A proper attack on Pearl Harbor

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
Carl Schwamberger
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Re: A proper attack on Pearl Harbor

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Jun 2020 13:01

Peter89 wrote:
07 Jun 2020 09:41

Not clear what grand strategy you are referring to here. The starting strategy I am familiar with, from Costellos 'The Pacific War' or Beaselys 'The Rise of Modern Japan' was the US would roll over and seek a cease fire within a few months. By May discussions of peace terms would be starting. The long strategy elected by Tojos government as 1942 spun out was a improvised one made when the initial strategy failed. A long neither the plan nor intent when the decision for war developed.


As for the grand strategy:
Given the expectation of a long war with the United
States, how did Japan expect to survive? Did Japanese
leaders have a theory of victory, or at least of defeatavoidance?
Japan was not strong enough to threaten
the American homeland, but was not the war going to
be fought in East Asia and the Western Pacific, which
the Japanese controlled or would soon control (after
Tokyo’s conquest of Southeast Asia)? Might Tokyo be
able to fight the United States to a bloody stalemate
on the Japanese side of the Pacific and extract from
that stalemate some kind of political settlement with
Washington that would preserve Japan’s core imperial
interests on the Asian mainland?

These questions point to a third Japanese
assumption, or at least hope: namely, that by swiftly
seizing and fortifying the Central and Southwestern
Pacific, the Japanese could force the Americans
into a murderous, island-by-island slog that would
eventually exhaust their political will to fight on to
total victory. Japan would raise the blood and treasure
costs of the war beyond Washington’s willingness to
pay. “The Japanese theory of victory,” contends Colin
Gray, “amounted to the hope—one hesitates to say
calculation—that the United States would judge the cost
of defeating Japan to be too heavy, too disproportionate
to the worth of the interests at stake.”
This was the strategy choosen after the failure to bring the US to negotiations in 1942. It was not created out of air then then, there had been theoretical discussions of it and other possibilities pre Dec 1941. But, there was a understanding a long war would be severely damaging even if the US eventually gave up. Its a myth that Yamamoto was the only leader who understood end result of US economic power. While many were ignorant or blind there was still a general understanding the costs of a long war would leave Japan no better off in the long haul that it had been in 1937 or 1932. Hence the choice of the fast victory hope. The idea the US would be unable to prosecute a longer war against a sustained defense was another desperate hope siezed from a set of bad options. Tojos supporters really could not contemplate any other option than 'victory' however unlikely that was.

To put it another way plan A, the most favorable outcome, did not work. So one of the strategies leading to a less favorable outcome was chosen as next best.

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Re: A proper attack on Pearl Harbor

Post by T. A. Gardner » 07 Jun 2020 17:17

Peter89 wrote:
07 Jun 2020 09:25
Yes, because we've never known any cases where a well-fortified, unsuspecting fortress fell in WW2.
The Japanese, the Japanese never tried to take a well defended position by amphibious assault. The closest two examples of a Japanese amphibious assault against a decently defended position we have are Kota Bharu and Wake.

At Wake, the Japanese ran several patrol boats (converted old destroyers) ashore to discharge about 2,500 troops total onto the island against about 500 defenders. The Japanese took heavy casualties but were able to overrun the defenses and take the island. That's a situation where they had complete air superiority, complete naval control off shore, and a roughly 5 to 1 numerical advantage in the attack.

At Kota Bharu, there were no coast defenses and the defending two Indian infantry brigades were spread over several miles of beach. The Japanese landed 5,200 troops. The Commonwealth defenses had some air power available but nothing but light bombers with small bombs available. The Japanese assault almost failed but they did succeed in getting ashore and staying. They took about 20% casualties in doing that. The defenders withdrew to new positions rather than were reinforced at the beachhead.

At Hawaii, the US after the second strike still had 87 aircraft serviceable on Oahu and another 79 that were repairable or otherwise being serviced. That included 52 P-36 and 40 fighters. The coast defenses were entirely intact.

https://cdsg.org/the-harbor-defenses-of ... or-hawaii/

There were two full triangular US Infantry divisions on the island and all total about 40,000 US troops available. Most of the Pacific Fleet was still intact.

To obtain surprise and get something close to the original results, the bulk of the Japanese invasion fleet would have to have remained several hundred miles off Oahu while the carrier planes struck. This means that for the invasion itself, the US will be alert and prepared.

