War Instructions United States Navy 1944
Chapter 12. Major Action
- Air (carrier) groups will operate with our force with consequent greater and longer range offensive power.
- Aircraft operating from land bases will be used to the maximum extent possible in the area of operations.
- Aircraft will attack prior to surface vessels coming into contact.
- Damage inflicted on the enemy by air attacks and damage inflicted on our own force by enemy air attacks possibly necessitates change in battle plans.
- Fast and slow battleships do not ordinarily operate in the same battle line.
- Effective use of radar and aircraft eliminate the element of surprise, besides permitting greater exploitation of indirect fire behind a smoke screen or in low visibility.
Section I. Task groups for a Major Action
1201. The normal task groups for a major action are as follows:
- The flagship of the officer in tactical command with its screen. This ship may, however, be assigned to another task group for battle.
- The Battle Line, composed of battleships with their observation plane squadrons, screen, and, if assigned, battle line carriers with their aircraft squadrons and screen. If no battleships are present, the battle line is composed of heaviest ships available.
- The Detached Wing (if employed) composed of fast battleships, large or heavy cruisers with their aircraft and screen.
- The Center, composed of cruisers with their aircraft, attack destroyers, and light minelayers. The center is usually in the van when cruising and on the fleet axis during the approach or retirement. In battle it proceeds to one of the battle flanks or is divided between the two flanks, and consequently loses its identity upon deployment.
- The Right Flank, composed of cruisers with their aircraft, attack destroyers, and light minelayers operating on the right flank in battle, approach and contact dispositions, and stationed on the right flank in most cruising dispositions. Depending upon our deployment course, it may be in the van or rear in battle.
- The Left Flank, composed of cruisers with their aircraft, attack destroyers, and light minelayers operating on the left flank in battle, approach and contact dispositions, and stationed on the left flank in most cruising dispositions. Depending upon our deployment course, it may be in the van or rear in battle.
- The Submarines, composed of any submarines in company or in the battle area.
- The Air (Carriers), composed of aircraft carriers with their aircraft, squadrons, supporting ships, and screen.
- The Train, composed of all noncombatant types present, screen, and any combatant vessels specifically assigned as train guards. A convoy, when present, is part of the train.
1202. Under unusual circumstances--for example, when the enemy has no light forces or is very inferior in light forces--it is sometimes possible for a task subdivision of our forces to operate ahead of or on the disengaged side of the enemy. In such cases, these ships join in the battle from that side of the enemy.
1203. Against an enemy battle line and fast detached wing, whose total strength is inferior to our battle line, a detached wing might be employed with advantage. If, under these circumstances, our force were accompanied by a large train, or a train which includes a large convoy, a detached wing of adequate strength is organized in readiness to defend the train or convoy against attack by enemy battle cruisers or other fast forces.
1204. Against an enemy battle line and detached wing the latter composed of battle cruisers or fast battleships, whose total strength is superior or equal to that of our battle line, a situation in which our force would probably not have a large train, it is not normally desirable to employ a detached wing.
1205. Fast battleships are best suited to form a detached wing. However, if sufficient large or heavy cruisers are available, it is desirable under some circumstances to employ them as a detached wing, provided their number is sufficient to give a volume of fire that would be effective against battle cruisers or the flank ships of a battle line which is engaged with our battleships.
1206. The number of cruiser divisions, attack squadrons of destroyers and light minelayer divisions available determines the number of task subdivisions of light vessels which can be organized, and the composition of each. When a sufficient number is available, there are normally three task groups of light vessels of approximately the same strength prescribed in the battle organization. This is particularly necessary if it is intended to use a defensive cruising disposition in which the light vessels are disposed as screens about the heavier vessels and train. Should the number of light vessels available be insufficient to provide three task groups, it is best to organize them into two task groups, omitting the center group. If the number of light vessels is very limited, or if for any reason it is desirable to do so, they constitute one task group.
1207. Cruisers armed with rapid firing main battery guns are better suited to breaking up an enemy destroyer attack than are cruisers armed with slower firing main battery guns. They are also better for clearing away the opposition of enemy destroyers when supporting our destroyer attacks.
1208. Fast battleships and cruisers are best suited to support carrier operations. Cruisers are best for attacking enemy aircraft carriers and for breaking up the support of enemy cruisers when enemy destroyers are attacking, or for clearing away the opposition of enemy cruisers when our destroyers are attacking. In battle, cruisers are assigned as required to the groups that will be on the flanks, or to the air (carriers), or to both.
1209. Heavy combat units and the train are provided reasonably adequate protection against submarines and aircraft. When a force is accompanied by a large train of slow speed, a relatively larger antisubmarine screen is required for the train. While destroyers are best for screening, light vessels of other types capable of screening vessels against submarines and aircraft are employed when practicable in order to have the maximum number of destroyers available for offensive action against the enemy. Vessels of the screen of aircraft carriers also act as plane guards.
Section II. Initial Contact
Air Contact and Possible Results
1211. It is extremely important once contact is made that the officer in tactical command receive early and accurate information concerning the enemy's position, course, speed and disposition. In this phase of a possible major action exact location of all of the enemy's carriers is essential. To accomplish this additional search planes may be necessary to develop the initial contact.
1212. After contact with the enemy has been made and developed and the enemy is within reach, our initial air strikes are made to destroy the enemy's carriers primarily and other heavy units secondarily.
1213. Depending on results of our air offensive, a major surface action may or may not then take place; or it may take place without any air support due to the loss of our own carriers or it may take place without any air opposition from the enemy in which case our aircraft may inflict heavy damage on the enemy during action between the surface forces.
Section III. The Approach
1216. The approach is for the purpose of placing the force, as a whole, in the most advantageous position for deployment for battle. Usually an approach is made by heading toward the enemy to close, and hence the name of this phase. The approach disposition is formed with the fleet axis in the general direction of the enemy even though the force may temporarily be headed in a direction other than toward the enemy, awaiting the enemy to close or in order to gain necessary time for the task subdivisions of our force to gather.
1217. The conduct of the approach is a most important duty of the officer in tactical command. In order that the force may be moved and oriented in the proper direction during the approach and in order that it may be deployed on the most advantageous course, it is necessary that the officer in tactical command receives early and accurate information of the enemy and is kept constantly informed of his position, course, speed, and disposition. An accurate bearing of the enemy battle line from our battle line is essential. Until the battle lines come within sight of each other, this bearing can usually be obtained best by aircraft or by the employment of vessels which are in sight of both battle lines.
1218. It is necessary that the fleet axis prescribed when the approach dispositions formed be approximately the same as the bearing of the enemy battle line from the center of our battle line in order, as the battle lines close each other, that the light forces on one flank or the other do not come under fire of the enemy battle line before the battle lines are engaged or in order to prevent their being forced back on our battle line to avoid coming under destructive enemy gunfire.
1219. An approach disposition is taken as soon as it appears evident that action with the enemy main force is imminent. Sufficient units in contact with the enemy battle line continue to scout tactically until relieved by aircraft or are ordered to do otherwise.
1220. The officer in tactical command as soon as sufficient information is obtained regarding the enemy, promulgates by signal the battle plan to be used for the initial stage of the action, and when possible, the battle plans he intends to use for subsequent stages of the action. If no prescribed battle plan is suitable for the tactical situation encountered the officer in tactical command modifies an existing plan to make it suitable or promulgates a suitable plan by a dispatch battle order or by signals. The battle order embodies all the essentials of a battle plan, including his major tactical decisions as to the type of action to be fought and the tasks for the various battle task groups to carry out in the general plan.
1221. The officer in tactical command, when sufficient information of the enemy is obtained, may indicate to the force by signal, the general direction in which he intends to deploy. He may also start any groups which may be in advance of the force on the fleet axis toward their battle stations on the flanks by ordering a new approach disposition which has no groups on the fleet axis or he may direct by signal units of the fleet axis to proceed to one battle flank or the other.
1222. An approach disposition is such that--
- The stations of all groups and units in a battle disposition when ordered may be reached when a deployment is ordered in a minimum of time and with the minimum of changes in the organization of the task groups and in the communication organization.
- Stations may be regained readily of orientation of the disposition as a whole is necessary.
- Tactical concentration, with groups mutually supporting each other, may be maintained throughout the approach.
- When desirable, deployment may be made either to the right or left.
1223. Approach dispositions normally provide for light forces on one or both battle flanks and in addition light forces may be stationed in the center on the fleet axis. An approach disposition with light forces on one flank only may be used when the direction of our deployment can be determined before deployment is necessary. When the direction of deployment in uncertain and when sufficient light forces are available it is desirable to have light forces on both flanks in order that deployment may be made to the right or left with some light forces on each flank. If the disposition of the enemy light forces is uncertain, it is desirable that the approach be made with some light forces in the center in order that they may reinforce either flank when the decision regarding the direction of deployment is made.
Section IV. Battle task Groups During Approach
The Battle Line During the Approach
1225. The officer in tactical command conducts the approach of the force so that the battle line may deploy readily and may bring the enemy battle line under gunfire at the ranges stipulated in the battle plan to be used.
1226. The commander battle line orders the battle line to take an appropriate formation from which a deployment may be made rapidly, if the battle line is not already in such a formation. He maintains the line of bearing of the battleship formation such that the battle line may conveniently and rapidly deploy on a course approximately normal to the bearing of the enemy battle line.
1227. As soon as sufficient information of the enemy is available, the commander battle line, issues the necessary instructions regarding the fire distribution of the battle line.
1228. Observation planes on battleships are catapulted during the approach before the battleships commence firing or come under gunfire. The officer in tactical command, if in the battle line, normally initiates this unless he directs otherwise or has prescribed a different normal procedure. If the enemy battle line is endeavoring to avoid or delay action and is successful in delaying the opening of the engagement, catapulting of seaplane observation planes too early during the approach may result in their not being available for spotting, when required, due to exhaustion of fuel.
1229. It is important that the formation of the battleships be maintained in order that they may be ready for maneuver or immediate deployment. During the approach, main reliance for warning and defense against enemy submarines is left to the battle line screen and antisubmarine air patrol.
1230. Normally the screen of the battle line is maintained during the approach. This is particularly necessary if the enemy is avoiding or delaying action and may be employing submarines or aircraft to delay our approach or to inflict initial damage or losses before engaging.
The Detached Wing During the Approach
1232. A detached wing of large or heavy cruisers, if employed, takes a position where it can best oppose the enemy's heavy cruisers. Such a detached wing operating in advance of the battle line on the fleet axis may be utilized to force an early deployment on the part of the enemy by driving the enemy light forces toward one flank or the other. Such forced deployment of the enemy leaves the officer in tactical command the option of deploying in either direction as might be advantageous.
