Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

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Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby JamesStaley » 2016-04-02 05:52pm

I want to tie this in with the discussion of just how good or bad the IJN was during WW2, and what ultimately lead to the defeat of Japan during that conflict.
I want to make the arguement that Japan LOST that war, or rather, sowed the seeds of it's ultimate defeat, at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. And they did it by one simple ommission or oversight: the failure to include the U.S Navy's fuel storage tanks or ship repair facillities in the original attack, or to launch a 3rd strike against them when they had the opportunity to do so.
Point #1. Admiral Yamamto failed to include the U.S.N's fuel storage tanks in the original battle plans. The loss of these tanks alone, more than attacking the battleships, would have cirppled the Navy's ability to operate in the Pacific or to operate for extended peiods of time far from Hawaii because they would not have had the fuel to do so.
Point #1a. After the war, when american intelligence troops were able to interview the surviving members of the Pearl Harbor Planning Staff, they showed the Japanese pictures of the fuel tanks & asked them if they knew what they were. The Japanese said "Yes, we know what those are". When asked why they were not attacked, they said "becuase they were never included as part of the plan".
Point #2. The Japanese at Pearl Harbor could have corrected this oversight themselves if Admiral Nagumo, the man in charge of the mission, had listened to his returning pillots and launched a 3rd strike or attack as they were requesting. The returning Japanese pilots knew for themselves that they had NOT finished the job, that there was a lot more that could be done to cripple PH and put it COMPLETELY out of business, but Nagumo panicked when he heard that the American carriers were not in Pearl, and satisfied with the job they had done, pulled out.
Next to the fuel storage tanks, if they had crippled or damaged the dry docks, the US Navy would have to send ships all the way back to the West Coast for even minor repairs. This would have changed the whole dynamic at Midway, with loss of the Lexington due to battle damage at the Coral Sea. That carrier would not have been availiable for that battle if it had to go back to California or Washington for repairs.
If the Japanese had attacked or crippled the fuel tanaks right at the very beginning of the war at Pearl Harbor, WW2 might gone a lot differently.

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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Isolder74 » 2016-04-02 06:21pm

Even with the complete crippling of Pearl Harbor with the destruction of the docks and fuel depots it would have only put Pearl out of business for a short period(3 - 4 months). Honolulu had enough manufacturing capability to repair the damaged yards and tanks. The only hitch would have been shipping more oil out to the islands and the US had the shipping mass to handle fueling the fleet from tankers if they had to. With the yards knocked out it is likely that they wouldn't have been able to get Yorktown back in action so fast but even without Yorktown at Midway the US still would have won the battle.

Midway was an example of how important good intelligence is when it comes to fighting a war. The truth of the matter is the US economic depth meant that even the loss of Hawaii would have only been a minor setback. All Hawaii does is give the US an extremely weather proof naval base in one of the best locations in the Pacific. Not even Truk is as good of an anchorage area as Pearl Harbor is. Pearl's only disadvantage is the narrow channel leading out to sea.

Edit: Autocorrect go to hell!
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Tribble » 2016-04-02 06:25pm

If the Japanese had attacked or crippled the fuel tanaks right at the very beginning of the war at Pearl Harbor, WW2 might gone a lot differently.


Not really. Even if the Japanese had sunk every carrier as originally planned, completely destroyed every battleship (most of the battleships were eventually repaired) and wrecked the fuel tanks, its defeat was inevitable. The USA simply had far too much in the way of resources, industrial capability and manpower to make a difference in the long run. At best, Japan might have been able to delay the end by a couple of years.

There were other things working agaisnt Japan too. By 1941 the Americans had broken Japanese naval codes and the Japanese never became aware of that fact. Arguably the biggest feat of the US Navy wasn't the surface battles like Midway, but rather the campaign to destroy Japanese shipping. By 1945 Japanese shipping was practically wiped out; even if they had retained control of their occupied territories, they would have had no way of shipping their resources back to the homeland! Then you have the inevitable American technological edge... and nuclear weapons. Even if Japanese had succeeded at dragging out the war, ultimately that would just mean that more nukes end up getting dropped on them.

