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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 5:02 am 
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In Rising Sun, John Toland says the Wasp was sunk by I-19 with I-15 sinking the USS O'Brien.
In Aircraft Carriers, Norman Polmar says I-19 sank both ships and damaged USS North Carolina. Who (if either) is correct?

Thanks to those people who recommended these books - they are really fascinating reads!

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:57 am 
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Admiral John Byng wrote:
In Rising Sun, John Toland says the Wasp was sunk by I-19 with I-15 sinking the USS O'Brien.
In Aircraft Carriers, Norman Polmar says I-19 sank both ships and damaged USS North Carolina. Who (if either) is correct?

Thanks to those people who recommended these books - they are really fascinating reads!


I-19, according to her TROM:

"15 September 1942:
At 0950, while running submerged, the sound operator reports a contact with many heavy screws at 12-18S, 164-15E. Kinashi orders I-19 to periscope depth. He makes a sweep with his 'scope but no ships are in sight.

250 miles SE of Guadalcanal. Captain (later Admiral) Forrest P. Sherman's USS WASP and Captain Charles P. Mason's (later Rear Admiral) HORNET (CV-8) are escorting a reinforcement convoy of six transports carrying the 7th Marine Regiment from Espiritu Santo to reinforce Guadalcanal. The carriers are steaming in sight of each other about 8 miles apart. Each carrier forms the nucleus of a task force. Captain George H. Fort's (later Rear Admiral) battleship USS NORTH CAROLINA (BB-55) is with the HORNET task force to the NE of the WASP force.

At 1050, Kinashi raises his periscope again. This time he sees a carrier, a heavy cruiser and several destroyers (Rear Admiral Leigh Noyes' Task Force 18) bearing 045T at 9 miles. Kinashi estimates the task force's course at 330 and begins a slow approach. The Americans, zigzagging at 16 knots, change course to WNW. Then at 1120, the target group again changes course -this time to SSE. WASP makes a slow left turn into the wind to launch and recover her aircraft - and heads toward the I-19.

Kinashi estimates that his target is on course 130 degrees making 12 knots. At 1145, from 50 degrees starboard, he fires a spread of six Type 95 oxygen-propelled torpedoes at the enemy carrier from 985 yards. Two or possibly three hit the WASP and start an uncontrollable fire.

HORNET force continues a right turn to a 280 degree base course. Suddenly, an alarm is heard the tactical radio speakers from USS LANSDOWNE (DD-486) in the WASP's screen "... torpedo headed for formation, course 080!"

At 1152, a torpedo from I-19's salvo hits NORTH CAROLINA in her port bow abreast of her forward main battery turret. The blast holes the side protection below the armor belt and NORTH CAROLINA takes on a thousand tons of water. She takes on a five-degree list but counter flooding quickly levels her and she makes 25 knots. [3]

At 1154, a torpedo hits destroyer O'BRIEN's (DD-415) port quarter and another just misses HORNET"

Cheers
Gilbert


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:01 am 
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And according to O'Brien DANFS:

"The explosion did little local damage, but set up severe structural stresses through the ship. Able to proceed under her own power, the destroyer on 16 September reached Espiritu Santo, where Curtiss made temporary repairs. O'Brien sailed on the 21st for Noumea, New Caledonia, for further repairs by Argonne before proceeding 10 October to San Francisco.

She made Suva on the 13th and sailed once more on the 16th. The rate of leaking continued to increase, and the 18th it was necessary for O'Brien to proceed to the nearest anchorage. Topside weight was jettisoned and preparations were made for abandoning ship, but it was still thought that the ship could be brought intact to Pago Pago, However at 0600 on 19 October the bottom suddenly opened up considerably and the forward and after portions of the hull began to work independently. At 0630 all hands except a salvage crew went over the side; and half an hour later the ship was abandoned entirely. Just before 0800 she went under, after steaming almost 3000 miles since torpedoed. All the crew were saved."