The Light Forces During the Approach
1234. During the approach certain tasks are common to all light force task groups. They defend the general area in which they are stationed by preventing attacks of enemy light forces being driven in on our battle line, by driving off enemy tactical scouts, by destroying enemy aircraft and attacking enemy submarines encountered in their area. They in a general way maintain their assigned positions. They do not pursue minor enemy forces and retire toward our battle line in face of superior strength. They proceed to their battle stations when the deployment is made.
1235. When radar or sight contact is made with the enemy battle line, every effort is made to hold the contact by sufficient vessels in order that the officer in tactical command may be kept informed of its position, course, speed, and bearing. Units holding such contact with the enemy battle line avoid coming within destructive gun range of the enemy battle line. The officer in tactical command relieves the light forces of this duty when adequate and accurate tactical scouting is taken up by aircraft.
1236. The commander of each of the three light force task groups assigns sufficient destroyers from his command to form a screen for the cruisers of his group when the known or suspected presence of enemy submarines or aircraft makes it necessary to provide such protection until the force is ordered to deploy.
The Center During the Approach
1238. If the light forces in the center are compelled to retire before superior forces or the enemy battle line to avoid destruction, they normally retire along the fleet axis toward the battle line rather than to retire in the direction of one battle flank or the other. If they retire toward a battle flank they may disclose prematurely the direction of our deployment or they may commit the officer in tactical command, by the resulting distribution of our light forces, to a direction of deployment different from the one contemplated or desired.
1239. Under conditions of poor visibility the commander of the center group initiates the movement of the center group to reinforce our flank opposite the most of the enemy light forces, informing the officer in tactical command of the action taken, unless he has knowledge of the intentions of the officer in tactical command which requires him to make other disposition of his group.
Air (Carriers) During the Approach
1241. If the officer in tactical command, from knowledge of the location of the enemy's forces, is reasonably certain that our carriers will not, while operating aircraft, be subjected to dangerous attack from enemy air or surface units, he may direct the vessels assigned as supports to carriers, or a part of them, to join other battle task groups.
1242. Weather permitting, aircraft are used for: tactical scouting to keep the officer in tactical command informed of the enemy's movements; antisubmarine patrol, particularly if the enemy is avoiding or delaying a general action in order to deliver a submarine attack; combat air patrol.
1243. During the approach, every effort is made to gain superiority over the enemy air force in order that the tasks of our aircraft in battle may be accomplished. The destruction of enemy aircraft carriers is a highly important means of accomplishing air superiority.
1244. Air operations, other than those indicated above, will, therefore, depend upon the situation:
- If the enemy aircraft carriers have not been located, our force is in danger of an air attack. In this situation, enemy carriers are to be located and destroyed, and at the same time, our fighters are to be ready to vigorously attack enemy aircraft. In making suitable disposition of our fighters to carry out this task, provision is made for their not being caught on the carrier's deck, or in the air, short of fuel.
- If the enemy aircraft carriers have been located with their aircraft on board, the opportunity is seized to reduce the enemy's air strength by vigorously attacking the enemy carriers in order to destroy enemy aircraft and carriers.
- If the enemy aircraft carriers have been located without their aircraft on board, our force is in immediate danger of an air attack. In this situation, it is necessary to reserve a large portion of our fighters for the protection of our force and carriers against air attack. Our bombing and torpedo planes, accompanied by such of our fighters as are not required for the protection of our force and carriers, attack the enemy carriers and destroy them.
Submarines During the Approach
1246. During the early stages of an approach submarines may be able to obtain some information of the enemy for themselves, but it is probable that they will be forced to submerge before they sight the enemy battle line. In order that all submarines may begin to move at the earliest moment toward areas from which attacks on the enemy battle line or heavy ships will be possible, it is necessary that the commander of the submarine force be kept informed of the position of the enemy battle line and heavy ships and of their movements. The commander submarines directs the movements of submarine units to place them in positions for attack.
1247. If it is the intention of the officer in tactical command to fight a delay action in order to give our submarines an opportunity to attack, the movements of the battle line and other surface groups are regulated during the approach to accomplish this.
Train During the Approach
Section V. Forces in Contact
1250. The following are illustrations of situations in which a contact disposition is employed:
- During approach when visibility is low or poor.
- During a delay action.
- Maintaining contact with an enemy force.
- During pursuit at night or when visibility is low or poor.
- During a temporary retirement in action.
- During a withdrawal from action.
1251. The contact dispositions are similar to the approach dispositions in the general arrangement of the various task groups, but differ from the approach dispositions in the arrangement of the light forces. In the approach dispositions each light force task group is disposed, generally speaking, on the same bearing from the battle line; that is, on each flank and on the fleet axis, while in the contact dispositions each light force task group forms a screen in the area assigned to it.
1253. In contact dispositions there is no protection in the general area (normally the rear) not occupied by the light forces. If it is considered necessary to cover this area sufficiently, at least to detect a raid coming in through the area, it is desirable to use the screens of the battle line and train for this purpose in order that the light force task groups may still remain in positions from which they can deploy readily. However, if detachments from light force task groups are
1256. Some of the situations for which contact dispositions are considered necessary are nullified by the effective use of radar. In low visibility use of radar may provide necessary protection against destroyer and light force attacks with the force in an approach disposition.
Section VI. Deployment
1258. Deployment is normally made before the battle lines come within effective range of each other. If the enemy is late in deploying, an advantageous concentration of fire may then be possible. This is the normal procedure for high visibility conditions. Under reduced visibility the use of radar will assist deploying prior to coming within effective gun range but the situation may not be clear to the officer in tactical command. The location of the enemy battle line may not be definitely established. Under reduced visibility conditions but without the use of radar deployment may be made while firing or while under fire. Delay in deploying before the battle lines come within effective range of each other may be caused by the necessity of repelling air attack. In such an event deployment is made as soon as the situation permits.
1259. Provided the enemy force is not too close when located, our force takes an approach disposition before deploying, since an approach disposition is more easily maneuvered than a battle disposition. Moreover, while in an approach disposition, the distribution of the groups can be changed within limits if required, when the decision to deploy is made and the direction of deployment is determined. This is the normal procedure under high visibility conditions. Under low visibility conditions, also, the enemy might be located, particularly if the use of radar is effective, in sufficient time and with sufficient accuracy to permit this to be done.
1260. If contact with the enemy force is unexpected, or if it is located at a relatively close distance so that there is no time to take an approach disposition, our force deploys immediately from the cruising disposition. This normally does not occur under conditions of high visibility, but under conditions of reduced visibility, or when radar is ineffective this may be necessary.
1261. If contact with the enemy force is made late in the day, so that there may not be time to engage and defeat the enemy before darkness falls, circumstances determine whether it is better to deploy and to engage as long as conditions permit, or to maintain contact during the night in order to engage the following day.
1262. In view of the length of time required to make a deployment, particularly from a cruising disposition with enveloping defensive screen, it is essential that consideration be given to probable change in bearing of the enemy during the interval of time elapsing between the commencement of the deployment maneuver and its completion. This change in bearing is small if the deployment course is approximately parallel to and in the same direction as the course of the enemy. More allowance is made if the deployment course is opposite to or at a considerable angle to that of the enemy.
1264. Task group commanders are informed of the battle plan of the officer in tactical command prior to deployment. Considerable initiative is given to the task group commanders. Deployment is not a rigid maneuver. Reaching and maintaining stations are important only insofar as they contribute to carrying out the battle plan. The proximity of parts of the enemy force or the
commencement of the battle, locally or generally, may make it necessary or advisable to disregard station keeping.
The Direction of Deployment
- If superior in strength and adequate time is available, and speed permits, the advisability of interposing between the enemy force and its base or across its most probable line of retreat is considered. A favorable opportunity for defeating the enemy is, however, not lost.
- If of approximately equal strength, tactical considerations will probably govern. The mission, however, may require that consideration be given to the direction of deployment.
- If inferior in strength, the direction of deployment usually permits our force to keep between the enemy force and our nearest base or an advantageous direction of retirement.
- The location of land and shoals.
- The relative positions of the two forces and the distribution of groups between the two battle flanks of each force may make a deployment in one general direction more advantageous than a deployment in an opposite general direction.
- A superiority or inferiority in speed may affect the direction of deployment.
- The relative position and relative speeds of the two forces together may influence the direction of deployment to make possible a concentration and attack by superior subdivisions of our force against an inferior portion of the enemy force.
- The location of enemy mine fields or submarines.
- Wind.--If the wind and sea are heavy, the windward position is advantageous for our destroyers to attack and to use smoke screens. The windward position is also advantageous with regard to the interference of spray with dire delivery, especially from broadside batteries. The windward position is advantageous for aircraft operations. The windward position is not advantageous with regard to interference due to gases or smoke, which may be very serious.
- Sea.--The condition and direction of the sea, if such as to cause yawing or excessive or irregular rolling, is a factor that affects adversely the rate and accuracy of fire delivery.
- Sun.--The bearing of the sun has little effect upon fire delivery when the sun is more than 20° above the horizon. When the sun is less than 20° above the horizon, a vessel firing into the sun may suffer some disadvantage unless the glare can be overcome by ray filters. At dusk and dawn it is advantageous from a visibility standpoint to have the enemy silhouetted against the light horizon.
- Radar.--Effective use of radar assists in eliminating many handicaps of maneuvering, positioning, searching and firing during periods of low visibility and into the sun.
1266. The direction in which the officer in tactical command desires the force to be moving during the main action may be approximately opposite to the initial direction of deployment. Therefore, a distribution of the light forces may be ordered upon the initial deployment or during the approach with a view to their preponderance of strength being in the van when the deployment course is reversed to the direction in which the force will be moving for the main action.
Section VII. Battle Dispositions
1268. Battle dispositions normally provide for light forces on both battle flanks if sufficient numbers are available. It is normally desirable to have approximately two-thirds of the light forces on that flank which is in the van and approximately one-third on that flank which is in the rear. If the number of light forces is insufficient to have light forces on both flanks it is usually desirable to station all of them in the van. An unusual arrangement of the enemy's light forces might require other disposition of our light forces.
The battle line is normally in a battleship battle formation whose line of bearing is approximately normal to the bearing of the enemy line or such that a redeployment of the battle line can always be made on a course approximately normal to the bearing of the enemy battle line.
1270. When the battleships are deployed in a battle formation, the battle line screen normally forms in two units with approximately two-thirds of their number ahead of the battle line and one-third astern. In these positions they are in readiness to assume a formation for air defense, to patrol against enemy submarines, to repel enemy destroyers that may get by our light forces, to reinforce our light forces on the flanks, and to relieve attack destroyers that have expended their torpedoes. If directed to form an air defense or antisubmarine screen, the unit ahead takes assigned stations spreading out in general from broad on one bow through ahead to broad on the other bow and covers the van of the battle line against air or submarine attack depending on which menace is the primary threat. The screen avoids taking stations which embarrass the battle line from employment of any of its armament. The unit astern if directed to form an air defense screen takes stations in general spreading out from broad on the quarter through astern to broad on the other quarter and protects the rear of the battle line from attack. The unit astern is also in readiness to screen ahead if the battle line reverses course or takes over the task of keeping down or destroying any enemy submarines that may have been forced down by the unit ahead.
1271. A detached wing, if employed, normally maintains a position on a flank of our battle line where it can support our battle line and our light forces and receive support from our battle line. If the enemy is employing a detached wing, our detached wing is on that battle flank which will enable it to oppose the detached wing of the enemy.
1272. The light cruisers, destroyers, and light mine layers are stationed on one or both battle flanks, depending upon the distribution of the light forces made upon deployment. Heavy cruisers if assigned to the flank forces are usually stationed on the extreme battle flanks. Light cruisers are usually stationed nearer the battle line and the destroyers between the light cruisers and the battle line. The light mine layers are usually well out on the flank on the disengaged side of the cruisers.
1274. Submarines have no prescribed stations in a battle disposition. They can only endeavor to attain positions from which attacks can be made on the enemy battle line or other heavy ships. They avoid areas occupied by our vessels.
1276. Typical battle dispositions are found in appropriate publications.
Section VIII. Battle Plans
1278. Battle plans are prepared by each task force command, who by the nature of his assigned task may become at any time, until he joins a senior task force commander, an officer in tactical command in the presence of the enemy. His battle plans are necessarily those which will enable him to carry out his assigned task in the strategic plan, and are necessarily based on his available force and the enemy forces likely to be encountered. The term "available forces" includes any land based aircraft which are assigned to a commander and are controlled either directly or indirectly by him, or which due to the nature of their normal missions may lend support to his force by carrying out certain planned tasks or by assisting the air (carrier) groups in carrying out their tasks prior to, during, and after an action. The term "enemy forces" includes enemy land based aircraft which may be operated against his force due to nearness of enemy air (land) bases. When the situation is known and when the forces involved can be compared with reasonable accuracy, specific plans are prepared after an estimate of the tactical situation has been made. If the situation and forces are not known, plans are prepared for assumed situations and forces, and there must be sufficient number of plans for the more probable situations that may be met.
1279. Battle plans utilize our known or estimated factors of superiority in methods, skill, and material to defeat the enemy by taking advantage of his known or supposed weaknesses or by nullifying his elements of superiority. Battle plans express the intention resolutely and clearly. They state what is to be done by the whole force and the manner in which it is to be done by the force as a whole. Tasks are assigned to each battle task group, tasks which when accomplished will accomplish the task for the whole force, for, if commanders to task groups are permitted to select their own tasks as their part in carrying out the general plan, the necessary coordination of effort may not result. Subordinates are not given instructions as to the method of accomplishment of their assigned tasks except to the extent necessary to insure coordination of the various task groups.
1280. It is desirable that all battle plans be drawn up in a uniform manner and that each plan embody the following:
- Designating number.
- The specific signal for promulgating the plan.
- A statement of the object of the plan if the plan is one for use whenever appropriate for a situation, or a statement of the mission of the plan if a specific one is drawn up after a special estimate to meet a specific situation.
- The definite information or the assumptions upon which the plan is based; that is, the conditions or situation it is designed to meet.
- A statement of the general plan for the force as a whole, what is to be done and how it is to be done.
- The task organization.
- A statement of the specific task for each battle task group organized.
- The measures to insure coordination of the various task groups.
- The location of the officer in tactical command.
- The communication plan to be used. Time zone description.
1281. If the officer in tactical command believes that the action may pass through one or more stages requiring different plans for the different types of actions in these stages, he indicates to the force the battle plan that will be used initially and those that may be used subsequently if the action develops as expected. The indication of the plans that may be used for subsequent stages of the engagement is for information only and these plans become effective only when each is promulgated by its specific signal.
1282. The information or assumptions upon which a battle plan is based are stated in order that a clear understanding may be had of the tactical situation which the plan is designed to meet. The assumptions may not include every assumption that might be made. They are essential conditions which affect the character of the plan of battle for the situation assumed. Some of the assumptions may be alternates, and it is not always necessary that the situation agree exactly with that drawn by the assumptions in order that the plan may be appropriate. The more important assumptions naturally govern. A knowledge of the assumptions, moreover, will enable task group and other commanders to recognize more readily any change in the tactical situation, to estimate its effect on the general situation and on the battle plan being used, and to estimate its value to the officer in tactical command and the urgency of informing him of the altered situation.
1283. The tasks assigned to each battle task group further the general plan and support the battle line in its action with the enemy battle line. All battle plans require plans or particular orders supplementing the plans by each battle task group commander to carry out the task assigned him in each battle plan of the force.
1284. The measures for coordination include instructions regarding the initiation of attacks by the light forces, for the initiation of counter attacks or for similar operations, in order that task group commanders may know whether they have discretion in these matters or whether the officer in tactical command will initiate action.
Section IX. Types of Major Actions
1287. The battle plans of a force normally include plans for the following types of actions:
- Normal action, the battle lines moving initially approximately parallel to each other and on approximately the same course.
- Reverse action, the battle lines moving initially approximately parallel to each other and on approximately opposite courses.
- Pursuit action, including following action.
- Retirement action, our battle line moving so as to impose a following movement by the enemy battle line.
- Delay action, to await results of light force, air, or submarine attacks.
- Withdrawal action, in order to avoid decisive action or to break off action.
- Night action.
1288. In any protracted major engagement, the action might begin with any of the types (1) to (6) and might develop on the part of one or the other opponents into any one of these types of action either by design or chance.
1289. To illustrate the possible scope of battle plans required there follows a list embracing plans for all types of actions mentioned above. The battle plans of a large force composed of all types of vessels might include plans covering the same scope as that covered by the following list, while those of a force not comprising all types of vessels would naturally not be so comprehensive.
1290. Offensive battle plans:
Normal action at extreme ranges.
Normal action at long ranges.
Normal action at moderate ranges.
Normal action at close ranges.
Reverse action at extreme ranges.
Reverse action at long ranges.
Reverse action at moderate ranges.
Reverse action at close ranges.
Massed heavy cruiser attack across enemy's van.
Massed heavy cruiser attack across enemy's rear.
Pursuit, light forces on the defensive.
Pursuit, light forces attacking from both flanks.
Pursuit, light forces attacking from right flank.
Pursuit, light forces attacking from left flank.
Pursuit, aircraft attacking.
Retirement, light forces attacking from both flanks.
Retirement, light forces attacking from right flank.
Retirement, light forces attacking from left flank.
Retirement, light forces on the defensive.
Delay for submarine attack.
Delay for air attack.
Delay for light force attack.
Delay, using any combination of submarine, air, or light force attack.
Night action, normal, light forces attacking.
Night action, reverse, light forces attacking.
Night action, pursuit.
1291. Defensive battle plans:
Withdrawal, light forces on the defensive.
Withdrawal, light forces attacking from center.
Withdrawal, light forces attacking from both flanks.
Withdrawal, light forces attacking from right flank.
Withdrawal, light forces attacking from left flank.
Night action, withdrawal.
Defense of heavy ships and train against destroyer raids at night or low visibility.
Defense of heavy ships and train against cruiser raids at night or low visibility.
Defense of heavy ships and train against air attacks.
1292. To facilitate designation of ranges and to facilitate writing plans and orders the following arbitrary classification is prescribed:
|Extreme ranges||27,000 yards or greater.|
|Long ranges||27,000 to 21,000 yards.|
|Moderate ranges||21,000 to 17,000 yards.|
|Close ranges||17,000 yards or less.|
1293. The arbitrary classification refers to ranges of the battle line.
Section X. General Instructions for Battle Task Groups in Major Actions
The Battle Line
1296. The commander battle line keeps the officer in tactical command (if the latter's flagship is not in the battle line), and the battle task group commanders informed of the course being steered by the battle line, except when it is a course ordered for the force by the officer in tactical command.
1297. The visibility conditions prevailing or the effectiveness of radar, and the ability to use aircraft for spotting determines the ranges at which it is possible for the battle lines to engage. The total strength of our battle line when compared to the total strength of the enemy heavy units present determines whether the engagement at very long or extreme ranges is advantageous. The protection of our own and enemy vessels against side and deck hits further determines the ranges at which it is advantageous for our battle line to engage.
1298. Fire is opened, normally, at the maximum range at which an effective fire can be delivered under the conditions which exist at the time. The advantage of an initial superiority is so great that every effort is made to establish early hitting. It is to be remembered, however, that at extreme ranges the ammunition expended is excessive as compared with the damage inflicted. When conditions permit, the battle line closes or opens through ranges that are unfavorable as rapidly as possible. When compelled to engage at ranges that are unfavorable, an endeavor is made to present a target angle which is unfavorable for impacts against the side armor of our ships, having due regard for the loss of gunfire that results from insufficient train of turrets.
1299. The battle line keeps the enemy battle line under fire, at the ranges stipulated in the battle plan in effect until the enemy battle line is defeated or until the maneuvers of the enemy no longer permit the action to be continued at the desired ranges.
12100. However, when our battle line is threatened with dangerous salvos of approaching torpedoes or with heavy air attack the commander of the battle line, unless specifically directed by the officer in tactical command, decides whether to accept the menace of the torpedoes or air attack in order to keep the enemy battle line under gunfire or to initiate evasive maneuvers by the battle line as a whole. The situation existing at the time governs his decision. If it is estimated that the enemy can be defeated only by continuing the maximum amount of gunfire, the torpedo menace or air attack is accepted and the battle line is maneuvered as a whole, to minimize the danger from the attack. Any evasive maneuvers made by divisions or individual ships should entail the minimum loss of gunfire. If it is estimated that the probable damage and loss of ships in our battle line from the torpedo or air attack will be such as to subsequently prevent our battle line from defeating the enemy battle line, our battle line maneuvers as a whole to avoid the attacks. Under these circumstances the most radical maneuvers, if necessary, are justified at the expense of the loss of gunfire or even temporary cessation of gunfire.
12101. At extreme or long ranges the reversal of the course of the battle line by division column movements may be practicable. At shorter ranges, or when our battle line is under heavy enemy gunfire, this method is not as efficient as the simultaneous turn of individual ships or the ripple turn of individual ships begun at the rear. The division column movement blankets our
fire for too long a time. In extricating the battle line from a dangerous tactical position, bomb, torpedo or mine menace, turn movements may often be used to advantage without undue loss of gunfire.
