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Old 10-13-2020, 09:37 PM   #41
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Absolutely, I'd love to have you put a piece in here, and love the idea of the CF-104 as a topic. Post away.
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Old 10-18-2020, 03:06 PM   #42
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Battle of Dien Bien Phu






When one looks back on some of the greatest defeats in Military History, the Battle of Dien Bien Phu certainly deserves mention. While not as well-known as Roman defeat at Cannae, The French getting crushed at Agincourt, or the Battle at the Little Bighorn. Dien Bien Phu displayed so many characteristics of failure that it led to the down fall of the French Government, and its ripples lead directly to the American failures in Vietnam.


Preparation

By the time of this battle, the French had suffered numerous defeats at the hands of the Viet Minh who were fighting for independence, and this had lead to the French continually replacing their area commanders who failed time after time to suppress the Viet Minh and had lead to a worse and worse situation for the French.

By 1953 the French who were continually relying on less and less stable supply lines had continually fallen back and were focused on defending the Hanoi Delta Region with the idea of a resupply and re-enforcement of their troops who would be able to turn aside Viet Minh incursions and retake the initiative.

Enter French Commander Henri Navarre a extremely experienced Fiend General who had fought in the first and second world wars and was given command of the French Far East Expeditionary Corps in Indochina. On arriving at his command, he was horrified by not only the lax conditions of the troops, but a lack of care and strategy. He was given the overwhelming job of rebuilding the French Military in Indochina. He also had to come up with a strategy for the French to blunt the Viet Minh offensive and allow the French to regain the Initiative. While the Hedgehog concept sounded good in practice (A hedgehog that is attacked will curl into a ball and let its spikes hold off the enemy) it was a failure, not because it was a bad concept, but because Navarre under estimated his enemy, had poor intelligence and a battle plan that a 12 year old would break.

In order to make this plan work the French would establish a fortified air base that was ajacent to the Viet Minh’s most commonly used supply lines and create an irresistible target for the Vietminh general Vo Noguyen Giap. At the same time, this would allow the French to use Air mobility to cut off the VietMinh rear areas in Laos and force the Viet Minh forward troops to break off due to a unwinnable supply situation.

The Viet Minh troops would be forced to deal with this base and thus commit the bulk of their troops to this endeavor, and the French felt that they would have a significant advantage in heavy weapons and armor and would win a conventional engagement.

Here’s the problem, a combination of poor intelligence and arrogance doomed the French offensive. First and foremost, Navarre underestimated his counter part and wrote off the Viet Minh as poorly trained and poorly armed and he felt that in a straight up tactical fight he was the better General. The French also didn’t think that the Viet Minh had access to heavy artillary and anti-aircraft weapons, and therefore the idea of a air mobile base in a valley seemed like a brilliant idea at the time.

At the same time Navarre knew deep down that this Hedgehog solution wasn’t a great one. The selected terrain in the valley wasn’t conducive to mobile warfar or the use of armor, his second option was to build a static defense line which would force Giap to throw his troops against well defended positions, but he didn’t have the troops to make this happen. His third option was the Hedgehog which was a combination of the two, a static base with armor supplied strictly by air.

Meanwhile from Giap’s side he had several aces in the hole. The Chinese had supplied the Viet Minh with heavy artillery pieces and anti-aircraft weapons. Giap then began to infiltrate the hills around the French base carefully recording the positions of French Artillery, troop placements, and supply dumps, as well using back breaking labor he began to move his heavy artillery onto the hills and valleys and sited his anti-aircraft weapon at key arrival and departure airlanes.

Navarre made another critical mistake as he appointed Colonel Christian de Castres as the base commander, De Castres began to set up 10 defensive positions around the central command.

Habrielle was to the North, Beatrice to the NE, Dominique to the East, Eliane to the Southeast, Junon to the South, Isabelle was also to the south and protected the reserve air strip, Claudine to the SW, Liane and Francois to the W, an Huguette and Anne Marie to the NE. These satellite defenses were designed to keep the Viet Minh offenses as far from the key airstrips and central command as possible. In retrospect this strategy threw away the French ability for a mobile or movement-based battle which was their greatest strength. Instead the French basically set up static defenses and went back to Trench warfare. De Castres also failed to use his men and air power to provide him with reconnaissance into the hills surrounding the air field which allowed Giap to continue to move in his troops and weapons.


