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USS Saratoga at Midway

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

  1. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Nimitz's guidance to Fletcher and Spruance was "calculated risk". Historically, after sinking four carriers, they did not consider the likelihood of inflicting further damage to justify any significant risk to their own forces, and I think this would hold true in our scenario as well. I think Fletcher would do as suggested, scout for a fifth carrier or any other Japanese forces, and also launch attacks on the remaining ships while remaining well clear of any potential surface engagement.

    It might be possible to find and knock off a couple of second-rate carriers in the stormy North Pacific, especially since they were well to the east of Midway on June 4, but it might not be worth the risk of a chance surface encounter or other misfortune.
     
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  2. KiMaSa

    KiMaSa Member

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    According to Lundstrom's First Team, Nimitz actually ordered TF-16 to start North for a rendezvous with TF-8. These orders were rescinded on June 11th on further consideration of the situation. I think wisely so between the weather conditions and the state of the airgroups even with replacements brought out by Saratoga. Even with four relatively healthy carriers and air groups, I think little of practical value could have been accomplished and the risk to the pilots needless. However in the period between the afternoon of June 4-June 7th, with more assets for search and lacking the distractions of Hiryu or a disabled Yorktown, Zuiho's Captain would have been advised to pray... VERY strongly.
     
  3. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    Carronade,

    historically the US paid for the victory with 1/3 of the carriers at the scene and quite a few planes. With Sara there the butcher's bill would have been much smaller. The most likely outcome is that described by KiMaSa. All four Japanese carriers are neutralized with one attack, thus no counterattack and no damage to any US carrier.

    American torpedo bomber losses will still be high, but no as devastating as historically and last but not least the USN is app. 1/3 more powerful than historically.

    Looking for more Japanese ships would not involve much of a risk ... for the US Navy! ;)
     
  4. KiMaSa

    KiMaSa Member

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    As long as Fletcher and Spruance keep mindful about moving east at night and staying out of reach of Japanese surface forces or bombers from Wake island as they historically did. We can expect the same to continue here. The risk to American lives entailed with heading North to the Aleutians is more of a concern with risk to pilots in such conditions.Many US pilots who survived Midway in ditchings would certainly perish if they had gone down in the Aleutians.

    My opinion: While keeping surface forces at arms length, continue trying to fix Kondo and Tanaka's forces. Again, Saratoga's additional SBDs will be helpful. If Zuiho is spotted by June 7th, she's not getting away.
     
  5. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    The transports of the invasion force, their close (Tanaka) and distant (Kondo) cover. A dozen transports, two seaplane tenders, an oiler(damaged by a torpedo armed Catalina), the CVL. That's a lot of sweet targets. There are also eight CA and two BC around but who would go within 30.000 yards when an SBD has a combat radius of ... 225 nm with a 500lb bomb.

    They were within Catalina range on the night of the 3/4th. Did they stay put or move closer? Could they get away fast enough? The CVL and Chitose could have run at almost 30kn but the others at less than 20, 13-16 I'd guess.
     
  6. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Again, we need to consider the principle of calculated risk. Nimitz in choosing to fight at Midway accepted the risk that the main striking power of the US Navy could be destroyed because there was a better than even chance of destroying the comparable striking power of the IJN. That bet had paid off by the evening of June 4. There was no comparable benefit in rushing 1000 miles north in the hope of catching Junyo or Ryujo. If there was say a 70% chance of killing one or both of Kakuta's carriers and a10% chance of losing even one of ours, it wouldn't be worth it.

    And btw the risk would be greater than that. The best case is our carriers run around scot free, blasting the crap out of helpless Japanese ships, but the worst case is Nagumo, Kurita, and/or Kondo between our ships and their bases or oilers, two more Japanese battleship forces converging from the west, plus the Aleutian forces. There was a chance of total destruction, and that chance was not worth taking.

