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Old 3rd February 2020, 05:01 PM   #41
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by Pacal View Post
A few partial corrections. First Peter the Great, the Russian Tsar, did NOT offer to return all the Baltic territories he had seized from Sweden. Peter offered to return virtually everything except the mouth of the Neva river, which flows into the Baltic, (Gulf of Finland.), where Peter was building his new capital of St. Petersburg. Karl of Sweden would not accept that and desired not only get back everything but humiliate / defeat Peter. Which is why instead of going to the Baltic to reconquer those areas lost to Russia Karl invaded deep into Russia. Which turned out to be a mistake.

Further the Russian army at Poltava did not number 80,000. That figure goes back to Swedish propaganda trying to explain away a crushing defeat. In fact the Russian army seems to have numbered c. 38.000 to 45.000. It still outnumbered the Swedes by more than two to one, but I guess the actual odds are just not unbalanced enough.
Even accepting that, I think we can agree that attacking along a route that funnelled them into the mouth of a fortifications system was a very bad decision. It's not just that it's more than two to one, it's that those fortifications act as a further force multiplier for the Russians.

Originally Posted by Pacal View Post
Karl is considered by many to be a military genius, and I agree with that opinion overall. However, Karl's handling of his army in the campaigns of 1708-1709 was over all almost comically bad, (Except for all the men who died.). Just reading about Karl's various "Ice marches", etc., is enough to make you think that Karl had lost his mind at some point. Peter is generally not considered a military genius, yet his handling of his army in 1708-1709 was much better than Karl's in the same years. THe result was a crushing victory for Peter.
I suspect that past a point, having enough yesmen that tell you how great you are, and how divine your right is, anyone will eventually lose contact with reality. Essentially, whether it's politics, or strategy, or just shooting a gun, you see how far off the target you are and adjust. If everyone tells you it's perfect, you go increasingly off the mark.

At least that seems to be the case with more modern despots, but given Karl's whole divine right obsession, I strongly suspect that that's what eventually happened there.
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Old 3rd February 2020, 06:52 PM   #42
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Some of my wife's ancestors are McClellans. (Which has WAY too many spelling variations.) They'd be sorry to hear that, but are all dead and my wife knows better.
Then again, I can't help but notice your avatar...
ETA: Oops that was for Dudalb. Once again I've failed to notice a new page!
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Old 4th February 2020, 10:35 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by Pacal View Post
A few partial corrections. First Peter the Great, the Russian Tsar, did NOT offer to return all the Baltic territories he had seized from Sweden. Peter offered to return virtually everything except the mouth of the Neva river, which flows into the Baltic, (Gulf of Finland.), where Peter was building his new capital of St. Petersburg. Karl of Sweden would not accept that and desired not only get back everything but humiliate / defeat Peter. Which is why instead of going to the Baltic to reconquer those areas lost to Russia Karl invaded deep into Russia. Which turned out to be a mistake.

Further the Russian army at Poltava did not number 80,000. That figure goes back to Swedish propaganda trying to explain away a crushing defeat. In fact the Russian army seems to have numbered c. 38.000 to 45.000. It still outnumbered the Swedes by more than two to one, but I guess the actual odds are just not unbalanced enough.

Karl is considered by many to be a military genius, and I agree with that opinion overall. However, Karl's handling of his army in the campaigns of 1708-1709 was over all almost comically bad, (Except for all the men who died.). Just reading about Karl's various "Ice marches", etc., is enough to make you think that Karl had lost his mind at some point. Peter is generally not considered a military genius, yet his handling of his army in 1708-1709 was much better than Karl's in the same years. THe result was a crushing victory for Peter.

Also it must be remembered that given Swedish resources, (Wealth, manpower etc.). Sweden's position of being a "Great Power" was very fragile and heavily dependent on bluff and sparkle. The result was that one great defeat was enough to bring the whole thing crashing down.
I known HansMustermann was giving a potted summary. However, it is far too simplistic. The situation around the Baltic region was complicated and much fought over, with kingdoms, suzereinties, duchy's changing hands all the time.

The Great Northern War (1700-1721) was a war in which the so-called Northern Alliance composed of Russia, Denmark-Norway, Poland-Lithuania and Saxony engaged Sweden for the supremacy in the Baltic Sea. The war ended with a defeat for Sweden in 1721, leaving Russia as the new major power in the Baltic Sea and a new important player in European politics. The war began as a coordinated attack on Sweden by the coalition in 1700 and ended in 1721 with the Treaty of Nystad and the Stockholm treaties.

Between 1560 and 1658, Sweden created a Baltic empire centred on the Gulf of Finland and comprising the provinces of Karelia, Ingria, Estonia, and Livonia. During the Thirty Years' War Sweden gained tracts in Germany as well, including Western Pomerania, Wismar, the Duchy of Bremen, and Verden.

