Savo Island

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B.C.Chessnut
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Savo Island

Post by B.C.Chessnut » 22 May 2022 18:43

What if after the original battle
Admiral Mikawa, whose charts did not get destroyed by enemy shell fire; decides to circle Savo Island and come back in to mop up the remaining enemy combatants?
And if he then further decides to destroy or capture as many enemy supply ships as possible.


I can see his fleet being able to completely wipe out the surviving allied warships, but iirc there were more allied destroyers in the area of the transports?
Is the complete destruction of the enemy cruiser fleet worth the risk?
Or the additional transport wipeout worth the risk?
How many ships would Mikawa have to destroy to warrant the extra time exposed to potential enemy air strikes?
Was the loss of allied transports in total, worth the loss of part or all of Adm. Mikawa's force?

Huszar666
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Re: Savo Island

Post by Huszar666 » 22 May 2022 19:12

I would say, the Japanese would make only a cursory sweep of Tulagi and G'Canal in the very best of cases, they were realy afraid (overly so) of US airpower. With 8 transports at Tulagi and around 14 at G'Canal, destroying all of them was not possible. As it was, they would have to cycle back to hit either transport group, Tulagi being nearer and G'Canal more important. I do not think they could hit both in the limited time they had, but since most of the transports leaving in the morning, an attack would be mostly redundand anyway.

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Takao
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Re: Savo Island

Post by Takao » 22 May 2022 20:19

You would have to change history a few times prior to Savo.

Prior to the start of WW2, Mikawa did staff work, so he knew no Japanese heavy cruisers were under construction or planned.

Mikawa participated in the Battle of Midway, so he knew heavy cruisers without air cover were very vulnerable to air attack.

Mikawa can see into the future and gains the knowledge that several of the cruisers he is striving to protect will be sunk before the year is out. He also gains the knowledge that the transports are crucial to the outcome and this is not simply a hit-and-run raid by the Americans.

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Re: Savo Island

Post by antwony » 24 May 2022 10:49

B.C.Chessnut wrote:
22 May 2022 18:43
I can see his fleet being able to completely wipe out the surviving allied warships, but iirc there were more allied destroyers in the area of the transports?
And two CA's and CL's, which (judging by your next comment) you're aware of. Only the Chicago had been in action, the other three were fresh.
B.C.Chessnut wrote:
22 May 2022 18:43
Is the complete destruction of the enemy cruiser fleet worth the risk?
Do you know how much ammunition the Japanese had expended? Additional, probably lengthy, combat may have been difficult for them.
B.C.Chessnut wrote:
22 May 2022 18:43
Or the additional transport wipeout worth the risk?
Sinking all the remaining Allied warships was possible. But, presume the transport would have dispered if attacked. Sinking, hypothetically, almost twenty Allied warships would taken quite a while. Even if the japanese had been completely successfully in that, hunting down the dispered transport ships would been very time consuming. Can't see any captures taking place

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Re: Savo Island

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 28 May 2022 18:17

Moving at night into multiple groups totaling 22 Allied transports and 12+ USN warships? If Mikawa wants to sacrifice his fleet he can accomplish a lot even if 50% depleted in ammunition. Tho I suspect he was better off than that in gun ammo. A simple drive by & sinking a few more Allied ships may not panic Turner into withdrawal. So, little is gained if Turner hold steady & get his extra day of off loading. If there is a major fight then the transports are damaged and scattered east of Skylark Channel & Turner may recognize reality and leave the Marines with even less supplies than OTL. That could lead to a larger delivery effort than the single ship runs of OTL in the next four weeks. If there is even a small convoy & a few USN warships, then we could see another surface battle some 5-7 weeks earlier than OTL. Or maybe a carrier battle earlier as well.

B.C.Chessnut
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Re: Savo Island

Post by B.C.Chessnut » 28 May 2022 21:40

I've been interested in this battle for a long time, perhaps because I see less "what ifs" on this fight, than most others.
I'm not saying Mikawa was wrong, given the risk of air strikes in the morning, the destroyed charts, and being assured the Japanese air force would deal with the transports the next day; yet I'm left wondering ... what if?

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: Savo Island

Post by T. A. Gardner » 28 May 2022 21:57

The big question here is How much did Mikawa actually know about what the US had off Guadalcanal? Certainly, the IJA's initial response was underwhelming and assumed the US forces ashore were a mere fraction of what was actually there. Even the IJA wouldn't have expected 900 to 1200 men to win against 12,000+ the US had ashore.

So, I would assume that the IJN, likewise, doesn't know exactly the extent of the US invasion effort.

Certainly, wiping out the transports off Tulagi / Florida would have proved difficult because these ships were more sheltered within an anchorage than just simply anchored offshore like the ones off Guadalcanal. Those would have proved difficult to pick out from the island background.