Japan had lost the war the moment the first shot was fired and Yamamotto knew it. Before the war broke out he had warned the Japanese governmet that the best he could hope for was to run wild for 6 months to a year, but after that he had no hope of victory whatsoever.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby K. A. Pital » 2016-04-02 07:19pm

War is generally a very complex thing, but in case of Japan and the US, it is a horrible industrial power mismatch which would eventually bring Japan to defeat. The question was only how long the war would have lasted and how many complications the US would have along the way. If the US got very unlucky (say, Japan sank their entire fleet and destroyed the repair facilities and destroyed the oil storage...), that would certainly impact the flow of the war... but not its ultimate outcome.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby JamesStaley » 2016-04-02 07:21pm

I'm not saying that the screw-ups at Pearl Harbor are the ONLY reasons for Japan's defeat: only that they sowed the seeds of their defeat there. I think also, more than the military screw-up/foul up, was the TOTAL mis-understanding and mis-reading of the American culture and mind. If they had understood THAT, then Pearl Harbor wouldn't have happened in the first place!

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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Thanas » 2016-04-02 07:27pm

Honestly it feels that you are nitpicking a bit. Pearl Harbor was a long-range harbor strike, those things over those distances involved where pretty much unknown previously. It was a great tactical victory as well - but the strategic situation was completely unwinnable for them.

Fuel storage tanks? No. It takes the USA relatively little time to repair fuel storage tanks and ship fuel to Hawaii. It took the USA considerably longer to repair the BBs lost in the attack.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Tribble » 2016-04-02 07:48pm

'm not saying that the screw-ups at Pearl Harbor are the ONLY reasons for Japan's defeat: only that they sowed the seeds of their defeat there. I think also, more than the military screw-up/foul up, was the TOTAL mis-understanding and mis-reading of the American culture and mind. If they had understood THAT, then Pearl Harbor wouldn't have happened in the first place!


Well that's just it - they couldn't win no matter what they did. It's more accurate to say they sowed the needs of their defeat the moment they decided to attack the USA because from that point onwards it was only a matter of time before they were utterly defeated.

In fact, you could even argue that they sowed the seeds of their own defeat when they kept attacking China despite the USA's objections, as it was only a matter of time before the US decided to impose crippling economic sanctions. Even if Japan had not gone to war with the US they would have had to withdrawn from mainland China as their resources (espeically oil) would have eventually run out with the US sanctions in place.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby K. A. Pital » 2016-04-03 05:15am

It's not entirely true they couldn't win no matter what they did. If they got very lucky with the initial attack (as described above), carrying these successes further into Midway (say, not only couldn't the US muster enough forces for the battle, but Japan introduced their new codes earlier and they weren't totally exposed as IRL), and also concentrated on their atomic weapons program (in reality they concluded atomic weapons are feasible but unlikely to be produced even by the US).. not just the course, but also the outcome could be altered. Doesn't necessarily mean Japan would win, but it also means it could've avoided a complete and utter defeat.

Not sure how realistic the idea of a Japanese nuclear weapons program being successful is. As most of alt-history, it is pure speculation. The real one was a failure due to many factors, just as the German one.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby ray245 » 2016-04-03 07:15am

K. A. Pital wrote:It's not entirely true they couldn't win no matter what they did. If they got very lucky with the initial attack (as described above), carrying these successes further into Midway (say, not only couldn't the US muster enough forces for the battle, but Japan introduced their new codes earlier and they weren't totally exposed as IRL), and also concentrated on their atomic weapons program (in reality they concluded atomic weapons are feasible but unlikely to be produced even by the US).. not just the course, but also the outcome could be altered. Doesn't necessarily mean Japan would win, but it also means it could've avoided a complete and utter defeat.

Not sure how realistic the idea of a Japanese nuclear weapons program being successful is. As most of alt-history, it is pure speculation. The real one was a failure due to many factors, just as the German one.


The German one, despite having more investment than Japan, was quite far off from development. The German scientists working on the nuclear project could not believe that the Americans could even develop the bomb by 1945, much less use it on Japan. It is extremely unlikely that Japan could develop the bomb in time to make any difference in the war. There are very few nations that have the resources available to develop a nuclear weapon project that quickly.

The question is would the US continue to fight Japan after they lost their fleet at Midway? Suffering horrific loss did not result in the US negotiating any treaty.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Isolder74 » 2016-04-03 09:58am

On the consideration of the US continuing to fight after the battle of Midway take a look at this video about the battle. He has some really good points at the end.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby K. A. Pital » 2016-04-03 10:01am

As I understood, the Japanese one was pretty much a side effort because the IJN dismissed the possibility of such weapons coming into production in the nearest future (the key decision was made in 1940 or 41), and did not devote finances or specialists until late 1943.
ray245 wrote:There are very few nations that have the resources available to develop a nuclear weapon project that quickly.