12103. Under normal conditions, the usual tasks of a detached wing of battleships are:
- To engage the enemy detached wing in order to counter its operations.
- To support our battle line and light forces.
- To defend a designated group, such as our train if present during battle.
- To attack a designated objective.
12105. A detached wing of large or heavy cruisers likewise cannot be given precise instructions. Its movements depend much upon the movements of the enemy's cruisers or the majority of his cruiser strength.
12106. Under normal conditions, the usual tasks of a detached wing of large or heavy cruisers are:
- To engage the heavy cruisers of the enemy or the bulk of the cruiser strength of the enemy.
- To support our light forces.
- To attack a designated objective.
- To defend a designated group.
12107. If sufficient numbers of large or heavy cruisers are available, so that the volume of fire is adequate, they are under some circumstances employed against battle cruisers or battleships that are engaged at the same time with our battleships.
Right and Left Flank Groups
- To attack the enemy battle line.
- To defend our battle line against attacks by enemy light forces.
12110. The general plan of the battle plan, the task assignments for the flank groups, and the measures for coordination of effort indicate the character of the action to be fought by the light forces and their objectives.
12111. The right flank group normally operates in the area on the right battle flank of our battle line and the left flank group normally operates in the area on the left battle flank of our battle line. Both groups avoid the area between the battle lines unless the type of action requires them to operate in that area, as for example, in withdrawal, or unless in making or withdrawing from an attack it is impossible to avoid the area.
12112. Their positions and courses are determined by the task assigned them in the battle plan, and whether or not they can attain or maintain the desired positions to accomplish their tasks is dependent upon the amount of enemy opposition encountered. At all times due consideration is given to the deployment course of our battle line, in order to support the battle line and, furthermore, in order not to interfere with it. Mere station keeping is not sufficient to accomplish the tasks assigned in the battle plan.
12113. The employment of the light forces in battle is governed by definite reasons and supports the general plan of battle. The light forces do not necessarily attack immediately following the opening of gunfire between the battle lines. It may be inadvisable to strip our battle line of its light force defense for the purpose of a doubtful light force attack with consequent losses, particularly in the gunnery action between the battle lines is progressing favorably for our battle line. Under such circumstances, the enemy can overcome the gunnery disadvantage by forcing our battle line to maneuver to avoid torpedo attacks, with consequent loss of effective gunfire, and the employment of our light forces on the defensive to permit the battle line to continue to hold its gunnery advantage is probably advisable. On the other hand, if our battle line is engaging under a disadvantage, it may be possible to employ the light forces offensively in order to break the advantage held by the enemy.
12114. When coordinated attacks against the enemy's battle line are made by the light forces on both battle flanks, the measure for its coordination is usually taken by the commander of our light forces on the battle flank which is opposite the van of the enemy's battle line. The battle plan indicates whether the officer in tactical command or the light force commander initiates the attacks. When aircraft and light forces are attacking the same objective the aircraft endeavor to coordinate the timing of their attack with that of the light forces to the extent practicable.
12115. Scouting or other light forces absent when the engagement begins and joining later join our groups nearest them or they may take their regular assigned stations if no undue delay results. In no case should their movements to join other groups or to take their stations interfere with groups already engaging the enemy. They also avoid superior enemy forces while proceeding to a battle station. The officer in tactical command may direct vessels joining up to take a particular station or to join a particular group or organization.
12116. The light forces inform our battle line or detached wing when enemy light forces menacing them fire torpedoes or when salvos of torpedoes are seen to be running toward our ships. In reduced visibility it is probable that the light forces in the van may observe the firing of torpedoes by enemy vessels when our battle line or detached wing cannot observe the firing or the light forces in the van may sight torpedoes running before they can be seen by our battle line or detached wing.
Cruisers of the Flank Groups
- To support the attacks of our destroyers against the enemy battle line and detached wing.
- To defend our battle line and detached wing, if employed, against the attacks of enemy light forces.
12118. Either of these tasks may be the paramount one depending upon the task of the flank groups in the battle plan in effect. The primary task is usually to support the destroyers in their attacks, but when the gun action between the battle lines is progressing favorably for our battle line, the defense of our battle line against attacks by enemy light forces becomes increasingly important, as the enemy must initiate some form of attack by his light forces to break our advantage.
12119. The cruisers always watch the enemy's cruisers prepared to meet any action they take giving due consideration to the possibility of enemy cruisers launching a torpedo attack. Detached light cruiser action is not sought unless it supports the battle plan. Under ordinary conditions independent action is taken only upon signal from the officer in tactical command, unless a situation arises which demands that the cruisers act quickly and independently in furtherance of the general plan of battle. In such situations the officer in tactical command is kept adequately informed.
12120. Cruisers are not restricted to remaining within supporting distance of the battle line. They, however, remain where they can give support to the battle line of required. Cruisers are
careful not to draw heavy gunfire upon themselves at times when the enemy battle line can afford to use its main battery on them.
Destroyers of the Flank Groups
- To attack the enemy battle line and detached wing with torpedoes.
- To defend our battle line, and detached wing if employed, against attacks by enemy destroyers.
12122. The purpose of the destroyer torpedo attack in battle may be offensive or defensive. In offensive torpedo attacks the purpose may be to sink enemy capital ships in order to reduce the enemy's strength, or the purpose may be to reduce the speed of the enemy capital ships in order that our battle line may engage at ranges which are favorable to it, or in order that our battle line may bring about an engagement with a faster enemy battle line that is avoiding action. In defensive torpedo attacks the purpose is usually to cause the enemy battle line to maneuver so that our battle line may disengage itself from an unfavorable tactical situation, as when being pursued by a superior force.
12123. The battle plan in effect may prescribe that the officer in tactical command will initiate destroyer torpedo attacks or the plan in effect may permit the commander of a flank group to initiate a destroyer torpedo attack if a favorable opportunity is presented. An offensive torpedo attack by destroyers in day battle is justified only when results in damage by torpedo hits or damage to the enemy's capital ships in some other manner will compensate for expenditure of torpedoes.
12124. Normally, destroyer torpedo attacks are not made until after the battle lines are engaged in order that our destroyers may have the support of gunfire of the battle line and also in order that the battle line may reap any advantage which may accrue due to the loss of gunfire by the enemy battle line by its maneuvers to avoid our destroyers' torpedoes. The battle plan in effect, however, may call for destroyer torpedo attacks to be made without the full support of our battle line as in pursuit or delay type actions.
12126. Upon the initiation of an attack on the enemy battle line by our destroyers on one battle flank, the destroyers on the other flank, if not actually attacking with torpedoes in a coordinated attack, take position to threaten the enemy battle line if it turns toward them in order to make it accept the menace of a torpedo threat on each of its flanks, and to make more difficult its problem of avoiding torpedoes by maneuver.
12127. A favorable opportunity for an effective torpedo attack on the enemy battle line is seized. Opportunities of this character may be presented during low visibility. Unexpected maneuvers on the part of the enemy battle line may present an apparently favorable opportunity for a torpedo attack. Care is exercised to distinguish between those opportunities which appear momentarily favorable merely because of being on a suitable bearing for firing torpedoes. The latter opportunities cannot be profitably exploited if the target is free to maneuver.
12128. Attacking destroyers meeting resistance from enemy light forces while proceeding to positions for firing torpedoes use gunfire to the utmost to defend themselves. Such engagements with the enemy light forces are incidental to reaching torpedo firing positions. Our destroyers do not seek engagement with the enemy light forces until after the torpedoes have been fired.
12129. Destroyers that have fired all their torpedoes may be directed to attack the enemy's destroyers, to defend our battle line, or they may be directed to relieve destroyers with torpedoes that may be acting in screens or as plane guards.
12131. The general tasks of minelayers in battle are:
- To lay mines tactically as ordered by the officer in tactical command or as prescribed by the battle plan in effect.
- To mine a particular area as ordered by the officer in tactical command.
12132. Tactical mining primarily to damage or sink enemy vessels, in order to be successful, is conducted without the enemy becoming aware of the fact. This practically precludes such mining operations by surface vessels in day actions except behind smoke or by chance.
12133. Mines are not laid in the battle area except as ordered by the officer in tactical command or as prescribed by his battle plan in effect. When mines are laid in the battle area, it is essential that they be laid exactly as ordered or as prescribed in the battle plan in effect.
12134. The officer in tactical command is informed promptly of the beginning and completion of the mining operation in order that he may know how long the field laid is effective and still remains a menace. He is also informed of the nature and location of the field as actually laid. The officer in tactical command will inform task group commanders of areas in which mines have been laid and the duration of their effectiveness, if such information is necessary to insure the safety of our groups.
12136. Possible tactical uses of floating mines in battle are:
- To force maneuver upon the enemy in avoiding mine fields.
- To damage or sink enemy vessels.
12137. In order that a ne field may force an enemy battle line to change course radically or to reverse course, the mine field is laid ahead of the enemy battle line and is of considerable area. In normal or reverse action this requires that the minelayers operate far ahead of the enemy battle line and unless the minelayers are supported by other groups superior to the enemy groups on the enemy's van flank, the operation has little chance of success. Only minelayers with approximately the same speed as cruisers and destroyers are so employed.
12138. Minelayers may use smoke to cover their operations or may have aircraft lay smoke to assist their operations, provided the smoke does not interfere with the accomplishment of the tasks of other groups.
12140. If withdrawal is contemplated, minelayers may be stationed on the disengaged side of our battle line or close in on the flanks of our battle line in positions of readiness to lay mines when the withdrawal is made.
Air (Carrier) Group
12142. The tasks of the cruisers and destroyers of the air (carrier) groups are to support and guard the carriers during all their operations unless ordered by the officer in tactical command to do otherwise. The support rendered carriers defends them against air, surface or submarine attack.
Aircraft, Carrier and Land Based
The Fighting Squadrons:
- Destroy enemy aircraft in the battle area.
- Defend our ships and aircraft against attacks by enemy aircraft.
- Prevent tactical scouting and spotting by enemy aircraft.
- Support attacks of our own bombing and torpedo squadrons.
The Bombing and Torpedo Squadrons:
- Scout tactically.
- Attack the enemy battle line, detached wing and carriers.
- Attack enemy light forces.
- Lay smoke screens as directed.
- Spot for battleships as relief for observation squadrons.
The Cruiser Scouting Squadrons:
- Scout tactically.
- Attack enemy light forces.
- Patrol against submarines, torpedoes and mines.
- Spot for cruisers.
- Spot for battleships as relief for observations squadrons.
The Observation Squadrons:
- Spot for battleships.
- Scout tactically.
- Patrol against submarines, torpedoes and mines.
The Patrol Squadrons:
- Attack enemy battle line with bombs and torpedoes.
- Lay smoke screens as directed.
