Defeating Invasion Fleets

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Carl Schwamberger
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Defeating Invasion Fleets

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 11 Feb 2023 16:49

Not really a WI but a sort of speculative analysis...

Was looking at the damage the Axis air & naval forces inflicted on the Allied invasion fleets in opertions TORCH HUSKY, AVALANCHE, and NEPTUNE.  While there were a some ships sunk thelanding operations were not significantly disrupted by these attacks.  I got curious about others opinins on how much damage there would have to be to the amphib/cargo fleet to badly disrupt and defeat the landing operation?   The answer may or may not depend on when during the several days invasion cycle the counter attacks occur.



5% sunk?  10%, 20% ?  Any insight or thoughts here?

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Re: Defeating Invasion Fleets

Post by T. A. Gardner » 11 Feb 2023 18:14

It might be best to look at the Japanese in WW 2 to answer this. At Balikpapan in early 1942 US destroyers surprised the Japanese amphibious invasion force sinking 4 of 12 transports. While it hurt the Japanese operations, they were still able to recover and win on land.

At Guadalcanal, the Japanese sent a fleet of 6 transports to land an infantry division and supplies. The ships were run aground and all six sunk within a couple of days, yet the Japanese got most of their forces and supplies ashore.

The only sure way to defeat an amphibious operation is to show up with a fleet of your own and crush it in a naval battle.

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Re: Defeating Invasion Fleets

Post by Peter89 » 11 Feb 2023 18:31

...or pin down the landing troops and counterattack with some formed up unit. A moving target is way too hard to hit, especially for the German aviators of 1944. It is much more easier to direct aerial assaults on landing beaches, where every bomb would hit something.
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Re: Defeating Invasion Fleets

Post by Kingfish » 11 Feb 2023 19:13

T. A. Gardner wrote:
11 Feb 2023 18:14
At Guadalcanal, the Japanese sent a fleet of 6 transports to land an infantry division and supplies. The ships were run aground and all six sunk within a couple of days, yet the Japanese got most of their forces and supplies ashore.
Which operation are you referring to?

The only transports the Japanese ran aground in Guadacanal were those carrying the bulk of the 38th Infantry. The convoy was originally 11 transports, but 6 were sunk by US aircraft before reaching the Island, 1 was damaged and returned back to port, and the remaining 4 grounded just west of Point Cruz. However, very few men and supplies were saved. Most were destroyed on the beach by US aircraft, artillery and naval forces.
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Re: Defeating Invasion Fleets

Post by T. A. Gardner » 11 Feb 2023 19:52

Kingfish wrote:
11 Feb 2023 19:13
T. A. Gardner wrote:
11 Feb 2023 18:14
At Guadalcanal, the Japanese sent a fleet of 6 transports to land an infantry division and supplies. The ships were run aground and all six sunk within a couple of days, yet the Japanese got most of their forces and supplies ashore.
Which operation are you referring to?

The only transports the Japanese ran aground in Guadacanal were those carrying the bulk of the 38th Infantry. The convoy was originally 11 transports, but 6 were sunk by US aircraft before reaching the Island, 1 was damaged and returned back to port, and the remaining 4 grounded just west of Point Cruz. However, very few men and supplies were saved. Most were destroyed on the beach by US aircraft, artillery and naval forces.
That proves my point. A amphibious invasion has to be defeated at sea, not after it arrives and lands. Using air power or sea power, or both, to attack and destroy the enemy's amphibious landing forces has to occur while they are still at sea. You can't beat them once they arrive and land.

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Re: Defeating Invasion Fleets

Post by T. A. Gardner » 11 Feb 2023 19:55

Peter89 wrote:
11 Feb 2023 18:31
...or pin down the landing troops and counterattack with some formed up unit. A moving target is way too hard to hit, especially for the German aviators of 1944. It is much more easier to direct aerial assaults on landing beaches, where every bomb would hit something.
That has been tried and done a number of times during amphibious invasions. It doesn't work. You have to defeat the naval forces offshore to defeat the invasion. Failing to do so means you will fail to defeat the landings.

