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Titans of the Seas: Chapter 18

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  • DJ
    Rabaul Interlude. While Nimitz was using his Fast Carriers on the fringes to learn to use them in their new situation the Combined Fleet was going through
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 5, 2006
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      Rabaul Interlude.

      While Nimitz was using his Fast Carriers on the fringes to learn to
      use them in their new situation the Combined Fleet was going through
      changes as well. Admiral Mineichi Koga was moving up to command and
      like those that preceeded him he believed in winning with the one big
      battle. Koga knew that any assault in the Central Pacific would have
      to be done with Carriers in support. The United States didn't have
      long enough range aircraft to do it any other way. So it was there
      that the last battle would need to take place. So he started to get
      things in motion to put a plan into action. The start of this was
      ordering all availalbe planes to Rabaul. The problem with this plan
      was that it was based on a false assumption. It was believed by Koga
      that Yamamoto's ealier 'I' plan had caused considerable amounts of
      damage to the shipping units in the area of the Solomon's.

      Halsey being the kind of person that he was, wasn't going to sit
      around and wait for the Japanese to set the tone of the day. Halsey
      set in order his own plans for moving farther up the Solomon Island
      chain and set a date nearly idetincal for its launching as that for
      which Koga had chosen for his Operation 'RO'

      Still battles in the slot had left Halsey short of shipping. He was
      down to four new cruisers and two squadrons of destroyers. So Halsey
      asked for a couple of carriers to add some more attack value to his
      small force. Nimitz responded by sending the Saratoga and the light
      carrier Princeton. Feeling that he wanted to keep as much strength in
      hand for the upcoming battles in the Gilberts. Nimitz though thought
      it over and sent Halsey the Essex carrier group as well. This included
      the Essex, Bunker Hill and the light carrier Independence. This would
      give Halsey Five carriers in hand, three of them fleet boats.

      The 3rd Marine Division landed on Cape Torokin of Empress Augusta Bay
      on schedule on Novemeber 1st. Opposition was light. The Marines
      quickly set up a primiater and SeeBees went to work putting up an
      airfield. Off the coast the Japanese tried to stop this progress with
      a night bombardment and reinforcement. Forces under Rear Admiral Tip
      Merrill performed a skillfull night action and prevented that from
      happening. This battle showed just how far the US had come in regards
      to fighting night engagements. No longer would the Japanese have their
      way at night.

      Koga hearing of the landings sent more planes to Rabual, but didn't
      feel any need to send his carriers south of Truk. American
      cryptography once again gave the American's the edge in the upcoming
      battles. This information let Halsey know that now he might be facing
      more enemy strength then he could easily handle. Still Halsey acted to
      take the iniaitave. Using the Carriers Saratoga and Princeton he sent
      them out to attack airfields on northern Bouganiville. As they were at
      sea getting ready to fulfill this assignement they recieved orders
      that many on borad considered to be suicide, run north and attack Rabaul.

      With no time for planning, Ted Sherman was ordered by Halsey to take
      his carriers and two escorting AA cruisers to a point 230 miles
      southeast of Rabaul, there they woudl launch the next day and they
      when the planes returned they would beat it back to safe waters to the
      south. On the morning of November 5th the US were launching a combined
      strike force of 52 Hellcats, 22 Dauntlesses, 23 Avengers, a mere 14
      hours after Adm. Sherman had recieved his orders. In a by the book
      attack they swept over the Japanese base. The Dive Bombers dove
      through the most intense flak they have ever seen. This included those
      that had taken part in Midway. Although from the reading of Shattered
      Sword I have been doing recently that might not have been as intense
      as Japanese pilots had been diving through since nearly the start of
      the war.

      The attacks were somwhat costly, but they had succeeded in their
      mission. Five of the six Curisers that Kurita had available were
      either struck or took damaging near misses. Something that wasn't a
      part of Adm Koga's plans for attack. Becuase of this strike and the
      damage done to them, Koga ordered the Cruisers withdrawn to Truk, only
      the crippled Maya had to be left behind.

      Since the airbase at Rabaul had been reinforced with carrier planes
      they should have been able to take revenge on the Sara and the
      Princeton, but the Japanese had been caught unprepared to launch a
      strike. When 12 Kate torpedo planes finally got off, the two American
      Carriers were already well to the south. The Kates could only find a
      small convoy composed of a PT boat and a LCI and an LCT. With amazing
      accuracy the Japanese managed to put torpedos into the LCI and the PT
      boat, but neither went off. The Japanese though, claimed a Carrier
      sunk and another set afire and later sunk, along with three heavy and
      light cruisers sunk.

      While Bougainville was now safe from Surface attack, there was no way
      that Halsey was going to sit back on his laurels and leave Rabaul
      alone. Still with Saratoga and Princton pulling away it was impossible
      for him to send a rendavouz point to the Essex group and the Sara
      group. It did however give his staff time to plan the next attack.
      This plan called for a one two punch. The first would come from the
      Sara group and the second from the Essex group. This would cause
      Rabaul to be attacked from the East and the Southeast with the hope of
      throwing off any counterstrikes.

