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DID THE YAMATO EVER DO ANYTHING???

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by Panzerknacker, Aug 29, 2002.

  1. NAREEVES

    NAREEVES Member

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    Rich,
    Much thanks for the info on Downing. He was my dad's roommate on the Yorktown - both were in VS-5 - so I am interested in doing some bio on Art as part of my dad's story. I have his 3rd Navy Cross citation but I believe there are mistakes in the citation. He was in VB-14 on the WASP at the time and CO of the squadron during the Leyte Gulf Battle. The Yamato was hit a day or two after the Musashi was sunk and retired to Japan for repairs. Then she was sunk in April 45. Downing's daughter reports that Art's rear seat man took pictures of Art's TWO hits on the Yamato. But I am still not sure if this refers to the first hits at Leyte or the hits later in April. I have no knowledge yet of him ever in VB-18. Art's Carrier Hall of Fame write up also credits Art with the first hit on the Yamato, but, again, no reference as to when this occurred. Anything you can dig up on Art would be most appreciated by us all! Info on Art is most elusive for such a highly decorated man and a fabulous pilot.
     
  2. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    Nancy -

    Don’t know how I got off on VB-18, of course you are correct, Art Downing was in VB-14 off Wasp. Probably got distracted Wasp’s by CV-18 moniker.

    My records show LCDR John D Blitch as VB-14's CO and LCDR Howard S Roberts the XO in October 1944.

    But the same question, did Art Downing transfer to another squadron?

    VB squadrons available in TF-58 on the morning of 7 April 1945 were:

    VB-5 - USS Franklin; CO was LCDR John G Sheridan
    VB-6 - USS Hancock; CO was LCDR Gordon P Chase
    VB-9 - USS Yorktown; CO was LCDR Tony F Schneider
    VB-10 - USS Intrepid; CO was LCDR Richard B Buchan
    VB-17 - USS Hornet; CO was LCDR Robert M Ware
    VB-82 - USS Bennington; CO was LCDR Hugh Wood
    VB-83 - USS Essex; CO was LCDR David R Berry
    VB-84 - USS Bunker Hill; CO was LCDR John P Conn
    VB-85 - USS Shangri La; CO was LCDR Albert L Maltby, Jr
    VB-86 - USS Wasp; CO was LCDR Paul R Norby
    VB-87 - USS Ticonderoga; CO was LCDR Frank N Kanga

    VB squadrons that actually attacked and helped sink Yamato on 7 April 1945 were VB-9, VB-10, VB-83, and VB-84.

    Location reports for 7 and 14 April 1945 show VB-14 reforming at 29 Palms NAAS and not scheduled for deployment until 15 May.

    Do you suppose the folks might be looking at photos of Musashi and thinking Yamato?

    Regards,

    Rich
     
  3. NAREEVES

    NAREEVES Member

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    Rich,

    Great info and thank you!

    I only have a smattering of Art's activities in WWII so far ,but I do know for sure that he helped sink the Musashi and got the first one or two hits on the Yamato some time thereafter.

    3rd Navy Cross (Gold Star) reads "as a LTjg in Bombing Squadron FOURTEEN (VB-14)embarked from the USS Lexington CV-18 while serving as a Leader of a strike group of Fighter, Dive Bomber and Torpedo Planes in the vicinity of the Philippine Islands. As Pilot of the leading dive-bombing airplane, he attacked one of the most powerful enemy battleships. In extreme anti-aircraft fire from every kind of weapon. He got two hits on the battleship. Upon his return from the mission he shot down an enemy seaplane."

    He was CO of VB-14 in WASP CV-18 during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944 (home of heroes & fisthistory.org websites)

    I'm thinking this is when he got the hits on the Yamato. If the Yamato had never been hit before, this would make sense.
     
  4. NAREEVES

    NAREEVES Member

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    Rich,
    Perhaps Art was CAG in October '44? The 3rd Navy Cross does say that he led a strike GROUP. Would you have a record of the CAG on WASP during this time? It seems Art should have been more than a LTjg by 1944. Graduated Pensacola 1938.
     