The foreign interventions in Russia during the Time of Troubles resulted in Swedish gains in the Treaty of Stolbovo (1617). The treaty deprived Russia of direct access to the Baltic Sea, meaning that the Russians were not in a position to challenge the Swedish regional hegemony. Russian fortunes reversed during the later half of the 17th century, notably with the rise to power of Peter the Great, who looked to address the earlier losses and re-establish a Baltic presence. In the late 1690s, the adventurer Johann Patkul managed to ally Russia with Denmark and Saxony by the Treaty of Preobrazhenskoye and in 1700 the three powers attacked. (Source: long forgotten).

About the cold: the Swedes (which included Finns south of the Novgorod line) are pretty much on the same latitude as the [now known as] Petrograd so were just as well used to plunging temperatures. However, there was indeed, the coldest winter for 500 years in 1709.

Quote:
The Great Frost of 1709
The Great Frost, as it was known in England, or Le Grand Hiver ("The Great Winter"), as it was known in France, was an extraordinarily cold winter in Europe in late 1708 and early 1709,[1] and was the coldest European winter during the past 500 years.[2] The severe cold occurred during the time of low sunspot activity known as the Maunder Minimum.
I have a special interest in this as my sixth great grandfather, Berg (Bergh), Christian b. 1677 Vyburg (Viipuri), d. 27.04.1755 Marttila, Huovariston Berg, chest puncture, old age weakness, buried Marttila, under the embankment.

Served as a Major under Adam Ludwig Lewenhaupt

Quote:
Christian Berg:

Lewenhaupt:
F. and Viborg 1675
Underofficer vid Åbo läns tremän. kav.-reg. 1703
Kornett därst. 17.10.1704 (cornet)
Premiärkornett vid Åbo ord. kav.-reg. xx.10.1709
Löjtn. Darst. 07/01/1714
Konfirm. 02/25/1717
Ryttm. Darst. 27.6.1718 (horseman = captain)
Majors avsked 11.10.1721
D. 27.4.175 [5?]

Ratsumestar (Rtms) 11.10.1719 - 11.10.1721
Lieutenant of the Halikko Companion, Officer: Sauvo (Sagu) Halleluja Sorrböle

Served in the Cavalry Council of Turku and Pori County [by 1721, then
Henkirakuunarykmentti]; resigned and at the same time as majors.
Source 'aa.paltta berg'

Note: after the defeat at Poltava, all officers of the Swedish army immediately resigned and were reinstated under the new regime.

Quote:
During the Great Northern War, the Swedish invasion of Russia led by Charles XII of Sweden against Russia's Peter the Great was notably weakened by the severe winter. Sudden winter storms and frosts killed thousands during the Swedish army's winter offensives, most noticeably during a single night away from camp that killed at least 2,000. Because the Russian troops were more prepared for the harmful weather and cautiously stayed within their camps, their losses were substantially lower, contributing heavily to their eventual victory at Poltava the following summer.[4]
<snip>

Quote:
Having lost the element of surprise, and without sufficient cannon to breach the fortifications, Rehnskiöld consulted with Charles, Carl Piper and Lewenhaupt on whether or not to proceed with the assault.[17]:91 By the time Rehnskiöld decided to proceed with the attack by quoting, "In the name of God then, let us go forward", it was nearly 4:00 a.m. on 28 June (Swedish calendar) and dawn was already approaching.[17]:91–92
The Swedes in Carl Gustaf Roos' column quickly overran the first two redoubts, killing every Russian soldier inside them, but by 4:30 a.m. the attempts to take the third redoubt stalled.[17]:97–99 Lewenhaupt's ten battalions on the right bypassed the first four redoubts entirely, advancing to the back line and, with the aid of cavalry, took some redoubts while bypassing others.[17]:96, 105, 108 Two of Roos' rear battalions joined them, indicating that issued orders lacked clarity as to whether to avoid the redoubts or attack them in series.
It was 5:00 a.m. when the left and right wings of the Swedish army made it past the back line of redoubts, sending the Russian cavalry in retreat.[17]:106, 108 However, Rehnskiöld ordered his cavalry to stop their pursuit and Lewenhaupt, already advancing towards the fort, to withdraw to the west.[17]:108–09 There they awaited Roos' battalions for two hours, while the Russian cavalry and Ivan Skoropadsky's Cossacks waited to the north, with 13 Russian battalions deployed north of their camp and ten to the south, anticipating a Swedish advance.[17]
Unknown to Rehnskiold and Lewenhaupt, Roos had surrendered at 9:30 am having had to retreat and hide in a fort.

