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Read Beans, Bullets and Black Oil and Our Jungle Road To Tokyo.
The only thing the Navy did not carry into Leyte Gulf was General Tojo. Beans Bullets and Black Oil states it had already been decided to convert Leyte Gulf into a major repair and resupply base. Once the assault was complete and the Army landed the fleet logistic train moved in just as quickly. Seriously doubt they forgot to bring AP shells for the old BBs especially since naval intelligence knew the Japanese fleet was going to come out and fight.
Next book was General Robert L, Eichelbergerís memories of the Armyís jungle fighting from New Guinea to the Philippines. He mentions how the army divisions assigned under Nimitz were lavishly supplied and those under MacArthur were not. Rule of thumb was 30 days supplies went ashore. At Leyte far more than 30 days of supplies went ashore. MacArthur had one hell of a bad experience with logistics in New Guinea and he was not going to relive the experience. Sadly anything the Navy or Nimitzís army troops cast off Eighth and Sixth Army grabbed.
Anyway even if Kurita did make Leyte Gulf and started a fight he never would have saw home. 7th Fleet and its not all so old BBs in front of him. Taffys behind him and eventually 3rd Fleet. The Japanese fleet would have been wiped out save for a few capital ships escaping Cape Engano.
So the best thing to happen to Kurita was engaging Taffy 3 and thinking it was Essex class carriers. He could call it a day and go home with honor.
distance & lack of speed as can only do max 21 knots as they are OBBs.
Nowhere did Kurita have instructions to sacrifice his fleet. The point of attacking the beachhead was attrition. Yes they knew the war was lost but their goal was to inflict as many American casualties as possible in the hopes of negotiations. Which for some reason the Russians kept advising them was possible.
Did Kurita fail In attacking the beachhead yes. Did he sink a number of DDs and a CVE yes. Did not Kurita lose two heavy cruisers? So if attrition was the goal then victory may lean towards the USN for the beachhead was empty.
The main reason the remnants of the IJN was not seen again in was from lack oil. Not lack of fight. Yamato sailed on her one way mission to Okinawa and the Indianapolis was still torpedoed.
And yes the BBs were almost out of AP shells but they were being resupplied.
That's my opinion anyway. Kurita's job was to destroy the landing force and US Mistakes had given him his chance..
He failed in his mission.
There was no point in preserving his fleet. The war was lost,a victory here would have prolonged the war, but not changed the final outcome. More people on both sides would have died, so thank goodness he screwed up.
The Old US battle ships would not have made much difference, they were about out of main battery ammo.
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