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RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would they have put up a reasonable fight?

 
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RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/25/2012 1:29:46 AM   
Gary Childress


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quote:

ORIGINAL: spence

quote:

With hindsight it doesn't seem like much of a victory at all. Only 2 relatively obsolete battleships permanently lost. I think the way PH is commonly perceived in most people's consciousness is that the Japanese destroyed the whole American fleet. I remember reading somewhere that the Japanese would have been better advised to go after the oil storage farm and the port facilities and that would have knocked the US out of the fight for a longer period of time than hitting the battleships actually did.



That's just what LCDR Fuchida (leader of the strike and purported (mostly by himself) advocate of the "third strike") said to his interrogators after the war.

In his book on Pearl harbor Alan Zimm analyzes this particular proposition. Destroying oil tanks sounds quite easy after all. Strangely, the Navy had recognized that oil burns, in fact burns quite well; and had taken some precautions to protect the tanks (especially from one another). They built earthen berms around each tank capable of containing the oil contained in the tank. It should also be noted that in order for Bunker C/NSFO #6 to even flow (you know, like a liquid) it is necessary to heat it to about 140F. It is not very volatile so a fire in a single tank would NOT have been likely to spread to adjacent tanks. One might also consider that the number of bombs which could have been carried for this "proposed" strike was limited to those that the (surviving) a/c could have carried (most limited to one or maybe two bombs) and in any case well under 250 a/c (which were not B-17s or B-24s).
Also the Americans were quite likely to have their flak guns manned and ready for any repeat performance by the KB. As it was the 2nd strike (on Dec 7th) still benefiting some from surprise suffered damage to roughly a third of its aircraft. Alan Zimm argues that the "Oil Tank Raid" is mostly a combination construct of American hysteria following the initial raid combined with Fuchida's postwar testimony regarding his imaginary prescience.

The KB did what nobody had done before by launching two massive coordinated air strikes against an enemy bastion. It satisfied Yamamoto's desire to shock by sinking battleships. If there had been any carriers in the harbor it probably would have sunk them as well. BUT the KB was a raiding force. The KB was not like the 1944-45 style USN CVTFs that parked themselves off the enemy's shore and pounded whatever they wanted to for as long as they wanted to do so. The KB was a PIONEER in carrier operations, not their ultimate expression of power.


Do you think PH was any kind of "great victory"?

Also what about port facilities like dry docks? Surely striking them could have been more ruinous for the US.

< Message edited by Gary Childress -- 7/25/2012 1:47:19 AM >


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Post #: 61
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/25/2012 2:04:27 AM   
Commander Stormwolf

 

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PEARL HARBOR ~

=---------------------------------------------

why it was perceived by yamamoto that it was necessary to strike pearl:

usn was building its 2 oceans navy, and hitting pearl
was a way to reduce the fleet (with some cofidence of success) piecemeal

-------------------------------------

why it is believed in hindsight that pearl was a failiure:

because everyone knows that BBs could be sunk by aerial torpedoes,
before POW/Repulse, it was still up in the air what the primary naval weapon system would be
(whether SS, CV, BB, or even PT - remember svent istvan, and ijn obviously respected the idea
of cruiser or destroyer launched torpdoes)

-------------------------------------------------------------

how pearl could have ended better for japan:

if the carriers were there and were sunk

------------------------------------------------------------

how pearl could have ended worse for japan:

kido butai ambushed and destroyed, japan loses on the first day of the war

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

what if the japanese didn't attack pearl?

they would have expanded faster in the DEI, and probably sank a big part
of the US Battleships with Betties/Nells and submarines as they made their way
to relieve the philipines

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
was raiding pearl worth it for japan?

well they did increase us support for the war by causing acrimony against japan
the sunk battleships were still good to be sunk, and overall the military result was good
(only lost 29 planes a few midget subs while causing great damage to the usn)

but it did reduce any possibility of a settlement, so politically it has to be seen as a failiure

.................................................................................


