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Pacific War 1938 How Possible?

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  • Pacific War 1938 How Possible?

    The Panay incident of October 1937 is well known. Less well remebered is the Allison Incident where two months later US Consul at the US Nanking embassy was struck in the face by a Japanese soldier. Also not revealed until the late 20th Century was USN radio decrypts of Japanese messages indicating the attack on the Panay & the other US owned commercial ships was deliberate & ordered by a senior Japanese commander, rather than the error of a couple pilots.

    The actions of US and Japanese diplomats resolved the 'incident' over several months.

    So, a series of small PoD here. 1. Other foreign flagged ships are attacked/sunk within a day or two in the same area.

    2. US Consul Allison is killed by the Japanese soldier's blow.

    3. A US Politician outs the decrypt of the incriminating Japanese radio messages.

    4. Ambassabor Grew has been ill & his stand in is not up to the task. Imperialists within the Japanese government foul efforts by Japanese diplomats.

    So, given all this occuring in the four months from the Panay sinking what else will it take to tip US/Japan into war?

    ...then of course how would the opening of the fall out considering the state of the two nations military strength and global politics.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
    The Panay incident of October 1937 is well known. Less well remebered is the Allison Incident where two months later US Consul at the US Nanking embassy was struck in the face by a Japanese soldier. Also not revealed until the late 20th Century was USN radio decrypts of Japanese messages indicating the attack on the Panay & the other US owned commercial ships was deliberate & ordered by a senior Japanese commander, rather than the error of a couple pilots.

    The actions of US and Japanese diplomats resolved the 'incident' over several months.

    So, a series of small PoD here. 1. Other foreign flagged ships are attacked/sunk within a day or two in the same area.

    2. US Consul Allison is killed by the Japanese soldier's blow.

    3. A US Politician outs the decrypt of the incriminating Japanese radio messages.

    4. Ambassabor Grew has been ill & his stand in is not up to the task. Imperialists within the Japanese government foul efforts by Japanese diplomats.

    So, given all this occuring in the four months from the Panay sinking what else will it take to tip US/Japan into war?

    ...then of course how would the opening of the fall out considering the state of the two nations military strength and global politics.
    The aircraft carrier USS Lexington and an accompanying task force of ships made a speed run to China immediately following the Panay Incident, in case the violence escalated any further.
    "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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    • #3
      Have to ask, what other ships were in the task force, and of course what aircraft the Lex carried?

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      • #4
        Oh yeah, the Devastator TBMs were in service then.
        The sitting Duck of Midway would have been a killer in 1938, ouch!
        "Why is the Rum gone?"

        -Captain Jack

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        • #5
          I'm assuming that the US was in a much poorer state of readiness in 1938 than Japan. I don't know about relative fleet strengths, but you'd have to figure that the US would be taking a huge gamble to get into a fight with a nation that was already so heavily mobilized. I'm assuming Japan would REALLY have to push this.

          On the other hand, Japan hasn't had years to plan an invasion of SEA & the Sth Pacific. Nor is it going to risk taking on Britain & France in addition to the US. That puts Holland in an intersting position. With German sabre rattling in Europe & Dutch oil presumably a vital commodity for Japan, what do the Dutch do? Can they be persuaded to embargo Japan? Will the US try to enforce a blockade on Japan if they don't? Is japan prpared to take a risk & take the oil if it can't buy it? I don't know what Japan's reserves looked like in 1938, but I'm guessing that they might be the key here. If the US can keep its fleet intact, Dutch oil doesn't get to Japan & the British & French are prepared to deploy forces to the Sth China Sea Japan is in a bit of a pickle. Might be forced to do something desperate.
          Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
            Oh yeah, the Devastator TBMs were in service then.
            The sitting Duck of Midway would have been a killer in 1938, ouch!
            I cant remember what the primary carrier fighter of the IJN was in 1937. In 1938 it was being replaced by the A5M

            http://www.militaryfactory.com/aircr...ircraft_id=619

            How fast that replaced the biplanes I dont know. There were some differences in anitaircraft gunnery in 1937-39. Perhaps the most important difference of 1938 would be the absence of the concept of the air strike group made up of squadrons fro two or more carriers. That did not emerge until 1940 and was not properly worked out by the IJN until 1941 & by the USN until 1942. This suggests carrier strikes would have been smaller & less decisive in large fleet actions.

            USN strategy plan, War Plan Orange of the era revolved around raiding and sparing at a distance with the IJN, until either the Japanese made a mistake giving the USN a clear opportunity, or until overwhelming strength was in hand. Exactly how the latter might be achieved in 1938 or 1939 I'm unsure. As I understand it only US cruisers/carriers were ready for commisioning in 38-39.

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            • #7
              1938 the US would not have North Carolinas and South Dakotas for one thing. They'd be relying on their older battleships. And no Hornet either.

              Also, no Musashi and Yamato. Which Japanese carriers would be available?
              The First Amendment applies to SMS, Emails, Blogs, online news, the Fourth applies to your cell phone, computer, and your car, but the Second only applies to muskets?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                Have to ask, what other ships were in the task force, and of course what aircraft the Lex carried?
                No idea as to the ships, but most likely fast heavy and light cruisers, along with a screen of destroyers. The US Navy was still using bi-plane aircraft in 1937.
                "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by BF69 View Post
                  I'm assuming that the US was in a much poorer state of readiness in 1938 than Japan. I don't know about relative fleet strengths, but you'd have to figure that the US would be taking a huge gamble to get into a fight with a nation that was already so heavily mobilized. I'm assuming Japan would REALLY have to push this.
                  The USN had been planning for such a fight for nearly two decades. Re: War Plan Orange. Japans problem is it was maxing out its industrial capacity in 1937 and was near its total mobilization capacity. Conversely the US had during the same decades reduced its military draw on the nations industrial capacity to absurdly low levels.

