Battle of the Eastern Solomons

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BuNo02100
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Battle of the Eastern Solomons

Post by BuNo02100 » 25 Jan 2023 00:12

While not as well-known as some of the other battles in the Pacific, the Battle of the Eastern Solomons during the first month of the Guadalcanal Campaign was crucial. The majority of the action occurred on 24 August between the two carrier forces, but the action over RAdm Tanaka’s landing force the next day was just as important. One the last little details I have been trying to clear up deals with the report by Marine and USN aviators that they were attacked by a “small force of enemy float planes when withdrawing (MAG-23 War Diary). They even credited two radio-gunners, PFCs Edward L. Eades and Lewis P. Maclas, with shooting one down a piece.

I have not found this information referenced anywhere else. Tanaka’s account of this action has been published twice in English that I am aware of, once in 1956 (“Japan’s Losing Struggle for Guadalcanal” in USNI Proceedings) and again in 1986 (“The Struggle for Guadalcanal” in The Japanese Navy in World War II: In the Words of Former Japanese Naval Officers). Neither of these accounts includes mention of float planes over his force.
I have reviewed the Japanese War History series, and Volume 49, page 486, covers this action but only mentions that five float planes from the Outer South Seas Force attacked Guadalcanal at midnight (August 24) then landed at Shortland, but makes no mention of any float planes providing cover during the attack that morning on Tanaka’s force.

The Outer South Seas Force was the operational title of the 8th Fleet, and each of the cruisers assigned carried at least one float plane, and often two. This unit was providing cover to Tanaka’s force and would be the most likely source of the float planes. In addition, the seaplane tender Kiyokawa Maru was assigned to the 8th Fleet and was operating in the area, but not directly engaged itself, however its aircraft may have been.
The following cruisers may have provided the aircraft that the Marine and Navy SBDs encountered:
Jintsu
Chokai
Kinugasa
Yura (one source lists it as sending float planes to bomb Guadalcanal, but she was assigned to the main force and not the Support Group thus the one source may be in error)
Aoba
Furutaka

I would greatly appreciate if anyone can shed some light on these reported float planes and if any records from the above mentioned cruisers or the seaplane tender reference this event.

Eugen Pinak
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Re: Battle of the Eastern Solomons

Post by Eugen Pinak » 25 Jan 2023 13:29

Interesting to note, that detailed "First Team And The Guadalcanal Campaign - Naval Fighter Combat From August To November 1942" by Lundstrom also says nothing of this fight.

cstunts
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Re: Battle of the Eastern Solomons

Post by cstunts » 25 Jan 2023 18:19

1) Kiyokawa-maru's records [DER & WLB] for the period are extensive & largely intact at JACAR, but are of very poor quality & difficult to decipher. Lots of R code references to various Bismarcks locations, however.

2) Plenty of Sentai 6 records for the period also exist at JACAR if one cares to go through them.

3) Ditto 8th Fleet records.

HTH

Lethl215
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Re: Battle of the Eastern Solomons

Post by Lethl215 » 27 Jan 2023 05:46

Frank briefly covers this in his book on Guadalcanal p.188-193.

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ijnfleetadmiral
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Re: Battle of the Eastern Solomons

Post by ijnfleetadmiral » 27 Jan 2023 14:31

The TROMs for the listed vessels on combinedfleet.com make no mention of the action.
MSG, MS State Guard (Ret.) - First Always!

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ShindenKai
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Re: Battle of the Eastern Solomons

Post by ShindenKai » 27 Jan 2023 19:35

BuNo02100 wrote:
25 Jan 2023 00:12
“small force of enemy float planes when withdrawing (MAG-23 War Diary). They even credited two radio-gunners, PFCs Edward L. Eades and Lewis P. Maclas, with shooting one down a piece.

I have not found this information referenced anywhere else.
Sometimes people lie, for various reasons... OR maybe there was some sort of mix-up on the dates given...

Any records of IJN float plane losses for that day and area?

