While...I would agree with your observation that the maneuver of 'crossing the T' was largely immaterial to the ultimate outcome of the action against Nishimura; he was simply overwhelmed by sheer weight of fire, which was the correct approach on the part of Oldendorf--namely, a lion uses all its strength in killing a rabbit. However, it was not only a classic maneuver designed to maximize advantage, it was the only realistic maneuver given the constraints imposed by Leyte and Panaon on the one side and Dinagat islands on the other; was there really any consideration to be given to mixing it up with Nishimura with an opposing column of Allied vessels steaming more or less southward and conducting a reverse action against Nishimura which would expose Oldendorf's ships to increased fire and increased rates of range changing ? Would Oldendorf has seriously considered running his men on both sides of the strait with Nishimura in the middle ? I think--and obviously--not to any other scenario than that which historically occurred.
Without question, Nishimura's formation had its' T capped by Oldendorf's ships. The degree to which Nishimura's vessels were inhibited by this maneuver was mitigated by the factors you mentioned, such as the layout of Shigure's, Mogami's and Yamashiro's main battery, and the damage to Yamashiro's after main battery (Shigure would only lose 2, not 3, barrels since she only mounted 4 to start with at this point in the war). The fact that Nishimura's three surviving vessels were somewhat scattered--'fanned out' as you wrote, rather than in close order, was immaterial since they were forced to steam on essentially identical courses up the strait to their goal, the entry to which goal was fully covered by Oldendorf's line. One could make the argument that Nishimura did lose usable fire since his secondary armament and torpedo tubes were rather effectively masked during his charge, thus mitigating the danger to Oldendorf's line which was, as you pointed out, exposed by virtue of steaming broadside to Nishimura's troops and subject to collision during any countermarch (and, if fact, a collision between two wagons nearly did occur during course reversal) although both conditions would likely apply in at least equal measure if not more so to any other formation Oldendorf's ships might have assumed, in view of the numbers involved and the confines of the strait.
Your comments here are actually an illustration of how history involves reinterpreting events outside of a box which prior historians may have placed themselves in for one reason or another. In other words, all history is revisionist, by definition. For example, in my opinion, Yamashiro fought in extraordinarily gallant manner against odds which her crew knew were stacked heavily against them; likewise, I'm not of the opinion that Nishimura was some sort of fool wholly lacking in imagination or professionalism. Yet, for some, nothing but approbation must attend Nishimura's actions during Surigao Strait and, in fact, during his entire wartime service with an emphasis on his actions at Balikpapan. My view of those impressions is that they are highly suspect and more than a bit amateurish.
As for the wreck of Yamashiro on the seabed, the location of which was never much in doubt, while I heard speculation of her lying upright that was never a particularly likely scenario given the depth of the waters in which she sank. My back of the envelope guess remains that water depth usually must be greater than 5 lengths of any given vessel which has capsized (or turned turtle) before it has the chance to return upright by way of hydrodynamic forces barring other events, such as experienced by--say--USS Helena. Hence, it is no surprise to me that Yamashiro is lying upside down.
As for Yamashiro's condition on the seabed, if the extant shots are properly interpreted, it is interesting that her bow structure is folded over; why would that be if she plunged by the stern ? did she strike the seabed with her bow somehow ? was her bow weakened by some manner of combat damage ? Likewise, if the stern area is as it seems to be, could this be the result of structural damage by way of torpedo and/or shell and is, as a result, in a much more advanced stage of decomposition ? does it reflect in some manner upon any structural discontinuity resulting from the modification of her stern during reconstruction ? Could Yamashiro have sustained some manner of explosion during her sinking or upon settling on the seabed in a similar manner as HMS Audacious or Japan's own Kirishima ? All interesting questions and all of which will become even more interesting as the wreck of Fuso is examined.
In any event, while "...all the romance about the revenge of the Pearl Harbor victims and the fateful crossing of the 'T'..." is "...the construct of historians..." it is rightfully so; however, as I alluded to above, a reinterpretation is not out of order nor does such a reinterpretation necessarily exclude, or reverse, prior interpretation. Was Yamashiro "...doomed..." by torpedo hits ? Well, taking a look at sister Fuso--and can there be any more controlled comparison than that ?--there is a great deal to recommend the thought that these two former leviathans were placed in sinking condition by torpedo fire alone--after all, torpedoes--as they say--let water in, and that bomb strikes and shellfire merely hastened the final act. In my opinion, the bomb hit forward on Fuso severely compromised the watertight integrity within her fo'c'sle and--looking at matters today--the bomb hit on Yamashiro--while in no manner decisive--had to, in fact, degrade her reserve buoyancy. However, this all must be balanced by the fact that Yamashiro's crew was highly trained and--I dare speculate--exceptionally motivated by circumstance and tradition to fight with everything they had in the face of immense odds.
My take on all of this is that, when Shinoda and Nishimura--who were known to still be alive as Yamashiro began her final roll--went down with their commands, a very gallant ship and crew went with them to their deaths.
Note: Original topic found at: