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Re: Of the many issues ...
There was room to operate the Swordfish, as they did try to do when it was too late.
No CAP was flown although it was recommended by the Air Commander (further showing that air ops were possible).
D'Oyly-Hughes effectively spent his entire career in submarines and had minimum/no experience in carrier ops. Whereas in the USN, carrier commanders were/are experienced Naval Aviators.
one carrier flight deck loaded with land based fighters and 2 SMALL Destroyers AND ZERO SUPPORT JUST OVER THE HORIZON! even D'OYLY -HUGHES could have fought in the situation the Taffys were in! and as it was, at least 1 of 12 available torpedoes hit a Battleship
It was evident that D'Oyly-Hughes didn't have a clue. Whereas Sprague acted as a competent professional.
...folks overlook the viciousness of the air attacks Kurita suffered during his run-in with the Taffies is one of them. It's not just the direct attacks but the presence, the feints and the repeated approaches and threats the aircraft made against Kurita's troops. Given the action how could Kurita launch and precisely what had he left in the way of scout aircraft when dawn revealed the Taffies ? Could they possibly have done better amongst the smoke and confusion ? Who knows ? Mogami 's scout at Surigao did a credible job so it was possible the Japanese could pull off some good scouting but that bird operated under entirely different tactical conditions.
Additionally, since Kurita had no chance to arrive off Leyte before the major portion of the landing force could complete its' mission and move out, any shot Kurita had at disrupting the invasion was pretty much foreclosed before he departed Brunei.
At this point in the war, it was pretty much a done deal for the IJN. With the Allies arriving off the Philippines with more destroyers than Ozawa had aircraft to support Kurita, the stage is pretty well set.
I highly recommend Warship International 's newly minted article on the Sibuyan Sea battle; it's quite enlightening as to Kurita's adventures during Leyte. Incidentally, someone once made the comparison between how Taffy 3 was handled and how Glorious was handled in 1940 when she was surprised by surface forces. The comparisons were rather instructive.
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