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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:38 pm 
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The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal took place from November 12-15, 1942

Sometimes referred to as the 3rd & 4th Battles of Savo Island, the Battle of the Solomons, the Battle of Friday the 13th, it was the decisive engagement in a series of naval battles between Allied & Imperial Japanese forces during the months-long Guadalcanal Campaign in the Solomon Islands.

Historian Eric Hammel sums up the significance of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal this way:

"On Nov 12, 1942, the Japanese Navy had the better ships & the better tactics. After Nov 15, 1942, its leaders lost heart & it lacked the strategic depth to face the burgeoning US Navy and its vastly improving weapons & tactics. The Japanese never got better while, after Nov 1942, the US Navy never stopped getting better"

Wiki's explanation:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Bat ... uadalcanal

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Henderson Field, the vital airstrip that became the focal point of the Guadalcanal Campaign, seen on August 22, 1942.

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Parking Apron and Taxiway for Henderson Field, Guadalcanal

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The main bomber taxiway at Henderson Field

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"The Pagoda" that served as flight operations headquarters for the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy fliers at Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, from August to October 1942. During July 1942

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:43 pm 
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Guadalcanal 1940's

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Same location today

Below looking out at Savo Island .... 75 years ago and today

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:06 pm 
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Since mid-November, the situation in the Solomon Islands was facing the worst for Americans, who had only one operational aircraft carrier , the USS Enterprise , following the sinking of the Wasp in September and Hornet in October. As if that were not enough, the Japanese warships were under heavy bombing at Henderson Field , Guadalcanal , now with worrying frequency.

The Japanese Navy was thus taking advantage of the favorable economic situation, to try to rebuild that island of such high strategic importance. On November 12, a further bombing of the airport was planned, and for this purpose a bomber naval group was sent, to which the US Navy replied, directing its naval force immediately. It came from what is often referred to as the Third Battle of the Solomon , in which the American fleet managed to escape Japanese units, but suffered considerable damage. Two days later, on November 14, when the Japanese brought a new attack on the island, the only American units still able to face the enemy were the battleships Washington and South Dakota , accompanied by 4 destroyers ( Preston , Walke , Benham and Gwin ): the US Navy was the most critical moment of the entire Guadalcanal campaign . In the naval battle fought the night of November 14, American destroyers were destroyed, while South Dakota, under the converging fire of enemy ships driven by the Kirishima armor , was rapidly reduced to silence. In turn, Washington , unmoved, headed toward Kirishima exploding against a series of precise cannons guided by his radar : in 7 minutes 9 shotguns of 406 mm and over 40 127 mm ammunition went in the direction of the japanese battleship. After this fight, the Japanese navy bombardment ceased and the Japanese lost the opportunity to regain Guadalcanal.

On November 15 1942, the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal reached its peak. After the deadly night clash of November 13, the Japanese Navy was determined to try and deliver reinforcements to the island and crush the American beachhead once and for all.

After the aerial and carrier battles of November 14, under cover of darkness, battleship Kirishima and her task force approached to bombard US positions on the island once more.

Unbeknownst to her commander, the US Navy played a desperate trump card - and in the gloom of night, two fast, modern battleships awaited. While all attention was focused on USS South Dakota and the destroyers, USS Washington closed in and delivered a deadly blow to Kirishima with around 20 hits at short range.

Once defeated, the Japanese high command gave up on the offensive and slowly turned towards abandoning the island.

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IJN Battleship Kirishima

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USS Washington (BB-56)

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:09 pm 
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IN TRIBUTE TO THOSE WHO FOUGHT IN THE BATTLE OF GUADALCANAL
NOVEMBER 13–15, 1942

To the superb officers and men on the sea, on land, in the air, and under the seas who in the past five days have performed such magnificent feats for our country. You have won the undying gratitude of your country and have written our names in golden letters on the pages of history. No honor for you could be too great, my pride in you is beyond expression. Magnificently done. May God bless each and every one of you. To the glorious dead, hail heroes—may you all rest with God.