That's certainly true, but the fact that resources were not given in the first place doesn't allow us to test just how quickly other WW2 combatants would have developed the weapons if they made a decision to develop them.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby ray245 » 2016-04-03 11:00am

K. A. Pital wrote:As I understood, the Japanese one was pretty much a side effort because the IJN dismissed the possibility of such weapons coming into production in the nearest future (the key decision was made in 1940 or 41), and did not devote finances or specialists until late 1943.
ray245 wrote:There are very few nations that have the resources available to develop a nuclear weapon project that quickly.

That's certainly true, but the fact that resources were not given in the first place doesn't allow us to test just how quickly other WW2 combatants would have developed the weapons if they made a decision to develop them.


I think you are underestimating the sheer scale of the manhattan project. German scientists after they lost the war were completely surprised by the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, because they were a few years behind US scientists theoretically. And the only reason the US could devote such vast amount of resources on a project that may or may not work was because they were investing massive amount of funds in the overall war effort to begin with.The US had the resources to pursue a side-project.

For example, the German scientists completely overestimated the amount of uranium required to built an atomic bomb. That drove the cost estimate and time for the project to fairly ridiculous levels. The germans thought they would require 1 ton of uranium 235 when they only needed 50 kilograms. Imagine if some scientists told their government they would need to spend 20 times the cost of the Manhattan project to develop a bomb. Few leaders would want to spend money on a project in order to correct any mistakes made on the scientists' part.

Japan simply does not have the spare resources to do so, if they were to wage a war against the US. They were already spending a ridiculous amount of their GDP for their military to even match the US in the first place.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Isolder74 » 2016-04-03 12:57pm

The truth of the matter is that there was only one nation that had not only the knowhow but also the resources, not to mention the safe location, to develop the atomic bomb. That was the Unitied States. The Soviets only managed to get the bomb via espionage if you remember.

Let's look the situation over a little bit. Not only was the US cranking out tons of ships, planes, tanks and just about everything else they managed to throw money at a project that was a massive resource blackhole without even any guarantee of even producing anything useful. Even the best German atomic physicists had no idea where to begin in creating an atomic weapon. The US not only figured out how to make a Uranium bomb work but created one with Plutonium too. They not only managed to figure out how to make the known theoretical way work but came up with a new way to do it at the same time. Don't forget that you have to create Plutonium before you can even begin to built a device with it.

On the topic of Japan being capable of winning the war if they manage to actually destroy Pearl Harbor as an option for the USPF, the Japanese were always looking through the lens of the Battle Of Tsushima and the destruction of the Russian fleet at Port Arther. Everything about the planning, doctrine and conduct of the war by Japan was attempt after attempt to set up a massive decisive battle that will break the back of the Americans and make them sue for peace with Japan getting to set the terms their way(Midway, Guadalcanal, Philippine Sea, Leyte Gulf). They obviously did not think that the Americans have the backbone to not only fight a 2 front war but would fold over even the smallest setback. Yamamoto told them over and over that the only way they would every be able to do what they wanted would require marching an army into Washington DC and he blatantly told them they had no chance of even considering pulling that off. The Japanese Army was struggling to defeat a fractured and weak China, they had no hope of managing a successful invasion of the West coast and giving how a loss of a single carrier(and the entire airings of the other two) turned them back at Port Moresby, would likely not succeed if they tried occupying Hawaii. It's possible they could land troops on the islands and take them, further pissing the US populous off, they would quickly have their supply lines cut by the US fleet of submarines, cruisers and destroyers that would sink their shipping.

There were several targets not hit at Pearl that could be called the roots of their eventual defeat. One was the oil tanks, one was the shipyards, one was the landing fields, but the one that did the most damage to their war efforts in the end was the submarine depot and supply bases not only at Pearl but in Australia, New Caledonia, and other South Pacific Bases. Even removing Pearl as an operating base for the US subs would only slightly slow the US sinking of the tankers and freighters that were the lifeblood of the Japanese island holdings. Remember all to took to stop the Japanese war efforts in their tracks was the lack of fuel supplies available in the home islands. Japanese heavy ships ended up needing to be based in the Dutch East Indies and Singapore just to ensure they have the oil they needed to just perform basic offensive operations.