Gilbert


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:51 pm 
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Here is some information from the USN side of the action.
The sky was clear, visibility unlimited, and a 20-knot tradewind was blowing from the south east. Whitecaps covered the surface of the sea ,good hunting weather for submarines and dangerous for their prey.
The WASP and HORNET were escorting six transports carrying the 7th Marine Regiment to reinforce the 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal. With the transports on a parallel course over the horison to the south, the Carriers were steaming within sight of each other and had reached a position 250 miles southeast of the objective. Each Carrier formed a sperate task force in it's own circular cruising formation.
On the bridges of Pensacola, North Carolina, and other ships in the Hornet force, first warning that something was wrong came at 1445. The WASP had just completed a launch and recovery of aircraft. during which ships of both task forces had been headed temporarily on a southeasterly course into the wind. With flight operations over, all ship commenced a right turn together to resume base course 280. At the start of this turn, heavy smoke was seen rising from WASP.
The Japanese submarine I-15, lurking nearby, witnessed the WASP's sinking and duly reported this news to her headquarters at Truk. Her sister submarine I-19, reporting seperately, claimed to have torpedoed WASP. There is no record that any other Japanese submarine ever claimed the hits on the North Carolina and O'Brien.
Efforts of historians to establish exactly what happened have been greatly handicapped because key Japanese participants did not survive the war. The I-15 was sunk near Guadalcanal on 2 Novermber 1942, and the I-19 failed to return from patrol during the US operation to recover the Gilbert Islands in late 1943. In addition, official records maintained by the IJN in Tokyo were almost totally destroyed by bombing and fire in 1945. Post war reconstructions using former command and staff officers of the IJN were valuable but far from complete.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:03 pm 
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The claim of the I-19 to have fired the spread that struck the WASP has been universally accepted. As for the unclaimed hits on the other ships, several US historians have creditied I-15. She was in the vicinity, as revealed by her report of the WASP's sinking, and therefor could have done the other hits coincident with the I-19's attack on WASP.
Other historians have asserted that I-19 unkowingly accomplished all five hits. Of the six torpedos they believe were fired at WASP in a single spread, the three which did NOT hit the WASP raced across the several miles seperating the two task forces and, by pure chance, scored on the other two ships.
This explaination of the mystery has NOT been widely accepted in U.S. Navy circles, but until now, no detailed exposition of it has been published in a form that would permit it to be evaluated. [as of 1982, when the above was written].
Although eyewitnesses on the WASP's bridge actually saw only FOUR torpedo wakes-three hits and one miss across the Carrier's bow-normal Japanese practice was to fire SIX torpedoes in a spread at an important target [No target more important than a Carrier!]. According to one former IJN submarine commander, his usual firing interval within a spread was three seconds. The fact that I-19 did not claim hits in the BB and DD does not rule out that possibility, since her skipper, COmmander Takaichi Kinashi, could hardly have been expected to stick around to learn of such unanticipated good fortune while trying to escape the angy pack of destoryers in the WASP screen.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:47 pm 
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The right turn of the HORNET task force back to course 280, which occured during the torpedo run, would have shortened the run; but whether this would place the two victims within range would have depended on the range and speed characteristics of the type of torpedoes fired by the I-19. This is NOT known, but there are two possibilities.
The Navy's Bureau of Ships stated in a 1949 report of the North Carolina's torpedo damage, "The damage to North Carolina indicates a charge approximating the 660-pound charge of Shimose used in the type 89 Japanese submarine torpedo. "This torpedo was in common use by IJN submarines at that time. According to former Japanese Submarine officers, the 21inch type 89 torpedo was air-driven, had a range of 6,000 yards when set to run at 45 knots, and a maximum range of 11,000 yards at 35 knots". This information, if it applies, appears to place the one-submarine theory beyond the limit of physical possibility.
It is possible however, that the Bureau of Ships was mistaken in it's estimate of the type of torpedo, and that the model used was in fact the type 95 Model 1 which was used. This 21 inch torpedo was also in use by IJN submarines at that time. It ran on 100% oxygen, had a range of 13,000 yards at 45 knots, and carried an 891 pound explosive charge. These characteristics would not only make the One-Sub theory physically possible, they would make it fit like a glove if one is prepared to ingnore almost impossible odds.
A widely held misconception regarding timing of hits on O'Brien and North carolina has contributed to further confusion.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:06 pm 
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The misinformation being that O'Brien was hit two minutes AFTER the hit on the Battleship. If this were true, it would be impossible to reconcile it with the One-Submarine, one spread theory, because at the moment the O'Brien was hit, she was about 1,000 yards closer than the Battleship to the WASP force and hence to the firing position of the I-19. (Nonsynchronization of timepieces , reflected in the action reports of two of the ships, including O'Brien's, appears to account for this error). "I can attest [the author, an eyewitness] , and other eyewitnesses will confirm, that O'Brien was hit LESS than 1 minute BEFORE North Carolina", thus helping to support the One-Submarine/One-Spread Theory.
On the other hand there is the question of what role, if any, the I-15 played in the attack. There is previously mentioned evidence provided by the Mustin and O'Brien that more than one submarine may have been present in attack positions which reveal that no less than eight IJN subs, including both I-15 and I-19, were patrolling southeast of Guadalcanal in the general area [several hundred square miles] of the Sept. 15 attack. The same testimony shows, however, that all eight of these boats survived the patrol and returned to port. This would appear to rule out the theory that a IJN sub scored on the BB and DD without living to tell of it. Prime suspect I-15 along with I-19, is recorded as undergoing maintenance at Truk as of 23 Spet. The absence of any reconstructed record that I-15, or any other IJN Sub except I-19 claimed success on 15 Sept, leads to the conclusion that none did.
Is it really possible that the I-19 alone, with one spread of torpedoes, did all that damage? Figure number 2, taken from the action reports of the U.S. ships involved, should solve the mystery to the satisfaction of even the most criticial naval sluth.
The one submarine theory conforms almost exactly to the established facts of the tactical situation that applied to all six U.S. Ships from which torpedo wakes were seen. The series of near misses was, by itself, extraordinarily coincidental.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:24 pm 
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That the North Carolina and O'Brien were struck by STRAY torpedoes reveals, when a graphic plot is examined, that two ships entirely by chance, ran into the torpedoes. Adding to the luck enjoyed by the skipper of the I-19 is the fact that the torpedo which stuck North Carolina was almost at the end of it's run.

