Thursday, June 14, 2012

October 23 - 25, 1944 The Battle of Layte Gulf

The Yamato the largest battleship in the world that saw action in the Battle of Layte Gulf  
IJN Photo

The largest naval battle in the history of the world was the battle for Leyte Gulf that involved most of the Japanese fleet including the two super battleships of the Yamoto class and 7 other battleships, 1 fleet carrier, 3 light carriers, 14 heavy cruisers, six light cruisers, 35+ destroyers, 300+ planes including land-based planes.

They were opposed by the forces of the United States and Australia with a force of 8 fleet carriers, eight light carriers, 18 escort carriers, 12 battleships, 24 cruisers and 141 destroyers and destroyer escorts. The Allied fleet also had numerous PT boats, submarines and auxiliaries along with about 1500 planes.

The Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines lasted from the 23 to 26 October 1944 that resulted in a decisive Allied victory.

You might just as well call this battle, the battles for Leyte Gulf since it involved several major operations. Before it was renamed the Battle for Leyte Gulf it was known to historians as the second Battle of the Philippine Sea. This was by far the largest naval battle fought during World War II, and according to some historians was the largest naval battle in history.

This battle was fought around the Philippine Islands of Leyte, Samar and Luzon between the combined forces of the American and Australian fleets against the Japanese Imperial Navy. On 20 October 1944 United States troops invaded the island of Leyte in a strategy aimed at isolating the countries Japan had occupied in Southeast Asia especially depriving them of the vital oil supplies needed by both the Fleet and Japanese industry.

The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) had mobilized nearly all of its major naval vessels in an attempt to defeat the invasion of Leyte. The Japanese attack was repulsed by units of the American third and seventh fleets, so the IJN and failed to achieve any of their goals and were handed some very heavy losses. This was the last time the IJN was able to sail into battle and something nearing a comparable force. For the rest of the war also surviving heavy ships of the IJN were deprived of fuel and were forced to sit out the remainder of the war at anchor at their bases for the remainder of the war.

Rather than one all-out battle the Battle of Leyte Gulf included 4 major naval battles: the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, the Battle of Surigao Strait, the Battle off Cape Engano and the Battle off Samar, as well as a number of other lesser actions.

It should be noted that the Battle of Leyte Gulf was the first battle in which Japanese aircraft carried out organized kamikaze attacks against their enemies. It is also worth noting that in this battle the Japanese actually had less planes than the Allies had ships. This was a clear indication of the flagging Japanese power at this point in the war.


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