Leyte gulf

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
paul.mercer
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Leyte gulf

Post by paul.mercer » Sun May 31, 2020 8:55 am

Gentlemen,
After watching yet another episode of 'Draining the Ocean' where they went down to the wreck of Yamato and then produced a computer simulation of the wreck blown in half, i did wonder what might have been the outcome had the US not had their carriers and the battle would have been between the US battleships and Yamato and Musashi and whatever other ships that they had with them
I did take a quick look back in our forum archives but did not discover whether we had discussed this before.

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RF
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Re: Leyte gulf

Post by RF » Wed Jun 03, 2020 7:37 am

Strategically I don't think the final outcome would be anything other than US victory.

Removing carriers from the campaign - even if it is US carriers only - does not alter the advantages the USA has in industrial production, population and logistics.
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Re: Leyte gulf

Post by paul.mercer » Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:06 am

Thanks for your reply RF, but i was thinking of the outcome of a battleship v battleship scenario, i have no doubt the US would have won due to their weight of numbers, but at what cost when faced with the two biggest battleships in the world, plus of course any other battleships the Japanese had available.

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Re: Leyte gulf

Post by RF » Fri Jun 05, 2020 7:20 am

If you take out the US carriers, presumably because they don't exist, then the US carrier construction would be replaced with additional battleship construction, including US battleships with 18 inch calibre guns?
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Re: Leyte gulf

Post by OpanaPointer » Fri Jun 05, 2020 5:27 pm

RF wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 7:20 am
If you take out the US carriers, presumably because they don't exist, then the US carrier construction would be replaced with additional battleship construction, including US battleships with 18 inch calibre guns?
When did we find out the Musashis had "18 inch" guns?

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Re: Leyte gulf

Post by RF » Fri Jun 05, 2020 5:49 pm

They don't have to, once the US is in the war the Washington Naval Treaty limits won't apply, particulary as it was already known that the Tirpitz class battleships didn't conform to treaty limits.
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Re: Leyte gulf

Post by paul.mercer » Sat Jun 06, 2020 9:04 am

OpanaPointer wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 5:27 pm
RF wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 7:20 am
If you take out the US carriers, presumably because they don't exist, then the US carrier construction would be replaced with additional battleship construction, including US battleships with 18 inch calibre guns?
When did we find out the Musashis had "18 inch" guns?
That would have been an interesting situation!
What I was really wondering about is would the US battleships have been able to cope with Yamato and Musashi without the help from their carriers?

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Re: Leyte gulf

Post by OpanaPointer » Sat Jun 06, 2020 11:44 am

If both sides used their ships at 100% effectiveness? Without carriers the USN would have been heavy in BBs.

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Re: Leyte gulf

Post by Steve Crandell » Sat Jun 06, 2020 6:40 pm

I don't think the Yamato class were enough superior to make up the difference in numbers. Lee would probably have had about six modern BBs with him. Yamatos were very powerful ships, but they weren't immune to 16" gunfire and the USN would likely have had a lot more cruisers and DDs as well.

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Re: Leyte gulf

Post by OpanaPointer » Sat Jun 06, 2020 9:33 pm

Another issue, land based aircraft. Ferried in and used to support the landings?

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Re: Leyte gulf

Post by HMSVF » Sat Jun 06, 2020 9:35 pm

RF wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 7:20 am
If you take out the US carriers, presumably because they don't exist, then the US carrier construction would be replaced with additional battleship construction, including US battleships with 18 inch calibre guns?
Would they though?

Aircraft had shown that they could sink battleships and the US had plenty of aircraft carriers and aircraft. Perhaps Kentucky would be completed along with Hawaii and Guam (to provide AA support and surface protection)? Musashi and Yamato were humungous but unless they were able to get in catastrophic hits very early I think weight of numbers would tell, besides how often did battleships suffer damage to rangefinders or "soft" but vital equipment (Didn't HMS Norfolk take out both Bismarck's and Scharnhorst's rangefinder/radar?). They might have ended up like floating charnel houses - afloat but that's about it.


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Re: Leyte gulf

Post by Dave Saxton » Sun Jun 07, 2020 3:31 am

I’m taking a more historical perspective rather than assuming that US carriers do not exist. Instead since the hypothetical assumes Musashi is still available, I am taking it as Musashi isn’t sunk or significantly damaged by the carrier strikes. I think looking at the various angles from this basis could be informative.

Numbers: When I surveyed the official navy.mil history of Leyte I was surprised to find that Badger’s BB division (New Jersey and Iowa) was not to be part of Task Force 34 if formed and left to guard the strait. This meant that Lee would have only four BB’s at his disposal, assuming TF34 was left to guard the strait as Halsey goes north. Those BBs would have been Washington, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Alabama. Additionally, it would have included two heavy cruisers and five light cruisers, and 14 destroyers.

Assuming Musashi is not sunk, the Japanese have 3 battleships and 2 battle cruisers. Additionally, they still had seven heavy cruisers, and two light cruisers. They had 13 DDs.