Quote:
At 9:45 a.m. Rehnskiöld ordered Lewenhaupt and the Swedish line to move forward, advancing towards the Russian line, which started firing its cannon at 500 meters.[17]:147, 151 When the Swedes were 50 meters from the Russian line, the Russians opened fire with their muskets from all four ranks.
The Russians fired back and soon the Swedish assault had completely disintegrated.

Quote:
Realizing they were the last Swedes on the battlefield, Charles ordered a retreat to the woods.
Charles gathered the remainder of his troops and baggage train and retreated to the south later that same day—at about 7:00 p.m.--abandoning the siege of Poltava.[17]:197, 210 Lewenhaupt led the surviving Swedes and some of the Cossack forces to the Dnieper River, but was doggedly pursued by the Russian regular cavalry and 3,000 Kalmyk auxiliaries and forced to surrender three days later at Perevolochna, on 1 July. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Poltava
Lewenhaupt born in Denmark 1659 was kept a prisoner in Russia, and he lived in Moscow until his death on 12 February 1719.

My sixth-great grandfather lived until 1755 but my fifth great-grandfather, Carl Gustaf Berg, had been born by then in either 1720 or 1721, also military. However, Christian Berg{h} and his wife (my sixth-great grandmother, von Jordan, Catharina Elisabet [Swedish-listed noble no. 243] married Mar 1709, some four months before the Battle of Poltava.

To sum up, it wasn't just a case of Karl (or Charles XII) one day suddenly losing it all. In addition, Peter the Great was an apt enough title although probably not that great. So yes, you could say defeat was 'snatched from the jaws of victory' but then, it wasn't clear cut, given the many different interests competing.

All super powers come to an end.

Bang, bang the mighty fall.
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Old 4th February 2020, 09:20 PM   #44
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Supposedly a French general refused to believe reconnaissance reports that a large column of mechanized German troops was moving through the Ardennes, believing it to be impossible.

https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/20...ough-at-sedan/

Quote:
Overhead, another French miscalculation worsened the situation. The French high command, convinced the main attack would come from the north, ordered the Air Force to concentrate its strength on that front. Even so, French reconnaissance flights revealed the large German movements coming through the Ardennes. Air Force General Francois d’Astier noticed these reports and forwarded them to the high command, including references to large mechanized and armored forces accompanied by bridging equipment. He reported what appeared to be a major movement toward the Meuse River, but the high command kept to its assessment of the main thrust coming from the north. The French X Corps commander, General Pierre-Paul-Charles Grandsard, later said he never received any reports from the air force. This left him unprepared for what was coming.
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Old 4th February 2020, 10:15 PM   #45
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Re: Pearl Harbor...
Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
And even then, not launching the third (not second, they did that) strike only slightly lessened the degree of victory.
And there would be risks too... If I remember correctly, U.S. forces were improving their response throughout the day, and would put up more of a fight against a 3rd Japanese wave.

And the Japanese didn't know where the carriers were, so some caution might have been warranted.
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Old 5th February 2020, 04:16 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by Pacal View Post
One should be very careful with the number's given by ancient Greco-Roman sources. The figure of 200,000 given for the Barbarians at Arausio are almost certainly vast exaggerations. Logistics in those days were pretty poor. And the Roman's were very found of stories of them fighting and generally beating huge Barbarian hordes.
Correct.

But if the numbers were closer together, the Roman loss is even worse.

I'm aware that, in battle, there are two parties that have something to say about the outcome and sometimes the enemy general is simply better (like Hannibal was).
And it is one thing to be surprised by unconventional tactics by the enemy. That can happen. The first time. But the lessons of the battles of Noreia and Burdigala were there to learned.

In this case and seen what would happen a few years later, when the two parties would meet again, this is one battle that the Roman army simply should win. If led competently.
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Old 5th February 2020, 07:15 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
About the cold: the Swedes (which included Finns south of the Novgorod line) are pretty much on the same latitude as the [now known as] Petrograd so were just as well used to plunging temperatures. However, there was indeed, the coldest winter for 500 years in 1709.
If you look at where Poltava is on the map, you're moving from a more Baltic northern European climate to thoroughly continental climate. And it's not just a question of what temperatures the men are used to when they're at home. Winter also plays silly buggers with logistics, and that's some awfully long supply lines there. It's no longer in a place where you can just send some supply ships across the Baltic.
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Old 5th February 2020, 07:29 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post
Re: Pearl Harbor...

And there would be risks too... If I remember correctly, U.S. forces were improving their response throughout the day, and would put up more of a fight against a 3rd Japanese wave.