Giap must have looked at this situation and smiled, but he still had a problem in front of him. Taking this base would be extremely difficult as even with the French throwing away key advantages, its defenses were formidable and in theory French Air Supply could re-enforce the garrisons and re-supply them indefinitely.

Orignally Giap wanted to use Chinese Tactics, which is basically a fast and overwhelming thrust at the heart of the enemy, but even Giap could see that attempting to circumvent the French Satellite defenses would lead to unacceptable casualties. Instead he modified his plan and decided to use siege tactics and artillery and a more slow and steady approach to the battle. This would be a tactic that he relied on in the later Vietnam War.

Navarre was about to see if strategy and assumption fall apart big time.

The Battle Joined






On March 13, 1954 the Viet Minh opened up with a massed artillery bombardment on Beatrice which was staffed by the excellent 13th Foreign Legion Demi-Brigade. The Viet Minh used two batteries of 105 mm howitzers, 120 mm motars and 75 mm guns. A lucky shut hit the French Command Post killing the group commander and his staff leaving a massive leadership vacuum. Beatrice was basically flattened before they could fire any counter battery support. The French troops were driven back by the Viet Minh 312th Division backed up by sappers. The French were over run and forced to retreat to the Southern end of Beatrice and then were eventually overrun. 350 Legionnaires were killed in exchange for 600 Viet Minh, but in effect Beatrice had been eliminated, and a cease fire was called, and the French were allowed to evacuate their wounded.
It would be an understatement to say that Navarre and de Castries were shocked by the brutality and precision of the unexpected Viet Minh artillery and the failure of French Artillary to counter the threat. This led to French Artillery commander Col Charles Piroth to kill himself with a hand grenade.

The next to fall was Gabrielle. After the cease fire expired on March 14th. The Viet Minh fired up their artillery and went after the defensive positions and attacked the main airstrip shutting it down to resupply. Following the doctrine of the first attack, Gabrielle was decimated, its commander was wounded in the attack, and the base fell to a 2-regiment attack. Of particular note, De Castries tried to order a counterattack to re-enforce Gabrielle however Viet Minh artillary decimated a re-enforced Vietnamese Parachute Battalion. Gabrielle was wiped off of the match, 1000 French defenders were lost, while the Viet Minh lost nearly 2000 men.

Anna-Marie which was on the North Western satellite, fell with very little fanfare. The position was defended by a combination of French and Tai troops. However, Giap effectively used propaganda pamphlets and convinced the Tai’s that it was not their fight. In combination with the slaughters at Beatrice and Gabrielle most of the Tai’s simply left or joined the other side and the French were forced to leave an undefendable situation.

By then both sides were exhausted, and the fight slowed down to a stop. The Viet Minh used this time to resupply and re-enforce and move their artillery and AA weapons. The Viet Minh also effectively cut off Isabelle from Huguette, Dominque, Claudine and Elaine. Its important to note that de Castries basically gave up and retreated to his bunker, Renee Cogny the French Major who helped design the Hedgehog strategy tried to fly in but it was deemed to be too dangerous to land, he also considered parachuting in to take command but was talked out of it. The French Troops in effective were leaderless on the ground. It was rumored that there was a unofficial change of command as de Castries deputies seized command and kept de Castries in a figure head position.

The French attempted to re-enforce what was left of the base via air power however losses were heavy, and the parachute drops weren’t especially effective. The French did counter attack into the hills to go after Viet Minh anti-aircraft and this attack was successful on a moderate level, but the French were not able to effectively re-enforce and resupply and the situation was becoming desperate.
On March 30th the Viet Minh moved on Eliane and Dominique, at the same time the French launched Operation Condor where they used the SDECE’s special services against Viet Minh supplies and weaken their artillery attacks as well as sow uncertainty in the Viet Minh ranks. However, this attack failed to slow down the Viet Minh supply and artillery efforts.

