Salvos at Savo

0952 20 July 1942 - A replacement for a sick man
0952 20 July 1942, Auckland, New Zealand

Captain Frank Getting watched as Rear Admiral Victor Crutchley was lifted down the gangplank from Canberra's sister ship HMAS Australia towards the waiting ambulance. Commander Downard, the surgeon on board HMS Canberra, was of the opinion that appendicitis was the likely cause. That being the case, it would mean a hospital stay for Crutchley and someone else would have to lead task Force 44 in his absence. Who that would be would be open to question, but at this stage his most immediate priority was to contact Admiral Sir Guy Royle in Sydney to inform him of the latest developments. It would certainly not be Jack Crace, an able commander to be sure, but now in the United Kingdom.

Time was of the essence. The Watchtower force, numbering 75 warships and transports, all vessels from the U.S. and Australia, were due to assemble near Fiji on 26 July and engage in one rehearsal landing, prior to leaving for Guadalcanal on 31 July. That left little time to organise a replacement commander. From there, Admirals Turner, as commander of the amphibious forces and Vice Admiral Fletcher, commander of Task Force 61, the covering force, would also have to be notified.

1252 20 July 1942, HMAS Manoora, Garden Island, Sydney, Australia

Acting Commander Thomas Gower, had assumed command of the ship in early July and Manoora was assigned to undertake escort duties between Sydney and Fremantle. He had not expected to be conveying Commodore John Collins, commander of West Coast naval forces, to accompany his ship to Sydney for a conference, nor have the old man watching his ship handling skills from the bridge as they came in to berth at Sydney harbour. The naval base was still on heightened alert after the Japanese midget submarine attempt in late May that had sunk the ferry Kuttabul. There were less ships in the harbour than he expected, a couple of Bathurst Class corvettes, the older destroyer leader Stuart and the old cruiser Adelaide. Very little in the way of USN ships, he noted, unlike earlier in the month. As the bulk of the 10,800 ton armed merchant cruiser was made secure, he could see the black saloon with the blue crown on the door waiting near where the gangplank would be rolled out.

As soon as the ship was secured and access provided, it seemed by magic that the young Lieutenant appeared on the bridge. He immediately went to Collins. "Sir, Admirals' compliments. Can you come with me, he wished for you to reports to him as soon as possible."

John Collins did no more than raise his eyebrows. "Of course, lead on McDuff. Thank you for the ride Commander."

"Of course, sir."

1336 20 July 1942, Office of First Member, Australian Commonwealth Naval Board

Collins was still in the dark as to the reason he had been summoned so rapidly, planning originally to have the day to himself before he reported to Admiral Sir Guy Royle at the original planned time, 0900 tomorrow. Something was obviously up, but what?

As he sat in front of Guy Royle's desk, his heart initially leapt into his mouth at the words. "John, I am afraid i have had some unexpected and bad news..." , thinking initially of his wife and daughter. Then Royle went on "Victor Crutchley is laid up in an Auckland hospital". Collins inwardly relaxed as Royle went on. "That being the case, I am going to need someone to lead the allied covering Task-force, consisting of both American and our own ships, that are assigned to Operation Watchtower. Now, I am aware that you are only aware of this Operation in general terms and not in specifics."

"Of course, sir."

"That being the case, we will be here for quite some time going over more specific details. The Watchtower force are assembling at Fiji on the 26 July, before engaging in a rehearsal landing, prior to leaving for Guadalcanal in the Solomon's on 31 July, which will be the target of the operation. Task Force 44 leaves Auckland on the morning of the 22nd. We do not have time to get you there before their departure. With that in mind, we thought that, after today's briefing, which will take some time, that we transit you by ship to Fiji. We have, as you know, a paucity of assets available. Australia, Canberra and Hobart are already assigned. Our modern destroyers are in Europe or the Med. However, we do have a couple of ships here in Sydney. I propose that you leave on board Adelaide tomorrow morning, being escorted by Stuart. At 16 knots, this should have you on station late on the 25th. We are recalling the crews of both ships from shore leave at present, although Adelaide was ready to sail on the morrow, in any case, as she has just come out of refit. Now I am sure you have questions, however..."

Questions, yes I have a million bloody questions, thought Collins, yet he let Royle continue on. It looked like a return to the fires of war, thought Collins.

1558 20 July 1942, HMAS Adelaide, Garden Island Naval Base, Sydney, Australia

Captain James Esdaile watched the preparations of his command, the light cruiser Adelaide, being made ready. She was no longer anything even approaching a front line unit. Her hand loaded 6 inch guns in gun-shields were obsolete when she was completed in 1922. With only three four inch AA guns and seven 20mm's she was ill equipped in regard anti aircraft defense, as well. The removal of her torpedo tubes further reduced her ability to fight real warships. In addition, her crew comprised mainly reservists, albeit experienced seaman. At least the same could not be said of her companion ship for tomorrow's expedition. HMAS Stuart was also an old ship, completed as part of the end of World War 1 destroyer programs. Yet, she had one of the most experienced crews in the navy, seasoned by two years of fleet battles and the Tobruk Ferry run. If only her crew could be recalled in time to sail tomorrow.
 
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1602 25 July 1942 - Allied order of battle
1602 25 July 1942, HMAS Adelaide, near Nananu Island, Fiji

As he sighted the distinctive triple funnels of HMAS Australia and Canberra, along with the mass of other ships of the invasion force, Collins contemplated the force they had on hand to blunt the Japanese, who, only recently, had suffered their first real setback at Midway. It was a major effort, consisting of fully 85 ships, divided into Task Groups as followed:

Expeditionary Force (Task Force 61) - Vice Admiral Jack Fletcher

Task Unit 61.1 under Vice Admiral Fletcher
1 fleet carrier
Saratoga (Captain DeWitt C. Ramsey)
Air Group (Commander Harry D. Felt)
VF-5: 34 F4F Wildcat fighters (Lt. Commander Leroy C. Sampler), VB-3: 18 SBD Dauntless dive bombers (Lt. Commander Dewitt W. Shumway), VS-3: 18 SBD Dauntless scout bombers (Lt. Commander Louis J. Kirn), VT-8: 16 TBF Avenger torpedo bombers (Lt Harold H. Larsen)
2 heavy cruisers
Minneapolis (Captain Frank J. Lowry), New Orleans (Captain Walter S. De Lany)
Screen (Captain Samuel B. Brewer)
5 destroyers
Phelps, Farragut, Macdonough, Dale, Worden

Task Unit 61.2 under Rear Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid
1 fleet carrier
Enterprise (Captain Arthur C. Davis)
Air Group (Lt. Commander Maxwell F. Leslie)
VF-6: 36 F4F Wildcat fighters (Lt. Louis H. Bauer), VB-6: 18 SBD Dauntless dive bombers (Lt. Ray Davis), VS-5: 18 SBD Dauntless scout bombers (Lt. Turner F. Caldwell, Jr.), VT-3: 14 TBF Avenger torpedo bombers (Lt. Commander Charles M. Jett)
1 fast battleship
North Carolina (Captain George H. Fort)
1 heavy cruiser
Portland (Captain Laurance T. Du Bose)
1 anti-aircraft light cruiser
Atlanta (Captain Samuel P. Jenkins)
Screen (Captain Edward P. Sauer)
5 destroyers
Gwin, Grayson, Maury, Benham, Balch

Task Unit 61.3 under Rear Admiral Noyes
1 fleet carrier
Wasp (Captain Forrest P. Sherman)
Air Group (Lt. Commander Wallace M. Beakley)
VF-71: 29 F4F Wildcat fighters (Lt. Commander Courtney Shands), VS-71: 15 SBD Dauntless scout bombers (Lt. Commander John Eldridge, Jr.), VS-72: 15 SBD Dauntless scout bombers (Lt. Commander Ernest M. Snowden), VT-7: 9 TBF Avenger torpedo bombers (Lt. Henry A. Romberg)
2 heavy cruisers
San Francisco (Captain Charles H. McMorris), Salt Lake City (Captain Ernest G. Small)
Screen (Captain Robert G. Tobin)
6 destroyers
Laffey, Farenholt, Aaron Ward, Lang, Sterett, Stack
Fueling group
5 oilers
Cimarron, Platte, Sabine, Kaskaskia, Kanawha

South Pacific Amphibious Force (Task Force 62) under Rear Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner in transport McCawley

Convoy (Task Group 62.1) - Captain Lawrence F. Reifsnider in transport Hunter Liggett
1st Marine Division (Maj. Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, USMC, Commander ground forces)
Transport Group "X-Ray" – Guadalcanal Landings under Captain Reifsnider
Transport Division A (Captain Paul S. Theiss)
2 transports: Fuller, American Legion, 1 attack cargo ship: Bellatrix
Transport Division B (Captain Charlie P. McFeaters)
3 transports: McCawley, Barnett, George F. Elliott, 1 attack cargo ship: Libra
Transport Division C (Captain Lawrence F. Reifsnider)
1 transport: Hunter Liggett, 3 attack cargo ships: Alchiba, Fomalhaut, Betelgeuse
Transport Division D (Captain Ingolf N. Kiland)
3 transports: Crescent City, President Adams, President Hayes, 1 attack cargo ship: Alhena