Given the actual results of opposed Japanese amphibious assaults, and the assault on Oahu would definitely be opposed, the Japanese are not likely to succeed in staying ashore and being able to advance and take the island against the available defenses. The most likely outcome is the landing(s) fail with heavy casualties among the troops and even the shipping that is carrying them.
I guess you simply don't want to refer to my actual questions on this thread.

It is like: "the Germans can't take Eben Emael in time, so the whole Sichelschnitt plan is nuts". I have read well enough about the defenses of the HI here on this forum and in many other books, I never claimed that it was an easy nut to crack. I built up my case on the assumption that the HI were taken, which was not out of the realm of possibilities, as many high ranking officiers noted it, argued for it, etc. It was possible, and this is the What if section, meaning, we presume that the HI were taken.

If you want to continue to answer unasked questions and pour irrelevant data about the Pacific war, go ahead, it's nice to have some activity going on.

I hope you don't get offended. Peace.
I'm not offended, but I did try to answer your original premise using the best available data. Eben Emael is hardly representative of what the Japanese have to overcome. There are multiple forts spread over much of Oahu. These forts differ from Eben Emael dramatically in design because they are intended for a completely different purpose.

Image

As you can see, the fortifications are extensive. They include guns from 16" to 3" in size in substantial numbers. The batteries are designed to survive a fight with opposing naval vessels and would be difficult to take. As I pointed out, similar defenses of Manila Harbor in the Philippines were not taken on by the Japanese until the very last in their conquest of the Philippines.

To even have a slim chance, the Japanese need an invasion force that would consist of most of their fleet escorting a half-dozen plus divisions with heavy artillery and tank support to even stand a chance. That pretty much precludes them doing much anywhere else. The biggest landings the Japanese actually made were a fraction of the size of the ones they'd have to make in Hawaii.
They'd need most of their fleet there to take on the remaining US Pacific fleet or keep them at bay if the US chose not to engage in a major surface battle. Japan's carriers carry sufficient munitions for about a half dozen full strikes. After that, the carriers would need replenishment, something that the Japanese didn't have a capacity for at sea.

The Japanese have to be able to bring their fleet to within miles of Oahu. The landing transports have to be able to get within a couple of miles of the beaches to be landed on, or less, to unload their troops into landing craft and boats that have very limited range. That means they have to be able to either take out the coast defenses or can withstand their fire until the troops get ashore and then overcome them.
That means the Japanese fleet will have to try and engage those defenses and suppress or knock them out, not an easy proposition. This is particularly true of those batteries like say, Battery Harlow (8 x 12" mortars) at Fort Ruger or Battery Williston at Fort Weaver in the middle of the island. The later was placed there because of its 360 degree field of fire and 48,000 yard range with its 16" barbette guns.

Attacking these defenses would be nothing like Eben Emael where the defenders had no intrinsic infantry available, and couldn't rely on support from adjacent fortresses. On Oahu, the US defense plan had infantry covering the coast defenses and the coast defenses could support each other. In the Philippines, US 12" coast defense mortars proved particularly devastating to the Japanese. Their big limitation was their range of only about 15,000 yards but had a 360 degree field of fire. But, if they could reach a target, they were not to taken lightly.

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Re: A proper attack on Pearl Harbor

Post by paulrward » 07 Jun 2020 17:44

Hello All :

Mr. T.A.Gardner wrote :
The Japanese, the Japanese never tried to take a well defended position by
amphibious assault.

Mr. Gardner, I have just ONE word for you: Corregidor


Respectfully :

Paul R. Ward
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Re: A proper attack on Pearl Harbor

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Jun 2020 18:30

Peter89 wrote:
07 Jun 2020 09:25
Yes, because we've never known any cases where a well-fortified, unsuspecting fortress fell in WW2.
Of course there are such cases, but the problem is keeping this fortress unsuspecting -the naval and air forces required little more than an additional 30 to 45 minutes alert to be prepared, while the ground defenses required only about four and a half hours. The Japanese could either conduct the Kida Butai raid as planned, maintaining surprise and then racing off to do all the other things assigned them, or they could send an invasion fleet and seize the islands. However, sending an invasion fleet, means the chance of surprise, which they already considered small, would be smaller still. Since a transport fleet would be slower, instead of 11 days to reach the target it would take probably 15 or 16, so more time to be detected and for the defender to react. Then there is the problem of how to actually execute a seizure of the island in conjunction with a surprise attack? Amphibious assault is a slow process; how do you coordinate it successfully with an air attack to neutralize the fleet? The US west coast is at least 1,200 miles closer to Hawaii than Japan, so can be reinforced much more quickly. The US can also sustain operations there more easily.
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Re: A proper attack on Pearl Harbor

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Jun 2020 18:42

paulrward wrote:
07 Jun 2020 17:44
Hello All :

Mr. T.A.Gardner wrote :
The Japanese, the Japanese never tried to take a well defended position by
amphibious assault.