  5. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    Well, for the Battle of Leyte Gulf timeframe, Air Group 14 on Wasp was:
    CAG-14 - CDR Walter C. Wingard, Jr.
    VF-14 - LCDR Robert Gray
    VB-14 - CO LCDR John D. Blitch
    VT-14 - CO LCDR Harold S. Roberts
    (this corrects my last that has Roberts as XO of VB-14, he was actually CO of VT-14)

    To the best of my knowledge, Art Downing, one of the senior lieutenants in the squadron - if not the bull lieutenant - was at least a division leader, perhaps the XO. I know Ben Preston was also in VB-14 as a lieutenant, but Downing should have been senior to him as in June 1942 Preston was an ensign and Downing was a lieutenant (j.g.). It would not surprise me if we eventually find that Downing was moved up to CO of VB-14 when Blitch, and this I know for sure, replaced Wingard as CAG-14 on 2 November. Blitch had been CO of VB-14 from its establishment in August 1943.


    Rich
     
  6. NAREEVES

    NAREEVES Member

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    Then it seems that the information on Art's 3rd Navy Cross was a bit sloppy. I'm guessing, but please explain "Bull LT" since I've not heard the term before.
     
  7. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Bull LT is the senior LT, the next one due to be promoted.
     
  8. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    Yup, what Larry said. Usually one does not see the term "bull" inserted in front of ranks greater than Lieutenant and it is strictly a naval usage. Most often seen when referring to the senior ensign on a ship, the "bull ensign," but can equally be applied to "bull-JG" or "bull-lieutenant." Guess the charm of the expression wears a little thin after one hits Lieutenant Commander. Of course all the junior ensigns live in "boys town" aboard ship and, the bachelor ensigns anyway, in "snake ranches" when ashore.
     
  9. NAREEVES

    NAREEVES Member

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    Thanks for the "bull" explanations. Makes sense.

    Ben Preston - didn't we have him in VS-5 or VB-5?

    I've heard plenty about the snake ranches in Norfolk while the Y was there. One guy had a stack of beer cans (or bottles?) outside that was almost as high as his second story window.
     
  10. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    Ben Preston was VB-5
     
  11. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    I also have checked numerous sources and documents on the Battle off Samar and can find no evidence, other than some unsupported claims, that the Yamato managed to hit any other ship at Samar. Just about every account of the battle indicates that the Kongo and the Japanese heavy cruisers caused all of the damage to the US ships that were damaged or sunk at Samar. Statements by Japanese officers aboard the Yamato that day, seem to indicate that the visibility was too poor, and the Yamato too far from the American carriers, to even identify them, or determine how close the Japanese heavy cruisers were to the carriers during the latter stages of the battle. If that is indeed the case, it seems unlikely that the Yamato could, or would have, fired her main battery for fear of hitting other Japanese ships.

    There is some evidence that Yamato was not considered a good gunnery ship primarily because she seldom got an opportunity to exercise her gunnery crew. The Yamato's 18" gun barrels could not be relined like most other battleship rifles, but had to replaced with newly manufactured barrels. The Japanese had never made any spare 18" barrels, and had only the extra tubes intended for the Shinano; two of these were expended in tests leaving only seven spare barrels for both the Musashi and Yamato. Since the barrel life of the 18" gun was only estimated at between 200-250 rounds, this didn't leave much margin for practice shoots even if full power rounds were not used, and this may have been why neither the Musashi nor the Yamato gunnery crews got much practice.

    As for the Shinano, she was converted while still under construction, to an aircraft depot ship. She was not the equivalent of an Essex class carrier being designed to operate an ar group of only 45-50 planes (although she had hangar space for many more), and was not intended for the same role. She was commissioned on 19 November, 1944, and lost ten days later on 29 November, 1944, to four torpedo hits from the USS Archerfish. Some attribute Her loss to not being completely finished, especially as far as damage control equipment was concerned, and having an inexperienced crew. But in fact, the four torpedo hits, spread as they were along her hull on the port side, and hitting where they did, probably would have doomed the ship even if she had had an experienced crew and "as designed" damage control equipment. The torpedoes, set to run at 10 feet depth, had struck the ship above the torpedo bulges and exactly at the point where the side armor formed a joint with the lower armor. This allowed them to penetrate deep into the ship's vitals and flood many more compartments than they would have if they had been set to run deeper. There is also some indication in Japanese sources that the construction work on the Shinano was shoddy since there seems to have been progressive flooding through rivet holes and bulkhead seams.

    Clearly, the Yamato, Musashi, and Shinano, all turned out to be rather useless ships for a variety of reasons, not all of them directly related to their designs.
     
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  12. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    I remember reading that the Yamato was jokingly referred to as the "Hotel Yamato" by other sailors of the Imperial Japanese Navy due to it's not being used for assorted reasons (lack of aircover, not enough fuel oil reserves, etc).
     
