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USS Saratoga at Midway

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by KiMaSa, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    Now that is cool, thanks for sharing Skipper. :)
     
  2. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    They actually argued it was any where but Midway at one point or another
     
  3. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    One problem is a hodge podge air group that has never trained together, might as well have taken aboard the TBF detachment of VT-8. There's a point I think where a patch work air group might just unravel. One good thing about the Sara, was better AA then any of the Yorktown class. Her 8" guns were replaced by dual 5" 38's in January of 42.
     
  4. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    True, perhaps it is best the planes/pilots of VF-72/VF-5 and the TBF detachment of VT-8 are kept in their respective squadrons and deploy them aboard Yorktown along with VS-5, though she might have to go without a VB unit as there does not seem to be any available.
     
  5. KiMaSa

    KiMaSa Member

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    Not practical. First problem is that only Hornet and Saratoga could handle the harder landings of the TBFs at the time. Yorktown's landing equipment would have needed upgrading to carry the TBFs. So you would be reduced to VS-5 and two completely raw squadrons of F4Fs. VF-3/42 may have been a composite squadron, but VF-3's Commander Thach was an innovative tactician while the VF-42 pilots had combat experience. The record shows that VF-3/42 was by far the most successful US fighter squadron at Midway. VF-5 or VF-72 probably would have been less successful.

    This is why the three Saratoga Squadrons (VB-3, VT-3 and the under strength VF-3) were deployed on Yorktown along with the remains of VF-42 and VB-5 (Temp redesignated as VS-5)
     
  6. KiMaSa

    KiMaSa Member

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    With VB-2 and VT-2 virtually intact and the survivors of VF-2 all transferred to Yorktown and rolled in with VF-42, Yorktown would not have needed to draw on Saratoga's aircraft on Oahu and with a full air compliment available, there is an increased chance that Saratoga would have been directed to Pearl instead of San Diego.
     
  7. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    The Saratoga had just had a yard period where the problems that sank Lexington had been addressed. In Lexington, the problem was the widespread use of cast iron piping for many systems including fire main. This was removed and replaced with steel pipe welded in place. Lexington would have gotten the same fix had she survived as the problem was known.
     
  8. KiMaSa

    KiMaSa Member

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    Here goes for my best case scenario on this topic: May 22, 1942: Hypo confirms objective AF is Midway. CinCPac instructs that "All necessary and possible measures" will be undertaken to bring both USS Yorktown and USS Saratoga to battle readiness in the shortest possible amount of time. Saratoga is ordered to proceed to Alameda to pick up VS-3 and her fighter detachment and rendezvous with available escort and then proceed to the Hawaiian Area with all possible speed.

    Admiral Noyes reports that much of Yorktown's air group will need to be stood down for rest and refitting. He reports that the following will be required to provide full air groups for Yorktown and Saratoga:

    2 27 plane F4F-4 Fighter Squadrons (This is an increase from the book strength of 21 F4F-3s)
    2 Torpedo Squadrons
    4 SBD squadrons

    Admiral Noyes notes that Torpedo Squadron 5 is under strength and needs to stand down. Torpedo Squadron 2 has lost all its aircraft and the aircrew have been assigned to train Army Air Corps pilots in Torpedo technique in SW Pacific Command Area as per previous directive and are not available. This leaves only two full strength Torpedo Squadrons available: Torpedo 3 and the Junior half of Torpedo 8. Yorktown will need to board Torpedo 3 since she cannot handle the more powerful TBFs of Torpedo 8 at this time. This mandates that Torpedo 8 be unloaded and cleared for carrier duty as soon as it arrives in Hawaiian area.

