The Battle off Samar, Oct 25, 1944

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Jeff Head, Jul 2, 2015.

  1. Jeff Head
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    Jeff Head General
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    I agree.

    He had made such good decisions to that point...particularly coming across the Sibuyan Sea. He turned back under the air attack, and the US forces thought he was rtreating. When the aircraft ended theit attacks, he then doubled back and thus came through San Bernadino Straits completely undetected...and was not see until he was already in range of Taffy 3's carriers the next morning.

    His first mistake...which I believe led to the others...was to order that general attack. It was not coordinated and did not take advantage of his immense advantage.

    Pretty much small sections of ships, and individual ships, attacked (and maneuvered) on their own.

    It allowed the US aircraft, and the US destroyers/DEs to attack and have a much better chance to get in close where they could use their torpedoes, and rake the decks of he larger Japanese ships with their 5" cannons.

    But even then, when the DDs and DEs were spent, Kurita could have called his ships back into formation and proceeded. Instead, he withdrew and took three hours deciding to make it permanent...and then left.

    If he had pressed on, that force would have caused immense damage.

    I believe he honestly thought that he would be annihilated like the southern force if he pressed on and figured he should save at least something. Problem was, except for the continuing bothersome air attacks from the Jeep carriers, and the ferocious attacks of those few DDs and DEs...there was nothing to indicate that his annihilation would be the case.

    But there are to this day reports that Kurita thought the DDs and DEs were light cruisers and the vanguard of the American battleship force.

    But the US battleships were far away...with Halsey going after the Japanese carriers, and with Oldendorf, down south by Suriago Strait having destroyed the southern force under Admiral Shima.
     
  2. Lezt
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    Lezt Junior Member

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    Jeff, I am not picking a fight here, and as I have explained, it was not an overwhelming mismatch. I am highlighting the narrative that you have presented is an overwhelmingly American one.

    This doesn't make it untrue, but it does suggest omissions.

    So if I phase the engagement as below, let me ask you if it is correct?

    The Japanese center force consisting of 4 battleships, 6 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, 11 destroyers and a few dozen kamikaze arrived in Samar Bay after running the gauntlet of American PT boats and aircraft off the Philippine sea for several days. The exhausted crew found Taffy 3, a well rested american unit protecting the troop transports further away consisting of 6 escort carriers, 3 destroyers, 4 destroyers and more than 400 combat aircraft including Wildcats, Hellcats and Avengers.

    The battleship Yamato opened fired at around 30 km and acheived straddle on the 2nd or 3rd salvo on white plaines. Taffy 3 immediately retreated away using her destroyer and destroyer escort screen to counter charge Center Force with torpedo attacks which caused the Japanese ship to make evasive maneuvers and mess up their gun lay.

    Although Center Force is faster than Taffy 3; 27 knots vs 19 knots; it took Center Force from 0644 AM to around 0854 to close the gap to 18 miles from 20 miles; or around 1 MPH gain where the 12 knots difference should have yielded 14 MPH.

    During these two hours, the 400+ aircraft of Taffy 1, 2, 3 around 40% of them bombers, attacked center force relentlessly. With the DD and DE, which launched around 50 torpedoes, bombs and depth charges, they manage to destroy the Japanese heavy cruisers which had a 35 knot speed capable of chasing down the CVEs early on in the battle.

    Sufferring heavy losses, Center Force broke and fled by noon. In the process, they have sunk the 2 DD and 1 DE that have valiantly screened their CVEs and 2 of the CVE.



    Which is a brilliant plan, and the gambit worked.

    But lets look at history here, surface action took an obscene amount of time to sink a ship compared to an air strike. Chasing the Bismark and other commerce raiders took the better part of the day or days. For Center Force to sink much ships had they got through Taffy 1,2,3 would take weeks to chase down all the troop ships that would scatter.

    Time that they do not have, as even if Northen Force have lured american fleet carriers around 500 km north, they are still well within the strike range, and can come under attack from the 800 or so aircraft that the fleet carrier carried within an hour or two.

    i.e. the Center Force Effort is futile from the onset, there is no what ifs.

    Note, Taffy 1,2,3 had around 400 aircraft, they are not weak at all.
    The point being is, Center Force had been in engagement for a few days, they had been under PT and aircraft attack prior to the feint retreat. They are not in top shape for sure. not to say that they are not a major threat. But battleships are like Castles, terrifying to imagine but less potent in an actual fight.