    Spruance's course was the right one, in history or our scenario - beat up the ships within reach, but don't take any chances,
     
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  7. KiMaSa

    KiMaSa Member

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    I'm just basing my estimates on the three days that Spruance did spend between June 4-7th attempting to attack targets of value while staying out of arms reach. This is the historical course and would be followed here. I merely opine that with healthy SBD units to help expand the search radius, there is some chance for one or two high value targets to be hit. The Aleutian's foray was actually ordered by Nimitz on the 7th, but he relented on the 11th and ordered them to withdraw. By this time the Japanese; worried about their own fuel situation and frustrated at not bringing the Americans into knife fighting range had decided to get their ships out of the range of the SBDs.
     
  8. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    First I need to take something back!

    The easy targets the transports are got me off track. Target Zuhio first, followed by the battlecruisers, followed by the heavy cruisers. The proper use of seapower is to destroy the enemy seapower because without an enemy fleet your fleet can do as you like. And that bring me to Hiyo and Junyo.



    I think it would be great to trade one American CV for the two converted carriers(not that I consider this likely but you can nver be certain). Anyway, the two were not very good carriers but after Midway they represented 50% of Japan's remaining large carriers. Once they are gone its two vs. four(or five). Factor in the n-square law and that becomes 4:16(25).

    Even the lower level of superiority should have been felt a lot during the upcomming Guadalcanal campaign.





    But a very small one. The air recon capability of the US makes it unlikely that the carriers blunder into superior enemy surface forces. And the Americans have radar, which would give last minute warning at night and a chance to turn and run before being noticed.


    PS: *slapsforehead* You are right KiMaSa, Fletcher will be in charge if Yorktown escapes unharmed! He certainly was "Mr. Calculated Risk" at Watchtower and the Eastern Solomons.
     
  9. F8F

    F8F New Member

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    I respectfully disagree, in that I don't think that we can start the counterfactuals at the time of the SBD pushovers. Looking earlier in the timelne, perhaps the Sara is hit by a Japanese sub as she sails West over the line that deployed too late to catch TF-16 and TF-17. Perhaps Fletcher and Spruance sail East a little to greet Sara as she sails West, and so they are in the search sector of a Japanese scout plane that didn't launch late, and are located and hit earlier and harder. Maybe Fletcher delays getting his strike off to coordinate two deckloads, so neither the Yorktown and Sara's planes find the Kido Butai. Really, once we start messing around with what actually happened, there seem to me to be more ways it could have gone worse than it actually did for the USN than there are ways it could have gone better.


    Also, going back a couple weeks:

    To me the best arrangement of US forces at Santa Cruz would have been:

    If expecting an air battle:
    TF 16, Kinkaid, Enterprise
    TF15, Murray, Hornet
    Each carrier with 1 BB, 2 CA, 2 CLAA, and 10 DD, with Helena with one group or the other.


    If expecting a surface battle:
    TF 16, Kinkaid, forty miles behind
    Enterprise, Hornet, 1 CA, 4 CLAA, 10 DD

    TF64, Lee, forty miles ahead
    South Dakota, Washington, 3 CA, Helena, 10 DD


    IIRC however Lee and Washington et al at Santa Cruz were like Noyes and Wasp at Eastern Solomons - withdrawn to the South for fueling.
     
  10. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    Saratoga could have made it to "Point Luck" in time:

    http://www.ww2f.com/topic/52380-uss-saratoga-at-midway/?p=576424


    And as far as hits by submarines are concerned, the Japanese carriers were just as likely to suffer that fate.
     
  11. KiMaSa

    KiMaSa Member

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    While no outcome is certain when the butterflies are set loose, I must point out that there would never have been a delay of Yorktown's strike due to Fletcher attempting to coordinate two deckloads. Why? Because the USN at this time simply did not do things that way. Only the Japanese had worked coordinating multi-carrier strike groups. In the US Navy, each carrier operated its strike independently. So nothing happening on Saratoga would have affected Yorktown's launches and nor would Saratoga's birds have attempted to rendezvous with Yorktown's. The US had enough on its plate trying to get the squadrons from ONE carrier to stay together and Fletcher and Fitch (on Saratoga) know this better than most from practical experience at Coral Sea.
     