The Japanese training programs for not just their pilots but also naval personnel was extremely truncated and dependent on fuel supplies that any level of trade embargo would make unfeasible. Their pilot training had massive flight hour requirements in addition to entry requirements that were not based on merit but political and aristocratic based selection process. Where almost every other nation would accept a pilot candidate if they met the physical and intellectual requirements, in Japan is was more based who your family was or who you knew then whether or not you'd actually make a good pilot. They were restrictive in their pilot selection process, had insanely high graduation requirements(200 hours of flight time before they could even be considered for carrier pilot training then on top of that at least 300 flight hours of carrier flight practice) and high combat preparedness standards(up to 350 flights hours with an expected 90% target hit rates). By the time they started having a more open entry requirements they now the problem that almost no competent flight instructors remained making the only viable use for their new pilots was suicide attacks.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-04-03 01:14pm

Isolder74 wrote:On the consideration of the US continuing to fight after the battle of Midway take a look at this video about the battle. He has some really good points at the end.
The relevant portion of the video starts at, oh, 42 to 43 minutes in.

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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-04-03 01:25pm

K. A. Pital wrote:It's not entirely true they couldn't win no matter what they did. If they got very lucky with the initial attack (as described above), carrying these successes further into Midway (say, not only couldn't the US muster enough forces for the battle, but Japan introduced their new codes earlier and they weren't totally exposed as IRL), and also concentrated on their atomic weapons program (in reality they concluded atomic weapons are feasible but unlikely to be produced even by the US).. not just the course, but also the outcome could be altered. Doesn't necessarily mean Japan would win, but it also means it could've avoided a complete and utter defeat.

Not sure how realistic the idea of a Japanese nuclear weapons program being successful is. As most of alt-history, it is pure speculation. The real one was a failure due to many factors, just as the German one.
Japan lacked the mechanisms to deliver atomic weapons to enough US targets to actually prevent them winning the war.

Aside from the numerous good arguments posted about how Japan could never have gotten the atomic bomb in time, think, how would they bomb their targets? They never built any bomber like the B-29, their only long range aircraft had payloads totally inadequate for delivering early atomic weapons. About the only thing they could have done would be to build long rang suicide submarines to cross the Pacific, and an attack like that would be restricted to coastal targets (e.g. West Coast cities and the Panama Canal). Attacks like this would not render the US unable to prosecute the war, or unable to continue developing nuclear weapons of its own. They wouldn't even stop the US from having an industrial and economic advantage over Japan. So all this does is stretch out the war until intercontinental-range bombers become available, at which point Japan gets bombed with nuclear weapons from inland airfields hopelessly out of Japan's reach.

So even if we arbitrarily gave Japan facilities for nuclear weapons production comparable to what the US had in early 1945 (and realistically this would have taken them many years to accomplish), the Japanese would still not be able to decisively win the war in a short amount of time due to lack of a delivery vehicle. And as I said, even getting that far would probably require the Japanese to stretch out the naval war to 1950 or later, which is just absurd.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Isolder74 » 2016-04-03 01:48pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
Isolder74 wrote:On the consideration of the US continuing to fight after the battle of Midway take a look at this video about the battle. He has some really good points at the end.
The relevant portion of the video starts at, oh, 42 to 43 minutes in.

[Accidentally posted this incomplete post, will put up another with the rest of my remarks]


I still think it's hilarious when he adds as an almost afterthought, "Oh and by the way, we built over 150 jeep carriers…." and pops into the graphic them as well as the Japanese maru(converted freighters) carriers they manage to cobble together.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-04-03 01:56pm

Bombing the fuel tanks at Pearl Harbor would have made far less sense then attacking the submarine base or the numerous large cruisers that were unable to sortie. The base dry docks were functionally immune to 250kg bombs, attacking them would have been a complete waste of Japanese effort. The Germans kept naval bases operational even after they were hit by hundreds of tons of bombs at a time of higher average calibers.

Which is the real problem ignored in my experience by 99% of whiners about the attack plan, the total Japanese bombing capacity from carrier based aircraft was very low. SIXTY TONNES. That's all the bombs a third Japanese strike could have realistically dropped when you subtract all the lost and damaged planes. In fact this is probably a high side estimate, and in fact it is beyond historical Japanese capabilities as it assumes the Kate force gets some kind of 800kg GP bomb, which didn't exist in real life. Otherwise downgrade that 60 metric tons to about 22 tons, one 250kg bomb per plane. The smaller 50kg bombs will accomplish little against this kind of target and don't add to much anyway. 60 tons would accomplish little against a naval base of this size, at best they could have destroyed the power plant which was an obvious point target and far more important then any fuel tank. Losses would have been extremely heavy as hundred more anti aircraft guns would be in action, including large numbers of Army 37mm automatics that never fired in the historical raid.