      This time things didn't go nearly as well as the first time. The
      Saratoga's group was met by 68 Zeros and had to attack through rain.
      This prevented the planes from attacking the two heavy cruisers inside
      the main harbor, but they did get strikes in on a new light cruiser in
      the outer harbor. Little more then half an hour after this attack the
      planes from the Essex group came in. Due to the poor weather it was
      nearly impossible to tell who hit what. Everyone thought that they had
      hit and sunk their targets, but according to the Japanese records only
      the Destroyer Suzunami was sunk while the destroyer Naganami was hit
      by a torpedo.

      Due to the weather Admiral Sherman decided to forgo the planned second
      strike. Montgomery though decided not to cancel. So the Essex group
      launched its second strike of the day. As this strike was launched an
      inbound stirke was detected on the Essex radar screens. This attack
      was coming from Rabaul. Despite not having any of the new AA Cruisers,
      Montgomery wasn't to worried, his ships were using the newly adopted
      circular formation to increase the amount of AA output and his CAP was
      augmented by 33 fighters from lands bases.

      Despite this abundance of CAP, the pilots of the Fighters primarly
      engaged the Zeros letting the Vals and Kates get in with almost no
      opposition. Fortunatly enough for the Bunker Hill who seemed to be the
      primary target of the attack, she was only near missed, although
      shrapnel started a fire from a punctured fuel tank of an aircraft on
      the deck. The Independence to was near missed. There was still some
      problems with the direction of the CAP from the carriers, but not
      nearly as bad as had been the case eralier in the war. The Japanese
      kept up the attack, coming in in small groups which greatly aided the
      attempts of the defenders to preserve the ships.

      The losses from these attacks made Koga realize that if his Plan RO
      had any hope of success he would have to withdraw his carrier planes
      from Rabaul. Otherwise his carriers would have no pilots with which to
      conduct their part of the plan. Even so he was reloctant to admit that
      Rabaul could no longer serve as an offensive base. So he ordered a
      reinforcement of bombers to the area. Despite this and efforts by the
      homeland training squadrons the forces of Rabaul slowly eroded. In the
      end the base was by passed by the US and left to wither on the vine. A
      more poignent comment on how far the US had come to turning the tables
      on the Japanese would be hard to find.


      Thanks
      DJ
    • Andrew Jackson
      Hello D J, You have some interesting observations on the naval war in the Pacific. Andrew DJ wrote: Rabaul Interlude. While Nimitz
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 6, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        Hello D J,
         
        You have some interesting observations on the naval war in the Pacific.
         
        Andrew

        DJ <pommefritte2001@...> wrote:
        Rabaul Interlude.

        While Nimitz was using his Fast Carriers on the fringes to learn to
        use them in their new situation the Combined Fleet was going through
        changes as well. Admiral Mineichi Koga was moving up to command and
        like those that preceeded him he believed in winning with the one big
        battle. Koga knew that any assault in the Central Pacific would have
        to be done with Carriers in support. The United States didn't have
        long enough range aircraft to do it any other way. So it was there
        that the last battle would need to take place. So he started to get
        things in motion to put a plan into action. The start of this was
        ordering all availalbe planes to Rabaul. The problem with this plan
        was that it was based on a false assumption. It was believed by Koga
        that Yamamoto's ealier 'I' plan had caused considerable amounts of
        damage to the shipping units in the area of the Solomon's.

        Halsey being the kind of person that he was, wasn't going to sit
        around and wait for the Japanese to set the tone of the day. Halsey
        set in order his own plans for moving farther up the Solomon Island
        chain and set a date nearly idetincal for its launching as that for
        which Koga had chosen for his Operation 'RO'

        Still battles in the slot had left Halsey short of shipping. He was
        down to four new cruisers and two squadrons of destroyers. So Halsey
        asked for a couple of carriers to add some more attack value to his
        small force. Nimitz responded by sending the Saratoga and the light
        carrier Princeton. Feeling that he wanted to keep as much strength in
        hand for the upcoming battles in the Gilberts. Nimitz though thought
        it over and sent Halsey the Essex carrier group as well. This included
        the Essex, Bunker Hill and the light carrier Independence. This would
        give Halsey Five carriers in hand, three of them fleet boats.

        The 3rd Marine Division landed on Cape Torokin of Empress Augusta Bay
        on schedule on Novemeber 1st. Opposition was light. The Marines
        quickly set up a primiater and SeeBees went to work putting up an
        airfield. Off the coast the Japanese tried to stop this progress with
        a night bombardment and reinforcement. Forces under Rear Admiral Tip
        Merrill performed a skillfull night action and prevented that from
        happening. This battle showed just how far the US had come in regards
        to fighting night engagements. No longer would the Japanese have their
        way at night.