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Post #: 62
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/25/2012 8:30:28 AM   
sandman455


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quote:

ORIGINAL: spence

quote:

With hindsight it doesn't seem like much of a victory at all. Only 2 relatively obsolete battleships permanently lost. I think the way PH is commonly perceived in most people's consciousness is that the Japanese destroyed the whole American fleet. I remember reading somewhere that the Japanese would have been better advised to go after the oil storage farm and the port facilities and that would have knocked the US out of the fight for a longer period of time than hitting the battleships actually did.



That's just what LCDR Fuchida (leader of the strike and purported (mostly by himself) advocate of the "third strike") said to his interrogators after the war.

In his book on Pearl harbor Alan Zimm analyzes this particular proposition. Destroying oil tanks sounds quite easy after all. Strangely, the Navy had recognized that oil burns, in fact burns quite well; and had taken some precautions to protect the tanks (especially from one another). They built earthen berms around each tank capable of containing the oil contained in the tank. It should also be noted that in order for Bunker C/NSFO #6 to even flow (you know, like a liquid) it is necessary to heat it to about 140F. It is not very volatile so a fire in a single tank would NOT have been likely to spread to adjacent tanks. One might also consider that the number of bombs which could have been carried for this "proposed" strike was limited to those that the (surviving) a/c could have carried (most limited to one or maybe two bombs) and in any case well under 250 a/c (which were not B-17s or B-24s).
Also the Americans were quite likely to have their flak guns manned and ready for any repeat performance by the KB. As it was the 2nd strike (on Dec 7th) still benefiting some from surprise suffered damage to roughly a third of its aircraft. Alan Zimm argues that the "Oil Tank Raid" is mostly a combination construct of American hysteria following the initial raid combined with Fuchida's postwar testimony regarding his imaginary prescience.



For more detailed information about the tanks at Pearl Harbor courtesy of Admiral Nimitz and this poster

http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=2925065&mpage=1&key=Question%2CPearl%2CHarbor�



My nephew the geologist/oil company engineer graciously enlightened me as to the hazards of bunker fuel this last holiday season. I shall do my best to quote him:

What are the hazards of storing bunker fuel?

"Well its a residual fuel oil so its pretty stable. But the real issue is that it is a byproduct. It will always contain trace amounts of lighter hydrocarbons."

The lighter hydrocarbons can be an issue?

"Only if you store it for an extended period of time and in large quantities. They will end up migrating to the top of the tank and produce toxic hydrogen sulfide vapors in the headspace of the tank."

Large Quantities?

"1000 gallons, maybe 100 gallons in a tight enclosure. I don't have a clue really."

So a 10,000,000 gallon enclosed tank will have a good amount of this hydrogen sulfide at the top?

(laughter)

Is hydrogen sulfide flammable?

(more laughter)

"No more than propane or methane."

_____________________________

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AOCS 1985, VT10 1985-86, VT86 1986, VS41 1986-87
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VS27 1990-91 (NATOPS/Safety)
SFWSLANT 1991-93 (AGM-84 All platforms, S-3 A/B systems)

(in reply to spence)
Post #: 63
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/25/2012 9:25:21 AM   
Banzan

 

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I think its not possible to think about the Pearl Harbor attack like the people of that time. We know many thing that were learned during the war - looking back, you always know better.

There is an old saying like "armys never learn from other armys" (not sure if translated correct). The allied armys didn't really thought of a tanks as an offense weapon due the difficult they had with the tanks in WW1. The british attack attack on the italian fleet at Taranto was not really a warning to the USA. The american army belived more in their equippment, training and moral then in british battle reports when starting the war in africa, etc, etc, etc.

Generals and Admirals are always willing to belive more in a bad leading then in special strategic or tactical changes.