And the Japanese didn't know where the carriers were, so some caution might have been warranted.
I think the last one was really the biggest threat. Both the Japanese and Americans went with basically the doctrine that the only real defense against an air strike is to have more airplanes to throw at an enemy. (As opposed to the British who expected to fight attacks from ground bases in the Mediterranean and such, and went with armoured carriers and fewer planes. Because you can't sink Sicily to protect your carriers.) Being attacked while your planes are away, yeah, won't go that well.
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Old 5th February 2020, 09:27 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
History, including military history, being a bit of a hobby of mine, I thought I'd put forward some of the moments I find fascinating in a "what were they thinking?" kind of way.

And I'd like to start with the battle of Agincourt.

Now probably even people who don't know much about history know about how the English put like 1500 arrows a second into the air, and mowed down the French, but that is only a small part of the picture. It even more a merit of the terrain preventing the English from being flanked, as well as creating a slight funnel shape for the advancing French that plays silly buggers with tightly packed rows of advancing infantry.

What I find more fascinating, though, is that location and terrain was the choice of the French. It's rare that you can force the enemy to have no choice but to attack in the exact place of your choosing, but marshal Jean II Le Maingre (a.k.a., Boucicaut) managed just that. The English had been harrassed and forced along a way that led to exactly where the French wanted them, and were prepared for them.

Except the place that the French wanted them, was a place that would massively favour the English

And that's what I don't get. I'll even admit that other topographical features may have been less obvious at the time as a potential problem. BUT when you have an army whose main advantage is in its large numbers of heavy cavalry... how does one come to the idea of forcing the enemy into a position that has secure flanks and prevents said cavalry from flanking them?
HansMusterman:

While there have been several enlightening things mentioned in this thread, I noticed that no one has really answered your question.

Therefore, I will attempt to do so now.

I expect that what happened with the French at Agincourt was that the people in charge of the French army expected the English to fight in the same way as the French were planning to fight. The French had a good bit of heavy cavalry and some archery, and as such, the French expected that their heavy cavalry would rule the day and that the French archers would have a minimal impact on the battle.

And since the French knew that the English did not have much in the way heavy cavalry, and since the French did not expect much trouble from the English archers, then I expect that the French chose a battle location that would be well suited for a narrow, but very strong, assault with their heavy cavalry.

Please note that the French sent in the heavy cavalry at the outset without first making use of their own archers. Hence, that makes me think that the French did not consider archery to be of much military value when it came to field battles.

But of course, the French did not realize that by putting their heavy cavalry into a relatively small area with little room to maneuver, they were really setting themselves up for an archery killing zone for the English archers who had the powerful, and fast shooting, longbow.

Additionally, a secondary effect of loosing so much French heavy cavalry during the first stage of the battle, meant that quite a few of the senior infantry commanders were soon knocked out since it was often the knights in the big fancy armor who tended to be infantry commanders. Therefore, the sudden lack of the French leadership made it quite difficult to counter the English who did not have this problem.

I hope this helps.
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Old 5th February 2020, 03:04 PM   #50
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Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post
Re: Pearl Harbor...

And there would be risks too... If I remember correctly, U.S. forces were improving their response throughout the day, and would put up more of a fight against a 3rd Japanese wave.

And the Japanese didn't know where the carriers were, so some caution might have been warranted.
In recent years, the opinion is that the amount of damage a Third Wave could have inflicted on the Pearl Harbor Infrastructure has been overblown by many historians.
Fact it, to do heavy damage to the dockyards and repair facilitres, you needed much heavier bombs then the Japanese Carrier planes could have carried. Whatevery damage they did could have been repaired fairly quickly. It was a job for medium and heavy bombers, not carrier bombers.
As for the Oil Farm, wrecking that would have crippled the US Navy for a couple of months, but that would only have been important if the Japanes were planning a full scale invasion in that time period, which they weren't.
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Old 5th February 2020, 11:26 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Presumably.

It's hard to imagine life in a society where so many people were illiterate, and where the printing press didn't exist. We have read accounts of Crecy, but had they? Did they actually study military affairs or history? Or did they simply view battles as a whole bunch of individual fights that were happening at the same time?
They absolutely did NOT view battles as "a whole bunch of individual fights." Quite the opposite. It's Hollywood who views battles as a whole bunch of individual fights.
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Old 6th February 2020, 07:07 AM   #52
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
In recent years, the opinion is that the amount of damage a Third Wave could have inflicted on the Pearl Harbor Infrastructure has been overblown by many historians.
Fact it, to do heavy damage to the dockyards and repair facilitres, you needed much heavier bombs then the Japanese Carrier planes could have carried. Whatevery damage they did could have been repaired fairly quickly. It was a job for medium and heavy bombers, not carrier bombers.
As for the Oil Farm, wrecking that would have crippled the US Navy for a couple of months, but that would only have been important if the Japanes were planning a full scale invasion in that time period, which they weren't.
Thanks much for the good thoughts.