    I would shit my pants in my CVE if I see enemy BB bearing down on me out of nowhere ; but the thing is, I still have 400+ aircraft of which ~180 are torpedo bombers; once they are airborne, even if the CVE sinks, it is likely that the BBBG will be heavily damaged and a lot of its ships sunk.
    And that is where I disagree, and we can disagree all we want, but I am here to have a discussion. I do feel that you are getting edgy at this point, and I am sorry if you feel that I have insulted you our your beliefs.

    We have the benefit of hindsight. WW2 have proven that it BB main gun hit rates are like 1:100, CA are like 1:250 and DD are higher. Torpedos are like 1:10 Had center force expended all its ammunition and we assume it is like Graf Spee which took ~6 hours to fire 2/3rd of her shells, it is 200 rd per gun and that one hit (counting 6+ inch guns only)= 1 sunk, then Center force have a potential of sinking 77 ships in 9 hours.

    9 hours is not what Center Force will have once the first alarms goes off and it took more than one shell to sink a ship.
    It is a heroic effort like any battle that a smaller lighter ships engage larger ones.

    Just like in Jutland where dozens of destroyers charged main battle-fleet of the opposing side.

    Or when more than 100 torpedo boats charge the battleship Sevastopol at the seige of Port Arthur.

    But is the outcome unexpected?

    Jutland have shown that the destroyers would suffer heavy casualties and take a few screening cruisers with them.

    Jutland have also shown that if captial ships did not turn away from torpedos, it is more likely to hit them, and in this case, if Center force turned away, then they will be out of gun range.

    Midway, Coral Sea, Force Z had shown that air power dominates over surface powers.

    Thus with 400+ aircraft, is it really unexpected that the outcome was what it was? as I said before, the Prince of Whales and Repulse were sunk with 88 aircraft.

    And I agree it is a heroic effort from both sides, the results however is not unexpected and even thou battleships have captured our imaginations, the baton have passed well onto aircraft and Taffy 1,2,3 had a lot of aircraft. The battle was not as mismatched as presented.
     
  3. Jeff Head
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    Jeff Head General
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    Letz, sorry, but it appears to me by your comments that you are picking a fight...and I simply will not go there.

    OF course both sides fought hard and well. No one is insinuating anything different. In the end, after some unbelievably great moves to get himself into a position to accomplish his goal, the Japanese admiral turned away when he had it in his grasp..

    Tell that to the men on Johnston and Samuel B. Roberts. Many of them died. Their commanders told them that the likelihood of survival was slim...but there they went.

    It's easy to make statements like the one above when you are looking at it from 70 years.

    A DD and a DE charging directly into the face of battleships, heavy cruisers, cruisers, etc. and their fire. Lets, of course it was extremely...even unbelievably...mismatched for Taffy 3 off Samar...which is what this thread is about..

    Of course aircraft off of carriers were the new, much more effective weapons,. The Japanese knew this and that is why they lured Halsey away.

    Taffy 3 was taken by complete surprise. Their aircraft initially attacked while loaded for ground attack and ASW ordinance...while the carriers were under heavy fire and taking hits.

    Jeez Letz...what is the issue? You seem to just want to negate and lessen what these men went through.

    When the aircraft tried to land and reload, their carriers were under heavy gun fire, and so they had to either go to land, or to other more distant carriers.

    They harried Kurita's force and scored a couple of sinkings. But they did not stop them, nor would they have had Kurita continued with a bit in his mouth to the anchorage. But he did not. In the end, he had the opportunity to get to the anchorage, but turned aside...incorrectly making some assumptions which he later, after the war recognized and regretted.

    Of course, had he done so he would have been harried and attacked had they gone into that anchorage. Of course Halsey was going to be coming back hell bent for leather, with all of his carrier aircraft once he got them recovered and rearmed.

    Kurita may have ended up losing his entire force to accomplish his objective...but he could have largely accomplished it. Everyone who was there believed that and said as much.

    As it turned out, later almost every single one of his ships were lost for very little in return. The Japanese had their best opportunity to use them to good effect on that October day off Samar and then in the anchorage, that was in fact their plan...but thenthey did not do so.

    Those are the salient points.

    The narrative here on this thread is about the people in Taffy 3, off Samar, and how their heroic actions in the face of overwhelming odds and (for many of them) sure death.