What I can't show here is the plot worked out using the Ship's own plots from that action showing the positions and courses of all the actors involved. Because I don't have a scanner.
It clearly accounts for all movements and all six torpedoes.
torpedo #1 passes astern of WASP and carries on to pass astern of O'Brien
#2 passes closer astern of WASP and carries on to be run into by O'Brien
#3,4,5 all impact WASP
#6 is seen clearly passing ahead of WASP, this one carries on to it's limit and North Carolina runs into it.
the torpedo spread fired at WASP was set to run at 45 knots
The only reason the BB and DD were hit was because of pure chance and the turn they were performing.

Time 1451 The O'Brien, then on course 260, turned sharply right to avoid a torpedo, which missed astern. Immediately thereafter, the O'Brien is hit is the port bow by a second torpedo
Time 1452 The North Carolina hit, apparently by the same torpedo which had previously missed WASP ahead, LANSDOWNE directly under ship from bow to stern, and MUSTIN seen passing about 30 feet astern, indicating that the torpedo passed under her before being sighted.

This article by Captain Ben W. Blee U.S. Navy Retired. 1982


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:14 pm 
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Very interesting stuff!

Thanks guys.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:10 pm 
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I really do wish I had a scanner, a picture says a thousand words. The first diagram is a USN plotting board showing the relative positions of the task forces ships, taken from actual plotting records and the second diagram is a plot of I-19 at time of firing and the plots of the task force ships in the process of their turns. If I-19 fired a six torpedo spread, then the plot fits to perfection. I-15 would surly have made a claim had she scored the hits on North Carolina and O'Brien. The problems stem from the loss of both Japanese boats and officers later on and destruction of IJN records in the Fire Bombings of Tokyo. Near as I can tell, the early historians did not make a serious effort to reconcile this action. The Naval Officer who wrote the account I reproduced did make a serious effort using all USN records and had no doubts about his conclusions. He was present on a Task Force Cruiser's bridge at the time, thus his interest in resolving the issue :smallsmile:

Bob B.


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