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Post #: 64
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/25/2012 4:51:11 PM   
Nikademus


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Zimm's book did go into detail on an attack on the tanks. Enough bomb hits would certainly have caused substantial damage was the conclusion. However the main point was that any damage caused would only have been temporary and given that the battlefleet was already immobilized, the net result would not have greatly added to constraints on USN operations. An emergency tanker shuttle would have quickly been established and repairs of those tanks hit would have been estimated on a matter of weeks. The overall attack on PH had already given the Japanese months of free handed ops.

In other words, its a bit of a Red Herring.

(in reply to sandman455)
Post #: 65
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/25/2012 4:53:06 PM   
Apollo11


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Hi all,

quote:

ORIGINAL: Nikademus

Zimm's book did go into detail on an attack on the tanks. Enough bomb hits would certainly have caused substantial damage was the conclusion. However the main point was that any damage caused would only have been temporary and given that the battlefleet was already immobilized, the net result would not have greatly added to constraints on USN operations. An emergency tanker shuttle would have quickly been established and repairs of those tanks hit would have been estimated on a matter of weeks. The overall attack on PH had already given the Japanese months of free handed ops.

In other words, its a bit of a Red Herring.


Nik, and other worthy PH targets that were not attacked (repair shops etc.)?

Any info on that in Zimm's book?


Leo "Apollo11"

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Post #: 66
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/25/2012 5:13:40 PM   
Nikademus


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Zimm used a math exercise to attempt to calculate what damage approx 280 x 250kg (550lb) bombs would have made on the naval shipyard with the Japanese weapon scaled from the standard US 500lb GP bomb (it's staple weapon used for strategic bombing) Zimm felt that a figure of 6% damage to the naval yard was reasonable, maybe less. Cavite was mentioned but discounted due to factors that did exaserbate the incredible level of damage that was suffered there destroying the base viritually in it's entirty. If resultant fires doubled the damage that still would be only 12% damage to the shipyards.

So like the issue of attacking large tanks, it comes down to the same issue. Without repeat followup strikes, a target the size of PH could not be kept down for long. repairs would be measured in weeks, just like with other strategic targets that have been hit. The argument is of course sterile due to the math and discounting of real world factors but it "is" also reasonable. Situations like Cavite, like Hamburg tend to be the exceptions to the rule....not the norm. I think a good comparison is Ploesti. Large oil tank farms and refinaries aka "machinery"......main weapon was the standard 500lb GP bomb. The place had to be essentially carpet bombed repeatedly to be put largely out of action for the forseeable future. 24 missions over several months.

KB was a raiding force. It could and did cause great damage to ships and facilities during it's 1941-2 reign of terror. But it couldn't sit around and rinse and repeat. Thus the hit target could rebound and recoup it's losses. The primary value was shock and short term delay, which are critical in the operational sense. Strategic wise.....its a drop in the bucket unless the target has not the means to repair the damage. Destroying infrastructure for the long term requires dedicated strategic resources which was why a lynch pin of the US counteroffensive in the central Pacific was to take the Marianas and allow the big bombers to reach Japan.

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Post #: 67
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/25/2012 6:21:01 PM   
AW1Steve


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Repair shops and dry docks would have taken much longer to replace. Fuel tank fires (I've lived through several as a "neighbor") ARE spectacular. Modern firefighting would have them under control quickly. I'm not so sure about 1941. A tremendous bit of our "special" firefighting knowledge today (fuel fires, shipboard and aircraft) came directly from world war 2.

I've always been amazed that "nested targets", such as submarines and destroyers , nested up against their respected tenders were ignored. One good fish would take out several. But I've always felt that air discipline might not have been as good as historically belived. I suspect every pilot wanted to kill a capital ship, so a disproportionate number of bombs and torpedo's went to BB's and the Target ex-battleship Utah (with planked over decks and being parked in Saratoga's berth). EVERYBODY wanted a Battleship or a Carrier! I can imagine conversations afterwards...."I got a battleship! What did you get?....I got a light cruiser! Only a CL? ah...TOO BAD! Maybe better next time!". Lord forbid they come back with "I got a"......DD,SS ,MSW or an auxilary! Can you Imagine...."I bombed a drydock!". Poor guy would be laughed right out of the O-club!