Mr. Gardner, I have just ONE word for you: Corregidor


Respectfully :

Paul R. Ward
Respectfully, you need to revisit your definition Mr. Paul R. Ward. Corregidor was a shore-to-shore assault little different from an assault river crossing. It was supported by ground-based artillery and air and was not launched from the sea as an amphibious assault.

Terry is incorrect though, since Wake was assaulted twice, the second successfully, by a Japanese amphibious assault. You could also argue Kota Bharu was the same, although "well defended position" would be stretching the point. It was indifferently defended, which highlights the lack of Japanese capability even more.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: A proper attack on Pearl Harbor

Post by paulrward » 07 Jun 2020 20:04

Hello All :

To Mr. Anderson: Po-tay-to - po-tah-to

The crossing of the Rhine in 1945 was considered an Amphibious Operation by everyone who
participated, and the Rhine is a hell of a lot narrower than the 2.25 miles of open ocean
between Corregidor and the nearest point of land on Luzon. The Japanese had to contend
with extremely rough surf and swift ocean currents and tides, factors which rarely exist
in an river crossing.

If you can find be a historical record of an army crossing a 2 mile wide river in the teeth
of enemy gunfire, I would be very interested.

As for Land based Artillery, the only difference between land based guns and the main
battery rifles of a battleship is that the battleship has a MUCH higher rate of fire due to
the powered loading systems of it's gun turrets. The raw fact is that the Japanese
bombardment of Corregidor was certainly no greater than the U.S. bombardment of
either Tarawa or Iwo Jima.

As for Air, the Japanese did not carry out air attacks during assault on Corregidor, as
the attacks started at night.

As for your definition: The Japanese embarked from land onto landing craft, which
proceeded to Corregidor, and then carried out an amphibious assault on the island.

At Iwo Jima, the United States Marines embarked on ships, which proceeded to
Iwo Jima, they then transferred to landing craft, and carried out an amphibious
assault on the island.


Po-tay-to - po-tah-to


Mr. Anderson, I feel you are straining at gnats in an intellectual attempt to deny the
fact that, in 1942, the Imperial Japanese Forces carried out an amphibious assault against
one of the best fortified U.S. defensive positions in the Pacific, a position garrisoned
in part by United States Marines, and pretty conclusively kicked the Ass of the United
States.

They did the same thing at Wake ( If at first you don't succeed, get a BIGGER HAMMER ! )


They probably would have done the same thing at Midway, despite the blustering of
the U.S.M.C. Fanboys, and, given a little luck, an assault on the North Shore of Oahu one
or two days after Pearl Harbor, might have accomplished what the French refer to as
a ' Coup-de-Main ' .

This would mean that ALL six of the damaged battleships, and a bunch of other good
stuff, like the air fields, the fortifications, a large quantity of supplies, and a lot of ethnic
Japanese would now be available for a Japanese defense.

The remaining U.S. battleship line would consist of the Arkansas, Texas, and New York
( all super-annuated ), the three Idahos ( modernized but slow ) , the Colorado ( in
dry dock being modernized ) and the two Washingtons, which have still not sorted out
their propulsion issues. USN Star Shells, anti aircraft shells, and torpedoes don't work
well, there are very few AA guns available,

On the other side, the IJN has oxygen fueled torpedoes that actually detonate when
they hit, and a surface fleet trained in night fighting, Oh, yeah. The Yamato is just
coming into service.....

The USN can call on six carriers ( if they include the Ranger ) , some of which are loaded
with Brewster Buffalos, and others of which still carry biplanes in their hangers, and the
aviators of the USN are uniformly GREEN in terms of combat experience.

The Japanese have eight front line carriers with another coming on line in January, while
their China Veteran naval aviators have the world's best torpedo plane and the world's best
fighter.


And then, of course, there is the U.S. Army on Oahu. Mr. Anderson, have you ever read,
' From Here to Eternity ' ?