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fontessa
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Re: Battle of the Eastern Solomons

Post by fontessa » 28 Jan 2023 23:03

BuNo02100 wrote:
25 Jan 2023 00:12
I have reviewed the Japanese War History series, and Volume 49, page 486, covers this action but only mentions that five float planes from the Outer South Seas Force attacked Guadalcanal at midnight (August 24) then landed at Shortland,
I found the above in Senshi Sosho Vol.49. According to it, five float planes took off at 2400 for the Guadalcanal attack. I don't think this is correct for the reasons given below.

Below is the composition of IJN fleets.
3rd Fleet
Main Force
1st Air Squadron: Shokaku, Zuikaku, Ryujo
10th Destroyer Division:
16th Destroyer Division
Attached Destroyer
Advanced Guard
11th Squadron: Hiei, Kirishima
7th Squadron: Kumano, Suzuya
8th Squadron: Tone Chikuma
10th Torpedo Squadron: Nagara / 19th Destroyer Division
Advanced Force
2nd Fleet
4th Squadron: Atago, Takao, Maya
5th Squadron: Myoko, Haguro
2nd Squadron; Mutsu
4th Torpedo Squadron: Yura / 9th and 27th Destroyer Divisions
Air Unit
11th Air Squadron: Chitose, Sanyo Maru
4th Destroyer Division

According to Sanyo Maru’s action report, below 2 seaplanes were active on 24th.
Pate x 1: Anti-air patrol
Pete x 1: Anti-sub patrol

According to Watanabe Hiroshi’s TROMs, the move of 4th and 5th Squadrons of the Advanced Force was:
Change course to 150 degrees, Speed 16 knots
0500-hour Seaplane took off for the south to search enemy at 0310S 16210E
1720-hour Merge with Advanced Guard
2200-hour Change course at the East of Sikaiana Atoll to 350 degrees, Speed 24 knots

2400-hour Reached the green point. According to Senshi Sosho, five float planes took off here. However, this point was over 400km away from Guadalcanal and even Kate was out of attack range. More, night flights can't measure drift, and on the return flight, float planes must have chased 'escaping' heavy cruisers. Navigation becomes more difficult. That's why I think the author of Senshi Sosho had some kind of misunderstanding.

ShindenKai wrote:
27 Jan 2023 19:35
Any records of IJN float plane losses for that day and area?
No seaplane loss on that day.


戦史叢書 第2次ソロモン海戦.jpg

第2次ソロモン海戦 2.jpg

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BuNo02100
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Re: Battle of the Eastern Solomons

Post by BuNo02100 » 29 Jan 2023 01:57

Fontessa,
Thank you for the very detailed response. I went back and checked the MAG-23 WD and it does not make mention of an air raid, only shelling by destroyers off-shore. ComAirSoPac WD doesnt list anything either so now I am wondering if the error in SS? I believe that it states that the float planes landed at Shortlands after their raid on Guadalcanal, so that makes the last leg of the flight easier than trying to locate cruisers.

I wonder if it is possible if Jintsu had a float plane airborne during morning attack on Tanaka's force? Or if Kiyokawa Maru air group had float planes operating from Shortlands that provided cover?

Like i stated, its a minor detail but one that I have not been able to nail down and its becoming more elusive it seems!

BW

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fontessa
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Re: Battle of the Eastern Solomons

Post by fontessa » 29 Jan 2023 02:33

BuNo02100 wrote:
29 Jan 2023 01:57
I wonder if it is possible if Jintsu had a float plane airborne during morning attack on Tanaka's force? Or if Kiyokawa Maru air group had float planes operating from Shortlands that provided cover?
According to Japanese Wiki, Jintsu was hit and was forced to inject water into the powder magazine, so I think it was impossible to fly a seaplane. And Kiyokawa Maru's action report says her following five seaplanes were in action near Rabaul.
Pete x 2: Anti-sub patrol
Pete x 1: Convoy escort
Jake x 2: Convoy escort
And according to Sanyo Naru's action report, he two seaplanes were active as below.
Pate x 1: Anti-air patrol
Pete x 1: Anti-sub patrol

fontessa

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ShindenKai
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Re: Battle of the Eastern Solomons

Post by ShindenKai » 30 Jan 2023 00:43

Looks like the only losses left to check are Allied. Friendly fire happens.

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