Also, maybe you (or some other kind person who is knowledgeable about this subject may be able to answer) can answer a question for me that I have been wondering about for some time now ...

As for the aircraft carriers that were away from Pearl Harbor on 07 DEC 1941, did these carriers actually know about the attack on Pearl Harbor on 07 DEC 1941?

Of course, headquarters in Washington, D.C. knew about the attack shortly after it started.

But do you know if those aircraft carriers were actually informed about the attack on 07 DEC 1941?

And if so, then how did those aircraft carriers react to this information?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 6th February 2020, 07:27 AM   #53
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Originally Posted by Pacal View Post
One should be very careful with the number's given by ancient Greco-Roman sources. The figure of 200,000 given for the Barbarians at Arausio are almost certainly vast exaggerations. Logistics in those days were pretty poor. And the Roman's were very found of stories of them fighting and generally beating huge Barbarian hordes.
To be fair, that just reinforces the point. If Roman legions should have beaten 200k barbarians but were defeated by much smaller numbers, still the Romans fault.
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Old 6th February 2020, 08:05 AM   #54
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This is the action reports/logs from Enterprise on the 7th:
http://www.cv6.org/ship/logs/ph/

"
The morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, eighteen Enterprise Air Group planes, including thirteen from Scouting Six, four from Bombing Six, and that flown by Air Group Commander LCDR Howard L. "Brigham" Young, departed Enterprise to scout an arc extended from northeast to southeast of the ship, before landing at Ford Island Naval Air Station, in Pearl Harbor. As the planes, flying in pairs, neared Pearl Harbor, they found themselves caught between the attacking Japanese planes and the defensive fire from ships and shore stations below. Six SBDs were lost, some to enemy attacks, others to friendly fire. Eight airmen were killed, and two were wounded. In the evening, six VF-6 Wildcats were directed to land at Ford Island. Triggering a panic, five were shot down by friendly anti-aircraft fire: three pilots were killed and two were wounded.
"
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Old 6th February 2020, 08:05 AM   #55
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The Enterprise was informed while en route to Hawaii and sent some airplanes, that were promptly fired upon by the ground defenses. Lexington was too far away, but was ordered to steam ahead and search for any Japanese ships anyway. Which she didn't find, since they had buggered off. Saratoga was just entering port in the USA, so it was waaahaahaay out of range to play any part.

But more of the role they had was really best described as "fleet in being". They Japanese knew they existed and were a threat, but had no bloody clue where they are or where they're headed, other than "not at Pearl Harbour." They could be just arriving from any direction, really, or not, but that was a threat to consider, especially when your plan is to have your airplanes away for a couple of hours. If they do happen to be nearby and you get caught pants down, well, see Midway.
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Old 6th February 2020, 08:08 AM   #56
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This has a timeline for events on the 7th, including:

"
0618
On the morning 7 Dec. Task Force 8 (ENTERPRISE, NORTHAMPTON, SALT LAKE CITY, CHESTER, (Crudiv 5), DUNLAP, ELIOT, FANNING, BENHAM, GRIDLEY, MAURY, BALCH, (Desron 6) were returning to Pearl Harbor after completing mission vicinity Wake Island. From position approximately 215 miles West of Pearl routing scouting flight launched. Flight had orders to search ahead sector through 045-135° for distance 150 miles. Thence planes to proceed to Pearl. Three planes also launched to establish inner air patrol.
"
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Old 6th February 2020, 08:22 AM   #57
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Thanks so much to all for the data regarding what the carriers were doing at, or about, the time of the Pearl Harbor attack.

I have periodically wondered about these details.
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Old 12th February 2020, 05:59 AM   #58
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To offer more food for thought, it is often said that two wrongs don't make a right, but I have to say sometimes idiots cancel each other, if for every idiot there is an equal idiot on the other side.

And I'll return to my previous pet peeve from another thread, namely Japan's decision to start a war with the USA given the fleet they had.

Everyone knows how mighty the Japanese fleet were, especially its carriers, and how it wouldn't be until Midway and the loss of the mighty Kido Butai (1st carrier fleet) would finally start to turn the war in the US's favour. Helping cement the reputation of both carriers in general and Japanese ones specifically as being the bee's knees.

Thing is, if the world had been a sane place, Japan would have lost it almost immediately. What the US had and Japan had no counter to (in more than one way, even) were submarines. Which actually scored enough hits on carriers, as well as other vital ships such as transports that were needed to keep those carriers fuelled and in business, to basically put Japan in a worse position by the start of '42 than it was post-Midway. Add the aerial torpedo hits in battles like Coral Sea, and yeah, the Japanese Navy should have been lacking its balls and kneecaps before achieving much more than having slapped the dragon awake at Pearl Harbour.

