BTW, I also think that Halsey made the wise decision to worry about aircraft over surface units. The only tool the Japanese had to hurt the US was the airplane. The days before the Battle of Leyte Gulf the Princeton is lost by one bomb from one plane that slipped through CAP. The gruesome nature of that loss would impress anyone.
No surface unit that the Japanese would get near the horizon of 3rd Fleet, so why obsess with that threat. The failure of the US, and it was a general fault, was not closing gaps in assumptions and communication that let Kurita get out of San Bernadino with none of the 1500 A/C in the US arsenal's looking at that critical waterway.
A Japanese scout plane would have been splashed very quickly. Probably would have drawn more FM-2s than flies to poop.
I heard this before that Kurita lost his nerve. Somebody wrote that nonsense for American ego. How is running low on fuel and suffering terrific losses worth his battle force to destroy a bunch of destroyers and CVEs? He may have not known he was up against CVEs but he did know he was up against destroyers. He believed the destroyers and rightfully so were a covering force. He expected heavier American warships to engage him at some point especially if he was engaging fleet carriers.
Learning he is up against CVEs would not have helped him. Not meeting them at all would have helped him. He used up ammunition, fuel and suffers more losses. But say for debate he pushes through the Taffys and arrives at Leyte Gulf only to be engaged by a battle line of old BBs fully fueled and magazines restocked. So Kurita now has to decide how to get at the transports in confined seas without having the old USN BBs turn what is left of his command into Swiss Cheese.
If he would met the old BBs Kurita probably would have lost all his command. Unlike Lee’s fast BBs, Oldendorf’s BB’s had battle experience with their big guns ,good coordination and command of the air. Lee could not say that.
But even if the old BBs failed to stop him it would not have slowed the Leyte invasion. Most of the transports and freight they were carrying was already ashore. Lessons learned from Guadalcanal. Logistics moved far quicker ashore than 1942. What would have been hurt would have been future invasions by the loss of those specialty assault ships. Replacement ships then coming over from the ETO may have quickly made up those losses.
Halsey operational orders were quite clear from Nimitz. His first priority was to destroy the Japanese Fleet as well as cover the landings. While in command of 3rd fleet or Southwest Pacific Forces Halsey destroyed more of the Japanese fleet than other peer admirals could ever hope to dream of. Typhoons? Yup bad. So is using a specifically designed offensive force in a defensive manner and allowing it to be attrited.
Halsey and Fletcher both victims of the sycophant Morrison and was probably the one who wrote that Kurita lost his nerve. Yeah a culture that would disembowel itself for loss of honor and face. Makes perfect sense to me.
Would it not been a field day for US press to learn Halsey got scolded for sinking a super battleship and the remaining Japanese Fleet carriers?
The heroism of the men of Taffy 3 during the Battle off Samar on October 25, 1944, is legendary. What the Taffy 3 destroyers accomplished has no equals in the annals of U.S. Navy history.
Historians have reported that the Japanese did not recognize the USN ships being attacked. The escort carriers were mistaken for Halsey's fleet carriers and the destroyers were mistaken for cruisers. This confusion caused many Japanese shots to pass over the Taffy 3 escorts. These misses bought considerable time that enabled the destroyers to inflict unexpected damage on ADM Kurita's Center Force for over two hours. Finally, Kurita lost his nerve and turned away, and the rest is history.
The question I have is why didn't Kurita launch float planes from a battleship or cruiser in order to provide Kurita with a clearer picture of his opposition. It would not have taken long for the float planes to confirm the composition of Taffy 3. With that done, the Center Force could have turned around and easily dispatched the remnants of Taffy 3. Accordingly, the landing beaches at Leyte would have been exposed and vulnerable to the Center Force.
We can only surmise the effect of an attack on the Leyte landings, but recapture of the Philippines clearly would been delayed. Another impact would have been that of Nimitz's message to Halsey asking where his carriers were. Had Kurita been successful, Nimitz might have been less forgiving of Halsey.
Of course. Kurita didn't launch any scout planes and ultimately gave up the on the attack. The Leyte landings were successful and the rest is history.
Still, it is a provocative question.