Giap had found a winning formula using his artillary to devestate French defensive positions and demoralize French Troops, while sending in massed infantry assualts. The attack on Dominique was no different. The Viet Minh troops pushed the French back, and the French responded by using their anti-aircraft weapons and 0 elevated artillery to blast huge holes in the Infantry charge and the Viet Minh retreated and reinforced and attacked from the West. The battle ground down to a halt in the face of counter attacks by the french and renewed attacks by the Viet Minh, however the French were wearing down due to a bad supply situation and the inability of the French to re-enforce due to artillery. The battle had begun to resemble a first world war static trench battle.

By April 5th the situation had become desperate. The Viet Minh were at the receiving end of massive casualties caused by French Artillary and air power. Their resolve was snapped, and several units refused to move forward until Giap threatened them with mass executions if they didn’t engage. Meanwhile the French were dug in but were running low on water and ammunition. The French eventually relented and gave up Hugette and attempted to retreat to French lines but were cut to pieces. At this point Huguette had effectively fallen and the French had lost their life line in terms of the air field. The French tried to retake it, but the attack failed.



The French were effectively beaten at this point but still held onto the center. The Viet Minh finished off what was left of Eliane and Dominique and Huguette. Giap now had a massive advantage in every single way and was determined to use it to push the knife through the halt of the exhausted French troops.

On May 7th, Giap ordered an all-out attack with a massive preparatory time on target artillery barrage and then with a nearly 10 to one advantage infantry advantage the Viet Mingh over ran the French headquarters. The last message from the head quarters reported that they were blowing every thing up and while shouting a defiant Vive la France. At 6:20 PM on May 7th the last French garrison waved the white flag, and the battle was over.

When the battle started the French had 14,000 men in the field including 12,000 combat personal, by the end of the battle the French had lost nearly 3000 men, 4000 wounded and an estimated 11,000 men who were captured, on top of that they had seen nearly 200 aircraft damaged or shot down. This represented about 10% of the total French military commitment in Indochina and ripped the guts out of their military while destroying national moral.

At the same time this wasn’t a cheap or easy victory by Giap, who was willing to sacrifice men for victory. The Viet Minh committed 80,000 men to the battle and saw 4000 men killed and about 10,000 wounded.







The Aftermath

France was devastated, with 10% of their infield contingent, wiped out Moral on a military and civilian level crumpled. The French government realized that they were finished in Indochina, the Viet Minh had tumbled onto a strategy that the French Military could not defend against. Meanwhile Viet Minh moral soared, and this showed at the negotiating table. At the same time Giap had paid a bloody butchers bill, but had learned that his initial ideas of using Chinese tactics was not the way, and that the use of modern artillery, was his key to victory a lesson that he carried into Vietnam when he later faced the Americans.

The American’s were badly stung in this loss, they had paid about 80% of the French costs in the war as they saw the French as a force to block the rise of communism. Instead the French fled and the American’s were left holding the bag. The American’s approached the British and other allies to form a joint military operation in Vietnam but were rebuffed. The American also realized that the French were never going to win the war without help, and suggested the use of battlefield nukes for the use in the battle to basically nuke Viet Minh positions in the hills of the valley, but were rebuffed by the British. The American’s realized that they would eventually be forced to replace the French in Indochina to prevent the fall of another domino.

The day after the fall of the last outpost, the Geneva Conference opened. The conference was designed to address several situations that had risen from the Korean War and Indochina war. It was decided Vietnam would be split into the Communist North and the State of Vietnam in the south, this was supposed to be temporary and revoked upon agreed upon national elections, but eventually Vietnam would be unified by force.

The French government was shattered and then fell. The nation mourned, restaurants and theatres were closed, and the nation was shocked at their defeat by a third world rebel group. Eventually mourning was replaced by rage and within a month of their defeat the government under Joseph Laniel resigned and was replaced by Pierre Mendes who’s party formed a coalition with the French Communist Party.

General Giap was a controversial figure, some criticized him for his willingness to sacrifice lives for victory, however it needs to be argued that it was probably the only way that he was going to succeed in fighting and beating two of the most prevalent and advanced Western Militaries in the 20th century.