... unless this was being countered by an equal and opposite force of idiots on the US side. Enter the Bureau Of Ordinance and their Mark XIV torpedo, and the Mark XIII air-dropped one. And stubborn insistence that no, they haven't tested it, but it works perfectly, and every submariner is just an idiot who doesn't know how to use it. Ensuring that it wouldn't be until mid '43 or later that the US had a torpedo that actually bloody worked.

So what I'm saying is that:

1. Initial lack of success against the Japanese may not have been ONLY a case of the Zero being insanely good at defending the fleet. It may well be that not all the US torpedo bombers missed or were shredded before launching the torps, but actually some would have scored good hits if their main weapon actually worked.

And

2. We came this close to having a history where WW2 was not won by aircraft carriers, but by the sub warfare. One way (for the US vs Japan) or the other (for UK vs Germany).
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Old 12th February 2020, 06:04 AM   #59
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Really not convinced by the idea that the UBoats would be able to win the war.
I've said before, the closest they came was 1917...
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Old 12th February 2020, 06:06 AM   #60
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I don't mean win entirely. Obviously Japan wouldn't have capitulated just because you attack its supply lines, just like the UK didn't. That much is clear. But I'm saying that the pivotal point where the Japanese carriers start being the underdog could have been a LOT earlier than Midway.

Edit: Oh, you mean in the UK vs Germany case? I didn't mean as in German winning it, but as in, the UK won the battle of the Atlantic. Basically the whole road that culminated in D-Day was made possible by the UK destroyers and corvettes stopping the U-Boot attacks, rather than by any fancy carrier battles.
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Old 12th February 2020, 07:09 AM   #61
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Ah right!
I misread you!


Yes, I agree...though the lack of a German carrier helped in the "no carrier battles" front...
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Old 12th February 2020, 08:03 AM   #62
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Yep. Just saying that the Pacific side was this close to being decided by sub warfare too (albeit, with the subs winning,) if the US had tested their torpedoes.
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Old 12th February 2020, 08:19 AM   #63
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Yep. Just saying that the Pacific side was this close to being decided by sub warfare too (albeit, with the subs winning,) if the US had tested their torpedoes.
I think the subs did win the pacific sea war. AT the end it wouldn't matter a thing how many warships the Japanese still had. Not even if they still had the four Midway carriers. By that time no oil could be transported to Japan and no food either. The fleet was powerless to do anything about it.

It was the American carrier fleet that broke the back of the Japanese war fleet, but is was the American sub fleet that destroyed any possibility for Japan to wage war at all. At least in the Pacific island area (China was something else).

It was just that the Japanese refused to see this reality.
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Old 12th February 2020, 01:18 PM   #64
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True enough, and thanks for the reminder. For all my repeating the "amateurs talk about tactics, professionals talk about logistics" dictum, sometimes I forget to take my own medicine and dig deep and greedily into the logistics side. I guess it is the less fun part of history compared to the battles. Plus, you're not going to get an epic Sabaton song about the logistics side of Midway

What I do still stand by though is that basically the Kido Butai could have been turned into habitats for marine life before '42 even properly started, and we wouldn't even be talking about the grand air battles when talking about WW2. The whole pacific war could have been basically a side-note about how the Japanese sucker punched the dragon at Pearl Harbour and most of their fleet promptly went to the bottom without even knowing what hit them, or (yet) what depth to set their depth charges for. That is, had the US Bureau Of Ordnance not been that determined to snatch a few more defeats from the jaws of victory.

And I'm still standing by my earlier contention that I find the whole decision to attack Pearl Harbour... questionable at best. Considering that the Japanese fleet was extremely vulnerable from both above and below, and (unlike other fleets in the world) the main proponent of naval air warfare in Japan was actually not only in a position to be taken seriously, but bloody in charge and the one who forced through the attack... I dunno, man... one has to drink deep and greedily from one's own kool-aid to go, "meh, it'll work anyway when WE do it."

It ties to the above because IMHO the only reason it worked AT ALL is because of a few idiots on the US side who created a huge vulnerability. But Japan's plan wasn't to exploit that vulnerability. (Which would have been smart.) They didn't even know about the vulnerability. They just thought they'd YOLO it and it has to work when it's them doing it, although by any sane account it shouldn't have.
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Old 12th February 2020, 04:38 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Yep. Just saying that the Pacific side was this close to being decided by sub warfare too (albeit, with the subs winning,) if the US had tested their torpedoes.
By 45 Subs were reduced to shooting up fishing boats and 'Sampans' as there was a complete lack of larger targets.
I am not over familiar with the detail of US operations but RN boats were finding it hard to find any targets at all even close inshore.
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Old 12th February 2020, 04:46 PM   #66
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To my mind Langsdorff at the River Plate snatched defeat from victory. All that was facing him on the morning of the 17 December was the two battered cruisers that had chased him in on the 14th.
If he had put out to meet them he would probably have driven them off and made a good escape or even sunk one of them.