As a smaller example, look at Wake Island. The first Japanese landing failed because the defenders were able to attack and sink or cripple much of the naval force--small as it was--involved in the landing. The Japanese had to withdraw, organize a new landing force and try again. They succeeded the second time because they managed to get ashore in sufficient numbers.

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Re: Defeating Invasion Fleets

Post by Kingfish » 11 Feb 2023 21:04

T. A. Gardner wrote:
11 Feb 2023 19:52
Using air power or sea power, or both, to attack and destroy the enemy's amphibious landing forces has to occur while they are still at sea. You can't beat them once they arrive and land.
Actually, you can but examples are rare.
The Allied landings at Gallipoli is one that comes to mind.
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Re: Defeating Invasion Fleets

Post by Felix C » 11 Feb 2023 21:17

Sink or disable the aircraft carriers and the landing is off.

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Re: Defeating Invasion Fleets

Post by Peter89 » 11 Feb 2023 22:00

T. A. Gardner wrote:
11 Feb 2023 19:55
Peter89 wrote:
11 Feb 2023 18:31
...or pin down the landing troops and counterattack with some formed up unit. A moving target is way too hard to hit, especially for the German aviators of 1944. It is much more easier to direct aerial assaults on landing beaches, where every bomb would hit something.
That has been tried and done a number of times during amphibious invasions. It doesn't work. You have to defeat the naval forces offshore to defeat the invasion. Failing to do so means you will fail to defeat the landings.

As a smaller example, look at Wake Island. The first Japanese landing failed because the defenders were able to attack and sink or cripple much of the naval force--small as it was--involved in the landing. The Japanese had to withdraw, organize a new landing force and try again. They succeeded the second time because they managed to get ashore in sufficient numbers.
We have examples for both ways. There is also the Dieppe raid and the Dodecanese campaign, amongst others.

The outcome of an amphibious invasion was not depending on whether the attackers would be sunk on the sea or on the shores. Let's say you put ashore 100 men which has to face 1000 men on the shores. The 100 men is going to win because they were not sunk on the sea? Or alternatively, if the defender has control of the air, let's say 1000 aircraft vs 100 aircraft of the attackers. Again, who's gonna win? Also if the defender has firepower superiority, let's say 1000 guns and the attacker manages to bring ashore 100 guns of the same caliber, who's gonna win?

The reason why the Axis failed to stop the aforementioned amphibious invasions was not because they didn't sink the Allied ships on the sea. It was because they were quantity/quality inferior, the Allies had control of the air, they had plenty NGFS and the favourable defensive position could not offset these advantages.
Last edited by Peter89 on 12 Feb 2023 14:08, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Defeating Invasion Fleets

Post by T. A. Gardner » 11 Feb 2023 23:37

Kingfish wrote:
11 Feb 2023 21:04
T. A. Gardner wrote:
11 Feb 2023 19:52
Using air power or sea power, or both, to attack and destroy the enemy's amphibious landing forces has to occur while they are still at sea. You can't beat them once they arrive and land.
Actually, you can but examples are rare.
The Allied landings at Gallipoli is one that comes to mind.
That resulted in a stalemate, not a defeat. The British weren't pushed back into the sea. Sure, their plan sucked, and they chose a horrible place to land, but that aside, they were defeated.

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Re: Defeating Invasion Fleets

Post by T. A. Gardner » 11 Feb 2023 23:47

Peter89 wrote:
11 Feb 2023 22:00
T. A. Gardner wrote:
11 Feb 2023 19:55
Peter89 wrote:
11 Feb 2023 18:31
...or pin down the landing troops and counterattack with some formed up unit. A moving target is way too hard to hit, especially for the German aviators of 1944. It is much more easier to direct aerial assaults on landing beaches, where every bomb would hit something.
That has been tried and done a number of times during amphibious invasions. It doesn't work. You have to defeat the naval forces offshore to defeat the invasion. Failing to do so means you will fail to defeat the landings.