        Koga hearing of the landings sent more planes to Rabual, but didn't
        feel any need to send his carriers south of Truk. American
        cryptography once again gave the American's the edge in the upcoming
        battles. This information let Halsey know that now he might be facing
        more enemy strength then he could easily handle. Still Halsey acted to
        take the iniaitave. Using the Carriers Saratoga and Princeton he sent
        them out to attack airfields on northern Bouganiville. As they were at
        sea getting ready to fulfill this assignement they recieved orders
        that many on borad considered to be suicide, run north and attack Rabaul.

        With no time for planning, Ted Sherman was ordered by Halsey to take
        his carriers and two escorting AA cruisers to a point 230 miles
        southeast of Rabaul, there they woudl launch the next day and they
        when the planes returned they would beat it back to safe waters to the
        south. On the morning of November 5th the US were launching a combined
        strike force of 52 Hellcats, 22 Dauntlesses, 23 Avengers, a mere 14
        hours after Adm. Sherman had recieved his orders. In a by the book
        attack they swept over the Japanese base. The Dive Bombers dove
        through the most intense flak they have ever seen. This included those
        that had taken part in Midway. Although from the reading of Shattered
        Sword I have been doing recently that might not have been as intense
        as Japanese pilots had been diving through since nearly the start of
        the war.

        The attacks were somwhat costly, but they had succeeded in their
        mission. Five of the six Curisers that Kurita had available were
        either struck or took damaging near misses. Something that wasn't a
        part of Adm Koga's plans for attack. Becuase of this strike and the
        damage done to them, Koga ordered the Cruisers withdrawn to Truk, only
        the crippled Maya had to be left behind.

        Since the airbase at Rabaul had been reinforced with carrier planes
        they should have been able to take revenge on the Sara and the
        Princeton, but the Japanese had been caught unprepared to launch a
        strike. When 12 Kate torpedo planes finally got off, the two American
        Carriers were already well to the south. The Kates could only find a
        small convoy composed of a PT boat and a LCI and an LCT. With amazing
        accuracy the Japanese managed to put torpedos into the LCI and the PT
        boat, but neither went off. The Japanese though, claimed a Carrier
        sunk and another set afire and later sunk, along with three heavy and
        light cruisers sunk.

        While Bougainville was now safe from Surface attack, there was no way
        that Halsey was going to sit back on his laurels and leave Rabaul
        alone. Still with Saratoga and Princton pulling away it was impossible
        for him to send a rendavouz point to the Essex group and the Sara
        group. It did however give his staff time to plan the next attack.
        This plan called for a one two punch. The first would come from the
        Sara group and the second from the Essex group. This would cause
        Rabaul to be attacked from the East and the Southeast with the hope of
        throwing off any counterstrikes.

        This time things didn't go nearly as well as the first time. The
        Saratoga's group was met by 68 Zeros and had to attack through rain.
        This prevented the planes from attacking the two heavy cruisers inside
        the main harbor, but they did get strikes in on a new light cruiser in
        the outer harbor. Little more then half an hour after this attack the
        planes from the Essex group came in. Due to the poor weather it was
        nearly impossible to tell who hit what. Everyone thought that they had
        hit and sunk their targets, but according to the Japanese records only
        the Destroyer Suzunami was sunk while the destroyer Naganami was hit
        by a torpedo.

        Due to the weather Admiral Sherman decided to forgo the planned second
        strike. Montgomery though decided not to cancel. So the Essex group
        launched its second strike of the day. As this strike was launched an
        inbound stirke was detected on the Essex radar screens. This attack
        was coming from Rabaul. Despite not having any of the new AA Cruisers,
        Montgomery wasn't to worried, his ships were using the newly adopted
        circular formation to increase the amount of AA output and his CAP was
        augmented by 33 fighters from lands bases.

        Despite this abundance of CAP, the pilots of the Fighters primarly
        engaged the Zeros letting the Vals and Kates get in with almost no
        opposition. Fortunatly enough for the Bunker Hill who seemed to be the
        primary target of the attack, she was only near missed, although
        shrapnel started a fire from a punctured fuel tank of an aircraft on
        the deck. The Independence to was near missed. There was still some
        problems with the direction of the CAP from the carriers, but not
        nearly as bad as had been the case eralier in the war. The Japanese
        kept up the attack, coming in in small groups which greatly aided the
        attempts of the defenders to preserve the ships.

        The losses from these attacks made Koga realize that if his Plan RO
        had any hope of success he would have to withdraw his carrier planes
        from Rabaul. Otherwise his carriers would have no pilots with which to
        conduct their part of the plan. Even so he was reloctant to admit that
        Rabaul could no longer serve as an offensive base. So he ordered a
        reinforcement of bombers to the area. Despite this and efforts by the
        homeland training squadrons the forces of Rabaul slowly eroded. In the
        end the base was by passed by the US and left to wither on the vine. A
        more poignent comment on how far the US had come to turning the tables
        on the Japanese would be hard to find.

        Thanks
        DJ



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