Japan did not have the firepower to wreck the base, period. Retreating after inflicting heavy damage on the only targets worth it was the only part of the Pearl Harbor plan that made any damn sense. The fast carriers were Japans only strategic weapon, its only even vague remote chance to even think of defeating America. Risking them being sunk by the as yet unlocatd American carriers just to burn a few oil tanks would be dumb as hell, and Yamamoto was smart enough to know that, as were his chief subordinates.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-04-03 02:18pm

K. A. Pital wrote:It's not entirely true they couldn't win no matter what they did. If they got very lucky with the initial attack (as described above), carrying these successes further into Midway (say, not only couldn't the US muster enough forces for the battle, but Japan introduced their new codes earlier and they weren't totally exposed as IRL)


Midway was so well fortified on the ground that given the known Japanese invasion plan, and the fact that the US garrison would highly outnumber the Japanese assault force the only likely outcome of a Japanese landing attempt would be the annihilation of the landing troops in the surf zone. They'd probably never get past the ring of barbed wire around the islands. The Japanese seem not to have even understood how badly the island reef was going to mess with their landing craft, they would not be able to reach the beach, so it'd be like Tarawa in reverse, except without the invader advantage of tracked landing vehicles or battleship or bomber support or numbers!

Even if Japan took Midway... this gains them absolutely nothing unless they take several other atolls afterwards, and then use them all as a springboard to invade Hawaii, which is so unrealistic they might as well try to invade Australia via the outback. Midway was only useful as an outpost to screen Hawaii, and was never part of Japanese prewar planning for good reason.

In fact the best thing Japan could have done was abandon places like Tarawa and Guadalcanal (also never part of prewar plans) and focused its limited resources on defending islands closer to home. Then its shipping situation would not be so horrible and its land based aircraft so scattered and easily overwhelmed by US aircraft.

and also concentrated on their atomic weapons program (in reality they concluded atomic weapons are feasible but unlikely to be produced even by the US).. not just the course, but also the outcome could be altered. Doesn't necessarily mean Japan would win, but it also means it could've avoided a complete and utter defeat.


Doubtful, the damage of the atomic bombs is just not high enough. Postwar calculations by the USAAF found that each bombs actual effects were equal to a couple thousand tons of conventional bombs, something the US B-29 force by that date could more then deliver in a single raid (1,000 plane raids!).

Meanwhile all the US has to do to inflict total defeat on Japan is largely blockade it off from the rest of the world After that it is only a question of time and how many Japanese starve to death.

Not sure how realistic the idea of a Japanese nuclear weapons program being successful is. As most of alt-history, it is pure speculation. The real one was a failure due to many factors, just as the German one.


The Japanese were on a much stronger basic scientific on how a bomb 'should' work then the Germans. But they did not have the needed critical mass of scientific personal needed to man a useful atomic bomb program, even if they could have somehow mustered the industrial resources and the uranium ore. An incredible amount of enabling work was required to bomb a workable bomb quickly, not just a few brilliant people telling us the atom can be split. That was how the US did it so quickly, and then the USSR was able to match it, utter hoards of good personal physically grouped together for rapid communications.

If Japan had that kind of brain muscle to spare it would have been a lot more realistic to use to make a microwave radar work. Japan was ahead of Germany on some aspects of radar too, and never did absurd things like declare certain wavelengths impossible.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Nephtys » 2016-04-03 02:56pm

A relevant article:
http://www.combinedfleet.com/economic.htm

Goes over some pretty damning differences in economic might through the entire pacific war, and shows that literally any victory (including a total massacre at Midway) short of Americans giving up within a few months from psychological factors was impossible.