    That is what the thread is about. You have said they were heroic. You have said that the odds against them off Samar were extreme. I know there are details regarding the fight on both sides...and it is clear the US and Japanese fought valiantly. Heck the very fact that Kurita got his force into position to do this attests to their brilliance.

    But, beyond that, if your intent is to try and pick the US side's every action apart, and thus lessen those actions...then please create another thread and do that there.

    Let's not going down that road here.

    Thanks.
     
    #23 Jeff Head, Aug 23, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2015
  4. Jeff Head
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    Jeff Head General
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    In the end, the results of the Battle of Samar, in terms of losses and damages included:

    US:
    2 x Escort Carriers sunk
    2 x Destroyers sunk
    1 x Destroyer Escort sunk
    23 x Aircraft shot down
    3 x Escort Carriers damaged
    1 x Destroyer damaged
    2 x Destroyer Escorts damaged

    Japanese:
    3 x Heavy Cruisers sunk
    3 x Heavy Cruisers significantly damaged
    1 x Destroyer heavily damaged
    52 x Aircraft shot down

    This was clearly the most advantageous and positive battle results of the entire larger Battle of Leyte Gulf for the Japanese. It was what they had planned for, and they succeeded in bringing their heavy battle fleet to engagement with the Americans and in position to destroy the anchorage.

    If you look at the overall Battle of Leyte Gulf (which is not the intent of this thread), as Letz refers to above, it was a hugely lopsided defeat for Japan. My point is that the Japanese planners knew this and allowed for it , and were willing to suffer other major losses to give Kurita's force off Samar (the most powerful surface force in the hole operation) the chance to get in amongst the US anchorage and lay waist to it.

    And they succeeded in giving him that chance. It was a costly, but masterfully executied plan to give him that chance.

    Kurita had four strong, relatively undamaged battleships, three damaged heavy cruisers, two relatively undamaged light cruisers, and ten destroyers still with him to press into the anchorage.

    But his forces were scattered because of the natur of his earlier "General attack ," order, and he thought, because of the natrure of the damages he had sffuered (three heavy cruisers lost and three more damaged), that he faced a stronger foe.

    It must be added, that Kurita also thought he had sunk at least one cruiser (either the Hoel or the Johnston) two other surface combatants, and that he had sunk several American carriers, so he may well have felt he had done sufficient damage...even though he never took out the anchorage which was the goal of the operation.

    So he withdrew, and did not take the opportunity to devastate the US anchorage off Leyte.

    One of the best quotes I could find summing this battle up, came from one of the survivors of the Samuel B. Roberts,Tom Stevensen (though Admiral Sprague and other leading officers had their own similar sentiments):

    Most of the Americans who took part in the battle could not believe the good fortune of that large, powerful force, still very much intact, not pressing on into the hundreds of cargo ships, logistical ships, and others at anchorage off Leyte.
     
  5. Lezt
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    Lezt Junior Member

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    Jeff,

    One thing is my username is Lezt not Letz.

    I have no intent of picking any apart the American action apart. Kurita did not perform well, heck, most Japanese admirals do not perform well. It is not a question of am I on the side of the Americans or not.

    This battle is not a simple question of heroics, Destroyers going up against Capital ships is a question of naval maneuver. It had always been the norm and will continue to be with smaller vessels screening larger ones and being the sacrificial lamb.

    As I said before, destroyers charging capital ships to allow their capital ship to escape is common. The destroyer fleet from the British and Germans did it at Jutland, The Ottamans did it in the Battle of Beirut, the Japanese did it at the Battle of Tsushima, The bulgarian did it at the Battle of Kaliakra.

    So if I talk to those men who went in their DD and DE against CA and BBs, I salute their courage, and I know that they have honored their duty.

    The thing about that, if Kurita pushed on and he would have gotten the ships in the anchorage. The anchorage is good, 50-100 km from when Center Force made contact with Taffy 3. Even if he had made a Bee line to the anchorage, it would have taken him, 2 hours to get there; with all the maneuvering that taffy 3 did, Kurita traveled, ~30 km in around 2 hours, it would have taken him closer to 6 hours to get there. OK, he can fire his guns at around 30 KM, and he will get a ~1% hit rate. How long does it take Halsey to send his strike aircraft to hit Center Force? it is less than an hours flight. Thus how much threat is Anchorage under? once Taffy 3 signals Halsey; Center Force is no longer much of a threat.