(I have a particular interest as my uncle martin was aboard Exeter at the battle and was also crewing one of the cruisers used in the film sequences after the war. Plus, my dad worked with one o0f the merchant seamen that had been held prisoner aboard Graf Spee through the battle and released in Montevideo)

I think that was the difference between the two navies traditions. Any RN commanding officer wouldn't have hesitated in seeking action and would never have considered scuttling his ship, better to go down to defeat fighting. Centuries of tradition to live up to.

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Old 12th February 2020, 08:01 PM   #67
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That would certainly qualify, though I would say there were mitigating circumstances for that decision, somewhat.

Mind you, I'm not saying that it was the best choice of action or anything, but the Graf Spee would have had serious trouble getting home. Among other things the galley was pretty much destroyed, as was the water filter (which doesn't mean just trouble keeping the crew hydrated, but also eventually trouble keeping the steam engine running), and a hole in the bow was requiring it to reduce speed or have water forced in. Which certainly wouldn't have helped it escape, seein' as its speed was already rather unimpressive even in top condition. IF a RN battlecruiser was nearby, the whole "outrun what you can't outshoot" premise was kinda shot down from the start, since a RN battlecruiser could chase it down AND outgun it.

So basically, escape out of port, yeah, it had a good chance, although it would probably have to kill both cruisers to escape, since it could no longer outrun them. Make it all the way to Germany? Eh, probably not. I mean, even without believing the RN bluff, any surviving cruiser just had to shadow the limping Graf Spee until some ship could intercept it.

Basically it would turn into a longer range Bismarck scenario, IMHO. And we know how that one went.

Again, I'm not saying it was the best course of action, just that people have reasons for their decisions. They may not be GOOD reasons, or sometimes even SANE reasons, but they are reasons
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Old 12th February 2020, 08:06 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
By 45 Subs were reduced to shooting up fishing boats and 'Sampans' as there was a complete lack of larger targets.
I am not over familiar with the detail of US operations but RN boats were finding it hard to find any targets at all even close inshore.
By '45, sure. But if you look at a graph of kills by US submarines, it's flat at buggerall tonnage until late '43, and then it starts to go up very fast. End of '41 until late '43, the vast majority of kills by allied submarines in the Pacific, or really by any kind of torpedo, were in fact by few RN ones still operating in the Pacific.

So kudos to you brits for that.
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Old 13th February 2020, 04:26 AM   #69
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
By '45, sure. But if you look at a graph of kills by US submarines, it's flat at buggerall tonnage until late '43, and then it starts to go up very fast. End of '41 until late '43, the vast majority of kills by allied submarines in the Pacific, or really by any kind of torpedo, were in fact by few RN ones still operating in the Pacific.

So kudos to you brits for that.
A lot of it was coastal work of S.E. Asia

Read "One of Our Submarines" by Edward young. It's his war memoir as skipper of HMS Storm. (Kindle or paperback)

It's the best book on actually operating a sub I have read.
After patrols off Norway and in the Med she ended up in 1944 operating out of Trincomalee and Fremantle.
On one patrol they picked up a Japanese soldier who was a passenger one one of the boats they sank and on another took his boat actually in to Port Owen on Tavoy island and sank the moored shipping

Early in his career he survived the sinking of the sub HMS Umpire in the North Sea after they were in collision with a convoy escort.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Preston_Young
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Old 13th February 2020, 04:59 AM   #70
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Read "One of Our Submarines" by Edward young. It's his war memoir as skipper of HMS Storm. (Kindle or paperback)

It's the best book on actually operating a sub I have read.
Yeah, I've got a copy and it's very much worth reading; it gives a really good idea of what submarines actually did on a day-to-day basis. Another one I can recommend is "Discharged Dead" by Sidney Hart, which gives a crewman's point of view of ops in the Med and the Far East.

Dave
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Old 13th February 2020, 09:52 AM   #71
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Battle of Pharsalus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Pharsalus

Pompey outnumbers Julius Caesar 2:1 and held a strong defensive position. Caesar was hemmed up in in hostile territory with little in the way of supplies. Pompey wanted to wait for him to surrender but the Roman Senators pressured him to attack. Caesar’s army was much more experienced and managed to break Pompey’s flank and routed his army, paving the way for him to become the first Emperor.
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Old 14th February 2020, 01:19 AM   #72
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
A lot of it was coastal work of S.E. Asia
Coastal work of SE Asia was still a lot more than what USN subs were managing to do successfully at the time.