US Output vs Japan's:
Nearly twice the population of Japan.
Seventeen time's Japan's national income.
Five times more steel production.
Seven times more coal production.
Eighty (80) times the automobile production.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Isolder74 » 2016-04-03 03:09pm

Let's not forget that the Japanese doctrine lead to designing very few payload options into their aircraft. Even their heaviest lift aircraft, the Betty, only had hard points for a max capacity for 4 bombs, regardless of size, in their bomb bay or 1 torpedo as the bomb dropping equipment doubled as the deployment system for the torpedo. The Japanese could not only not carry a large capacity of ordinance, but their entire battle view was built around precision over volume. They also tended to have to drop all of their weapons at once having little customization available. The problem with focusing on precision over volume becomes more and more and issue once you stop being able to practice every attack weeks in advance needing to resort to the combat experience that you are steadily running out of.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-04-03 04:27pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:
and also concentrated on their atomic weapons program (in reality they concluded atomic weapons are feasible but unlikely to be produced even by the US).. not just the course, but also the outcome could be altered. Doesn't necessarily mean Japan would win, but it also means it could've avoided a complete and utter defeat.
Doubtful, the damage of the atomic bombs is just not high enough. Postwar calculations by the USAAF found that each bombs actual effects were equal to a couple thousand tons of conventional bombs, something the US B-29 force by that date could more then deliver in a single raid (1,000 plane raids!).
Yeah. As I understand it, the atomic bomb is only decisive when you have a lot of them and the means to deliver them all at once.

Wrecking a whole country in a couple of days with conventional bombs isn't possible without a ridiculously large bomber fleet* (I'm imagining the US having, say, a hundred thousand B-29s sortieing over and over for a week). And if you don't deliver the knockout attack all at once, there's a good deal more the defender can do to repair wrecked cities and relocate key industry, so that the air campaign ceases to be potentially decisive.

With atomic bombs, you only really need one plane hitting each of several dozen targets and the entire enemy nation is damaged more or less beyond realistic repair- even if they still have continuity of government they are in no shape to fight an ongoing war, due to the cumulative effect of all the damage.

Against Japan the atomic bomb worked as a 'shoot twice, they give up' weapon, but that was mainly because the military situation was otherwise hopeless and Japan no longer had any hope of mustering its forces for an offensive. Their only chance was that by holding out defensively, accepting starvation to do so, they could make the price of conquest too high... and with the atomic bomb waiting in the wings, that was no longer possible, because they could foresee being nuked into oblivion without a single American soldier setting foot on the Home Islands.

[Not that this is what the US actually planned to do, but the Japanese had reason to think we could have done it]

By contrast, if Japan had magically been given atomic weapons in, say, late 1942 after miraculously winning at Midway, they wouldn't be in anything like the same position. Their ability to deliver the bombs would be so limited that they could not destroy the US's ability to strike back at them. At worst the US would have to concentrate its defenses on securing a military perimeter to stop nuclear suicide submarines from hitting West Coast harbors, while striking back offensively with submarines or very long range carrier raids and waiting for the B-36 and their own nuclear program to reach fruition.

Am I right?
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*Today, one bomber could do a lot more damage, but one bomber is also exponentially more expensive and harder to maintain, as are the munitions it drops, so 'ridiculously large' is a smaller figure now...

The Japanese were on a much stronger basic scientific on how a bomb 'should' work then the Germans. But they did not have the needed critical mass of scientific personal needed to man a useful atomic bomb program, even if they could have somehow mustered the industrial resources and the uranium ore. An incredible amount of enabling work was required to bomb a workable bomb quickly, not just a few brilliant people telling us the atom can be split. That was how the US did it so quickly, and then the USSR was able to match it, utter hoards of good personal physically grouped together for rapid communications.

If Japan had that kind of brain muscle to spare it would have been a lot more realistic to use to make a microwave radar work. Japan was ahead of Germany on some aspects of radar too, and never did absurd things like declare certain wavelengths impossible.
Huh. That's interesting. I always thought Japan, being behind in technology, was also behind in pure science, but now that I think about it that's not necessarily true.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Ziggy Stardust » 2016-04-03 05:02pm

Simon_Jester wrote:Huh. That's interesting. I always thought Japan, being behind in technology, was also behind in pure science, but now that I think about it that's not necessarily true.


Interestingly, some of the crucial elements used in the development of German, British, and American radars during the war were based on technology that had actually been invented in Japan (most notably the Yagi antenna). Japan had many great pioneering scientists during the time period, but the ability to convert these into working technologies never quite coalesced due to a variety of political, cultural, and economic realities. For example, the political rivalry between the Imperial Army and Navy had the effect of snuffing out a lot of technological progress due to unwillingness to share knowledge/resources.