    Expected availability of Fighter Squadrons is as follows: VF-5 and VF-72 arriving from West Coast at full strength on or about 28 May along with back half of VT-8. These squadrons have no combat experience. VF-3 is in Hawaiian Area currently and is at half required strength. VF-42 is aboard Yorktown and in same condition. VF-2 is currently half strength squadron whose remaining pilots are aboard transport from Coral Sea to San Diego while a detachment of VF-2 has been with USS Saratoga on the West Coast and is also at half strength. The two partial Squadrons VF-42 and VF-2 Lexington are the only combat experienced units available but do not yet have experience in the F4F-4 models that comprise the new larger Fighter units. Admiral Noyes intends to fold VF-42 into VF-3 and reintegrate VF-2 therefore it is necessary to divert Transports carrying Lexington survivors to Pearl Harbor.

    SBD Squadrons: VB-3 is at full strength in Hawaiian area. VB-5 is at near full strength aboard USS Yorktown. Yorktown's VS-5 suffered casualties enough to warrant standing down. VS-2 suffered significant casualties at Coral Sea. VB-2 has basically intact air crews but lost most of its planes with USS Lexington. VS-3 is over strength and is awaiting pickup by USS Saratoga at Alameda. VB-2 aircrew are currently aboard transport bound for San Diego. If diverted to Pearl Harbor, Fleet pool has enough SBDs to reequip squadron. With VT-3 and VF-3 already slated to go aboard Yorktown, Noyes elects to have VB-3 relieve VS-5. VB-5 temporarily redesignated as VS-5 VB-2 will reequip at Pearl and join VS-3 on Saratoga.

    Yorktown Squadrons as of 1 June, 1942: VF-3/42, VT-3, VB-3, VS (VB)-5

    Saratoga Squadrons as of 1 June, 1942: VF-2, VT-8 (2nd unit), VS-3, VB-2

    CinCPac orders Admiral Fitch to divert Heavy Cruiser USS Chester and accompanying transports to Pearl Harbor(Expected arrival on or about 28 May). Fitch will raise his flag aboard Saratoga when she arrives (estimated on or about 30 May) TF-11 to consist of Saratoga, Chester, CLAA San Diego and 4 destroyers. {Laffey, Mahan, Smith, and Preston)

    Task Force 11 departs Pearl Harbor for rendezvous with Admiral Fletcher's Task Force on the morning of 31 May.
     
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  9. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    That ship too would have been a most valuable addition to the American OOB.
     
  10. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    I was not aware that detail, thanks for the info.
     
  11. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    Yorktown's sister ship Enterprise had 15 TBF-1 Avengers of VT-3 embarked aboard from 15 July '42. Did not CV-5 and CV-6 have the same arresting gear?
     
  12. KiMaSa

    KiMaSa Member

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    Notes on air group cohesiveness:

    It has been suggested that a group such as the one postulated here for Saratoga would be dangerously uncoordinated. But a reintegrated VF-2 would actually have been more coordinated than VF-3/42 since the senior pilots of VF-2 Saratoga detachment had served with many of the VF-2 pilots returning from Coral Sea, also Saratoga's CAG had served as Commander of VB-2 immediately prior so there would be less disconnect among the fighter and bomber squadrons than would be otherwise expected. The lesser half of Torpedo 8 may be the odd men out, but as the squadron's integration aboard Saratoga in later June shows, this may be less important than the fact these men are the only TBF squadron among four assembled Torpedo squadrons.

    Frankly, it was Hornet's air group that was least coherent: CAG Stanhope Ring was despised by many of Hornet's pilots and by the time of Midway, they had been anticipating his promotion to Marc Mitcher's personal staff and away from them when the latter was promoted to Admiral. Senior Squadron Commander was John Waldron, a demanding task master who nevertheless was well regarded by his men as he did not ask anything of them he did not do himself. Hornet's SBD squadrons (As events would show) were sorely lacking not just in combat experience, but in flight experience with the Dauntless. The two squadrons only being fully equipped with SBDs in March 1942 and their carrier training further inhibited by Hornet's role in the Doolittle Raid. VF-8's CO was not only not combat experienced, but he had no experience in squadron command or even as a squadron XO prior to being given VF-8.

    Saratoga's real difficulty would have been the lack of operational experience as accrued by Yorktown and Enterprise in the months that Saratoga had been laid up. Having Admiral Fitch and his staff aboard would have been a considerable help.
     