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Takao
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Re: Savo Island

Post by Takao » 29 May 2022 00:25

T. A. Gardner wrote:
28 May 2022 21:57
The big question here is How much did Mikawa actually know about what the US had off Guadalcanal?
Answered here:
https://www.history.navy.mil/research/l ... lysis.html

Actually, quite a bit...For better or worse.

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Re: Savo Island

Post by B.C.Chessnut » 29 May 2022 01:13

Takao wrote:
29 May 2022 00:25
T. A. Gardner wrote:
28 May 2022 21:57
The big question here is How much did Mikawa actually know about what the US had off Guadalcanal?
Answered here:
https://www.history.navy.mil/research/l ... lysis.html

Actually, quite a bit...For better or worse.
Thank you, for the link.

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: Savo Island

Post by T. A. Gardner » 29 May 2022 02:09

Takao wrote:
29 May 2022 00:25
T. A. Gardner wrote:
28 May 2022 21:57
The big question here is How much did Mikawa actually know about what the US had off Guadalcanal?
Answered here:
https://www.history.navy.mil/research/l ... lysis.html

Actually, quite a bit...For better or worse.
What that source shows is that the IJN commander on-scene had really sh****y reconnaissance / intelligence reports from his surviving floatplanes and IJA land-based bombers. He might well have thought the IJA ashore had things well in hand and that the US was on the ropes.
At 2100 Commander Cruiser Force received a dispatch from Commander FIFTH Air Attack Force, stating that his bombers had attacked the Allied Forces in the Tulagi-Guadalcanal Area about noon and had sunk two heavy cruisers, one large cruiser, two destroyers and nine transports; and had badly damaged one heavy cruiser and two transports, all three of which were left burning.*** This was most heartening news to Commander Cruiser Force for his own reconnaissance plane was now two hours overdue and failed to return from Tulagi with the information he desired. It then became clear to him that his chances of making a successful night attack had been greatly increased. According to his best estimate the Allied force then numbered but one battleship, three cruisers (one of which was badly damaged) seventeen destroyers, and nine transports (two of which were burning).
(PG 76-77)

Not only were enemy forces completely mis-estimated, but the casualties suffered were grossly out of proportion to actual results. If Mikawa thought just nine transports were present, and two damaged, he might well have thought the US landing force was just 1000 to 2000 men at most and already all but defeated. No need to engage the transports...

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Re: Savo Island

Post by jbroshot » 29 May 2022 06:07

Takao wrote:
29 May 2022 00:25
T. A. Gardner wrote:
28 May 2022 21:57
The big question here is How much did Mikawa actually know about what the US had off Guadalcanal?
Answered here:
https://www.history.navy.mil/research/l ... lysis.html

Actually, quite a bit...For better or worse.
Which can be downloaded from Internet Archive

https://archive.org/details/battleofsav ... a/mode/2up

Along with the diagrams for same

https://archive.org/details/diagramsforbattl00usna

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Takao
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Re: Savo Island

Post by Takao » 29 May 2022 12:56

There is a pdf download link on the navy.mil website just below the title page...123 mb

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Savo Island

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 30 May 2022 15:53

Another point is Japanese Naval doctrine leaned towards the destruction of enemy warships. they knew the USN had material superiority & had developed the strategy of focus on the enemies key warships, thinking that they could break US morale by a rapid & early destruction of the warships. risking losses attacking cargo ships, just because you could, ran against doctrine.

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Re: Savo Island

Post by AnchorSteam » 31 May 2022 00:11

T. A. Gardner wrote:
29 May 2022 02:09
Not only were enemy forces completely mis-estimated, but the casualties suffered were grossly out of proportion to actual results. If Mikawa thought just nine transports were present, and two damaged, he might well have thought the US landing force was just 1000 to 2000 men at most and already all but defeated. No need to engage the transports...
THAT might be the best point of all, and it is born out by the fact that the first group landed by the Japanese to wipe the Marines out was only a Battalion in size.
.... a Battalion by Japanese reckoning, anyway!

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Takao
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Re: Savo Island

Post by Takao » 31 May 2022 13:23

AnchorSteam wrote:
31 May 2022 00:11
T. A. Gardner wrote:
29 May 2022 02:09
Not only were enemy forces completely mis-estimated, but the casualties suffered were grossly out of proportion to actual results. If Mikawa thought just nine transports were present, and two damaged, he might well have thought the US landing force was just 1000 to 2000 men at most and already all but defeated. No need to engage the transports...
THAT might be the best point of all, and it is born out by the fact that the first group landed by the Japanese to wipe the Marines out was only a Battalion in size.
.... a Battalion by Japanese reckoning, anyway!
The battalion that was sent was what could be moved immediately. The rest of the Regiment was to be transported later. Ichiki was to wait for the rest of the Regiment, however, his unopposed landing & finding little in the way of US defenses, led him to grossly underestimate the US opposition. This, led to his decision to attack without waiting, and his unit got slaughtered.

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