WILLIAM F. HALSEY
Admiral, U.S. Navy

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:22 pm 
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USS San Francisco (CA-38), a New Orleans-class cruiser, was the second ship of three of the United States Navy named after the city of San Francisco, California. Commissioned in 1934, she was one of the most decorated ships of World War II, earning 17 battle stars.
Like most of her sister ships, she saw extensive action during the Guadalcanal campaign, including the Battle of Cape Esperance and the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, during which she was heavily damaged and her captain and admiral killed.
Her bridge wings, damaged during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal and removed during repairs, are now mounted on a promontory in Golden Gate National Recreation Area. They are set on the great circle course from San Francisco to Guadalcanal.

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USS San Francisco (CA-38), a New Orleans-class heavy cruiser, licks her wounds following the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Nov. 1942.

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USS San Francisco (CA-38), passing under the Golden Gate bridge in December 1942.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:17 am 
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Just not long read Dauntless by Barrett Tillman..Hope to see some more pics of the battle.. :)

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:48 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:03 am 
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I recall some other battle damaged pieces of SAN FRANCISCO on display at Schonland Hall (Navy's Damage Control Officer school in RI).

Quite an impressive job to keep that ship afloat and an excellent study in leadership.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:21 pm 
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Mark - another enjoyable post - thank you for your time and research especially on the images. May I suggest to those interested in a really good book on the naval battles around Guadalcanal, James Hornfischer's "Neptune's Inferno; The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal" published in 2011. Hornfischer managed to interview a number of survivors of the battles, all of which adds up to a very good read in my opinion. All the best.

Randy


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:57 pm 
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On the night of 12th-13th November 1942 an extremely violent and intense naval battle broke out off Guadalcanal. A large Japanese task force was intent on landing troops onto Guadalcanal to continue the attack on the U.S. positions at Henderson Field, while its’ battleships would be used to bombard the same positions. They were met head on by a smaller U.S. Navy force. In a pitch black night in the early hours of Friday 13th November, the two naval forces hammered into each other at almost point blank range. The action consisted of combined air and sea engagements over four days, most near Guadalcanal and all related to a Japanese effort to reinforce land forces on the island. The only two U.S. Navy admirals to be killed in a surface engagement in the war were lost in this battle. Below picture shows USS Washington (BB-56) engaging Japanese battleship Kirishima in battle in Iron Bottom Sound.

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The first phase of the naval battle of Guadalcanal took place on the night of 12-13 November 1943, when Callaghan's force of cruisers and destroyers attempted to intercept the incoming Japanese bombardment force.

At first appearance Callaghan was very badly outgunned. He had the 8-in heavy cruisers San Francisco and Portland, the 6-in light cruiser Helana and the 5-in anti-aircraft cruisers Juneau and Atlanta, as well as eight destroyers. The Helena carried modern radar, but Callaghan's flagship Callaghan didn't.

The Japanese had the battleships Hiei and Kirishima, each with eight 14-in guns, the light cruiser Nagara and fourteen destroyers. The Japanese had also proved to be better at night-time battles, despite their lack of radar.

Their only weakness was that the battleships were armed with high explosive shells, ready for the bombardment of Henderson Field, rather than with armour piercing shells. On the American side a lack of confidence in their ability to manoeuvre at night meant that they entered battle in a single long line.

At 1.24am on 13 November 1942 the Japanese formation appeared on the Helena's radar at 27,000 yards. Admiral Abe had deployed in an arrow formation. The cruiser Nagara was in the lead, followed by the Hiei and then the Kirishima. He had wanted to have two lines of destroyers on the flanks, but the three destroyers from the right-hand side of the front line had fallen back, so there were two destroyers to the left of the Nagara then three destroyers on each side of the line just ahead of the Hiei. The remaining destroyers had been detached and were patrolling to the west of Guadalcanal.

For the next seventeen minutes the Americans had the advantage of surprise, but Callaghan failed to take advantage of it. His own radar didn't show the Japanese ships, and the two fleets closed to within 2,500 yards of each other. At this point the leading American Cushing and the leading Japanese destroyers Yudachi and Marusami came into sight of each other. The Cushing turned sharply to avoid a collision, and part of the American line followed. At 1.45 Callaghan issued the order to stand by to open fire, but the Japanese moved first.

At 1.48am, with the American fleet almost in amongst the Japanese formation, the Japanese fired star shells, illuminated their targets and then opened fire with guns and long lance torpedoes. A confused melee quickly developed, with American guns focusing as much as possible on the battleship Hiei while the Japanese commanders were able to use their experience and initiative to inflict heavy losses.