- Attack enemy detached wing or carriers.
Normally all planes are equipped with cameras which may be used in conjunction with accomplishing the above tasks for the purpose of recording photographically desired matter. The officer in tactical command and commanders use this material as applicable.
12144. Enemy aircraft carriers are objectives of the highest importance in attaining air supremacy. In conjunction therewith the attacks of enemy aircraft must be broken up before they reach our vessels and enemy aircraft must be followed back to their carriers, attacking them vigorously.
12145. After superiority in the air has been obtained and is securely held, our own activity, normally is directed against the enemy battle line. The objective of bombing attacks is designated by the battle plan in effect or by fleet doctrine. The objective may also be designated by the officer in tactical command or may be requested by the commander battle line. The selection of the objective may be influenced by the fire distribution of our battle line or other circumstances.
12146. When aircraft and light surface forces are attacking the same objective, as a destroyer and torpedo plan attack on the enemy battle line, the aircraft endeavor to coordinate the timing of their attack with that of the light forces to the extent practicable. They do not, however, delay their attack if to do so would jeopardize its success by losing a favorable opportunity by exposing our aircraft to dangerous attack by enemy aircraft while waiting for our light forces to attack.
12147. In engagements between battle lines at extreme and long range, the defense of our observation squadrons and the attack of enemy spotting planes is of much greater importance than in engagements at shorter ranges when ships are not so dependent upon observations from aircraft for spotting.
12149. Every opportunity to attack enemy battleships, battle cruisers, and aircraft carriers is seized. When there is no probability of attack on these types, cruisers or other important enemy types become suitable objectives.
12150. When maneuvering to attack enemy battleships, battle cruisers, and aircraft carriers, torpedoes are not fired at other types in order not to reveal the presence of our submarines to the objective of their attack. Torpedoes are not wasted on small vessels.
12151. Submarines adapt their movements to further the battle plan as best they can. In general, if not initially favorably located for attack, they seek positions ahead of the enemy battle line or positions in areas into which it is expected the enemy battle line will move.
12152. Submarines unable to get ahead of the enemy battle line follow the enemy battle line, prepared to meet the enemy battle line upon a possible reversal of course or a favorable change of course, or to deliver the coup de grace to enemy heavy vessels whose injuries have caused them to fall behind.
12153. When all torpedoes have been exhausted, submarines unless otherwise directed, withdraw from the battle area and proceed to the base or tenders. While a submarine without torpedoes may sometimes create a threat by making her presence known, yet the resulting effect may not be advantageous and the submarine is also exposed to needless risk of destruction.
12154. Any submarines which lose contact during the battle and which still have torpedoes left unless otherwise directed, take up positions on the enemy's probable line of retreat or on the course to his base.
12156. Any fast surface vessels, which may be assigned to submarine units, do not remain in the immediate vicinity of our submarines. They take positions where they can observe the movements of the enemy battle line and transmit information or appropriate instructions for the guidance of the submarines.
Section XI. Fire Distribution
12159. The purpose of fire distribution is to provide a means whereby the enemy, when within effective range, may be kept under the most effective gunfire at all times.
- Avoid misunderstanding as to the target (or targets) assigned to each ship.
- Permit all enemy ships, that are within effective ranges, to be kept under effective fire at all times.
- Permit natural or artificial concentrations to be effected when such concentrations are desirable or necessary.
12161. The kinds of fire used to accomplish the purpose of fire distribution are:
- Divided fire. Dividing the fire of a ship's battery against two targets.
- Single fire (ship for ship). Directing the fire of the entire battery of a ship against a single target.
- Concentrated fire. Directing the fire of the batteries of two or more ships against a single target.
12162. The battery referred to in (1), (2), and (3) above is any one of the following:
- Ship's main battery.
- Secondary battery on one side.
- Antiaircraft battery on one side.
12163. Fire distribution normally is ordered by the task group commander, but the responsibility for seeing that their vessels are firing at the correct targets rests with the division commanders and the commanding officers. Such officers, having regard for prescribed doctrine or instructions, use initiative in selecting targets:
- In the absence of fire distribution orders from a senior at the time that action is joined.
- When, due to low visibility, confusion of battle, or other conditions, the control of fire distribution by a senior is impracticable.
12164. One of these situations will exist with regard to numbers and consideration is given to the appropriate action under these circumstances as follows:
- When our ships within effective range are greater in number than the enemy, opportunity is afforded to use natural concentrations against selected enemy ships, other enemy ships being covered by single fire.
- When our ships within effective range are the same in number as the enemy, the enemy may be covered by single fire of all our ships or by artificial concentration on selected enemy ships. Use of artificial concentration in these circumstances entails divided fire against some enemy ships or leaving some enemy ships not under fire.
- When our ships within effective range are less in number than the enemy, divided fire is imposed upon some, possibly all, of our ships, unless some of the enemy ships are left not under fire.
12165. In determining the fire distribution to be used, the commander ordering it is governed by his judgment of the distribution best suited to the battle plan under the existing situation. In forming this decision the following are considered:
- Initial distributions that require cross firing involve some risk of misunderstanding. Cross firing arising from a change in relative positions of targets, after fire is opened, is not necessarily disadvantageous.
- Unnecessary changes of fire distribution and frequent shifting of targets are avoided.
- In divided fire, the fire power of one-half the battery is usually less than one-half the fire power of the whole battery in single fire.
- The fire power of an enemy not being fired upon is decidedly greater than that of one being fired upon by single or divided fire.
- In concentration fire, the combined fire power of the concentrating ships is usually less than the sum of their fire powers when firing singly. The loss of fire power through concentration increases rapidly with the number concentrating on one target. With two ships concentrating on one the loss may be slight; with three the loss may be greater but still permissible under certain circumstances. The concentration of more than three ships on one usually involves so great a reduction of fire power as to render its use prohibitive.
12166. In selecting targets for concentration fire, the following are considered:
- Enemy ships which combine hitting power with defensive weakness to the greatest degree.
- Enemy ships at ranges which are favorable for a higher percentage of hits or a higher percentage of penetrative hits on either vertical or horizontal armor.
- Parts of the enemy formation which offer favorable opportunities for enfilade or where the results of damage may cause more than usual confusion. Enemy flagships, ships in the center or van of enemy's formation and overlapping units of the enemy formation may be considered in this class.
12167. Division commanders and commanding officers prepare to open fire without signal for opening fire or for fire distribution. In this case they select and bring under fire, the targets which logically are theirs counted by the colored splashes of the flagship of the officer in tactical command of the firing unit, task force commander, or division commander as the case may be.
Section XII. Torpedo Instructions
12171. A situation, such as an enemy superiority in cruisers or other special types, may increase the relative importance of such special types and cause them to become appropriate torpedo targets. When in the opinion of the officer in tactical command or other competent authority, such a situation exists, he issues appropriate instructions designating the types he considers to be suitable torpedo targets.
12172. In battle, the enemy's battle line is the enemy force upon which the united offensive effort of our force is concentrated. With this end in view, torpedoes are legitimately expended:
- To sink, disable, or reduce the speed of vessels of the battle line, aircraft carriers or vessels of a detached wing.
- To coerce the enemy battle line to maneuver into our submarine attack groups or mine fields or to execute radical maneuvers which will result in a tactical or gunnery advantage to us.
- To sink or disable enemy cruisers which are blocking or delaying a crucial destroyer attack on the enemy battle line when a few torpedoes fired at short range will produce the desired results.
- To cover the retirement of our battle line.
- To break up a crucial day destroyer attack when a few torpedoes fired at short range will produce the desired results.
12173. The following general instructions are normally followed in firing torpedoes.
- Torpedoes are normally fired in salvos as this method offers the best chance of damaging the enemy.
- In order to insure decisive results in attacking enemy major ships, the maximum number of torpedoes available are normally fired.
- Precautions are taken that friendly ships are not endangered.
- A sinking cruiser or destroyer fires her torpedoes at the best available enemy target which can be fired at without endangering our own vessels.
- Spread gyro angles and depth settings are in accordance with the instructions in appropriate publications.
Section XIII. Smoke Screens in Battle
12175. Smoke screens laid by surface vessels have the following advantages:
- Smoking can be continued for an indefinite time, much longer than is possible with aircraft.
- Vessels requiring smoke for their own protection can begin smoking when necessary without the delay sometimes resulting due to communications or lack of perfect coordination with smoke-laying planes.
12176. Smoke screens laid by surface vessels have the following disadvantages:
- The laying of a smoke screen by surface vessels takes a longer time than aircraft require.
- Due to the vulnerability of light vessels, they cannot lay smoke screens close to the enemy.
- Vessels laying a smoke screen are not always protected by their smoke screen and hence surface craft cannot always be counted upon to lay a smoke screen when within effective range of the enemy.
12177. Smoke screens laid by aircraft have the following advantages:
- Aircraft smoke screens are laid in less time than that required by surface vessels.
- Aircraft, due to their high speed and small target size have a greater chance of successfully completing smoke-laying operations.
- Aircraft smoke screens can usually be laid much closer to enemy vessels than can smoke screens laid by surface vessels.
12178. Smoke screens laid by aircraft have the following disadvantages:
- Since the amount of fuel in a plane is limited, aircraft will not be available immediately to lay smoke when required unless a flight of smoke-laying planes is maintained in the air. They cannot be maintained available indefinitely without reliefs.
- Since the amount of chemical carried by each smoke-laying plane is limited by considerations of weight, aircraft cannot lay smoke indefinitely.
12179. The advantages of smoke screens laid by aircraft make them particularly valuable for tactical use wherever smoke screens are advantageous or practicable. During an engagement, the officer in tactical command, if practicable, has some smoke-laying planes available in the air, so that they may place an effective screen in any desired position on short notice.
12181. Some of the possible uses of smoke screens in battle are enumerated below:
To aid the battle line.
- By protecting it while passing through unfavorable gun ranges.
- By concealing it during a reversal of course.
- By interposing between our battle line and the enemy when it is practicable to use indirect fire.
- To conceal or protect light surface craft when making a torpedo attack, particularly an unsupported attack.
- To screen torpedo planes when launching their torpedoes.
- To isolate a portion of the enemy, a detached wing for example.
- To cover the movements of a force in breaking off an engagement to cover its retirement after an attack or its withdrawal from action.
- To assist any surface craft when attacked by enemy surface or aircraft.
12182. The accurate placing of a smoke screen with reference to enemy vessels free to maneuver is a matter of extreme difficulty. If the wind is strong, accurate estimate of the wind is essential if the screen is to be placed accurately. If the screen is laid more than 10 or 15 minutes in advance of the time when the maximum use will be made of it, unexpected maneuvers by the enemy may cause the screen to become ineffective or only partially effective.