As a smaller example, look at Wake Island. The first Japanese landing failed because the defenders were able to attack and sink or cripple much of the naval force--small as it was--involved in the landing. The Japanese had to withdraw, organize a new landing force and try again. They succeeded the second time because they managed to get ashore in sufficient numbers.
We have examples for both ways. There is also the Dieppe raid and the Dodecanese campaign, amongst others.

The outcome of an amphibious invasion was not depending on whether the attackers would be sunk on the sea or on the shores. Let's say you put ashore 100 men which has to face 1000 men on the shores. The 1000 men is going to win because they were not sunk on the sea? Or alternatively, if the defender has control of the air, let's say 1000 aircraft vs 100 aircraft of the attackers. Again, who's gonna win? Also if the defender has firepower superiority, let's say 1000 guns and the attacker manages to bring ashore 100 guns of the same caliber, who's gonna win?

The reason why the Axis failed to stop the aforementioned amphibious invasions was not because they didn't sink the Allied ships on the sea. It was because they were quantity/quality inferior, the Allies had control of the air, they had plenty NGFS and the favourable defensive position could not offset these advantages.
Dippe was a raid. The British / Canadian force was going to be withdrawn and that was planned. Dumb plan, but that's what they were doing. The Dodecanese campaign mostly succeeded for the Germans because the British were, putting it politely, inept. There was never a serious attempt by the British to intervene with major naval forces.

The Russians showed you can land an inferior force and overcome the defenses at Shumshu in the Kuriles. A rather ineptly handled amphibious assault that still succeeded because it wasn't interfered with by Japanese naval forces.

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Re: Defeating Invasion Fleets

Post by Kingfish » 12 Feb 2023 03:13

T. A. Gardner wrote:
11 Feb 2023 23:37
That resulted in a stalemate, not a defeat.
That is extremely generous given that after 10 months and 300K causalities later the allies were forced to reembark their entire landing force, having achieved nothing for their efforts.
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Re: Defeating Invasion Fleets

Post by T. A. Gardner » 12 Feb 2023 05:49

Kingfish wrote:
12 Feb 2023 03:13
T. A. Gardner wrote:
11 Feb 2023 23:37
That resulted in a stalemate, not a defeat.
That is extremely generous given that after 10 months and 300K causalities later the allies were forced to reembark their entire landing force, having achieved nothing for their efforts.
Given it was WW 1, that's light casualties compared to many major offensives...

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Re: Defeating Invasion Fleets

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 12 Feb 2023 06:36

T. A. Gardner wrote:
11 Feb 2023 19:55
As a smaller example, look at Wake Island. The first Japanese landing failed because the defenders were able to attack and sink or cripple much of the naval force--small as it was--involved in the landing. The Japanese had to withdraw, organize a new landing force and try again. They succeeded the second time because they managed to get ashore in sufficient numbers.
Between 20 & 25% of the total naval force. Have to look up the details as Im unsure any of the landing force were lost.
T. A. Gardner wrote:
11 Feb 2023 18:14
It might be best to look at the Japanese in WW 2 to answer this. At Balikpapan in early 1942 US destroyers surprised the Japanese amphibious invasion force sinking 4 of 12 transports. While it hurt the Japanese operations, they were still able to recover and win on land.
IIRC correctly the bulk of the Japanese transports had been unloaded before the US flotilla showed up.

Operation RESERVIST was certainly defeated. Technically 50% of the ships were lost & near half the landing force killed or captured. But tiny samples like that may not be good data to use.

Have to take a look at the details of the amphib side of the Crete operation. I can't remember how many soldiers crossed the beach during the battle, if any. At least one transport flotilla lost heavily and was turned back.

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Re: Defeating Invasion Fleets

Post by Kingfish » 12 Feb 2023 10:55

T. A. Gardner wrote:
12 Feb 2023 05:49
Given it was WW 1, that's light casualties compared to many major offensives...
While certainly true it is also irrelevant to the topic of defeating an already disembarked amphibious invasion.
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