The long lance torpedoes accounted for the cruiser Atlanta, which was badly damaged and had to be scuttled after the battle, and the destroyers Cushing and Laffey. Admiral Scott was killed by gunfire that hit the Atlanta.

The San Francisco was hit by fifteen large shells, including a number from the Kirishima. The bridge was destroyed and Admiral Callaghan and his staff were killed. By the end of the fighting the San Francisco's superstructure had been wrecked, although she was intact below that level and still capable moving under her own steam.

The Portland and the Juneau were both hit by later salvoes of torpedoes. The Portland survived to be towed to safety at Tulagi, but the Juneau was sunk by a Japanese submarine as the fleet withdrew after the battle.

The destroyer Barton was hit by two torpedoes and sank quickly. The destroyer Monssen caught fire and had to be abandoned. She exploded at around noon.

When the American ships did open fire they were able to inflict some significant damage on the Japanese ships. The destroyer Akatsuki was sunk, the Yudachi was badly damaged and the battleship Hiei was hit by around 80 shells.

Although the Japanese had dominated the fighting, at 3am the Kirishima, the Nagara and the remaining destroyers turned and withdrew to the north without carrying out the planned bombardment.

At this stage the fighting appeared to have gone very badly for the Americans. Two cruisers and four destroyers and been lost. The San Francisco and Portlandwere both heavily damaged, as were the destroyers Aaron Ward, O'Bannon and Sterrett. Of the original force of five cruisers and eight destroyers only the cruiser Helena and the destroyers O'Bannon and Fletcher had avoided heavy damage or destruction. (historyofwar.org)

Illustration below: USS Atlanta and IJN Hiei, Naval Battle of Guadalcanal

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:58 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:07 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:42 pm 
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Japanese battleship Hiei

On 10 November 1942, Hiei departed Truk alongside Kirishima and eleven destroyers, all under the command of Rear Admiral Hiroaki Abe, to shell American positions near Henderson Field in advance of a major convoy of Japanese troops. The force was spotted by US Navy reconnaissance aircraft several days in advance. The US deployed a force of two heavy cruisers, three light cruisers and eight destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan to meet the Japanese force in Ironbottom Sound.[27] At 01:24 on 13 November, the Japanese force was detected 28,000 yards (26 km) out by the light cruiser USS Helena. Because Abe had not anticipated resistance, his battleships' main guns were loaded with high-explosive shells for bombarding Henderson Field. So they were unable to open fire immediately, having to wait while armor-piercing shells were loaded instead.[5] At 01:50, Hiei activated her searchlights and opened fire on the light cruiser USS Atlanta, commencing the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Though Atlanta shot out Hiei's searchlights, Hiei scored main battery hits on Atlanta's bridge, crippling her and killing Rear Admiral Norman Scott.[28] Hiei and Kirishima then disabled two American destroyers (one of which later sank). In turn, Hiei became the target of most of the American fire, with American 5" guns inflicting severe damage on Hiei's superstructure at close range. USS Laffey hit Hiei's bridge, injuring Admiral Abe himself and killing his chief of staff, Captain Masakane Suzuki.[29] The concentration on Hiei allowed Kirishima to evade attack, and she crippled USS San Francisco, killing Admiral Callaghan.[19][29] However, shells from San Francisco disabled Hiei's steering machinery.[30]

With one of his battleships crippled, Abe ordered the remainder of the Japanese fleet to withdraw at 02:00.[5] Kirishima attempted to tow Hiei to safety, but water flooded Hiei's steering compartments, jamming her rudder to starboard and forcing her to steer in circles. Throughout the morning of 14 November, Hiei was subjected to attack from American Army B-17 Flying Fortress bombers. She continued circling to starboard at 5 knots (5.8 mph).[30] At 11:30, two torpedoes launched from Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo-bombers struck Hiei.[5] After suffering several more torpedo and dive-bomber attacks throughout the day, her crew was ordered to abandon ship, and her escorting destroyers scuttled her with torpedoes.[31] Hiei sank sometime in the evening on 14 November with the loss of 188 of her crew; the first battleship ever lost in action by Japan. She was removed from the Navy List on 20 December 1942
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_battleship_Hiei

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"As dawn broke on the morning of Friday, November 13, 1942, a lone F4F Wildcat climbed out of Henderson Field on the island of Guadalcanal. The Marine pilot, Captain Joe Foss, was to assess damage to U.S. Naval ships following the previous night's bitter naval engagement.

As the morning sun streaked across the sound between Savo and Guadalcanal, Foss viewed the wreckage of one of the most furious close combat naval action of the war. But what caught the young pilot's eye was a badly damaged Japanese battleship. Protected by three destroyers, the HIEI offered the Cactus flyers a prize they would not allow to escape.

The Cactus Air Force quickly scrambled their fighters to join TBF torpedo bombers and SBD dive bombers. Their collective mission: sink the enemy battleship. Foss, having refueled, climbed his eight F4F Wildcats to 12,000 feet to make a diversionary attack while the torpedo bombers made their perilous run at the heavily-defended warship. From high above, Foss brought his F4Fs screaming vertically down, leveling out as they hurtled towards the HIEI through a massive barrage of defensive flak, spraying .50 caliber lead into the mighty warship.

Robert Taylor's masterpiece of reconstruction depicts a snapshot of this memorable action fought in Savo Sound against the backdrop of the spectacular mountains of Guadalcanal. Joe Foss's F4F Wildcats are viewed braving the fearsome hail of defensive fire as they distract enemy gunfire away from the vital torpedo attacks, their explosions throwing huge plumes of water skyward, presenting an additional hazard to F4F pilots.

With the 30,000-ton battleship's steering gear crippled, her fate was sealed, yet her gunners fought valiently throughout the day. By sunset, she lay sinking off Savo. She had absorbed over 80 shell hits, five bombs and ten torpedos. With her captain slain, the battered battlewagon was scuttled, adding her huge bulk to those already lying on the bed of Ironbottom Bay. HIEI, the first battleship to be sunk by Americans in World War II, fell to the small but courageous group of Marine and Navy fliers."

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:08 pm 
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Randy Wilson wrote:
Mark - another enjoyable post - thank you for your time and research especially on the images. May I suggest to those interested in a really good book on the naval battles around Guadalcanal, James Hornfischer's "Neptune's Inferno; The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal" published in 2011. Hornfischer managed to interview a number of survivors of the battles, all of which adds up to a very good read in my opinion. All the best.

Randy


Neptune's Inferno is an outstanding book. The lead-up to the battle on November 12-13 is among the best written and most frustrating battle descriptions ever. As outlined in other posts, the US formation located the Japanese by RADAR before the fleets were in visual contact. In fact, the Japanese were in a fog bank and were blind and would not have been able to respond to RADAR directed fire from the US. The Allied forces could have pummeled the Japanese with radar directed fire and/or torpedoes for ~ 10 minutes without themselves being targeted.

But the US commander dithered and did not have his forces open fire until the Japanese exited the fog and opened fire first (!) at a range of less than two miles from the leading elements of the US flotilla.

A great opportunity. Missed.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:11 am 
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Coincidentally, last evening I finished reading a book on WWII naval actions, an area I (and probably many of you) had somewhat neglected while specialising in aviation history.

I can recommend World War II at Sea, A Naval view of the Global Conflict 1939-1945 by Jeremy Harwood.

It gives a brief description of most major campaigns, from the hunt for the Bismark, to the U Boat campaign, the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean, to the island hopping actions in the Pacific. It's well illustrated.
It's almost a coffee table book and as I said, the chapters are brief. Experts in naval history might see it as "Naval History for Dummies" but it did give me a better foundation in that aspect of the war.

My new copy only cost a couple of dollars from Amazon, so it's worth a look.

Back to the subject, the naval battle of Guadalcanal is one of those events I wish I could have witnessed. The scope and ferocity of the battle must have been something.
Reading accounts of the battle remind me of the final few minutes of the film In Harm's Way. The final battle seems to have been based on this action.
I've always been touched by the admiral's (played by John Wayne) losses...his son in a PT boat attack and waking up from a coma to learn that his staff (and several friends) was lost in the sinking if his flagship...and he has lost his leg as well.

While Jerry Goldsmith's haunting theme plays, the film cuts to shots of waves gently breaking on shore (not unlike the before and after photos above)...indicating that the once peaceful waters are at peace again.

To the men lost three-quarters of a century ago and who died a very long way from home, RIP.

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