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The_Big_Red_1

What if...Phillipine Sea and Leyte Gulf

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Both Spruance and Halsey were heavily criticized for their decisions for the two respective battles they participated in. what if Halsey was in command during the Battle of the Philippine Sea and Spruance was in command during the Battle of Leyte Gulf? We know at Philippine Sea that Spruance was not aggressive enough to completely destroy the entire IJN fleet because he believed there was a presence of a decoy force nearby while Halsey reeled into Ozawa's Decoy force like a fish taking the bait leaving Taffy 3 heavily exposed. If Spruance was in command during Leyte Gulf would he have done things differently? The same goes for Halsey if he was in command of the Philippine Sea?

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Spruance had ORDERS to not stray from the invasion fleet. His role was support.

He followed his orders and did his job.

 

Halsey had a little something added to his orders because of what happened to Spruance in the Philippian Sea. It said basically that he was to support the landings, but if a chance came to engage the IJN that was to become his first task.

The problems that Halsey faced were partially his own aggressiveness and partially other people reading his mail and making assumptions. Too many people heard that he was  going to form a BB task force and assumed that meant he already did so. The same people assumed that the established task force would Naturally guard the strait, that was the only reason to form it.

Several people on the scene tried to talk with superiors about verifying that the strait was guarded or that the IJN was definitely running. These were all swept aside by military protocol and assumptions.

 

In the end I believe Halsey made a mistake, but his orders made that mistake possible.

 

Edited by Prothall

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5 minutes ago, Prothall said:

Spruance had ORDERS to not stray from the invasion fleet. His role was support.

He followed his orders and did his job.

 

Halsey had a little something added to his orders because of what happened to Spruance in the Philippian Sea. It said basically that he was to support the landings, but if a chance came to engage the IJN that was to become his first task.

The problems that Halsey faced were partially his own aggressiveness and partially other people reading his mail and making assumptions. Too many people heard that he was  going to form a BB task force and assumed that meant he already did so. The same people assumed that the established task force would Naturally guard the strait, that was the only reason to form it.

Several people on the scene tried to talk with superiors about verifying that the strait was guarded or that the IJN was definitely running. These were all swept aside by military protocol and assumptions.

 

In the end I believe Halsey made a mistake, but his orders made that mistake possible.

 

so if Spruance was in Halsey's shoes would he have taken Ozawa's "bait" or not is what i am asking? bear in mind this is all theoretical.

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It all comes down to orders.

It's possible.

If Spruance saw the armchair admirals criticizing the last guy he might have taken the same bait.

Spruance was obviously a lot more cautious than Halsey. I think he would have left a force guarding the straight before charging north, but I think he would have went north with his carriers.

It would have been interesting if the BBs had been left to guard the strait with a few CVLs for fighter CAP. It would have been 4-6 modern US BBS with cruisers and DDs against like 25 IJN ships.

The Yamato would have been a force to deal with, but the other BBs and smaller ships were fish food early. The US ships were the newer ones so they all had the best radar and fire control. They had more guns and better eyes.

Also remember the Japanese were TIRED. They had been at some form of battle stations for most of two days by the time they bumped into the CVEs.

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5 minutes ago, Prothall said:

It all comes down to orders.

It's possible.

If Spruance saw the armchair admirals criticizing the last guy he might have taken the same bait.

Spruance was obviously a lot more cautious than Halsey. I think he would have left a force guarding the straight before charging north, but I think he would have went north with his carriers.

It would have been interesting if the BBs had been left to guard the strait with a few CVLs for fighter CAP. It would have been 4-6 modern US BBS with cruisers and DDs against like 25 IJN ships.

The Yamato would have been a force to deal with, but the other BBs and smaller ships were fish food early. The US ships were the newer ones so they all had the best radar and fire control. They had more guns and better eyes.

Also remember the Japanese were TIRED. They had been at some form of battle stations for most of two days by the time they bumped into the CVEs.

sounds like had spruance been in command he would taken Ozawa's Bait but would have left a force to guard the strait leaving Taffy 3 with a bit more protection which in turn would make the Battle off Samar began/end different right?

