Volume I
Preliminary Operations until 0719 October 17th
Including Battle of Formosa


In preparing this Volume, Commodore Richard W. Bates, USN(Ret.) had as his principal assistants:

Commodore Bates, for his part, checked and evaluated the above data, personally collected all data other than the above, consulted ranking American officers who participated in the battle or in its planning, wrote the manuscript, and prepared all analyses and comments, resulting therefrom.


This analysis of the preliminary phases, including the Battle off Formosa, of the Battle for Leyte Gulf was prepared by the Naval War College. It is based on information from both Allied and Japanese sources which is wider and more complete than that available to writers on this subject up to this time. It endeavors to maintain at all times, the viewpoint of the commanders of the units involved on both sides.

Complete information from all sources, was not available to this analysis. This was especially true of Japanese Army and Navy land-based aircraft in the Philippines, of Japanese Army aircraft in Formosa, and of Japanese submarine operations and dispositions. It was also true concerning the thought processes which motivated certain of the Japanese senior commanders, notable CinC, Combined Fleet, since few reports of this action by such senior officers have been discovered. All known sources of such information in the United States and in Japan were examined but with only limited success. New facts and circumstances, therefore, may come to light from time to time which may change some of the analyses produced herein.

In view of the critical nature of this analysis an effort has been made in certain important situations to place the critic in the position of the commander in order to obtain the latter's point of view. In employing this system it is realized that although the critic can often succeed in placing himself sufficiently near the position of the commander for any practical purposes, in many instances he may not succeed in doing so.

Because of the nature of the Allied victory at Leyte Gulf and the numerous controversies which have arisen concerning it, as complete a study as possible of the preliminary phases has been provided.

These preliminary phases and, especially the Battle off Formosa, were a real test of the capabilities of Allied carrier-based aircraft versus Japanese land-based aircraft and of the existing Allied and japanese concepts concerning the employment of these weapons. It was also a test of the combat ability of the various commanders on both sides. The pages of history have invariably revealed defects in command in similar situation, and it would have been surprising had such defects not appeared in these operations.

This battle reaffirmed the lesson so often forgotten -- that the test of battle is the only test which proves the combat ability of


commanders. The ability of lack of ability of the various commanders in the art of war became apparent. Valor alone was shown to be insufficient, for valor is not an attribute of only one race, but is an attribute and a heritage of many races. The indispensable qualification for command, the art of war, was shown to be the ability in combat to apply the science of war to active military situations.

The present senior officers of the Navy are well aware of the reasons for changes in established doctrines and in the development of new ones. But this cannot necessarily be said of the commanders of the future, who very probably will be inexperienced in command in war.

Finally, all comments and criticisms are designed to be constructive. By indicating what appear to be sound and unsound decisions, and the apparent reasons for arriving at them, it si hoped to provoke earnest thought among prospective commanders and thus to improve professional judgment in command.