12183. The grave danger of smoke laid for a given purpose drifting down on parts of our own force or remaining in an area which parts of our force may subsequently desire to enter renders it imperative that smoke screens be used and laid with sound judgment.
12184. In a major engagement the orders to use smoke are normally given only by the officer in tactical command. These orders may be contained in the battle plan placed in effect or they may be specifically given by signal. When the use of smoke is prescribed or permitted in the battle plan, the commander of the group which is to lay smoke uses his initiative as to when to lay the smoke, being guided by the general plan of battle, the specific purpose of the smoke screen and the necessity of avoiding interference with our own groups.
12185. A smoke screen to cover our battle line or to interpose between our own and the enemy's battle line or a portion of it may be ordered by the commander of the battle line, provided it promotes the success of the battle plan and does not interfere with other groups in carrying out their assigned tasks in the battle plan.
12186. Smoke as cover for attacking destroyers under some circumstances and for torpedo planes is of great value, provided there is no danger of interference with the gunfire of our battle line or with other groups in carrying out their task.
Section XIV. Own Vessels Disabled in Action
12188. Any vessel of a formation unable to maneuver with her formation avoids hampering the movements of vessels which can maintain their stations in the formation. Such vessel hauls clear of the formation. She continues to engage the enemy as long as it is possible to inflict
damage on the enemy or to divert enemy fire which otherwise is directed at more effective units. If the disablement is temporary the vessel endeavors to follow in the rear of her formation. If unable to rejoin her formation she joins a following unit of an appropriate type or takes such part in the action as circumstances permit.
12189. A disabled vessel make the "breakdown signal" upon leaving her formation and keeps the "breakdown flag" or "lights" displayed until danger to or from vessels of her own formation is past. If required to safety, upon the approach of other vessels of our force she indicates by appropriate signals that she is broken down. The "breakdown signal" is not displayed any longer than necessary. Notification of difficulty is made to the officer in tactical command and warning is given to vessels astern.
12190. If forced to haul out of formation, the disabled vessel, if possible, hauls out on the side which causes the minimum of interference to other vessels of the formation. Disabled vessels which are smoking heavily haul out on the disengaged side if possible to do so. Any disabled vessel compelled to haul out on the engaged side, endeavors to gain distance from the formation in order to shorten the time when she may blanket the fire of other vessels and also in order that other vessels may fire over her.
12191. Destroyers or fast vessels whose speed has been reduced so that they are unable to keep up with effective units of their type, but whose remaining speed is adequate to screen larger and slower vessels, relieve effective units engaged in such screening duties.
12192. Disabled vessels when no longer able to take part in the action, either in an offensive or defensive role, proceed to port or to the rendezvous. The principle of exploiting all opportunities to engage enemy cripples, prosecuting damage control measures with utmost diligence and tenacity and not giving up the ship are followed. Depending upon the situation, their type and their condition, disabled vessels may be employed to render assistance or to tow other damaged vessels or to rescue survivors. A vessel disabled and unable to escape is never allowed to fall into the hands of the enemy. Action is taken to insure sinking her even if she is boarded by the enemy.
Section XV. Flagship Disabled in Action
Section XVI. Enemy Vessels Disabled in Action
Section XVII. Aircraft Disabled in Action
- Of a carrier plane returns to parent carrier or nearest carrier he can reach and lands if possible.
- Lands in water 1000 yards ahead or on lee bow of vessel designated by the officer in tactical command as rescue ship.
- Lands in friendly territory if location of action makes such landing feasible.
- Sinks plane if it is in danger of falling into enemy hands.
- Destroys all confidential or secret publications if there is danger of their falling into enemy hands.
12197. Communications are established and maintained between planes and base (ship) while planes are air borne. If plane is disabled a report is made, prior to landing, to base and rescue ship as to intentions and location of where plane is to be let down into the water. Any plane observing another plane making a force landing or observing personnel landing in the water by parachute and if no report has been made makes the required informatory report. If the situation permits, the observing plane circles the spot and marks the spot until the rescue vessel definitely has plane or personnel in sight.
Section XVIII. Assistance to Disabled Vessels During Action
12201. If a battleship is disabled and unable to maneuver with the battle line a vessel from the battle line screen group astern proceeds at once, without waiting for orders to defend the disabled battleship against submarine and air attack and remains with her unless otherwise directed.
12202. If a large, heavy, or light cruiser, except those of carrier groups, is disabled, the commander of the task group to which the cruiser belongs directs a vessel of his command to defend the disabled cruiser against submarines and enemy aircraft, if the number of suitable vessels available and the state of the action permit. The commander of the destroyers attached to the same task group as the disabled cruiser may do this on his own initiative if the existing situation permits.
12203. If an aircraft carrier or cruiser of an air (carrier) group is disabled, the commander of the air (carrier) group initiates appropriate action under the circumstances by other vessels of the air (carrier) group. If a carrier is disabled he directs the other vessels of the air (carrier) group not essential to her protection, to report to other task groups. If her deck is damaged so that she cannot receive aircraft, the commander of the air (carrier) group immediately informs the officer in tactical command in order that the latter may arrange for other carriers to receive the damaged carrier's aircraft.
12204. If a heavy vessel of the train is disabled and unable to maneuver with the train, the nearest vessel of the train screen proceeds at once, without waiting for orders, to defend the disabled vessel against submarine and air attack and remains with her unless otherwise directed.
12205. No effective combatant ships other than those specified in the above paragraphs are to attempt to assist disabled ships until the engagement is over or until the officer in tactical command authorizes assistance to be given to disabled ships.
12206. The above general procedure is carried out when applicable unless the officer in tactical command determines otherwise. He may state in his damaged ship procedure contained in his battle plan any specific changes to tasks he desires to be carried out in the event units of his force are disabled. This is particularly true regarding the number of vessels that can be spared to screen, the employment of aircraft for antisubmarine and combat air patrols and, depending upon types of vessels in his force, what types will be employed for towing purposes.
12208. Subject to instructions from the officer in tactical command, the commander of the train, if present, directs suitable vessels (tugs, minesweepers, salvage vessels, etc.) to assist important disabled vessels upon their request or upon his own initiative when the situation is known and permits.
Section XIX. Rescue of Survivors During Action
12210. No vessel attempts to rescue the personnel of our aircraft which have been driven down or force to land on the water unless rescue can be accomplished without jeopardizing the safety of the rescuing vessel or the execution of the task in which she is engaged unless the officer in tactical command has designated a vessel to perform that specific task in which case consideration is given to development of the action. In such case unnecessary risks are avoided.
12211. As long as effective enemy vessels remain in the vicinity and can be engaged, no effort is made to take off the personnel of sinking enemy vessels or to rescue the survivors of enemy vessels that have sunk.
Section XX. Night Attacks Before Main Engagement
12213. In case the position of the enemy is known with sufficient accuracy, a night attack may be made without preliminary search operations. Such attacks may be made before a general engagement or as a separate operation which is not directly connected with the major action. If the enemy battle line is protected by heavy cruisers, it may be necessary or desirable to reduce the enemy strength in heavy cruisers by repeated raids and night destroyer attacks preliminary to the main action.
12214. The composition of opposing forces and the general situation may be such that a major action will not take place until after one or more destroyer and cruiser actions and air engagements which have as their objectives the reduction of enemy forces before the main engagement. The commander having superiority in forces or who may by night attacks gain such superiority or a tactical advantage normally presses that advantage to conclusion.
12215. Normally, the light forces of a force are not dissipated in night attacks preceding the general engagement. However, destroyers with the force which find themselves in favorable positions to attack enemy major units before the general engagement may be directed to attack such units by the officer in tactical command.
Section XXI. Normal Action
12217. A flank attack by our slow battleships against the van of the battle line of possible opponents is not a probable development of normal action due to their inferior speed and the lack of battle cruisers. Such a type of attack might be possible for our slow battleships if the speed of the enemy battleships is markedly reduced by the attacks of light forces, submarines, and aircraft, and by gun damage. A situation might arise by chance, due to poor visibility or by errors on the part of the enemy, so that our slow battleships can make a flank attack against the van of the enemy's battle line. If such a situation arises in any manner, the opportunity for advantageous concentration of fire on a part of the enemy's battle line is seized.
12218. A massed flank attack by large or heavy cruisers, supported by light cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft, across the van of the enemy battle line while it is decisively engaged with our battle line, may force the enemy battle line to turn with a resulting advantage to our battle line. Plans for such type of flank attack are prepared if the number of large of heavy cruisers permits this employment of them.
12119. Assuming that our fast and slow battleships will normally not operate in the same battle line, the considerations enumerated above do not apply when our battle line is composed only of our fast battleships. A commander having such a battle line chooses the type of action he desires to fight and forces it upon the enemy without speed considerations.
12220. A commander having in his force battleships of both fast and slow characteristics normally does not sacrifice the speed of faster ships by confining both types to operate together in one battle line but may use one or the other types as a detached wing.
12223. If the enemy is employing a detached wing of fast battleships or battle cruisers in his van, it is desirable for us to employ a detached wing of fast battleships to counter the operations of the enemy's detached wing by denying its positions from which it can concentrate advantageously on the van of our battle line. A detached wing can also prevent an enemy detached wing from driving our van light forces back upon our battle line from the positions they normally seek to attain before launching their attacks. If unopposed, an enemy detached wing could do this easily.
12224. If we do not employ a detached wing of fast battleships as a counter to an enemy detached wing of battleships or battle cruisers, an alternate counter measure is to concentrate our air attack on the detached wing and possibly to isolate it by smoke screens laid by aircraft.
12226. It is usually desirable to have approximately two-thirds of the light forces on the van battle flank and approximately one-third on the rear battle flank. Special conditions or the actual distribution of the enemy's forces may make a different allocation of our light forces necessary or more advantageous.
12227. In action at extreme ranges, the support which the gunfire of the battle line can give to light force attacks will probably be much less effective than at moderate or close ranges and it may be impossible to follow or observe the progress of our light force attacks. Hence, in normal actions at extreme ranges it is probably best to withhold the attacks of our light forces. A light force attack launched when the battle lines were at extreme ranges may result in a loss of vessels and an expenditure of torpedoes without any commensurate toll taken from the enemy.
12228. The conditions at long ranges are similar, but the opportunity to follow the progress of an attack is better. If long ranges are unfavorable for our battle line and if it is unable to break such an unfavorable situation by maneuver, attacks by light forces to force the enemy battle line to maneuver and thus break the unfavorable situation for our battle line is justified.
12229. At moderate and short ranges a battle line can afford support to light force attacks, not only by keeping the enemy battle line under fire of turret guns, but broadside guns may be employed, or may be employed against enemy light forces opposing our attacks. At moderate and short ranges, a light force attack can be followed and observed, and therefore better cooperation can be given.