General Navarre took a huge reputational hit and was blamed for his miscalculations and under estimation of the Viet Minh and his from the rear leadership style. He could stay in the Military but was replaced as the Commander of France’s Indochinese forces. He stayed in the military until 1956 when he retired. A political hardline he warned that a political coup in France might be necessary due to the rise of communism in the government.

General de Castries was captured when the Viet Nimh over ran the command headquarters. He was held for 4 months and the returned to France as a sign of good will by Giap. He was appointed as a commander of the 5th Amour Division, but left the Military after a car accident in 1959

This battle again is a prime example of a terrible battle plan, backed up by arrogance and a lack of proper intelligence. It was deemed as a failure of the French Military and Political Leadership to understand their enemy. At the same time this also showed the inflexibility of Navarre who knew that of his three options in Indochina that the one he selected was mediocre at best, but fought the battle anyways handing the initiative over to his enemy, instead of doing the right thing, and not letting the enemy dictate the time and place of a battle. It could be argued that Navarre should not have used the Hedgehog strategy and consolidated his forces where he could get back to the idea of mobile tactics instead of static tactics.

At the same time, while this was an overwhelming win by General Giap, he was viewed as fairly callous in sacrificing his men for a victory to the point where he suffered a major moral hit in his army to the point where many units refused to fight and were forced to at the point of a knife or gun.

While this battle signaled the end of French Imperialisms and empire building in the region, it lead to a more devastating war in the future where American leadership both on the Military and Civilian side of things replicated the poor decisions of the French, it took 20 more years for the lesson to be learned.








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Old 10-19-2020, 08:49 AM   #43
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I don't really care Captain, get it done. If you have to make it a 7-parter, I can accept that.

I have a list when you're done with that one.



Excellent write-up on the Typhoon. I think it would be neat to have you read a US/China War Scenario and give your thoughts on its likelihood/realism.

I'm hoping this passes muster with you. If you have a list let me know, I'm trying to figure out next Sunday's topic.
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Old 10-19-2020, 03:06 PM   #44
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Can you imagine being the poor ####ers that jumped in?


Anyone interested in The Legion, I am reading this book right now by a Canadian:



He joined mid-late 90's.
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Old 10-19-2020, 04:48 PM   #45
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Next Sunday, I've chosen the Battle Ship Yamato, one of the largest Battleships ever built, and a technology that was deemed obsolete as soon as she came out of her construction berth
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Old 10-19-2020, 06:23 PM   #46
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Next Sunday, I've chosen the Battle Ship Yamato, one of the largest Battleships ever built, and a technology that was deemed obsolete as soon as she came out of her construction berth
Was it Windows ME?
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Old 10-19-2020, 07:24 PM   #47
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I'm hoping this passes muster with you. If you have a list let me know, I'm trying to figure out next Sunday's topic.
Wow, fantastic, what a great bit of research effort here, you definitely captured the high and low level concepts here. Thanks a load for doing my suggestion, I owe you some free research assistance on any future topics!! Appreciated!!
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Old 10-19-2020, 07:26 PM   #48
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Can you imagine being the poor ####ers that jumped in?


Anyone interested in The Legion, I am reading this book right now by a Canadian:

He joined mid-late 90's.
Yeah reading about French paratroopers dropping in Vietnam is pretty crazy... I think that might have been some of the largest/last deployments of parachute battalions. I mean being airborne is one thing, but in the US version, you always have helicopters to come get you. The French have to fight their way out every time.
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Old 10-19-2020, 07:27 PM   #49
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Next Sunday, I've chosen the Battle Ship Yamato, one of the largest Battleships ever built, and a technology that was deemed obsolete as soon as she came out of her construction berth
Very cool, interesting how many nations believed in Battleships well past their technical demise, and didn't see aircraft carriers as all that useful.
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Old 10-19-2020, 09:03 PM   #50
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It all goes back to the Battleship race between the Germans and the English at the end of the 19th century through to the Start of WW1. Both sides believed that the move to heavily armored and armed ships with high range capability could be used to blast apart fleets. Unfortunately they really didn't learn the lesson's or WW1, and Naval Aviation was non existent.

With the approach of WW2 and the mass improvements of aircraft and their range the difference between attacking an enemy from 100's of miles away as oppossed to closing within visual site to engage, combined with the capability of planes to carry heavier ordinance doomed the battleship.

From a shore bombardment component, Battleships were really a useful platform, however they were too slow and too ranged to survive in a more modern environment. Add on that while a Battleship was pretty much invulnerable at the water level and the sides, they couldn't put heavier armor on the decks without sacrificing fuel efficiency and speed.
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Old 10-20-2020, 09:54 AM   #51
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It all goes back to the Battleship race between the Germans and the English at the end of the 19th century through to the Start of WW1. Both sides believed that the move to heavily armored and armed ships with high range capability could be used to blast apart fleets. Unfortunately they really didn't learn the lesson's or WW1, and Naval Aviation was non existent.

With the approach of WW2 and the mass improvements of aircraft and their range the difference between attacking an enemy from 100's of miles away as oppossed to closing within visual site to engage, combined with the capability of planes to carry heavier ordinance doomed the battleship.

From a shore bombardment component, Battleships were really a useful platform, however they were too slow and too ranged to survive in a more modern environment. Add on that while a Battleship was pretty much invulnerable at the water level and the sides, they couldn't put heavier armor on the decks without sacrificing fuel efficiency and speed.
Its just so interesting how obviously effect aircraft are against capital naval ships, and yet most states were somewhat blind to the effectiveness of them. An argument could be made Japan only had the carrier assets they did at the start of WWII because they were limited from building more battleships by the London Treaty. They kind of fluked onto the right path.
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Old 10-21-2020, 09:42 AM   #52
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The London treaty was a big part of it, but also advances in engine power and payload capability of aircraft.



One of the other big killers of Battleships was speed, they simply couldn't keep up to a carrier fleet.



Its fascinating to look at the Japanese ship building program and how they got addicted to the idea of a massive battleship. Hitler was looking at building a battleship fleet based around the concept of super battleships. The American's really bought into the concept of carriers right down to the brilliant idea of building smaller escort jeep carriers for convoy defense.
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Old 10-21-2020, 10:47 AM   #53
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The London treaty was a big part of it, but also advances in engine power and payload capability of aircraft.



One of the other big killers of Battleships was speed, they simply couldn't keep up to a carrier fleet.



Its fascinating to look at the Japanese ship building program and how they got addicted to the idea of a massive battleship. Hitler was looking at building a battleship fleet based around the concept of super battleships. The American's really bought into the concept of carriers right down to the brilliant idea of building smaller escort jeep carriers for convoy defense.
Which is especially interesting given how the Japanese were really the pioneers of the fast carrier fleet. Their naval doctrine actually regressed.
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Old 10-21-2020, 11:00 AM   #54
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It didn't as much regress as the IJA held incredible sway over the whole Imperial Military Machine, and even with the early successes they still had the fortress mentality at sea. They envisioned that the Navy should be focused on drawing the American Navy into a final confrontation after Pearl Harbor where a massive chunk of the American Battleship fleet was destroyed or disabled, and they didn't understand that technically a Battleship versus a attack from the air was a losing proposition.

Pearl Harbor was a success because Yamamoto was able to sell a vision of Carriers as a front line weapon, however Midway showed the failure of the Battleship as they couldn't keep up to the Carriers and their fire power was excluded from the Battle.

There were lots of technical issues with a battleship. Its best range of fire was horizontally, it was weak in terms of its anti-air defense, and it had thin armor plating on its fore and aft decks which lead right down to the bunkers and magazines.

At its best, the Battleship was a purely offensive weapon, a Fleet death star to effect, it couldn't function well as an escort or protection for a Carrier Battle group, and actually needed protection of its own against Air Threats.

There were two major failures at Midway. One was scouting, the Japanese scout plan was piss poor and it allowed their fleet to be out maneuvered and they lost the battle of time. The Americans with its improved scouting were able to find the Japanese first and this was crucial.

