Tarawa vs Abemama

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Takao
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Re: Tarawa vs Abemama

Post by Takao » 28 Oct 2021 20:04

Can't wait to hear your scathing critique on MacArthur Biak operation.

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: Tarawa vs Abemama

Post by T. A. Gardner » 29 Oct 2021 23:10

With Tarawa, the US did pound the island for weeks in aerial bombardment prior to the invasion force showing up and doing a much more intense job.

The US took-- well occupied since the invasion force was met by a New Zealand officer and three native constables--Funafuti Atoll and turned it into their second forward base (Guadalcanal was the first). They brought in the fleet train, made the lagoon a 100+ ship anchorage and built airfields that USAAF B-24's started flying daily missions against Tarawa from.

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Re: Tarawa vs Abemama

Post by rcocean » 04 Nov 2021 15:19

Somewhat Late to the party, but I agree what Beito attack was one of the poorest, most badly mismanaged amphibious assaults in WW 2. Despite what some have said, the problems can't be palmed off due to "Time pressure". We easily could have delayed the attack for another month. And in any case, we'd had since December 7, 1942, to decide where and how to launch our Central Pacific offensive.

People have compared the defenses to those on Iwo Jima, but that is incorrect. Beito is a flat island and at its maximum 3 miles by 600 yards. There were no cave defenses, or massive undergound tunnels. I was surprised to learn that the heavy losses from having to wade in to the beach, were primarily not in the first wave that used LVT's but in the following assault units.

Its seems the Navy and Marines didn't use enough LVT's. Had there been more, the entire first days assault could have been carried to the shore with far fewer causualties. Over 100 marines were labeled as "Missing" because their bodies had been washed out to sea. That gives you an idea of how heavy the losses of the units were that had to wade in.

And a 3.5 hour bombardment! Even when you factor in the need for Naval warships to not loiter around the island for too long, this is just absurd. The island could have easily been pounded for 7 hours or 10 hours. The complete lack of GOOD planning is shown in the Official Marine Corps History of WW2. For example, the commander of the assault often lost his communications because the concussion from 16 inch on the Maryland, caused problems for the radio equipment! At one point, messangers had to sent to and from the Island, because none of the radios worked.

Other absurdities: Aircraft were wasted strafing the island before the assault. The aircraft and the assault force also mixed up what time the assault was to occur. Many Tanks were unable to land because they could get over the reef. 75mm Pack howitzers were landed when 105 mm were needed.

The Marine corps history also states that the Marine Corps commander wanted to land on nearby islands and then bombard Beito with artillery. This was refused, because the Navy thought the direct assault would be a snap.

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Re: Tarawa vs Abemama

Post by Delta Tank » 28 Nov 2021 04:22

rcocean wrote:
04 Nov 2021 15:19
Somewhat Late to the party, but I agree what Beito attack was one of the poorest, most badly mismanaged amphibious assaults in WW 2. Despite what some have said, the problems can't be palmed off due to "Time pressure". We easily could have delayed the attack for another month. And in any case, we'd had since December 7, 1942, to decide where and how to launch our Central Pacific offensive.

People have compared the defenses to those on Iwo Jima, but that is incorrect. Beito is a flat island and at its maximum 3 miles by 600 yards. There were no cave defenses, or massive undergound tunnels. I was surprised to learn that the heavy losses from having to wade in to the beach, were primarily not in the first wave that used LVT's but in the following assault units.

Its seems the Navy and Marines didn't use enough LVT's. Had there been more, the entire first days assault could have been carried to the shore with far fewer causualties. Over 100 marines were labeled as "Missing" because their bodies had been washed out to sea. That gives you an idea of how heavy the losses of the units were that had to wade in.

And a 3.5 hour bombardment! Even when you factor in the need for Naval warships to not loiter around the island for too long, this is just absurd. The island could have easily been pounded for 7 hours or 10 hours. The complete lack of GOOD planning is shown in the Official Marine Corps History of WW2. For example, the commander of the assault often lost his communications because the concussion from 16 inch on the Maryland, caused problems for the radio equipment! At one point, messangers had to sent to and from the Island, because none of the radios worked.

Other absurdities: Aircraft were wasted strafing the island before the assault. The aircraft and the assault force also mixed up what time the assault was to occur. Many Tanks were unable to land because they could get over the reef. 75mm Pack howitzers were landed when 105 mm were needed.

The Marine corps history also states that the Marine Corps commander wanted to land on nearby islands and then bombard Beito with artillery. This was refused, because the Navy thought the direct assault would be a snap.
The answer to all these screw ups is obvious!! MacArthur!! Blame MacArthur!! The US Navy has never ever made a mistake!! And if you ever thought the US Navy made a mistake it was MaArthur!! Blame him!!

Just look at the Battle of Leyte Gulf!! Admiral Halsey’s actions were without fault !!

viewtopic.php?f=33&t=191079&hilit=MacArthur+Halsey

Mike

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Re: Tarawa vs Abemama

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 20 Dec 2021 18:58

rcocean wrote:
04 Nov 2021 15:19
Somewhat Late to the party, but I agree what Beito attack was one of the poorest, most badly mismanaged amphibious assaults in WW 2. Despite what some have said, the problems can't be palmed off due to "Time pressure". We easily could have delayed the attack for another month. And in any case, we'd had since December 7, 1942, to decide where and how to launch our Central Pacific offensive.