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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby K. A. Pital » 2016-04-03 06:26pm

Isolder74 wrote:The truth of the matter is that there was only one nation that had not only the knowhow but also the resources, not to mention the safe location, to develop the atomic bomb. That was the Unitied States. The Soviets only managed to get the bomb via espionage if you remember

Uh... the USSR actually started devoting physical funds to the program in late 1943, which is almost 1944, and got the bomb by 49, which in case of the US is like 41 to 45. The USSR pursued nuclear weapons seriously only after Truman's bold claims that were soon verified in the Hiroshima / Nagasaki bombings, but not before. It is not a good example.

As for the rest, I agree with what Sea Skimmer said. Except I didn't mean Midway as a battle, I meant it as a time point. By 1942, if all US sufrace craft in the Pacific are gone and everything's open, who knows what sort of targets the IJN would choose...
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-04-03 06:44pm

They'd have gone for the various south seas islands as part of their historical plans to try to isolate Australia, invading Australia itself being as utterly impossible for lack of ground troops. They thought they needed 10 divisions to do so, a fair estimate if probably still not enough, and since this was equal to the the entire force used in South Asia to that date... wasn't happening.

This was not part of prewar planning, but it was very serious by the time of Midway. Midway itself could only happen though because the troops the IJA agreed to supply for Port Moresby never got landed. The IJA was highly against further expansion east, probably the only sense the IJA ever had in the war.

These plans were thus super doomed to fail because Japans brilliant lack of intelligence caused them to conclude that said islands had no more then a few thousand men apiece, which conveniently matched the size of force the IJN thought its own SNLF troops could overwhelm with token Army troops.

This is part of why Midway was so doomed for them, they thought it had not over 1,700 men but it was closer to twice that. They thought Samoa had 750 US troops when it had 30,000, New Caledonia 3,000 when it was over 20,000 US and French (all by Midway date). Only Fiji was even close to correct at 7,500 estimated vs 11,000 actual, and they plotted to take each of these objectives with no more then a reinforced brigade landing team because they had no other troops to spare or shipping to move them so far. Due to shortages of long range planes they had almost no sources of intelligence on these islands except a few overflights and submarine passages, and we know they'd be completely willing to launch operations on that basis.

Since these operations would be thousands of miles from any operational Japanese naval base it would be impossible to mount sustained sea campaigns against said islands, if the invasion forces were defeated on land they'd simply have to leave.

Japan was pretty masterly at economy of force operations early in the war, because the allies were so badly prepared and they had so much time prewar 1940-41 collecting detailed intelligence under peacetime conditions, including numerous secret recon overflights and a lot of trawler activity. Some of this went back even earlier, but only as an extension of an IJA program to sell opium throughout South Asia to help fund its war in China.

The moment Japan got past these early carefully planned, and much closer to home, objectives they began to disintegrate as an effective force. They could not even garrison what they had, because they had already more or less reached maximum army strength in 1941. Only 7 new divisions were formed in all of 1942, and ultimately most defenders of the Pacific Islands were only obtained by removing units from China. That only began to happen in late 1942, the IJA being against it and the shipping situation making all movements difficult (Yamato steamed more as a troop transport then in combat!).

Production of many classes of ground weapon actually went down during the war, and before the submarine blockade was even effective. Single seat aircraft were the only place they really made big progress, and of course without the resources for a training program this meant very little. Nor would it have mattered had they had proper ones, the mismatch was just too high and too many of the new planes had horrible quality problems that would steadily kill off even the best pilots. Operational losses ate planes and pilots like crazy for everyone in WW2 but Japan was extra bad.

Probably what would happen if the US fleet went away would be some horrific long range amphibious operations that all go poorly but perhaps capture a few islands, while the IJA would simply take this as all the more reason to concentrate on its actual goal in life, the defeat of China. Then suddenly around late 1943 a whole new US fleet would begin to appear, and the US would be able to steamroll the central pacific even more easily in real life because the Islands would be weakly held by IJN troops instead of large IJA garrisons.
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Re: Japan lost WW2 at Pearl Harbor

Postby Flagg » 2016-04-08 04:57am

The biggest difference would probably have been a much more divided Japan, like Korea and Germany. So, bad.

I had a question, though. Since Japan took far more casualties during Psychopathic General LeMay's firebombings about every few weeks than it did with both nukes dropped, is it more likely Japan surrendered so as to not be occupied heavily by the USSR since Uncle Joe invaded at the same time?
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