The other major failure was patience. They pretty much should have arrived with the Battleships and used them as a maneuver force to threaten the American Carrier Groups to keep the initiative and force the American's to split their air forces.
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Old 10-25-2020, 05:16 PM   #55
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Battleship Yamato
Naval Power unfulfilled
Background


There is no more of a controversial naval construction project then that of the Japanese Yamato class battleship. Built to be the central Flag ship of the Imperial Japanese Navy, this heavily gunned and armored dreadnought was the largest and most powerful warship ever constructed. As the lead vessel of her class, she was later joined by her sister ship the Musahsi. Ironically the third of her class was converted to become the Aircraft carrier Shinano in mid construction.

Japan was caught in a quandary in the 1930ís. Japan itself was a nation that was short on natural resources that were required for the early 1930s. Short on space, arable farmland, and minerals and Oil, Japan was also paranoid about her place in the Pacific Ocean and especially her strategic position as an isolated Island Nation. These questions lead to the rise of fascist militant leadership guided by the Japanese Bushido code of honor. This rise acted as a seed for Japanese Imperialist ambitions. If she was going to be vulnerable due to the above resources, Japan would have to seize these lands and assets and become a self reliant Empire under the guise of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. Japan envisioned itself as the lead in an Empire that covered most of the Pacific Ocean as well as the Asiatic nations to the West.

Japan though was caught in a poor strategic situation, for their imperialist ambitions to be realized they knew that they would need a powerful and well trained Navy that would be capable of knocking their main competitor out of the Pacific Ocean quickly as they knew that once engaged with the United States they would quickly be overwhelmed by Americaís awesome manufacturing capabilities.

With Japan committed to this course of action, it became apparent that they would have to withdraw from the Washington Naval Treaty. This treaty which was signed in 1922 by the US, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan. By design the Washington Treaty was put in place to prevent a new arms race by limiting naval construction. It was focused around limiting Cruisers, Aircraft Carriers and Battleships by using a sheer tonnage and guns calculation. For example, Battleships were limited to 35,000 tones and guns no larger the 16 inches, Aircraft Carriers were limited to 27,000 tonnes and all other ships were limited to 10,000 tonnes with limited guns. On top of the individual ship calculations nations were limited in the sheer tonnage of capital ships (Cruisers, Battleships) and Aircraft Carriers. Japan for example was limited to 315,000 tons for Capital Ships, and 81,000 tons for Aircraft carriers. Going by the calculation of the weight limits, this would allow Japan to have about 4 Aircraft Carriers and less then 10 Battleships and Cruisers. Japan realized that they would not be able to realize their dream of building the massive navy required to curtail the US presence in the Pacific Ocean. The Japanese also felt that staying within the Treaty would guarantee their defeat to industrially superior nations like the United States, and that the Treaty Ratio was unfair to Japan. Therefore, Japan withdrew in 1934 so they could begin their naval buildup.

There have been questions around why the Japanese would build these massive Battleships, especially in what was the rise of Naval Airpower. There are more then a few reasons for this. In 1937 when the keel for the Yamato was laid down, naval aviation was still unproven, the planes of that generation could still only carry a very limited load of ordinance. It wasnít until the Japanese were able to build very competent Aircraft Carrier based bombers and prove that Aircraft doctrine was the next stage of naval power projection at Pearly Harbor that we saw questions rise up in terms of the effectiveness of battleships.

The other reason for building this class of monstrous battleships was the belief that a Super Battleship was an intimidation factor. A heavily armored nearly indestructible war ship that was capable of flinging phone booth sized rounds over 26 miles, would be frightening in a standup fight.

The Japanese were not the only ones that put stock into the Battleships. The American Navy was based around the Battleship. The Germans had built the excellent fast Bismarck class Battleships and were starting the construction of the monstrous H Class Super Battleships.

The Japanese Imperial Navy and Army clashed over the design and use of Battleships vs Aircraft Carriers with the Army eventually gaining key concessions as up until Pearl Harbor they still felt that Aircraft Carriers would have limited effectiveness in a fleet to fleet battle.

