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When were PT Boats *that* important?


BRO,JD
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Well i know that Italian PT boats executed some brilliant attacks on the UK fleet in the med, missions which were quite difficult or seemingly impossible. I cant quote any sources but i do remember reading this somwhere many years ago.

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I know they were used extensively in the PTO for shuttle/courier service, patrol in the Solomons, etc. The only large action I know that PTs took part in was Surigao Strait during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, when they formed the first line of the American battle fleet but did not score any torpedo hits.

I am honestly curious if PT boats ever played a major part in a major battle.

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I know they were used extensively in the PTO for shuttle/courier service, patrol in the Solomons, etc. The only large action I know that PTs took part in was Surigao Strait during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, when they formed the first line of the American battle fleet but did not score any torpedo hits.

I am honestly curious if PT boats ever played a major part in a major battle.

First, let's be clear that the term "PT-Boats" is an attempt to gain American support. In truth the craft were more properly referred to as either Motor Torpedo Boats or Motor Gun Boats ... generally abbreviated as MTB or MGB. The Patrol Torpedo Boat (PT) was an American version of the MTB and saw extensive service in all theaters.

As mentioned, they had a role in the Surigao Straits and the British sent MTBs after the German fleet during the Channel Dash.

In general, however, they were unsuited for major fleet battles ... of which there weren't many during WWII in any case.

Their primary role was in the fight for the so-called narrow waters, the littoral areas around the coasts. Both sides did a lot of coastal traffic and their primary job was to either interdict or protect these "coasters" as they were called. They also did rescue work, minelaying and sweeping, espionage efforts and the general raising hell.

The blurb you referred to was clearly exaggerated for effect. But that doesn't mean that the MTB role was unimportant to the fight. They played a critical role in keeping the littoral sea lanes open ... or closed ... and most assuredly contributed to the war effort significantly. If they hadn't been effective, so many nations wouldn't have spent so much time and money creating and fielding (that may be the wrong term for a naval vessel :D) so many different varieties throughout the war.

Joe

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The blurb you referred to was clearly exaggerated for effect. But that doesn't mean that the MTB role was unimportant to the fight. They played a critical role in keeping the littoral sea lanes open ... or closed ... and most assuredly contributed to the war effort significantly. If they hadn't been effective, so many nations wouldn't have spent so much time and money creating and fielding (that may be the wrong term for a naval vessel :D) so many different varieties throughout the war.

Joe

Thanks. I've always thought that the PTs were cool, back to my days watching PT-109 on WTBS with my Dad, but never have I read that they were effective or important in a major engagement. It's always been something I've been curious about when reading about the Pacific in WWII to find them doing something big. I understand their important roles in the Solomons, for instance, and rescuing MacArthur, but I was curious if there was a major engagement that the PTs had played an important (and effective) role in that I didn't know about.

I've always thought that the idea of a dozen PT boats charging at the enemy battle line, letting loose a salvo of torpedoes, scoring some hits, and just as importantly breaking up the line was a cool idea. But like so many doctrinal roles that existed pre-war, the emphasis on the carrier and the lack of major fleet actions meant that what the navies intended and thought was important didn't necessarily jive with what actually happened.

I completely understand a little exaggeration for effect when it comes to marketing. :)

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Regardless of how many larger enemy ships they sunk or otherwise put out of commission.

How many missions did those large enemy ships failed on, or did not attempt, because of interference or because of the threat from torpedo boats?

It is the same as submarines and aircraft carriers. Very few aircraft carriers have been sunk by submarines. But the aircraft carrier groups had to absorb larger amounts of escort ships for their groups, then missing elsewhere, and they did not go places where they would have gone if it wasn't for the threat from submarines.

Considering how cheap the torpedo boats are and how expensive the resources they bind on the enemy side we have to do more work to establish their true value.

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From the release:

"More than once in the history of WWII, a handful of those little deadly boats helped decide the course of an entire battle and executed seemingly impossible missions."

Just curious when PT boats did this?

I very much agree with you. The quote is way overblown ! MTB's were not that important. But I hope this game has the German S-boote. They scored some successes: 101 merchant ships sunk (213,000 tons), 12 DD's sunk, 11 Minesweepers, and 8 LST's.

There most spectacular succes was in Apr 44 at Lyme Bay (Slapton Sands) where they attacked a large D-Day landing sinking 2 LST's and damaging 2 and causing over 700 deaths as I recall.

If this sim doesn't have S-boote forget it.

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Coastal forces--an overview http://ptdockyard.tripod.com/id8.html

What about these? http://www.german-navy.de/kriegsmarine/ships/minehunter/rboat/

These are must haves in the Med http://www.steelnavy.com/WEMFlakLighter.htm

Posted for informational, noncommercial reasons only!