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  13. KiMaSa

    KiMaSa Member

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    Enterprise went into drydock at Pearl to get her gear replaced immediately after Midway. The job was not difficult per say but still need a few days that were not available in the run up to Midway.
     
  14. F8F

    F8F New Member

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    From what I have read, it was generally understood that Pye's seven old BBs and the Long Island would be more useful during June 4-6 at Oahu than in the East Pacific, but TF-1 was unavailable to move West for the same reason why the old battleships weren't based in Noumea during the Guadalcanal campaign - lack of tankers to feed their massive and inefficient old propulsion systems.

    If Nimitz had decided to go all in for Midway (as I think a strong case could be made that he should have), he could have retained Theobald's TF-8, which left Pearl for the Aleutians on May 25:

    CA Indianapolis, Louisville
    CL Honolulu, Nashville, St. Louis
    DD Brooks, Case, Dent, Gilmer, Gridley, Humphreys, Kane, King, McCall, Reid, Sands, Talbot, Waters

    Not gonna look up how many 5" guns each destroyer had, but, assuming it was 5 each, that's 105 five inch guns, plus hundreds of smaller guns, right there. A few of those ships could have been divided up among the other TFs, which may have helped against Japanese submarines, e.g. the Yorktown's final fate.

    Of course, having Saratoga (or even TF-18 - Wasp, North Carolina, Quincy, San Juan, and 6 DDs, which arrived a month later - too) at Midway could probably have not created a better outcome for the Americans than what historically happened - flapping of butterfly wings, etc.

    Off topic - I have never understood why the USN didn't use Brooklyn class CLs as AA carrier escorts. The Nashville came along for the Doolittle raid, but, besides that, to the best of my knowledge, no Brooklyn served with carriers during any of the six big carrier-carrier battles, and certainly none served with the Third/Fifth fleet once the Essexes came along, from the Gilberts onwards. The Brooklyns carried eight five inch AA, same as the treaty CAs that were always around the carriers, and the CLs' high-rate-of-fire, auto-loading six inch guns were vicious in surface combat, valuable in an HMS Glorious/Taffy 3 situation .
     
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  15. KiMaSa

    KiMaSa Member

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    I think the restriction of TF-1 may have had more to do with a lack of escorts and a desire by Nimitz to keep Pye (Who clearly wanted to come to grips with the enemy) and his battleships out of what Nimitz knew would be a battle of air power.

    In my opinion, it might have been better to assign TF-8 to Pye's command to provide escorts and send them to the Aleutians. Pye would have been less inclined than Theobald to linger off the Alaskan coast and I believe that under the circumstances, CVE Long Island would have been sufficient to provide local fighter cover, given the degree which local weather hampered air operations.
     
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  16. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Prewar doctrine - in most navies - considered 8" cruisers more suitably for independent operations, including screening aircraft carriers. 6" ships were primarily attached to the battle fleet, for screening and scouting, where they could fall back on the battleships if they found themsevles outgunned/ouranged by enemy 8" cruisers (this actually happened between the British and Italians in the daylight phase of the battle of Cape Matapan). 6" guns were also well-suited for fending off hostile destroyers.

    Of course battle fleet operations were moot after Pearl Harbor, but the association of 8" cruisers with carriers seems to have remained.

    Also, on December 7, the Pacific Fleet had twelve heavy cruisers and only four Brooklyns, of which Helena was torpedoed and out of action until mid-1942. Nashville herself came from the Atlantic with Hornet, stayed with her through the Doolittle Raid, but was sent to the Aleutians thereafter. 6" cruisers were expected to be at a disadvantage in long-range, good visibility engagements, so Alaskan weather may have been a reason for sending three Brooklyns there.

    By the time the new fast carrier forces came along, the Cleveland class light cruisers were entering service, with significantly better AA firepower than older types. Also the Brooklyns had proved particularly effective in surface combat and shore bonmbardment.
     