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RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/25/2012 8:20:13 PM   
Gräfin Zeppelin


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quote:

ORIGINAL: AW1Steve

Can you Imagine...."I bombed a drydock!". Poor guy would be laughed right out of the O-club!



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Post #: 69
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/25/2012 10:21:15 PM   
sandman455


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Nikademus

Zimm's book did go into detail on an attack on the tanks. Enough bomb hits would certainly have caused substantial damage was the conclusion. However the main point was that any damage caused would only have been temporary and given that the battlefleet was already immobilized, the net result would not have greatly added to constraints on USN operations. An emergency tanker shuttle would have quickly been established and repairs of those tanks hit would have been estimated on a matter of weeks. The overall attack on PH had already given the Japanese months of free handed ops.

In other words, its a bit of a Red Herring.


Gee we have an anomoly. It appears someone has penned a book that is out of sorts with those who were actually there. I'm shocked.

Not having read Mr Zimm's book it does appear that his conclusion is counter to testimony and remarks offered up by Admiral's Bloch, Kimmel and Nimitz. Now I can't really comment on the credibility of Mr Zimm but I do recognize those 3 admirals as being the most qualified 70 years ago to make an assessment on the impact of the tank farm's destruction on USN operations in the months after Dec 7th. In the case of Nimitz - I'm not sure what the rational would be to disregard his assessment. It's his party, if he says it would have been a big deal then it would have been so.

It's always amazing to see how much authors can jam into their texts. In a single book we have someone addressing military planning, weapon effectiveness, damage assessment, base reconstruction, logistics, pilot training, and the list goes on. Such witty people these historians. Even Einstein limited himself to just theoretical physics.

_____________________________

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AOCS 1985, VT10 1985-86, VT86 1986, VS41 1986-87
VS32 1987-90 (NSO/NWTO, deployed w/CV-66, CVN-71)
VS27 1990-91 (NATOPS/Safety)
SFWSLANT 1991-93 (AGM-84 All platforms, S-3 A/B systems)

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Post #: 70
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/25/2012 10:57:38 PM   
Nikademus


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I was not impressed with the book overall. It did not come off as objective. The author had a very large axe to grind.

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RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/25/2012 11:17:35 PM   
ilovestrategy


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quote:

ORIGINAL: AW1Steve

Can you Imagine...."I bombed a drydock!". Poor guy would be laughed right out of the O-club!


Stomach....hurts........laughing......too........hard........


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Post #: 72
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/25/2012 11:25:43 PM   
ilovestrategy


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I think that Nagumo did the thing though by taking his winnings and leaving, regardless of whether he could have knocked out the oil tanks or not. All he knew was that the carriers were not at Pearl and he knocked out the battleships as instructed.

I always felt that he got a bad rap for not hitting the tanks. He had accomplished his objective of hitting the battleships and he had no control over the carriers not being there. On top of that he was resonsible for getting his six aircraft carriers home

In his place I would have also taken my winnings and go home.

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Post #: 73
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/26/2012 12:50:24 AM   
wdolson

 

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I have read elsewhere that even the USN admiralty did not fully appreciate the value of the tank farm at PH until near the end of the war or after when people started asking "what if" questions.

Targeting the logistical support for a war machine was in its infancy in 1941. The only ones trying to do it were the British with Bomber Command and they were not doing a very effective job up to that point.

Up until WW I it was completely impossible to take out another countries logistical support, so nobody ever though to do it. The capability in WW I was very tiny and very little was accomplished other than the age old strategy old naval blockade.

The weapons of WW II made strategic warfare targeting manufacturing, transportation, and other support possible, but it was still not integrated doctrine. By 1944, the lessons learned from Bomber Command, the US strategic offensive on Germany, and the US fast carrier fleet taught that logistical warfare can cut off an enemy at the knees without having to put your grunts in harm's way as often. By 1945, it was virtually gospel.