12230. The officer in tactical command reserves to himself the initiation of light force attacks or he delegates the discretion to the commander of the light forces on the van battle flank with whom the initiative otherwise naturally rests. The latter give such instructions as are required to the light forces on the rear flank, if a coordinated attack from both flanks is contemplated.
Air (Carrier) Groups
12232. During extreme and long range actions, the defense of our observation squadrons and the attack on enemy spotting planes is of greater importance than in engagements at moderate and close ranges. For similar reasons the enemy may not use any fighting planes at the shorter ranges to defend his spotting planes and to attack our observation squadrons, and hence may employ all of his fighting planes in attacks against our surface vessels and aircraft.
12233. In engagements at moderate and close ranges, the menace from enemy light force attacks may be greater, and therefore, enemy forces opposite our van become one of the suitable objectives for our air (carrier) groups.
12235. Some submarines may find themselves in favorable positions initially from which they can attack and every effort is made by them to take advantage of what may be their only opportunity to attack the enemy battle line and detached wing.
12236. Other submarines may find themselves in the general area ahead or on the bows of the enemy battle line after its deployment and these endeavor to reach positions from which an attack may be possible later if the enemy continues in the same general direction.
12237. Those submarines that are well astern of the enemy battle line upon its deployment will have no chance to attack if the enemy continues in the same general direction. They, unless otherwise directed, follow the enemy battle line so that they may be in position to attack the enemy when the latter reverses course or to attack any enemy ships that fall behind.
Section XXII. Reverse Action
12240. On the other hand, an action begun as a reverse action might not continue very long as a reverse action for several reasons. If both forces happen to deploy at approximately the same time on opposite courses, one or the other may not desire to fight a reverse action and may reverse the direction of deployment to fight a normal action. The deployment of one force may have been made on inaccurate or incomplete information so that when the situation is more accurately known, the force may reverse course in order to continue the action under more favorable conditions. If one force deploys early, the distribution of the light forces by the force deploying afterwards may make it necessary for the force which deployed first to reverse course in order to avoid an unfavorable situation.
12241. An action begun as a normal action may develop into a reverse action by the maneuvers of one battle line to avoid an attack or the threat of a torpedo attack against its van by the light forces of the other force. Such reversal of course to avoid torpedoes may be only temporary to permit the torpedoes to pass ahead, after which the original course and normal action is resumed.
12242. The reverse type of action may be sought initially by the force with the slower battle line, or an action begun as a normal action may develop into a reverse action by the maneuvers of the slower battle line to avoid an enveloping attack on its van flank by the faster battle line or by a fast detached wing.
12243. If our force can induce the enemy force to deploy with the greater part of its light forces or fast detached wing in its van in one direction, or if our force when relatively weaker in light forces, can delay deployment until the enemy force has deployed with the greater part of its light forces or fast detached wing in its van in one direction, a deployment by our force in the opposite direction is advantageous under these circumstances. This is because it places the enemy's light forces opposite our rear in a position from which they cannot make a successful attack, and a reversal of course by the enemy force will not improve the situation for the enemy unless a redistribution of light forces is made.
12244. Reverse action, consequently, is less likely to continue for as long a time as normal action and it is not likely to continue for an entire battle. The tactical situation may change very quickly on account of maneuvering by the enemy or by changes in his dispositions. Hence, in this type of action unexpected situations are likely to occur and our force must be alert to avoid being caught at a disadvantage and also alert to exploit favorable opportunities presented.
12247. If the enemy is employing a detached wing of fast battleships or battle cruisers, our detached wing of battleships is stationed either in our van or rear, depending upon the position of the enemy's detached wing. A detached wing in our van is used to defend our van, if the enemy is employing a detached wing in support of his light forces in their attacks on our van. A detached wing in the rear is used in support of our light forces attacking the enemy's van, or employed to counter the operations of an enemy detached wing operating against our rear.
12249. If sufficient light forces are available it is usually desirable to have approximately one-half of the light forces on each battle flank in order that our light forces on one flank or the other may not be decidedly inferior if our battle line or the enemy battle line reverses course subsequently. If our force is superior to the enemy force in light forces, this is the normal distribution for reverse action. Special conditions or an unusual distribution of the enemy's light forces may make a different allocation of our light forces more desirable.
12251. The officer in tactical command may reserve to himself the initiation of light force attacks or he may delegate the discretion to the commander of the light forces on our rear battle flank (i.e., our light forces opposite the van battle flank of the enemy) with whom the initiative otherwise naturally rests. The latter gives such instructions as are required to the light forces on the van flank, if a coordinated attack from both flanks is contemplated.
Other Task Groups
Section XXIII. Day Pursuit Action
12254. During an action an enemy battle line, particularly if it is faster and weaker than our battle line, may employ retiring tactics to draw our battle line over enemy submarines or to drive in destroyer attacks against our battle line while at the same time placing our light forces in positions from which an attack on the enemy battle line is impossible or most difficult. Such retiring tactics on the part of the enemy battle line will impose a following movement by our battle line. While an action of this type is not a pursuit in the sense of pursuing a withdrawing enemy, yet the measures to counter such tactics are similar to those of pursuit action, and hence an action of this type is included here under pursuit.
12255. Pursuit action may also develop after an action if the enemy breaks off engagement and withdraws in an orderly manner. The speed of the enemy battleships may or may not be greater than that of our battle line, depending upon the amount of damage the battleships of both sides have received in the engagement.
12258. Our battle line and heavy ships following a retiring or withdrawing enemy force will be in a disadvantageous position as regards torpedoes fired from enemy vessels and also as regards floating mines. Effort is made to avoid following directly in the wake of vessels which may carry mines. If our force is superior and the situation demands, the torpedo and mine menace is disregarded in order to bring the enemy force to decisive action.
12260. A retiring enemy force may also employ submarines to advantage and the retirement may be a deliberate plan to draw our pursuing force over enemy submarines. Hence, measures for the detection of enemy submarines during pursuit have an added importance.
12261. A battle disposition will usually be suitable for a day pursuit action, but situations may arise in which a contact disposition may be better.
12263. When the enemy is delaying or avoiding action, our battle line endeavors to bring the enemy battle line under fire at the earliest moment. The formation of the battle line is one which permits the maximum number of guns to fire when the enemy comes within range, and which also permits the pursuit to be continued. The line of bearing of the formation permits of a quick deployment, when necessary, toward either flank.
12264. When the enemy is withdrawing after an engagement, our battle line continues to keep the enemy battle line under fire at the most advantageous ranges and the formation of our battle line permits this and also permits the pursuit to be pressed.
12265. The screen of the battle line patrols the area through which the battle line will pass and normally is well ahead of the battleships.
wing to threaten a flank of our battle line or perhaps to threaten our train in an effort to delay our pursuit a detached wing of adequate strength is normally employed as a counter to such enemy measures.
12268. If our battle line is pursuing or following a faster enemy battle line, our light forces and air forces are the only units which have sufficient speed to overtake and attack the enemy battle line. Their attacks to be successful result in damage to the enemy battleships which will reduce the speed of the enemy battle line or will cause the enemy battle line to maneuver radically to avoid their attacks, so that the loss of speed or the loss of distance, or both is sufficient to enable our pursuing battle line to get within effective gun range of the enemy battle line. If the battle lines are not within effective range of each other, any attacks made by our light forces are without support from our battle line.
12269. If our battle line is pursuing a faster enemy battle line which is avoiding action, it probably is best to employ our air force to attack the enemy battle line in an endeavor to slow it down to force it to fight rather than to risk the almost certain large losses of light forces in an unsupported attack. The light forces, with their torpedoes, are conserved for the general engagement which may follow. Their best use in such pursuit is to beat off the enemy light forces which are endeavoring to delay our battle line by torpedo attacks.
12270. In the situation in which our battle line is following and is engaged with an enemy battle line that is employing retiring tactics, our light forces on the battle flanks are not in favorable positions to attack, even though the battle lines are engaged with each other so that their attack is a supported one. The enemy's light forces, on the other hand, are favorably situated for attack and our light forces will probably be forced to use every effort to prevent the enemy light forces from delivering successful attacks on our battle line.
12271. In the situation, in which our force is pursuing an enemy force that is attempting to withdraw after an action, the situation will be similar to the foregoing cases, except during the action our destroyers, or many of them, may have expended their torpedoes so that the necessity of conserving them for future torpedo attacks is no longer a factor to be considered. Consequently, our destroyers may take the offensive with guns against the enemy light forces, if desirable, instead of the more passive role of defense against enemy light forces which are actually threatening or attacking our battle line.
12272. If we have an inadequate air force or if an air attack has not resulted in slowing down the enemy battleships, or our battle line speed is too slow to prevent the escape of the enemy battle line, it is necessary to use the light forces in an unsupported attack to accomplish this, such attacks are made under cover of their own smoke or smoke laid by aircraft. Our destroyers have to be vigorously supported by our cruisers in order that they may break through the enemy's light forces to reach positions at which torpedo fire is effective.
Air (Carrier) Groups
employing smoke it may be the only group that can observe and that can deliver an attack. Consequently, bombing and torpedo planes are the best means in such actions to damage the enemy battle line in order to reduce its speed, and the air (carrier) group may be the only group which can accomplish this end.
12274. If our battle line has the enemy battle line under effective fire or is faster than the enemy battle line, it may then be best to employ our aircraft to defend our battle line against enemy bombing and torpedo attacks in order that its speed may remain unimpaired for the pursuit. Aircraft may also be used in attacking enemy light forces to assist in breaking up the attacks of enemy light forces which may be endeavoring to delay or damage our battle line. The proportion of our aircraft which are employed for defense will depend upon the strength and character of the enemy air force at the time pursuit is taken up.
12276. In any pursuit or following action, aircraft patrol the area through which our force is advancing to detect and attack enemy submarines and to detect enemy mine fields, and maintain control of the air.
12277. As in any action, aircraft are used to scout tactically to keep the officer in tactical command informed of the situation, and if the enemy employs smoke to cover his movements aircraft tactical scouts and radar are the only means by which the movements of the enemy are followed.
Section XXIV. Retirement Action
12281. A movement to maintain the range, if the enemy is endeavoring to close the range, or a movement to increase the range quickly, partakes of the nature of a retirement even though the battle plan in effect may be one for normal or reverse action.
12282. A retirement action can probably be used to best advantage to impose a following movement on the part of the enemy battle line, not necessarily placing the enemy battle line astern of our battleships but placing the enemy battle line somewhere abaft the beam of our ships. This places the enemy light forces following in a more disadvantageous position to attack than if the enemy battle line were abeam or forward of the beam of our ships. At the same time it places our light forces in an advantageous position to use torpedoes and possibly mines. This is predicated on the assumption that the enemy will follow. Same advantages apply for enemy if he desires to fight a retirement action.