I mean, the torp was so bad that a USN sub actually scored 17 (yes, SEVENTEEN) good hits on a ship and none exploded. And that was AFTER they fixed the depth keeping mechanism, because originally it would go several metres below the intended depth and not do anything. And after they fixed that, the faulty magnetic detonator would make it go bang way BEFORE the target. So skip all the time forward when they start disabling the magnetic detonator too, and yeah, 17 hits, none explode, because the contact trigger doesn't work either.

So, yeah, some coastal work with torps that actually work was a lot better than all the aggressive work all over the place with torps that don't
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Old 14th February 2020, 07:08 AM   #73
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Coastal work of SE Asia was still a lot more than what USN subs were managing to do successfully at the time.

I mean, the torp was so bad that a USN sub actually scored 17 (yes, SEVENTEEN) good hits on a ship and none exploded. And that was AFTER they fixed the depth keeping mechanism, because originally it would go several metres below the intended depth and not do anything. And after they fixed that, the faulty magnetic detonator would make it go bang way BEFORE the target. So skip all the time forward when they start disabling the magnetic detonator too, and yeah, 17 hits, none explode, because the contact trigger doesn't work either.

So, yeah, some coastal work with torps that actually work was a lot better than all the aggressive work all over the place with torps that don't
IIRC didn't the Germans also have torpedo problems at the start of WWII?
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Old 14th February 2020, 11:57 AM   #74
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Originally Posted by Rincewind View Post
IIRC didn't the Germans also have torpedo problems at the start of WWII?
Yes they did. I believe if it wasn’t for that than hms Nelson would have sunk during the Norway campaign.
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Old 14th February 2020, 12:37 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by Rincewind View Post
IIRC didn't the Germans also have torpedo problems at the start of WWII?
All nations had various torp problems. None nearly as outright making it useless as the USA ones, and certainly not an onion style layer of several problems on top of each other, each of them enough to make the weapon useless.
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Old 14th February 2020, 01:27 PM   #76
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The Japanese, of course, had the type 93.
I recall reading somewhere that USN doctrine for a surface battle was to fight it out with guns, then have the destroyers go in and finish off cripples with torpedoes.
Japanese doctrine was to have the destroyers attack first with torpedoes then finish off the cripples with gunfire.
Each was appropriate for the range and power of torpedoes of that navy.
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Old 14th February 2020, 02:51 PM   #77
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Destroyer attacks with torpedo salvos was RN doctrine too. Damage and slow enemy capital ships and attack enemy Destroyers. Look at the various battles in the Med.
Also Destroyers attacking with torpedoes through smoke was a potent defence. A flotilla would lay a smoke screen then wait on the other side. Before radar it was a brave captain that would attack in to a Destroyer smoke screen.
Until late in the war the torpedo was considered the main Destroyer weapon.

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Old 14th February 2020, 06:24 PM   #78
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It wasn't exactly a new idea either. Opening with a lot of torps to cripple or outright disable enemy capital ships was, after all, the main doctrine of the Jeune Ecole in the late 19'th century. Which in turn heavily influenced both the Japanese and the British, even if in slightly different ways. In Japan it led to a heavier emphasis on torps, while in the UK it raised the emphasis on being less vulnerable to enemy torps, and is even is arguably at the root of such developments as the battlecruiser.
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Old 16th February 2020, 01:22 PM   #79
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Just to clarify some more exactly how screwed the Graf Spee was, IF the RN actually had an actual battlecruiser nearby -- not that most people need that kind of clarification, but anyway -- it's not just a matter of outrun and/or outgun. The faster ship basically gets to dictate the range of the engagement, in addition to being able to disengage safely if things don't exactly go according to plan.

Any RN battlecruiser had not just higher speed, but bigger guns, AND substantially thicker belt armour. (Heck, even the Hood qualified as a BC by RN standards, and that one had, what, 3 times the belt armour of the Graf Spee?) Any RN battlecruiser in service could EASILY dictate a range where the 11" guns on the Graf Spee couldn't actually do any serious damage to it, while its shells could do a horrible number on the German cruiser. Heck, it could even stay completely out of range of the 11" guns if they wanted to, and still be able to give it a pounding. How's that for zone of immunity.

So, yeah, if any RN battlecruisers could intercept it -- and with RN cruisers right there that could shadow it, the probability was quite high -- the Graf Spee was royally screwed.
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Old 16th February 2020, 04:09 PM   #80
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So go down fighting.
When does being outgunned stop you from engaging?

HMS Rawalpindi, an armed merchant cruiser took on Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Similarly HMS Jarvis Bay, another armed merchant took on the Admiral Scheer. Both went down fighting.
Destroyer HMS Glowworm took on German Destroyers and Admiral Hipper off Norway ending up ramming the German cruiser before sinking. Lieutenant Commander Roope the Captain of Glowworm posthumously received the first VC of the war.
there are a number of similar incidents.

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