Respectfully :

Paul R Ward
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Re: A proper attack on Pearl Harbor

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Jun 2020 20:43

paulrward wrote:
07 Jun 2020 20:04
Hello All :

To Mr. Anderson: Po-tay-to - po-tah-to
With respect, do you spell it potatoe by any chance?

In any case, I suspect Terry knows the difference, even if you do not.

amphibious assault — A type of amphibious operation that involves establishing a force on a hostile or potentially hostile shore. See also assault; assault phase. (JP 3-02)

amphibious operation — A military operation launched from the sea by an amphibious force to conduct landing force operations within the littorals. Also called PHIBOP.See also amphibious force; landing force; mission; operation. (JP 3-02)
The crossing of the Rhine in 1945 was considered an Amphibious Operation by everyone who
participated,
Really? Not by the Chief Engineer, 12th Army Group, who well knew it was an assault river crossing. To quote from the description of the operation in Rhine Crossing Twelfth Army Group (page 7):

River Crossing Tactics and Equipment
A brief description of standard river-crossing tactics and equipment is necessary to illustrate the technique employed and the means ordinarily available in order that the special problems presented by the Rhine may be more readily understood.

Tactics. During the assault, a bridgehead is established on the far shore in sufficient depth to include all ground from which observed enemy artillery fire could be directed on the crossing site. Infantry troops are crossed initially in assault boats to rout the enemy from the opposite shore. Reinforcements are then crossed in storm boats and ferries to assist the first waves in capturing the high ground affording hostile observation. Thereafter, floating bridges are constructed for the build-up of forces to expand and break out of the bridgehead. Floating bridges are followed by fixed highway and railroad bridges.

(snip wall of text signifying nothing)
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Re: A proper attack on Pearl Harbor

Post by Peter89 » 07 Jun 2020 21:36

Guys, I really don't see why we can't assume that an all-out, surprise attack could have taken the HI.

It is just a proposition in my question, not really the core of it. In other words, it is not about whether the Germans could have taken Moscow, but how the capture of Moscow could have affected the Eastern front.

However, the capture of the HI by the Japanese was not out of the realm of possibilities. The most simple thing is that the Americans did not utilize their warning systems effectively, such as their radar. In theory, they should have reacted as they did at Midway, but they haven't. The defenses of the HI were indeed formidable on paper, but the element of surprise rendered a lot of those defenses useless. In theory, they should have spotted both the fleet and the planes well before the attack, and they could have destroyed them like they neutralized the midget submarines.

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Re: A proper attack on Pearl Harbor

Post by paulrward » 07 Jun 2020 21:43

Hello All :

Mr. Richard Anderson stated :
Really? Not by the Chief Engineer, 12th Army Group, who well knew it was an assault
river crossing. To quote from the description of the operation in Rhine Crossing Twelfth Army
Group (page 7):

Yes, but up North in the 21st Army Group, Monty considered that Operation Varsity was the Airborne
Element of Operation Plunder, which was, to quote an excellent history,
In Operation Plunder the British 2nd Army (The 51st Highland and 15th Scottish Divisions)
and the US Ninth Army (30th and 79th Divisions) crossed the River Rhine in an amphibious operation.

All of the units involved from both operations were part of the 21st Army Group commanded
by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.

Wow, so I guess even a wide river can be considered an amphibious operation. At least according
to the British...... I mean, not EVERYONE is tied down to the jargon and acronyms
of the U.S. Military.


One has to be wary of parochialism.


Respectfully :

Paul R. Ward
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Re: A proper attack on Pearl Harbor

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Jun 2020 23:42

We are rapidly fetching up against the old Flying Dutchman derelict of op Tinkerbelle. Raise your hand if you have been aboard that hulk.

So far the examples of sites have been small single point fortresses & where the defense was a relatively small number. The scale in size of the area to be secured on Oahu was several orders of magnitude larger than those. Ditto for manpower.

The nearest example in scale & time I can think of would be Guadalcanal. From latter August through November the Japanese sent just over 29,000 soldiers & support personnel. With naval pers. the total landed were a bit over 31,000 (Franks 'Guadalcanal') US Marine, Army, and Navy ground combat strength during the same period (to 20 Nov) maxed out at around 20,000 men, with a additional number in the air wing at the airfields. With a air & naval base at Rabaul, a theoretical superiority in naval & army aircraft, a theoretical naval superiority, a lack of any fortifications in the US defense, & other advantages the Japanese could not defeat the defense & secure the small enclave around the airfield.