                  Even with twenty years of low military draw on the GDP the USN still had parity with the IJN.

                  Originally posted by BF69 View Post
                  On the other hand, Japan hasn't had years to plan an invasion of SEA & the Sth Pacific. Nor is it going to risk taking on Britain & France in addition to the US. That puts Holland in an intersting position. With German sabre rattling in Europe & Dutch oil presumably a vital commodity for Japan, what do the Dutch do? Can they be persuaded to embargo Japan? Will the US try to enforce a blockade on Japan if they don't? Is japan prpared to take a risk & take the oil if it can't buy it? I don't know what Japan's reserves looked like in 1938, but I'm guessing that they might be the key here. If the US can keep its fleet intact, Dutch oil doesn't get to Japan & the British & French are prepared to deploy forces to the Sth China Sea Japan is in a bit of a pickle. Might be forced to do something desperate.
                  In 1937 the US is suposed to have been Japans largest oil supplier, as it was in 1941. What the Japanese oil reserves were I cant say. Development of oil fuel vs coal in Japans industry was not quite as far along as in 1941 but the requirements still must have been large.

                  Blockading Japan depends on simultaneously defeating the IJN and establishing naval bases close in. War Plan Orange contemplated two - three years to accomplish all that.

                  Meanwhile Japan can bid for oil on the world spot market, a expensive way to purchase, and attempt to negotiate new contracts with other suppliers.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
                    ..... The US Navy was still using bi-plane aircraft in 1937.
                    Ah yes, the F2F

                    http://www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org...rummanf2f.html

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                    • #11
                      The earlier Japanese planes were being out-classed by the I-16 at Nomohan in 1939, though they were the IJA models. I think the US would have parity at least in the air. Whether it has numbers though, is something others would have comment on.

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                      • #12
                        I still have not had time to find what model fighter the IJN used previous to the A5M. The latter was just comming into operational status in small numbers in late 1937. It could out run the F2F by some thirty MpH and out climb it as well. Turn radius, roll rate, dive speed, et al are unknown to me for either. I am guessing the IJN pilots would have a lot less combat experience and less advantageous training in 1938 vs 1941.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BF69 View Post
                          I'm assuming that the US was in a much poorer state of readiness in 1938 than Japan. I don't know about relative fleet strengths, but you'd have to figure that the US would be taking a huge gamble to get into a fight with a nation that was already so heavily mobilized. I'm assuming Japan would REALLY have to push this.

                          On the other hand, Japan hasn't had years to plan an invasion of SEA & the Sth Pacific. Nor is it going to risk taking on Britain & France in addition to the US. That puts Holland in an intersting position. With German sabre rattling in Europe & Dutch oil presumably a vital commodity for Japan, what do the Dutch do? Can they be persuaded to embargo Japan? Will the US try to enforce a blockade on Japan if they don't? Is japan prpared to take a risk & take the oil if it can't buy it? I don't know what Japan's reserves looked like in 1938, but I'm guessing that they might be the key here. If the US can keep its fleet intact, Dutch oil doesn't get to Japan & the British & French are prepared to deploy forces to the Sth China Sea Japan is in a bit of a pickle. Might be forced to do something desperate.
                          The embargos were gradually appied firmer and harsher, but from what I presently understand the economic blockade grew to a for Japan critical peak from August 1940 onwards. The US and British Governments keeping up pressure to barr Japan from getting raw materials from other sources by giving credit/loans to the other Chinese Government to enable them to keep up out out selling out to Japan out of necessaty.
                          However the Wang Ching Wei government in the end did enter into contract with Japan on iron ore I believe in 1941.
                          I think the US and Japanese fleets at this time might aready been closely
                          matched. Both sides the Japanese on the one and the US and Europeans on the other, did not consider themselves ready for war yet.
                          And as Carl said the US was the biggest oil exporter as well as largest iron ore and scrap metal exporter to Japan. The US did hold the economic trump
                          cards in the Pacific region, but only if it's allies were playing ball.

                          Ed.
                          Last edited by dutched; 08 Dec 11, 17:52.
                          The repetition of affirmations leads to belief. Once that belief becomes a deep conviction, you better wake up and look at the facts.

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                          • #14
                            I'm thinking Shokaku, Zuihikaku, Hiryu and Soryu would not have been available for the Japanese, IIRC.

                            The Japanese had an official policy of not provoking the US in 1938, btw.
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                            • #15
                              All true & correct. 'Official' policy was not making war on China, yet somehow that happened. this PoD depends on less capable people on both side working towards official policy. Ambassador Grew sick that month, ect...

                              Tho reading some of the literature recently I noticed that the older IJN admirals were not believers in the idea of spectacular one sided victorys over China in 1898 & Russia in 1904. They are suposed to have understood those wars were won more by political skill than military operations. That leaves me wonder if the threat of war with the US might ultimately lead to a internal struggle attempting to suppress the instigators of the China Incident and the American Incident?

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