  13. Butts

    Butts Member

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    I'm sure a lot of effort and resources was spent worrying about their presence.

    Sadly by WW2 the age of the Battleship was over. Its only real use was in shore bombardment. In fact for the majority of Battleships in WW2 you could have the same argument. They were built to fight battles that seldom if ever occurred. Even in Napoleonic times Battleships rarely engaged eachother in combat. It was just necessary to have them to control the seas and defend your country. By the time there was aircraft, aircraft carriers and submarines they were basically redundant.
     
  14. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    Not that I've seen. By the time of the Battle of Leyte Gulf very few Americans had set eyes on her. Most of the information accumulated about her construction was acquired after the war had ended and we were permitted access to the information. The Japanese called the 18" main armament the "special 16" which helped add to the confusion of the size of the weapons. By mid 1944 US Intelligence had a pretty good Idea, based largely on a photograph taken on a reconnaissance flight over Truk in February. AFAIK this is the first Photograph obtained by any Allied power of a Yamato-class ship. For a good Idea of what we knew and when try reading through this:
    What did the USN know about Yamato and when?
     
  15. machine shop tom

    machine shop tom Member

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    The Yamato shot at my dad (personally, no doubt) while he was on the Fanshaw Bay during the Battle off Samar.

    The CVEs, destroyer escorts, and destroyers of Taffy 3 eventually let the Yamato retreat.....

    tom
     
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  16. surfersami

    surfersami Member

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    Any time a weapon system causes an opponent to divert resources to attack or recon that weapons system it has in fact contributed to the war effort. Just as holding the Yamato in reserve due to oil shortages was a strategic issue, US planners had to figure in how much oil their attacking forces would use to go get her. You just can't let a potential threat of that magnitude hang around waiting to be deployed at the enemies whim. Therefore, the Yamato and her sister did contribute to the war effort in terms of resources of material and time off of another engagement that US forces took to destroy them.
    Having said that, was their contributions to the time material asset usage worth the cost of building and operating those ships? Probably not. Had they sank a front line CV carrier or two, disrupted the invasion forces at different locations etc., then maybe you could answer differently. As it stands, the US spent a lot of money and manpower chasing and attacking those ships. War is expensive, how many lives could have been saved on an island with the extra aircover, or fire support the ships and aircraft that went after Yamato, or her sister may have been able to provide? We will never know!
     
  17. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    I think what you refer to is a "fleet in being." Expenditure of assets to cover the threat of large ships such as the Yamato taxed the US and assisted the IJN as a by-product. Additionally, a similar situation existed in the ETO. Several German capital ships hid out in the fjords of Norway successfully for years and tied down substantial units of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force for years before being discovered and sunk.
     
  18. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    I don't think the US ever "expended assets" specifically to counter the threat of the Yamato or her sisters. For one thing, so little was known of the Yamato class in the US that it did not particularly concern naval planners or strategists. Nor did the IJN plan initially to utilize the Yamato class simply as a "fleet in being". Perhaps I am mistaken, but I do not recall any mention in Friedman's US Naval Design History series of a USN "answer" to the Yamato class. The US planned a massive naval expansion that would overwhelm any possible Japanese response either in terms of individual ships (or classes), or through a general build-up of all classes of Japanese warships. Perhaps the construction of a large fleet of heavy carriers could be a considered an answer to the Yamato, but if so, it was primarily aimed at nothing more than general numerical and technical supremacy over the IJN.

    Perhaps Richard Worth has some information that indicates a more specific USN response to the Yamato design, but I have never seen any such data.
     
  19. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    You are right, my military knowledge leans heavily on land operations. It was a poorly worded thought. Earlier posts on this thread reminded me of the RN and RAF and their watchful eye on the KM capital ships in Norweigan waters. The "fleet in being" phrase was attributed to this when I first read about it years ago, and it stuck with me until now. I have also read in the past about the USNs pre-war expansions to counter the IJN, and I tied these two theories together in my limited mind as gospel....
     
  20. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    There was a "fleet in being" effect in the Pacific but the fleet the US was worried about was the Japanese carriers. It's biggest impact was at Leyte Gulf as far as the USN was concerned. After that it's biggest impact was as domiciles for aquatic life. I think there was a predeliction to overwhelming force in the USN prewar by late war they had it and they used it.
     

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