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If he had formed a BB force it would have had 4-6 modern BBs, 6-8 cruisers and probably 12-20 DDs.

They would have been fresh, well rested, had the best radar and fire control, etc. You thought that the old BBs smoked the southern force (really it was the DDs)?

If Kurita charged through the bottleneck straight with a US BB task force waiting at the end it would have been a slaughter.  The CVEs would have never seen a thing.

The real danger to any US BB force left in the straight would have come in the morning. The Japanese were introducing their Kamikaze attacks that day, if Spruance didn't leave enough air cover the surface ships might have taken a lot of topside damage.

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14 minutes ago, Prothall said:

If he had formed a BB force it would have had 4-6 modern BBs, 6-8 cruisers and probably 12-20 DDs.

They would have been fresh, well rested, had the best radar and fire control, etc. You thought that the old BBs smoked the southern force (really it was the DDs)?

If Kurita charged through the bottleneck straight with a US BB task force waiting at the end it would have been a slaughter.  The CVEs would have never seen a thing.

The real danger to any US BB force left in the straight would have come in the morning. The Japanese were introducing their Kamikaze attacks that day, if Spruance didn't leave enough air cover the surface ships might have taken a lot of topside damage.

knowing spruance's cautious nature he would have given air cover for his battleships yes?

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he definitely would have provided SOME, but would it have been enough? Can't say.

The Japanese air forces had taken a steady beating and he might have thought a small patrol with 1-2 CVLs would have been enough.

No one knew about the new tactic of crash dives that was about to be unleashed.

Now kamikaze attacks rarely did any meaningful damage to BBs, as the planes tend to bounce off the armor, but the topside people and AA gunners would have taken many casualties. if there weren't enough fighters around.

 

Still...if more air attacks started coming in the BBs could have called to the CVEs to send more fighters over. The planes woulf have probably went after the BBs and ignored the CVEs

 

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1 hour ago, Prothall said:

Spruance had ORDERS to not stray from the invasion fleet. His role was support.

He followed his orders and did his job.

 

Halsey had a little something added to his orders because of what happened to Spruance in the Philippian Sea. It said basically that he was to support the landings, but if a chance came to engage the IJN that was to become his first task.

The problems that Halsey faced were partially his own aggressiveness and partially other people reading his mail and making assumptions. Too many people heard that he was  going to form a BB task force and assumed that meant he already did so. The same people assumed that the established task force would Naturally guard the strait, that was the only reason to form it.

Several people on the scene tried to talk with superiors about verifying that the strait was guarded or that the IJN was definitely running. These were all swept aside by military protocol and assumptions.

 

In the end I believe Halsey made a mistake, but his orders made that mistake possible.

 

In hindsight we know the IJN CVs were empty decoys, but USN Officers in charge of the operations / battles in the area did not know this. And if Halsey had orders to engage the main IJN fleet if it showed up, then that could make sense. After all if it’s possible to move your best ships in the battlefleet up to engage the main enemy fleet, while leaving behind a force more than capable of supporting the landings  sounds good. And taking into account the fact of if the IJN were able to move onto the gulf as a full fleet, just imagine the damage that might have been done to the transport ships?

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IJN doctrine was opposite in many ways to western navies. For almost the entire war they focused on sinking warships and ignored logistics.

Think of Mikawa at Savo Island. He had the transports at his mercy, but took his cruiser victory and sailed for home.

For almost the first time in the war the IJN was actually planning on going after the logistics with their mission orders. Only the man in the fight ignored those orders and went off in search of more warships after he disengaged from Taffy 3.

In theory the IJN had a chance to do serious damage to the landings, But based on their track record a few cruisers fleeing the area would have probably made the entire fleet turn and chase while ignoring the transports.

6 minutes ago, Admiral_Thrawn_1 said:

In hindsight we know the IJN CVs were empty decoys, but USN Officers in charge of the operations / battles in the area did not know this. And if Halsey had orders to engage the main IJN fleet if it showed up, then that could make sense. After all if it’s possible to move your best ships in the battlefleet up to engage the main enemy fleet, while leaving behind a force more than capable of supporting the landings  sounds good. And taking into account the fact of if the IJN were able to move onto the gulf as a full fleet, just imagine the damage that might have been done to the transport ships?