Looked at from the perspective of 1944 or 1945, attacking the oil storage facilities at PH would have been a high priority target. By a 1941 perspective, while it was technically possible, it was outside the consciousness of most commanders on both sides. The Japanese were attempting to have a reprise of the 1906 naval battles with Russia using planes instead of surface ships. I have never seen any evidence that the Japanese gave any consideration to attacking the oil facilities except for the information that came from Fuchida. I recall seeing somewhere that Fuchida's interviews after the war may have been tainted by leading questions from his interrogators.

Bill

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RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/26/2012 1:26:53 AM   
Commander Stormwolf

 

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not only oil, but even merchants had low priority

even submarines were targeting warships mainly (and they did a pretty good job in 1942)

guess they figured allies have so much oil... no point in wasting sorties, and probably they were right

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Post #: 75
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/26/2012 3:40:32 AM   
jeffk3510


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quote:

ORIGINAL: ilovestrategy

I think that Nagumo did the thing though by taking his winnings and leaving, regardless of whether he could have knocked out the oil tanks or not. All he knew was that the carriers were not at Pearl and he knocked out the battleships as instructed.

I always felt that he got a bad rap for not hitting the tanks. He had accomplished his objective of hitting the battleships and he had no control over the carriers not being there. On top of that he was resonsible for getting his six aircraft carriers home

In his place I would have also taken my winnings and go home.


I would agree that Nagumo and his bad rap were wrongly given. Much like Spruance after the The Battle of the Philippine Sea. All he did was do exactllyl as he was instructed..

< Message edited by jeffk3510 -- 7/26/2012 3:41:19 AM >


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RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/26/2012 5:12:58 AM   
Gary Childress


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quote:

ORIGINAL: jeffk3510

quote:

ORIGINAL: ilovestrategy

I think that Nagumo did the thing though by taking his winnings and leaving, regardless of whether he could have knocked out the oil tanks or not. All he knew was that the carriers were not at Pearl and he knocked out the battleships as instructed.

I always felt that he got a bad rap for not hitting the tanks. He had accomplished his objective of hitting the battleships and he had no control over the carriers not being there. On top of that he was resonsible for getting his six aircraft carriers home

In his place I would have also taken my winnings and go home.


I would agree that Nagumo and his bad rap were wrongly given. Much like Spruance after the The Battle of the Philippine Sea. All he did was do exactllyl as he was instructed..


Spruance will always have my respect for being in charge at Midway. He led the US fleet to victory in the single most cruicial battle of the Pacific campaign. Maybe luck was on his side but I'm sure there were ways he could have royally screwed up...but didn't.

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Post #: 77
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/26/2012 5:30:38 AM   
wdolson

 

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I once read that the US would have done better at both the Philippine Sea and Leyte if Halsey and Spruance swapped jobs. Spruance's style would have done better at Leyte and Halsey's would have been better at the Philippine Sea.

In any case the Philippine Sea coupled with Halsey's raid on Formosa before Leyte broke the back of the IJN's carrier arm's most difficult asset to replace, it's pilot pool. It never recovered from those two battles.

Bill

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Post #: 78
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/26/2012 6:10:41 PM   
Nikademus


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quote:

ORIGINAL: wdolson

I have read elsewhere that even the USN admiralty did not fully appreciate the value of the tank farm at PH until near the end of the war or after when people started asking "what if" questions.

Targeting the logistical support for a war machine was in its infancy in 1941. The only ones trying to do it were the British with Bomber Command and they were not doing a very effective job up to that point.

Up until WW I it was completely impossible to take out another countries logistical support, so nobody ever though to do it. The capability in WW I was very tiny and very little was accomplished other than the age old strategy old naval blockade.

