Alt-History Santa Cruz Question Nov 6, 2018 21:50:37 GMT -5
Post by enterprisefan on Nov 6, 2018 21:50:37 GMT -5
Wikipedia Article On Wasp Below for context
"On Tuesday, 15 September 1942, the carriers Wasp and Hornet and battleship North Carolina with 10 other warships were escorting the transports carrying the 7th Marine Regiment to Guadalcanal as reinforcements. Wasp was operating some 150 nautical miles (170 mi; 280 km) southeast of San Cristobal Island. Her aircraft were being refueled and rearmed for antisubmarine patrol missions and Wasp had been at general quarters from an hour before sunrise until the time when the morning search returned to the ship at 10:00. Thereafter, the ship was in condition 2, with the air department at flight quarters. The only contact with the Japanese that day had been a Japanese four-engined flying boat that was downed by one of Wasp's F4F Wildcats at 12:15.
About 14:20, the carrier turned into the wind to launch eight F4F Wildcats and 18 SBD Dauntlesses and to recover eight F4F Wildcats and three SBD Dauntlesses that had been airborne since before noon. Lt. (jg) Roland H. Kenton, USNR, flying a F4F-3 Wildcat of VF-71 was the last aircraft off the deck of Wasp. The ship rapidly completed the recovery of the 11 aircraft before turning to starboard, heeling slightly as she did so. At 14:44 a lookout reported "three torpedoes ... three points forward of the starboard beam".
A spread of six Type 95 torpedoes was fired at Wasp at about 14:44 from the tubes of the B1 Type submarine I-19. Wasp put over her rudder hard to starboard to avoid the salvo, but it was too late. Three torpedoes struck in quick succession about 14:45; one actually breached, left the water, and struck the ship slightly above the waterline. All hit in the vicinity of the ship's gasoline tanks and magazines. Two of the spread of torpedoes passed ahead of Wasp and were observed passing astern of Helena before O'Brien was hit by one at 14:51 while maneuvering to avoid the other. The sixth torpedo passed either astern or under Wasp, narrowly missed Lansdowne in Wasp's screen about 14:48, was seen by Mustin in North Carolina's screen about 14:50, and struck North Carolina about 14:52.
After consulting with Rear Admiral Leigh Noyes, Captain Sherman ordered "abandon ship" at 15:20. All badly injured men were lowered into rafts or rubber boats. Many unwounded men had to abandon ship from aft because the forward fires were burning with such intensity. The departure, as Sherman observed it, looked "orderly", and there was no panic. The only delays occurred when many men showed reluctance to leave until all the wounded had been taken off. The abandonment took nearly 40 minutes, and at 16:00 Sherman abandoned the ship once he was satisfied that no survivors were left on board.
Although the submarine hazard caused the accompanying destroyers to lie well clear or to shift position, they carried out rescue operations until Laffey, Lansdowne, Helena, and Salt Lake City had 1,946 men embarked. The fires on Wasp, drifting, traveled aft and there were four violent explosions at nightfall. Lansdowne was ordered to torpedo the carrier and stand by until she was sunk. Lansdowne's Mark 15 torpedoes had the same unrecognized flaws reported for the Mark 14 torpedo. The first two torpedoes were fired perfectly, but did not explode, leaving Lansdowne with only three more. The magnetic influence exploders on these were disabled and the depth set at 10 feet (3.0 m). All three detonated, but Wasp remained afloat for some time, sinking at 21:00. 193 men had died and, 366 were wounded during the attack. All but one of her 26 airborne aircraft made a safe trip to carrier Hornet nearby before Wasp sank, but 45 aircraft went down with the ship."
With the Saratoga out of action, this left Hornet and Enterprise as the two remaining operational fleet carriers in the Pacific. Enterprise was currently also not immediately available undergoing repairs from the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. Though, she would return in time for the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.
Now my alternative path begins, let us assume that for some reason TF-18 was not sighted or the attack was foiled and drove off before the Submarine had managed to make its attack.. Let's also assume that the USS Chester also avoided her own torpedoing several weeks later. In this alternative time line: Wasp CV-7, North Carolina BB-55, USS Chester CA-27, destroyer O'Brien (DD-415), USS Aaron Ward (DD-483), USS Lardner (DD-487), USS Lansdowne (DD-486) are all still fit for duty in late October, and are grouped. Let us also make the assumption that the Enterprise and her Task Group arrive in the same state as they did historically.
Now as Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands unfolds how if at all would the outcome change. Wasp was by no means a great carrier being a compromise design several knots slower then the Yorktowns, but she still contained a large air group and given the speed of North Carolina she would not have slowed the task group. Therefore, would the battle be more of a draw or tactical victory?
Note: I make no allusions of being an expert, I am novice at this entire realm driven only be an urge to learn more about my families own history and a general love of anything nautical. While, I feel I have a good understanding of the Pacific Naval warfare after many an evening consumed by reading I know there are those far more knowledgeable than myself. So If I made any mistakes in any of my logic; I would like to apologize in advance.