  12. F8F

    F8F New Member

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    KiMaSa - good point about 1942 American lack of air strike coordination. Having just read First Team #1 and #2, I realize I already knew that.

    Marcus - point taken about Sara and the rondevous time. However, as you say,
    As you probably know, US sub Nautilus did fire on both Kirishima and Kaga six hours apart on June 4th, and the current best guesses at results were one miss, one misfire, one fail to run, two erratic runs, and one dud hit. Kako withstanding, it wasn't until the poor results of Rear Admiral Lockwood's men's impromtu firing tests in Princess Royal Harbour in Western Australia got back to the USN Bureau of Ordinance that the Mark XIV torpedoes were understood to have serious problems, and remedy action was taken, that the USN submarine force became a formidable weapon, Shokaku / Taiho / Shinano / Unryu (and Kongo / Atago / Maya / bunches-of-CLs-CVEs-DDs-and-merchant-ships) -style.
     
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  13. KiMaSa

    KiMaSa Member

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    The sinking of Kako is one of those odd happenstances. Kako's misfortune was to be attacked by one of the OLDEST boats in the Pacific! S-44 was considered too old to merit getting the 'new toys' that BuOrd was issuing to the newer boats. So she was carrying older Mark 10 torpedoes which were contact only. While hardly a perfect weapon, The Mark 10 did not have flaw on top of flaw like the newer Mark 14s.
     
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  14. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    This thread ought to be a What If.
     
  15. KiMaSa

    KiMaSa Member

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    Maybe so, although the original intent was to discuss the 'Hows' rather than the What ifs. Discussion of which just followed in natural progression.
     
  16. KiMaSa

    KiMaSa Member

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    Note on Aircraft availability:

    The number an availability of aircraft types suggested in providing a sufficient air group aboard Saratoga is based on the following:

    CSAG: 1 SBD-3
    VS-3: 22 SBD-3 (Note as a standard squadron is 18 aircraft, this is 4 over establishment)
    VT-8* 14 TBF (*Junior half of squadron, Does not include 6 aircraft sent to Midway. These 6 MIGHT be retained with the rest of the squadron if Saratoga were available.)

    VF-2 27 F4F-4 (Total includes 13 from West Coast. assume that remainder could be drawn from the fleet pool which numbered 27. VF3/42 had to draw at least 5 F4F-4s to fill up to its allotment.VF-6 drew 8, replacing 6 aircraft needing refit, and VF-8 appears to have drawn 3. This would appear to leave only 11, which would leave VF-2 3 planes understrength. These three could either be poached from the newly arriving VF-5 or VF-72 or the best repaired of VF-6's castoffs.)

    VB-2 Allotted strength 18 SBD. Fleet pool had 16 SBD-3s of which VB-5 drew 2 and Enterprise and Hornet appear to have drawn 5 more. leaving
    9 SBD-3 from fleet pool.
    5 SBD-2/3 VB-2 Survivors from Coral Sea.
    4 SBD-3 VS-2 Survivors from Coral Sea (5 others taken by VB-5)
     
  17. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Little late ;) but one contrary example occurred to me; the battle cruiser Seydlitz at Jutland. She was hit by a 21" destroyer torpedo around 5.30 p.m., during the run south, but continued steaming and fighting with her squadron through the clash of the battlefleets, not falling out until 11.30, by which time she had also taken twenty or more heavy shell hits. She barely made it home and may have been fortunate to run aground at one point.

    Seydlitz could have disengaged relatively safely when the battle cruisers met the main body of the High Seas Fleet and Beatty's force turned to run north. From then on, one less capital ship would have made little difference to the Germans' prospects, but this does not appear to have occurred to Seydlitz's captain (or Hipper, or Scheer, if they were aware she had been torpedoed).
     
  18. Otto

    Otto Spambot Nemesis Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Don't mind me, just doing some digging in an old US Navy thread, after reading a bit about the Saratoga elsewhere.

    Some top notch discussion going on here.
     
  19. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    top shelf.
    missing the old star rating.
    a small recognition for contributing interesting bits.
     
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  20. Otto

    Otto Spambot Nemesis Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    In XF2. :)
     

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