Transport Group "Yoke" – Tulagi Landings under Captain George B. Ashe
Transport Division E under Captain Ashe
4 transports: Neville, Zeilin, Heywood, President Jackson

Transport Division 12 under Captain Hugh W. Hadley
4 destroyer transports: Colhoun, Little, McKean, Gregory

Escort (Task Group 62.2) under Commodore John Collins, RAN
3 heavy cruisers
HMAS Australia (Captain H.B. Farncomb, RAN), HMAS Canberra (Captain F.E. Getting, RAN), USS Chicago (Captain Howard D. Bode)
1 light cruiser
HMAS Hobart (Captain H.A. Showers, RAN)
Screen (10 destroyers under Captain Cornelius W. Flynn)
HMAS Stuart, Selfridge, Bagley, Blue, Helm, Mugford, Ralph Talbot, Henley, Patterson, Jarvis

Fire Support Group L (Task Group 62.3) under Captain Frederick Riefkohl
3 heavy cruisers
Vincennes (Captain Frederick Riefkohl), Quincy (Captain Samuel N. Moore), Astoria (Captain William G. Greenman)
4 destroyers
Ellet, Wilson, Hull, Dewey

Fire Support Group M (Task Group 62.4) under Rear Admiral Norman Scott
1 anti-aircraft light cruiser San Juan (Captain James E. Maher)
1 light cruiser HMAS Adelaide (Captain James Esdaile)
2 destroyers Monssen, Buchanan

Minesweeper Group (Task Group 62.5)
5 fast minesweepers (ex-destroyers)
Hopkins, Trever, Zane, Southard, Hovey
 
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2311 25 July 1942 - Japanese Order of battle
2311 25 July 1942, Chokai, Truk Naval Base, Caroline Islands

Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa planned to leave on the 27th and arrive at Rabaul on the 31st at the latest. 8th Fleet sounded like a an impressive moniker, the sort of appellation that gave rise to thoughts of battleships and carriers in line. However, he had none of those things. Post Midway, resources were being allocated sparingly. His task was simple enough, to support the expansion of the navy and army into the South-East Pacific theater, the objective to to threaten communications between the USA and Australia.

The Navy had invaded Tulagi in May and constructed a seaplane base there. Now construction had begun on a large airfield at on nearby Guadalcanal. By August, it was planned to have 900 naval troops on Tulagi and nearby islands and 2,800 personnel (2,200 being forced laborers and construction specialists) on Guadalcanal. These bases would help screen Rabaul, as well as threaten Allied supply and communication lines, establishing a staging area for moves against New Caledonia or Samoa.

However, he had a lot do with limited resources. These consisted of:

Chokai, as his flagship, Cruiser Division 6 , consisting of smaller heavy cruisers Aoba, Kinusaga, Kako and Furataka, Cruiser Division 18 with three older light cruisers Tenryu, Tatsuta and Yubari, plus eight old destroyers, of which three were in refit and would not immediately be available, leaving him only destroyers Yayoi, Izuki, Yuzuki, Oite and Yunagi. He would also command Submarine Squadron 7, with five boats, but these would not arrive until mid August. In addition, he had the seaplane tenders Akitsushima and Kimikawa Maru, meant to be based at Tulagi on rotation. Also at Rabaul and placed under his command was the cruiser mine-layer Tsugaru and a variety of escorts vessels such as submarine chasers, but no other fleet units. Of course, there were other forces available at Truk that could be called upon.
 
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1416 7 August 1942, Collins splits his forces
1416, 7 August 1942, HMAS Australia, Fiji

Commodore John Collins had been pleased with the dummy "invasion" conducted in Fiji before and had made his own plans in relation to the disposition of the forces under his command. Clearly, the main threat from any Japanese force wishing to oppose the landings would come from Rabaul. That left only two realistic avenues of approach for any attacking force, namely approaching from the East, between Florida Island and Savo Island, or from the West, between Savo Island and the main island of Guadalcanal. The only other possibility was for any potential Japanese forces to circumnavigate the Florida Island chain to the North and enter the Sealark Channel from the East. Whilst this was by no means impossible, it would add at least 2.5-3 hours to their steaming time, surely a prime concern with U.S carriers in the area. It seemed by far the least likely of any scenarios. If the Japanese came by surafce, it would be at night. During the day, it was enemy aircraft he worried about most.