The keel of the Yamato was laid down in 1937, it was so large that the dockyard had to be deepened and new specially constructed cranes guilt. After 3 years of construction the Yamato was christened in 1940, and commissioned as the flag ship of the Japanese Navy in 1941.

The Yamato


The Yamato was the most heavily armed battleship ever created. It was armed with 9 type 94 18 inch naval guns. The largest naval guns ever fitted to a warship. These monsters could fire a 3000 pound high explosive shell over 25 miles with relatively good accuracy. Her secondary armaments were made up of 12 6.1 inch guns in 4 turrets (1 forward, 2 midships) and 1 rear. 12 5 inch guns and 24 1 in anti-aircraft guns.
Defensively the Yamato boasted a 16 inch waterline armor belt, her deck featured 9 inches of deck plating.



Additionally, she also carried up to 12 E8N scout planes that could be launched from rear catapults and recovered by a rear mounted crane.



At Sea Operations

Initially designated as the Flag Ship of Yamamotoís combined fleet, she was formally commissioned days after Pearl Harbor, which is seen as the start of the ascension of the Aircraft Carrier.

She first took part in the Battle of Miday which was a disastrous loss for the Japanese Navy. The Yamato served as the Command hub of the operation, but the Battleship fleet under Yamamoto was too slow to maneuver with Japanís Aircraft Carriers, and the Yamato was too far away to aid in the battle.

Yamato couldnít take part in the key battle of Guadalcanal because of a lack of ammunition for shore bombardment, after that she returned home for a refitting which included adding more 1 inch anti aircraft batteries.

From there it seems like the Japanese Navy was not sure what it was going to use the Yamato for. Because of her thick armor and storage spaces she was used as a transport with her sister ship. But while she was carrying troops and stores she was attacked on the way to Truk by the infamous USS skate who fired a 4 torpedo spread into her hill ripping open a 5 meter hole in the ship and flooding its magazines. From there Yamato returned to Kure for repairs, and from there had a radar system upgraded before she returned to sea in April of 1944.

From there she went to the Philippines sea where she acted as a transport and escort before departing for the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the larges naval battle in history, and Yamato was about to take a large role in the battle.

Frankly, Leyte was a mauling of the Japanese Navy, as the Americanís sank 5 heavy cruisers which stripped the Japanese center force of much of its anti-aircraft capability. The Yamato came under heavy attack by US Naval Air and was struck by two armor piercing rounds through her top deck causing her to take on 3500 tons of water, however even with the flooding she stayed in the battle.



Following this we saw one of the great miscalculations of the war as Admiral Bill Halsey assumed that the Japanese Center Force was in retreat. However, this was achieved by the Japanese using a decoy fleet, while the remaining part of center force snuck through the San Bernardino straight to attack an American formation.

Yamato finally got to fire its guns in anger, hitting several American ships including the escort carrier Gambier Bay. The Americanís counter fired with a spread of torpedoes and the Yamato was forced to evade and could not join the battle. The Japanese center force intimidated by the Americanís were forced to withdraw from battle and the Yamato escaped unphased, however this represented the last time that the Yamato would fire its main batteries.

Operation Ten-Go and the End


Operation Ten-Go represented the end of the Japanese Navy in WW2, seeing the end of the Japanese Navy and the impending attack on the Home Islands by the American Navy, 9 warships escorted the Yamato for a suicide attack on the American Forces fighting the Battle of Okinawa.

Desperate and lacking aircraft or operational ships. What was left of the Japanese navy was to fight their way to Okinawa and then beach themselves and act like shore batteries until they could fire no more. Then the surviving crewmen were to abandon ship and fight the US forces on land. It was a sad end to the proud Japanese Navy. It was also a failure and showed the surface combatants couldnít hope to survive in a battle without air cover and proper anti air defenses.

On April 6th this 10 ship floatilla centered around the Yamato departed and was promptly spotted by the Threadfin and Hacklback two American submarines who trailed the group and radioíd contact details to the US fleet.

On April 7th at noon the end arrived. American Hellcat and Corsair fighters arrived over the Yamato, their initial job was to act as an aggressive fighter sweep to destroy any defending Japanese fighters. There were none, the Japanese formation was badly exposed.