People have compared the defenses to those on Iwo Jima, but that is incorrect. Beito is a flat island and at its maximum 3 miles by 600 yards. There were no cave defenses, or massive undergound tunnels. I was surprised to learn that the heavy losses from having to wade in to the beach, were primarily not in the first wave that used LVT's but in the following assault units.

Its seems the Navy and Marines didn't use enough LVT's. Had there been more, the entire first days assault could have been carried to the shore with far fewer causualties.
This leads t the question of were there more at hand. One group were conversions of the earlier cargo model. Steel plate from New Zeeland fabrication shops and MG mounts added. The other half recently arrived from the US, which were the new 'combat model'.
And a 3.5 hour bombardment! Even when you factor in the need for Naval warships to not loiter around the island for too long, this is just absurd.
In the context of hind sight it is. Then, as now there is a chronic underestimation of the amount of ammunition and accuracy required to inflict X or Y quantity of damage to a target. I saw this routinely as a artillery FO, and later planning supporting fires. More than once I ran across expectations of damage to targets that would have required impossible amounts of ammunition. Preparatory fires are seldom destructive or even neutralizing fires. We were taught that in our basic artillery instruction and I've not seen much to contradict that during my service or since. There may very well be a valid criticism in timing of fires, but thats a very different issue.
The island could have easily been pounded for 7 hours or 10 hours.
Not any more accurately or effectively. Making preparatory or covering fires for assaults effective has more to do with timing and accuracy, that is observed, fires.
The complete lack of GOOD planning is shown in the Official Marine Corps History of WW2. For example, the commander of the assault often lost his communications because the concussion from 16 inch on the Maryland, caused problems for the radio equipment! At one point, messangers had to sent to and from the Island, because none of the radios worked.
That may apply to some of those on the Maryland. IIRC the Navy radios worked a lot better. Leaving that aside I've not seen any any evidence this affected the naval gunfire spotting or coordination circuits. That includes a 1974 conversation with one of the spotting team members ashore. They were able to effectively direct the fires of the supporting ships throughout the first day. Overall some stations or comm channels failed, others did not. These were things that in some respects revealed in combat and training in previous years, & in other respects were not revealed. This was a complex & demanding operation with aspects not touched on before. The experience with failing comm channels reinforced the need to have effective work arounds in place to remediate. While we would all prefer prevention, theres too many variables to anticipate what might fail.
Other absurdities: Aircraft were wasted strafing the island before the assault. The aircraft and the assault force also mixed up what time the assault was to occur. Many Tanks were unable to land because they could get over the reef. 75mm Pack howitzers were landed when 105 mm were needed.

The Marine corps history also states that the Marine Corps commander wanted to land on nearby islands and then bombard Beito with artillery. This was refused, because the Navy thought the direct assault would be a snap.
That had to do with multiple failures to identify the actual strength of the defenders. Analysis gave a best guess of 2500 to 3000 men, most of who would be service personnel for the airfield which was still in use and construction laborers. A better identification of the defenders strength leads to a different attack plan

Beyond that there was a requirement the entire GALVANIC operation be executed on a rapid schedule. The ability of the IJN to counter attack could not be discounted. Bitter experience in 1942 & earlier in 43 suggested screwing around for days was not the best idea. As the operation spun out Japanese submarines were nosing about stalking the several fleet components. The loss of the Liscombe Bay & 800 men was a warning. That a air search the previous day failed to spot the approaching fleet was a bit of luck. Reducing the Japanese warning by a day & down to 5-6 hours. Approaching earlier to execute a long bombardment would have raised the odds of giving the Japanese a 24 hour warning a lot higher. That leads to those I class submarines searching the Gilberts a day earlier & increased opportunities to reproduce their successes the previous year vs the Saratoga, Wasp, Yorktown, S Carolina, Juneau, ect... ect... ect...

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Re: Tarawa vs Abemama

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 20 Dec 2021 19:04

T. A. Gardner wrote:
29 Oct 2021 23:10
With Tarawa, the US did pound the island for weeks in aerial bombardment prior to the invasion force showing up and doing a much more intense job.

The US took-- well occupied since the invasion force was met by a New Zealand officer and three native constables--Funafuti Atoll and turned it into their second forward base (Guadalcanal was the first). They brought in the fleet train, made the lagoon a 100+ ship anchorage and built airfields that USAAF B-24's started flying daily missions against Tarawa from.
Wish I had information on the altitude they were attacking from, & the accuracy. There are not many indications of damage by these air attacks. That a flight of reconnaissance planes stopped off to refuel the previous day suggests not much. That leads around to my earlier remarks about over estimation of the effects of heavy bombardments, and preparatory fires effects or lack thereof.

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Re: Tarawa vs Abemama

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 20 Dec 2021 19:13

Delta Tank wrote:
28 Oct 2021 18:21
Carl,

Before I go, I have a friend who has a Masters Degree in Asian Philosophy and he also has a PhD from Oxford in European Philosophy and one day while discussing World War II in the Pacific he asked me if Nimitz had an Asian Philosopher on his staff? I told I did not know, so do you or anyone else reading this thread know? Apparently, a lot of unknowns may of been known if an Asian Philosopher was on the staff.

Mike
They did not even have good translators.

Back in the late 1980s there was a front page item on the Wall Street Journal about new graduates with doctorates in Philosophy. The reporter found those guys were in demand by business as entry level managers. Unlike MBAs they had people skills, could think in the long term, consider multiple alternatives or juggle multiple courses of action, were better prepared to abandon failing plans. All that the reporter got from the Headhunters who were placing the Drs of Philosophy in industry. So, your friend may have had a point.

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Re: Tarawa vs Abemama

Post by T. A. Gardner » 20 Dec 2021 22:39

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
20 Dec 2021 19:04
T. A. Gardner wrote:
29 Oct 2021 23:10
With Tarawa, the US did pound the island for weeks in aerial bombardment prior to the invasion force showing up and doing a much more intense job.

The US took-- well occupied since the invasion force was met by a New Zealand officer and three native constables--Funafuti Atoll and turned it into their second forward base (Guadalcanal was the first). They brought in the fleet train, made the lagoon a 100+ ship anchorage and built airfields that USAAF B-24's started flying daily missions against Tarawa from.
Wish I had information on the altitude they were attacking from, & the accuracy. There are not many indications of damage by these air attacks. That a flight of reconnaissance planes stopped off to refuel the previous day suggests not much. That leads around to my earlier remarks about over estimation of the effects of heavy bombardments, and preparatory fires effects or lack thereof.
A list of the raids.
https://pacificwrecks.com/airfields/kir ... arawa.html

I'd say one of the more important functions these had--they flew at around 15,000 feet without oxygen--was the Japanese sent up their fighters and saw many shot down by the bombers while their planes caused few casualties.

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Re: Tarawa vs Abemama

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 20 Dec 2021 23:58

That looks like the 5th AF raids on Rabual 15 -6 months earlier. I suspect the results were similar, that is less damage than hoped for. The photograph missions may have been more valuable than the bomber attacks. There were also attacks from carrier based bombers, during September.

It looks like the Japanese withdrew their advanced interceptor and bomber units from the Gilberts, or at least the Tarawa Atoll during the September bomber raids, and did not return them during the hiatus of attacks during October & Early November. Air reconnaissance flights did continue from bases further west, which refueled and repairs at the eastern atolls, then returned west. Eleven twin engined bombers of the 755th Air Group landed at Betio to refuel late on the 18th and departed west at dawn of the 19th Nov, a few hours before the invasion fleet came over the horizon.

Flipping back through the books I see I was probably wrong on one item with the preparation fires. It was noted the soft sand and hard coral underlayment made it difficult to bury the telephone lines. There is evidence from the few survivors and the Japanese actions that heir communications were disrupted by naval cannon fires cutting the phone lines. That may have led to the garrison commander Shibasaki & his staff leaving the command bunker mid afternoon & apparently being caught & killed by a well directed volley of naval gun fire, a few hours into the start of the battle. If so it explains the lack of aggressive action by the defense that day and following night. Counter attacks were small, local, and uncoordinated. The Marines expected a large counter attack in the first 6-12 hours, which never happened.

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Re: Tarawa vs Abemama

Post by EwenS » 21 Dec 2021 11:34

Heavy bombers were not available in the various Pacific theatres in anything like the numbers of the ETO/MTO. In late 1943 there were:-
5th AF - 3 B-24 groups spread from Australia (NT and Queensland) through to New Guinea to be joined by a fourth converting from B-25/B-26 in Feb 1944.
13th AF - 2 B-24 groups based on Guadalcanal.
7th AF - 2 B-24 groups. The 11th and 30th BGs. The latter only arrived in theatre in Oct 1943 fresh from training in the USA. These were based in Hawaii and then various Pacific island bases like Funafuti in late 1943.
11th AF - one B-24 squadron in Alaska.

At this time the full strength of each Group would be 48 aircraft in 4 squadrons.

The USN also deployed a few squadrons of PB4Y-1 aircraft in the Solomons which were added to the raids on places like Rabaul even though their primary role was shipping search.

None of these Pacific island airbases that 7th AF operated from at this time was particularly large, making deployment of large numbers of aircraft impossible. So a Group could find itself spread over more than one island base and so making the organisation of raids by more than a couple of squadrons difficult. Also it was a long haul from any US airbase to Tarawa. Baker Island, opened in Aug 1943, is about the closest at 730 miles with Funafuti being 800 miles and Canton Island, which was used earlier in 1943 to stage raids with aircraft from Hawaii, 1,100. By way of comparison East Anglia to Berlin is about 500 miles. Long overwater missions without much in the way of weather information or navigational aids were exceptionally tiring for the crews, especially pilots and navigators.

No further heavy bomber groups deployed to the Pacific theatres before the end of the war (excluding the B-29 Very Heavy Bomber Groups arriving from late 1944) although numbers of aircraft in each group might have increased.

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