 

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On 1/31/2019 at 7:57 PM, The_Big_Red_1 said:

Both Spruance and Halsey were heavily criticized for their decisions for the two respective battles they participated in. what if Halsey was in command during the Battle of the Philippine Sea and Spruance was in command during the Battle of Leyte Gulf? We know at Philippine Sea that Spruance was not aggressive enough to completely destroy the entire IJN fleet because he believed there was a presence of a decoy force nearby while Halsey reeled into Ozawa's Decoy force like a fish taking the bait leaving Taffy 3 heavily exposed. If Spruance was in command during Leyte Gulf would he have done things differently? The same goes for Halsey if he was in command of the Philippine Sea?

Simple. If Halsey had been in command of the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot, there wouldn't have been any carriers left for Ozawa to command as decoys at Leyte Gulf. Had Spruance commanded the 3rd Fleet at Leyte Gulf, Kurita would have met a very rude awakening from either the full might of the American CVs, or at least would have had to slug it out with the fast BBs of Willis Lee's Task Force 34.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Halsey was a firm believer in not splitting up his fleet, which is why he took all of his fleet to combat Ozawa's Carrier force, thus leaving Taffy 3 hung out to dry. I do not think Spruance would act the same. Were it Spruance at Leyte Gulf, he would have met Ozawa's Carriers like Halsey did, but unlike Halsey, he would have left a sizable surface fleet, perhaps a Fleet Carrier if he so desired, at the strait. It would have made sense seeing as a Japanese Battleship force was trying to go through it the day prior.

And I pretty much completely concur with @1Sherman. It's not likely there would have been a diversion force left. Halsey desperately wanted those Carriers dead, and he would have done everything possible to ensure they were dead.

The Japanese plan was executed fairly well. The diversion worked just as it was supposed to, though the Southern Force was slaughtered in the Surigao strait by the Pearl Harbor battle wagons. Center Force had as good a chance to complete their mission as they could have possibly gotten, they just spectacularly failed to execute against an Escort Carrier Task Group that was even caught with their pants down, so to speak. Of course if they made it through Taffy 3 it would have been certain death. Their passage through San Bernadino strait was delayed, the bulk of his 6 heavy cruisers either sinking or badly damaged, and his crews exhausted and very on edge. They still had Oldendorf's Battleships to deal with and Halsey screaming back to Leyte at full speed, and the full might of his Carriers barely a day out. Staying and hitting the landing forces would give Halsey's 8(?) Carriers time to get in range, and maybe 400 or so Aircraft turn Kurita's fleet into a collection of artificial reefs before dusk.

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8 hours ago, Halonut24 said:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Halsey was a firm believer in not splitting up his fleet, which is why he took all of his fleet to combat Ozawa's Carrier force, thus leaving Taffy 3 hung out to dry. I do not think Spruance would act the same. Were it Spruance at Leyte Gulf, he would have met Ozawa's Carriers like Halsey did, but unlike Halsey, he would have left a sizable surface fleet, perhaps a Fleet Carrier if he so desired, at the strait. It would have made sense seeing as a Japanese Battleship force was trying to go through it the day prior.

Yup. In Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, it's made very clear that Bull Halsey never wants to split up his forces. Spruance would have most likely left behind Willis Lee and his Task Force 34 to take on Kurita, which I think they could have done. Heck, I think that even Oldendorf's phoenixes of Pearl Harbour could have gone toe-to-toe with the Center Force.

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8 hours ago, 1Sherman said:

Yup. In Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, it's made very clear that Bull Halsey never wants to split up his forces. Spruance would have most likely left behind Willis Lee and his Task Force 34 to take on Kurita, which I think they could have done. Heck, I think that even Oldendorf's phoenixes of Pearl Harbour could have gone toe-to-toe with the Center Force.

Except Oldendorf's BB were out of ammo. Their magazines were almost completely expended the night before. Of course after Taffy 3 I don't know whether Kurita would want another knock-down drag out fight with ships half his size with twice the heart.

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