Pilot reports that the Japanese warships had heavy top side damage were overly optimistic. Japanese shooting was not poor the next day. However, the assumption that the Japanese battleships had essentially been nullified by topside damage rendering ineffective their firecontrol was a factor in decisions made by American leadership.

Night, twilight, or daylight battle: The time that the Japanese force the strait would have been of importance. Lee was leery about night fighting using American battleships. Indeed, at Philippine Sea he declined an opportunity to engage the Japanese with battleships because it would have occurred at night. He was probably wise in this regard. Night battle meant that it would likely be a shortrange knife fight. This, Lee does not want. His sailors have not been sufficiently trained for this scenario. His ships have not been primarily designed for such a scenario.

The Japanese could have regained their night battle advantage they lost from the advent of American radar, by the deployment of their own microwave radar. Although, their 10cm Type 22 radar was far outclassed by American radar technology, it only needs to provide the Japanese a situational awareness to bring their superior torpedoes (their primary weapon) and superior night optics into play. Remember they had 9 cruisers and 13 destroyers to deploy torpedoes. The Japanese had continued training and honing their skills for night battle. Yamato and Musashi particularly had been engaged in a night battle training program for several months prior.

A twilight dawn battle also favors the Japanese. The Americans will be highlighted to the east.

Lee will not want to block the strait or fight within the strait. From the point in time TF34 would have formed up, there was not enough time to get into position to block the exit of the strait, anyway. Besides, the Americans suspected mine fields in and near the strait and were determined not get entangled in such a potential mess, compounded by torpedo water. This means a battle in open ocean. The main question remaining does it occur at night or during the day.

A day battle likely favors the Americans. They can fight at longer range. They had received more training for this scenario. The Japanese are probably not able to use their torpedoes.

The Japanese still have the advantage in numbers. Both in terms of heavy ships and of heavy guns. The more sophisticated radars of the Americans probably do not tip the scales in daylight battle. The Japanese radar had a range accuracy of 100 meters, which was supposedly better than optics, so they can combine radar ranging with optical bearing measurement and optical spotting.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: Leyte gulf

Post by Steve Crandell » Sun Jun 07, 2020 5:02 am

You seem to be saying that the Japanese radar was superior to the Mark 3 fire control radar which was mounted on many US battleships and which couldn't be used successfully against Yamashiro at Surigao Strait. Only the three BBs with Mark 8 could get radar ranges.

So hypothetically the IJN had a technological edge? I'm sure some of the US Battleships would have Mark 8s, but maybe not all and I think you are saying current Japanese radar technology was just as good as that available to the USN (Mark 8). Is that true, or did I get the wrong idea?

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Re: Leyte gulf

Post by Dave Saxton » Sun Jun 07, 2020 3:01 pm

Steve Crandell wrote:
Sun Jun 07, 2020 5:02 am
You seem to be saying that the Japanese radar was superior to the Mark 3 fire control radar which was mounted on many US battleships and which couldn't be used successfully against Yamashiro at Surigao Strait. Only the three BBs with Mark 8 could get radar ranges.

So hypothetically the IJN had a technological edge? I'm sure some of the US Battleships would have Mark 8s, but maybe not all and I think you are saying current Japanese radar technology was just as good as that available to the USN (Mark 8). Is that true, or did I get the wrong idea?
Hi, Steve.

You did get the wrong idea. I did say that American radar technology was far superior. Surigao St. does not make a good analog to this scenario, however. Surigao was the perfect set up. The enemy was in a trap. The Americans could see and identify visually what the pips on their radar screens were. (reference the West Virginia action report). Radar, at least WWII radar, does not tell the difference between cruisers and battleships, and destroyers, and enemy targets and friendlies, and phantoms contacts, and so forth. If that was not so then there would be no need for IFF. The pips on a radar screen were just abstract symbols.

This fact takes away the ability to effectively target the enemy from beyond visual range at night, unless there is no doubt about the identity of the target you are painting. So bringing the superior capabilities of the MK8 into play could be problematic.

Larger targets might be detected at first from a greater range on the SG. These pips may then be tagged as a probable enemy battleship in the CIC. But there would remain great uncertainty. Radar returns from small targets could also be received from greater range in some cases. Cruisers were routinely picked up at the same ranges as battleships. Once the range reduces to were targets can be identified at night with reasonable certainty the Japanese can use their night optics and their torpedoes.

Hence I wrote this:
Although, their 10cm Type 22 radar was far outclassed by American radar technology, it only needs to provide the Japanese a situational awareness to bring their superior torpedoes (their primary weapon) and superior night optics into play.
In a daylight scenario there would be less uncertainty about what targets are what, and the superiority of the MK8 could be better utilized. Nonetheless, the Japanese could still combine radar ranging with optics. There would also be the aircraft spotting factor.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: Leyte gulf

Post by Steve Crandell » Sun Jun 07, 2020 9:47 pm

The USN was much better at night fighting than they were earlier in the war. How could they not be? I know there was at least one case where USN DDs ambushed some IJN DDs with torpedoes at night, using radar as their primary sensor.

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