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  17. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Yes, just read through the Nimitz Grey Book - Volume 1.
    http://www.ibiblio.org/anrs/graybook.html
     
  18. F8F

    F8F New Member

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    [SIZE=10pt]Thank you for the informative reply, Carronade.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10pt]I had not heard any of that before. It's all interesting and makes sense.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10pt](I will say, though, as I imagine that you already know, that the Brooklyns were more dangerous ships than any other pre-war 6" cruisers, and more powerful than a fair number of the 8" cruisers in the various navies too.)[/SIZE]


    [SIZE=10pt]I've long had the thought that if a Kongo had appeared on the horizon, a carrier task force commander would probably prefer (while the CVs make a break for it) to send out CAs, with heavier shells and slightly longer range guns, over Brooklyns, despite the equivalent speed and armor. I suppose that that dovetails with what you wrote about their weakness being "long-range, good visibility engagements".[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10pt]Not to be pedantic, but by my accounting, I'm seeing Boise, Helena, Honolulu, Phoenix, and St Louis in the Pacific, and Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Savannah, and Nashville in the Atlantic.[/SIZE]


    [SIZE=10pt]Yeah, given a choice between a Cleveland or a Brooklyn as a CV AA escort, I understand the choice to go with the more factory-fresh 12x5" and larger number of 40mm and 20mm, over the older 8x5" and fewer automatic guns, and to go with a newer, presumably more air-attack-damage-survivable ship. But why not have all of both that a carrier task force could get their hands on?[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10pt]What you say about the low visibility of Alaskan weather makes sense, and I get it that the US decision makes felt that they had to do at least something to defend US territory - but, all that said, since the CVs were the navy's most valuable assets and central to their ability to wage war, why exile three Brooklyns, with all of their AA, right before Midway? Mahan wrote, don't try to defend all of your land bases; instead, the quickest way to win a war is to keep your fleet concentrated, and use that concentration to try to sink the enemy's most powerful ships while keeping your own most powerful ships intact.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10pt]Anyway - why keep Helena away from the CVs at Santa Cruz? Why keep Nashville, Helena, Honolulu, and St. Louis apart from Enterprise and Saratoga during Rennell Island, when all the CVs had as a combined screen was 2 CLAAs and 9 DDs? As the Japanese fleet drew near to Philippine Sea, and a decisive battle was understood to be brewing, why pull all the other CAs and CLs from Turner's bombardment force into Spruance's battle fleet, to leave St. Louis lonely and alone, throwing shells onto the hills of Saipan? And of course Phoenix and Boise were with Oldendorf at Surigao Strait, and the Nashville left with the transports, and none of them with Halsey.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10pt]I can understand some of the reasoning - the Washington wasn't with the CVs at Santa Cruz either (Lee had a surface force that included her and Helena), and Nashville was MacCarthur's flagship for the landings at Leyte. And I am actually seeing a couple more occasions when a Brooklyn was invited to serve with the CVs - Nashville both times, in both the August 30-31 1943 Marcus Island raid and Oct 5-6 1943 Wake Island raid, as the first of the new Essexes stretched out their air groups.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10pt]All that said, even when Brooklyns were around and easily available, it seems like a systematic decision was repeatedly made to keep them away from the CVs in a way that doesn't make sense to me (especially when looking at 1942). [/SIZE]
     
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  19. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The USS Nashvile came to the Pacific in early '42, escorting USS Hornet, as both were slated to participate in Doolittle's Raid.

    The USS Nashville's performance against the Japanese craft encountered during the Doolittle Raid was, well, underwhelming.

    I'd like to say more but work beckons.
     
  20. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    Also the Boise, while originally assigned to the Pacific fleet, was transferred to the Asiatic fleet (Philippines Squadron) just before Pearl Harbor after doing a prewar convoy run. If memory serves she ran aground early in the conflict while part of the ABDA fleet because the Dutch could not be bothered to provide a pilot to help guide her into one of their ports. My understanding was she transferred much of her 5 inch ammo and departed for the US for repairs, to the East coast I believe. A particular loss as I think she was the only US ship in the ABDA fleet with radar.
     

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