Similarly the Japanese had many theoretical advantages on Luzon, but despite the very poor situation of the Phillipino/US army there the Island was not secured on schedule, and reinforcements had to be sent back to drive home the final offensive. A five month battle vs the intended three months, fighting a army far inferior on paper. Why the Japanese failed to defeat the relatively weak defense on Battaan in 2-3 months may be use full is studying a hypothetical invasion of Oahu.

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Re: A proper attack on Pearl Harbor

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Jun 2020 23:47

Peter89 wrote:
07 Jun 2020 21:36
Guys, I really don't see why we can't assume that an all-out, surprise attack could have taken the HI.
Sure, we can assume that, but this is the "what if" section, not the "assume this" section. So how do you get to a fulfillment of your assumption? How do you nearly simultaneously execute a surprise attack on the American fleet and also "take the Hawaiian Islands"?
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Re: A proper attack on Pearl Harbor

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Jun 2020 23:53

paulrward wrote:
07 Jun 2020 21:43
Yes, but up North in the 21st Army Group, Monty considered that Operation Varsity was the Airborne
Element of Operation Plunder, which was, to quote an excellent history,
In Operation Plunder the British 2nd Army (The 51st Highland and 15th Scottish Divisions)
and the US Ninth Army (30th and 79th Divisions) crossed the River Rhine in an amphibious operation.

All of the units involved from both operations were part of the 21st Army Group commanded
by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.
Which "excellent history" is that please? Those phrases appear repeatedly online, usually at scam sites, and all apparently key off of https://www.warhistoryonline.com/world- ... tures.html
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: A proper attack on Pearl Harbor

Post by OpanaPointer » 08 Jun 2020 00:57

Peter89 wrote:
07 Jun 2020 21:36
Guys, I really don't see why we can't assume that an all-out, surprise attack could have taken the HI.
Well, assumptions are bad ideas when not grounded in fact.
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Re: A proper attack on Pearl Harbor

Post by paulrward » 08 Jun 2020 00:58

Hello All :

To Mr. Peter89 :

First, I want to apologize for the attitudes of some of the members of this forum. Sir, you are obviously
a serious student of the Pacific War ( based on your first posting ), but you are up against a very entrenched
and somewhat smugly self satisfied wall of opinion.

There are a number of shiboleths here on AHF.

First, the Allies could not have been defeated in WW2.

Second, in the Pacific, the Japanese could not have taken Hawaii, could not have won the Battle of
Midway, and were only successful in the early stages because they caught the United States off guard.

Third, No change in the actions or decisions of the Third Reich could have won them the war, or even averted
their destruction by the Atomic Bomb.

Finally, the Allies, and in particular, the United States, fought a flawlessly perfect war, with no
mistakes, no errors in judgement, and the equipment, manpower, and leadership of the U.S. was the
best in the world, with no arguments or debate allowed.



Now, Mr. Peter89, some of the members of this forum are citizens of the United States, of the Baby Boomer
Generation. In other words, they grew up on a steady diet of the myth of the Invincibility of John Wayne
and Captain America ! Even the Viet Nam War did not dim the luster of the Invincible United States
in their eyes. Some of the members of this forum are U.S. Military Veterans, or have worked either
for the U.S. Military as civilian contractors, or as employees of ' think tanks' that were part of the
U.S. Military Industrial Complex. These people have a definite institutional bias against any ideas or
concepts that would challenge their core belief that the United States was invincible in WW2.


What you are suggesting is that there was a way in which the United States could have lost WW2 in
the Pacific, which is heresy to this group, and, if you continue, you may be excommunicated . The
guardians of the flock of the Holy Believers does not allow the discussion of heresy in public.


However, there is a small group of individuals, some of whom post here on AHF, who enjoy discussing
these ideas without being endlessly criticized by the unimaginative. If you send me a Private Message,
I will introduce you to the group,
and we can continue this discussion out of range of the Holy See.

I look forward to hearing from you, and remain,

Respectfully :

Paul R. Ward
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Re: A proper attack on Pearl Harbor

Post by paulrward » 08 Jun 2020 01:04

Hello All :

Mr. Richard Anderson asked :
......Which "excellent history" is that please? Those phrases appear repeatedly online,
usually at scam sites......,


No, I didn't get it from The Dupuy Institute, so I don't think it was a Scam Site.


Respectfully :

Paul R. Ward
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