    Had Kurita have a few dozen destroyers instead of 4 BB, he would have poised much more of a threat to Anchorage. Battleships are just not designed to chase down and destroy thinly armored troop ships and supply ships.

    Sure, I am looking at it as a chess game; DD and DE of that era are pawns, and carriers are rooks.

    Thus fundamentally, the Japanese plan was futile, it was the believe in battleship that spelled their failure. Omaha have shown how ineffective BB bombardments are on fortification and as each island hopping campaign the American undertaken had shown. All the commerce raider have shown is how useless capital ships are to chase down slow soft skinned ships that can disperse.

    What kurita believed after the war is meaningless, he lost a war, he was trying to find what he could have done better. if he had pushed onto anchorage is a question like, if his gunnery was as good to be able to hit ships in anchorage, then he would have easily swept aside the DD and DE that charged him. if he can't hit DD from close range, how close do he have to get to hit the transport ships? how much time does he have to chase the other transport ship sailing in the opposite direction?

    The USN won the battle because they played their hands well, Taffy 3 was at the right place to picket enemy forces. They had technologically superior DD with radar fire control that can hit IJN ships, when sailing in a crazy pattern. They had lots of aircraft.

    So if you feel that I am here to take apart the american action, no, I am here to give credit to the engineers who designed system 10 years ahead of their foe - an advantage that the USN still enjoys today. The admirals who left sufficient contingency to deal with whatever threat that appears and the men who did their duty. The USN never wants a fair fight, they want to win the fight and there is no shame in that, nor is there shame in admitting that they were putting down an inferior foe.
     
  6. shen
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    shen Senior Member

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    But Lezt, the 180 torpedo bombers flying off the escort carriers didn't have a single torpedo between them. They were armed for land attack. Ironically, IJN's own torpedo did more damage to their ships than American torpedoes during this battle, exploding in the tubes from battle damage.
     
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  7. Jeff Head
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    Jeff Head General
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    Sorry for the typo in the name.

    I believe we essentially agree.

    The Japanese battle planned accomplished what it was meant to accomplish in luring US forces that could have definitely destroyer Kurita's force in detail away from his point of contact, and put him in a position to reach the US Anchorage.

    I believe...as do mot people who were there....that had Kurita continued on to the anchorage, he would have raised havoc there and probably destroyed many, many US ships. In the two hours it would have taken him, there was very little that could have destroyed his four battleships, five remaining cruisers, and ten remaining destroyers, much less stopped him.

    The fact is, if he had done that, his vessels most definitely would have been completely destroyed the next day. Completely.

    But he did no do it. So that point ends up being moot.

    As it was, off of Samar, his forces (as would be expected) did a lot of damage to Taffy 3. In return he lost three heavy cruisers and a destroyer...which says that Taffy 3, imparted a lot of damage in return on him.

    They were surprised, their aircraft were not armed for strike at sea...they were armed for ground attack and ASW. Nonetheless, they did enough damage to help deter Kurita, and they have been understandably recognized for it.

    The entire affair was indeed futile for Japan...as I have pointed out.

    Even had Kurita got to the anchorage and completely destroyed it, and gotten clean away, the losses Japan suffered in getting him there would have made it impossible to ever repeat it, and the US would have replaced the entire anchorage within a few weeks.

    It may not have had any impact at all on lengthening the war for Japan in any case...because the A Bomb was coming in any case and was not flown from the Philippines.

    So, yes, it was futile. In fact anything that Japan did at that point was futile.

    But they had their own honor code, and they certainly did not have the benefit of hindsight that we have. They clearly new they were going to lose...they hoped to force some negotiations onto the US.

    But at that point...it simply was not going to happen.
     
  8. Jeff Head
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    Jeff Head General
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    It is correct that the Avenger torpedoes did little damage.

    But in terms of numbers, there were not 180 torpedo bombers available to Taffy 3. They had dive bombers and fighters in greater numbers altogether.

    Just the same, you point is well taken. The US torpedoes that had the most telling effect that day were those fired by the DDs and DEs.

    In the end, it was a wild battle and ended with Kurita turning away.

    That's the history of it. But what a hair raising fight (and mortally dangerous fight) for Taffy 3
     
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