Unimpeded American Avenger bombers arrived and tipped over into the dives. The Yamato was hit by two armor piercing bombs and a single torpedo, she suffered what was considered to be light damage though her super structure was on fire. It was about to get worse. A second and third wave of Americanís arrived and concentrated on killing the Yamato. She was hit by 8 torpedos and 15 bombs. Her gun directors were knocked out and the Yamato had to aim her guns manually. The torpedo hits caused the Battleship to list heavily to the port side and she lost her damage control water pumping stations.

In order to save the ship the damage control crews flooded the Starboard engines and boiler rooms drowning several hundred crewmen. At the same time 20 Avengers dropped their torpedoes and three hit the Yamato, jamming her rudder. Surprising the Yamato continued to sail on.

The Americanís continued to fire torpedoes and disabled her steerage and turning gears and the Japanese Admiral in command ordered what was left of her crew to abandon ship while he and the ships captain stayed on. At 14:20 on April 7th, the Yamato capsized and began to sink, however fires on the ship managed to reach her main ammunition storage and she exploded sending a mushroom could 20,000 feet in the air and the blast could be heard 200 kmís away. Out of the 3,332 volunteer crew members that had sailed on this suicide mission, 3,055 were killed.



The Watery Grave

The Yamatoís wreckage was discovered in 1982, there was talk by the Americanís to recover the wreckage and give a proper burial to the crewmen trapped below. But to date while the wreckage has been digitally surveyed it sill lays 290 km sw of Kyusha under 1000 feet of water.

The Flaws

First and foremost the Yamato was exactly as advertised, her heavy guns would be devastating in a naval vs naval battle and she was one of the toughest ships ever built survival multiple bomb and torpedo attacks before sinking.

Strategically there were several problems with the Yamato class battleship. While it heavily outgunned its American counterparts, it was far slower then the fast battleship, which was a key disadvantage if a battle ever occurred between the two. It was also far too slow to engage in a running battle with an American Battlegroup.

The Battleship concept was in its descendants almost immediately after the Yamato was commissioned, Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway showed that a Battleship with a sphere of influence of 26 miles paled in comparison with a naval air strike force where for example an Avenger Bomber with an operational range of 1000 miles.

The Battleship couldnít survive without significant air protection and anti-air protection from other ships to provide an all angles lead shield. Even though the Yamato had significant AA batteries they didnít do well firing straight up which allowed a bomb funnel for a dive bomber.

While the 16 inches of armor should have protected the Yamato from submarines and other ships. There were issues with the welding of the armor plates in the belt and precise hits would pop the seams.

The Yamato also lacked fire control radar for its main guns and anti-aircraft guns, because of this these guns had to be manually aimed and fired, which was a tremendous disadvantage.

One of the biggest problems thought, and Iíve pointed it out in other talks around the Japanese Navy was that their damage control was poorly conceived and the crew was often poorly trained. This lead for example to the crew drownings as the Yamato tried to counter its list and flooded work space without warning the crews in those spaces. As well the Japanese damage control was hindered by poor design and things like armor around ammunition storage, and sufficient deck armor to protect from dive bombers.

Conclusions


While WW2 and the destruction of the Japanese Navy signaled the end of the Battleship as a primary offensive weapon. The Battleship carried on in different roles. Because of their large frames and heavy guns the Americanís modified their battleships to become shore bombardment engines. The last US Battleship the USS Missouri was decommissioned in 1992 after taking part in the Gulf War.

The Yamato class battleship was really though the last of its concept and dreadnought built to intimidate, instead it went through the second world war only firing its main batteries once. Since then Naval Air power has been ascendant with ships being designed around protecting an aircraft carrier which is now the primary power protection platform at sea.
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Last edited by CaptainCrunch; 10-25-2020 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 10-25-2020, 11:37 PM   #56
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Trying to decide on next weeks topic, or if I'm going to do a topic for next week, or take a weekend off. These things take a lot of time to research (which I love doing), and write.


I'm looking at doing a weapons system, battle alternative idea. I do really want to do the Battle of Cannae next week. Let me know what you think. Guest writers are completely welcome.
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