Table of Contents

Foreword i
Table of Contents iii
Zone Time
Principal Commanders
Brief Narrative of the Preliminary Phases
Chapter I The Strategic Area 1
(a) General Discussion 1
(b) Leyte Gulf 3
(c) Passages through the Philippines 4
  (1) Northern Route 4
  (2) Southern Route 4
(d) Weather 5
  (1) Typhoons 5
  (2) Weather in October 5
  (3) Winds in October 6
Chapter II Allied Arrangements 7
(a) Allied Command Relations 7
  (1) General Discussion 7
    (a) Pacific Ocean Area (POA) 7
    (b) Southwest Pacific Area (SOWESPAC) 8
    (c) China-Burma-India Area (CBI) 10
  (2) Chain of Command withing SOWESPAC 13
  (3) Coordination of Operations with Adjacent Theater Commanders 15
    (b) COMSOWESPAC and CBI 18
  (4) Air Coordination 21
  (5) Summation 21
(b) Information Available to the Allied Commander 22
(c) Allied Land and Tender Based Aircraft 32
  (1) Southwest Pacific Area 32
    (a) Allied Air Forces, SWPA 32
      (1) FIFTH Air Force (Table 1) 38
      (2) THIRTEENTH Air Force 38
      (3) Northern Solomons Air Group (TG 70.9) 38
      (4) Royal Australian Air Force Command 39
      (5) Naval Air Force, SEVENTH Fleet (TF 73) 39
  (2) Pacific Ocean Area 40
    (a) Shore Based Air Force, Forward Areas, Central Pacific (TF 59) 40
    (b) Search, Reconnaissance and Photographic Command (TG xx.5) 42
  (3) China-Burma-India Area 45
    (a) FOURTEENTH Air Force (Table 8) 45
    (b) TWENTIETH Bomber Command (Table 9) 47
(d) Allied Air Search and Reconnaissance 51
  (1) Southwest Pacific Area 52
  (2) Pacific Ocean Area 55
  (3) CBI Area 56
(e) Allied Deployment of Naval Forces 59
  (1) SEVENTH Fleet 59
      Forces move in widely separated groups
Weather situation worsens
CTG 77.2 decides proceed with plan
TF 78 sorties from Hollandia
TF 79 sorties from Manus
COMSEVENTHFLT advised the COMTHIRDFLT fast carrier support not available
COMSEVENTHFLT decides proceeds with plan
  (2) Other SEVENTH Fleet Forces 65
    (a) Motor Torpedo Group 65
    (b) Submarine Force SEVENTH Fleet 65
  (3) Pacific Ocean Area Forces 90
    (a) TF 38 90
      (1) Attack on Nansei Shoto, October 10th 93
      (2) Attack on Aparri Airfield, October 11th 98
      (3) Battle off Formosa 100
      (4) Operations October 15th 124
      (5) Operations October 16th 139
      (6) Operations October 17th until 0719 154
    (b) Submarine Force Pacific Fleet 159
      (1) Background of Submarine Operations 159
      (2) Operations of SUBPAC Submarines 167
(f) Allied Position at 0719 October 17th 186
  (a) SEVENTH Fleet 186
    (1) Task Force 77 186
  (b) THIRD Fleet 186
    (1) TF 38 186
    (2) TG 30.3 187
(g) Composition of Forces and Task Assigned 187
  (a) TF 77 (Central Philippines Attack Force)
    (1) Composition of Force 187
    (2) Tasks Assigned 191
    (3) Discussion 193
  (b) Commander Allied Naval Forces, Southwest Pacific Area 193
    (1) Composition of Forces 193
    (2) Tasks Assigned 195
    (3) Discussion 196
  (c) Commander Allied Air Forces SOWESPAC 196
    (1) Composition of Forces 196
    (2) Tasks Assigned 196
    (3) Discussion 197
    (1) Composition of Forces 197
      (a) Western Pacific Task Forces 197
      (b) TF 17 (Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet) 199
    (2) Tasks Assigned 200
    (3) Discussion 202
  (e) China-Burma-India Theater (as of 0719, October 17th) 203
    (1) Composition of Forces 203
    (2) Tasks Assigned 203
    (3) Discussion 203
(h) Allied Plan 204
Chapter III Japanese Arrangements 207
(a) Japanese Command Relations 207
  (1) General Discussion 207
  (2) Chain of Command 207
  (3) Coordination between Army, Air Force and Land-Based Naval Air Forces 210
  (4) Summation 213
(b) Information Available to the Japanese Commanders 214
(c) Japanese Land-Based Aircraft 219
  (1) Organization and Composition of Japanese Air Forces in Southern Kyushu, Nansei Shoto, Formosa and Philippines 221
  (2) Types and General Characteristics of Japanese Aircraft Employed in Land Operations 224
  (3) Japanese Air Bases 227
(d) Japanese Air Search and Reconnaissance 230
(e) Japanese Deployment Naval and Air Forces 237
  (1) General Discussion 237
  (2) Operations of Combined Fleet and FOURTH Air Army 244
    (1) Operations on October 10th 244
    (2) Operations on October 11th 278
    (3) Operations of October 12th 295
    (4) Operations of October 13th 321
    (5) Operations of October 14th 348
    (6) Operations of October 15th 383
    (7) Operations of October 16th 411
    (8) Operations Until 0719 October 17th 444
  (3) Discussions of losses, Japanese aircraft October 10-0719 October 17th 449
(f) Japanese position at 0719 October 17th 451
(g) Composition of Forces and Tasks assigned (0719 October 17th 1944) 451
  (a) Combined Fleet 452
  (b) Southern Army 457
(h) Japanese Plan 458
(i) General Summary 464
Chapter IV Epilogue 466
Appendix I Organization of Allied Forces at 0719, October 17th, Battle for Leyte Gulf 467
Appendix II Organization of Japanese Forces at 0719, October 17th, Battle for Leyte Gulf 504
Appendix III Japanese Aircraft 508
Tables, Plates and Diagrams
Tables Page
1 Allied Air Forces SOWESPAC (FIFTH Air Force) October 17th, 1944 36
2 Allied Air Forces SOWESPAC (THIRTEENTH Air Force) October 17th, 1944 38
3 Allied Air Forces SOWESPAC (Aircraft Northern Solomons) October 17th, 1944 38
4 Allied Air Forces SOWESPAC (RAAF Command) October 17th, 1944 38
5 Allied Air Forces SOWESPAC (Naval Air Force SEVENTH Fleet) October 17th, 1944 39
6 Shore-Based Air Force Forward Area CENPAC (TF 59) October 17th, 1944 40
7 Search, Reconnaissance and Photographic Command (TG 30.5) (FAW-1) October 17th, 1944 42
8 FOURTEENTH Air Force (China) October 17th, 1944 45
9 TWENTIETH Bomber Command October 17th, 1944 47
10 Liefguard Submarines Rescuing Airmen during period October 10th-0719 October 17th, 1944 170
11 SIXTH Base Air Force October 10th, 1944 221
12 SIXTH Base Air Force (Reinforcements) 221
13 FIFTH Base Air Force October 10th, 1944 222
14 FOURTH Air Army September 26th, 1944 222
Plates Page
I Statistical Weather Chart (October) 6
II Allied Command Relations 13
III Submarine Operating Areas SOWESPAC 68
IV Submarine Operating Area Classifications SOWESPAC 69
V Prospective Deployment TF 71 Submarines 74
VI Japanese Naval and Merchant Ship Losses by TF 71 Submarines 81
VII Submarine Operating Areas Western Pacific 160
VIII Prospective Deployment TF 17 Submarines 161
IX Submarine Operating Area Classifications Western Pacific 165
X Japanese Naval and Merchant Ship Losses by TF 17 Submarines 168
XI Sortie Routes for SHO One Operations 185
XII Japanese Command relations 209
Diagrams Page
A Strategic Area Chart 509
B Air Searches and Movement of Forces to 2400 October 10th, 1944 514
C Air Searches and Movement of Forces to 2400 October 11th, 1944 516
D Air Searches and Movement of Forces to 2400 October 12th, 1944 519
E Air Searches and Movement of Forces to 2400 October 13th, 1944 522
F Air Searches and Movement of Forces to 2400 October 14th, 1944 526
G Air Searches and Movement of Forces to 2400 October 15th, 1944 529
H Air Searches and Movement of Forces to 2400 October 16th, 1944 533
I Air Searches and Movement of Forces to 0719 October 17th, 1944 535

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation