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"Leyte Gulf: The Pacific War's Greatest Battle" Topic

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©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian20 Oct 2020 4:45 p.m. PST

While U.S. commanders were planning to invade the Philippines, Japanese planners, unsure where the next Allied blow would fall, drew up four Sho (Victory) contingency plans. The intricate Sho-1 plan to counter a Philippines invasion would eventually call for three separate naval surface forces to converge on Leyte Gulf and wipe out the U.S. Seventh Fleet's invasion armada. The key to the operation was luring away the strong Third Fleet by using a Japanese carrier force as bait…


RudyNelson20 Oct 2020 5:47 p.m. PST

I never regarded the Leyte Gulf as a key battle since it was so lopsided.

Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2020 6:40 p.m. PST


McKinstry Fezian20 Oct 2020 10:01 p.m. PST

Midway was the most decisive and the IJN never really got off the back foot after that (Savo Island was awful but did not change the momentum).

Philippine Sea destroyed the naval air arm of the IJN and they never recovered.

Absent Halsey pulling 'Bulls Run', Leyte is a bigger disaster for the IJN than it actually was. It was the biggest as regards ships involved but by late 1944, the outcome was never in doubt. Even if Kurita had pressed on, he would have arrived among the already unloaded transports with accumulated damage, lost ships, and very low ammunition.'

John Leahy21 Oct 2020 2:25 a.m. PST

Yeah, Midway is much more important.

Bezmozgu7 Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 3:44 a.m. PST

Midway was a decisive turning point but the six-month Guadalcanal meat-grinder campaign doomed the Japanese to a defensive war that they could never win against the US.

John the OFM21 Oct 2020 6:32 a.m. PST

Leyte Gulf sank a lot of irreplaceable Japanese ships.
That makes it a big deal.
It certainly shortened the war.

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 9:49 a.m. PST

Leyte proved the US Navy to be the best in the world--if not also perhaps the luckiest.

Midway was the turning point, but anyone suggesting it was won by superior planes, pilots, or ships is clearly overlooking the most important factor of all--Pure Luck, or possibly Divine Intervention.

Leyte was won by sheer capability at all levels, and while "Bull's Run" was not only a potentially fatal error, it left the rest of the fleet to win on its own.

The Battle off Samar is still the greatest single action in US Naval History, and arguably in all US military history.

And the virtual destruction of the remainder of the IJN absolutely shortened the war, giving naval dominance to the US and Allies in all the ways that would have made Mahan proud.

"All Hands--Well Done!"


McKinstry Fezian21 Oct 2020 10:50 a.m. PST

The entire Guadalcanal Campaign absolutely ground down the entire Japanese war machine both in terms of material and any possibility of regaining the initiative but I still see Philippine Sea as the establishment of unending dominance.

I believe the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the badly under appreciated Spruance had fully destroyed Japanese naval air power and the the IJN surface navy while still impressive on paper was, as any kind of offensive strategic force, impotent and rendered mere targets even given a major operational error such as Bull's Run. Had Sho-1 not been launched, the IJN would have either been sunk in port or committed to a Yamato type seppuku at Okinawa or Luzon.

Not to take anything away from the action at Samar. I fully agree that it was the US Navy's finest hours and legitimately one of the greatest actions in US military history.

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