It was with those thoughts in mind that he divided his forces into four groups for the coverage of the transports now that a successful landing had been achieved. They had already scome under air attack, with one destroyer suffering some damage. These groups were:

Southern Force (Task Group 62.2) under Commodore John Collins, RAN
3 heavy cruisers
HMAS Australia (Captain H.B. Farncomb, RAN), HMAS Canberra (Captain F.E. Getting, RAN), USS Chicago (Captain Howard D. Bode)
1 light cruiser
HMAS Hobart (Captain H.A. Showers, RAN)
Screen (Captain Cornelius W. Flynn)
HMAS Stuart, Bagley, Patterson, Jarvis

Northern Force (Task Group 62.3) under Captain Frederick Riefkohl
3 heavy cruisers
Vincennes (Captain Frederick Riefkohl), Quincy (Captain Samuel N. Moore), Astoria (Captain William G. Greenman)
4 destroyers
Wilson, Helm

Eastern Force (Task Group 62.4) under Rear Admiral Norman Scott
1 anti-aircraft light cruiser San Juan (Captain James E. Maher)
1 light cruiser HMAS Adelaide (Captain James Esdaile)
2 destroyers Monssen, Buchanan

Southern Transport Group Escort(Task Force 62.5)
Ellet, Selfridge, Mugford

Northern Transport Group Escort(Task Force 62.6)
Henley, Dewey, Hull

Radar Picket destroyers (Task Force 62.7)
Ralph Talbot, Blue
 
0606 8 August - Mikawa prepares to go again
0606 8 August 1942, Rabaul, Japanese occupied New Guinea

Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa had recalled yesterday's operation. It was clear it would be of little use. The Allied operation at Guadalcanal, as well as Tulagi, had been unexpected. Tulagi had already fallen, no doubt Guvutu and Tanambogo had likely followed. He had been rash yesterday, loading 519 naval troops onto two transports and sending them toward Guadalcanal. The Americans were there in much greater numbers than expected and 500 troops would not make enough difference. Plus, the chances of them making it to the islands unmolested was very low indeed, as the enemy forces contained a number of large cruisers. To be able to land ground forces on the island to support the current embattled Japanese garrison, first the enemy's naval forces in the area needed to be comprehensively defeated. He could then sink the allied transports and stop the invasion in it's tracks .

To that end, he would lead a surface striking force this coming night, hoping to engage and sink the heavy naval forces covering the vulnerable transports at Guadalcanal. He hoped that a series of air strikes today would further weaken the American naval forces on station before he arrived with his own forces that night. If only he had more forces at his disposal. It was only on the 6th that he had sent the old cruiser Tatsuta to Buna with the destroyers Yuzuki and Uzuki and the sub-chasers Ch-23 and Ch-30, escorting the transports Kinai, Kanyo and Nankai Maru, carrying the 15th Base Force for the operation there. The destroyer Yayio had steamed back to Japan to escort a convoy. That left him his five heavy cruisers as his only modern ships. His two light cruisers were old, as was the destroyer Yunagi. The other destroyer available, Oite, was even old and he had been disinclined to even take her, but had been persuaded.

The mine-layer Tsuguru was too slow to be useful, not for an operation when getting in and out quickly after causing as much damage as possible would be the main requirement. Yet, he had to be careful. If he lost his heavy ships, there were no other forces immediately on hand to oppose the allied landings.
 
Watched,, So far very good, hope the Americans actually use their radars, and Bode grows a spine or is removed.
 
1134 8 August 1942 - Japanese draw blood
1134 8 August 1942, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

Nine of the large twin engine torpedo bombers had broken through the fighter screen, targeting the allied naval ships after coming over Florida Island. Radar had picked them up and the assault transport USS George F Elliott had moved out of the landing area and out into open water, where she could maneuver, in response. They were making her top speed, sadly only ten knots, as she moved in amongst other ships, all firing at the incoming torpedo bombers as the G4M Bettys dropped down to wave-top heights. All fire was concentrated on one aircraft, making directly for the transport.

They took the plane under concentrated fire and were scoring several hits, yet, for all that, the gun crews seemed unable to down the Japanese bomber, although it started trailing a plume of grey smoke. Suddenly, it suddenly popped up and then descended, slamming into the ship, aft on the starboard side.

