (36) to six (54) in number. The 2700 lb Mk 8 APS can be fired by either US 16", according to NavWeaps. It's nearly as effective as the shells on th Yamato. However, rate of fire, accuracy of fire and the composition of STS armor weighs heavily in favor of the US.
    Adm Kurita doesn't know what he is up against. Adm Lee knows the rough composition that he faces. Adm Kurita did live until 1977. Perhaps he read Shakespeare!
     
  7. mac_bolan00

    mac_bolan00 Member

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    if the US 3rd knew of the central force's approach, it would have been academic. the geography allows them to choose areas of engagement advantageous to them and disavantageous to the japanese (as simple as bottling up the enemy at the narrowest point and broadsiding them there.)

    the nice question is how was kurita going to act if TF 34 was indeed just outside the strait and awaiting him. from the turkey trots to water, he was prepared to have a close-in, ship-to-ship engagement around the visayan waters and pull back west if got too hot.
     

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