A little unit history! Peter Tare is phonetic milspeak for PT. http://www.petertare.org/ron15/ron15-9.htm

Regards,

John Kettler

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Do the Solomon Islands and New Guinea campaigns count? See Service section here. Believe you'll find the Japanese survivor comments of interest, too. Also, was D-Day significant?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PT_boat

Read p. 98 et seq. here. A handful of German torpedo boats nearly unhinges the D-Day landing, arriving in the middle of the land bombardment. PA98&lpg=PA98&dq=d-day+e-boat+attacks&source=bl&ots=ywWX_vFEc0&sig=gNq7pI4K1SuI-D91BkXyBx30308&hl=en&ei=eePgSpqcCYTuswPVo5XODA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CB4Q6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Last E-Boat (Actually, S-Boat) to be restored (attacked Op Tiger)

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30977019/

More S-Boat goodies

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schnellboot

Here's a quick overview of not just the craft, but the men who sailed them and the conditions under which they fought.

http://www.2worldwar2.com/pt-boats.htm

Regards,

John Kettler

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So as not to slight the Russians

http://www.360cities.net/image/sevastopol-sapun-gora-torpedo-boat

From Akella

http://www.360cities.net/image/sevastopol-sapun-gora-torpedo-boat

Torpedo boats sank no less than three battleships in WW I. Article doesn't say, but the Italians sank the Szent Istvan and the Wien.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torpedo_boat

Szent Istvan sinking

http://croatian-treasure.com/szent.html

Footage!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWO-AUI8HDE

Sinking of the Wien

http://www.historynet.com/naval-weaponry-italys-mas-torpedo-boats.htm/2

The Turks sank HMS Goliath

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Goliath_%281898%29

General question re WW 2 PT type ops: Is it important to deny the enemy a) supplies B) freedom of movement, c) strategic resources, let alone conduct d) raids, e) agent insertions and retrievals, f) retrieve downed pilots and sailors lost overboard or whose ships have been sunk? Sinking principal naval combatants seems to me to be a bonus!

Regards,

John Kettler

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Redwolf,

Precisely the points made in the Wiki PT article: cheap, scary and numerous! The Slot campaign Japanese reaction is most interesting, and these were masters of night combat.

Destraex,

The S-boats alone, from the Wiki, are credited as follows:

During their operational history in World War II, the S-boote sank 101 merchant ships totalling 214,728 tons.[6] In addition, they sank 12 destroyers, 11 minesweepers, eight landing ships, six enemy MTBs, a torpedo boat, a minelayer, one submarine and a number of small merchant craft. They also damaged two cruisers, five destroyers, three landing ships, a repair ship, a naval tug and numerous merchant vessels. Sea mines laid by the 'S-boote' were responsible for the loss of 37 merchant ships totalling 148,535 tons, a destroyer, two minesweepers and four landing ships.[7]

Am finding it rather more difficult to run down the equivalent data for PT boats and British/CW MTBs and MGBs, though I can provide a list of losses for all three named. http://www.naval-history.net/WW2BritishLosses3Coastal.htm Note repeated entries for sunk in surface action. Here's the PT loss list http://www.hazegray.org/navhist/pt/losses.htm Happily, the Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MAS_%28boat%29 for the Italian M.A.S. boats provides both losses and combat successes. Here' the rundown on the largest known torpedo boat victim of WW II, H.M.S. Manchester http://wapedia.mobi/en/HMS_Manchester_%281937%29

The combatants: torpedo boats down through history http://www.naval-history.net/PhotoZHinds.htm Note what PT-34 was doing the day before she was sunk.

Here's the bible on U.S. PT boat ops in WW II, written by a man who won the Medal of Honor serving in one. http://ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/CloseQuarters/index.html Believe you'll find Appendices B and C of particular interest.

Hope this helps!

Regards,

John Kettler

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I disagree.... swarms of torpedo boats with 2-4 torps each.... it only takes 3-4 torps to kill a capital warship.

How about - how many battleships were taken out by carrier aircraft alone.... same weaponry different playform... smaller size.

In the med especially I think the manchester is a good example of potential for the torpedo boat to pull one out of the bag.

Submarines/torpedoe bombers etc do have a distinct advantage as a strike platform. The PT boat is just as exciting for me though. Its like a race car with torpedos strapped to it. And the best part about it is that its often sent off on its own with the small crew... its a great platform for individualist tight knit crews.

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Destraex,

Looks as though you've been delving through the goodies I dug up for you and are beginning to understand what I was trying to convey. Watched any of the videos yet? Couldn't believe how tiny the M.A.S. boats were, yet it was a brace of them that sank H.M.S. Manchester!

Regards,

John Kettler

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actually I have not had time to read any of it yet sorry.

I did read a comic called PTboat or some such when i was a kid. Prolly have it somewhere still. The captain in that went everywhere. From chinese waters to europe in flames.

And an australian tv series called patrol boat..

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Beastttt,

A PT or similar vessel is the smallest fighting command a skipper can have that is truly designed to go into harm's way, as opposed to, say, a seagoing tug. Such a boat is all teeth, with no real staying power and is critically dependent on either a tender or shore base for logistics. And it is on such a boat that a skipper may make an indelible impression in very short order, either good or bad, for there is nowhere to hide and who you are is there for all to see. In naval terms, a PT boat is basically a fighter plane, albeit one with a large crew and heavy firepower, and the tactics of ambush, slashing attacks, high maneuverability and speed management in combat all have fighter combat parallels.

If you look at the awards and citations in that book I mentioned earlier in the thread, you'll find that PT skippers and crews got a lot of decorations, and the same was true for the Germans and the British.

Regards,

John Kettler

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