The lightly armored aircraft disintegrated on impact with the hull, wreckage and burning gasoline showering the deck, its engines punching through the unarmored hull into the rear cargo hold. As her Captain looked to port, he could see a downed aircraft, but the ship nearest him, the destroyer Jarvis, was listing to starboard and on fire, dead in the water.

The fire on board Elliott, unlike that on Jarvis, was unable to be brought under control and she was ordered abandoned at 1300.
 
1300 8 August 1942, - Mikawa commits his forces
1300 8 August 1942, Kiesta, Bougainville, Solomon Islands

Vice Admiral Mikawa and his staff aboard Chokai had departed Rabaul on the 7th, accompanied by CruDiv 6, with the light cruisers Tenryu and Yubari and the destroyers Yunagi and Oite. Mikawa's ships had been spotted by an RAAF Hudsons before they reached Bounganville, the first report a sighting of "three cruisers, four destroyers, and two seaplane tenders". They were also sighted in the St George Channel by the U.S submarine S-38, being reported as "two destroyers and three larger ships of unknown type heading one four zero true at high speed eight miles west of Cape St George." Whilst at Bougainville, Mikawa spread his ships out over a wide area to mask the composition of his force and launched four float-planes from his cruisers to scout for Allied ships in the southern Solomons. A second Hudson was to spot his force at Bouganville, reporting The second was of "two heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and one unknown type", not seeing all the force at hand.

The first and second of Mikawa's floatplanes returned near noon and reported two groups of Allied ships, one off Guadalcanal and the other off Tulagi. The force at the Eastern end of the sound was not spotted at all. By 1300, all planes had returned and he reassembled his warships and headed south through the Bouiganville Strait at 24 knots. At that time, several surviving Japanese aircraft from the noon torpedo raid on the Allied ships off the coast of Guadalcanal flew over the cruisers on the way back to Rabaul and gave them waves of encouragement. By 1600, Mikawa's force of nine ships had entered The Slot, bearing down on the allied landings. Mikawa gave the following battle plan to his warships: "We will speed in from South of Savo Island and torpedo the enemy main force in front of the main Guadalcanal anchorage; after which we will turn toward the Tulagi forward area to shell and torpedo the enemy there. Our withdrawal will be North of Savo Island."
 
1542 8 August 1942, - Fletcher withdraws
1542 8 August 1942, USS Saratoga

Vice Admiral "Jack" Fletcher had wrestled his way to a decision. He would withdraw his carriers within half an hour of sunset at 1802 a further 30 nautical miles Southeast. He had lost 21 aircraft from his carriers, with more than that unserviceable. There was also the question of the fuel levels for his carriers. At some stage soon, he expected that the Japanese may well send in their own naval air arm, quite likely backed by land based air. If and when that occurred, he wanted to ensure his own fuel situation was sufficient for sustained engagement. The close air support had done it's job and the landings themselves were a success.

In July, during the planning stage for Watchtower, it was decided that his carriers would remain in close proximity to the invasion convoy, to provide the close air support for two days prior to the landings and on D-Day itself. Turner had declared that he would unload and withdraw the transports on D-Day. In turn, Fletcher would cover Turner's retirement the following day. Fletcher had considered Turner's projections to be very optimistic and had projected staying on station at D+1 to cover the invasion forces, an extra day. Reports from his aviators indicated they had shot down over 50 aircraft. He judged that this would have affected Rabaul's capacity to strike at the invasion fleet, but not enough to guarantee his vulnerable carriers were not hit.

It was only on the 27th July at Fiji that Fletcher asked again how long it would take to land the troops and Turner replied, "about four to five days." Fletcher said then that he must leave in two days, as he could not risk air attacks against his carriers for a longer period. This decision had been backed by Ghormley's deputy Callaghan, who noted that the Task Force must withdraw South from the objective area at the most within two days after D Day. Why Ghormley did not trouble himself to attend such an important meeting in person must remain a mystery.

It was only at Fiji that Turner's original plan to send the transports away on the evening of D day was considered too optimistic. Callaghan noted that if the cargo ships, which might need three or four days to unload, they could be be anchored as near to shore as possible. Commodore Collin’s Task Force 44 could remain behind to screen them. Turner's Ops Plan, dated 30 July, reflected these arrangements to remove almost all of the amphibious force by the end of the second day of the landings. Turner wisely considered it would be too dangerous for the transports to stay the following day, if the carriers were withdrawn. What had happened to the British at Crete was a good example of what befell even naval ships when faced with enemy air unopposed.

In fact, difficulties in landing the supplies made life hard for Turner and caused him to change his plans radically on the 8th. He decided none of his ships would depart until all had completed unloading. Yet, he did not advise Ghormley or Fletcher of this development, only Collins, who assumed the others had been told. As Fletcher turned away at 0323, Collin's ships had been under fire for some time, yet Fletcher remained unaware of that until 0516.

Fletcher, concerned MacArthur's air-force was not hitting Rabaul heavily enough, had radioed on the afternoon of the 8th to Ghormley "Total fighter strength reduced from 99 to 77 still. In view of large number of enemy torpedo and bomber planes in the area, I recommend immediate withdrawal of carriers as per operational plan." He asked that the tankers rendezvous with him, if withdrawal was approved, "as Task Force fuel running low." Until he received Ghormley's permission, the carriers would remain 30 nautical miles southeast of their previous position near Guadalcanal on the 9th to support the cargo ships and their screen. Fletcher stated to Ghormley that his own reception of Turner's messages had been "very poor," and he was "missing mmany of his transmissions." At 0323 on the 9th, Fletcher received Ghormley's permission to withdraw, turning his carriers away for the fueling rendezvous, placing at maximum range to assist later that day. He did so in the assumption that Turner would also be withdrawing, yet he did not tell Turner that, assuming Ghormley would do so. It was an assumption that was not immediately correct on either count.
 
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1846 8th August 1942 - Mikawa steams on
1846 8 August 1942, IJN Chokai, Solomon Islands

Vice Admiral Mikawa on Chokai inwardly heaved a sign of relief. No enemy air activity at all. It was all quite remarkable. His ships were on course through New Georgia Sound to engage the enemy between 0100 and 0200.

He was correct, his run down The Slot was not detected by allied forces. Admiral Turner had requested aerial reconnaissance of this area from Admiral McCain, Commander of allied air forces in the S.W Pac area. McCain, however, had many commitments, not least of which was also watching Rabaul. Assets were short and the request was not acted upon. Nor did Turner follow up and ask re any results. Both Turner and Collins could have used the amphibians mounted on their cruisers, yet no move was made to do so, despite that being their dedicated function.

It was yet another example of the poor communication between the allied commanders, yet, in all fairness, it was the first such operation to be conducted in the Pacific in World War 2.
 
Both Turner and Collins could have used the amphibians mounted on their cruisers, yet no move was made to do so, despite that being their dedicated function.

At some point early on it became the habit of the USN to send the planes away when battle threatened. I cant recall exactly when this doctrine was taken up. But its possible here there are no cruiser carried scout planes.
 

Driftless

Donor
At some point early on it became the habit of the USN to send the planes away when battle threatened. I cant recall exactly when this doctrine was taken up. But its possible here there are no cruiser carried scout planes.
Would Henderson Field or the beachead still be too contested at this point?
 

nbcman

Donor
Would Henderson Field or the beachead still be too contested at this point?
Henderson Field wasn't operational during the Battle of Savo Island on Aug 8/9 1942. It wasn't named Henderson Field until August 12th and the first permanent air contingent didn't arrive until August 20th.
 
At some point early on it became the habit of the USN to send the planes away when battle threatened. I cant recall exactly when this doctrine was taken up. But its possible here there are no cruiser carried scout planes.
They were considered a fire hazard by 1942 - Exeter's Plane caught fire during River plate causing all sorts of issues and given the information sharing with the US this might have been the case as you say that the aircraft where instead operating away from the ships?
 
At some point early on it became the habit of the USN to send the planes away when battle threatened. I cant recall exactly when this doctrine was taken up. But its possible here there are no cruiser carried scout planes.

OTL the planes were on board and fueled but not prepped for Launch or catapult ditching. The fueling systems were not drained and CO2 filled, something the carries did after the ,OSS of Lexington at Coral Sea.
A better move would to have Launched them to stand by with other craft off Tulagi
 
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I'm pretty sure that was one of the post-Savo changes.
It was post Savo, yes. Also, both RAN CA's carried aircraft as well.

OTL the planes were on board and fueled but not prepped for Launch or catapult ditching. The fueling systems were not drained and CO2 filled, something the carries did after the ,OSS of Lexington at Coral Sea.
A better move would to have Launched them to stand by with other craft off Tulagi
Yes, a much better move. Easy to be wise in hindsight, I suppose.
 
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