12283. A retirement action is advantageous to our force if we are inferior in light forces, particularly destroyers, because of the more unfavorable position imposed upon the enemy light forces. The enemy destroyers must come very close to attack the rear flank of our battle line.
To attack the van flank of our battle line, the enemy destroyers have a greater distance to proceed to reach effective firing positions than if the enemy battle line were abeam or forward of the beam of our battle line.
12284. A retirement action is also advantageous to our force if we are equal or superior in light forces, because the torpedo menace from enemy light forces, is lessened. If the enemy battle line is following our battle line our destroyers will be able to fire their torpedoes from a greater range than if the enemy battle line were abeam or forward of the beam of our battle line. Our destroyers on the rear battle flank may be able to reach effective firing positions under these circumstances without having to approach too close to the enemy battle line.
12285. If our submarines are known to be between the battle lines or are known to be in an area on an engaged flank of the enemy battle line, the direction of retirement of our battle line may be selected, so that the enemy battle line, if it follows our battle line, may be drawn towards our submarines or towards positions for firing torpedoes that can reach.
12287. If the enemy battle line is forced to maneuver to avoid torpedoes or is in confusion as the result of a successful torpedo attack by our destroyers, our battle line acts quickly to exploit any possible advantage.
12291. If the enemy battle line is following approximately on the quarter of our battle line, our light forces on our van flank will be approximately ahead or sharp on the bows of the enemy battleships. The destroyers on our rear flank close in toward our battle line so that when they start to attack they will have gained as much bearing as possible on the enemy battle line.
Air (Carrier) Groups
Section XXV. Delay Action
12296. It is usually assumed also that the enemy is seeking action. If the enemy is forcing a general engagement, it may not be possible to fight a delay action or if begun, it may not be possible to continue it as long as desired.
12297. It may be necessary to delay the general engagement until our strength becomes adequate to insure victory in a decisive engagement either through the arrival of sufficient reinforcements or by reducing the strength of the enemy by secondary attacks. Or it may be desirable, if time permits, to delay the general engagement, if by so doing victory can be made more certain or complete, or can be gained with less cost to us.
12298. A considerable portion of our light forces may be away on scouting operations or may be disposed in a distant screen, so that their absence in battle may place our force at a decided disadvantage. A delay action may be imposed on us until they join up and take their stations for battle. If our battle line is inferior in strength to that of the enemy battle line, it probably is best to fight a delay action initially in order to employ torpedoes and bombs, possibly mines, to reduce the strength of the enemy battle line before accepting a general engagement.
12299. Submarines and aircraft are particularly well adapted for making the secondary attacks in delay actions. In the case of submarines, they must, of course, be in favorable positions initially so that the enemy battle line proceeds toward them or toward positions that the submarines can reach. Their position might also be such that the movements of our force or battle line draws the enemy battle line toward areas in which our submarines are located. Consequently, the use of submarines in delay actions cannot be counted upon with certainty, as usually they cannot attain favorable positions for attack if not in the vicinity of such positions initially.
12300. Aircraft can usually be counted upon with certainty for making the secondary attacks in delay actions, provided the weather and visibility conditions permit air operations. Overwhelming air superiority on the part of the enemy is the only factor that may prevent success of all air attacks.
12301. Light forces, cruisers and destroyers, are employed for secondary attacks under some circumstances, particularly if the enemy is relatively weak in light forces. But such attacks have little chance of success unless they are made under cover of smoke, preferably laid by aircraft. If such attacks are supported by our battle line, the action assumes a different type.
12302. The officer in tactical command is informed promptly of the results of all secondary attacks in order that he may determine whether the results are satisfactory and if so when to change to another battle plan for a general engagement. In the case of submarines, he also is informed when the majority of our submarines are no longer in a position from which they can attack.
12303. Depending upon circumstances, a battle, an approach or contact disposition, is suitable for a delay action. A contact disposition is particularly advantageous if it is our desire to mask the distribution of the light forces and the direction of our deployment until the delay stage of the engagement is terminated.
Air (Carrier) Groups
12308. In order that submarines are effectively employed in a delay action, the officer in tactical command knows their location with reference to the enemy battle line with sufficient accuracy to determine whether they can attack or whether it is possible by the movements of our force or battle line to draw the enemy battle line toward our submarines.
Section XXVI. Withdrawal Action
12311. A withdrawal action may be one in which the initial tactical attitude is strictly defensive because of inadequate total strength or because of strategic considerations. The presence of a large convoy with the train may make a general engagement inadvisable until the convoy has been delivered at its destination or a safe place.
12312. It may be desirable to break off action because of low visibility conditions, such as fog or approaching darkness. Withdrawal may be forced upon a force because of damage or losses received in battle.
12313. If withdrawal is made when our force is intact, there is greater scope in the employment of our groups according to a plan. The light forces and aircraft are employed defensively to guard the heavy ships and train, or they are employed offensively to beat off the pursuing enemy. Withdrawal affords opportunities for the use of smoke and also affords one of the best opportunities for the use of mines and torpedoes.
12314. If withdrawal is made after an engagement and is made as a result of losses or damages received in battle, the scope of the employment of the groups is obviously dependent upon the numbers and types remaining.
12315. It may not be practicable to take a cruising disposition while in contact with a pursuing enemy force, therefore, battle or contact disposition is normally suitable for a withdrawal action, unless air attacks are expected in which case a disposition for repelling an attack is formed.
12316. When our force is definitely committed to a withdrawal, the course prescribed should, if possible, lead to a protected base. If a junction can be made with reinforcements, the course should, if possible, permit a concentration with the reinforcements.
12317. In a withdrawal action, tactical concentration and mutual support between all task groups are essential. Units will conform to the course prescribed by the officer in tactical command insofar as the accomplishment of their tasks in the plan of withdrawal permits. They do not scatter unless so directed by the officer in tactical command.
121318. The prescribed speed for the force is close to the maximum of which the force is capable.
12320. If the withdrawal is to avoid action when a train is present, our battle line avoids action with the enemy battle line except as may be necessary to prevent the enemy attacking the train. Our battle line maintains a position where it can always interpose between the enemy battle line and our train.
12321. If the withdrawal is to break off action, the initial change of course is usually a radical one, and it will probably be advantageous in most cases to perform the turn away maneuver by a simultaneous ship movement rather than by division column movement. The maneuver to break off action may be covered by smoke if necessary. If aircraft are not available to lay smoke screens, this is done by destroyers of the battle line screen.
12322. In either situation so far as circumstances permit the formation of the battle line is such as to develop the maximum possible fire power while on the course selected or imposed, it also is such as to prevent the enemy battle line from having a particularly advantageous part of the formation upon which to concentrate its fire and such that our battle line can deploy readily for a counter attack if the opportunity is presented.
12323. If the withdrawal is made when a train is present and if the enemy is employing a detached wing to harass the train, it is normally necessary for us to employ a detached wing as a counter to an enemy detached wing. A detached wing of battleships operating on interior lines should usually be able to interpose between a train and an enemy detached wing faster than our battleships.
12324. The task of the light forces in withdrawal actions depends upon whether our force is avoiding a general engagement when a large train is present or whether our force is avoiding action with a much superior force or is breaking off action as a result of losses or damages received in battle. In the former situation the light forces are normally employed on the defensive to defend the battle flanks, particularly against enemy light forces attempting to pass around our flanks in order to attack the train. If the enemy battle line is pressing action against our battle line it may be necessary to employ the light forces or some of them to attack the enemy battle line in order to relieve the pressure on our battle line.
12325. In the situation in which our forces is endeavoring to avoid action with a much superior force or is breaking off action, the light forces are employed offensively in order to delay or turn the enemy battle line, so that our battle line may withdraw.
12326. Light forces use smoke freely in withdrawal actions not only to screen themselves, but to cover other groups.
Air (Carrier) Groups
12330. Smoke laid by aircraft is most effective in withdrawal actions to screen retiring vessels from enemy gunfire, to assist our light forces in beating off the pursuing enemy vessels, and to assist our mine layers.
12333. If the withdrawal is the result of defeat, the train scatters in order that vessels with the best speeds may have some chance to escape. A rendezvous is designated for the train prior to ordering it to scatter.
Section XXVII. Night Action
Chapter 8 concerning a night engagement of a small task force. It is not considered sound for the officer in tactical command of a large task force to seek a major engagement at night but not being able to make decisions for the enemy a major night action may be forced upon him. The officer in tactical command must, therefore, act accordingly. The decision of the officer in tactical command as to whether to accept or avoid a major night engagement, and as to the selection of a battle plan if engagement is accepted, are dependent on the situation. Possibility of night air attack in conjunction with such an action is also considered.
12337. If encounter between the battle lines occurs, radar ineffective, the action may be initially either normal or reverses if the enemy battle line is encountered on either beam. If the enemy battle line is encountered ahead, it may be possible to choose to fight a normal or reverse action, provided the approximate course of the enemy battle line has been ascertained. The effective use of radar determines the enemy course while he is still at long range, thereby assisting the officer in tactical command to force his plan and type of action on the enemy.
12339. With effective radar we may select the range at which to fight, otherwise the range is usually dependent upon the method of illumination of the targets, either by other units of the force or by the battle line itself with searchlights or star shells.
12340. In a night pursuit or withdrawal, the formation is usually such as to permit radical maneuvering to avoid torpedo attacks and to develop fire against destroyers or cruisers and aircraft. The divisions are not so widely separated as to preclude mutual support should the enemy battle line in a night pursuit turn to fight or should it in a withdrawal on our part overtake our battle line and impose action upon it.
12343. In carrying out the tasks of the night forces the following considerations are applicable at night especially if visibility is low:
- Cruiser support of destroyer operations is not so essential as support of their operations in day action. Therefore, it is usually advisable to employ our cruisers to guard our heavy combatant units and the train against attack from enemy destroyers and to employ our destroyers offensively without the support of our cruisers.
- By using our destroyers to attack the enemy without cruiser support, in which darkness allows for greater success with less risk of damage, enemy destroyer targets in the vicinity of our heavy units are more readily identified. The same principle applies to cruiser targets encountered by our destroyers in the vicinity of the enemy heavy units. An accurate summary plot maintained in combat information centers assists in positive identification but such plots have their limitations in situations where numerous ships are involved. An enemy may be assumed friendly with disastrous consequences.
- Using radar, coordinated attacks by destroyers from different flanks is possible but without its use they may not be.
- If radar is ineffective cruisers illuminate the targets of the battle line when practicable to do so and if operating with destroyers cruisers may also illuminate destroyer targets.
Air (Carrier) Groups