The weapons of WW II made strategic warfare targeting manufacturing, transportation, and other support possible, but it was still not integrated doctrine. By 1944, the lessons learned from Bomber Command, the US strategic offensive on Germany, and the US fast carrier fleet taught that logistical warfare can cut off an enemy at the knees without having to put your grunts in harm's way as often. By 1945, it was virtually gospel.

Looked at from the perspective of 1944 or 1945, attacking the oil storage facilities at PH would have been a high priority target. By a 1941 perspective, while it was technically possible, it was outside the consciousness of most commanders on both sides. The Japanese were attempting to have a reprise of the 1906 naval battles with Russia using planes instead of surface ships. I have never seen any evidence that the Japanese gave any consideration to attacking the oil facilities except for the information that came from Fuchida. I recall seeing somewhere that Fuchida's interviews after the war may have been tainted by leading questions from his interrogators.

Bill


Extremely good point Bill. Thx. One of those under the radar things that hindsight often robs us of.

(in reply to wdolson)
Post #: 79
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/26/2012 6:26:23 PM   
Nikademus


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quote:

ORIGINAL: wdolson

I once read that the US would have done better at both the Philippine Sea and Leyte if Halsey and Spruance swapped jobs. Spruance's style would have done better at Leyte and Halsey's would have been better at the Philippine Sea.

In any case the Philippine Sea coupled with Halsey's raid on Formosa before Leyte broke the back of the IJN's carrier arm's most difficult asset to replace, it's pilot pool. It never recovered from those two battles.

Bill


I've always felt Spruance would have done better. Spruance was a cautious, careful commander, free of ego or hate. Halsey was not. The latter's aggressiveness, boisterousness and no-nonsense attitude had it's place within USN needs during the WATCHTOWER crisis of late 42 giving a needed shot of adreneline, but by 44...the responsibilities were a bit beyond Halsey's abilities IMO. The Japanese, however one wants to criticise SHO-1, accurately predicted how he'd react if they dangled an enticing piece of bait in front of his nose. That part of the plan worked to perfection and Halsey dropped the ball in pursuit of glory trying to be the man who killed the heart of the Japanese fleet (The one some criticize Spruance for letting get away at Marianas)

Spruance was always about the mission first and screw the glory and bloodlust. He did the right thing IMO at Marianas as he did at Midway. According to author Thomas Cutler .... Spruance was alleged on learing of reports of Kurita's course during the iniital air attacks, to have pointed to the exact spot where Kurita later emerged from the straits after reversing course back on track and said "Here" and thats where he would have placed the BB screen for Halsey's force. Had he been there, even if he'd moved off in pursuit of Ozawa he'd have made damn sure the strait was covered properly. I doubt he'd have even chased Ozawa, but let him come to him. Taffy 3 would have been spared it's ordeal.



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Post #: 80
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/27/2012 1:07:36 AM   
msieving1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress

Spruance will always have my respect for being in charge at Midway. He led the US fleet to victory in the single most cruicial battle of the Pacific campaign. Maybe luck was on his side but I'm sure there were ways he could have royally screwed up...but didn't.


Spruance wasn't in charge at Midway, Fletcher was. After Yorktown was damaged, Fletcher released Spruance to operate on his own.

(in reply to Gary Childress)
Post #: 81
RE: OT: If the carriers had been at Pearl Harbor, would... - 7/27/2012 4:06:11 AM   
Gary Childress


Posts: 5433
Joined: 7/17/2005
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quote:

ORIGINAL: msieving1


quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress

Spruance will always have my respect for being in charge at Midway. He led the US fleet to victory in the single most cruicial battle of the Pacific campaign. Maybe luck was on his side but I'm sure there were ways he could have royally screwed up...but didn't.


Spruance wasn't in charge at Midway, Fletcher was. After Yorktown was damaged, Fletcher released Spruance to operate on his own.


My bad.

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My WitP webpage: https://sites.google.com/site/garyswitpsite/


(in reply to msieving1)
Post #: 82
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